No. 286.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 129.]

Sir: * * * A decided change in policy has arisen, the leading men of the Civil party having been banished from Lima, and strict regulations are now enforced, the people being interdicted from appearing upon the streets after certain hours, &c.

Meanwhile General Caceres, who occupies about all the ports and territory of Peru, is reported encamped in an apparent state of inactivity at a station upon the Oroya railway, not distant from Lima, his outposts coming to within 8 miles of the city. His force of disciplined troops is variously reported at from 1,200 to 4,000 men, accompanied by a large number of irregularly and insufficiently armed Indians. The maintenance of this force in a mountain defile must be extremely difficult.

An attack is daily looked for, but I question if the Government itself is very well informed as to the strength or movements of its enemy. It was proposed through the commission before referred to, that Caceres should nominate the prefects of the departments, the appointments to be made by Iglesias; that the Lima cabinet should be arranged satisfactorily for Caceres, and, finally, that Iglesias would not become a candidate for election to the Presidency. The field was thus to be left free for the election of Caceres, who was to retire to the interior and peaceably await the event, the hope being that bloodshed and civil war might thus be avoided.

These proposals were declined by Caceres upon an apparently insufficient pretext, an act that has deprived him of many supporters and admirers. His motives are not comprehended, as it was clearly not [Page 428] practicable for Iglesias to offer him anything more, except by an absolute abdication in his favor of the office of President.

The delay in attack by Caceres has been as advantageous to the Government as injurious to his interests.

A dash at the outset would have given him the city with little resistance, but now the Government feels that it has gained much in strength in its armed force as well as in popular support. It has, as claimed, 4,500 well-armed and, what is of as much consequence, well-paid troops.

It is reported that the people of Arequipa have revolted and received a representative of Caceres in place of the Government prefect, driven out. Mollendo has declared for Caceres, and Puno had already done so; consequently all the south of Peru, as well as the north and central sections, is in the control of that chief, and Iglesias is confined practically to the limit of Lima and Callao and their vicinity.

I have, &c.,