But there were two distractions. First,anchored offthe town on his arrival he found the brig San Antonio, bound for Acapulco from Valparaiso carrying two British-born officers, Brigadier Arthur Wavell and Colonel Philip O’Reilly.3 The two men carried passports signed by O’Higgins on 3September 1821, inwhich theSupreme Director declared thatthey had been entrusted with a special mission by the Chilean Government and requested the assistance of all in facilitating their journey. Cochrane, unfortunately, tried to do the opposite. Arguing that the presence of the Spanish frigates in Mexican waters made the continuation of San Antonio’s voyage too dangerous, he prevented them from sailing. There were weeks of wrangling. Wavell explained that he was charged with a confidential mission to the patriot Government of Mexico – though declined to show his secret orders – and rejected the reason Cochrane put forward for detaining the San Antonio by revealing that the latest news was thatVenganza andPrueba had left Acapulco a month before. Cochrane finally relented and gave permission forWavell and O’Reilly to proceed.When he later recorded these events in hisNarrative ofServices,Cochrane tried tojustify his behaviour by discrediting Wavell and O’Reilly and claiming that their credentials were false.
As usual, biographers have swallowed and repeated the story even though it has no basis other than Cochrane’s desire for self-justification. The second problem was trickier. In the middle of November, one ofBolivar’s aides, Colonel Diego Ibarra, had arrived in Guayaquil to make arrangements for the transfer of Columbian troops to the area by sea for a joint assault with San Martin’s forces on the royalists in Upper Peru.