ONLY a few final preparations now, and he would be ready to set out upon that fantastic enterprise which had been simmering in his mind for so long.
Méndez had sent a shipment of 10,000 rifles and large quantities of munitions, and five armed war sloops had arrived from England to reinforce the squadron of Brión. Angostura, then, and the river would be well protected from enemy attack.
The attitude of foreign governments was beginning to favor the patriot cause; it was necessary to accomplish a spectacular maneuver quickly for effect. On March 28, 1818, Henry Clay had made an impassioned plea before the United States Congress for recognition of the South American states. The proposition was voted down, but considerable sympathy had been aroused; Clay was continuing his efforts and winning support.
Considerable numbers of the foreign legionnaires had arrived by this time--commissioned and noncommissioned officers mostly--and Bolívar had reorganized them, preserving somewhat their original units, though these consisted of little more than a cadre of officers for each. After the departure of Hippisley Colonel Rooke was placed at the head of the whole British Legion and of the First Rifles as his individual command. It was necessary to fill the ranks with native troops.
In the interior of Guayana, up the Caroní River, were those Indian missions which had been established by the Capuchin monks and which Piar had seized, needlessly