Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Evarts.
Lima, Peru, February 15, 1881. (Received March 18.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose to you the copy of a letter of October 5, 1880, written by Mr. Valderrama, secretary of foreign relations, of Chili, to the French minister at Santiago, in reference to the protection of neutral property in the contemplated expedition upon Lima and Callao; also a translation of the same.
Also a copy and translation of a letter of Mr. Pinto (minister of Salvador), the dean of the diplomatic corps in Lima, to the general-in-chief of the Chilian forces, dated December 28th last.
Also a letter of General Baquedano, in reply to last above, dated December 30, 1880.
Also a letter of January 1, 1881, from Mr. Pinto, the dean of our diplomatic corps, to General Baquedano, in reply to his last above, with translation.
Also a copy of a letter of General Baquedano in reply to the last above, dated January 6, 1881, with a translation.
Also a copy of a letter from General Baquedano to the dean of the diplomatic corps, dated Chorillos, 15th January, at 11 p.m., with translation.
No. 4/240 (above) embodies the principles which I had the honor to submit to the diplomatic corps, on the day of its date, in the shape of a simple declaration of principles adopted by the corps, and stated in a slightly different form in the letter.
I have included all the above that you may have a full view of the correspondence in reference to the transactions alluded to; but the most important of all, in reference to the numerous claims likely to be presented against Chili by American, Swiss, and Colombian citizens, [Page 864] is the above No. 1/240. This was written to the French minister in Chili, in answer to a letter of his, in behalf of all neutrals here 5 and the answer No. 1/240 applies equally to all It was sent by the French minister in Chili to his colleague here and presented to and read before our diplomatic corps, as it was no doubt intended to be.
It will be seen it adopts the very plan of protecting neutral property which had been already adopted by us, and this plan we continued, not only in Lima, but in Chorillos, Miraflores, and everywhere else in Peru; and we trusted and believed that this plan would prove effectual, and that the neutral property, having the placards with the certificates and flag referred to, would be respected by the Chilian forces; at least, that such property would not be deliberately taken or destroyed without military necessity. Of course we did not expect such protection against the risks of battle, or those naturally incident to the taking of a town by bombardment or storm, while any resistance was kept up in such town. But, even in such cases, we did think we had a right to rely upon the promise of the Chilian Government, that such property should not be deliberately taken or destroyed, after all resistance and all fighting had ceased, and especially one, two, or three days after, when all necessity for its taking or destruction had ceased.
Now, it clearly appears from the official report of General Baquedano, that all fighting, even in Chorillos, had ceased, and that his victory then was complete at 2 o’clock p.m. of the 13th of January (see extract from that report, here inclosed, and referred to in the margin). And yet that “the towns of Chorillos and Barranco, as a consequence of their resistance, were destroyed and burned.” Now, the fact, as I am informed from all quarters, is, that there was no fighting at Barranco (a village intermediate between Chorillos and Miraflores), and that no fire of any importance occurred until about 5 or 6 o’clock p.m. in Chorillos; that at about the hour last mentioned, the most densely built part of the town was deliberately set on fire by the soldiery, and every living inhabitant in the town—of whom there were many who had remained—having been killed, most of them were piled up in the houses and burned with them. But a large portion of the best houses in the town, many of them owned by neutrals (some American, some Swiss, and, I think, some Colombian, among the rest), were deliberately burned the next day, and some of them two days after, after having been robbed of their furniture (most of it of the most costly kind), which was sent on board the Chilian fleet, before the torches or hand-grenades were applied to the houses; and these very houses had upon them the flags and placards agreed upon with the Chilian Government.
And when I state what I am on all hands informed, is the fact, though I do not personally know it, that the house sometimes occupied by the minister of Brazil and that of the Brazilian consulate, were spared (a fact which shows the alliance between Brazil and Chili, explaining the reason why the Argentine Republic had been kept quiet during this war), and that a guard was sent to protect the house some times occupied by the French minister, who had a friend upon the Chilian general’s staff, it will be hard to resist the conviction that the burning of the rest of the town was deliberate, and after all necessity for such destruction had ceased.
As to Barranco, where there had been no fighting, the British minister, who went out with our dean and the French minister to see General Baquedano, on the morning of the 15th (two days after the first battle and before the second) informed me that as he passed Barranco the Chilian soldiers were engaged in deliberately burning the town.[Page 865]
The same thing, as I am informed and believe, took place at Miraflores, inhabited largely by neutrals, among whom were several American and Swiss, who had the proper flags and placards up. A part of the town was burned the night after the battle of the afternoon of the 15th; but some of the best buildings one and two days after.
Now, it is precisely upon this ground that the robbery and destruction were deliberately committed, after all necessity or excuse for such acts had ceased, that many claims have already been filed by American and Swiss citizens in this legation. These claims I have not yet forwarded to Mr. Osborn in Chili, believing it best, first to submit, as I now do to you, the substantial facts upon which all of them must rest, and to take your instructions whether to send them first to your Department, or to Mr. Osborn.
I have, &c.,