Battle of Angamos Day in Peru is celebrated on 8 October and commemorates the infamous naval battle that took place in 1879. In 2018, the holiday falls on a Monday.
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The Battle of Angamos was fought during the War of the Pacific also known as the Saltpeter War, which began as a dispute between Bolivia and Chile over the Atacama Desert.
On 8 October 1879 at around 9:25 AM off the coast of Punta Angamos, the Peruvian warship, Huascar, under the command of Rear Admiral Miguel Grau Seminario, opened fire on the Chilean warship Cochrane. The Cochrane returned fire, causing damage to the Huascar while the Cochrane suffered little damage. At 10 AM, a shot from the Cochrane struck the bridge, killing the captain and his adjunct, Diego Ferre.
Command fell to Captain Elias Aguirre, but the Huascar had been badly damaged. Another warship, Chile’s Latorre, also engaged the Huascar in battle and a third ship, Bianco Encalada arrived around 10:30 AM. The rudder severely damaged, Aguirre tried to ram the Cochrane, but missed. Another shot pierced the artillery tower, killing everyone inside, including Aguirre. Lt. Pedro Garezon took control of the ship and decided to scuttle it rather than allow its capture.
At 10:54 AM, the wounded were evacuated and the main condenser opened to scuttle the ship. The Chilean sailors were able to board the ship, close the condensers and keep it from sinking.
The capture of the Huascar as well as the loss of the Indepencia at Punta Gruesa, severely damaged the Peruvian Navy. This gave Chile control of the seas, ending the sea campaign in the War of the Pacific.
Despite the fact that Peru lost the Battle of Angamos, the Peruvian people celebrate the day in honour of Admiral Grau and those who died that day. Offices, schools and businesses are closed so that people can celebrate. There are military and civil parades as well as official ceremonies designed to honor the Peruvian Navy and Admiral Grau. In some areas of the country, it is known as Navy Day.
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