John Coe


John Coe
Commodore John H. Coe

John Halstead Coe (New York, 1807 - Buenos Aires, 1885), sometimes given in Spanish as Comodoro Juan Coe, was an American-born naval commander important in the early history of Uruguay.

Serving as an officer in the Argentine fleet under Admiral William Brown, he achieved distinction in the battles of Juncal and Monte Santiago in the Brazilian War that led to Uruguayan independence in 1828. Following the war, he moved to Montevideo and became a partisan of Fructuoso Rivera and the Colorado Party.

At the beginning of the Great War, he was given the rank of Commodore and placed in command over the fledgling Uruguayan Navy's Escuadra Oriental, consisting of the flagship Cagancha; the corvettes Constitución, Sarandi, and 25 de Mayo; the brig Pereyra; and the schooner General Rivera.

Although Brown's fleet was of similar size, Coe remained in harbor under the protection of the shore batteries for two months. On 24 May 1841, thinking Brown's forces to be scattered, he sailed out of the harbor only to be forced to retreat back in by dusk. He remained in harbor until 3 August, when the Battle of the Río Santa Lucia saw the General Rivera sunk. In his third engagement on 9 December, the Argentine brig Belgrano captured the Cagancha and all its crew.

Following these reverses, President Rivera elevated the Italian freedom-fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi to Colonel and created the command of the 2ª División de la Escuadra Oriental, transferring most of Coe's ships to the new fleet. The new unit achieved some success before being scattered by Admiral Brown in combat on the Río Paraná.

After this, the war simply became a siege of Montevideo, with Argentina and the Blancos in control of the sea but England ensuring uninterrupted supply to the port.

Commodore Coe is the namesake of the ROU 07 Comodoro Coe, a patrol boat of the Uruguayan Coast Guard commissioned in 1981.

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