No. 297.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 132.]

Sir: In my No. 129 was given the condition of affairs as understood on the 20th of August.

The then reported revolt at Arequipa was confirmed, and it is stated the troops dispersed, taking their arms. This event completed the control of Caceres over all Peru except Lima, Callao, and their vicinities. Meanwhile he was in the valley of the Rimac, a few miles above Lima.

Several minor engagements occurred between his irregular (Montoneros) forces and the Government troops during the intervening days to the time of the attack on this city, resulting in directing the attention of the Government to the northern side, and in consequence the attack from the opposite side was a complete surprise.

It appears that Caceres left his position on the Rimac at a station on the Oroya Railroad with about fifteen hundred men, one thousand or thereabouts being trained and experienced troops.

Crossing the mountains to the southward, he entered the plain upon that side of Lima, intending to pass between the city and Miraflores, en route to attack Callao. In the darkness of a foggy and misty night, so frequent at this season, his guides became confused in the various roads early in the evening, and the force, already weary with long marching and want of food, wandered about until midnight, with the result that about 3 a. m. it came in collision with a picket guard of the Government stationed in the outskirts of the capital.

The attempt to surprise Callao was necessarily abandoned, and the attack was perforce turned upon Lima.

The cuartel of San Guadalupe was captured, and by 6 a. m. the streets of Lima had become the scene of a desultory fight and the firing had become general, a number of bullets striking or entering the legation house.

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There was apparently no organized and studied plan of operations. General Caceres unquestionably had been persuaded that he had but to make the attack to have the Government troops passing over to his side and to find himslef fortified by an uprising of the pueblo. He had been advised that all was prepared, and importuned to come to Lima.

There was no popular movement in his favor, and the Government troops did not pass over to his support.

It was apparent that had he made the Government house, or so-called palace, his sole object of attack, and had he entered with scaling ladders and a force assigned to the assault, he would have carried the place, captured the President, his cabinet and officers, and become master of all Peru without a loss in men as great as that experienced. At 8 o’clock he was in possession of the larger part of the city, but his failure was already manifest, for his men were moving about without concert of action or intelligent leadership.

* * * * * * *

Caceres himself was but a short time in the city. He had been quick to discover the want of popular support and of disloyalty in the Government troops, and, accompanied by a small escort, went by way of Lima back to the mountains. His people, except those who occupied church towers, had left the city by noon. The Government troops, taking courage, followed them to the suburbs, making many prisoners.

All of Caceres’ troops became scattered and routed. Exhausted from fatigue and hunger, they were incapable of an organized retreat, or indeed of further efforts, and this, more than the opposition of the Government forces, led to the disaster. The people in the church towers resisted till 2 p.m., then surrendering.

Caceres is said to have gone, with a small force retained at his former position on the Oroya Railroad, over the Cordillera to Tarma, and, it is presumed, will reach Arequipa as quickly as possible. Once there he will be in command of men and of resources. Meanwhile the Government has dispatched two steamers with troops to the south, possibly to Mollendo.

The explanation of this turn of events is to be mainly found in the support given by Pierola to Iglesias. The ex-dictator has great influence with the lower classes of Lima, this being the order relied upon in aid of revolutionary outbreaks.

Had Caceres pushed on to Lima, continuing to closely follow up the Chilians as they left the line of the Oroya Railroad to embark for home, he would have had little to contend with in Lima. The delay gave time to perfect the accord with Pierola and to strengthen the Government, as well as to banish the most influential of Caceres’ adherents.

It is difficult to form conclusions as to what is likely to result from this triumph of Iglesias, but it might naturally be expected to lead to a protracted civil war were it not for the uncertainties arising in the intrusion of Pierola into the problem.

The plans of that clever leader must be understood as a basis for judgment, and of these the public knows very little indeed.

The Government, however, has already entered upon a course of fines and imprisonment not likely to conduce to harmony, or peace, or confidence, or even to a permanent government.

The city and surrounding country have been orderly and quiet since the day of the fight, but apprehension and sadness and stagnation, have full possession.

I am, &c.,