Cochrane’s finest achievements
Their pro-Chilean demonstration did the Americans no good. The royalists were convinced that Cochrane could only have carried off the Esmeralda with some form of help from the British and Americans. Spanish historians think the same today, and a recent study still maintains that ‘the contribution of the cited frigates (Hyperion and Macedonian) which were anchored within the chains securing the port was to provide intelligence, avoid raising the alarm, rescue patriot seamen who got into difficulties, and raise recognition lights so they could becopied by thecaptors of Esmeralda in order to confuse our ships and shore batteries.’As a result, Captain Downes, who was ashore at the time, was forced toseek refuge inthe Governor’s Palace, while a boat’s crew from theMacedonian landing next day to buy provisions was attacked and murdered by a vengeful mob.
The cutting out oftheEsmeralda was one ofLord Cochrane’s finest achievements. Captain Searle called it‘a most brilliant affair … commanded by Lord Cochrane in person, inwhich he carried (Esmeralda) together with a gunboat, from under the batteries and out of the line of defence, and in less than half-an-hour and under sail. This was done so quick and in so masterly a style that I had scarcely time to get out of the line of fire.’6It was also a deadly encounter, with the Chileans losing 11 killed and 31 wounded including Cochrane and Grenfell. Spanish losses were estimated at 56 dead, 70 wounded and 204 prisoners.