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Preparations for an expedition to Puertos Intermedios.— Captain Prescott, R.N.- H.M.S. Aurora.-Expedition sails.-Position of the royalists.-Incidents at sea.-Behaviour of the troops.Disembarkation at Arica.-Inactivity.-Colonel Miller sails for Quilca.-Escape of Valdez, near Tacna-General Alvarado advances.-Ameller's escape at Locumba.-Battle of Torata.Moquegua.-Remnant of the patriot army embarks at Ilo.— Iquique.-Death of La Rosa and Taramona.
SEVERAL months before the resignation of the protector, secret arrangements had been made for the sailing of fifteen hundred men, under the orders of Colonel Miller, to the Puertos Intermedios. The plan proposed was to land at Iquique, and from thence to march suddenly and rapidly upon General Olañeta, whose division of three or four thousand royalists was so scattered in the department of Potosi, that it was supposed Miller would be able to defeat it in detail, especially as it was known that the natives would willingly co-operate with the patriot commander, who was to take an ample supply of spare arms to facilitate the raising of new corps. In the event of success, Upper Peru would have been occupied. In the case of Miller being hard pressed, a retreat to the coast was out of the question; but his division was to cut its way to Salta, which would have been no dif
ficult matter, and where he would have found ample resources in the patriotic assistance of the gauchos. When the proposed time of embarkation approached, the plan was communicated, by the protector, to the general-in-chief, Alvarado, who considered the expedition of so much importance, that he offered to proceed himself with four thousand men. The protector acceded to Alvarado's suggestion, but many months elapsed before the increased number could be got ready; so slowly were the preparations conducted. In the mean while the deposition of the active Monteagudo took place, and the protector retired from public life. The junta gubernativa, which succeeded, agreeing in the propriety of removing the seat of war to the south, kept on the transports, which San Martin had already engaged and victualled, and continued the preparations for the projected expedition.
On the 25th of September, 1822, the whole of the Peruvian corps at Lima took the oath of fidelity and obedience to congress. They formed on the road to Callao, and a feu de joie was fired on the occasion. The appearance of the men and officers was excellent; all were well clothed and equipped. The infantry of the legion under Miller was the only Peruvian corps destined to embark in the expedition to Puertos Intermedios, and it marched, from the reviewing ground, to Callao for that purpose. One hundred and fifty men, with Lieutenant-Colonel Videla and a few officers, were left in Lima to form the second battalion.
Previous to the embarkation of the legion, Mr. John Parish Robertson gave a very splendid ball to the colonel and officers of the regiment. The party
was studiously select, and the most lovely of the gay and fascinating fair of Lima were present. Mr. Robertson being a bachelor, the company was received by the Señora Doña Rosita de Panizo, who, a few years before, was the pride of the viceregal court of Abascal, and then as much celebrated for the spirit and taste with which she dispensed her riches, as she is still for her amiable, generous-hearted, and lady-like manners: and, although a beautiful daughter of seventeen years gives to the mother a matronly air, Doña Rosita still preserves her beauty.
The junta gubernativa, finding much difficulty in procuring the necessary funds to send off the expedition, and to supply the military chest, as required by Alvarado, ordered a forced contribution of four hundred thousand dollars upon the commerce of Lima, nearly one half of which was attempted to be levied upon the British merchants, who refused to contribute, on the plea that foreigners residing in the different independent states of South America had hitherto been exempted from similar exactions. They set forth, at the same time, the arbitrary manner in which the loan had been apportioned; many English merchants being required to contribute very large sums, while natives, known to be extremely wealthy, were put down for very trifling amounts. The The government, however, insisted upon compliance, and severe measures were taken to enforce it. The merchants appealed to Captain Prescott, of H. M. S. Aurora, then commanding the British naval forces in the Pacific. They complained of the hardship and injustice of the case, and expressed their deter
mination to leave the country rather than submit to such an imposition. This officer accordingly addressed an official note to the minister of marine, who, in reply, notified to Captain Prescott the acquiescence of the government to the proposed departure of his countrymen; but he was subsequently addressed by the minister for foreign affairs, in explanation, as was stated, of the former communication; and Prescott was then given to understand that the English merchants would receive no passports until their just debts should be paid, in which it was pretended to include their proportion of the contribution. The injustice of this proceeding was combated by Captain Prescott, who, finding that redress was not to be obtained by a further correspondence, got the Aurora under weigh on the 9th of October, 1822, and, taking his station off the port, prevented the ingress of any British vessel. The executive, much perplexed by this decided step, but unwilling to undergo the mortification of rescinding their former order, referred the correspondence with Captain Prescott to the congress, which, anxious to prevent any misunderstanding with the British naval commander, issued a decree on the 10th, authorizing the executive to withdraw the claim. On the 11th, the Aurora returned into port, and all hostile feelings subsided. The English merchants then agreed to supply the government with a small loan, bearing no interest, to be repaid by specified instalments. They also voted fifteen hundred dollars for the purchase of a piece of plate, to be presented to Captain Prescott, in testimony of his valuable services during the critical period he was the senior British naval officer on the
station. The firmness, temper, and perfect knowledge of international rights, which the gallant officer displayed, whenever he was obliged to interfere in questions of delicacy and difficulty, acquired for him the respect and deference of contending Spaniards and Peruvians, as well as the grateful esteem of his own countrymen. The very high state of discipline and fine condition of the Aurora, the good conduct of the ship's company, and the harmony which prevailed amongst them, reflected equal credit upon the commander and upon his officers.
The junta gubernativa now directed their sole attention to the sailing of the long talked of expedition to the Puertos Intermedios. After much further delay, and some altercation between the general and the executive, the troops embarked on board the transports in the bay of Callao. They consisted of the following corps:
1st Battalion of Peruvian legion, Col. Miller. 700 Lieutenant-Colonel Sanchez.
Don Rudesindo Alvarado, general-in-chief. Col. Don Fran. Antonio Pinto, chief of the staff.
Composed of the battalions formerly denominated Nos. 7 and 8.
A squadron of this regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lavalle, which had been present at the battle of Pinchincha, did not join the army until it had disembarked at Arica.