Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/177

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worn-out merchant ships or English ships of war that had been sold out of the service. Cochrane, who was appointed 'admiral and commander-in-chief of the naval forces of the republic,' determined to forestall the threatened attack, and, having hoisted his flag on board the O'Higgins, sailed from Valparaiso on 16 Jan. 1819, accompanied by three other ships of his little navy. His force was too small to achieve any great success; but in a five months' absence from Valparaiso he blockaded the Spanish ships under the shelter of their forts, scattered their soldiers in several skirmishes, and captured both stores and a considerable amount of treasure. In a correspondence with the viceroy at Lima relative to the exchange of prisoners, the viceroy expressed his surprise 'that a British nobleman should come to fight for a rebel community unacknowledged by all the powers of the globe.' Cochrane replied that 'a British nobleman had a right to assist any country which was endeavouring to re-establish the rights of aggrieved humanity, and that he had adopted the cause of Chili with the same freedom of judgment that he had exercised in refusing the offer of an admiral's rank in Spain, which had been made to him not long before by the Spanish ambassador in London.' After a stay of nearly three months at Valparaiso Cochrane sailed on a second cruise on 12 Sept. He had now with him the whole force of the Chilian navy, including two fireships. He was also provided with a quantity of rockets and other explosives, from which great results were hoped. But in an attack on Callao the rockets proved to be worthless; one of the fireships was uselessly expended, and after watching the port for some weeks sickness and want of provisions compelled him to withdraw. Having sent some of the ships to Valparaiso, and leaving others on the coast of Peru, he sailed towards the middle of December with only the flagship for Valdivia, then strongly fortified, and held by the Spaniards as a base of operations against the Chilians from the south. Having reconnoitred the place he went to Concepcion to get a reinforcement of two hundred and fifty soldiers. He was there joined also by a small schooner and a Brazilian brig, which volunteered for the expedition; and thus strengthened returned to Valdivia, where, in the most extraordinary manner, having landed about three hundred men, he stormed the outermost fort of a long chain of works which defended the harbour, and a panic having spread among the Spaniards he chased them from fort to fort in wild confusion. The whole fell into his hands with a loss of not more than seven killed and nineteen wounded. Of the garrisons, upwards of one hundred were found dead, as many more were made prisoners, and the rest escaped, some into the woods, some up the river to Valdivia, which they sacked and abandoned, flying to Chiloe. Cochrane thus obtained undisputed possession of the town, and with it of a very large quantity of military stores. He returned to Valparaiso on 27 Feb. 1820, and was enthusiastically welcomed by General O'Higgins, the supreme director, and the people generally; but he soon found that among the ministry the prevailing feeling was one of jealousy. He was thus subjected to such indignities and attempted persecutions that, on 14 May, he tendered his resignation. It was refused, but he received a promise of better treatment; the seamen's wages were paid, and the prize-money for Valdivia was awarded. Cochrane's share amounted to sixty-seven thousand dollars, and to this was added a grant of land; but the money was never paid, and the estate was forcibly seized a few years later.

When this dispute had been arranged it was determined to undertake an expedition against Peru with the whole force of the republic. An army of upwards of four thousand men under the command of General San Martin was embarked on board the ships of war, which sailed from Valparaiso towards the end of August 1820. In spite of Cochrane's remonstrances San Martin insisted on the troops being landed at Pisco, where they remained in idleness for nearly two months. On 28 Oct. they were re-embarked, and, again on St. Martin's demand, landed at Ancon. Cochrane had in vain urged the advisability of an immediate attack on Callao and Lima; and now, understanding that his second landing would be as fruitless as the former, he determined with a detachment of his own force to cut out the Esmeralda frigate at Callao. Acting entirely on his own responsibility and without consulting San Martin, he made the attempt with complete success. On the night of 5 Nov. the boats pulled into the harbour; about midnight they were alongside the Esmeralda, and the Chilians boarded from several points at once. The Spaniards, though surprised, fought obstinately, but were beaten below with great slaughter. Cochrane himself was severely wounded, and the total loss of the victors was eleven killed and thirty wounded. As soon as the uproar on board announced to the garrison that an attack was being made, the batteries at once opened fire on the Esmeralda, thus killing or wounding many of their own men. The fire, however, did less damage than might have been expected, being neutralised by one of those simple but ingenious expedients, in which