Army of the Andes

The Army of the Andes (Spanish: Ejército de los Andes) was a military force created by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (Argentina) and mustered by general José de San Martín in his campaign to free Chile from the Spanish Empire. In 1817, it crossed the Andes Mountains from the Argentine province of Cuyo (his staging point being the current-day province of Mendoza, Argentina), and succeeded in its objective by dislodging the Spanish from the country.

The exact number of the army varies between different sources; some have put the number as low as 3500, while others have it being as high as 6000 men.[1] The army consisted of Argentines and Chileans, and included some 1200 auxiliaries to help in provisioning and supply, as well as a complement of artillery. The Congress of Tucumán endorsed San Martín's proposal to form an army to fight the royalists in Chile,[2] and between August 1814 and February 1817, San Martín trained his troops to prepare them for their ordeal.[3] While the army was made up of a less than experienced military force, San Martín intended to lead, with regular discipline and equipment, a proper army and not a "motley crew" into battle.[4]

For the crossing of the mountains, the Army was divided into two main columns, the first, commanded by Captain General[5] San Martín and supported by Brigadier Major[5] Miguel Estanislao Soler and Brigadier[5] Bernardo O'Higgins, would take the Los Patos Pass and the second, commanded by Colonel[5] Juan Gregorio de las Heras, would take the Uspallata Pass, which at its highest reaches some twelve thousand feet above sea level.[3] Because this second pass was more negotiable, the artillery was taken in the second column.

These two divisions were the main body of the Army, but there were smaller detachments sent to the north and south as flanking wings. The smaller division to the north was composed of some 130 infantry as well as a group of Chilean expatriates, and was under the command of Juan Manuel Cabot. To the south was a group under the command of the Chilean Ramón Freire Serrano.

After their 25-day journey across the Andes, the Army of the Andes successfully met royalist forces in the Battle of Chacabuco.[6] After the victory, they entered Santiago de Chile, where San Martin was unanimously elected Supreme Director but by his own resolve, as well as from instructions received from Buenos Aires, the general declined. After his refusal, O'Higgins was finally elected. Under Argentine officers, the Chilean army resurrected and San Martín was designated commander of the "United Army", which was an army that combined the forces of the Army of the Andes and Chilean troops. This new army fought the counterattack of royalist Army of Osorio at battles of Cancha Rayada and Maipú.

Army of the Andes
Ejercito de los Andes
The Army of the Andes leaving the Plumerillo camp, Museo Histórico Nacional, Buenos Aires.
Allegiance United Provinces of the Río de la Plata
EngagementsSpanish American wars of independence
Supreme commanderJosé de San Martín
General commanderBernardo O'Higgins
Bandera de la Provincia de Mendoza

Composition of the Army of the Andes

Black soldiers

7 de Infanteria
7º Regiment

The number of black soldiers in the army of San Martin was numerous and comprised the majority of the 7th, 8th and 11th Infantry Regiments. According to San Martin's military doctrine, colored soldiers would serve better in the infantry branch, among the three arms of the Army of the Andes. Blacks represented two thirds of the soldiers in the Army of the Andes. They were estimated at between 2,000 and 3,000 Argentine freedmen who crossed the Andes to Chile in 1817 with San Martin's force. Black troops were mainly recruited from freed former slaves, which Lynch estimates at a figure of 1,554 freedmen. Most of them were recruited in the interior provinces rather than the city of Buenos Aires. Of those 2,500 black soldiers who took part in the Crossing of the Andes, only 143 survived and made it back to Argentina.

In all of these regiments, commissioned officers should have been white under the laws of the time. But San Martin sought to change the rules so that at least the black soldiers were promoted to corporals and sergeants. Traditionally, the Spanish colonial army battalions were divided into castes of black slaves and free blacks, but San Martin was against segregation and believed in unifying people of color and whites, fighting as soldiers in the same unit. Later both regiments 7th and 8th would be unified in Peru as the black regiment of the Río de la Plata. The 4th Infantry Battalion would also later be converted into an all-black unit.

Units 1814-1815

Argentine Units

  • Horse Grenadiers Regiment
  • Cavalry Militia Regiment
  • San Juan Militias Regiment
  • Mendoza Militias Brigade
  • La Rioja Militias Brigade
  • Commander in Chief's Own Mounted Rifles Escorts Squadron
  • San Luis Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
  • Mendoza Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
  • Mendoza Volunteer Artillery Batteries

Chilean Units

  • 1st Chilean Infantry Regiment
  • Emigrant Battalion of Chilean Line Infantry
  • Southern Patriotic Legion of Dragoons
  • Chilean Battalion of Artillery

Combined Argentine-Chilean units

  • Argentine Auxiliary Battalion

Units 1815-1817

  • 3rd Battalion, Fatherland Regiment of Artillery
  • 8th Infantry Battalion
  • 11th Infantry Battalion
  • 1st Battalion, Andes Rangers and Sharpshooters
  • 7th Infantry Battalion
  • 4th Infantry Battalion
  • Horse Grenadier Regiment
  • Commander in Chief's Own Mounted Rifles Escort Squadron
  • Rio de la Plata Black Regiment (raised 1816)

See also


  1. ^ Crow, 1980, The Epic of Latin America, p. 466
  2. ^ Crow, 1980, “The Epic of Latin America”, p. 465.
  3. ^ a b Robertson, 1922, History of the Latin-American Nations, p. 183.
  4. ^ Chasteen, 2008, Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence, pp. 124
  5. ^ a b c d Official Military ranks granted by the government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata
  6. ^ Scheina, 2003, ”Latin America’s Wars: The Age of the Caudillo, 1791-1899”, p. 58.


  • Chasteen, John (2008), Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence, Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-517881-5
  • Crow, John Armstrong (1980), The Epic of Latin America, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-07723-7
  • Robertson, William Spence (1922), History of the Latin-American Nations, D. Appleton and company
  • Scheina, Robert (2003), Latin America’s Wars: The Age of the Caudillo, 1791-1899, Brassey’s, ISBN 1-57488-450-6
Action of Juncalito

The action of Juncalito was a military engagement of the Argentine War of Independence, previous to the Crossing of the Andes campaign.

On March 10, 1816, nine months before the crossing of the Andes, José Félix Aldao led a group of Mounted Grenadiers to the Uspallata Pass. They had to find out whether the pass was secure or the Spanish Royalists had fortified it. They found a scout Royalist group, and managed to capture them without firing a single shot. They captured a sergeant, a corporal and 15 soldiers.

With this information, San Martín spread the news that the bulk of the army would cross to Chile by Uspallata. This was in order to deceive the Royalists in Chile, as they kept fortifying that zone, but the bulk of the Army of the Andes actually moved near the city of Mendoza.

Action of Picheuta

The Action of Picheuta was a military engagement that took place on January 24, 1817, during the Crossing of the Andes.

The column led by Juan Gregorio de las Heras was still crossing the mountain range, being 50 kilometers away from the Uspallata Pass. A royalist task force led by Miguel Marquelli, composed of three officials and fifty soldiers, surprised the patriots at Picheuta, which was defended by five soldiers, many privates and a corporal from the battalion Nº 11. Marquelli had orders to cross the Uspallata on a reconnaissance mission.

The royalists surprised the patriots with an attack from the left flank. Half the forces of Las Heras was captured and taken prisoners, and the others fled to warn the bulk of the Army of the Andes of the nearby royalist presence. This led to the Battle of Potrerillos the following day.

Argentine War of Independence

The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against royalist forces loyal to the Spanish crown. On July 9, 1816, an assembly met in San Miguel de Tucumán, declared full independence with provisions for a national constitution.

Avenida Coronel Díaz

Coronel Díaz Avenue is an avenue that marks the limit between the Palermo and Recoleta neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and extends northbound, parallel Pueyrredón Avenue. It starts on Soler Street and ends on Castex Street, passing along Las Heras Park and the nearby Alto Palermo Shopping Center.

The avenue was so named in 1894 in honor of Col. Pedro José Díaz (1801 — 1857), who played an important role in the Army of the Andes during the Argentine War of Independence of the 1810s, in the Cisplatine War of the 1820s, and on behalf of Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas, for whom he led the Infantry during the Battle of Caseros of 1852.

Battle of Cepeda (1820)

The Battle of Cepeda of 1820 took place on February 1 in Cañada de Cepeda, Santa Fe, Argentina.

It was the first major battle that saw Unitarians and Federals as two constituted sides. Federal League Provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Ríos joined forces to topple the 1819 centralist Constitution and the Directorial government of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Both provincial leaders, Estanislao López and Francisco Ramírez, were allies of José Gervasio Artigas.

Supreme Director José Rondeau called back the Armies that were fighting the Argentine War of Independence to fight the Federals. The Army of the Andes, commanded by José de San Martín refused to abandon the offensive against the royalists in Chile and Peru. The Army of the North, commanded by Manuel Belgrano, mutinied at Arequito, as the troops and the officiality refused to fight a civil war, and asked instead to go back to the northern frontier to fight the royalists.

Battle of Chacabuco

The Battle of Chacabuco, fought during the Chilean War of Independence, occurred on February 12, 1817. The Army of the Andes of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata led by General Captain José de San Martín defeated the Spanish force led by Rafael Maroto. It was a defeat for the Captaincy General of Chile, the royalist government established after the division of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Borja Toranzo

Borja Toranzo (10 October 1759 – 30 October 1847) was an Argentine philanthropist and patriot. She was one of the most important collaborators of José de San Martín, General of the Army of the Andes. She is considered one of the most important women in the history of San Juan Province.

Cerro de la Gloria

The Cerro de la Gloria (Glory Hill) is a small mount located in the city of Mendoza, Argentina, at the General San Martín Park. It features a huge memorial monument to the Army of the Andes at the top. The monument is the work of Uruguayan sculptor Juan Manuel Ferrari, along with the Argentines Juan Carlos Oliva Navarro, Víctor Garino, Víctor Calistri, Víctor Guarini y Víctor Cerini. It was begun in 1911, as part of the celebrations of the Argentina Centennial of 1910. It was inaugurated on February 12, 1914, an anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco. It features at its top an allegorical representation of Freedom (Libertad) or the Republic (La República) with broken chains, and an equestrian statue of San Martin, with the inscription "La Patria al Ejército de los Andes" ("The Fatherland to the Army of the Andes").

Chilean Argentines

Chilean Argentines are Argentine citizens of Chilean descent or Chile-born people who reside in Argentina. Argentina is home to the largest Chilean diaspora group. According to the Argentine 2010 census, there are 191.147 Chileans living in the country (born in Chilean territory). An estimate 2003-2004 estimated Chilean descendants, born in Argentina to a Chilean father or mother, in 190,000.Other figures, such as those by The World Factbook, show a total population (including those born in Chile and their descendants) of 429,708 people.Chilean immigration to Argentina dates back to colonial times. During the War of Independence of Chile, the period known as the Patria Vieja, ended with the defeat of the patriot forces at the Battle of Rancagua on October 1 and 2, 1814. The patriots who were crossing the Andes took refuge in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Some of them returned to their country with the Army of the Andes in 1817 achieving restore the independence of Chile.

Both countries share language, customs, history and one of the largest borders in the world, among other things.

Crossing of the Andes

The Crossing of the Andes (Spanish: Cruce de los Andes) was one of the most important feats in the Argentine and Chilean wars of independence, in which a combined army of Argentine soldiers and Chilean exiles invaded Chile leading to Chile's liberation from Spanish rule. The crossing of the Andes was a major step in the strategy devised by José de San Martín to defeat the royalist forces at their stronghold of Lima, Viceroyalty of Perú, and secure the Spanish American independence movements.Setting out from Mendoza -then part of the Province of Cuyo- in January 1817, their goal was to enter royalist-held Chile without being noticed, through unexpected paths, so as to attack the royalist forces by surprise. The ultimate objective was the liberation of Chile from Spanish rule with Argentine forces. Led by José de San Martín, the crossing took 21 days.

Flag of the Andes

The flag of the Andes was a flag used by Argentine patriot José de San Martín and his Army of the Andes during their famous Crossing of the Andes and their subsequent military campaigns to Chile and Peru. The flag of the Andes was personally designed by San Martín and sewn by ladies from the Cuyo region and wives of San Martín's officers. It includes a proto-coat of arms of Argentina placed horizontally over a sky-blue and white bicolor background.

José de San Martín

José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras (Yapeyú, Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, 25 February 1778 – Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, 17 August 1850), known simply as José de San Martín (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse ðe san maɾˈtin] (listen)) or El Libertador of Argentina, Chile and Peru, was a Spanish-Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern and central parts of South America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire who served as the Protector of Peru. Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes, in modern-day Argentina, he left his mother country at the early age of seven to study in Málaga, Spain.

In 1808, after taking part in the Peninsular War against France, San Martín contacted South American supporters of independence from Spain. In 1812, he set sail for Buenos Aires and offered his services to the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, present-day Argentina. After the Battle of San Lorenzo and time commanding the Army of the North during 1814, he organized a plan to defeat the Spanish forces that menaced the United Provinces from the north, using an alternative path to the Viceroyalty of Peru. This objective first involved the establishment of a new army, the Army of the Andes, in Cuyo Province, Argentina. From there, he led the Crossing of the Andes to Chile, and triumphed at the Battle of Chacabuco and the Battle of Maipú (1818), thus liberating Chile from royalist rule. Then he sailed to attack the Spanish stronghold of Lima, Peru.

On 12 July 1821, after seizing partial control of Lima, San Martín was appointed Protector of Peru, and Peruvian independence was officially declared on 28 July. On 22 July 1822, after a closed-door meeting with fellow libertador Simón Bolívar at Guayaquil, Ecuador, Bolívar took over the task of fully liberating Peru. San Martín unexpectedly left the country and resigned the command of his army, excluding himself from politics and the military, and moved to France in 1824. The details of the 22 July meeting would be a subject of debate by later historians.

San Martín is regarded as a national hero of Argentina and Peru, and one of the Liberators of Spanish South America. The Order of the Liberator General San Martín (Orden del Libertador General San Martín), created in his honor, is the highest decoration conferred by the Argentine government.

Juan Gregorio de las Heras

Grand Marshal Juan Gregorio de Las Heras (July 11, 1780 – February 15, 1866) was an Argentine soldier who took part in the Spanish American wars of independence and was also a governor of the province of Buenos Aires.

Justo de Santa María de Oro

Justo de Santa María de Oro y Albarracín (3 March 1772–19 October 1836) was an Argentine statesman and bishop. He was an influential representative in the Congress of Tucumán, which on 9 July 1816, declared the Independence of Argentina.

Santa María de Oro was born in San Juan. His father was Juan Miguel de Oro Bustamante y Cossio, and his mother Elena de Albarracín y Ladrón de Guevara. He was educated at the Convent of Santo Domingo, then went to Chile to enter the Convent of Santo Domingo of Santiago. He gained his doctorate at the Royal University of San Felipe, and by the age of 20 was already teaching theology. At 21 he was ordained by Bishop Sobrino y Minayo.

In 1814 he crossed the Andes with many Chilean patriots and met General José de San Martín; they became friends and collaborators. He helped to found and equip the Army of the Andes.

In 1815, Santa María de Oro was elected by San Juan to the Congress of Tucumán and served in 1816 for the declaration. He was firmly in favour of a republic and opposed those who wanted a constitutional monarchy, also believing that the people should decide.

Santa María de Oro returned to San Juan and then to Chile where he was appointed Provincial superior of his order. In 1828 he was appointed by the Pope as Apostolic Vicar in San Juan, part of the diocese of Córdoba. In 1830 he became Bishop of Taumaco and in 1834 the first Bishop of the newly created Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Cuyo.

Santa María de Oro was a second cousin to Domingo Sarmiento, President of Argentina between 1868 and 1874.

Liberating Expedition of Peru

The Expedición Libertadora del Perú (Liberating Expedition of Peru) was an forces organized in 1820 by the revolutionary government of Chile, with elements belonging to the Liberating Army of the Andes and to recently restored Army of Chile. On 5 February 1819, a treaty was signed between Chile and the United Provinces to finance and organize the expedition to Peru, but finally it is Chile who must do it, since the United Provinces are distracted by internal conflicts and the direct threat of invasion from Spain. The expedition was the continuation of the plan of liberation that General Bernardo O'Higgins and General José de San Martín conceived for the Spanish colonies in the Pacific of South America. While the Chilean government headed by Bernardo O'Higgins played a pivotal role in organizing the expedition, the control of the Chilean Squadron was given to the British sailor Thomas Cochrane and the control of the ground force was give to the Argentine General José de San Martín. The expedition liberated parts of Peru from Spanish Crown control. The complete liberation of Peru was achieved in 1824 with the intervention of Simón Bolívar.

Mendoza Zoological Park

The Mendoza Zoological Park is a zoo in Mendoza Province Argentina. It's located on Mendoza, Argentina on the northeast slope of Cerro de la Gloria. It is bounded by the streets of San Francisco de Asis, Av Libertador and the descent vehicle of the monument to the Army of the Andes, and is part of General San Martin Park. It covers 48 hectares (120 acres) and has about of 1,100 animals. The only entrance is on Avenida Liberator.

Nicolás Rodríguez Peña

Nicolás Rodriguez Peña (1775, in Buenos Aires – 1853, in Santiago de Chile) was an Argentine politician. Born in Buenos Aires in April 1775, he worked in commerce which allowed him to amass a considerable fortune. Among his several successful businesses, he had a soap factory partnership with Hipólito Vieytes, which was a center of conspirators during the revolution against Spanish rule. In 1805 he was a member of the "Independence Lodge", a masonic lodge, along with other prominent revolutionary patriots such as Juan José Castelli and Manuel Belgrano. This group used to meet in his ranch, then situated in what today is Rodriguez Peña square in Buenos Aires.

He was a member of the local militia in the British invasions of the Río de la Plata (1806 and 1807), and after taking part as promoter and financier of the May Revolution, he collaborated in the formation of the Primera Junta. Was secretary to Castelli, and went with him in the liberation army's expedition to Córdoba, where he authorized the death by firing squad of the previous viceroy Santiago de Liniers. After fighting at the Battle of Suipacha he entered Upper Peru, where he was for a short time governor of La Paz.

Returning to Buenos Aires in February, he took the place of Mariano Moreno at the First Junta ("Primera Junta"). He was deposed by the revolution of April 1811 and confined to San Juan Province. Rodriguez Peña returned later the same year to Buenos Aires, returning to commerce once again. He joined the Logia Lautaro, directed by Carlos María de Alvear. Due to the revolution of October 1812, he was elected member of the Second Triumvirate, a government just created by the Constitutional Congress.

When the Triumvirate was dissolved, the Supreme Director, Gervasio Antonio de Posadas, selected him to preside the State Council ("Consejo de Estado"). He was also assigned as a colonel in the army. In 1814 he was named first governor delegate of the Eastern Province (present-day Uruguay), a post he held for only a short time.

After the fall of Director Alvear, he was charged, judged, and exiled, and was allowed to live in San Juan. In 1816 he went back to Buenos Aires, but the new Supreme Director, Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, forced him to return to exile in San Juan where he helped José de San Martín organize the Army of the Andes for the crossing into Chile.

After the Battle of Chacabuco he self-exiled himself in Santiago de Chile, where he remained until his death in December 1853. His remains were interred in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Rudecindo Alvarado

Rudecindo Alvarado (March 1, 1792 – June 22, 1872) was an Argentine general. He fought in the military campaigns of Manuel Belgrano, and in the Army of the Andes. He was governor of Mendoza. He left the country during the rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas, and returned in 1852 after Rosas' defeat at the battle of Caseros.

Tomás Godoy Cruz

Tomás Godoy Cruz (May 6, 1791 – May 15, 1852) was an Argentine statesman and businessman. He was a representative to the Congress of Tucumán which on July 9, 1816 declared the Independence of Argentina.

Godoy Cruz was born in Mendoza. He studied in Mendoza, then in Chile at the Royal University of San Felipe, graduating in philosophy, canonical and civil law. He lived in Chile until 1814, and served in the Santiago Cabildo (council) during the last year of his stay. He then returned to Mendoza, setting up a gunpowder factory. He agitated to make General José de San Martín governor of Cuyo, and helped finance the Army of the Andes.

In 1815, at just 24 years old, Godoy Cruz was elected by Mendoza to the Tucumán Congress and served in 1816 for the declaration. He was president on two occasions and vice-president on one.

He subsequently served as governor of Mendoza Province 1820-22. In 1831 he was exiled to Chile where he was a teacher and pioneered silkworm cultivation. He was also a successful merchant of woven goods.

The city of Godoy Cruz and its surrounding department in Mendoza, and streets across the country were named in his honour.

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