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The course which should have been adopted was most obvious. Even to secure supplies it was evidently necessary to advance.
The general-in-chief, vexed at the importunities of Miller, and of other commanding officers of corps, to advance, and which importunities were perhaps improperly urged, told the former that if he were not satisfied he might return to Lima. Miller took him at his word, and re-embarked; but before he could obtain his passport the general sent repeated messages by Rear-Admiral Blanco and others, requesting him to come on shore. An interview again took place, and it was finally arranged that Miller should be employed on a detached service.
General Alvarado, a native of Salta, is an amiable, well-informed gentleman, of highly polished and prepossessing address, who, from the commencement of the revolution, has always been employed, but although animated with the purest patriotism, this really worthy man has been singularly unfortunate as a soldier.
Miller embarked on the evening of the 21st with the light company of his battalion, and sailed to the northward, with orders to disembark on the coast of Camaná, and to divert the attention of Canterac and Carratalà, or at all events, to draw off a division of their forces. The natives were warmly patriotic, and much was expected from them, especially as Miller's name, owing to his previous operations on the coast, was well known.
At length, on the 23d, the regiment of the Rio de la Plata and that of the granaderos à caballo
marched, under the orders of Colonel Correa, to Tacna, where he arrived on the following day.
The active Valdez was in the valley of Sama with four hundred cavalry, four hundred infantry mounted on mules, and two field-pieces. His men were devoted to him, and he knew he could rely upon their valour under any circumstance. His object was to watch for a favourable opportunity to make a coupde-main. He was positively assured that the patriots in Tacna did not exceed one thousand men. With his flying division he therefore set out from Sama, at four P. M. on the 31st, in order that night to surprise the independents in Tacna. The royalists lost their
way for upwards of five hours in the desert, and having wandered about and marched nearly double the necessary distance, did not arrive in sight of Tacna until broad daylight on the 1st of January, 1823. Instead of finding the town occupied by one thousand patriots, as he anticipated, Valdez saw not only the brigade of Correa drawn up to receive him, but also the battalion of the legion, and of No. 11, advancing within a league of the town on the Arica side. With the patriot reinforcement came General Don Enrique Martinez (who had followed the expedition from Truxillo), and, on joining Correa's brigade, had taken the command. The situation of Valdez was most critical. His men and horses were too much fatigued to re-cross the desert ; he was too weak to venture upon an attack, and he could not remain on the burning sand. He therefore adopted the only alternative left him, of obliquing to his left, and posted himself in Calana, a hamlet two leagues
east of Tacna, and in the valley. At ten A. M. Martinez with his troops marched up the valley towards Calana. Valdez at first did not show any disposition to retreat, and some skirmishing took place. Martinez detached a battalion and some cavalry to the heights, on the right of the enemy. Upon perceiving this movement, Valdez retired two leagues higher up the valley, to Pachia, almost unmolested by the slowly pursuing patriots. It appears that Martinez made so sure of capturing Valdez, that he did not think it necessary to make a serious attack upon the exhausted enemies, who halted eight hours to recover from their fatigues, and then continued their march to Tarrata, fourteen leagues from Tacna. The General-in-Chief Alvarado had not, up to this time, moved from Arica. Valdez, who afterwards acknowledged that he considered all was lost, stated that his casualities amounted to only thirteen killed, wounded, and missing.
Alvarado at last united the whole of his forces in Tacna, and, placing himself at their head, advanced on the road leading to Arequipa, and on the evening of the 13th of January reached the valley of Locumba. Colonel Ameller, commanding the advance of the royalists near Moquegua, having reason to suppose that Locumba was occupied by merely two or three hundred patriots, advanced with four hundred royalists, in the hope of taking them by surprise. In order to effect this the more completely, he crossed the valley, and placed himself on the Tacna side of Locumba, in the rear of the patriots. At daybreak on the 14th, to his great surprise, Ameller found himself within cannon-shot, not of two or three hundred men only, as he expected, but of the whole of Alvarado's army.
He immediately made the best of his way to the heights of Candarave. A battalion of infantry and a squadron of cavalry were sent in pursuit by Alvarado, but they did no serious mischief, for Ameller made good his retreat by a circuitous route to Moquegua. He behaved with the utmost firmness and sang froid, and his escape was equally honourable to his talents and to his courage.
It is singular that he should have made a false and rash movement upon Locumba, precisely similar to that of Valdez
Tacna. Both originated from want of correct information, and nothing can more clearly prove the incorruptible patriotism of the inhabitants of these districts. It is not less singular that both should have been so strangely permitted to escape, for although they might be called, with great justice, the two best and most enterprising officers in the royalist service, the odds were so much against them, that nothing but the inertness and irresolution of Martinez and Alvarado could have saved them.
The army under Alvarado arrived in the vicinity of Moquegua on the 18th, and halted almost within range of the division of Valdez, which had re-united, and was bivouacked on some adjoining heights. On the morning of the 19th, the patriots advanced. Valdez fell back, disputing every inch of rising ground, to the heights of Torata. There he was joined at half past three P. M. by General Canterac, who had that moment arrived, having made forced marches from Puno. Canterac was accompanied only by a small detachment of cavalry, the rest of his division being a few miles in the rear.
Valdez had chosen his position with so much judgment, that every attempt made by Alvarado to dislodge him proved unavailing, and Valdez, or rather Canterac, part of whose division had now come up, became in turn the assailant. The action was sharp. The regiment of the Rio de la Plata showed a great want of discipline; No. 4 of Chile, and the legion, behaved well. The conduct of the latter, which Miller had left under the command of the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel de la Rosa, drew forth praise from the enemy in their official report. But the patriots were worsted, and Alvarado fell back upon Moquegua (five leagues) in the course of the night. He halted there in a state of great indecision until the 21st, when the battalions Cantabria and Burgos, the cavalry and artillery of Canterac, united with the divisions of Valdez, and advanced to Moquegua, where they found Alvarado strongly posted. A second action ensued. The patriots had the advantage of position, and were not perhaps inferior in numbers to the royalists; but unhappily dissensions had broken out amongst the chiefs; the soldiers had become dispirited ; and insubordination prevailed in every
l grade. A total defeat was the consequence. The royalist official accounts state their own losses in the affairs of Torata and Moquegua at one hundred and fifty killed, and two hundred and fifty wounded ; which statement is considered underrated. Valdez was wounded, and had two horses shot under him. He, as well as the brave Ameller, was continually