12 Haziran 2018 Salı

TNT History Mini-Series: Accidental Turks in Brazil & Beyond (1866)/Part III

//Ed. Note: This episode finds our heroes in Rio de Janiero at
the time Brazil was at war with Paraguay.//

The Nation of Brazil     

As everyone knows, Brazil is a country in South America, made up of a 
large landmass lying between  4 degrees 30 minutes north latitude and 33 degrees 
45 minutes south latitude and between 34 degrees 47 minutes and 72 degrees west 
longitude.  Yet it only has a population of 8 million people.  Since so much of Brazil’s 
land is empty, the government gives land in sufficient amounts to immigrants who 
come from abroad. 


In their geography books, it is written that diamonds and gold come out of the sands
on the shore and, in fact, it is said that a negro slave who found a great diamond in the 
sand gave it to his master and was freed.  But now, since there is no gold, silver and 
other minerals, paper money is used in the country.  Many people from European 
countries were lured here by this talk of gold but when they found none they worked 
at other jobs to fend off poverty. 

Brazil’s  essential population is made up of Negro Arabs (blacks) and some number
of blacks, who, as I mentioned before, came from Africa.  After the Portuguese took 
control here, these negroes were used as slaves.  Now, the Portuguese people and 
traders who have settled here, based on their resources, put male and female Negro 
slaves to work on forms or doing menial jobs.  In return, the slaves get only food and 
clothes.  Some slaves are freed after 10 years and some after 15 years.  In any case, 
since they are lazy people, after they get their daily ration of food they spend the rest
 of their time on street corners dozing idly.

Every kind of plant is raised in Brazil.  But the main products come from the tall 
and lovely mahogany, oak, beech, and other types of trees found in the forests.  
Additionally, sugar, grapes, pressed meat, potatoes and bananas are produced.  
Besides these, a large amount of the best tobacco is cultivated.  All of these products 
are sold abroad and bring in significant income.

In the tree-filled forests, there are lions, tigers, long-haired cats and many, many
 monkeys.  Anyone on a ship at anchor can hear their frightening cries, like an 
orchestra, throughout the night.  In particular, wolves are quite prevalent.  High-
quaity sulfur, indigo, naptha and potassium nitrate are extracted from the mountains.
 Fruit is abundant here, as well, particularly lemons, oranges, other citrus fruits and 

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s capital is the city of Rio de Janeiro.  The city is situated on a mountain slope 
and the seashore at 22 degrees 54 minutes south latitude and 43 degrees 15 minutes
 west longitude.  The population is about 400,000.  It is a prosperous, impressive and
 lovely city, with big buildings, a number of barracks, military and literary schools, 
an imperial palace and some other structures.  However, ponds and swamps formed 
by a number of streams that empty into the city’s port create a horrible smell, spoiling 
the city’s ambience.   And since the requisite importance is not given to keeping the
 streets clean, every summer there are outbreaks of various diseases.  The combination
 of the putrid smell and the diseases drive the populace out of the city in some years.

The port is quite safe and secure, surrounded by sturdy fortified fortresses.
Consequently, it serves as a safe harbor for  the warships and trading vessels of 
various countries that ply these waters, including, in particular, postal ferries.
There is a fine observatory situated on the mountain at the upper level of the city.  A 
special circular signal has been placed on a flagpole at the observatory that can be 
seen from the harbor.  Every day at a particular time, ships can look at this signal and 
set their latitudinal time. Fifty miles from Rio de Janeiro is a place called Petropoli.  
This lovely place is dotted with parks and gardens and because its air is pleasant, the 
rich spend the hot days here.  In addition to the well-ordered market and buildings here,
 there is also an imperial palace.

Brazilian Shipyard

Because the Bursa corvette was put in drydock here, I went to the shipyard each day
 for work.  This gave me the opportunity to learn quite a bit about the Brazilian 
shipyard: the shipyard is located to the east of the city of Rio de Janeiro, stretching 
along the shore for about 3,000 steps and includes a small island opposite it.  There 
is a large shipbuilding facility at the shipyard and a smaller one on the island, along 
with five iron factories where various iron tools are made,  rehabilitated pulley, rope 
and  sail factories,  ship and provisions workshops, stores and warehouses, Naval 
Ministry buildings,  a secretariat, foundry and maritime school.

The shipyard is narrow because it is bounded by rocks at its rear, so the buildings I 
mentioned are haphazardly placed and close together.  One of the factories worth 
praising is the one that makes cannon balls with six-cornered grooves.   Each day, 
400 cannonballs of various diameters are cast, filled and fitted with firing corks,
 ready for use.  Yet, there are only 30 workers in this factory. Another important one 
is the copper factory.  At this factory, the copper that is used to sheath the 
underside of ships is formed into rectangular plates from raw copper and holes for 
screws are opened in the plates.   Bolts are made from the leftover copper.  Each day 
enough copper plates to sheath two frigates, along with the requisite bolts,  are 
produced in this factory. The factory that makes chains and wires is also an important

All of these factories have been established by engineers who have graduated from 
the Brazilian naval school, gone to England for training and returned here.  
Consequently, they attach great importance to the factories and do not show the 
machines  within them to  the English and the French.  Other than these, they have 
purchased excellent machines for building armored ships, for which they have set up 
special factories.  In one of these factory-shipbuilding yards  a paddle-wheel 
corvette is being built and I was able to examine its interior and exterior.  Truly, 
there is no wood whatsoever and the mastery and skill of the builders is extraordinary.
This shipbuilding  yard is not comprised only of stone walls.  To protect the ships 
being built from the heat of the sun, rain and other elements, there is a 300-foot-high 
cover made of sheet iron that is supported by iron poles.  Since this cover is connected 
with screws it can be easily taken down and put over another  shipbuilding yard.

As I said above,  because the trees in this country are quite high, sturdy and smooth, 
the Brazilian ships last for 50-60 years.  In addition, they take great care and attention in 
making them quickly and well.  One of the drydocks on the small island I mentioned is 
300-feet long.  It has a buoy with a mechanical water spring inside it.  The water in the 
drydock is emptied by means of a another buoy, made at a special factory, that 
withdraws the water in 15 minutes. Another drydock on the island is just 200-feet long, 
so only small craft and trade vessels can enter it.  On this island there are warehouses 
for coal, other provisions, food supplies and wood, along with  cabinet-maker, pole
-maker shops and a large saw factory.  Since the machines for this factory were brought 
from France  seven years ago,  they break down now and then, requiring signficant 
expenditures each year.  Consequently, they have decided to make sturdier copies of 
these machines themselves and have begun doing so in their own factories.

Naval Forces

The Brazilian navy  is made up of four small armored corvettes with cannon that were
built in London (corvettes are small warships outfitted with weapons to battle against
 submarines, in particular);  3 propeller-driven 3-masted frigates with 50-cannon each; 
4 sailing frigates; 7 sailing-propeller corvettes, 12 transport ships; 8 2-masted sailing 
brigs;  15 gunboats;  a schooner and a cutter for a total of 53 ships.

The fortresses on the shore are administered by the Naval Ministry.  Sailors are trained 
and educated in these fortresses.  Crew members of ships currently in port come to the 
fortresses each day for training on cannon and other weapons.   Only those sailors 
involved in supply services remain on the ships. After training is completed, the crew 
members return to their ships.  When I asked about the training, officials told me that 
the aim is to have the sailors see how the  6-cornered-grooved cannon balls are made,  
have them try to make them with their own hands, have them place the firing parts in
the corks – in short, have the sailors completely learn the art of making cannon balls.

 War Between Brazil and Paraguay

paraguayan war  for more info on the Brazil-Paraguay War.

The customs duty that Brazil’s neighbor the Republic of Paraguay pays annually to
Brazil has caused friction between the two for a few years.  Gradually, this turned into a 
clash and the Brazilian army crossed the border, attacking Paraguay and laying siege to 
a few Paraguayan fortresses.  However, because of the warfighting expertise of 
mercenaries brought in from England, North America and France, Paraguay has come 
out on top and Brazil has suffered heavy losses.  In fact, during the time that we were in 
port in July, 9,000 Brazilians died in a battle on the shores of the Laplana River, with 
some number of soldiers and their commanders shamelessly running away.  In a battle 
in the Petropoli region, the Brazilian army was routed, sparking great concern.

//Ed.note: a number of battles of the Paraguayan War were fought in July 1866, 
including the Battles of Boqueron and Sauce.  The “Laplana River” mentioned 
above is probably the Pirana River.  Rather than thousands, hundreds of Brazilians
died in the battles.//


Upon our arrival at the port of Rio de Janeiro, we spent a few days washing and 
cleaning the ship and checking out the rigging.  We received word on the

 thirteenth of June that the Emperor of Brazil would visit our ship.  Right away, the 
sailors got new clothes and the regimental flag was readied.  We purchased sufficient
 red broadcloth to lay on the Emperor’s path and a few doormats to place in front of
 the cabins, taking care of other required measures, as well.

dom pedro ıı for more info on Dom Pedro II

At 11 o’clock the Emperor, together with ministers and high-ranking statesmen, came 
to the ship.  The regimental flags were unfurled immediately.  The sailors prepared a
welcoming ceremony and there was a 21-gun salute. Following the ceremony, at the 
Emperor’s request, the sailors went below and he personally toured all parts of the 
ship.  In fact, he even came into the machine room and examined the furnaces and
 other equipment.   When the Emperor saw the expertise which the sailors exhibited 
with regard to cannon training, he was quite complimentary.  The Emperor 
expressed  his delight in having seen with his own eyes the bravery and heroic nature
 of Ottoman sailors, renowned throughout the world for a long time.  Then, after and 
the rest of us prayed for the Sultan’s long life and reign, the Emperor departed. When 
the dignitaries  boarded their boats our sailors lined the deck to wish them well, 
accompanied by another 21-gun salute.  The regimental flags were lowered and the 
sailors  returned to their duties.

As I mentioned above, the Brazilians had not seen an Ottoman man before this.  In 
order to see these giants, wearing great turbans and robes, which is how they 
envisioned  us, crowds of people came each day and boarded the ship.  In fact, those 
who heard that  an Ottoman pirate ship had come, rushed from near and far to see us 
no matter how troublesome their trip might be.

I was the first one to leave the ship on the day we entered the port.  Perhaps 100 
people  followed me.  Those who  saw me in the stores pointed me out to others 
right away.   In other words, that day I did my shopping that day with quite an 
entourage.  Wherever I went my military appearance engendered great respect.  
Along the streets I walked, all the men and women looked only at me.  They were 
very pleased with all of us for the duration of our stay here. 

During the six months that we stayed at Cadiz in Spain, the moss from the rivers that 
flowed into the harbor made the underside of the Bursa corvette quite filthy and this
filth slowed the speed of the ship.  Consequently,  besides this problem, there were 
some other,  smaller matters that needed attention, like the broken bow topgallant 
mast and the broken bow spar.  So the ship had to be put into drydock.  The Captain 
wrote a letter in this regard to the shipyard authorities and we were informed that
the drydock had been prepared for us.

Our corvette was immediately put into the drydock on the small island that I 
mentioned  before.  In three days, the ship’s copper was cleaned, required repairs 
were made and the ship was taken out of drydock.  The clothing for the sailors was 
insufficient and there was no rainwear whatsoever.  So we bought cloth and dyed 
and sewed it on the ship.  Consequently, thanks to our Sultan, we each got a new 
shirt and trousers. 

While coming here, most of the ship’s ropes snapped.  To remedy this situation we
purchased 15 spools of rope.  In short, during our time in this port funds were 
required for repairs, water, food and other provisions.  By means of the illustrious 
English Consulate, we withdrew money from a bank here, made the requisite 
expenditures and the vouchers were sent to Istanbul.


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