All that remained of the military order, from extreme old age to boyhood, had come to face death, and, if need be, to die for their country.
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
The defenders of the capital, marshalled to receive the invaders, were ranged along the first line of defense. On the extreme right Miguel Iglesias was under the brow of the Morro Solar with five thousand men. In the center was Caceres, defending the hills of Santa Teresa and San Juan; with the battalions of Marino, of Ayarza, and of Canevaro. The latter was transferred to the division of Davila, on the left, just before the battle. The division of Suarez formed a reserve. Pierola, the Supreme Chief, had his headquarters at Chorillos, in the villa of Don Manuel A. Fuentes, the learned statistician. Round him were the veteran generals of the republic. General Silva was his chief of staff, Captain Garcia y Garcia his secretary, and his young son, just eighteen, was also by his side. All that remained of the military order, from extreme old age to boyhood, had come to face death, and, if need be, to die for their country.
Beginning the march from Lurin on the evening of January 12, 1 881, the Chilian plan was to attack the defense at dawn on the 13th, taking the Peruvians by surprise.
The first division marched half-way across the desert, with its left resting on the sea-shore, halting at midnight in front of the Peruvian positions of Villa and Santa Teresa, and about two miles from them. Sotomayor led his division across the Lurin River, up the ravine of Atocongo to the table-land of La Tablada, where he also halted at midnight. The third division reached the same plateau. At dawn they all began to advance, but as the first division had much the shortest distance to march over, the action began on the Chilian left, with a smart fire from the Peruvian lines at 5 a.m. Here the heavy odds against the defenders were increased by a cannonade from the men-of-war. Yet their resistance was steady and tenacious. They had lost hardly any ground when Baquedano ordered the reserves to advance between Santa Teresa and San Juan, and to attack on the flank. Then the gallant Peruvian right wing was driven back but not broken. It retreated steadily up the Morro Solar. An hour after this attack began, at 6 a.m., the second Chilian division charged the defenses in front of San Juan, nearly the center of the position, and carried the hill at the point of the bayonet, while there was a frightful slaughter of the unfortunate people under Canevaro, who faced the third division. They were attempting to retreat when Baquedano, at 7.30 a.m., let loose his cavalry along the road to Tebes, who cut down the fugitives in all directions and covered the plain with dead bodies as far as Tebes and La Palma. The defenders of San Juan, under Caceres, retreated in better order toward Chorrillos.
Interest now centers on the little knot of valiant warriors fighting for their country on the Morro Solar. Colonel Miguel Iglesias, himself a rich landed proprietor of Caxamarca, had with him a body of his countrymen, descendants of the victims who were massacred by Pizarro and his ruthless followers in the square of Caxamarca. They formed a dauntless front, to sell their lives more dearly in opposing invaders who were closely imi tating the work of those first Spanish conquerors. Supporting them were a few Indians of Ayacucho, brethren of those who followed Caceres at Tarapaca and at Tacna. Lastly there were some Lima volunteers under Don Carlos de Pierola, a younger brother of the Supreme Chief.
Baquedano now rearranged his line. The first division was to assail the Morro, while the reserve attacked it on the opposite side; the second was to advance on Chorrillos by the road from San Juan; and the rest of the troops were to be assembled near the houses of San Juan. The firing was kept up steadily on both sides for several hours, the Peruvians under Iglesias making a gallant defense. Lynch was now fighting desperate men who were defending their country at its last gasp. He sent urgent appeals for succor and reinforcements. The General ordered up brigade after brigade to help him, and the patriots were slowly driven by overpowering numbers from post to post, making a brave resistance at each step. Finally, they were driven out to the point of Chorrillos, where a heavy fire from long-range field- guns was opened upon them. At length, to save the gallant remnant, Iglesias surrendered.
The reserve under Suarez ought to have reinforced Iglesias. But, alas! he who had been the life and soul of the Tarapaca defence was fated to lose his prestige on this disastrous day. He said his orders were contradictory. At all events, he did not advance. But others took his place. Isaac Recabarren, the defender of Pisagua and victor at Tarapaca, got one thousand men together and hurried forward to defend Chorrillos. Caceres, too, rallied two thousand men, and supported him. They were furiously attacked by the second Chilian division. Long the desperate struggle was maintained in front of Chorrillos. Recabarren fell severely wounded; and this last remnant of de fenders was overpowered. The Chilians as usual gave no quarter, and bayoneted not only wounded but defenseless civilians. The Chilian rioters set the houses on fire, and the town was burnt amid the most hideous scenes of slaughter and rapine. Dreadful as were the atrocities committed by the Chilians during the day, they were as nothing in comparison with the horrors enacted after dark.
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