The South American wars of independence

South America was firmly in Spanish hands since the beginning of colonization. Although Spanish rule began with brute force against the native population, over time a system of joint administration of Spanish officials and privileged Creoles (American-born whites) established itself and a long period of stability returned.

It was not until the revolution of black people in Haiti at the end of the eighteenth century, which led to the emergence of the first black-ruled state of the new continent, that troubles spread among the Creoles that this revolution could spread to the other colonies.


Karte Südamerika Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts

Map South America end of the 18th century


But the trigger of the independence movement was only the deposition of the Spanish royal family by Napoleon and the Spanish war against England with the subsequent naval blockade of the British, which led the Creoles to make the control of South America no longer dependent on Spain but to administer the countries themselves.


The beginning of the rebellions:

The first uprisings took place in the then New Granada (in the area of today's Colombia) from 1810 onwards. These quickly spread to Venezuela, Chile and the viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. But instead of fighting against the real foreign domination of the Spaniards, the rebellions developed more to a civil war between the royalists, who were loyal to the Spanish royal family and the multiracial and black population who wanted to sell the rich Creoles.

The first exclamation to an independent republic was carried out in 1811 in Venezuela. But shortly after its proclamation, the supporters of the republic were expelled by the royalist Domingo de Monteverde and restored the old status. One of the expelled republicans was Simon Bolivar, who fled to New Granada and in 1813 invaded with a new army that defeated royalists and again proclaimed the republic.


Simón Bolívar

Simón Bolívar


Once again, the republic's holdings were short-lived as Jose Boves rebuked the Royalists, repelled Bolivar, and restored old status.


The Spanish intervention:

When the Spanish War of Independence was over against Napoleon in Europe and King Ferdinand was back on the throne, Spain's attempt to regain control of the colonies began in 1814 by sending troops.

For this purpose, about 10,000 men were provided to General Pablo Morillo, with whom he should occupy Venezuela and Neugranada. He succeeded in capturing the coastal cities with his army, but in the interior he had to bow to the bitter resistance of the guerrilla forces of Simon Bolivar. Bolivar was also able to count on the support of Antonio Paez and his tenacious cattle herdsmen from the Venezuelan plains and, after the war against Napoleon, now unemployed, British and Irish soldiers from the small British colony of South America.

With this army Bolivar invaded in 1819 in Neugranada, won a victory against the Spaniards at Boyaca and occupied the city of Bogota. The city of Carabobo fell a short time later in Bolivars hands. Thus he controlled almost the entire territory of New Granada and Venezuela, which he united into a large colony.


The revolution in Argentina and Chile:

In Argentina in 1810 a junta (assembly) was set up, which led the soldiers against the Spaniards and royalists. In 1812, the army was reinforced by Jose de San Martin, who had already fought in the Spanish War of Independence and had appropriate experience. He improved the tactics and discipline of his soldiers and was able to lead them so successfully against the Spaniards and Royalists.

In Chile, the Spaniards and royalists were able to retain their position of power in the civil war until 1814 and drive out the revolutionary leader Bernardo O'Higgins. This fled with his followers to Argentina where he joined with the army of San Martin.

In order to expel the rulers in the last two strongholds of the Spaniards Peru and Chile, San Martin and O'Higgins devised the plan for a campaign first against Chile and then against Peru. This was implemented in January 1817, with the 5,000 -strong army took the arduous route across the Andes, in the march, although had some losses to complain, but so could attack the enemy completely surprising and beat at Chacabuco.

The Spaniards, on the other hand, sent their army from Peru to regain control of Chile. At the beginning of this campaign they achieved some victories, but in April 1818 they succumbed to San Martin, which the independence of Chile was final.

From 1820 San Martin prepared an invasion of Peru with the help of the Chilean fleet and the English admiral Thomas Cochrane. This began in 1821, the city of Lima was taken from where he proclaimed independence. On the advice of Simon Bolivars, however, San Martin withdrew from 1822 back into his private life and Bolivar himself led the campaign against the remaining royalists in Peru. The decisive victory won in December 1824 his deputy Antonio Jose de Sucre at the Battle of Ayacucho, where he decisively defeated the Peruvian soldiers and thus put the Spanish rule over South America finally put an end.


Antonio José de Sucre

Antonio José de Sucre





Matching literature on the topic can be found here:


The Independence of the South American Republics: A Study in Recognition and Foreign Policy

The Independence of the South American Republics: A Study in Recognition and Foreign Policy Hardcover – 28. August 2016

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The Wars of Spanish American Independence 1809-29 (Essential Histories, Band 77)

The Wars of Spanish American Independence 1809-29 (Essential Histories, Band 77) Paperback – 24. December 2013

Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin independently led the South American revolutionary armies that freed much of Latin America of Spanish rule.

In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte treacherously outmaneuvered the corrupt Spanish Bourbons and installed his brother Joseph as King of Spain, igniting the flames of war across the Iberian Peninsula. Far across the Atlantic, this event lit the fuse for a war that raged for the better part of two decades as Spain's colonies grasped the opportunity to seize their own independence.

The Wars of South American Independence began with confused, scattered uprisings in 1809 and ended with a half-hearted expedition against Mexico in 1829. Between those bookends the conflict raged white hot through hundreds of battles and touched every corner of the Spanish American empire, from Chile to Texas. Two generals, Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, refused to submit to Spain even during the darkest days, while British, Irish, French, and North American volunteers, mercenaries, and legionnaires provided those fighting for independence with valuable service that outweighed their numbers. Untrained but charismatic colonial commanders and seasoned Peninsular War veterans melded standard Napoleonic tactics with those of the unique local populations. Wild llanero and gaucho horsemen repeatedly astonished outside observers with their acrobatic skills and struck terror into their enemies with their ferocity. Stoic Andean Indians marched day after day unperturbed by altitude or cold, and stalwart black soldiers - many of them recently freed slaves - were indispensable to both sides along the tropical Caribbean coast and, further south, formed the backbone of San Martin's famous Army of the Andes.

Among the general struggle between the Patriot and Royalist factions lurked regional and personal loyalties, politics and positioning that occasionally broke into open conflict and presaged the century of near-constant warfare that subsequently engulfed the continent. The South American revolutions heralded Spain's downfall as a world power and marked the first expression of an expansionist foreign policy by the United States of America.

Featuring specially commissioned full-color maps and drawing upon the latest research, this volume traces the military events of the colorful Independence period and sheds new light on the leaders, men, and battles that reshaped the hemisphere. The myriad campaigns, often uncoordinated and occurring thousands of miles apart, are brought together and related to the wider context, in this engaging introduction to a crucial period in the history of the Americas.

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South American Independence, Speech

South American Independence, Speech Paperback – 1. July 2011

This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfectionssuch as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed worksworldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.++++The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to ensure edition identification: ++++ South American Independence, Speech Simon Bolivar

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