Martín De Álzaga - Hero of The Reconquest

Hero of The Reconquest

He arrived in Buenos Aires at 11 years of age, poor and speaking only Basque. He became a merchant, gaining riches in the slave trade, and selling textiles and firearms. He became a respected member of the community and a politician and member of the Buenos Aires Cabildo, by 1785 as Defender of the Poor. He was one of the founding members of the Consulado de Comercio de Buenos Aires (the equivalent of today's Chamber of Commerce), in 1794.

When in 1806 the first British Invasion came to Buenos Aires, he put his fortune at the service of the creole reconquest, organizing a group of conspirators and joining with other groups formed and funded by other prominent merchants, such as Sáenz Valiente and Juan Martín de Pueyrredón. The invading General Beresford had ordered the confiscation of all arms in civilian's hands, but Álzaga who was a specialist in arms smuggling collected hundreds and installed secret gun-repair shops. He rented houses around the main square (Plaza Mayor) in secret, and from there they excavated tunnels to mine the Fort.

His organizational skills were notable; he had a strong will and natural leadership, but he was never popular. The wages for the volunteers were paid for by Álzaga from his own coffers. He rented the Perdriel Ranch, in present-day San Martín, where the volunteers trained. The British spy-network only heard about this place a few days before the start of the reaction, and was too late to attack Perdriel, only accelerating the fight for reconquest.

When Santiago de Liniers arrived back from Montevideo and started the Reconquest, on 12 August, he was joined by Álzaga's secret army, and the British were rapidly defeated. Beresford's surrender came in early and the viceroyalty was saved.

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