It was Canterac who finally lost his nerve, withdrew his men, and headed for his second objective, the Castles of For South Americans, 1821 was a momentous year. But for Lord Cochrane, its main feature was not the blockade of Callao, or the surrender of Lima, or even the creation of the Peruvian Republic. It was his blazing row with San Martin.
In view of the very different personalities of the two men, a clash of wills was inevitable. Inevitable, that is, taking into account the insubordinate streak in Cochrane’s character, his deeply suspicious nature and his inability to keep his opinions to himself. San Martin was a reflective and subtle Latin – a political realist who believed that only authoritarian governmentwould frustrate his countrymen’s instinct for anarchy, and a man of strategic vision who saw battles as merely one means to an end. Lord Cochrane, on the other hand, was an impulsive and opinionated Scottish aristocrat who saw the world insimplistic terms – a political romantic who believed in democracy and knew little of the South American temperament, and a man who saw battles and fighting as ends in themselves. Between the two men there was a total lack of understanding.
The firstdisagreement was over military tactics.San Martin’s strategy was to play fortime, topoliticise the country slowly and avoid action with Spanish forces while internal disputes destroyed theirwill to fight. He also knew full well that the military forces opposed to him were superior in both numbers and experience and was determined to avoid any risk.