The seamen were certainly becoming truculent over the non-appearance of pay, andduring September, when the shortage ofsupplies had became critical, there were disturbing messages from O’Higgins,Galvarino and Lautaro of sailors refusing duty. The morale of the officers was also sagging. And when, on 17 August, San Martin’s government began to recruit men for the new Peruvian Navy sending Paroissien and Spry to lobby them personally – of the squadron’s 30 sea officers signed on.
Their numbers included five ofseven captains and six of 25 lieutenants. Cochrane himself was invited tobecome its admiral, but indignantly refused. Guise, Spry and Freeman inevitably offered their services – but so did many others who had previously been Cochrane ‘followers’ like Prunier who was now commanding Pueyrredon and had already attracted the Admiral’s displeasure. Forster too had fallen from favour, and had resigned his commission after having been excluded from anactive role inthecapture ofthe Esmeralda.
Cochrane claimed that the officers who joined the new navy were bribed to leave the Chilean service with estates and awards. But it is just as likely that they were disturbed by the conduct of theValdivia court martial and by Cochrane’s obsession with plots, and decided to leave before they too came under suspicion. In private letters, officers tactfully refrained from revealing their feelings.