Mr. Buck to Mr. Bayard .
Lima, Peru , November 28, 1885. (Received December 26.)
Sir: I advised you in my last dispatch of an advantage gained, on the 15th instant, by the Government forces under Colonel Relaize at Pampas near Jauja. In stating that the fight took place “en Pampas,” Colonel Relaize evidently refers to the Huaripampa, and in referring to it as the battle of Tambo also, the town on the opposite side of the river of that name was indicated. I mention this to avoid confusion of these places with the larger towns of Pampas and Tambo, the first in the province of Tayacajo, some distance off, and the second some miles to the northeast of Ayacucho.
The river over which passes the bridge of Huaripampa is called by different names. Near the city of Jauja, which is some 3 or 4 miles inland to the northeast from the scene of the battle, it is known as the Jaujo or the Tambo. It has its source in Lake Junin, near the famous mines of Cerro de Pasco, and is one of the headwaters of the Amazon, to which it finds its way after a long and circuitous southeasterly and then generally northern course, at its confluence with which it is known as the Ucayali. At Huaripampa it is a deep and considerable stream.
In his official report, dated Jauja, November 18, Colonel Relaize states that he took five hundred men and a number of officers prisoners, and captured eight hundred rifles, but owing to the destruction of the bridge he was not able to cross the river until it could be repaired, but as soon as that could be done he would take possession of the enemy’s artillery with other trophies, which had been abandoned.
It seems General Cáceres had left Tarma with the view of retiring to Huancayo, or perhaps Ayacucho, and on the 10th instant it is claimed by the Government he numbered his forces in Jauja, and he then had three thousand two hundred and seventy men, but after crossing the Oroya bridge, instead of going to Tarma, which route to Jauja makes along angle to the east, Colonel Relaize sent only a detachment to occupy Tarma, and pushed with his main force by a more direct way along the course of the Jauja, and passing that city immediately to his left, overtook General Cáceres at the bridge of Huaripampa on the 15th instant, with most of his forces and artillery on the west side, while two or three battalions were still on the east side. These latter were destroyed or captured, according to Government accounts, and the forces on the other side dispersed. Colonel Relaize claims his forces did not number more than [Page 629] half those under General Cáceres; and the chief of his staff reported that the Government only lost two officers and fifty-one soldiers killed, and nine officers and fifty-eight soldiers wounded; killed and wounded of the revolutionists not stated.
It was also reported through Government sources that General Caceres’s cabinet had advised him to make terms with the Government before the battle, and afterwards had urged him to surrender and secure guarantees; but that he had rejected their advice, saying before he would enter into any terms with General Iglesias he would disband his army and let each man take care of himself, upon which the cabinet went to pieces, leaving only one member with him, and that two of the members had already reported to the Government prefecture at Tarma.
Immediately upon the heels of this flattering news, on the night of the 24th instant, a telegram from Chicla, the present terminus of the Oroya Railroad, at least 90 miles from Jauja, reported approach of the Cácerestas. The Government received some cipher telegrams and the cabinet assembled hurriedly and in a few minutes the wires were cut.
The cabinet held an all-night meeting at the railroad office around the telegraph instrument. A message was immediately dispatched to recall General Echenique with his forces, who was just embarking at Pisco en route for Arequipa, and most earnest measures were pushed forward for defense, even to barricading the windows of the palace. Thus the city has been kept in a fever of expectation and alarm, until the arrival of General Echenique, on the 26th instant, with most of the forces of the second division of the army, increased the Government force in and about the city to perhaps 2,500 men; still measures for defense seemed to be going on at the palace and in the city as well as outside. Fighting was reported some miles outside yesterday, but exactly where or what it amounted to it is impossible to tell. All sorts of excited rumors are current, but there is nothing authentic; and I doubt if the Government itself knows where General Cáceres is, or what force of his, if any, is near the city. If General Cáceres could have pushed in on Wednesday last or Thursday morning, he would have found the city with perhaps not a thousand Government troops in it.
It is supposed the Government lost at Chicla, when a train of ten cars and a locomotive were captured, 10,000 soles silver and a large supply of clothing, &c, intended for Colonel Relaize. Where the latter is, whether pushing on in the rear of Cáceres, who has apparantly thus flanked him, or not, is only matter of conjecture. It is just reported to me, this 1.30 p.m., before closing of mail, that the Government is making no preparations for defense outside of the city; but the church towers, palace, and quarters are manned, and it seems the Government is disposed to await an attack in the streets of the city.
In this connection, referring to your No. 34 of October 28, only the Iroquois is here. The Shenandoah has gone south to Coquimbo, practically out of reach, and the Hartford has not reached Callao, but is reported at Payta; and though Americans here and at Callao would feel perhaps more comfortable if the latter ship were near, I have not telegraphed to the admiral, as I did not know certainly whether a message would find him there; or if it did, most likely he would not reach here before possibility of trouble had passed.
Only Captain Sterling, of the Iroquois, has placed himself in communication with me thus far.
I have, &c.,