Biography of Francisco Bolognesi (1816-1880)

Hero, perhaps the most distinguished of the Peruvian army. With the rank of Colonel and commanded the garrison of Arica, he blew himself up in the defence of that port, on June 7, 1880, in the framework of the war with Chile, also known as the Pacific war.

Born in Lima from November 4, 1816, son of the Genoese musician Andrés Bolognesi and the Arequipa Juana Cervantes Pacheco, did studies in the Seminary of Arequipa, where the family lived and later ledgers. He worked in the French commercial House Lebris and Voller.

Still young he enlisted in one of the revolutions of Castile, receiving its baptism of fire in the fights against Vivanco, in 1840. He returned to commercial life, joining a Catalan immigrant in Cuzco for a real adventure: the husks, medicinal uses and exploitation of coca. So he had plunging into the jungle of Carabaya, to the North of the Department of Puno.

The revolution against Echenique in Arequipa is the occasion that returned to arms, in the branch of artillery and next to Castilla. This amounts to Colonel in 1858, participating with such a degree in the campaign against Ecuador in 1859. A year later he is sent to Europe to buy guns; Mission that repeated in 1864. He it was who brought the first pieces of artillery bore scratched for the Peru. There were several unhappy with the material and when the canons were tested at Conchan Beach any failed, which was exploited by his enemies to discredit him. President Castilla, who was present, defended it by saying: '' good artillery, very good artillery, my Colonel; that small has been as a family having many children and one leaves badulaque."

In 1868 he was appointed Civil Governor of Callao and in 1871 retired from the army, at the age of 55 years. At the beginning of the war with Chile arose to service, being sent to the South, where it fought in the battles of San Francisco and Tarapacá. Montero then placed him as head of the garrison of Arica.

He married Josefa La Puente Rivero, with whom he had four children: Margaret, Federico, Enrique and Augusto. The second you write several messages in the weeks prior to slaughter; at the last, of 31 May said: "here I am well health, waiting for the enemy shall come to meet him, regardless I your number." The last two were killed in the defense of Lima.

Roque Sáenz Peña, the Argentine military who enlisted voluntarily in the Peruvian defense and was present in the epic of el Morro, and was lucky to survive, warned that: "their views were not vast; his intelligence, uncultivated; he lacked preparation. But I had the clear perception of things and events. The experience of the years and malice that develops in the restless life of camps had given his spirit some agility of perception." It describes him as a methodical man, attached to the Ordinance; "able to spurn the victory if it was not conquered by the precepts of military law; He preferred the defeat in the strategy and the Ordinance, to triumph in the inspiration and chance." His political ideas were simple: "Born under a centralist government, another scheme that the unit had not met and listened with deep disdain the problems confronting Buendia in their long discussions about the Federal Government."

After the defeat of the armies of Peru and Bolivia in the battle of Tacna, on May 26, 1880, the South of the country was almost entirely lost in the Chilean hands. Only in Arica was a garrison of 1600 men under the command of Bolognesi, that isolated by land and by sea, it was doomed to fall. Its location was the nose of the city, a natural Ridge about three hundred meters that at the bottom of the ocean. On June 5 a parliamentarian of the Chilean army, the biggest Juan of the Cruz Salvo, approached to ask for accountability from the square in order to avoid bloodshed. Military honor, he said, should not lead to a meaningless sacrifice in advance of fruit. The Chilean army had six thousand men and upper arms; the ratio was four-to-one. He offered a capitulation in terms worthy for the vanquished.

The news of the disaster of Tacna was soon known in Arica. June two had reached five surviving soldiers with the bad new, but Bolognesi could not collect aware of the magnitude of the defeat and maintained the illusion that not everything would be lost, which would have saved and some battalions would advance to help you. He wrote several telegrams to Lizardo Montero to Moquegua and Arequipa, promising that the square would not yield, but asking for instructions and especially the arrival of the forces of Leyva, who had been commissioned by Montero to help you with three thousand men. He received no response. Leyva, then in Tarata, seeing cut the road to Arica by Chilean occupation of Tacna, departed to the North; or the opposite direction. It was still a letter: the retreat to the interior, the Azapa Valley, but did not have authorization to do so.

Months ago he had begun to undermine the nose that presides over the port, but the Chileans captured the engineer Elmore, in charge of the work, and discovered these plans. Either way, the news that the nose was planted explosives delayed decision to Chilean attack and pushed them to negotiate the surrender. He says, without having all the tests, that Montero and Bolognesi had conceived the plan to blow up all the nose, with defenders and attackers, and even the city, if the battle was lost.

francisco Bolognesi knew that mines could fail, since they were imperfect, and that the key to the defense was the artillery. Unfortunately, it was composed of canons which for the most part not spun in a circle, complicating defense. At the request of the parliamentary enemy, Bolognesi replied "I have sacred duties to fulfill, and I will perform them until burning the last round". "Then, is accomplished my mission," said Salvo. The Colonel asked however, some hours to give a final answer, because I wanted to consult with his commanders, but Salvo said that there was no time for it and that it should return immediately. Bolognesi asked him to wait a few moments. He called his staff, he transmitted them the Chilean Parliamentary Commission and what was his response. Everyone adhered to it.

The day six was the defection of Colonel Agustín Belaúnde, who we don't know if it was in the quotation with the greater cross except. His view was the capitulation. Bolognesi commanded to apprehend, but escaped and fled to Moquegua. Along the way he crossed with the prefect of Tacna, Alejandro de el Solar, who was heading to Arequipa. This surprised the meeting, enquired you about the fate of Arica. Belaunde knew not respond, imagined the rest and did arrest. He was in a tris to be shot, but you forgave him. Years later he was elected Deputy for the province of Tayacaja.

Chileans decided to attack the East side, the steepest, and not by sea, where the Peruvians had concentrated the defense. The six day there was exchange of fire between the Chilean fleet and the artillery of the nose and the only Peruvian vessel, the Manco Capac. The Chilean army made several maneuvers of distraction to confuse the defense, leaving fires lit on one side, mobilizing troops to another, using how parliamentary Elmore a final proposal for surrender, knowing that this would have the site of Chilean troops to Bolognesi, changing them then. Indeed Elmore malició, correctly, that the attack was to take place from the opposite side to which he pushed to believe, but Bolognesi, faithful to the rules, refused to receive him for being a prisoner of the enemy.

He day seven produced is the attack on the side, at five-thirty in the morning. After three and a half hours of fight the Peruvian flag was lowered the nose. The crew of the Manco Cápac sank the ship to prevent their collapse. The mine plan did not work. According to a Chilean version, Bolognesi ran towards the Santabarbara, shortly before the end to detonate mines; seeing that not passing anything, he yelled "Treason". Peruvians were dying almost half of its troops; including Colonel Bolognesi, completed of a recoil; It was sixty-three years old.