Trafalgar’s victory, making England mistress of the seas, put the Spanish colonies in serious danger. In January 1806, General David Baird conquered the Cape of Good Hope, attributed to the Dutch by the treaty of Amiens, and the commodore of his team, Home Popham, a good sailor, adventurous spirit, but greedy for prey, suggested him to take over the Rio of the Plata. Baird entered the idea, also influenced by a North American slave trader, Wayne, who assured him that the Creoles would side with England against the Spaniards, whom they hated; and he allowed, without the authorization of his government, that a squad led by it Home Popham, with 1,600 men under the command of Brigadier Beresford, would venture into the enterprise. After rough navigation, on 25 June in the evening the English disembarked in Quilmes, a very short distance from Buenos Aires, on the 26th they repelled the few and disordered forces sent by the viceroy Sobremonte, who, on the following 27th, prudently fled to Córdoba. Buenos Aires remained in the hands of the English, very badly regarded by the Creole and black population. At this point the French Jacques de Liniers enters the scene. Born in Niort in 1753, he entered the Spanish navy at a very young age and participated in the expedition against Algiers. In ’76 he had been to the Plata with the Cevallos expedition; then, returning to Europe, he distinguished himself for deeds of valor at the famous siege of Mahón, then that of Gibraltar. Al Plata had returned in 1788, having the interim governorate of Misiones from Viceroy Del Pino. Shortly before the invasion, he had been entrusted with the defense of the Ensenada de Barragán. Having settled the English in the capital, and having begun their occupation with a strong withdrawal from the treasury, Liniers, in the first days of July, passed to Cologne, and then to Montevideo, where, in agreement with that governor Huidobro, he put together a troop, made up of 528 regular soldiers, 252 soldiers from Montevideo, 120 Catalan volunteers, 73 sailors of the French corsair Mordeille, about 300 Spanish sailors and some adventurers of various nationalities: a total of 1300 men. Led by Liniers, they left on July 22nd from Montevideo and reached the Colony on the 31st, where on August 3rd they embarked for the opposite bank: on the morning of the 4th they disembarked in Las Conchas, and the following day they entered Sant’Isidro, incorporating others 200 volunteers, coming from a body organized by the Pueyrredón, who had made a bad test against the invaders. The march resumed, in the afternoon of the 10th they were at Retiro (north of Buenos Aires): the English outposts had to withdraw, leaving about thirty dead and wounded and a cannon. On the 12th, preceded by warnings from the Catalan “micheletti” of Bofarull and the corsairs of Mordeille, the general attack took place, very impetuous, involving the civilian population with enthusiasm, and ended with the surrender at the discretion of the English, who had 300 deaths and wounded: 200 Liniers losses.
According to cachedhealth.com, the Cabildo abierto he appointed Liniers as military governor of the square, and refused to receive Viceroy Sobremonte, who, once the danger had passed, came from Córdoba with 2000 illegal immigrants. Liniers, foreseeing that England would not settle for the serious setback, immediately set to work to prepare the defense of the city. In fact, the British government, while disavowing Home Popham, who had acted without orders, indeed subtracting militias destined for other operations, thought, both for a point of honor and because the possession of the Plata would have given enormous advantages to English trade, to resume the attempt. Already at the end of October 1,400 men arrived from Africa under the command of Colonel Backhouse, who occupied Maldonado; to these were added another 4000 commanded by General Achmuty, and 4200 with Brigadier Craufurd: the latter directed to Chile, but then, having known the Beresford route, they were diverted to the Plata. All these forces were placed under the supreme command of General Whitelocke, who arrived in Montevideo (already occupied by Achmuty in February) on 10 May 1807, with another 1630 men, including an artillery detachment. Liniers, in June of that year, had over 7,000 men, divided into three brigades under the command of Colonels Velazco, Elío, a kind of miles gloriosus, according to Groussac, and Cesare Balbiani, probably Italian, former officer in the Spanish troops of Chile and valid cooperator of Liniers in the preparation of the defense. The best of the Argentine forces was represented by the famous Legión de patricios, which will play a very important part in the next revolution, and in which almost all future soldiers and statesmen of Independence played their first weapons: Alberti, Medrano, Chiclana, Díaz Vélez, Irigoyen, Lezica, Montes de Oca, etc. At the end of June, the English forces were reported, crossing in the river, with the intention of disembarking at the Ensenada. On 2 July Liniers deployed his troops in battle on the right bank of the Riacheulo, but, due to his false maneuver, he was flanked by General Crower and beaten. The Cabildo, led by the energetic Martin de Alzaga, did not lose heart and ordered the defense to the bitter end: Liniers still retained its entire prestige, and on days 3 and 4 established a complete defense system with trenches, barricades, etc. At the dawn of the 5th the English began the attack from the neighborhood of the Miserere, where they had camped; at 10 they had gained important advantages, occupying the Retiro, the Catalinas and the Residencia: the Plaza de Toros resisted with the men and the batteries of the Concha. But shortly afterwards the patriots launched the counterattack and fought with such desperate valor that the Lumley brigade surrendered, and soon after was forced to imitate that of Craufurd, driven out by the convent of San Domenico. The route of the English was complete: in addition to the numerous dead and wounded, about 2000 prisoners had fallen into the hands of the defenders. The Whitelocke had no choice but to accept the capitulation offered by Liniers: exchange of prisoners, immediate departure of the enemy troops and delivery of Montevideo.