Mr. Buck to Mr. Bayard.
Lima, Peru, July 11, 1885. (Received August 3.)
Sir: Since my dispatch of last week the political outlook has materially changed, if latest information received here can be relied upon. It is impossible to predict from one day to another what may happen. I can only give what appears from the most reliable data obtainable.
On the 8th instant a letter from General Mas, dated the 5th instant, was published in “El Campeon,” the Government organ, and in the other papers, in which it is stated the armistice terminated on the 3d [Page 604] instant, and a fight took place on the 4th near Jauja. General Mas confesses serious losses, and only claims that he held his position. Last night the news was published that General Mas was falling back on Chilca, the present terminus of the Oroya Railroad, some eighty-odd miles, perhaps, from the former position of the Government forces at Jauja.
There appears to be little doubt but that the Government has lost ground and suffered reverses. It is further reported that General Cáceres is moving by a shorter route across the Cordilleras to cut off Mas’ communication with Lima at some point on the railroad, possibly in neighborhood of Matucana.
Perhaps it is sufficiently certain that Cáceres refuses to treat with the Iglesias Government, declaring as his ultimatum that Iglesias must retire, a provisional Government be formed in place of the present one, and a free election be held under its auspices; and he avows himself willing to abide by the result.
A car has been sent to Chilca to bring back Señor Tovar, the member of the cabinet sent by the Government to treat with Cáceres, and his arrival is expected here to-day.
The Government forces, about 800 men, with four field pieces and two machine guns, have been withdrawn from Mollendo, and they arrived here on the night of the 9th inst. Probably the government now has in Lima about 25,000 men. General Mas is supposed to have somewhere near 3,500 or 4,000 men; and Cáceres’s forces are variously stated; but the montoneros and people all through the valley of the Jauja are said to be in sympathy with him. He is reported to have started on his march from the south with 4,000 well-armed men. On his way through Cuzco he is said to have been enthusiastically received by the people there, and to have received an addition to his forces of several hundred men.
The conviction prevails here that matters are approaching a crisis, and to the general feeling, so far as I can observe, the crisis promises to be unfavorable to the Government. All sorts of reports are afloat. There are rumors suggesting the disaffection of General Mas, and an understanding between him and Cáceres, but it is useless to speculate upon their reliability.
The Government a few days ago purchased the steamer Santiago, formerly one of the mail steamers, and she is now equipped for use in the Callao Bay.
I need not attempt to draw inferences as to what may occur in the proximate future here.
I have, &c.,