Three years later, Captain Basil Hall of HMS Conway, formed exactly the same impression. It was a judgement that was immediately confirmed when San Martin refused to acceptthe Supreme Directorship of newly liberated Chile, and stood down infavour of his friend and subordinate, General Bernardo O’Higgins. Short and stout, with liberal principles he had acquired at school inEngland, O’Higgins was inmany ways the opposite of San Martin. But he was a good choice, being a local boy and the illegitimate son of Ambrosio O’Higgins, one ofthe many Catholic Irishmen who had joined the Spanish royal service and risen high to become Governor of Concepción and CaptainGeneral of Chile. Unacknowledged by his father during his early life, Bernardo had had a penurious upbringing and was moved from one foster parent to another, until Ambrosio finally took an interest and sent him firsttoSpain and then toRichmond near London to complete his education. There – to the horror of his father who by this time had become Marquis of Osorno and Viceroy of Peru – he came under the influence of the veteran South American revolutionary, Francisco de Miranda.
Three months later, ten transports carrying three regiments of infantry, one of cavalry and supporting batteries of guns landed at Talcahuana under the command of General Mariano Osorio. The united force struck north and inflicted a serious reverse on the unprepared Chileans at Cancha Rayada, midway between Concepción and Santiago, inwhich O’Higgins was wounded. There was momentary panic. The streets of the capital were once more filled with cargo mules and carriages as prominent citizens packed up their plate and valuables and prepared to flee over the Andes. But San Martin saved the day. Rallying the demoralised troops by sheer force of personality, he led Both were to play supporting roles in the wars of independence, and both were to leave accounts of the campaign. Paroissien was the eldest. Descended from a respectable Huguenot family, hehad been born on 25 November1784 in Barking, where his father was a schoolmaster, and had later lived in Hackney where his half brother was the Anglican curate.