Battle of Tacna

Battle of Tacna. Also known as the Battle of Alto de la Alianza, was a military action that took place on 26 of maypole in 1880 in Tacna , in the context of the War of the Pacific , one of the largest military actions of the Campaign of Tacna and Arica .


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  • 1 Background
  • 2 Armies involved
  • 3 Development of the battle
  • 4 Aftermath of the battle
  • 5 References
  • 6 Sources


After having occupied the Department of Tarapacá, in 1879 , a commanded Chilean force landed in Ilo and Pacocha, north of Arica, to launch itself on the Tacna army, which was supported by Bolivian troops. Thus the Chilean forces fell on their adversaries, claiming the first victory on March 22 , 1880 . E May 25 Chilean army began to leave after twenty – five Yaras and travel kilometers, two thirds of the distance of the Allied positions, Acampo, on into the night, at a point called Quebrada Honda.

Allied troops camped on the outskirts of the city of Tacna, a place they called Alto de la Alianza, and installed a guard to watch Quebrada Honda, which was the easiest route of attack for Chilean troops.

Meanwhile, the Chilean muleteers who had taken the lead are taken prisoner by the Husares de Junín and taken to the presence of Campero , who managed to learn that the Chileans, as was supposed, would camp in Quebrada Honda. Upon learning of this, the court martial drew up a strategy.

The plan of the allied troops was to surprise the enemy forces in the ravine, for which they began the advance on the place under the command of General Campero, who tried to surprise them in the middle of the night, and for that purpose he made a large part of the army; that they did not pay much attention to the route to follow, getting lost due to the darkness, thus making the attack plan fail, making them return to their original camp.

Failing this plan of attack, they planned the defense to use, dividing the troops into three sections:

  • The right wing of the Alianza field, under the command of Rear Admiral Montero, was located the first and sixth Peruvian divisions of Dávila and Canevaro and part of the Bolivian third division plus 6 cannons and 3 machine guns.
  • In the center, the command of Colonel Castro Pinto, were the 1st orand part of 3 or Bolivian division plus two guns and 4 machine guns.
  • On the left wing, to the command of Colonel Camacho, they were 3 ordivision of Colonel Suárez and 2 or Caceres plus 8 machine guns.

Armies involved

Conflicting forces
Peru Bolivia Chile  
I Division (Col. Davila)
Battalions Lima N or 11 and Grenadiers Cusco N or 19
I Division (Colonel Miguel Castro Pinto)
Battalions Alliance 1 or or Colorados de Bolivia, Loa 3 or and Aroma 4 or
I Division (Colonel Santiago Amengual)
Regiment 7 or of the “Esmeralda” Line; Valparaíso, Chillán and Naval Battalions
Division II (Col. Andres Avelino Caceres)
Battalions Zepita N or 1 and Hunters Misti N or 15
Division II (Col. Zapata)
Battalions Sucre 2 or , Viedma 5 or and Padilla 6 or
II Division (Colonel Francisco Barceló)
Regiments 2 or Line, Santiago and Atacama Battalion N or 1
III Division (Col. Súarez)
Battalions Pisagua N or 9 and Arica N or 27
III Division (general Acosta)
Battalions Tarija 7 or , Chorolque 8 or and Grau 9 or
III Division (Colonel José Domingo Amunátegui)
Marine Artillery Regiment. Battalions Coquimbo N or 3 and Chacabuco
IV Division (Colonel Mendoza)
Battalions Victoria N or 7 and Huáscar N or 13
  IV Division (colonel Orozimbo Barbosa)
Lautaro Regiment, Desert Hunter Battalions and Sappers.
V Division (Col. Luis Herrera Zaconetta)
Battalions Ayacucho N or 3 and Arequipa N or 17
  Reservation (Colonel Francisco Muñoz-Bezanilla | Muñoz)
Regiments Buin 1 or 3 or and 4 or Line Battalion Bulnes
VI Division (Colonel Canevaro)
Battalions Hunters Rimac N or 5 and Provisional Lima N or 21

Peruvian National Division (Colonel Del Solar)
Columns of gendarmes, policemen and spearmen of Tacna, gendarmes of Tarapacá and armed citizens

Cavalry (Col. Mendez)
squads Húsares Junin N or 1 N Guide or 3 and flanking Tacna N or 5
Squadrons Cuirassiers, Escort, Free of the South, Murillo and Vanguard of Cochabamba
Cavalry (colonel Vergara)
Yungay Grenadiers, Hunters and Carabinieri Regiments
(Colonel Panizo) 2 12-pound guns, 6 Blackely 4-pounder guns and 3 Machine Guns (2 Gardners and 1 Gatling)
(Colonel Flores) 8 cannons and 4 machine guns
(Lieutenant Colonel Novoa) 37 guns and 4 machine guns.

Development of the battle


Map of the Battle of Alto de Alianza

The battle began on May 26 , 1880 . The Chilean objective was Tacna and for this he had prepared an army of 19,000 men under the command of General Manuel Baquedano . The allied forces numbered only 12,000 troops, 6,500 Peruvians and 5,500 Bolivians. The forces of both sides were structured on the basis of infantry, cavalry and artillery in frontal and melee attack, with the entry of waves of cavalry charges and coverage with hammering cannons. The continuity of the desert was broken on the Intiorco plateau, where Campero settled.

Between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon, they fought fiercely, the most prominent episode was the heroic intervention of the Bolivian Colorados who charged to reinforce the weakened left wing of Colonel Camacho. The push of the colorados represented a strong Allied advance that pushed back the Chilean first division and resisted the Chilean cavalry charge from Yavar with integrity. Colonel Felipe Ravelo, Bustillo, González and other chiefs were there.

The Chileans had a division in reserve and almost all of their cavalry. Chile’s final attack ended up collapsing the allies, exhausted by the failed raid of the previous morning, outnumbered, short on ammunition, thirsty and seriously decimated.

Aftermath of the battle

More than 5000 dead and wounded with a high proportion of chiefs and officers remained in the field. The Murillo and sappers detachments from Bolivia and Tacna from Peru were the last resistance. Tacna fell into the hands of the Chileans at the end of the afternoon.

«It is so certain that the Peruvian army has fought with bizarreness, that of the twelve battalions that I had under my orders, six first leaders have died, and a general commander, whose names the national history will keep with pride. Colonel Don Jacinto Mendoza, who commanded the fourth division; Colonels Barriga, Fajardo, Luna; Lieutenant Colonels Mac Lean, Llosa and Commander Samuel Alcázar, who respectively commanded the battalions “Huáscar”, “Cazadores del Rímac”, “Cazadores del Misti”, “Arica”, “Zepita” and the column of “Tacna”, have fought with a heroism beyond all praise. Apart from such a sensitive loss, we have also had many second and third bosses, not counting the large number of wounded. ” [1]

Lizardo Montero Flores (War Part)

The battle of Alto de la Alianza sealed the fate of Bolivia. The forces commanded by Campero undertook the retreat towards the Andes . That was the last battle of the Pacific War in which Bolivian weapons participated. Peru, on the other hand, suffered the war for three more years, until 1883 . The Chileans occupied Lima and much of the Peruvian territory for more than a year.


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