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


On the 12th of September, 1819, I again sailed for the Peruvian coast, with Admiral Blanco as second in command. The squadron consisted of the O'Higgins, San Martin, Lautaro, Independencia, and Puyrredon, the Galvarino and Araucano not being in readiness. Two vessels accompanied the squadron, to be afterwards fitted up as fire-ships.

The Government was exceedingly anxious that some decisive blow should be at once struck. With the exception of the rockets, the squadron was in little better condition than before, a loan having failed, whilst 4,000 dollars only were subscribed by the merchants. The crews for the most part consisted of cholos, or native peasants, whom it was difficult to shape into good seamen, though they fought gallantly when well led. The officers were nearly all English or North American, this being a redeeming feature, but very few of them possessed the tact to bring up the men to anything like a seaman-like standard; a by no means easy task however, as a considerable portion of those embarked did duty both as marines and seamen.

I begged of the Government to supply me with 1,000 troops, asserting that even with that number of men it would be possible to take the castles of Callao, and destroy the whole of the Spanish shipping in the harbour. I was assured that this force had been provided, and was in readiness to embark at Coquimbo, where, on my arrival on the 16th, in place of 1,000 troops I found only 90!--and these in so ragged a condition, that a subscription of 400 dollars was raised by the inhabitants, and given to Major Miller to buy clothing for them.

I was so much annoyed at this, as to be on the point of returning to Valparaiso to throw up my commission; but, reflecting that the squadron was in possession of rockets, and that the Government might even yet forward a military force, I made up my mind to proceed, and on the 29th the squadron again came to an anchor in Callao roads.

The two following days were occupied in making rocket rafts, and in getting ready life-preservers for the men, in case of their falling from the rafts. On the 1st of October the Galvarino, Puyrredon, and Araucano, stood into the bay to reconnoitre, and sustained a heavy fire from the shore, upon which I ordered the Independencia to their aid; but that vessel was brought to an anchor when at the distance of several miles from them. On the same day Lieutenant-Colonel Charles, a most able and gallant officer, reconnoitred in a boat, and made trialof some rockets, upon which he reported unfavourably.

In this affair the mast of the Araucano was struck by a round shot, and severely damaged--the circumstance being merely mentioned to shew the state in which the squadron was equipped; the only means of repairing the damage being by fishing the mast with an anchor-stock taken from the Lautaro, whilst an axe had to be borrowed for the purpose from the flag-ship!

On the 2nd, the Araucano again went in, accompanied by a squadron of boats under the command of Captain Guise, and fired several rockets, but with no perceptible effect--the Spaniards having unrigged their ships; the brig sustained considerable damage from the firing of the forts and shipping.

After dark, an attack by rockets and shells was arranged, the Galvarino taking in tow a mortar raft, under the command of Major Miller, and placing it, under a heavy fire, within half a mile of the enemy's batteries. The Puyrredon followed with another raft, carrying the shells and magazine; the Araucano took charge of a rocket-raft, under Captain Hind, whilst the Independencia towed in a second rocket-raft, under Lieut-Colonel Charles, the rest of the squadron remaining at anchor.

Great expectations were formed, as well by myself as the whole squadron, as to the effect to be produced by these destructive missiles, but they were doomed to disappointment, the rockets turning out utterly useless. Some, in consequence of the badness of the solder used, bursting from the expansive force of the charge before they left the raft, and setting fire to others--Captain Hind's raft being blown up from this cause, thus rendering it useless, besides severely burning him and thirteen men: others took a wrong direction in consequence of the sticks not having been formed of proper wood, whilst the greater portion would not ignite at all from a cause which was only discovered when too late. It has been stated in the last chapter that the filling of the tubes was, from motives of parsimony, entrusted to Spanish prisoners, who, as was found on examination, had embraced every opportunity of inserting handfulls of sand, sawdust, and even manure, at intervals in the tubes, thus impeding the progress of combustion, whilst in the majority of instances they had so thoroughly mixed the neutralizing matter with the ingredients supplied, that the charge would not ignite at all, the result being complete failure in the object of the expedition. It was impossible to blame the Spanish prisoners in the Chilian arsenal for their loyalty, but to me their ingenuity was a bitter ground for disappointment, as with useless rockets we were no better off than in the first expedition; nor indeed so well off, for in the interval the Spaniards had so strengthened their booms at the anchorage, as to render it impossible for the ships to get at them--whilst, by constant practice, their fire had acquired a precision which our crews could not equal.

The only damage effected was by Major Miller's mortar, the shells sinking a gun-boat, and doing some execution in the forts and amongst the shipping. As daylight appeared, I ordered the whole of the rafts to be towed off, there being no further use in their remaining exposed to the heavy fire of the batteries. As it was, our loss was trifling, only about twenty being killed and wounded; but amongst these I had to regret the death of a promising young officer, Lieut. Bealey, who was cut in two by a round shot.

The failure of the rockets was very unfairly attributed by the Chilian Government to Mr. Goldsack, whereas the fault lay in itself for having neither supplied him with proper workmen nor materials. From the scarcity and high, price of spelter, he had also been compelled to make use of an inferior solder for the tubes, and thus the saving of a few hundred dollars frustrated the success of a great object. The consequence to poor Goldsack was utter ruin, though of his capability there could be no question, he having for many years been one of the principal assistants of Sir W. Congreve at Woolwich.

By the 5th, one of the explosion vessels was completed, and I resolved to try her effect on the booms and shipping, for which purpose she was placed in charge of Lieut. Morgell, who carried her in gallant style towards the enemy's shipping, but the wind falling calm, she became a target for their really excellent practice, and was in a short time riddled through and through. As the Spaniards began to fire red-hot shot, Lieut. Morgell was compelled to abandon her, first setting fire to the train, then turning her adrift, thus causing her to explode, though at a distance which did no damage to the enemy.

Whilst this was going on, a strange sail was reported off the bay, and the Araucano went in chase, Captain Crosbie returning the next morning with the intelligence that she was a frigate. Upon this, the squadron got under weigh, in pursuit, when she made all sail, and as I did not deem it expedient to quit the bay of Callao, the chase was given up, and we returned in the evening to our former anchorage. It was afterwards learned that she was the Prueba, of 50 guns, just arrived from Cadiz; whence she had convoyed another ship, with a cargo valued at half a million of dollars; this ship contriving to slip into Callao during the short absence of the squadron in pursuit of the frigate, so that we lost both prizes.

It was useless to remain any longer at Callao, as my instructions peremptorily commanded me not to approach with the ships within range of the enemy's batteries, nor to make any attempt on their squadron, except with the rockets and fire-ships. I was moreover ordered to return within a given time to Valparaiso, these restrictions being insisted on by the Minister of Marine, ostensibly from what he considered my temerity in having attacked the forts and shipping at Callao on the first expedition--but really, from his own narrow-minded jealousy, that I, a foreigner, should effect anything which might give me undue prominence in the estimation of the Chilian people.

I had, however, other reasons for quitting Callao. The newly-arrived Spanish frigate Prueba, was at large, and as I had reason to believe, was sheltering at Guayaquil, from which port I made up my mind to dislodge her. The Government had not sent any of the promised supplies for the squadron, which was running short of provisions, so that it was necessary to resort to my former practice of compelling the Spaniards to furnish them; whilst as no troops had been supplied, it was clear that there had never been an intention of sending any; the assurance of the Minister of Marine that they were waiting for me at Coquimbo being only a ruse on his part to get me to sea without a military force.

We now received intelligence that the Prueba had been accompanied from Spain by two line of battle ships, and that these were daily expected at Arica, whither I proceeded in quest of them, but was disappointed in not finding them. It was subsequently learned, that although they had sailed from Cadiz, in company with the Prueba, they never reached the Pacific, one of them, the Europe, being pronounced unseaworthy on crossing the line; and the other, the Elmo, foundering on the passage round Cape Horn!

On the 5th of November, three hundred and fifty troops--now brought by the experience and zeal of Lieut.-Col. Charles into a tolerably soldier-like condition--were distributed on board the Lautaro, Galvarino, and the remaining fire-ship, and were despatched to Pisco, under the command of Captain Guise, for supplies to be taken from the Spaniards, the troops being under the orders of Lieut.-Col. Charles, and the marines under the direction of Major Miller.

As it was not improbable that the expected Spanish ships would make for Callao, whilst it was more than probable that the Prueha would again attempt to run in, I therefore proceeded towards that port, and on the 8th anchored at San Lorenzo, the United States frigate Macedonia being also at anchor there. The presence of the latter put the Spaniards on their mettle, for shortly after our arrival, they made a show of sending twenty-seven gun-boats to attack us, not however, venturing to get their frigates under weigh. Preparations being made on our part to cut off the gun-boats, they quickly retreated, to the no small amusement of the North Americans, for whose edification the spectacle had been exhibited.

I was not mistaken in the expectation that the Prueba might again attempt to take shelter under the forts of Callao. On her appearance, we immediately gave chase, but she once more escaped in the night. On my return, I fell in with, and captured her boat, which had been sent ashore with despatches to the Viceroy, and from the information gained from the crew, I now felt certain that she would take refuge in Guayaquil, whither I determined to follow her.

Before doing so in the narrative, the success of the expedition despatched to Pisco must be mentioned. It was the intention of the officers commanding to land in the night, and thus take the garrison by surprise; but this plan was frustrated by the wind dying away, so that the landing could not be effected till broad daylight, when the garrison, supported by field artillery and cavalry, were prepared to receive them. Nothing daunted, the patriot troops landed without firing a shot, through the fire of the guns, whilst the Spanish infantry from house tops, and the church tower, thinned their ranks at every step. At length it came to the bayonet, for which the Spaniards did not wait, but rushed into the square of the town, after having mortally wounded the brave Col. Charles. Major Miller instantly followed, when their last volley in the square, before flying in all directions, brought down him also, with three bullets in his body, so that his life was despaired of. The ships remained for four days, during which they obtained all they wanted; but 200,000 gallons of spirits, placed on the beach for shipment, was destroyed by order of Captain Guise, in consequence of his not being able to control the men, who, from the facility of obtaining liquor, were becoming unmanageable.

On the 16th, the Galvarino and Lautaro rejoined me at Santa, which place had previously been taken possession of by the marines left on board the flag-ship. On the 21st, I despatched the San Martin, Independencia, and Araucano to Valparaiso, together with a transport filled with sick--an epidemic of a destructive nature having broken out on board the squadron. This disease, which carried off many men, hadbeen introduced on board by the Minister of Marine's army of ninety men, shipped at Coquimbo.

I now proceeded in search of the Prueba, with the flag-ship, Lautaro, Galvarino, and Puyrredon. On the 27th, we entered the river Guayaquil, and leaving the Lautaro and the brigs outside, the flag-ship crowded all sail during the night--though without a pilot--arriving next morning at the island of Puna, under which two large vessels were anchored, and instantly attacked, when, after a brisk fire of twenty minutes, they struck, proving to be the Aguila, of 20guns, and Vigonia, of 16 guns, both laden with timber, destined for Lima. The village of Puna was also taken possession of. On rejoining the other vessels with the prizes, they were found ready to sail, imagining from the firing that I had fallen in with the Prueba, and might possibly get the worst of the contest.

The Prueba was at Guayaquil as had been anticipated, but having been lightened of her guns and stores she had been towed up the river, where, from the shallowness of the water, it was impossible to get at her; whilst, as she lay under the protection of the batteries, I did not deem it practicable to cut her out with the boats.

A circumstance here occurred which would not be worth mentioning, did it not bear upon future matters. Captains Guise and Spry--imagining that I should now return to Valparaiso, and that the comparative failure of the expedition would be attributed to me, instead of to the worthless rockets, and to my instructions not to attempt anything beyond their use--endeavoured to get up a mutiny, by circulating a report that I did not intend to permit the ships left outside to share in the prizes, and had indeed left them behind for this purpose; having also permitted my officers to plunder the prizes ad libitum, before leaving the river--further declaring, that I intended to claim a double share, from having acted in the capacity of admiral and captain.

As there was not the slightest doubt of their having sedulously circulated these reports, with the object of entering the port of Valparaiso with the squadron in a discontented condition, I determined to take serious notice of their conduct. On the necessary steps being taken, they both pledged their honour that they had not made or even heard of such a report!

But I had no intention to return to Valparaiso, and still less to make officers so inimical to me acquainted with my future plans.

On the 13th of December, Major Miller was so far recovered as to be removed on board the flag-ship, after which I despatched the Lautaro to Valparaiso with the two prizes, first transferring to her armament the beautiful brass guns taken in the Vigonia; leaving the Galvarino and Puyrredon to watch the movements of the Spanish frigate.

As the reader may suppose, I was greatly annoyed at having been foiled at Callao, from causes altogether beyond my control, for the bad rockets, and worse faith of the Minister of Marine in not supplying me with the promised troops, were no faults of mine. My instructions, as has been said, were carefully drawn up to prevent my doing anything rash--as the first trip to Callao had been represented by certain officers under my command, who had no great relish for fighting. At the same time the Chilian people expected impossibilities; and I had, for some time, been revolving in my mind a plan to achieve one which should gratify them, and allay my own wounded feelings. I had now only one ship, so that there were no other inclinations to consult; and felt quite sure of Major Miller's concurrence where there was any fighting to be done, though a ball in the arm, another through the chest, passing out at his back, and a left hand shattered for life, were not very promising fighting incentives as far as physical force was concerned, yet the moral courage of my gallant guest was untouched, and his capacity to carry out my plans was greater than before, as being more matured by sharp experience.

My design was, with the flag-ship alone, to capture by a coup de main the numerous forts and garrison of Valdivia, a fortress previously deemed impregnable, and thus to counteract the disappointment which would ensue in Chili from our want of success before Callao. The enterprise was a desperate one; nevertheless, I was not about to do anything desperate, having resolved that, unless fully satisfied as to its practicability, I would not attempt it. Rashness, though often imputed to me, forms no part of my composition. There is a rashness without calculation of consequences; but with that calculation, well-founded, it is no longer rashness. And thus, now that I was unfettered by people who did not second my operations as they ought to have done, I made up my mind to take Valdivia, if the attempt came within the scope of my calculations.

The first step clearly was to reconnoitre the place, where the flag-ship arrived on the 18th of January, 1820, under Spanish colours, and made a signal for a pilot, who--as the Spaniards mistook the O'Higgins for the long-expected Prueba--promptly came off, together with a complimentary retinue of an officer and four soldiers, all of whom were made prisoners as soon as they came on board. The pilot was ordered to take us into the channels leading to the forts, whilst the officer and his men, knowing there was little chance of finding their way on shore again, thought it most conducive to their interests to supply all the information demanded, the result being increased confidence on my partas to the possibility of a successful attack. Amongst other information obtained was the expected arrival of the Spanish brig of war Potrillo, with money on board for the payment of the garrison.

As we were busily employing ourselves in inspecting the channels, the officer commanding the garrison began to suspect that our object might not altogether be pacific, this suspicion being confirmed by the detention of his officer. Suddenly a heavy fire was opened upon us from the various forts, to which we did not reply, but, our reconnoissance being now completed, withdrew beyond its reach. Having occupied two days in reconnoitring--on the third the Potrillo hove in sight; and being also deceived by our Spanish colours was captured without a shot--20,000 dollars and some important despatches being found on board.

As nothing could be done without troops, with which the Chilian ministers had been careful not to supply me, I determined to sail to Conception, where Governor Freire had a considerable force to keep in check the savage tribes of Indians whom the Spaniards employed, under the monster Benavides and his brother, to murder the defenceless patriots. On the 22nd of January we anchored in Talcahuano bay, where we found the Buenos Ayrean brig Intrepido and the Chilian schooner Montezuma.

Governor Freire received us with great hospitality; and after explanation of my plans, placed two hundred and fifty men at my disposal, under the command of a gallant Frenchman, Major Beauchef; notwithstanding that Freire was on the eve of attacking Benavides, and by thus weakening his division might incur the displeasure of the Government. No time was lost in embarking the men in the three vessels, the Montezuma being taken into the service, and the Buenos Ayrean brig volunteering to accompany us.

It was highly praiseworthy on the part of General Freire to place these troops under my orders, inasmuch as they were destined for a service in the praise of which, even if successful, he could not participate; whilst, if unsuccessful, he would certainly have incurred great blame. He knew, moreover, that the Ministry had refrained from supplying me with regular troops; yet he not only generously contributed them, but pledged himself not to communicate my plans to the Government; our destination being even kept secret from the officers, who were told not to encumber themselves with baggage, as we were only going to Tucapel, in order to harass the enemy at Arauco, thus making it appear that we were about to aid General Freire against Benavides, instead of his aiding us to capture Valdivia.

But our difficulties, though we had obtained the troops, were not at an end. The flag-ship had only two naval officers on board, one of these being under arrest for disobedience of orders, whilst the other was incapable of performing the duty of lieutenant; so that I had to act as admiral, captain, and lieutenant, taking my turn in the watch--or rather being constantly on the watch--as the only available officer was so incompetent.

We sailed from Talcahuano on the 25th of January, when I communicated my intentions to the military officers, who displayed great eagerness in the cause--alone questioning their success from motives of prudence. On explaining to them that if unexpected projects are energetically put in execution they almost invariably succeed, in spite of odds, they willingly entered into my plans; and Major Miller's health being now sufficiently re-established, his value as a commander was as great as ever.

On the night of the 29th, we were off the island of Quiriquina, in a dead calm. From excessive fatigue in the execution of subordinate duties, I had laid down to rest, leaving the ship in charge of the lieutenant, who took advantage of my absence to retire also, surrendering the watch to the care of a midshipman, who fell asleep. Knowing our dangerous position, I had left strict orders to be called the moment a breeze sprang up, but these orders were neglected, and a sudden wind taking the ship unawares, the midshipman, in attempting to bring her round, ran her upon the sharp edge of a rock, where she lay beating, suspended, as it were, upon her keel, and had the swell increased, she must inevitably have gone to pieces.

We were forty miles from the mainland, the brig and schooner being both out of sight. The first impulse both of officers and crew was to abandon the ship, but as we had six hundred men on board, whilst not more than a hundred and fifty could have entered the boats, this would have been but a scramble for life. Pointing out to the men that those who escaped could only reach the coast of Arauco, where they would meet nothing but torture and inevitable death at the hands of the Indians, I with some difficulty got them to adopt the alternative of attempting to save the ship.

The first sounding gave five feet water in the hold, and the pumps were entirely out of order. Our carpenter, who was only one by name, was incompetent to repair them; but having myself some skill in carpentry I took off my coat, and by midnight got them into working order, the water meanwhile gaining on us, though the whole crew were engaged in bailing it out with buckets.

To our great delight the leak did not increase, upon which I got out the stream anchor, and commenced heaving off the ship, the officers clamouring first to ascertain the extent of the leak. This I expressly forbade, as calculated to damp the energy of the men, whilst as we now gained on the leak, there was no doubt the ship would swim as far as Valdivia, which was the chief point to be regarded, the capture of the fortress being my object, after which the ship might be repaired at leisure. As there was no lack of physical force on board, she was at length floated; but the powder magazine having been under water, the ammunition of every kind--except a little upon deck and in the cartouch boxes of the troops--was rendered unserviceable; though about this I cared little, as it involved the necessity of using the bayonet in our anticipated attack, and to facing this weapon the Spaniards had, in every case, evinced a rooted aversion.

Before making the land to the southward of Punta Galera, the troops in the O'Higgins as well as the marines, were, in a high sea, removed into the Intrepido and Montezuma, to which I shifted my flag, ordering the O'Higgins to stand off and on out of sight of land, to avoid creating suspicion. We then made for the harbour, intending to land the same evening and take the Spaniards by surprise, but, as it fell calm, this plan was frustrated.

The fortifications of Valdivia are placed on both sides of a channel three quarters of a mile in width, and command the entrance, anchorage, and river leading to the town, crossing their fire in all directions so effectually, that with proper caution on the part of the garrison no ship could enter without suffering severely, while she would be equally exposed at anchor. The principal forts on the western shore are placed in the following order:--El Ingles, San Carlos, Amargos, Chorocomayo Alto, and Corral Castle. Those on the eastern side are Niebla, directly opposite Amargos, and Piojo; whilst on the island of Manzanera is a strong fort mounted with guns of large calibre, commanding the whole range of the entrance channel. These forts, with a few others, amounted in the whole to fifteen, and in the hands of a skilful garrison would render the place almost impregnable, the shores on which they stand being almost inaccesible by reason of the surf, with the exception of a small landing place at the Aguada del Ingles.

It was to this landing-place that we first directed our attention, anchoring the brig and schooner off the guns of Fort Ingles, on the afternoon of Feb. 3rd, amidst a swell which rendered immediate disembarkation impracticable. The troops were carefully kept below; and to avert the suspicion of the Spaniards, we had trumped up a story of our having just arrived from Cadiz, and being in want of a pilot: upon which they told us to send a boat for one. To this we replied, that our boats had been washed away in the passage round Cape Horn. Not being quite satisfied, they began to assemble troops at the landing-place, firing alarm guns, and rapidly bringing up the garrisons of the western forts to Fort Ingles, but not molesting us.

Unfortunately for the credit of the story about the loss of the boats, which were at the time carefully concealed under the lee of the vessels, one drifted astern, so that our object became apparent, and the guns of Fort Ingles, under which we lay, forthwith opened upon us, the first shots passing through the sides of the Intrepido, and killing two men, so that it became necessary to land in spite of the swell. We had only two launches and a gig, into which I entered to direct the operation, Major Miller, with forty-four marines, pushing off in the first launch, under the fire of the party at the landing place, by which the coxswain being wounded, the Major had to take the helm, and whilst doing this, received a ball through his hat, grazing the crown of his head. Ordering a few only of his party to fire, the whole leaped ashore at the landing place, driving the Spaniards, before them at the point of the bayonet. The second launch now pushed off from the Intrepido, and, in this way, in less than an hour, three hundred men had made good their footing on shore.

The most difficult task--the capture of the forts--was to come; the only way in which the first, Fort Ingles, could be approached being by a precipitous path, along which the men could only pass in single file; the fort itself being inaccessible except by a ladder, which the enemy, after being routed by Major Miller, had drawn up.

As soon as it was dark, a picked party, under the guidance of one of the Spanish prisoners, silently advanced to the attack, expecting to fall in with a body of the enemy outside the fort, but all having re-entered, our men were unopposed.

This party having taken up its position, the main body moved forward, cheering and firing in the air, to intimate to the Spaniards that their chief reliance was on the bayonet. The enemy, meanwhile, kept up an incessant fire of artillery and musketry in the direction of the shouts, but without effect, as no aim could be taken in the dark. Whilst the patriots were thus noisily advancing, a gallant young officer, Ensign Vidal--who had previously distinguished himself at Santa--got under the inland flank of the fort, and with a few men, contrived unperceived to tear up some pallisades, by which a bridge was made across the ditch, whereby he and his small party entered, and formed noiselessly under cover of some branches of trees which overhung it, the garrison directing their whole attention to the shouting patriots in an opposite direction.

A volley from Vidal's party convinced the Spaniards that they had been taken in flank. Without waiting to ascertain the number of those who had outflanked them, they instantly took to flight, filling with a like panic a column of three hundred men, drawn up behind the fort. The Chilians, who were now well up, bayoneted them by dozens, in their efforts to gain the other forts, which were opened to receive them; the patriots thus entering at the same time, and driving them from fort to fort into the Castle of Corral, together with two hundred more, who had abandoned some guns advantageously placed on a height at Fort Chorocomayo. The Corral was stormed with equal rapidity, a number of the enemy escaping in boats to Valdivia, others plunging into the forest; whilst upwards of a hundred, besides officers, fell into our hands, the like number being found bayoneted on the following morning. Our loss was seven men killed, and nineteen wounded.

The Spaniards had, no doubt, regarded their position as impregnable, which, considering its difficulty of access and almost natural impenetrability, it ought to have been, if properly defended. They had only found out their error when too late, thus justifying my former remark to the military officers, that an attack where least expected is almost invariably crowned with success. Much less had the Spaniards calculated on a night attack, the most favourable of all to the attacking party, as necessitating unity of action--and the least favourable of all to the party attacked, as inspiring doubt and panic, almost certain to end in irresolution and defeat. The garrison consisted of the Cantabria regiment of the line, numbering about eight hundred, with whom was associated a militia of upwards of a thousand.

On the 5th, the Intrepido and Montezuma, which had been left at the Aguada Inglesa, entered the harbour, being fired at in their passage by Fort Niebla on the eastern shore. On their coming to an anchor at the Corral, two hundred men were again embarked to attack Forts Niebla, Carbonero, and Piojo. The O'Higgins now appearing in sight off the mouth of the harbour, the Spaniards abandoned the forts on the eastern side, no doubt judging that as the western forts had been captured without the aid of the frigate, they had--now that she had arrived--no chance of successfully defending them; the patriot troops were therefore disembarked at Fort Niebla till the tide served to take them to the town of Valdivia.

In crossing the harbour, the Intrepido, from want of precaution in taking soundings, grounded on a bank in the channel, where, bilged by the surf, she finally became a wreck. Nor was the O'Higgins in a much better condition, as, from the injury sustained at Quiriquina, it became necessary to put her ashore on a mud bank, as the sole means of saving her from going down in deep water, so that the only vessel left was the little schooner Montezuma.

On the 6th, the troops were again embarked to pursue the flying garrison up the river, when we received a flag of truce informing us that the enemy had abandoned the town, after plundering the private houses and magazines; and, together with the Governor, Colonel Montoya, had fled in the direction of Chiloe. From the disorders which were committed by the Spaniards, previous to their retreat, the town was in great consternation, many of the inhabitants having also fled; a proclamation issued by me, to the effect that no one should be molested in person or property, had, however, the effect of inducing them to return; and an additional order immediately to choose for themselves a Governor, at once restored peace and tranquillity--the disposition of the people being for the most part good, whilst any leaning which might have existed in favour of Spanish rule was dissipated by the excesses which, previous to their flight, the royalist troops had committed.

The fortifications were so numerous, that at first it was my intention to destroy them and embark the artillery, as the Spaniards who had escaped to Chiloe--where another Spanish regiment was stationed--might return after my departure and recover them, the force which could be spared to garrison them being insignificant when distributed amongst fifteen forts. On further reflection, I could not make up my mind to destroy fortresses, the erection of which had cost upwards of a million of dollars, and which Chili would find it difficult to replace; and therefore determined on leaving them intact, with their artillery and ammunition, intending, before my return to Valparaiso, to render the rout of the Spaniards who had escaped, yet more complete.

The booty which fell into our hands, exclusive of the value of the forts and public buildings, was considerable, Valdivia being the chief military depot in the southern part of the continent. Amongst the military stores, were upwards of 1,000 cwt. of gunpowder, 10,000 cannon shot, of which 2,500 were brass, 170,000 musket cartridges, a large quantity of small arms, 128 guns, of which 53 were brass, and the remainder iron; the ship Dolores, afterwards sold at Valparaiso for20,000 dollars, with public stores, also sold for the like value; and plate, of which General Sanchez had previously stripped the churches of Conception, valued at 16,000 dollars.

From correspondence found in the archives of Valdivia, it was clear that Quintanilla, the Governor of Chiloe, had serious apprehensions of a revolt at San Carlos, so that, in place of returning to Valparaiso, I resolved to see what could be effected there. The loss of the Intrepido was a serious drawback to our means of transporting troops, and the flag-ship would no longer float; as, however, we had possession of the Dolores, it was resolved to crowd into her and the Montezumaall the troops that could be spared, leaving Major Beauchef the whole of those brought from Conception.

Meanwhile, I despatched a piragua to Valparaiso with the intelligence of our success; the unexpected news, as was afterwards learned, creating such an amount of popular enthusiasm as had never before been witnessed in Chili. The most amusing part of the affair was, that by the time my despatches announcing our victory reached Vaparaiso, the other ships of the squadron had also arrived, when Captain Guise and his officers had attributed our rocket failure at Callao to my want of skill in their use; the inference desired, being my want of capability to command a squadron. Not a word of blame was then attributed to poor Goldsack, who had superintended their manufacture, as indeed none was deserved, though the blame afterwards attributed to him ended as before stated in his ruin.

To this alleged want of professional skill on my part, Zenteno had drawn up an elaborate accusation against me of disobedience to orders, in not having returned, according to my instructions; the whole clique felicitating themselves on my dismissal with disgrace. Even the people did not know what judgment to form, as all materials for forming an opinion were kept from them, whilst every pretence tending to my discredit was carefully made known. On news of the victory, all this was immediately hushed up--the ministers, to retrieve their own credit, joined in the popular enthusiasm, which it would have been unavailing to thwart--and poor Goldsack was overwhelmed with reproach for the failure of his rockets, though the whole blame rested with the Government in having employed Spanish prisoners as his workmen.

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