Mr. Worthington to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you of my arrival at this place on the 29th of August, having sailed with my family from New York on the 23d of July, and proceeded directly to my post of duty. On Monday, August 31, I communicated with Señor Rufino de Elizalde, minister of foreign affairs, inclosing with said communication copy of my letter of credence and the remarks I would make upon the occasion of my presentation, and requested the appointment of the time when such presentation to the President of the Argentine Republic could be had. On the evening of the 31st I received a reply, designating the 2d of September for such ceremony. On Tuesday, the 1st, I was taken violently sick, and being confined to my bed, at my request the presentation was deferred until this day at 1 o’clock, and which will take place, not, however, in time for me to write my dispatches for the steamer, which leaves here at the hour fixed for this ceremony. I will therefore defer transmitting to the department copies of the correspondence until my next dispatch, so as better to preserve system and regularity in my correspondence.
As we sailed from New York, it was my good fortune to become acquainted with Señor Domingo F. Sarmiento, who was returning to his country from his diplomatic mission to the United States, in anticipation of his election to the presidency of this republic. We cultivated with and for each other a most friendly feeling, and it gave me pleasure to find him so imbued with the spirit of our institutions. On our arrival at Bahia, Brazil, he received positive information of his election, and communicated said information to me. The flag-ship of the South Atlantic squadron, Admiral Davis commanding, being in that port, honored him with a salute as we left that harbor for Rio de Janeiro. The same compliment was paid him by our ships as we left the harbor of Rio de Janeiro.
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The general opinion prevails now that the war is rapidly approaching its conclusion. I can hardly share in that conclusion. By recent news (yesterday’s boat) the allies have free navigation to Tebicuari, but it is a noticable fact that every fortification occupied by the allies had been abandoned by Lopez, who has retired to the interior at the head, it is said, of about sixteen thousand men, and fortified himself at Villeta, where it is said he will give battle to the armies of the alliance. The allies do not relax in their determination to continue the war until Lopez and his power is destroyed, and this resolution has been strengthened by the news brought by yesterday’s boat, which created a profound sensation in this city. This news is regarded as most reliable. You will discover from the same the insecurity of life and property in that country. The outrage to the American minister has developed the feeling of hostility which all Americans residing in this city entertain towards Lopez. I have no definite news relative to the Wasp.
The news above referred to, and which I add to this sheet, has been published in all the papers.
I have taken this from the Standard, which is our English paper, dated this day.[Page 250]
THE WAR IN THE NORTH—ARRIVAL OF THE PARANA.
The mail steamer from Paraguay has brought news of much importance, and advices of the most afflicting character. At first we refused to believe the accounts of the wholesale butcheries in the Paraguayan camp, which our colleagues published. We had hoped, for the sake of common humanity, that the stories from the mouths of deserters and prisoners of war were but a tissue of falsehoods; but we deplore the fact that subsequent advices confirm the sad narrative, and this desperate war is about to wind up with one of the bloodiest chapters that has defaced South American history.
The onward march of the allied army seems unchecked by a single contretemps. General Osorio, at the head of the vanguard, has crossed the Tebicuari without meeting the enemy.
It appears that the commander-in-chief ordered the squadron to pass up the river, enter the Tebicuari, and bombard the enemy. To this mandate the admiral replied that it was impossible to enter the Tebicuari for want of water; but Caxias consulted with some skilled Paraguayan pilots, who insisted that there was sufficient water for the iron-clads, whereupon Caxias repeated the order, informing the admiral of what the pilots said. The admiral at once weighed anchor and got up. to the appointed place and commenced shelling away; but soon he was acquainted with the fact that the enemy had long since fled, and had inarched to the headquarters at Villeta. Upon Caxias being informed of this, he at once ordered Osorio to advance with the vanguard, swim the Tebicuari with his troopers, and establish his quarters on the right bank of the Tebicuari, all of which this brave officer did without a moment’s delay. A general order for the whole allied army to advance on the morning of the 8th was then given, and all the steamers in the river—eveu the transports—were ordered up to ferry the troops across the river.
Timbo is razed; it never was a place of any strength; but the little fortress which the Paraguayans had constructed has been dismantled, and will not be occupied by the allies.
The little town of Pilar is now crowded with shipping. When the allies entered the place they found the inhabitants were all fled, and everything of worth or value carried off. A kind friend who, it appears, would stop at nothing to help the Standard, entered the church and carried off one of the figures for the Standard museum. Although most anxious to enrich our museum, which has cost us many years to get to its present position, we confess that we lament any subscriber of ours should presume in this way to obtain an article of pious virtu; and we receive the gift only on the strict understanding that when the war terminates we shall be at full liberty to restore it to the little chapel in question.
Humaita will soon be deserted; the Argentine troops under Gelly have received orders to march, and the few dealers who had temporarily established themselves there now move up in the wake of the army.
Lanuz and Lezica, the army contractors, keep a remarkably small stock on hand. They seem to think that the war may collapse at a day’s warning, and they wish therefore to be on the right side. All their stores are kept afloat. Mr. Riestra keeps almost nothing on shore. The supply of forage has fallen off of late, and arrivals of hay and corn are now looked for.
Gelly Obes has obtained very important advices from a Paraguayan officer who has been taken prisoner by the Brazilian forces whilst marching along the left bank of the Tebicuari. He stated that the picket which he held was stormed and taken by the Brazilians on the 27th, and that on the 28th ultimo the remnant of the garrison swam across the Tebicuari to the opposite bank, where horses were in waiting to convey them to Lopez’s encampment. That some ten or twelve days previously, Lopez, with the bulk of his army, had marched for Villeta, where, according to all accounts, Lopez intended to make a stand, having fortified the place. That his whole force numbered nine thousand men, with a “parque” of light artillery numbering over sixty pieces. That Lopez had rewarded all troops that had escaped from Humaita with a medal. Some soldiers with these medals have been taken prisoners.
That the battle in the Chaco is claimed by Lopez as a splendid victory, over two thousand Argentines having perished, according to the Cabichuy.
That Gasper Campos is alive, but Colonel Martinez de Hoz was killed in the fight; his body was recovered and sent to Lopez, who had it buried with military honors on the lonely banks of the Tebicuari. The grave has since been identified.
This officer fully confirms the report about the revolution, which, it appears, was got up in Asuncion, and most of the principal men took part in it. On the 1st of July, Lopez got information of it. He at once ordered the arrest of Captain Gomez, the commander of Asuncion, who was sent prisoner to headquarters. It is stated that this unfortunate man was tortured in order to make him divulge; he died in torture. Colonel Denis, commander of Cerro-Leon, was next arrested with all his subordinates. They were all shot. On the same day Venancio and Benigno Lopez, brothers of President [Page 251]Lopez, and Captain Hermosa, Venancio’s aide-de-camp, arrived in irons from Asuncion. Hermosa was at once shot.
For several days prisoners from Asuncion kept arriving by steamer. Among these were Carreras, Rodriguez, Telmo Lopez, Pereira, and all the Argentines and Orientales in Asuncion. All shot. Laguna, Garay, Costa, and Lucero, also shot. Sinforoso Cace-res also shot. Two Correntinos made their escape.
Whilst this lasted it was indeed a reign of terror in Paraguay. Men feared to speak even to their most intimate friends. Several parties took refuge in Mr. Washburn’s (the American minister’s) house, but the rude soldiery rushed into the roomsland dragged the unfortunates out, heedless of the consequences. Mr. Washburn, as a matter of course, protested against the outrage, and notes have been interchanged.
There is no positive evidence that Berges has been shot. He has been arrested and removed from office. Gumecindo Benitez, the editor of the Semanario, was named his successor, as minister of foreign affairs; but Benitez has been arrested since, and will be tried for treason. This same officer declares that Lopez having reason to believe that the bishop and some of the clergy were implicated in the conspiracy, a guard was placed on the bishop’s residence, and three clergymen arrested; some of them, he states, were put to the torture. His description of the executions is, indeed, too horrible to relate. The first batch numbered nearly fifty, among whom were General Brugues, Colonel Nunez, Majors Mesla and Haedo, and Captain Rojas, all the first and best people in Paraguay. The family of Rojas is one of the oldest, and was the richest in the country, and we deplore the fate of this talented young man.
These wholesale executions lasted for eight or ten days, the ruffian soldiery vieing with each other in heaping insults on these unfortunates. But their hour is fast approaching, and blessed be the hand that shatters at a blow the accursed and savage despotism of a rabble and shoeless soldiery.
We throw down the affidavit of this prisoner, of war, too shocked to continue such a chapter of horrors. Further details would be repugnant to our readers. Whatever sympathy the heroism of the Paraguayans may have secured from an impartial public, the awful butchery which surrounds the impotent throes of their tottering ruler calls for execration. Common humanity shudders at the picture which this officer discloses. It may be that such terrible episodes are necessary to uproot the power which Francia planted; but the lesson should not be lost sight of, and the allies should push on at once to finish the chapter.
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I cannot close this dispatch without adding that I have received every assurance of good feeling towards my government, and I know it to be the desire and purpose of the President elect to cultivate the most friendly and intimate commercial relations between the two governments, in which I will most heartily co-operate.
With great respect. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.