Shortly after my departure, the partisans of General Freire, and the enemies of General O’Higgins, having entered into a combination—the former marched on Valparaiso, where the people ardently espoused his cause; so that abandoned by his evil genius, San Martin, and equally so by others who had caused his downfall, the Supreme Director found himself a prisoner in the hands of the very man who had most conduced to his overthrow, viz., Zenteno, in whose charge he was placed on pretence of being made accountable for the expenditure of those who now held him in durance!
The end of this was, a five months’ examination of O’Higgins, which resulted in his being permitted to leave the country; General Freire having, meanwhile, been elected to the Supreme Directorate, in the midst of internal dissensions in Chili, and disasters in Peru, where the Spaniards, under Cantarac—emboldened by the pusillanimity of the Protector in permitting them to relieve Callao unmolested, and elated with their decisive victory over a division of his army, as narrated in a previous chapter—had availed themselves of the treasure carried away from Callao in reorganising their forces, which now threatened Lima, and would no doubt have recovered Peru, had not Bolivar, foreseeing the result, sent a division of his army, under General Sucre, to the assistance of the beleaguered city.
In the midst of these embarrassments, the New Government of Chili despatched the following letter to Rio de Janeiro, for the purpose of inducing me to return, and reorganise the navy, the officers and men of which had, as I learned, shortly subsequent to my departure been turned adrift, without any reward whatever for their extraordinary privations and exertions in the cause of independence.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Santiago de Chili, April 11, 1823.
Most Excellent Sir,
The Representatives of the people of Chili, legally assembled, having elected Don Ramon Freire as Supreme Director of the State, this event has happily terminated the internal movements which agitated the country. The new Government, on entering on its delicate functions, has been impressed with the want of your Excellency to give preponderance to this maritime state, by the imposing aptitude of your Excellency’s measures and extraordinary renown, so highly prized by the Chilenos, and dreaded by their enemies.
The loss of the Allied army in Moquegua, where it has been beaten by General Cantarac, has occasioned such an effect on the result of the war, that possibly the capital of Peru may fall into the hands of the enemy in consequence of the ascendancy thus acquired.
In consequence of this event, Chili must give a new impulse to her maritime affairs, especially as an expedition is about to sail from Cadiz, composed of two ships of the line, to restore the Spanish authority in Peru.