Soon after my departure for Peru, Lady Cochrane undertook a journey across the Cordillera, to Mendoza, the passes being, at that season, often blocked up with snow. Having been entrusted with some despatches of importance, she pushed on rapidly, and on the 12th of October arrived at the celebrated Ponte del Inca, 15,000 feet above the level of the sea. Here the snow had increased to such an extent as to render farther progress impossible, and her ladyship was obliged to remain at a Casucha, or strong house, built above the snow for the safety of travellers; the intense cold arising from the rarity of the atmosphere, and the absence of all comfort—there being no better couch than a dried bullock’s hide—producing a degree of suffering which few ladies would be willing to encounter.
Whilst proceeding on her mule up a precipitous path in the vicinity, a Royalist, who had intruded himself on the party, rode up in an opposite direction and disputed the path with her, at a place where the slightest false step would have precipitated her into the abyss below. One of her attendants, a tried and devoted soldier, named Pedro Flores, seeing the movement, and guessing the man’s intention, galloped up to him at a critical moment, striking him a violent blow across the face, and thus arresting his murderous design. The ruffian finding himself vigorously attacked, made off, without resenting the blow, and so, no doubt, another premeditated attempt on Lady Cochrane’s life was averted.
SAN MARTIN’S VIOLATION OF TRUTH—REMOVAL
DEPRESSION—TROOPS DYING OF FEVER—SAN MARTIN’S DESIGNS ON
GUAYAQUIL—MUTINOUS CONDUCT OF OFFICERS—REFUSAL TO OBEY
ORDERS—DEPOSITION OF VICEROY—SAN MARTIN GIVES ME TROOPS—JEALOUSY OF
SAN MARTIN—ATTACK ON ARICA—CAPTURE OF TACNA—CAPTURE OF
MOQUEGA—REFUSAL OF MORE MEN—AN ARMISTICE RATIFIED—DISTRESS OF
LIMA—DISSATISFACTION OF THE ARMY—LADY COCHRANE—GOES INTO THE
INTERIOR—DANGEROUS POSITION—LADY COCHRANE IN ACTION—DEVOTION OF
On the 8th of November I went to Ancon with our prize, this being hailed with great enthusiasm by the army, which—now that the Spanish naval force had received, what even the Spaniards themselves considered its death blow—made certain that it would be at once led against Lima, before the authorities recovered from their consternation. To their mortification—no less than my own—General San Martin, in defiance of all argument to the contrary, ordered the troops on board the transports, having decided on retreating to Huacho! whither the O’Higgins and Esmeralda, abandoning the blockade, had to convoy them. In place of prompt action—or rather demonstration, for the occupation of the city would have amounted to little more—he issued a proclamation, promising, as before, the most perfect freedom to the Peruvian people if they would join him:—