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


INJUSTICE TO THE SQUADRON--INCONSISTENCY OF THIS--ESTATE TAKEN FROM ME--MY LOSSES BY LITIGATION--ENDEAVOURS TO ENFORCE MY CLAIMS--PETTY EXCUSES FOR EVADING THEM--I AM CHARGED WITH EXPENSES OF THE ARMY--AND WITH COSTS FOR MAKING LEGAL CAPTURES--MY CONDUCT APPROVED AT THE TIME--MINISTERIAL APPROBATION--PALTRY COMPENSATION AT LENGTH GIVEN--MINISTERIAL CORRUPTION--PROVED BY SAN MARTIN--CAUSE OF OFFICIAL ANIMOSITY TO ME----CONCLUSION.

My services to Chili and Peru have been so fully narrated in these pages, that recapitulation is unnecessary. I will, therefore, briefly notice their reward.

I was compelled to quit Chili by the political dissensions previously related--without any of the emoluments due to my position as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, or any share of the sums belonging to myself, officers, and seamen; which sums, on the faith of repayment had, at my solicitation, been appropriated to the repairs and maintenance of the squadron generally, but more especially at Guayaquil and Acapulco, when in pursuit of the Prueba and Venganza. Neither was any compensation made for the value of stores captured and collected by the squadron, whereby its efficiency was chiefly maintained during the whole period of the Peruvian blockade.

The revolutionary movements already detailed, also compelled me to quit the Pacific without any compensation from Peru, either to myself or the officers who remained faithful to Chili--though my absence ought not to have operated as a bar to such compensation as the Sovereign Congress awarded to the generals and field officers of the army, who, though restrained by General San Martin from effecting anything of importance towards the liberation of the country, nevertheless received 500,000 dollars as a reward, whilst nothing was bestowed on myself or the squadron, except thanks for "hazardous exploits on behalf of Peru, hitherto," as the Congress expressed it, "under the tyranny of military despotism, but now the arbiter of its own fate." To the "military despot" himself, a pension of 20,000 dollars was granted, no doubt, as has been said, in order to be rid of him; but it was I who gave the death-blow to his usurped power, by seizing the treasure at Ancon to pay the squadron, and by my constant refusal of his insidious overtures to aid him in further treading under foot the liberties of Peru. It is scarcely possible that the Government of Peru, even at this day, can contrast with any degree of satisfaction, the empty thanks which were alone given to one--to use the words of the Sovereign Congress in its laudatory vote to myself--"by whose talent, worth, and bravery, the Pacific Ocean has been liberated from the insults of enemies, and the standard of liberty has been planted on the shores of the South"--and its lavish reward to the enemy of that liberty, and even to those officers who deserted from Chili to aid the specious views of the Protector, of which rewards all who remained faithful to their duty were wholly deprived.

Still more inconsistent has been the neglect of succeeding Peruvian Governments in not fulfilling existing obligations. The Supreme Director of Chili, recognising--as must also the Peruvians--the justice of their paying, at least, the value of the Esmeralda, the capture of which inflicted the death-blow on Spanish power, sent me a bill on the Peruvian Government for 120,000 dollars, which was dishonoured, and never since paid by any succeeding Government. Even the 40,000 dollars stipulated by the authorities at Guayaquil as the penalty of giving up the Venganza was never liquidated, though the frigate was delivered to Peru contrary to written stipulations previously adduced--and was thus added to the Peruvian navy without cost to the State, but in reality at the expense of the Chilian squadron, which ran it down into Guayaquil. How the successive Governments of Peru can have reconciled this appropriation to the injury of one whom their first independent Government so warmly eulogised, it is difficult to conceive.

To return, however, to my relations with Chili. Shortly after my departure for Brazil, the Government forcibly and indefensibly resumed the estate at Rio Clara, which had been awarded to me and my family in perpetuity, as a remuneration for the capture of Valdivia, and my bailiff, Mr. Edwards, who had been left upon it for its management and direction, was summarily ejected. Situated as this estate was, upon the borders of the Indian frontier, it was, indeed, a trifling remuneration for overthrowing the last remnant of Spanish power in the continental territory of Chili. To have resumed it then, without pretext of any kind, was an act reflecting infinite discredit upon those who perpetrated that act, whether from revengeful feelings or baser motives.

The sum of 67,000 dollars, the speedy payment of which was promised to me by the Supreme Director after our return from Valdivia, was never paid, though the conquest of that fortress proved the immediate cause of success in negociating a loan in England, which, before that event, had been found impracticable. By a remarkable coincidence, the first instalment of the loan arrived at Valparaiso at the period of my departure; but the English merchants to whose care it was consigned, refused to permit the money to be landed, in consequence of the disorganization in which the corrupt conduct of the ministry had involved the State.

No compensation for the severe wounds received during the capture of the Esmeralda was either offered or received--though for these all States make separate provision. Even the Grand Cross of the Legion of Merit, conferred for the capture of the Esmeralda, was suspended; whilst, in its place, I was exposed to the greatest imaginable insults, even to the withdrawal of every ship of war from under my command.

Unhappily, this ingratitude for services rendered was the least misfortune which my devotedness to Chili brought upon me. On my return to England, in 1825, after the termination of my services in Brazil, I found myself involved in litigation on account of the seizure of neutral vessels by authority of the then unacknowledged Government of Chili. These litigations cost me, directly, upwards of L.14,000, and indirectly, more than double that amount; for, in order to meet the expenses, I was compelled to dispose of property at a great sacrifice, amongst which the loss arising from the sale of my residence and grounds in the Regent's Park alone was upwards of L.6,000--whilst that on other property also sacrificed was as much more; thus, in place of receiving anything for my efforts in the cause of Chilian and Peruvian independence, I was a loser of upwards of L.25,000, this being more than double the whole amount I had received as pay whilst in command of the Chilian squadron: in other words, not only did I obtain no compensation for my services in Chili--but was, in addition, compelled to sacrifice all I afterwards earned in Brazil to satisfy claims arising from seizures made under the authority of the Chilian Government! No consideration whatever for these losses has been shewn by those whom I so zealously and faithfully served in their hour of need; not even by Peru, in behalf of which country nearly all these litigations arose, though the services of the squadron cost nothing to that country or Chili, beyond the expense to the latter of its original ineffective equipment, the provisioning and maintenance of the ships having been provided for at the cost of the enemy, even to the payment of the crews with their own prize-money, none of which was ever refunded!

For sixteen years I made unceasing efforts to induce the succeeding Governments of Chili to liquidate my claims, but without effect. At the expiration of that period, I was no less surprised than annoyed by receiving from the Accountant-General a demand for explanation of my accounts, though, whilst I remained in Chili, I had urged incessantly their official investigation, for, notwithstanding that the Government had pronounced its approbation upon all I had done, I foresaw that quibbles might arise as the pretext for continued injustice.

That the accounts were not adjusted previous to my departure from Chili, was no fault of mine, as I was, in self-defence, compelled to quit the country, unless I chose to take part with the late Supreme Director, in supporting a ministry which, unknown to him, were guilty of the most avaricious and injurious acts--or aid Gen. Freire in overthrowing one to whom I was attached, as having always believed him to be a sincere and honourable man.

To call upon me, therefore, in the year 1838, for an explanation of complicated accounts delivered to the Chilian Government and unquestioned in 1821-2, was an unworthy course, the more so as most of the explanations required were of a paltry description, even to the expenditure of a single dollar in the purser's accounts--as though amidst operations of such magnitude as had successfully resulted in the accomplishment of every object proposed, my time could be occupied in minor details, yet even to these I was compelled to attend, the Government not furnishing me with a competent person to register the expenditure of the squadron.

The explanations thus demanded, after a lapse of nearly twenty years, were one hundred in number--no great amount in a series of accounts extending over more than three years' prosecution of an arduous service, during which I had to find the means of supporting the squadron, the expenditure of which was now, for the first time, called into question. The paltry character of many of the matters in dispute will be best judged of from the following items:--

No. 4. Vouchers demanded for ten dollars' worth of mutton.
23 to 32. Certificates for cases of gin lost in the San Martin.
40. Deficiency of nine dollars in the pay-books of the Lautaro.
42. Do. of three dollars in the pay-books of the Independencia.
69. Error of three dollars in the valuation of goods captured at Arica.
73. Forty dollars for repairing pumps at a time when the ships could hardly be kept afloat.
75. Imputed error of one dollar! in the purchase of 756 gals. of gin, &c. &c.

In addition to many such petty items, I was accused of giving bounty to seamen unauthorised--though the seamen had captured the very monies with which they were rewarded--and was expected to refund some which had been stolen. My having supplied rudders and rigging to the vessels cut out from before the batteries at Callao, was called into question, though the ships could not be sent from the port without re-equipment, the Spaniards having dismantled them before their capture. I was expected, after the lapse of sixteen years, to produce the pursers' books of the division of stores captured, the books having been sent in due course to the Minister of Marine's office; yet the Government had not furnished the squadron with the necessary articles for the safety of the ships, whether under sail or at anchor, whilst the stores which were taken from the enemy and applied to the use of the expedition, were so much clear gain to the State.

A still more unjust act of the Chilian Government was that of calling upon me for vouchers for the expenditure of 50,000 dollars, captured by Col. Miller, in Upper Peru, and expended by him in paying and provisioning his troops, of which transactions I was not at all cognizant: the sums, however, were no doubt faithfully applied by Col. Miller to the exigencies of the service in which he was engaged; he merely apprising me that he had captured or otherwise collected 32,000 dollars, with which he had given his men two months' pay, and an additional month's gratuity for their gallantry, a transaction no less essential than honourable, but one which the narrow views of the ministry failed to appreciate. No vouchers were, however, remitted to me whilst I remained on the coast, as the following letter from Col. Miller will shew:--

Ica, Aug. 27, 1821.

My Lord,

Inclosed is a memorandum of money received and disbursed to the division under my command. So soon as time will permit, another more detailed and circumstantial account shall be forwarded for your Lordship's approval.

I have written to Major Soler, who is in Lima, to furnish your Lordship with the necessary particulars relative to the capture of the cash.

I have the honour, &c.

Wm. MILLER,

Col. Comm. Southern Division.

I never afterwards saw Col. Miller nor his division in Peru; but the whole that was expended by him in emancipating the country, was charged to me, and thus I was made responsible for the price of his victories, though they did not cost either Government a dollar.

But the most flagrant act of injustice was the deduction from my claims of costs and damages for the detention of neutral vessels seized under the orders of blockade issued by the Chilian Government. The circumstances were as follows:--

The Spanish Government had chartered the Edward Ellice and other ships to transport troops from Spain to Peru, but internal divisions in the parent state prevented their despatch. The masters of these vessels thereupon claimed demurrage, which it was not convenient for the Spanish Government to pay--but in lieu thereof licences were granted to carry Spanish goods to Peru. These ships, being thus loaded, proceeded to Gibraltar, where the house of Gibbs & Co. provided them with British papers, in addition to the Spanish manifests supplied at Cadiz--this fact alone shewing that they considered the speculation illegitimate.

Furnished with these double sets of papers, they came to Peru for the purpose of trading; but as I had advice of this proceeding--and afterwards found the Spanish duplicates in the Peruvian Custom Houses--I seized the vessels on account of the fraudulent papers, they having also on board contraband of war, and was about to send them to Valparaiso for adjudication, when their commanders offered to surrender to me all the anchors, cables, and other illegal cargo, if I would forego this determination, which I did, and applied these articles to the use of the Chilian squadron, which at that time had not a trustworthy anchor in any of the ships.

The course pursued was satisfactory to the masters and supercargoes, and subsequently, on explanation, to Sir Thomas Hardy, whilst it was highly approved by the Chilian Government. After my return to England, actions were brought against me for even the contraband which had been voluntarily surrendered by the masters; but as I was fortunately enabled to produce the Spanish duplicates, they were abandoned, otherwise I should have been involved in utter ruin, for releasing British vessels subject to condemnation, and at the same time gratuitously providing for the Chilian ships of war, the essential articles of which they were entirely destitute.

In order to conciliate the English merchants at Valparaiso, the Admiralty Court acquitted various vessels seized under the orders of the Government, charging the costs and damages to my account! and that in the face of its own right to blockade and seizure as expressed to the British Commodore, Sir Thomas Hardy, who, though he insisted on the protection of British ships, disavowed their taking advantage of his protection to supply the enemy with contraband of war, as had been done.

Sir Thomas Hardy's view was this, that if the blockading power was not in a position to render the blockade efficient over the whole coast, it was not recognisable anywhere by the law of nations; but, whilst expressing this erroneous view of blockade, he added, "nor can I resist the right which the Government of Chili has to establish and maintain blockade on the same footing as other belligerents."

But even in the extreme views of Sir Thomas Hardy, we were competent to establish and maintain a blockade in its widest extent, and the best proof of the fact is, that the blockade was established. Even Zenteno, the Minister of Marine, pointed out to Sir Thomas Hardy, the ability of the squadron to maintain the blockade which he recognised.

"Our naval forces, perhaps diminished in apparent magnitude by distance, was not believed sufficient to maintain the blockade in all its extent, yet it has had the glory of setting at liberty, and of placing in the hands of the American Independents, all the ports and coasts of Peru, excepting only the port of Callao. Moreover, from the very centre even of that port, and from under the fire of the batteries, the Spanish ship of war, Esmeralda, has been cut out by our naval forces, and our strength thereby augmented, whilst that of the enemy is reduced to nothing."

(Signed) "JOSE IGNACIO ZENTENO."

So that, in face of this declaration by the Chilian Minister himself, as to the naval supremacy of the squadron on the coast of Peru, and its consequent right of seizure, the Admiralty Court, for its own sinister purposes, chose to decide that I was liable for seizures of neutral vessels made by my captains, without my knowledge--condemning me in costs and damages for their acts; the result being that I was mulcted in this, and every other charge it saw fit to make in my absence. The injustice of this was the more striking, as San Martin was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the squadron as well as the army, so that, even supposing the decisions of the Admiralty Court to be right, the onus lay upon him, not me. Yet he was rewarded, and I was compelled to pay for acts executed under his authority.

In the year 1845, twenty-three years after the liberation of Peru, and the annihilation of the Spanish power in the Pacific, the Chilian Government deducted all charges thus unjustly placed to my account, and awarded me the balance of 30,000 dollars (L.6000) for all the services rendered to the country. I have before mentioned that, from the consequence of litigation proceeding from obedience to the orders of the Chilian Government, I was subjected to a loss in England of nearly L.25,000; so that in place of my reaping any reward whatever for my services to Chili and Peru, the liberation of the latter and the completion of independence of the former cost me L.19,000 out of my own pocket!

I would ask the Chilian people and Government whether they do not now see the injurious treatment pursued towards me--arising from the base impositions then practised upon them, though these have been partly compensated by the present enlightened Government, which, as its recent decision has shewn, is composed of men of a far higher stamp than those with whom I was placed in contact, and, as I have every reason to believe, would redeem the stigma left on the national character by their corrupt predecessors of 1820-23, on fully comprehending the treatment to which I was subjected. That explanation is here truthfully laid before them, enabling them to judge for themselves. I will only add that not a single statement has been made in this narrative which is not based on original documents, the more important of which have been incorporated, the whole being about to be photographed and sent out to Chili, so that, comparing them with their official originals, their authenticity shall be beyond question.

I have said that the ministry which paralysed my operations, and by their ill-disguised mercenary practices overthrew the Supreme Director, O'Higgins, was corrupt, though I have thought it beneath the dignity of historical narrative, more particularly to expose their dishonest practices, of which I was well apprised. I feel, however, that in making such a charge, some proof thereof is incumbent on me, I will therefore in conclusion simply adduce a solitary instance of those practices, so damning, that, unless supported by irrefutable testimony, I might well be deemed a malicious libeller for making accusations otherwise utterly incredible.

It has been proved by the narrative--as indeed it has never been disputed--that the vigilance of the blockade before Callao starved the Spanish garrison out of Lima, and ultimately out of the fortress of Callao, this being the main object of the blockade. Whilst I was thus, as the only means within my power, endeavouring to starve out the Spaniards, the Chilian Ministers were sending corn to be sold, at a thousand per cent, profit, to the blockaded garrison!

To such an extent was this carried, that even Gen. San Martin, aware of the villainy of his pretended supporters in the Chilian ministry, and dreading the result, put me on my guard by writing to me the following letter:--

Haura, Feb. 21, 1821.

My esteemed Friend,

I am expecting information from you with great anxiety, and sincerely hope that it may be as favourable as that which I received in Ancon when I was in similar uncertainty.

The Miantinomo is on her way from Valparaiso, by permission of the Government, to introduce a cargo of corn into Callao! It is most essential at all risks to avert this mischief, for it would be perfect ruin to admit such a cargo under existing circumstances! I have officially given you information on this subject.

The day before yesterday the Andromache arrived at Huacho; Capt. Sherriff tells me that in a few days he shall return to Callao.

Lady Cochrane is at Huaita, making shift in the best way she can. God give you happiness, my friend. Always count on the sincere esteem of your affectionate

JOSE DE SAN MARTIN.

This testimony from one whose creatures the more influential of the Chilian ministers were, is indisputable, but in the present case their rapacity alarmed even their patron. San Martin is however wrong in attributing the traitorous attempt to the Government collectively--the Supreme Director, O'Higgins, not being capable of such practices as were carried on under his authority--of which this is only one solitary instance. The real perpetrators of these enormities are fresh in the recollection of many Chilenos still living. Yet these were the men who, under the mask of patriotism, originated the most unworthy charges against me, without giving me the slightest credit for having carried on the naval war without national assistance either in money or stores. The present generation of Chilenos are proud of their country, and--as their present excellent President, when awarding me an admiral's pay for the remainder of my life has stated--desire to reward those illustrious foreigners who assisted them in their struggles for independence--but they have great reason to regret the conduct of those ministers who imperilled that independence, and jeopardised the liberties of Chili for private gain.

It is scarcely necessary to add that not a grain of corn in the Miantinomo, or other vessels similarly despatched, with the exception of one which arrived during my absence, found its way to the starving garrison of Callao. Yet on their arrival I was implored to permit its landing, and on replying that no such treachery to the people of Chili should be carried on before my face, I was coolly asked to stand off during the night from the blockade, that I might not see what was going on! Such was ministerial honesty in the first days of Chilian independence.

The cause of official animosity to me is now apparent. Had I participated in these nefarious practices, or had I accepted the rank, decorations, and estates offered to me by San Martin as the price of my defection from Chili, I should now be rich, however despicable to myself--in place of having long and severely suffered in consequence of my rigorous adherence to the national interests--with the proud consciousness of never having done an act which I desire to conceal


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