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Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chili, Peru and Brazil, from Spanish and Portuguese Domination
Chapter VII


TAMPERING WITH CHILIAN OFFICERS--THE ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA--HIS EXPULSION--NEGOCIATION FOR SURRENDER OF THE FORTS--THIS COUNTERACTED--SAN MARTIN'S BOMBASTIC PROCLAMATIONS--HIS REFUSAL TO ENCOUNTER THE ENEMY--THE SPANIARDS RELIEVE CALLAO--DELUSIVE PROCLAMATION--THE UNBLUSHING FALSEHOOD--SPANIARDS CARRY OFF THE TREASURE--DISCONTENT OF THE SQUADRON.

Finding that I was indisposed to acknowledge his self-assumed authority, and still less to contribute to measures which would, in effect, have deprived Chili of the Navy, which by her patriotic sacrifices had been created, the Protector issued a proclamation, again promising the payment of arrears to the seamen, and a pension for life to the officers, acknowledging them as officers of Peru! No inference can be drawn from this other than a direct intimation to the officers to desert from the Chilian service.

The following are extracts from the proclamation, which was published ina Gazette Extraordinary of August 17th, 1821:--

"The Army and Squadron of Chili united, have, at last, completed the oath which they took, to liberate Peru, and have raised it to the rank which justice and the interests of the world demand. Their constancy and heroism will hand them down to posterity with gratitude. I should be deficient in my political duty, did I not manifest the appreciation due to their transcendent deeds, promoting the interests of both hemispheres."

"1. The State of Peru acknowledges as a national debt the arrears of the Army and Squadron, as well as the promises made by me to both."

"2. All the property of the State, and also twenty per cent, on the revenue, are pledged to the extinction of these debts."

"3. All the officers of the Army and Squadron who sailed with the liberating expedition, and now remain in them, are acknowledged as officers of Peru."

"4. Those comprehended in the preceding articles, and those employed in the said cause, shall receive, during the period of their lives, a pension of half their full pay, awarded on leaving Valparaiso, which pension shall be paid even in the case of their settling in a foreign country."

"5. All shall receive a medal," &c, &c.

Not a penny of the arrears and the other emoluments promised, was, however, paid to the squadron; nor was any intended to be paid, the object being to get the officers quietly to transfer themselves from the Chilian squadron to the service of the Protector, on the strength of the promises made: and, in this, he was ably seconded by his instruments, Guise and Spry, who, in defiance of their desertion, and the sentence of court-martial on the latter, had been retained near his person for the accomplishment of this object.

One of the most fearless opponents of the Protector was the Archbishop of Lima, an excellent man, much beloved by the people--who made no secret of his indignation at the usurpation which had taken place, despite all the promises of Chili, declared "before God and man"--as well as those of the Protector himself, to "leave the Peruvians free as regarded their own choice of Government." As the honest prelate denounced, in no measured terms, the despotism which had been established in the place of the liberty guaranteed, it was determined to get rid of him.

The first step was an order to the Archbishop, dated August 22, 1821, toclose all the houses of spiritual exercises. This was politely refused; but, at the same time, the prelate stated, that if any confessor disturbed public order, he would take the requisite measures for his punishment. On the 27th, the Archbishop was told in reply, that "the Protector's orders were irrevocable, and he must at once decide on the line of conduct he intended to adopt."

On the 1st of September, the prelate, in an admirable letter, told the Protector, that "the principal obligation of a bishop was to defend the deposit of doctrine and faith which had been confided to him, and, if threatened by any great potentate, to remonstrate with respect and submission, to the end that he might not be a participator in crime by a cowardly condescension. God had constituted bishops as the pastors and guards of the flock, and he tells us, that we are not to be cowards in the presence of the greatest potentates on earth, but, if necessary, we must shed our blood, and lay down our lives, in so just a cause; anathematizing us, on the contrary, as dumb dogs who do not bark when the spiritual health of the flock is in danger."

The end of this was, that the Protector urged on the Archbishop to resign, promising him a vessel to convey him to Panama; relying on which promise, he sent in his resignation, and was ordered to quit Lima in twenty-four hours! As the promise of a conveyance to Panama was broken, the Archbishop embarked in a merchant vessel for Rio de Janeiro, addressing to me the following letter previous to his departure.

Chancay, Nov. 2, 1821.

My dear Lord,

The time is arrived for my return to Spain, the Protector having granted me the necessary passport. The polite attention which I owe to your Excellency, and the peculiar qualifications which adorn and distinguish you, oblige me to manifest to you my sincere regard and esteem.

In Spain, if God grant that I arrive in safety, I request that you will deign to command me. On leaving this country, I am convinced that its independence is for ever sealed. This I will represent to the Spanish Government, and to the Papal See, and will do all in my power to preserve the tranquillity, and to further the views, of the inhabitants of America, who are dear to me.

Deign, my Lord, to receive these sentiments as emanating from the sincerity of my heart, and command

Your obliged servant and Chaplain,
BARTOLOME MARIA DE LAS HERAS.

This forcible expulsion of the Archbishop was an act of political folly, as being tantamount to a declaration that he was too good a man to countenance the designs of those who had usurped an unjust dominion over his flock. Had the promises of Chili been carried out in their integrity, both the Archbishop and his clergy would have used all their influence to promote the cause of liberty--not more from interest than inclination. The expression of the Archbishop, that "the independence of Peru was for ever sealed," was, however, erroneous. Tyranny is not composed of enduring materials.

The Bishop of Guamanga, who resided at Lima, was also ordered to leave Peru within eight days, without reason assigned, and thus the opposition of the Church was got rid of, though not without deep feeling on the part of the Limenos, who were, however, powerless to help their clergy or themselves.

The affairs of the squadron becoming every day worse, and a mutinous spirit being excited from actual destitution, I endeavoured to obtain possession of the castles of Callao by negociation, offering to the Spanish Commandant permission to depart with two-thirds of the property contained in the fort, on condition of the remainder, together with the forts, being given up to the Chilian squadron. My object was to supply the crews with the absolute necessaries, of which they stood in need from the evasive conduct of the Protector, who continued to withhold, not only pay, but provisions, though the squadron had formed the ladder on which he had ascended to his present elevated position. There were large sums and a vast amount of plate in the possession of the Spanish garrison,--the wealthy citizens of Lima--fearing their liberators--having deposited both in the forts for security. A third of this would have relieved us from our embarrassments. The vessels were, in fact, in want of stores of every kind, their crews being without animal food, clothing, or spirits, indeed their only means of subsistence was upon money obtained from the Spanish fugitives, whom I permitted to ransom themselves by surrendering a third only of the property with which they were escaping.

As soon as my offer to the Spanish Commandant, La Mar, became known to the Protector--in order to counteract it, and ensure the success of his design to starve out the Chilian squadron, and so procure its transfer to himself--he offered La Mar unlimited and unconditional protection, both as to persons and property, on purchase of letters of citizenship! The Commandant, therefore, rejected my proposal, and the hope of obtaining a sufficient sum for the payment of the seamen, and for refitting the ships, was frustrated.

General San Martin afterwards accused me to the Chilian Government of aiming at the possession of the fortress of Callao, for the purpose of setting at defiance the Government of Peru! This was ridiculous; though, had it been my object, it would have been perfectly consistent with my duty to Chili, from which State the Protector of Peru had cast off his allegiance. My object was simply to obtain means to subsist the squadron; though, had I obtained possession of the forts, I would most certainly have dictated to General San Martin the fulfilment of his promises; and should as certainly have insisted on his performing his solemn engagement to the Peruvians, of giving them the free choice of their own government.

He also accused me of wishing to appropriate the sum proposed to be surrendered by the Spanish Commandant to my own use, though the seamen were in a state of mutiny from actual starvation! Instead of contributing to this useful end, as before the Protector's interference La Mar was not unwilling to do, the Spaniards were afterwards permitted to retire unmolested with the whole of their treasure; and to this, the most discreditable act which ever sullied the name of a military commander, we now come. As the whole transaction has been well described by another writer, who was present throughout, I prefer extracting his words, in order to prevent any suspicion of mental bias which I may be supposed to entertain on the subject:--

"The Spanish army at Janja, in the beginning of September, spread alarm in Lima, from advices received of their movements. It appeared that they were determined to attack the capital, and on the 5th of September the following proclamation was issued at head-quarters by the Protector:--"

"Inhabitants of Lima,"

"It appears that the justice of heaven, tired of tolerating for so long a time the oppressors of Peru, now guides them to destruction. Three hundred of those troops who have desolated so many towns, burnt so many temples, and destroyed so many thousands of victims, are at San Mateo, and two hundred more at San Damian. If they advance on this capital, it will be with the design of immolating you to their vengeance (San Martin had 12,000 troops to oppose them), and to force you to purchase at a high price your decision, and enthusiasm for independence. Vain hope! The valiant who have liberated the illustrious Lima, those who protect her in the most difficult moments, know how to preserve her against the fury of the Spanish army. Yes, inhabitants of this capital, my troops will not abandon you; they and myself are going to triumph over that army which--thirsty of our blood and property, is advancing; or we will perish with honour, for we will never witness your disgrace. In return for this noble devotion, and that it may receive the favourable success of which it is worthy, all we require of you is, union, tranquillity, and efficacious co-operation. This alone is necessary to ensure the felicity and splendour of Peru."

"SAN MARTIN."

"On the morning of the 10th, Lord Cochrane received on board the O'Higgins an official communication, informing him that the enemy was approaching the walls of Lima, and repeating the request that his Lordship would send to the army every kind of portable arms then on board the squadron, as well as the marines and all volunteers; because the Protector was 'determined to bring the enemy to an action, and either conquer or remain buried in the ruins of what was Lima.' This heroic note was, however, accompanied by a private one from Monteagudo, containing a request that the boats of the vessels of war might be kept in readiness, and a look out placed on the beach of Boca Negra."

"Lord Cochrane immediately pressed forward to San Martin's camp, where, being recognised by several officers, a murmur of congratulation was heard, and even Guise and Spry exclaimed, 'We shall have some fighting now the Admiral is come.' General Las Heras, acting as General-in-Chief, saluting the Admiral, begged of him to endeavour to persuade the Protector to bring the enemy to an action. His Lordship, on this, rode up to San Martin, and taking him by the hand, in the most earnest manner entreated him to attack the enemy without losing a single moment; his entreaties were, however, in vain, the only answer received being--'My resolutions are taken'--'mis medidas estan tomadas.'"

"Notwithstanding this apathy, his Lordship remonstrated, stating the situation in which he had, not five minutes before, observed the enemy's infantry, and begged of the Protector to ascend an eminence at the back of the house, and convince himself how easily a victory might be obtained; but he only received the same cold reply--mis medidas estan tomadas.'"

"The clamour of the officers in the patio of the house roused San Martin, who called for his horse and mounted. In a moment all was bustle, and the anticipated glow of victory shone in every countenance. The order to arms was given, and instantly obeyed by the whole army, amounting to about 12,000 men, including guerillas, all anxious to begin the fight. The Protector beckoned to the Admiral and General Las Heras, who immediately rode up to him, hoping that he was either about to consult them respecting the attack, or to inform them how it was to be conducted."

"At this moment a peasant approached San Martin on horseback, the General with most unparalleled composure lending an attentive ear to his communications as to where the enemy was the day before! The Admiral, exasperated at so unnecessary a waste of time, bade the peasant 'begone,' adding--'The General's time is too important to be employed in listening to your fooleries.' At this interruption, San Martin frowned on the Admiral, and turning his horse rode up to the door of the house, where he alighted and went in."

"Lord Cochrane then requested a private conference with San Martin--which was the last time he ever spoke to him--and assured him that it was not even then too late to attack the enemy, begging and entreating that the opportunity might not be lost, and offering himself to lead the cavalry. But to this he received the reply, 'I alone am responsible for the liberties of Peru.'--'Yo solo soy responsable de la libertad del Peru.' On this the Protector retired to an inner apartment of the house to enjoy his customary siesta, which was disturbed by General Las Heras, who came to receive orders, and recalled to the attention of the Protector that the force was still under arms, when San Martin ordered that the troops should receive their rations!"

"Thus Gen. Cantarac, with 3,200 men, passed to the southward of Lima--within half-musket shot of the protecting army of Peru, composed of 12,000--entered the castles of Callao with a convoy of cattle and provisions, where he refreshed and rested his troops for six days, and then retired on the 15th, taking with him the whole of the vast treasure deposited therein by the Limenos, and leisurely retreating on the north side of Lima."

"After Cantarac had led his troops into the batteries of Callao, the success was announced by the firing of guns and other demonstrations which harrowed up the souls of the Chilian officers. The patriot army thereupon passively occupied their old camp at the Legua, between Callao and Lima."

"It would be an act of injustice not to mention that the second in command, General Las Heras, disgusted with the result, left the service of the Protector, and requested his passport to Chili, which was granted; his example being followed by several officers of the army, who, deeply wounded by what had taken place, preferred obscurity, and even poverty, to further serving under such circumstances. The British ship of war, Superb, was in the bay, and several of the officers, expecting to see the decisive blow struck in Peru, repaired to San Martin's head-quarters, and were astounded at the coolness of a general, who, commanding 12,000 men, could abandon a favourable position in which he might at least have intercepted the convoy of cattle, and so at once have compelled the surrender of Callao, instead of permitting them to pass without a single shot being fired."[2]

[Footnote 2: "Twenty years Residence in South America," by W.B. Stevenson. Vol. iii. London, 1825.]

The preceding extract, published in London by one who was by my side during the whole affair, is perfectly correct. The Limenos were deeply humiliated by the occurrence, nor was their annoyance mitigated by the publication of the following proclamation in the ministerial Gazette of the 19th, in which General San Martin informed them that he had beaten the enemy and pursued the fugitives! though, the said enemy had relieved and reinforced the fortress, and then coolly walked off unmolested with plate and money to the amount of many millions of dollars; in fact, the whole wealth of Lima, which, as has been said, was deposited by the inhabitants in the fortress for security.

Limenos,

It is now fifteen days since the liberating army left the capital, resolved not to permit that even the shadow of the Spanish flag should again darken the illustrious city of Lima. The enemy haughtily descended the mountains, filled with the calculations they had formed in their ignorant meditations. They fancied that to appear before our camp was enough to conquer us; but they found valour armed with prudence! They acknowledged their inferiority. They trembled at the idea of the hour of battle, and profited by the hour of darkness!! and they sought an asylum in Callao. My army began its march, and at the end of eight days the enemy has had to fly precipitately--convinced of their impotency to try the fortune of war, or to remain in the position they held.

The desertion which they experience ensures us that, before they reach the mountains, there will only exist a handful of men, terrified and confounded with the remembrance of the colossal power which they had a year ago, and which has now disappeared like the fury of the waves of the sea at the dawn of a serene morning. The liberating army pursues the fugitives. They shall he dissolved or beaten. At all events, the capital of Peru shall never be profaned with the footsteps of the enemies of America--this truth is peremptory. The Spanish empire is at an end for ever. Peruvians! your destiny is irrevocable; consolidate it by the constant exercise of those virtues which you have shown in the epoch of conflicts. You are independent, and nothing can prevent your being happy, if you will it to be so,

SAN MARTIN.

To these monstrous assertions I only know one parallel, viz:--Falstaff's version of his victory over the robbers at Gadshill. The Protector asserts that "the shadow of the Spanish flag should never again darken Lima." It nevertheless passed completely round the city within half-musket shot. "The enemy thought that to view our camp was to conquer us." They were only 3,000 to 12,000. "They trembled at the hour of battle, and profited by the hour of darkness!" The fact being that with droves of cattle and abundance of other provisions, they triumphantly marched into Callao at mid-day! viz, from eleven A.M. to three P.M. "The liberating army pursues the fugitives." This is the only fact contained in the proclamation. The enemy was pursued by 1,100 men, who followed them at a distance for ten miles, when Cantarac suddenly facing about, let loose his cavalry at them, and nearly the whole were cut up! The Spaniards in fact came to relieve Callao, and fully effected their object.

Were not the preceding proclamation indelibly imprinted in the columns of the ministerial Gazette, it would be deemed a malicious fabrication. Yet the poor, independent Limenos dared not utter a voice against falsehood so palpable. Disarmed and betrayed, they were completely at the mercy of the Protector, who, if he can be said to have had a motive in not encountering the small force of Cantarac, no doubt founded it in keeping his own troops intact for the further oppression of the unhappy Limenos--with what effect we shall presently see.

This triumphant retreat of the Spanish force with its large amount of treasure was a disaster which, after the Limenos had risen against the tyranny of San Martin and forcibly expelled him from their city, entailed the shedding of torrents of blood in Peru, for the Spaniards were thus enabled to reorganize a force which would have subjected the country to its ancient oppressors, had not the army of Colombia stepped in to resist a common enemy. Even Chili trembled for her liberties, and, after I had left the Pacific, begged me to return and check disasters with which she was incompetent to grapple.

Had not the Protector prevented the Spanish Commandant, La Mar, from accepting my offer of permitting him to retire with two-thirds of the enormous treasure deposited in the fort, Chili would, at the lowest computation, have received ten millions of dollars, whilst the Spaniards would have retired with twenty millions. Surely this would have been better than to permit them--as General San Martin did--to retire unmolested with the whole.

Foiled in this attempt to relieve the necessities of the squadron, whilst the Protector's Government pertinaciously refused to supply them, it was impossible to keep the men from mutiny; even the officers--won over by Guise and Spry, who paid midnightly visits to the ships for the purpose--began to desert to the Protectoral Government.

The following letter, addressed to Monteagudo, will shew the state of the matter as regarded the squadron:--

Most Excellent Sir,

I have written you an official letter to-day, by which you will perceive that the consequences which I have long predicted will have so far come to pass, as to render the removal of the large ships of the squadron indispensable. If by a total neglect of all I tell the Protectoral Government through you, things happen prejudicial to the service, the Protector and yourself will at least do me the justice to feel that I have done my duty; the base, interested, and servile, for the promotion of their selfish views, may clamour, but I regard them not.

I would send you the original reports of the provisions and state of the ships issued by the captains, but I must hold these for my public justification, should such be necessary.

What is the meaning of all this, Monteagudo? Are these people so base as to be determined to force the squadron to mutiny? And are there others so blind as not to foresee the consequences? Ask Sir Thomas Hardy, and the British captains, or any other officers, what will be the result of such monstrous measures.

Believe me, with a heavy heart,

Yours, &c.

COCHRANE.


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