Friday, March 27, 2009


Monitor Atahualpa

After Angamos, Peru’s Navy was left only with the two old Canonicus monitors, the wooden corvettes Union and Pilcomayo, the gunboat Arno and some torpedo boats. None of those ships however could match the strong Chilean battleships, although they gave invaluable support in delivering necessary equipment to the Peruvian garrisons in the South by breaking the dangerous blockades imposed by the Chileans.

For all effects the war at sea had almost concluded. In November 1879, the small corvette Pilcomayo was captured in combat by the battleship Blanco Encalada. On December 22 the torpedo boat Alay suffered the same fate. On June 7, 1880, after the battle of Arica, the monitor Manco Capac was scuttle by her crew. Although there would be no longer naval actions of importance, some particular engagements demonstrated the determination of the Peruvian naval officers to continue the struggle in spite of their disadvantage.

Past midnight, May 25, 1880, the modern Chilean Spar torpedo boats Guacolda and Janaqueo, armed each with two torpedo tubes, one small gun and one machinegun, discovered three Peruvian gunboats on their way to Callao and tried to stop them. The fast Janaqueo, under Lieutenant Manuel Señoret, approached the Independencia, under Lieutenant Jose Galvez -who was the son of the hero of the 1866 “2 de Mayo” combat- and fired a torpedo that almost destroyed the Peruvian boat and killed eight of her crew of thirteen. Nevertheless, Galvez injured as he was, charged with his crippled ship against the opponent and by hand and under heavy fire, with the help of another brave officer, Manuel Ugarte y Moscoso, he threw a 50-kilogram torpedo inside the Janaqueo. The explosion killed two enemy sailors and destroyed their boat. The Chileans were so impressed by Galvez courage, that few hours after he was taken prisoner to the battleship Blanco Encalada, he was returned to the Peruvian authorities in Callao. Ugarte y Moscoso died in the action.

Later, on December 6 of that year, a second torpedo-boat combat took place. The Peruvian gunboat Arno, armed with two guns, and the torpedo boats Capitania, Resguardo, Urcos and Republica, fought against the Chilean torpedo boats Fresia, Guacolda, Colo Colo and Tucapel, armed each with two torpedoes and one Hotchkiss machinegun. As a result of the combat, the gunboat Arno sunk the 25-ton torpedo boat Fresia, under command of Lieutenant Alvaro Bianchi.

The Peruvians also sink the 1,657-ton steamer Loa, one of the ships that participated in the final hunt of the Huascar. The ship was destroyed off Callao on July 3, 1880, by an explosive charge hidden by the Peruvians inside a boat, which Loa’s Commander, Juan Peña, imprudently order to pick up at sea. The commander and 119 crewmen died during the terrible explosion.

On September 13th, 1880, off the coasts of Chancay, North of Lima, the old schooner Virgen de Covadonga, which also fought against Huascar in Angamos, suffered identical fate that the Loa. Her commander, Pablo Ferrari, imprudently decided to hoist up what was supposed to be a harmless small vessel. The boat was loaded with explosives. The terrible explosion sent the schooner to the bottom of the sea in a matter of minutes. From her crew of 109 men, 32, including the Captain, died during the explosion, while 29 escaped in boats and 48 become prisoners of war of the Peruvian army

On January 3, 1881, however, the Chilean corvette O´Higgins would sink the torpedo boat Republica after she tried to execute a night raid against the Chilean ironclads off Callao.

Few days later, after the battle for Lima, to avoid the fleet falling into enemy hands, the Government ordered to destroy the remaining ships of the armada: The corvette Union, the monitor Atahualpa, the gunboat Arno, the torpedo boats, the submarine and all the transports.

With those actions, the Peruvian Navy would cease to exist temporarily, until her rebirth took place at the end of the decade, with the arrival of the gunboat Lima.


Career (USA) United States Navy ensign
Name: USS Catawba
Laid down: 1864
Launched: 13 April 1864
Fate: Sold to builder, 13 April 1868
Career (Peru) Peru Navy Jack
Name: Atahualpa
Namesake: Atahualpa
Acquired: 2 April 1868
Commissioned: June 1870
Fate: Scuttled, 16 January 1881
General characteristics
Type: Monitor
Displacement: 2,100 long tons (2,134 t)
Length: 223 ft (68 m)
Beam: 43 ft 4 in (13.2 m)
Draft: 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Complement: 85 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 15 in (380 mm) smoothbore Dahlgren guns
Armor: Turret: 11 in (280 mm)
Pilothouse: 11 in (280 mm)
Hull: 5 in (130 mm)
Deck: 1.5 in (38 mm)

Catawba was launched 13 April 1864 by Alexander Swift and Co., Cincinnati, Ohio and accepted by the United States Navy on 7 June 1865 and placed in ordinary at Mound City, Illinois until early in 1868 when she was resold to her builders. Alexander Swift and Co. put the Catawba up for sale to any country interested in buying her. The Peruvian government acquired her on 2 April 1868 for a price of US$400,000. Though the selling of the Catawba and her sister the Oneota was disputed because of a potential treaty violation between the United States and Spain following the Chincha Islands War between Spain and Peru, the sale was allowed to proceed. Alexander Swift and Co. had to pay fines that equaled nearly of the total sale amount and the vessels were moved to New Orleans, to await their new crews.

She was renamed Atahualpa, after the Emperor Atahualpa, the last ruler of the Inca Empire. A few months later, Captain Juan Guillermo More brought a Peruvian Navy crew to the United States to bring the ship to Peru. The monitor sailed from New Orleans in early January 1869 arriving in Peru in June 1870.

The Atahualpa deteriorated quickly in the Pacific. When the War of the Pacific with Chile was declared in 1879, she was in very poor condition. In May 1879, the Atahualpa was to sail from Callao to Arica. However, her engines broke down and the monitor had to be towed back to Callao, were she remained.

On 11 December 1880, the Chilean fleet staged off Callao and started firing at the port at ranges of up to 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi). The Atahualpa, escorted by a tug, carried out a long range battle with the Chilean fleet. On 16 January 1881, her crew was forced to scuttle the Atahualpa to prevent her capture by advancing Chilean forces. The Atahualpa was raised that same year, used as hulk, finally discarded around 1910 and presumably scrapped.


Above, a painting of Great Marshal Andres A. Caceres, who as a Colonel and next as a General lead Peruvian regulars and guerrillas against the Chilean army during the Breña Campaign in the remote Peruvian Andes. This indomitable officer never surrender and become the symbol of Peru´s resistance against the invader. Below, a group of Peruvian officers of the Breña Campaign, probably taken in 1883. General Caceres can be seen in civilian clothes, first row, sixth from right to left. The photography also can give us an idea of the French influence in the designs used in the Peruvian military uniforms during those days.

The capitulation of Lima on January 1881, after the bloody battles of San Juan and Miraflores didn't put an end to the Peruvian-Chilean war, because although the remainders of the organized Peruvian army were destroyed, there were still officers willing to continue the fight. Soon the circumstances would change the situation of the conflict and the Peruvians, from fighting an expeditionary army, would pass to fight against an occupation force; the conventional tactics would open the way to the war of guerrillas, and the warlike scenario would pass from the arid Pacific coasts to the cold and inhospitable Andes.

Leader of the new resistance movement was Colonel Andrés Caceres, victor of the battle of Tarapacá, veteran of the whole campaign of the South and one of the officers that had a more outstanding performance during the defense of the capital.

After recovering from the wounds suffered during the epic battle of Miraflores, time during which he remained hidden in some place of Lima, in April of 1881 Colonel Cáceres moved to Jauja, city of the Peruvian central mountains, from where he dedicated his efforts to create a new army in order to expel the invaders from the country.

The first column of the new military force was formed by policemen from the town of Tarma. Caceres patience began to give his fruits thanks to the help from other officers of the decimated army and many citizens willing to continue the fight under the most adverse circumstances.

The first strategic maneuver conceived by Cáceres during what would be known as “The Breña Campaign”, during the phase that would occupy the period between June 1881 and June 1882, was to undertake a war of guerrillas, which would provide him the necessary time to form and to train an organized military force. The idea was to attract the Chileans, still in the coastal region, to the central mountains, using irregular forces with the objective of disorganizing them, by means of a mobile defense. Within this context, Caceres had planned to combine the resistance with the counter-attack. Product of this tactics would be the continuous incursions of the Peruvian forces in the towns of Matucana, the Oroya, Tarma, Jauja, Chicla, San Mateo and others. Caceres would adopt such a defensive outline strategy until reaching the capacity to go into a vigorous counter-offensive.

In a few months, Caceres, already promoted to General and Head of the central region of Peru by Supreme Director Nicolas de Pierola, had armed a respectable and disciplined force. By the end of 1881 his army was composed of 3,000 men, eight artillery pieces and a complete cavalry regiment, and start attacking the Chileans from Chosica, 50 kilometers east of Lima. Also, General Cáceres achieved the valuable support from the peasants of diverse Andean communities that were incorporated as guerilla fighters under orders to harass the enemy and to provide the necessary support for the operations of the regular army.

The Chilean military, which already had consolidated the occupation of the main cities of Peru -with exception of Arequipa -, understood that the presence of this hostile force would hinder the possibility to reach a quick peace with the new government presided by lawyer Francisco García Calderón. For this reason, the Chilean Military Governor of Lima, Rear Admiral Patrick Lynch, concluded that while the army of Caceres was not destroyed, the conflict would be prolonged indefinitely. In May of 1881, Lynch decided to send a punitive expedition heading for Junin and Cerro de Pasco under Colonel Ambrosio Letelier with orders to cease any resistance attempts on part of the Peruvians.

The expedition however was not only a failure, but rather it originated a scandal because of corruption cases and abuse of authority blamed on Letelier. To protect the retreat of his besieged troops from Cerro de Pasco, Letelier ordered a battalion of the regiment Buin to move from Casapalca until the village of Caves. His force continued up to the hacienda of Sangrar, where it was attacked by a Peruvian battalion that caused several casualties to the opponent and the loss of fifty rifles.

Lynch suspended this kind of small expeditions and alarmed by the situation he ordered the creation of the “Central Division” strong of about 3,000 men under command of capable officers eager to fulfill the mission of conquering the Andean region. On January 1882, such army, divided in two columns began the advance toward the interior Andean region of Peru.

Soon the confrontations between both parties arose. In Huarochiri, the force of Caceres suffered a setback due to the treacherous desertion in combat of the battalions commanded by Colonel Manuel Vento and some cavalry troops. The energy of Caceres impeded what could have become a Peruvian debacle. In spite of suffering big losses, the Pervian army retreated in complete order into Tarma, being reduced to 1,000 infantry men, 98 horsemen and 90 gunners, although it was far from collapsing as a combative unit.

On February the 1st, 1882, the Chilean column was placed under orders of Colonel Estanislao del Canto, a very capable officer head of the regiment “Segundo de Linea”. Soon however he will find his task was not easy. On February five, del Canto´s troops sustained a combat with the army of Caceres in Pucara. The Chileans, after suffering many casualties, were forced to retreat toward Zapallanga, leaving big quantites of armament and ammunition. After that encounter Cáceres advanced toward the city of Ayacucho, where a terrible tempest in the narrow passes located between the snow peaks of Acobamba and Julcamarca caused the death of 412 of his men and the lost of all the mule packs.

After arriving to Ayacucho, at the end of February, the unbroken officer hardly had 500 soldiers remaining. He assimilated however the garrison that protected this department and in the following three months he proceeded with great energy to reorganize the army, conforming four battalions of 250 men each one -among them the legendary Zepita - 150 gunners and 50 cavalry men. With such a force, by the end of June of 1882, Cáceres undertook the second phase of the campaign whose objective was to expel or if possible to destroy the Central Division that now had penetrated in the Mantaro valley.

Several of the regiments of the Chilean Division that occupied the central mountain of Peru were disseminated in a radius of 300 kilometers among the Andean towns of Chicla, Marcavalle and Cerro de Pasco, this last city located at more than four thousand meters above sea level. The prosperous city of Huancayo, capital of the department of Junín, located beside the river Mantaro and with an altitude of 3,340 meters, was chosen by Colonel del Canto as his headquarters because of its central location healthy climate and warm temperature.

Outside of Huancayo and separate each one by a distance of 20 or 30 kilometers, other small Chilean detachments were distributed among the region towns. In such situation the Chileans were constantly harassed by the guerillas, who constantly attack them and capture equipment convoys. Also, a good percentage of Chilean soldiers had fallen victims of illnesses like typhus and they lay defenseless in hospitals or improvised campaign stores.

The division of the Chilean troops in a hostile land was proving to be a strategic mistake that could bring serious consequences. Considering this difficult situation, which worsened by the incursions of the Caceres army, Governor Lynch ordered Colonel del Canto to evacuate Huancayo, withdraw his troops to Jauja and retain the railroad of the Oroya or another strategic point. It was necessary for the Chileans to shorten their lines and refolding their troops toward places where they could offer a solid resistance and to lend due medical attendance to the sick persons. The offensive could be renewed at the end of the cold Andean winter.

In such a situation, general Caceres saw the moment to undertake the main campaign against the invader. The distribution of the Chilean forces, suggested to the Peruvian General the idea of encasing Colonel del Canto in the valley of the Mantaro, by means of a double rodeo movement, cutting his retreat toward Lima, to beat it later on in parts. For such an effect Cáceres divided his forces, consistent in 1300 soldiers and 3000 guerillas fighters, in three columns. The first of them, integrated by the battalion Pucará number 4, the guerilla columns of Comas and Libres de Ayacucho and fractions of the battalion America, was placed under Colonel's Juan Gasto, The second column, composed by a battalion of regulars and a group of guerrillas, was placed under Colonel Maximo Tafur and, The third column, with the rest of the army, remained under command of the own Cáceres.

According to the plan, Colonel´s Gasto column should advance to the right, at the heights of the Mantaro River, turn on the town of Comas and next move toward the town of Concepcion to attack the Chilean garrison. Colonel´s Tafur column on the other hand, should advance toward the west, cross Chongos and Chupaca, attack the Chilean garrison at the Oroya railroad and destroy the bridge of the same name with the objective of blocking the retreat of the Chilean army to Lima. On his part, General Caceres moved his troops to attack the Chilean garrison at Marcavalle.

On July 8th, 1882, General Caceres Column arrived in the town of Chongos and then crossed the towns of Pasos, Ascotambo, Acoria and others without being detected by the enemy. Finally, he placed his troops at the heights of Tayacaja, facing the town of Marcavalle, which was the first military objective of his expedition. From their position, the Peruvians could see very clearly the Chilean troops of the Santiago regiment. At dawn of June 9th, Caceres started a simultaneous attack with artillery and infantry. The surprise among the Chileans was such, that in no more than 30 minutes the enemy was expelled from Marcavalle and had to withdraw toward the town of Pucara, one mile away, on the way to Huancayo. During that fight the Chileans lost 34 men. In Pucara, a new battle developed, between three Companies of the Santiago regiment and four Companies of the Peruvian regiments Tarapaca, Junin, and a Column of guerrillas. The Peruvian attack was so intense, that the Chilean army was forced to make a new retreat. In total, the Chileans had 200 casualties, between dead and injured. They also abandoned considerable quantities of ammunition and war material. Among the Chilean fatal casualties were six officers, for whom Caceres provided special funeral honors in recognition of their gallant behavior and heroism in combat.

At the same time, the Column of Colonel Gasto attacked the Chilean garrison in Concepcion, and after a fierce fight that lasted about 16 hours, all the 77 Chilean officers and men of the Chacabuco regiment were killed in combat after a gallant resistance and their decision not to surrender.

On July 10th, the victorious forces of General Caceres moved toward Junin´s capital of Huancayo to attack Colonel del Canto´s main force, but once there, they found that the Chileans had withdrew toward Jauja. The important city was recovered by the Peruvians. The objective was partially achieved.

The serious defeats, convinced the Chilean command to force their army´s retreat from the central Andean region, which they achieved after crossing the Oroya bridge, which Colonel Tafur was not able to destroy. After this, General Caceres forces gained total control of the whole Mantaro valley . Caceres then established his general headquarters in the strategic town of Tarma and proceed to reorganize his army.

By January 1883, The Breña Army had 3,200 men, well trained , disciplined and equipped.

The war was coming to an end, but the Andean campaign, was still to continue with extraordinary heroism.


Above, a painting of Marshal Andres A. Caceres (1836-1923), Peru's greatest soldier. He fought in all of Peru's main military conflicts, from the 1859 war with Ecuador, through all of the campaigns of the war of the Pacific. He participated with great courage during the Southern campaign against the Chileans, and during Tarapaca, as a Colonel, guided his infantry troops to a decisive victory. Below, a painting depicting the fierce battle of Tarapaca, showing the Peruvians attacking the Chilean infantry and artillery at the top of the hills. At the right bottom of the painting, Caceres can be seen directing his men in combat.

The War of the Pacific developed within the heels of an international economic recession that focused attention on resources in outlying zones. In the mid-1860s, the Republics of Bolivia and Chile had come to the brink of war because of disagreements over their boundaries. Under an 1866 treaty, they divided the disputed area encompassing the Atacama Desert at 24° south latitude, located just south of the port of Antofagasta. In 1874 both countries signed a new agreement in which Chile recognized Bolivian sovereignty between parallels 24 and 25 in return for Bolivia's promise not to increase taxes on Chilean nitrate enterprises for twenty-five years. Most of the deposits of nitrate -a valuable ingredient in fertilizers and explosives- were owned and mined by Chileans and Europeans, in particular the British. Through a long-term strategy, Chile wanted not only to acquire all the nitrate fields but also to weaken Bolivia as well as Peru in order to strengthen its own strategic preeminence on the Pacific Coast. The chance arrived when the Government of Bolivia raised taxes on the export of nitrates from the region. The Chilean entrepreneurs and mine-owners resisted the new taxes and the Chilean Government decided to attack Bolivia.

Bolivia, a big but very weak country, had a minor role in the regional balance of power and was not able to solidify its sovereignty over Atacama, which left the rising power of Chile to assert its designs over the rich territory. The armed conflict began when Chilean troops occupied the port of Antofagasta in February 14th 1879. On March 1st of that year, war between both countries was officially declared. Bolivia's troops in the coast were easily defeated, in part because of their leader's incompetence and the country lack of military strength. The fact that the Bolivians did not have one single warship and their troops were poorly armed made it easy for their enemies to conquer the claimed territories in a very short period of time. On the opposite side, the Chilean army was very well prepared. French influence was perceptible in the Chilean military from the mid-nineteenth century. However, following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, admiration of Prussian military institutions grew and this led to a reorganization of the Chilean armed forces under the German influence.

Under this circumstances, Bolivia had no other option but to request help. So the government of La Paz invoked the Mutual Defensive Treaty signed with Peru in 1873. Peru was forced, then, to enter a war for which it was also woefully unprepared. Peru was in fact a stronger country than Bolivia and had a better organized Army and Navy, but could not match the Chilean military might. Unfortunately, Peru's military preparedness had not keep pace with its increasing economic prosperity in the 1870s. President Manuel Pardo reduced military expenditures sharply as part of his Civilista Party's policy of trying to downgrade the historically dominant role of the armed forces. His elected successor, General Mariano Ignacio Prado (1876-79), found his military options limited indeed when he attempted to deal with the growing problem of Chilean investment and ownership of the nitrate workings in Peru's arid, southernmost province of Tarapacá and, at the same time, with Chilean military threats against Bolivia to protect its equally significant nitrate investments in Bolivia's coastal province of Antofagasta.

Despite its discouraging military options, Peru felt obliged to honor its secret treaty obligations and after a brief attempt to intercede for a peaceful solution between Chileans and Bolivians, war was declared upon the Peruvians.

At the beginning of the war, the reduced Peruvian army only had 5,500 men. The infantry consisted of eight battalions with an approximate of 450 officers and soldiers each. Those battalions were the Pichincha, Zepita, Ayacucho, Callao, Cusco, Puno, Cazadores and Lima. The cavalry was even scarcer, with about 1,350 horsemen divided in three regiments: The legendary Hussars of Junin, the Guias and the Lanceros de Torata. The artillery was composed by the regiments "Dos de Mayo" and "Artilleria de Campaña", with about a thousand troops and only thirty guns. Recurring to the reserves, by July 1879 the Peruvians were able to conform a small force of 12,000 men that was disseminated among the vast coast of Tacna and Tarapaca.

The barren deserts, without water, roads, or centers of population, made it necessary that the belligerent countries struggle for control of the sea. The first six months of the war, between April and October of 1879, the Peruvians were able to stop the Chileans thanks to an extraordinary and heroic maritime campaign led by Admiral Miguel Grau, in which its smaller navy was capable to keep at bay the powerful Chilean fleet. After the battle of Angamos, however (see the naval chapter), the Chileans were able to control the sea and ready to start the terrestrial phase of the war, whose immediate objective consisted in capturing the Peruvian province of Tarapacá, rich in minerals and nitrate deposits.

In strategic terms and material resources, the Chilean expeditionary army, under orders of General Erasmo Escala, proved superior to the allied forces. On November 2nd of 1879, despite a strong resistance, 10,000 Chilean soldiers supported by part of their squadron, -six warships and ten steamers- were able to disembark in the port of Pisagua establishing their first beach head in Peruvian territory. The Chilean Army moved inland and took possession of the railroad Pisagua-Agua Santa. Next, they proceeded towards the North, assuring a line of provisions with the valuable support of their fleet. During this process the Chileans captured the town of Dolores. On November 19th, the allies faced the Chilean expeditionary forces in the heights of the hill of San Francisco. The battle, fought in a front of three kilometers of extension, was favorable to the Chileans and on the 23rd of that month, the invaders occupied the important port of Iquique.

The decimated Peruvian forces, under orders of General Juan Buendía, moved towards the port of Arica, but on their way they stop in the city of Tarapacá. The Chilean high command, aware of the difficult situation of the Peruvians, and after being informed about their exact position, decided to send an expedition composed of six infantry battalions, two batteries -one consisting of Krupps and the other of Armstrong guns-, and a 150 cavalry squadron, a total of 3,900 selected men, with the purpose of annihilating them.

On early November 27th, 1879, the Chilean forces reached their objective and took position in the hills located west of Tarapacá. Colonel Andres A. Caceres, Commander of the Peruvian Second Division, was informed about the unexpected presence of the enemy, and without hesitation ordered his men to move out of the town and to charge against the Chileans up on the hills.

Caceres immediately divided his troops in three columns. The First and Second Company of his legendary regiment, the Zepita, consisting of 639 officers and men, was placed on the right, under orders of Commander Zubiaga. The Fifth and Sixth Company, under Mayor Pardo Figueroa was placed on the center and the Third and Fourth Company, under Mayor Arguedas, attacked from the left flank. At the same time Caceres sent a message to Colonel Manuel Suarez, Commander of the Dos the Mayo regiment, requesting him to attack and move his troops also to the left.

The Zepita started its fiercely assault against the Chilean positions, and the rest of the Peruvian regiments, under orders of Colonels Bolognesi, Rios and Castañon moved also against the enemy. The Zepita climbed the west side of the hills under heavy fire from the Chilean guns and infantry. The fire was very intense, but the Peruvians, in guerrilla displacements, keep escalating. The Column under Commander Zubiaga was the first to reach its objective and after a bayonet charge and against all odds, captured four enemy guns. Meanwhile the Columns under Mayor Pardo Figueroa and Arguedas caused severe damage upon the Chilean infantry. After the fierce charge, the Chileans lost complete control and were forced to withdraw in complete disorder to a position located 3 miles down the hills. The Peruvians had achieved a partial victory, but had lost several officers and men, including Commanders Zubiaga and Pardo Figueroa, Colonel Manuel Suarez, head of the Dos de Mayo battalion and Colonel Caceres' brother, Juan.

Andres Caceres was also wounded but decided to continue the fight against the new Chilean positions under Colonel Arteaga. His division was reinforced with the arrival of the Iquique battalion and the Loa and Naval Columns, as well as one Company from the Ayacucho battalion and one from the Gendarmes battalion. Those forces were part of the two Peruvian Divisions, strong of 1,300 men, that were located 20 miles from Tarapaca when the battle erupted.

With this reinforcements Caceres made a new assault Southeast of Tarapaca reaching and disbanding the enemy in five occasions. The Chileans however regrouped, but Caceres flanked them from the left side forcing them to move towards the South. In a desesperate last attempt a detachment of Chilean grenadiers made an effort to counter-attack, but were stopped by the gallant men of the Loa and Naval Columns. Caceres then made a last fierce attack against the center of the Chilean army destroying it completely. The survivors left their last pieces of artillery, ammunitions and rifles and run for their lives in complete disorder.

The Peruvians had achieved, after nine hours of intense combat, a total victory. The once proud Chilean column had a total of 800 casualties and 67 prisoners of war and lost all of its guns and most of its armament. The Peruvians however, having no cavalry, were not able to follow the survivors beyond the Minta hill, which impede the consolidation of the victory. The triumph boost the morale of the troops, but at the end did not changed the results of the war.

After Tarapaca the Peruvians moved towards the Southern port of Arica. Coincidentally The next objective for the Chileans was to capture such position. Twenty transports were concentrated in Pisagua and on February 24th, 1880 they appeared off Pacocha, a small town located few hundred miles North of Arica where the Army of 12,000 men landed. At the head of the Chilean forces rode a new commander, General Manuel Baquedano, who pushed his Army into the desert, attacked and dislodged the Peruvians entrenched at Los Angeles hills, and then defeated the combined Peruvian and Bolivian Armies at Tacna.

The Chilean squadron in the meantime, kept steady pressure on Arica from the sea. On February 27,1880, two Chilean warships entered the bay and fired on a troop train that was ready to leave. From "the morro" a huge rising bluff that protected Arica, Peruvian artillery opened fire on them. The Chilean ships retreated from the line of fire. Despite this, they kept up a tight blockade .

After the defeat at Tacna, the Bolivians abandoned the fight and did not actively participate in the war. On June 6th the Chileans launched a combined sea and land attack against Arica. Peruvian artillery silenced the Chilean field guns and opened a devastating fire on the ships within range. The next morning a Chilean infantry column was ready to assault the fortress.