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revolt had spread the length and breadth of the country. For more than fifteen years the ruling party in Colombia had been the Conservatives or clerical party as it was sometimes called. In 1898 this party lost the reins of government through a deflection from its ranks of a group of men calling themselves Nationalists. The Nationalists favored a milder course toward the Liberals and elected Dr. Manuel Sanclemente, President. Meanwhile the Conservatives were not idle, and the following year succeeded in having Sanclemente deposed by "golpe de estado" (1). This brought the Conservative party back into power with José M. Mauroquin, Vice-President under Sanclemente, at its head.
The Liberal party at this period is said to have constituted about seventy per cent. of the entire population, exclusive of the uncivilized Indians. Many years before when in power, this party had incurred the enmity of the church by expelling the Jesuits and confiscating church property for the use of state and education. Since then, to check the party's growth and to stamp out liberal tendencies, it is alleged that the offices of the church were frequently used. Many are said to have been excommumicated; the marriage service and rites of burial refused, and their children denied admission to the schools. Furthermore they were not entitled to the privileges of the courts, and often awoke in the morning to find their property confiscated and an order of arrest confronting them. They were permitted no representation in local or federal offices, nor in Congress, with the notable exception of Gen. Rafael Uribe-Uribe, a man of uncommon intelligence and a natural born leader whose personal following was too strong to be easily thrust aside.
Disaffection Reaches Panama.
It only needed a decided incentive at this stage to plunge the country into a civil war, and the incentive was
(1) A sudden act performed by the State for state reasons.
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furnished by the deposing of Sanclemente. The strife that followed lasted three years, and according to official reports cost the lives of over 50,000 men. The information that had been coming to Panama, sometimes false, sometimes true, had the effect of stirring up a bitter politicai feeling which came out openly upon the landing of a revolutionary expedition from Nicaragua on the coast of Chiriqui in April
, 1900. This expedition consisted of 110 men uder the command of Generals Emiliano Herrera and Belisario Porras. With this small force they attacked and captured the garrison at David, the capital of Chiriqui Province, and then commenced a march on Panama.
Gen. Herrera having a personal knowledge of thic country and people through which he was passing succeeiled in securing numerous recruits, so that at Bejuc“, where he encountered the first serious opposition to his progress, he was able to defeat Gen. Lozada at the head of 650 men of the Colombian Line. The revolutionists continued their advance upon Panaina and were practically uopposed until they, arrived at Corozal, three miles from Panama. Here he was again met by the government troops who, after giving battle, retired to the city. By this time Gen. Herrera had under his command about 1500 men.
Attack On Panama.
Upon the withdrawal of the government troops, Gen. Herrera proceeded to occupy a position commanding the
city of Panama. He then dem:unded through the foreign consuls the capitulation of the town without fighting in order to avert Joss of life. The consular representatives labored earnestly to come to some understanding, but the negotiations which o cupied two days' time completely failed. In the meantime the government forces had been working day and night strengthening the defenses and preparing for the attack, while many of the townspeople took advantage of the temporary lull in hostilities by betaking themselves to a place of safety. Many took refuge on board the British cruiser “Leander" at anchor in the bay. His delay in pushing the attack subjected Gen. Herrera to severe criticism on the part of his suborrlimate officers, who claimed that but for these dilatory tactics which enabled the government forces to form their plan of defense and dispose their men to the best advantage, the victory at Corozal could very easily have been duplicated at Panama. Looking at it from a purely hwnanitarian point of view however, Gen. Herrera's act appears commendable.
The attack on the city commenced from three sides and continued day and night for seventy-two hours, with only an occasional intermission to allow the removal of the wounded. This was effected in part by an ambulance corps of one hundred men from the Leander” who voluntarily placed their services ät the disposal of the authorities.
The fighting was very fierce and at times hand to band in the trenches and behind the barricades. The operations were principally continel to that part of the town known as Pueblo Nuevo, S: Miguel and Caledonia, now directly overlooked by the Hotel Tivoli. On the second night of the battle the government troops were reinforced by the arrival of several hundred men of the Colombian Line from Colon, under the command of Gen. Surrin. He also brought word that still inore troops were being despatched from Colon by the Governor of Panama, Gen. Campo Serrano.
The above rews coupled with the determined resistance offered by the government forces, and a shortage of ammumition discouraged the revolutionists, and at the termination of the three days' fighting, a truce was arranged. This resulted in the revolutionists accepting the offer of Gen. Alban), the military and civil chief of Panama, to surrender with honor and be placed on parole.
The trenches and outskirts of the city presented a terrible sight after the battle. The streets and fields were strewn with the unburied dead, among them being some of the best of Panama's young men who had espoused the cause on both sides.
From this date until the cessation of hostilities, the city of Panama, being used as the head military post of the Colombian government on the Isthmus for troops and supplies, was kept in comparative peace and quict, although the ensuing two years witnessed continual fighting in other parts of the country. At one time the revolutionists were in possession of every important point and post, with the exception of the city of Panana. The United States Government at the request of the authorities at Bogota finally landed a force of marines to keep the transit open. Fighting was thereupon stopped along the line of the railroad, and to insure further the preservation of order, from three to four warships rode at anchor in the harbor.