The Congress being installed in Bogota immediately set about preparing means to repulse the Spaniards, who were expected to appear very shortly.
Continuing Bolivar and South American Independence,
our selection from Histoire de l’Amerique du sud depuis la conquete fusqu’a nos jours. by Alfred Deberle published in 1876. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Bolivar and South American Independence.
From the moment that he appears on the theatre of war it acquired such a character of ferocity and barbarity that both sides rivaled each other in committing atrocities. Nevertheless, it is right to confess that it was Bover who began it by beheading in one day twelve hundred prisoners. The energy of Bover was more than once paralyzed by the carelessness of the Spanish generals, and Bolivar succeeded in defeating him several times, as well as his lieutenants, the mulatto Roseta, and the guerilla chief Yaﬂez. The Dictator had the imprudence to risk himself with all his forces on the vast plains, where he was surprised and destroyed by the cavalry of Bover. Mariﬁo, beaten almost at the same time, was driven back toward Cumana. The conqueror entered Caracas with such precipitation that the Dictator had only sufficient time to get on board a ship, trusting the safety of the republic to the mercy of the elements. Ribas collected the dispersed patriot forces and continued the campaign, but he was finally defeated in the Battle of Erisa by Bover, who, receiving a spear wound, died on the field of battle. His ferocious soldiers made him a funeral worthy of his person: women, children, and old men, all were put to the sword; and Ribas, who had been taken prisoner, was shot, and his head was sent to Caracas to be publicly exposed (December, 1814).
Bolivar had been able to reach Cartagena, which, with the Province of Santa Marta, had been formed into a republic of which Torrices was president. Nueva Granada was very much divided. It will be remembered that a provisional junta had been formed in Bogota since July, 1810. The provincial deputies assembled in Congress had drawn up an act of federation which had not succeeded in obtaining the approbation of all the provinces, the dissidents selecting a junta called the “junta of Cundinamarca.” In 1812 this assembly published its plan of a constitution, which was no better received than the preceding. Anarchy reigned everywhere. A third Congress assembled in Tunja (September, 1814), to which Bolivar offered his services. These were accepted, and, being ordered to march against Bogota and its dictator Alvarez, he obtained the formal promise that the dissident provinces would join the confederation, although in exchange the old capital should be the seat of government. The Congress being installed in Bogota immediately set about preparing means to repulse the Spaniards, who were expected to appear very shortly. Napoleon had fallen; Ferdinand VII already occupied the throne of his fathers, and very soon news arrived that he was sending a squadron with ten thousand men under the command of Morillo to succor the Royalists. The speedy arrival of this important reinforcement had been communicated to all the viceroys. The Madrid Government, thinking no doubt that they still had to do with the Indians of Cortés and Pizarro, had conceived the hope that on this news alone the rebels, seized with terror, would immediately submit in a body; this was reckoning too much on the prestige of the Spanish arms which, it was already known, were not invincible. These events coincided on the other hand with the capitulation of Montevideo, the last refuge of the mother-country in the old viceroyalty of Buenos Aires, which was converted from that moment into an independent state. The new republic formed a squadron and its seamen had beaten the Spanish fleet. Although it is certain that, by the capitulation of Montevideo and the five thousand five hundred men who defended it, Spain lost the only territory that remained to her on the east coast of South America, it is not less so that these misfortunes had been partly counterbalanced by successes in Chile, which in 1814 had again fallen under the yoke of the Spaniards, who gave themselves up to all the horrors of the most sanguinary repression. The guerilla chief Rodriguez, nevertheless, constantly harassed the Royalists of Chile, while, yielding to the suggestions of Belgrano, and the Government of Buenos Aires, the Provinces of Cuzco, Huamanga, and Arequipa in Peru, which had hitherto continued tranquil, declared for the cause of independence, and the Royalists were able to retain Lima only with great difficulty.
The Granadine and Venezuelan chiefs had united; Castillo, Cabal, and Urdaneta acted for Nueva Granada, Bolivar and Marino for Venezuela. Troops were sent to the south to support the Government of Quito, and Urdaneta marched toward the east, charged to restrain the devastating incursions of Puy. Bolivar, appointed Captain-General of Nueva Granada and Venezuela, descended through the Province of Magdalena at the head of three thousand men, surprised Mompos, where he shot four hun dred prisoners, and demanded reinforcements that the latter obstinately refused him, thinking it more important to uphold the independence of Cartagena with respect to Bogota than to repel the enemy. Bolivar wished to force President Torrices to give him the troops which he required, and, instead of continuing his march, returned to Cartagena, thus losing precious time. In the meanwhile the enemy was approaching, and the common danger averted a fratricidal struggle. He joined his troops to those that were in Cartagena and embarked for Jamaica, whence he hoped to bring succor, and, when he had obtained this and was preparing to return, he received news that Cartagena had surrendered after a heroic resistance of four months. Morillo entered Cartagena on December 6, 1815; the city was nothing but a heap of ruins, since the whole strength of the enemy had been directed against it, and it thus expiated, very cruelly certainly, its refusal to assist the common cause. With the taking of this fortified town, Nueva Granada was again opened to the enemy, and the second period of the war of independence terminated still more unfortunately than the first had done.
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