Christian de Bonnafos
HMS Beagle at Cape Horn: The Visit and Monument of Captain Fitz-Roy
The Spanish and Portugese
empires collapsed during the Napoleonic Wars. This created a power-vacuum in South
America and led to the emancipation of their colonies.
To accomplish this expansion the Admiralty sent additional ships and supplies to the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the South American Naval Station in Rio de Janeiro. To perform the hydrography, an expedition composed of the HMS ADVENTURE (380 tons) and the HMS BEAGLE (235 tons) was sent.
These two ships, under the command of the Captain Philip Parker-King, would accomplish the titanic task that would take more than ten years, between 1826 and 1836. The smaller ship BEAGLE and its Captain had the longer and more difficult part of the mission.Until August of 1828, the Captain of the BEAGLE was Pringle Stokes, who was affected by deep depression. This was, a product of the difficulties of mapping such a desolate coast, and when faced with the prospect of another trip to the south of Tierra del Fuego he committed suicide with a pistol. He is buried in Punta Santa Ana, near Punta Arenas.
Captain Parker King immediately replaced Stokes with
the Executive Officer of the Beagle, Lieutenant W.G. Skyring. Upon arriving in Rio de
Janeiro, Admiral Ottway, commander - in - chief of the Naval Station named as the Captain
of the Beagle his own aide, Flag Lieutenant Robert Fitz-Roy, who was then twenty three