Peruvian hero during the War of the Pacific
November 4, 1816|
Lima, Lima, Peru
|Died||June 7, 1880
Arica, Peru (now Chile)
Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes (1816-1880) was a Peruvian military hero. He is considered national hero in Peru and was declared patron of the Army of Peru by the government of Peru on January 2 of 1951.
Early life and education
His father, Andrés Bolognesi was of Italian-Peruvian background and was a violin player for the court of the Viceroy. Francisco Bolognesi had a son called Mariano who gave birth to Federico Bolognesi (2nd Vicepresident of Peru). Federico Bolognesi had a daughter called Ana Maria Bolognesi who had two daughters called Ana Mamie and Selina Raguz Bolognesi.
He was involved with the military in July, 1844, in an action at Carmen Alto, a local district of Arequipa. While offered a position in the military, he elected to remain in civilian life. However, in 1853, he enlisted and was selected as second in command of a cavalry regiment during a period of tension between Peru and Bolivia. While no armed conflict with Bolivia ensued, Bolognesi elected to remain in the military and took part in the revolution against then-President Echenique. After the successful revolution, Bolognesi was a Lieutenant Colonel on the General Staff.
After several missions to Europe to help acquire weapons for Peru (especially artillery), Bolognesi returned to Peru in May 1866. He fell afoul of President Don Mariano Ignacio Prado and was imprisoned briefly in 1867. After the fall of Prado, Bolognesi returned to military service, commanding various artillery units of the Peruvian army, retiring in 1871 as Commander-in-Chief of the Artillery.
War of the Pacific
When the War of the Pacific began in 1879 between Chile and the alliance of Peru and Bolivia, Bolognesi, now 62, rejoined the Peruvian Army and was active in actions against the Chilean forces, including the Battles of Dolores and Tarapacá in November, 1879. In April, 1880, he was placed in command of the Peruvian port of Arica.
He commanded the Peruvian forces surrounded in Arica by Chilean troops following the Chilean victory at Tacna. He organized and led a spirited defense of the port city by about 1,600 men against over 5,300 Chilean troops with extensive naval support.
When Chilean messengers demanded surrender of Arica because of their 3 to 1 numerical superiority, he replied, "Tengo deberes sagrados que cumplir y los cumpliré hasta quemar el último cartucho" ("I have sacred duties, and I will fulfill them until the last cartridge has been fired"). The expression "hasta quemar el último cartucho" ("Until the last cartridge has been fired") has passed into the Spanish language and is used today by the Peruvian Army as its official motto.
On June 7, 1880, a Chilean assault took Arica at a cost of 474 troops. Almost 1,000 of the Peruvian defenders, including Colonel Bolognesi, were killed in defense of the town.