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Patagonia Bookshelf

Insurrection at Magallanes (1851)
A North-American sea-captain is captured by Chilean army mutineers at Punta Arenas.

Book title: «Insurrection at Magellan. Narrative of the Imprisonment and Escape of Capt. Chas. H. Brown, from the Chilian Convicts. Second Edition. Boston: published for the Author, by Geo. C. Rand, 3 Cornhill. MDCCCLIV.»
title page

title page of book

The first permanent military presence on the Magellan Strait was established by the Republic of Chile in 1843, at Fort Bulnes, on a promontory commanding the sea channel, and close to Port Famine, the scene of Spain's failed colonization attempt of 1584.

In 1848, the fort was relocated to Sandy Point (the modern city of Punta Arenas). The government designated this isolated location as a penal colony; as a result, the residents were a mix of settlers, public officials, enlisted soldiers and prisoners, some of the latter being military convicts.

Three years later, lieutenant Miguel José Cambiaso led a revolt, taking command of the settlement. Captain Charles Brown, our protagonist, arrived unawares five days later and was quickly captured, along with his crew and US-registered vessel. The same scenario was repeated shortly afterwards with a British ship. This book tells how events unfolded, the horrors and excesses perpetrated by Cambiaso, and the role played by the Captain in finally subduing the mutineers.

In this transcript, the spelling of surnames and placenames has been revised to modern Spanish usage. Thanks to Robert Runyard for providing a copy of the 1854 edition. Google now offers the 1855 edition as an e-book.