Mr. Egan to Mr. Blaine.
Santiago, March 4, 1891. (Received April 25.)
Sir: To-day I am in receipt of letters from Mr. Joséph W. Merriam, United States consul at Iquique, dated February 21 and 23, informing me of the abandonment of Iquique on February 16 by the Government forces and its occupation on same day by a force of marines from the revolutionary fleet; also, of the subsequent attempt on February 19 of a small force of Government troops to retake it, which led to the burning of a part of the town by the Government troops and the serious damage of other parts by bombardment from the fleet. During this fight the United States consulate was completely destroyed, with all its property and archives, of which the Department will be fully informed by Mr. Merriam.
From other sources I learn that the Government forces are intrenched upon the heights back of Iquique awaiting reënforcements, and that their purpose is to blockade the town from the land side in order to prevent the shipment of nitrates.
I have, etc.,