to Mr. Evarts.
Santiago, Chili, April 10, 1879. (Received May 18.)
Sir: As will be seen from, the inclosed translation of a note received by me from the minister of foreign relations, war was formally declared against Peru on the 5th instant, and on the same day the port of Iquique was placed in blockade by the Chilian squadron.
The government promises a statement of the reasons for its action, for the information of friendly governments, in a few days. Awaiting it, I inclose a slip from a newspaper containing the “memorandum,” published in the Official Gazette simultaneously with the declaration of war.
The army is being rapidly increased, and there is apparently no abatement in the enthusiasm.
Iquique is the great niter depot of Peru, and is situated about midway [Page 168] in the province of Tarapaca, from north to south. This province extends to the Bolivian frontier on the north, and is supposed to contain almost inexhaustible wealth in its niter and guano deposits. If Chili succeeds in getting possession of Tarapaca she will, I judge, insist upon holding it. An intelligent gentleman with whom I have conversed upon the subject, and who formerly lived in Tarapaca, estimates the value of its niter deposits alone at tour hundred millions of dollars.
I have, &c.,