817.00/4586: Telegram

The Minister in Nicaragua (Eberhardt) to the Secretary of State

45. On February 12, a Government garrison of 120 men at Muy Muy, Department of Matagalpa, was driven out by a superior force [Page 311] of Liberals whose number is not really known here. Exaggerated and grossly inaccurate reports of this engagement from Conservative commander of defeated detachment and others showed large Liberal army of a thousand or more rapidly advancing on Matagalpa. Upon receipt of these reports Conservative General Arguello at Matagalpa informed Government he could not defend town against the expected attack whereupon he was ordered to evacuate Matagalpa, retiring to Ciudad Dario to prevent repetition of Chinandega disaster, which he did on the 14th. On receipt of later information that Liberal forces were not advancing on Matagalpa, Arguello reoccupied the town yesterday noon without any fighting. The Government is placing over a thousand men at or near Matagalpa and hopes soon to win a decisive encounter with the Liberals.

The Liberal expeditionary force from the Atlantic coast under Moncada,35 according to Admiral, numbers about 1,000 armed men and some 36 machine guns. Their interior base at present is San Pedro del Norte at the junction of rivers Tuma and Grande. From this main army an expedition, size and leaders still unknown, has been sent interiorward and it was this force that defeated Government outpost at Muy Muy and was believed to menace Matagalpa. That expedition according to Government reports is now at Tierra Azul, its plans and strength being unknown by the Government. It would therefore appear that this force is not now moving towards Matagalpa.

The tactics indicated for this revolutionary force are to attack small Government outposts, capturing arms and demoralizing Government until main Moncada force comes up with more supplies; to avoid engagement with main body of Government troops; and in time to march via Matagalpa and Jinotega into Liberal Departments of Esteli, Leon and Chinandega. Had the Government good generals, scouts and spies, thereby ascertaining position of the Moncada forces from day to day the Government could despatch intelligently an adequate army to destroy the Moncada expedition. If, however, as is to be expected, the Government military operations are not intelligently directed, the Moncada expedition will continue active and may accomplish almost anything, the chief danger being surprise attacks on large towns as at Chinandega.

It is increasingly evident that without complete intervention there is no likely prospect of an early restoration of order.

  1. José Maria Moncada, Minister of War and Marine in the Sacasa regime at Puerto Cabezas, and commander of the Liberal forces.