Spanish American Wars of Independence - Independence Consolidated, 1820–1824 - South America

South America

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Unlike in New Spain and Central America, in South America independence was spurred by the pro-independence fighters who had held out for the past half decade. José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar inadvertently led a continent-wide pincer movement from southern and northern South America that liberated most of the Spanish American nations on that continent. After securing the independence of Chile in 1818, San Martín concentrated on building a naval fleet in the Pacific to counter Spanish control of those waters and reach the royalist stronghold of Lima. By mid-1820 San Martín had assembled a fleet of eight warships and sixteen transport ships under the command of Admiral Cochrane. The fleet set sail from Valparaíso to Paracas in southern Peru. On September 7, the army landed at Paracas and successfully took Pisco. After this, San Martín, waiting for a generalized Peruvian revolt, chose to avoid direct military confrontation. San Martín hoped that his presence would initiate an authentic Peruvian revolt against Spanish rule, believing that otherwise any liberation would be ephemeral. In the meantime, San Martín engaged in diplomacy with Viceroy Joaquín de la Pezuela, who was under orders from the constitutional government to negotiate on the basis of the 1812 Constitution and to maintain the unity of the Spanish Monarchy. However, these efforts proved fruitless, since independence and unity of the monarchy could not be reconciled, so the army sailed in late October to a better strategic position in Huacho, in northern Peru. During the next few months, successful land and naval campaigns against the royalists secured the new foothold, and it was at Huacho that San Martín learned that Guayaquil (in Ecuador) had declared independence on October 9.

Bolívar, learning about the collapse of the Cadiz expedition, spent the year 1820 preparing a liberating campaign in Venezuela. Bolívar was aided by Spain's new policy of seeking engagement with the insurgents, which Morillo implemented, renouncing to the command in chief, and returning to Spain. Although Bolívar rejected the Spanish proposal that the patriots rejoin Spain under the Spanish Constitution, the two sides established a six-month truce and the regularization of the rules of engagement under the law of nations on November 25 and 26. The truce did not last six months. It was apparent to all that the royalist cause had been greatly weakened by the lack of reinforcements. Royalist soldiers and whole units began to desert or defect to the patriots in large numbers. On January 28, 1821, the ayuntamiento of Maracaibo, declared the province an independent republic that chose to join the new nation state of Gran Colombia. Miguel de la Torre, who had replaced Morillo as head of the army, took this to be a violation of the truce, and although the republicans argued that Maracaibo had switched sides of its own volition, both sides began to prepare for renewed war. The fate of Venezuela was sealed when Bolívar returned there in April leading an army of 7,000 from New Granada. At the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, the Gran Colombian forces decisively defeated the royalist forces, assuring control of Venezuela save for Puerto Cabello and guaranteeing Venezuelan independence. Bolívar could now concentrate on Gran Colombia's claims to southern New Granada and Quito.

In Peru, on January 29, 1821, Viceroy Pezuela was deposed in a coup d'état by José de la Serna, but it would be two months before San Martín moved his army closer to Lima by sailing it to Ancón. During the next few months San Martín once again engaged in negotiations, offering the creation of an independent monarchy; but La Serna insisted on the unity of the Spanish monarchy, so the negotiations came to nothing. By July La Serna judged his hold on Lima to be weak, and on July 8 the royal army abandoned the coastal city in order to reinforce positions in the highlands, with Cuzco as new capital of viceroyalty. On the 12th San Martín entered Lima, where he was declared "Protector of the Country" on July 28, an office which allowed him to rule the newly independent state.

To ensure that the Presidency of Quito became a part of Gran Colombia and did not remain a collection of small, divided republics, Bolívar sent aid in the form of supplies and an army under Antonio José de Sucre to Guayaquil in February 1821. For a year Sucre was unable to take Quito, and by November both sides, exhausted, signed a ninety-day armistice. The following year, at Battle of Pichincha on May 24, 1822, Sucre's Venezuelan forces finally conquered Quito; Gran Colombia's hold on the territory was secure. The following year, after a Peruvian patriot army was destroyed in the Battle of Ica, San Martín met with Simón Bolívar in Guayaquil on July 26 and 27. Thereafter San Martín decided to retire from the scene. For the next two years, two armies of Rioplatense (Chilean, Colombian and Peruvian) patriots were destroyed trying to penetrate the royalist bastion in the Andean regions of Peru and Upper Peru. A year later a Peruvian congress resolved to make Bolívar head of the patriot forces in the country. An internecine conflict between La Serna and General Pedro Antonio Olañeta, which was an extension of the Liberal Triennium, proved to be the royalists' undoing. La Serna lost control of half of his best army by the beginning of 1824, giving the patriots an opportunity.

Under the command of Bolivar and Sucre, the experienced veterans of the combined army, mainly Colombians, destroyed a royalist army under La Serna's command in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824. La Serna's army was numerically superior but consisted of mostly new recruits. The only significant royalist area remaining on the continent was the highland country of Upper Peru. Following the Battle of Ayacucho, the royalist troops of Upper Peru under the command of Olañeta surrendered after he died in Tumusla on April 2, 1825. Bolívar tended to favor maintaining the unity of Upper Peru with Peru, but the Upper Peruvian leaders—many former royalists, like Casimiro Olañeta, nephew of General Olañeta—gathered in a congress under Sucre's auspices supported the country's independence. Bolívar left the decision to Sucre, who went along with the congress. Sucre proclaimed Upper Peru's independence in the city which now bears his name on August 6, bringing the main wars of independence to an end.

As it became clear that there was to be no reversal of Spanish American independence, several of the new states began to receive international recognition. Early, in 1822, the United States recognized Chile, the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, Peru, Gran Colombia, and Mexico. Britain waited until 1825, after the Battle of Ayacucho, to recognize Mexico, Gran Colombia, and Río de la Plata. Both nations recognized more Spanish American states in the next few years.

Read more about this topic:  Spanish American Wars Of Independence, Independence Consolidated, 1820–1824

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