That night his division reached Cerro Azul, a little port in the northern end of the rich Valley of Canete.
Continuing Chile Captures Lima,
our selection from The War Between Chile and Peru, 1879-1882 by Clements R. Markham published in 1882. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in five easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Chile Captures Lima.
Place: Lima, Peru
There were reminiscences connected with this valley which might have suggested moderation to a Chilian soldier. General O’Higgins fought and bled for Chile; he was engaged in all the battles in the war against the Spaniards, and he secured independence for his countrymen. In return he was hunted out of his native land by the ungrateful Chilians, and he died in exile. Peru received him as an honored guest and granted him an estate. He found a home among hospitable strangers, and lived for many years at Montalvan, in the Valley of Canete. Did not one Chilian think of this while their leader was cattle-lifting and threatening destruction around the old home of the Chilian patriot O’Higgins? In the house at Montalvan still hung the portraits of the General, of his mother, the fair Isabel Riquelme, and of several soldiers of the war of independence, as well as large pictures of the Battle of Rancagua and of the deposition of O’Higgins. Even these were not held sacred. Lynch pulled down and carried off one of the most valuable pictures. His men, who had charge of it, got drunk and left it on the road. It is now lost. Lynch then stopped at the next estate that came in his way, that of Gomez, belonging to Don Jose Unanue, a scion of one of the most distinguished families in Peru. The learned Don Hipolito Unanue was the dear and intimate friend of General O’Higgins, whose agreeable society soothed the weary years of the patriot’s exile. But what cared Lynch! He demanded a number of horses and bullocks which did not exist, and declared that he would burn and destroy the house and the valuable buildings and machinery if this requisition was not complied with. Eventually he was satisfied with blackmail to the amount of twenty thousand dollars. That night his division reached Cerro Azul, a little port in the northern end of the rich Valley of Canete.
On the 21st the Chilians marched across another desert to the hamlet of Asia, where there are wells, and then onward to the large grazing-farm of Bujama, resting there until the 23d. From this point the Peruvian cavalry of the Torata regiment, concealed to a great extent by trees and bushes, annoyed the advancing columns by a desultory fire, two Chilians being killed and three wounded. In return Lynch ordered all houses on the line of march to be burnt, and caused a prisoner to be shot in cold blood. In this frame of mind he entered San Antonio in the beautiful Valley of Mala. When he arrived there was a pretty little town with a handsome church surrounded by fruit-gardens. When he departed there was a heap of smouldering ruins.
On the 25th Lynch and his division arrived at Curayaco, the place where the rest of the army was debarking. This experienced cattle-lifter brought with him two hundred cows and bullocks, several horses, six hundred donkeys, and one thousand Chinese laborers from the estates, who were allowed to pillage and burn freely in his rear. He was twelve days marching one hundred fourteen miles.
Meanwhile the main body of the army, under General Baquedano, landed at Curayaco. Colonel Vergara had been promoted to the post of Minister of War “in campaign,” and ac companied the expedition. The landing at Curayaco began on the 2 2d, and continued during the two following days. The cavalry, under Colonel Letelier, was pushed forward to occupy the Valley of Lurin. A Peruvian cavalry detachment was surprised by Colonel Barbosa on December 27th, at Manzana, in the upper part of the Lurin Valley; and upward of a hundred men and horses were taken prisoners. The Peruvian Lieutenant- Colonel Arostegui was shot by the Chilian soldiers after he had surrendered. This was the same force that had harassed Lynch’s division on his line of march. The disaster was the more serious as all the effective cavalry of the Lima defending army did not number six hundred men.
The once merry village of Lurin was completely gutted by the Chilians. Most of the houses were converted into ruins, while all the furniture and household goods of the poor people were wantonly destroyed. Even the church was not respected, the interior being used as a stable for the horses of General Baquedano. He established his headquarters at the estate of San Pedro, on Christmas Day.
Here the Chilian leader, with his army, remained for three weeks, making preparations for his final advance on Lima, reconnoitering the Peruvian line of defense about ten miles to the north, collecting provisions and munitions of war, and maturing his plans. He had an effective force of twenty- six thousand fighting men, more than seventy field-guns of long range, and a large and well-mounted body of cavalry.
The first division, under Lynch, was to form the Chilian left wing, marching along the road by the sea-shore, called the Playa de Conchan, a distance of nine miles, assailing the line of defense between the Morro Solar and Santa Teresa, and coming down upon Chorrillos. The second division, under General Soto- mayor, was in the center, and had orders to break the line in front of San Juan and then cooperate with Lynch against Chorrillos. The third, led by Colonel Lagos, was on the extreme right, with the duty of keeping the enemy’s left in check or supporting the center under Sotomayor. The reserve, under Colonel Martinez, was placed in the space between the left and the center.
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