Official Report of the colonel Arnaldo Panizo on the battle of the Morro Solar

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Official Report of the colonel Arnaldo Panizo on the battle of the Morro Solar  (1881) 
by Arnaldo Panizo

Peruvian Republic

General Command of the Batteries from Chorrillos and Miraflores


Lima February 9th 1881

Mr. Chief of General Staff of the armies

Mr. General

Fulfilling my duty puts me in the inevitable event to inform to Your Excellency waged the Battle of the Jan. 13th ultimo, between sea and land forces of the Republic of Chile and our army in the fields of Villa and San Juan, in all that relates to dependent Batteries of the General Command but, before you take care of the details of that event, so fateful for the future of our country, I should make here a slight outline of the topographical situation in the occupied heights of Chorrillos the batteries to my orders, with the pieces that were gunships, the forces that served his weaponry and how they were supported me.

In the eminence extreme linking the South Bay Chorrillos, and the start of the most high peak, so-called “Marcavilca” had been established two batteries: the first and foremost, named “Mártir Olaya”, was located in the floodplain highest in the Morro Chorrillos. There had been mounted two 70-pound “Parrott” rifle gun, in carriage for sliding on a wooden platform and with an interval, including eight meters, at most, both revolved a full circle and, from then beat both sea and the countryside, within a radius of 4 to 5000 meters. His situation and the short distance that separated them, prevented, as Your Excellency understands, make their fire on a given point, without serious danger to the gunners. The entire perimeter of the platform, which was rectangular, was covered with a few rows of sandbags, which barely covered the troops until half leg; had been placed there to deface the ground, rather than for defending the enemy projectiles. In the slope only, facing the sea, and unable to offend the valley, on a platform, also of wood, had assembled a piece at 500-pound “Rodman” smoothbore, and a little more advanced and at the foot of the court which serves as a vertical limit to the sea, had placed another small piece at 9-pound “Whitworth” rifle gun, mounted on a naval carriage.

The second battery, called the “Provisional”, was situated on a plateau which was moving toward the valley, being hidden from the sea by its rear without being seen only by the bay, dominated throughout the countryside and roads leading to San Juan and Villa to Chorrillos, assembled two 32-pound, long, smooth-bore, old system, on carriage navy, two platforms of wood and without any parapet or defense, because the pressure of time did not lead to more. They could offend the enemy in a radius from 3000 to 4000 meters.

Between these two batteries, soon had a distance of 1,000 meters and the inequities in the ground, such an extension, they made it impossible to see or seen one another.

The cove “La Chira”, situated south of these fortifications, is separated from them and concealed by a great eminence, which rises to near the Battery “Provisional”, known as the “Marcavilca”. Since its peak it is controlled and it defended, not just the cove named, but all the sandy areas limited by the valley and the more hidden retreat in all directions of a circle and a vast distance. It was therefore the key to our batteries, and therefore necessary, placed there by lesser-caliber artillery, which, while talking to the enemy long-range, all landing prevented by the inlet “Chira” and supported by strong Army Division, were prevented taken by the enemy, with its infantry cancel out fires, completely, the batteries of my command. In consequence and with great work, for an entirely narrow way formed (trained) on the cleaver that runs up to the top, jumped to two 9-pound field gun, “Clay” rifle, and a machine gun “Nordenfelt”.

For the service of the two “Clay” rifle gun, a Howitzer of 12-pound and a machine gun “Claxton” had only 36 enrolled in Chorrillos, 52 gunners, 6 seamen and 80 recruits from the Department of Junin, which sent me 11th Your Excellency: Supreme Chief; of which sent 25 to Miraflores, for the Battery “Alfonso Ugarte”, leaving in the Chorrillos 55, who during the battle, could only be used to provide ammunition to various points.

Those enrolled in number, 21, served at the “Clay” and machine-gun “Nordenfelt” at the orders of Captain Artillery D. Nicanor Luque, 15 others served the Battery “Provisional”, with a sailor and 5 gunners under the command of Captain D. Manuel R. Cornejo. The 47 remaining gunners and 5 sailors, was in the service of the Battery “Mártir Olaya”. To put all of that force only had 40 rifles “Remington”.

As Your Excellency can see, did not have a single foot soldier who protected the two batteries “Mártir Olaya” and “Provisional”. In Marcavilca was the North Division.

With this demonstration, which I believe entirely necessary, step now to address how these batteries worked during the battle.

Would be the 5 and 30 a.m. when an adjutant of the batteries, sent by his first Chief, Sergeant Major Mr. Manuel Hurtado and Haza, came to give me part of the enemy is to beat our Army established the line. Immediately I was in the Battery “Mártir Olaya”, accompanied by Colonel of Artillery Mr. José Ruesta and adjutants of this General Command, Sublieutenant of Artillery Mr. Gerardo Soria, Mr. Abel Ayllón and Mr. Alberto Panizo. When I arrived there, chiefs, officers and other ranks were in their seats, ready for combat and animated greater enthusiasm and determination, the waiting time of the test.

Followed by the Major Haza and adjutants who had accompanied me before, I went to the Battery “Provisional”, in which post I never had anything to write, then I was “Marcavilca”, which in those times did fire on the enemy. Upon arriving there, the captain Luque told me, that one of the “Clay” gun and the machine gun “Nordenfelt”, were unserviceable. A gunsmith dealing in working in both arms, in order to restore the service, but unfortunately, neither his job nor the interest of Captain hard, produced any favorable results. Was therefore a single gun, which constantly firing on the Chilean squadron, a time, and on the other regiments who tried to ascend to the position. The Division of Mr. Colonel Noriega, located on the plateau, defended his position very well. The artillery ammunition was scarce. Immediately sent to one of my adjutants to the main Battery, to send me an amount sufficient to warrant was executed and executed at the end of the distance, leaving that position at the best possible defense.

Meanwhile, since the enemy had been beating and evicting their positions to our Army in the line, from San Juan to the Chira, and others by the paddocks and alleys of Villa, was ceding the field, without having artillery protecting it in its withdrawal. In the event I went down since Marcavilca to the Battery “Provisional”. In transit found to Your Excellency the Supreme Chief, who gave report of what had previously happened in my post, telling you at the same time, I was going to open fires in the Battery Provisional. Your Excellency followed Marcavilca, and the fires were broken at its best.

The enemy infantry and cavalry, in part guerrillas, pursuing our considerable strength, which in orders of the Colonel Mr. Miguel Iglesias, was retreating and trying to reorganize at the foot of a “huaca” indicated that dominates the road, near the Pantheon. The fires of Battery evicted the enemy and his guerrillas, and Colonel Iglesias with his troops, reorganized, launched a new attack and regained, with great resolution, their lost positions, which later returned to be evicted by the forces of the enemy, by the lack of troops to increase the strength. During this time, the artillery enemy fired us a large, whose shells fell on our position. There was present the rear admiral Mr. Lizardo Montero. At this time, I received notice of the Major Haza that part of the enemy squadron appeared off the Battery “Mártir Olaya”. Forthwith I went to this point, arriving in circumstances that that chief with the gun of 500-pound fired on the gunboat Pilcomayo and the boat Toro, who already shot also, on the Battery. As a deliberate shelling that lasted for hours, without producing any results, pulling away those ships, not to appear over. It was 8 o'clock a.m.

The enemy artillery, owner of the magnificent positions they had taken in San Juan and Villa, was doing strong unloads to us on the Batteries, which were answered vigorously, supporting a bombardment of more than two hours, which it caused us some victims. Meanwhile, the enemy, entering the way lately opened, between San Juan and Chorrillos, was trying, with forces of Infantry and Cavalry, in considerable number, to get hold of this Villa.

In the Military school we had a battalion that was firing them, and on the road that leads from this building to Ravine, reorganized, too, another battalion of ours.

In the event did manage fires on the enemy, with such a good effect, which was rejected three times by up to the mouth of that road. In this long period of time, both battalions retreated to the Ravine.

At this time, and with great feeling, I saw that led wounded, on a stretcher, to the brave Captain Artillery Mr. Nicanor Luque. He had a broken leg. He told me he was resisting Marcavilca under good auspices that have been unused mounting the single “Clay” gun, which was, he had to disassemble and change the carriage of which before had decomposed and that, being injured was in command this piece of the Lieutenant Alvarez Calderón, belonging to Battalion No. Ayacucho. 5.

Would be 12 and 30m when I met the moments that were increasingly difficult, which did not have any infantry force to defend my positions, and that the battery of 32 pounder beat the crudely. Under these circumstances, I sent my assistant, Sublieutenant Mr. Gerardo Soria, would seek to Your Excellency, the Supreme Chief, and present him our situation and the need for infantry forces, to defend and support of my position. Long time later, said an official brought the news that Your Excellency had marched to Miraflores, where he had retreated to the Army, and that the enemy was near the town.

Since the early hours of the morning, and lacking job on the line, my orders were 30 men armed with Remington and with very little ammunition, belonging to the section of Engineers of the Northern Army, under the command of Captain Mr. Fabio Rodriguez, with a few more junior, did they deploy to guerrillas in order to beat, even with his chest out, the most important avenues for the position.

The machine gun “Clayton” had been rendered unusable to the first shots. Major Haza, who personally handled this weapon, which was finally abandoned and take charge of the Howitzer of 12 pounder, artillery field, to beat and close to the enemy, whose infantry had occupied the avenues of the Malecon and the path that leads to of zig-zag that leads to Morro.

The Battery “Provisional” had been taken to blood and fire for the failure to protect the infantry. The Division of Marcavilca, dominated by the enemy, left his position and declining, precipitously, partly because of the slope between his position and the Battery “Provisional”, toward the people, and the rest above the Morro, with the same address. The enemy was crowned Marcavilca, and guerrillas, was fire on that division, preventing the reorganization, making endless casualties.

The gunners Batteries were decimated our, to the point that the Chiefs and Officers of the General Command, as well as those of the batteries, worked since then, the two pieces “Parrott” which, together with the Howitzer of 12 pounder, were only ones that beat the enemy with shrapnel, that instant by instant, step up their most fires and carried us almost in a circle, because we had no more free hand to the rough slopes leading to the beach.

At the moment, fell wounded Colonel of Artillery Mr. Jose Ruesta, who courageously and spontaneously, he had requested or put into combat, and the courageous Lieutenant Mr. David Leon.

Since then, the situation became untenable. A hundred men or so, without any parapet, almost exhausted their ammunition, and the sown area of dead and wounded, they encountered at every turn, they were powerless, despite their courage, to fight with numerous forces, which by all parts we siege. In such conditions, I called the Mayor Haza and ordered that he personally set fire to a fuse in duration, that had been given in advance to the magazine, the order was obeyed immediately; the troops were admonished for it ahead of time and without waiting for my orders to retreat together, because the wick gave us enough time, and alarmed with the danger immediately, but I nor the Chiefs and Officers who were at my side, without realize, as we rushed quick withdrawal of the slope to the beach, where some were victims of their recklessness.

Not without a few bruises, we were able to undertake the withdrawal of the troops amid scattered on the edge of the beach heading toward Miraflores, to retreat to the Battery “Alfonso Ugarte” also dependent on the General Command but, unfortunately, the enemy cut off us the retreat, making some victims more, and taken us prisoners, a few moments later.

On completion of this party, I can not but express to Your Excellency, the patriotism, courage and enthusiasm, they have filled their duty during the battle, all the lords and heads Officers and troops that have on relations with the parties to the gentlemen to remove the heads of my orders, and the Surgeon and their subordinates. As for the Battery “Alfonso Ugarte”, whose party has also followed, although I did not have the honor to see her fight, and for being a prisoner, the history of the Chiefs and that the officers were defending, on the day of Miraflores, and the party's Chief detail, perfectly evident, his dignified and courageous action.

God Save You Lord General.

Arnaldo Panizo (signed)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).