There were five redoubts on the connecting line, mounted with artillery, and entrenchments between them.
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 no more Peruvians of either sex to kill, so the drunken savages turned upon one another. No less than four hundred were killed in this way, fighting with senseless fury, or being burnt by the flames which they had themselves kindled. The thirst for blood was unsated, and shots were heard in all directions throughout the night. The foreign flags, flying over the houses of neutrals, were torn down, and lighted torches were applied to the more inflammable parts of the buildings, amid ribald jests and bursts of drunken laughter. The British Minister’s house was levelled to the ground, as well as the church. The town was utterly destroyed. Vergara reported that over two thousand Chilians were killed and wounded; while four thousand bodies of the young students and mechanics of Lima — the poor citizens thus making a human wall between the invaders and their beloved capital — were scattered over the first line of defense. At 2 p.m. the slaughter was finished for the day, having lasted continuously since dawn. The first Chilian division encamped at the foot of the Morro Solar, near Chorrillos. The rest of the army was distributed in the meadows between the ruined town and San Juan. The large military school at Chorrillos, the only building left standing, was used as a hospital.
The Supreme Chief had remained at the front encouraging his countrymen until the day was lost. He then rode from Chorrillos along the beach, managing to get his horse up some part of the cliff, and so reached Miraflores, where he labored to place the second line in a posture of defense.
In the early morning of the 15th the Diplomatic Corps at Lima intervened in the hope of preventing more bloodshed and averting the horrors of a battle just outside the capital. This was done at the request of the Supreme Chief, who desired to know what would be the basis of peace. The ministers of England, France, and Salvador asked General Baquedano for a suspension of hostilities with the object of allowing Pierola time to deliberate. The Chilian commander agreed that the armistice should last until midnight of the 15th. But he insisted on carrying out a movement of troops which had been begun. The ministers agreed to that, with the express condition (accepted by the Chilian General) that the movement should not extend beyond the Gran Guardia of the army, and that the line should remain as it was at the moment of the agreement. There was to be no advance.
The foreign ministers and admirals, with the Supreme Chief of Peru and some of his officers, then assembled in the beautiful villa of Mr. Schell at Miraflores. Here Pierola entertained his distinguished guests at breakfast, in perfect confidence that faith would be kept, and all hoped that some arrangement would be made with the Chilians before the armistice came to an end. A golden oriole had perched on a twig close to the windows, and Pierola was explaining the habits of the bird to his foreign guests. At that instant a furious cannonade was heard, and shells began to fly in all directions. There was a cry of “Treachery!” There was no time to get out horses; admirals and diplomatists had to escape as best they could.
General Baquedano had inadvertently broken the armistice. He had advanced to reconnoiter beyond the line agreed upon. Seeing that an advance was thus made, contrary to agreement, some of the Peruvian gunners mistook it for an attack and opened fire. The action immediately became general.
On that afternoon the last stand was made behind the last line of defenses. The railroad from Lima to Chorrillos passed through it, near Miraflores. East of the railroad the irrigating water-course of Surco, flowing from the Rimac, passes south- southwest to Surco and Barranco, one branch forming a shallow dry ravine, extending to the sea. This was used as a sort of trench in front of the defenses. Near the Rimac, and between the Lima and the River Surco, rise the isolated hills of Vasquez with the peak of San Bartolome. Across the Rimac, and in the rear of Lima, is the peak of San Cristoval. These two heights were planted with heavy cannon. There were five redoubts on the connecting line, mounted with artillery, and entrenchments between them. Here Colonel Davila commanded. In one redoubt was Deputy Sanchez. In the next was Riberio with the students and the gentlemen of the press. Then came the merchants under Manuel Lecco. The adobe walls, forming the boundaries of the numerous fields, were pierced for rifles in two rows, for men kneeling and for others standing. Miraflores may be considered the central point of the situation, and thither trains mounted with guns could be sent out of Lima with reinforcements. Between Miraflores and the sea the line was continued to a semicircle redoubt on the Peruvian extreme right. Two of the heavy Rodman guns from Callao were placed in it. This work, called the Alfonso Ugarte Fort, in honor of the young hero who fell on the Morro of Arica, consisted of sand-bags on a bed of pebbles, with a ditch in front. It was defended by Caceres.
The battle began at 2.25 p.m. Artillery was brought to bear on the Ugarte Fort, and opened fire at 2.35 p.m., while the iron clads Huascar and Blanco, and the O’Higgins, Pilcomayo, and Toro, enfiladed from the sea and disabled the two Rodman guns. The work was very gallantly defended by Colonel Caceres, and the fire was steadily returned. After a long bombardment the Chilian third division advanced in skirmishing order, protected by the artillery, and made a furious charge under Colonel Lagos. Yet it was not until the ammunition of the defenders was exhausted that they at length got possession of the place after a sharp struggle. Caceres had whispered to those around him: “We have no more ammunition. We are lost.” This was at 4.30 p.m. The defenders fell back, to reinforce the center. At the same time a still more severe contest was raging on the Peruvian left.
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