The tension was palpable. Sandes was not only
outranked, but was very much an outsider in this Hispanic affair of
the heart. Should he risk the wrath of his superior officer, and
perhaps his career, for love?
Antonio J. de Sucre (1795-1830)
Before he had time to decide,
Sucre broke the
silence with an audacious proposal. 'Permit me to suggest', said the
general, 'that we trust our destinies to luck. Let's toss a coin to
see who will win the hand of the marchioness.'
Recovering quickly, Sandes agreed. 'Who knows,' said
the Kerryman, 'if either of us will ever return to
Quito, or whether we
will die in some distant battle?'
O'Connor, chosen as umpire, pulled a silver peso from
his pocket and tossed it in the air. 'Heads' shouted
Sucre, as the
tumbling coin glittered in the firelight.
When the peso fell flat on the floor, Sandes and
down at the head of King Carlos IV.
Sucre had won. 
On the road to Huamachuco
The Kerryman apparently accepted the result with
soldierly stoicism, and kept his feelings to himself. To lighten the
loss, O'Connor now pulled from his baggage the two bottles of Irish
whiskey that he had carefully preserved to celebrate St. Patrick's
Day. 'With the help of these,' wrote O'Connor, 'Sucre,
Sandes, Ferguson and myself had an excellent drinking session that
O'Connor was the only one of those drinking companions
to survive into old age, dying on his farm at
Tarija, Bolivia in
1871, aged eighty-one.  His descendants in
continued the family tradition of tinkering with their genealogy. Only
one child of his 1827 marriage to Francisca Ruyloba -their daughter
Hercilia- survived. 
If traditional Hispanic naming traditions had been
followed, the O'Connor surname should have disappeared within two
generations. Hercilia's son Tomás, from her marriage to Adhemar
d'Arlach , decided not only to retain his matronymic but converted
it into a patronymic, thus becoming O'Connor d'Arlach, a composite
surname that has endured in the family down to the present. 
William Owens Ferguson lived to see the war's end,
reaching the rank of Colonel, only to die in September 1828 during a
plot against Simon Bolívar.
whose physique was said to closely resemble that of the Liberator, was
apparently mistaken for Bolívar and shot in the back as he crossed a
darkened plaza in Bogotá, Colombia.  With honours rarely accorded
to a Protestant, the people of Colombia buried the 28-year old
Ulsterman in Bogotá's Catholic cathedral. 
Sucre also survived
to see South America liberated, and to keep his promise to the father
of Mariana Carcelén. But the hero's marriage was destined to be
unhappy and short. It was not until September 1828, four years after
the fateful coin toss, that
was united in marriage with Mariana.  In 1830, at the age of
thirty-five, he was assassinated by political rivals while riding home
from Colombia to Quito. Sucre had spent only eleven months in his
wife's company. 
19. Francisco Burdett O'Connor, op. cit., p. 69.
20. O'Connor, op. cit., pp. 69-70
Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 145.
21. James Dunkerley, 'The Third Man: Francisco Burdett
O'Connor and the Emancipation of the Americas' (University
of London: Institute of Latin American Studies, Occasional Papers N°
20; 1999), pp. 22-23.
22. James Dunkerley, op. cit., p. 2.
23. Monsieur Adhemar d'Arlach of Avignon, France, was
secretary of the French Legation in Bolivia.
According to Eric Lambert, he later served as an officer in the
Bolivian Army; Lambert, 'General Francis Burdett O'Connor' in The
Irish Sword, Vol. XIII, N° 51 (Winter 1977), p. 132.
Laurence M. Geary, 'Fraternally Yours: Roderic and
Francis Burdett O'Connor' in Journal of the
Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Vol. XCV, N° 254 (January-December 1990), p. 122.
24. Dunkerley, op. cit., pp. 23, 7, 2. See also Eric
Lambert, 'General Francis Burdett O'Connor' in The Irish Sword,
Vol. XIII, N° 51 (Winter 1977), p. 132.
25. The official and generally-accepted version of Ferguson's
death is found (among other sources)
in Michael G. Mulhall, 'The English in South America'
(London: E. Stanford, 1878; rpt. New York, Arno Press, 1977), p. 283:
'A sedition broke out in the palace where Bolívar was residing;
Colonel Ferguson was the officer on guard; the revolutionary chief
approached him with a party of troops, and demanded imperatively an
entrance to the palace, which Colonel Ferguson resolutely opposed. The
revolutionary leader then drew a revolver and shot Ferguson through
the head. The report of the revolver and the tumult of the troops
alarmed General Bolívar, who made his escape from a window of the
palace.' See also Hasbrouck, op. cit., p. 333; Lambert, 'Irish
Soldiers in South America', p. 34.
Some of Ferguson's
descendants, however, believe that William, whose physique closely
resembled the Liberator's, may have been deliberately sent across a
plaza by Bolívar's generals to draw fire and keep the Liberator safe.
According to Ferguson's grand-nephew, he 'was mistaken by the plotters
for Bolívar and was shot in the back and mortally wounded while
walking in the street.' See Ferguson,
'Journal', op. cit., intro., p. 3; correspondence from Susan
Wilkinson, Toronto, Canada, 15 December 1992. I am indebted to Susan
Wilkinson for sharing a copy of Col. Ferguson's Journal. Francisco
Burdett O'Connor's account of Ferguson's assassination lends some
support to the family's belief, locating Ferguson on a Bogotá street
(rather than at Bolívar's palace door) when he encountered one of the
conspirators, who drew a pistol and shot him dead. See Francisco
Burdett O'Connor, op. cit, p. 66.
26. Ferguson, 'Journal',
intro., p. 3.
27. Martha Gil-Montero, 'The Liberator's Noble Match',
28. Dr. L. Villanueva, Vida de Don Antonio Jose de
Sucre, Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho (Caracas: Ediciones del Ministerio de
Educación Nacional, 1945), p. 479.