Mr. McMahon to Mr. Seward.

No. 12.]

Sir: I have the honor to state that this dispatch contains only an account of the military position of the belligerents, with reliable intelligence from the theater of war on the Paraguay River up to the present date.

My dispatch of the 11th instant, numbered 11, sent by this mail, is devoted to the subject of the release of Bliss and Masterman.

The principal position of President Lopez at this time on the river is at Angostura. There he has two batteries, about three hundred yards apart, numbering in all fifteen guns, one a Whitworth gun of superior caliber, one an eight-inch gun of Paraguayan manufacture, the others old-fashioned smooth-bore guns, about 32-pounders. These batteries, the lower one especially, command a reach of the river below for about two miles. There the river turns abruptly to the left and reveals the allied position. Several iron-clads, or monitors, several gunboats, are about one or two miles below, the transports and supply ships in considerable number. The anchorage here is known as Las Palmas.

Above Lopez’s position at Angostura, about six miles distant, is Villeta. Above Villeta about two miles is Ivahé. Here are several Brazilian iron-clads which ran by the batteries of Angostura with closed ports. Here also is the main body of the allied army, which crossed into the Gran Chaco at Las Palmas, proceeded up on the Chaco side and recrossed at this point into Paraguay. From Ivahé the allies advanced on Sunday, the 6th instant, into the interior, until they were decoyed into a tract of dry land, surrounded by swamps and entered by a single causeway and bridge. Here they were attacked and defeated with a loss of six thousand men and two pieces of artillery, according to the Paraguayan account, and of one thousand five hundred as conceded by the Brazilians, who also admit the loss of four general officers and many others of less rank.

The Paraguayan officers claim that their loss is almost nothing, and that the enemy were driven back to the river in confusion. The [Page 697] Brazilians claim that they captured four guns, and that they still hold the bridge and the causeway. It is quite certain that the battle was very disastrous to the allies, and very probable that the Paraguayan accounts are much nearer the truth. On the afternoon of the engagement the batteries in our front were dressed in flags, and there was much rejoicing in the Paraguayan camps.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.