South America 1880: War of the Pacific

In February 1879 Chile had seized Antofagasta following a dispute with Bolivia. Peru sided with Bolivia, only to be defeated at sea by the superior Chilean navy. In the ensuing War of the Pacific, Chile used its naval supremacy to land forces along the Bolivian and Peruvian coasts.



Patagonia was regarded as terra nullius by Britain and France until 1881 (and thus shown as a separate state in most maps of the period). Their main concern, shared with the United States, was to prevent any nation restricting navigation through the Straits of Magellan.

Main Events

? ?? 1879 Amazon rubber boom

The Industrial Revolution created new demand for rubber, which was native to the Amazon and could not be cultivated on open land. To satisfy global demand, large numbers of traders and prospectors established settlements in the Amazon, often using indigenous slave labor for mass extraction. The ensuing economic boom lasted until the early 20th century, when rubber plantations in Southeast Asia and central Africa—started from seeds transplanted early in the boom—began reaching wikipedia

8 Oct 1879 Battle of Angamos

Following the loss of the Indepencia—one of its two ironclads—when it ran aground during a pursuit on 21 May 1879, Peru adopted a policy of hit-and-run raids against the Chileans. This came to an end on 8 October, when the Peruvian raiding force—the monitor Huáscar and the wooden corvette Unión under the command of Admiral Miguel Grau—was surprised north of Antofagasta by two Chilean squadrons of three ships each led by Galvarino Riveros and Juan José Latorre. After a few hours of exchanging fire in which Grau was killed, Riveros’s and Latorre’s two armored frigates forced the surrender of the Huáscar, bringing an end to the Peruvian naval wikipedia

15 Oct 1879 Treaty of Decoud-Quijano

Plenipotentiary Minister of Bolivia Antonio Quijarro and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay José Segundo Decoud signed a boundary treaty in Asunción, agreeing that the border between Paraguay and Bolivia was to follow the parallel from the mouth of the Apa River to the river Pilcomayo. However the treaty was rejected by the Congress of Bolivia and an 1883 Bolivian amendment to the treaty was not accepted by wikipedia

2 Nov 1879 Battle of Pisagua

Having embarked from Antofagasta the previous week, 8,000 Chilean troops under General Erasmo Escala launched an amphibious assault on Pisagua in the morning of 2 November 1879, seizing the Peruvian port by 3pm that day. Defeated, the Peruvian and Bolivian defenders fell back along the railway line to the interior and Iquique. Having established a beachhead, the Chileans fanned out over the province of Tarapacá, completing their conquest by early wikipedia

26 Feb–7 Jun 1880 Tacna and Arica Campaign

12,000 Chilean troops under General Manuel Baquedano disembarked near Ilo, advancing inland to occupy Moquegua in March. After beating the Peruvians in a number of small encounters, Baquedano attacked Tacna on 26 May, defeating Bolivian General Narciso Campero’s combined defense force and capturing the town. The loss led Campero to withdraw his troops to Bolivia, effectively ending that country’s involvement in the war. The Chileans moved on to capture Arica on 7 wikipedia

4–30 Jun 1880 Revolution of 1880

After General Julio Argentino Roca won the Argentine presidential election in April 1880, Carlos Tejedor—his main political opponent and governor of Buenos Aires province—refused to recognize the results. Negotiations broke down and on 4 June Roca moved his capital to Belgrano (in the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires), declaring Tejedor to be in a state of rebellion. On 20 June, Roca began his assault on Buenos Aires, forcing Tejedor to request terms three days later. In the ensuing deal, Tejedor resigned as governor and Buenos Aires was federalized as capital of wikipedia