This touched a raw nerve. It was also asensitive area, sincethe shortages ofmoney and delays in pay that had caused trouble on theLautaro and the Chacabuco in Cochrane’s firstmonths of command continued to haunt the squadron until the end.
Guise’s plain speaking on the subject did him no good. Cochrane resented any kind of criticism – and remembered it – so that 35 years later, when writing the Narrative of Services, he added Guise’s name to those whom Stevenson’s book had accused of disaffection and plots. But at the time, no one saw him in this way. Contemporary descriptions ofhim are favourable, John Thomas noting that, in addition to being a good seaman, his manners and civility made him respected and admired by all who met him. Even Cochrane’s partisans, Stevenson and Maria Graham described him as ‘a good natured, gentlemanlike man. читать полностью…
Outside the writings of Cochrane’s intimates, there is no evidence to support these suspicions. Indeed, the performance of the squadron in action off the coasts of Peru had been admirable, and the chief suspects – Captains Guise and Spry – had taken leading parts in the various engagements. Guise had been wounded in the initial foray against Callao and had led the attack on Pisco, while Spry had been praised in Cochrane’s dispatches for the attempt with rockets and explosion vessels. But once his suspicions were aroused, Cochrane was always able tofind evidence to justify them. Guise, forexample, had been disappointed when the job of senior captain went to Forster. Cochrane soon convinced himself that Guise was so resentful that he and his followers were plottng toget him the supreme command.11 This was actually an astonishing allegation since Blanco Encalada was clearly the only possible successor.
Likewise, Guise was neither secretive nor aplotter. If anything he was too open and honest. читать полностью…
From the perspective of O’Higgins and his government, Cochrane’s victories shone with even greater glory against the background ofwhat was happening inArgentina. During 1819, there had been disturbing signs of political disintegration and ofastruggle forpower between the centralisers of Buenos Aires and the federalist warlords in the provinces. Indeed, in the states of Entre Rios and Santa Fe only the proximity of the Northern Army under General Belgrano was preventing a revolt. Private armies roamed the pampas causing fear and disruption. One of the worst was the so-called ‘Chilean Legion’ led by the last of the Carrera brothers, José Miguel. The government in Buenos Aires, exhausted by a succession of wars and with trade at a standstill, seemed powerless to prevent it.
Not even the threat of the Great Expedition preparing at Cadiz stimulated any closing ofranks.At the end of1818, Director Pueyrredon had been replaced by the weak and vacillating General Rondeau, whose first act was to recall San Martin and the Army of the Andes from Chile! читать полностью…
Admittedly, Miers never had a good word to say about anybody, but by the time he wrote these words, Dean had provided ample evidence ofthe devious way in which he operated. Stevenson’s problem was that he was a gossip and inexperienced in naval matters and procedures.
Indeed, hishanding ofthe squadron’s prize affairs was partly responsible for the general discontent. Likewise, while Cochrane treated followers such as Morgell and Dean with indulgence – and seemed to find it difficult to dismiss or reprimand even the most inept – his attitude toothers was cold and distant. And, after the initial euphoria of his arrival in Chile, the restless and suspicious elements in his personality began to assert themselves. читать полностью…
The reality of the matter was very different. O’Higgins and the Chilean Government were pleased with Lord Cochrane’s activities, and said so frequently and publicly as in Zenteno’s letter of 22February. They expressed the same views inprivate. In aconfidential letter sent by O’Higgins to the Senate at the end of March, for example, he stressed the importance of the capture of Valdivia to the Chilean nation, and concluded ‘the government finds itself necessary for reasons ofpolicy, gratitude and justiceto show to Lord Cochrane – the one and only author of this reconquest – due recognition that we are indebted to him for its success. He has gloriously extended himself beyond the purely naval sphere and has rendered the fatherland a truly extraordinary service. The Chilean Government had already shown itsappreciation by almost doubling Cochrane’s pay and prize money: now it awarded him the Chilean Order ofMerit, aGold Medal and anestate of 20,000 acres at Rio Clara in the south.
The Chileans gave Cochrane all he craved for in terms of recognition, reward and approval, yet it is astonishing to find that he could not believe it. Driven by a restless and suspicious temperament, hepersuaded himself that, in spite of all appearances, he was being secretly criticised by his superiors and was surrounded by people who were plotting toget rid ofhim. читать полностью…
Miers’s book Travels in Chile and La Plata. Here, the events that followed the taking of Valdivia are described in the following terms:
Lord Cochrane on his return instead of being hailed by the government for theservices he had rendered was annoyed by every vexation.
… This Minister (Zenteno) carried out a series of intrigues the object of which was todegrade the Admiral and lessen the glory which his brilliant services so well deserved.
He did not even receive public acknowledgementor thanks forthe brilliant exploit … and itwas only when Lord Cochrane’s indignation was roused at the ingratitude oftheGovernment of Chile and itwas feared that he was about to retire in August that the requisite form of thanks was conceded and medals were distributed to the victorious troops and a nominal reward was granted in the form of the grant of an estate to lord Cochrane for his brilliant services. читать полностью…
Cold and austere by temperament, Zenteno was clearly no charmer. Indeed, he was well known forhis lackof
civility. But the written record does not substantiate Cochrane’s accusations that he was treated with malice and obstruction. Rather the reverse. During their four-year association, Zenteno sent Cochrane hundreds oforders, supplemented by scores of personal letters discussing the strategic situation, praising Cochrane’s actions, and trying to anticipate his complaints. Frequently when sending an order he knew would be uncongenial, Zenteno attempted to mollify him by adding a personal note of explanation.
Even allowing for Latin American courtesy, these comunications are amiable and friendly. Indeed, the tone of Zenteno’s letters is so at variance with the depiction given in theNarrative of Services that even Cochrane realised it and tried to explain away the discrepancy. читать полностью…
Henceforth Zenteno was cast in therole of an enemy. Out of delicacy, the ministers comments had been made in private. It was Cochrane and his entourage who made them public. The Cochrane version of the interview was retailed in the books subsequently published by his business associate, John Miers, the travel writer, Maria Graham, and inhis own Narrative of Services. Inthese accounts, the minister isaccused ofbeing abusive, of railing that Cochrane had acted like a madman and that I even now ought to lose my head for daring to attack such a place without instructions and for exposing the patriot forces to such a hazardﾒ.From this point on, Cochrane sees Zenteno as my bitter opponent, obstructing all my plans for the interests of Chileﾒ6 and allthe while secretly plotting against him.
For asailing ship to run aground atnight inpoorly charted waters was not an uncommon event. But
Cochrane’s inner circle soon realised that the incident did not reflect well on their patron. It was necessary therefore to manufacture adefence. The excuse that subsequently appeared in Stevenson’s book, and that has been repeated by biographers ever since,is that Cochrane was exhausted with carrying out the duties of both commander-in-chief and captain, and went to bed giving orders to the officer of the watch, Lieutenant Nicholas Lawson, to call him if the wind rose. Lawson, however, was negligent and retired himself, leaving the deck to an inexperienced midshipman.
He in turn failed to rouse Cochrane as ordered, and could not cope with the crisis when it arose. Thus, Cochrane’s partisans were able toconvince themselves that he was blameless forthe accident. Alas, thiscarefully devised excuse does not hold water. The responsibility for allowing the flagship to become so seriously deficient in officers was Lord Cochrane’s. It was he who decided that O’Higgins did not need a captain while he was on board. It was he who allowed the complement of lieutenants to fall to two by putting the rest aboard prizes. And of those who remained, Cochrane had arrested one – an American called Edward Brown – so that only Lawson had been left to carry out watch keeping duties. He, no doubt, was as exhausted as his Vice Admiral. The grounding of theO’Higgins showed Cochrane’s powers of leadership, his strength of character, his technical skills and his seamanship at their best.
It is a pity that hisconstant need forself-justification did not allow him to leave it at that.
Valdivia was Spain’s last remaining stronghold on the Pacific south ofCallao. Located on theseaboard ofthe mountains and fjords ofsouthern Chile, itwas the first landfall for ships coming round Cape Horn from Europe and was animportant base and amajor depository of supplies, arms and munitions. The town, inasheltered spot surrounded by apple trees and with an ample harbour, was located on the low, heavily wooded banks of a long river running into a flask shaped bay with a narrow fortified entrance 1200 yards wide running from west to east.
Stevenson described itas ‘the Gibraltar of South America’, defended by 2000 men and more than 100 guns.
This was, however, an exaggeration. Unlike Gibraltar, the troops and guns defending Valdivia were not located in a single fortress, but were scattered between five different forts and four smaller gun emplacements perched on the rocky heights that dominated the bay on every side. Thus, an enemy ship entering the harbour would first have to pass the guns of the Fort of Ingles on the right commanding the approaches; then those of San Carlos and Amargos, with Niebla on the opposite side; then, further down on the right, those ofthe Castle of Corral, which formed the centrepiece and dominated the interior of the bay.
The defences of Valdivia appeared formidable, but Cochrane knew their weaknesses. Not only was the garrison scattered, but the guns were positioned so as to resist an attack by sea. Toaman ofCochrane’s tactical gifts, the answer was clear. It was to attack unexpectedly by land at night, and to roll up the forts and batteries one by one before a central defence could be organised. And this isexactly what he did.Late onthe afternoon of February, Cochrane’s flotilla approached to within striking distance of Valdivia. Leaving the damagedO’Higginsout of sight ofthe shore, Cochrane embarked the landing parties onIntrepido andMontezumaand, in a heavy sea, they headed for a cove at the foot of the heights on which
Fort Ingles was built. To gain time the Chilean ships flew the Spanish flag – and even communicated with the shore posing as friendly vessels fresh from Cape Horn. читать полностью…