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The Sinking of the "Lautaro".

The naval battle in the bay of Panama on January 20, 1902, which resulted in the sinking of the Colombian gunboat Lautaro, and the death of Gen. Carlos Alban, the government's chief military representative on the Isthmus, afforded one of the most interesting spectacles connected with the revolution. A few days previous to this engagement the Lautaro, a boat belonging to the Chilean steamship line, had been impressed into service by the government authorities without waiting for the consent of the head of affairs at Bogota. Guns were mounted and the boat otherwise put in readiness to go in search of the revolutionary vessel Padilla, and to relieve the garrison at Aguadulce which at that time was being hard pressed by the Liberals.

On the night before the Lautaro met her fate, Gen. Alban with several of his officers went on board and discovered the Chilean crew had broken into the spirit room and were committing drunken excesses, one being the letting of all the fresh water out of the tanks. Finding it useless to try and discipline them, the general retired and was awakened in the morning with the information that a vessel was steaming into the harbor showing no distinctive colors. After passing inside of where the American cruiser, Philadelphia lay at anchor, the boat which proved to be the Padilla, opened a well-directed fire on the Lautaro dismounting one of its guns at the first shot, and killing Gen. Alban and several other men at the second fire.

In the meantime the small Colombian gunboat Chucuito with Gen. Esteban Huertas and Gen. H. O. Jeffries on board came up from La Boca and steamed to within five hundred yards of the Padilla. The Chucuito immediately opened up with a light rapid-fire automatic gun which however, made no impression on the revolutionary steamer. The latter continued to hammer away at the Lautaro until the vessel caught fire and sank slowly out of sight



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beneath the waters of the bay. The noise of discharging cannon and the blowing up of the powder magazine on the doomed boat as the fire reached it, performed a fitting requiem over the dead body of the military chief, Gen. Alban, which went down at the same time.

The upper part of the masts of the Lautaro may be readily seen to-day at low tide sticking out of the water. A year or so since there was some talk of dynamiting the wreck and clearing away the spot, but no action in regard to it has yet been taken. The Padilla remained in the hands of the revolutionists until peace was declared. It was then turned over to the Colombian Government and renamed the 21 de Noviembre,

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In January, 1902, Gen. Herrera, the Liberal leader, with his Indian allies under Victoriano Lorenzo appeared before the town of Aguadulce in the province of Coclé. The town was garrisoned by a government force of about 1,300 men under the command of Gen. Castro. The Liberal general demanded the unconditional surrender of the garrison, at the same time conveying the information of the loss of the Lautaro upon which the government troops had depended for supplies. The demand was refused, and on January 23d, the Liberals commenced the attack.



twenty-four hours' fighting the government forces defeated, Gen. Castro and 350 of his men escaping to Panama. In this engagement some 750 men were killed and wounded on both sides, while the Liberal leaders re

ported the capture of 700 prisoners.


In June, 1902, the government despatched a force of 1,200 men to retake Aguadulce. The troops arrived at the town on June 20th and were immediately surrounded by a superior force of Liberals. The latter invested the place so closely as to cut off the besieged entirely from obtaining supplies. The government had provided the garrison with five hundred cattle, but these were mysteriously run off one night leaving the besieged practically without food. Such straits were they in that they were compelled to kill and eat their horses, and later on other animals, including the dogs. Decayed fruit, and pieces of palms and shrubs were also utilized to sustain life. The garrison continued to hold out until August 21, 1902, when it capitulated, over 1,000 prisoners and a large amount of ammunition falling into the enemy's hands. During the siege the garrison suffered the loss of some two hundred men through sickness and starvation.

Another revolutionary expedition organized in Nicaragua landed near Chame, Province of Panama, on September 1, 1902. The party consisted of about 120 men,

sixty of whom were experienced veterans, and had for their leader Gen. Domingo Diaz of Panama. At Chame the expedition was met by Papi Aizpuru, Secretary of Victoriano Lorenzo, with 300 Indians. The force marched to Bejuco where at a conference of the Liberal officers, Gen. Diaz was made the military and civil chief of the Liberal forces on the Isthmus.

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The Indians of the Province of Coclé have been more or less independent as far back as history has knowledge of. It has been their custom to select a governor from among their number to whom all tribal differences are referred, and in whose leadership implicit confidence is placed

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