Battle of Boyacá
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|Battle of Boyacá|
|Part of Bolivar in New Granada, Venezuelan War of Independence|
Painting of the Battle of Boyaca, which resulted in the independence of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama from Spain. Exhibited in the Federal Palace, Caracas, Venezuela.
| Independentist army
|Commanders and leaders|
| General-in-Chief Simón Antonio Bolívar.
Brigade General Francisco de Paula Santander.
Brigade General Jose Antonio Anzoátegui.
Brigade General Carlos Soublette
| Colonel José María Barreiro .
Colonel Francisco Jiménez .
Colonel Sebastián Díaz
|3430||2940 Colombian-Venezuelan loyalist soldiers|
|Casualties and losses|
|13 dead, 53 injured.||over 100 casualties, 150 injured and 1600 prisoners.|
The Battle of Boyacá in Colombia, then known as New Granada, was the battle in which Colombia acquired its definitive independence from Spanish Monarchy, although fighting with royalist forces would continue for years.
Brigadier Generals Francisco de Paula Santander and José Antonio Anzoátegui led a combined republican army of Colombians and Venezuelans, complemented by the British Legion, to defeat in two hours a Royalist Colombian-Venezuelan forces led by Spanish Colonels José María Barreiro and Francisco Jiménez.
Simón Bolívar credited the victory to the British Legion declaring that "those soldier liberators are the men who deserve these laurels" when offered laurels after the victory.
The battle occurred 150 km from Bogotá in the Andes Mountains, in a place known as Casa de Teja, close to a bridge over the Teatinos River and 3 roads heading to Samaca, Motavita and Tunja, an area which is now part of the Boyacá Department.
On August 7, 1819, after Bolívar secured a narrow victory at Vargas Swamp Battle, both armies headed towards Bogotá, which was lightly defended. The capture of the capital in the hands of the Patriot Army would effectively cut off the advance of the republican army and give the strategic initiative to its opponents. At 6:00 a.m., the Spanish forces departed from Motavita towards Casa de Teja, a distance of only 25 km which the Spaniards completed in 7 hours 30 minutes, at an average speed of 18 minutes per kilometer. At 10:00 a.m. General Santander's forces departed from Tunja toward Casa de Piedra and the road to Bogota. The Patriot forces completed the 16 km in 4 hours (at an average rate of 15 minutes per kilometer).
The Republican forces split in two: the vanguard reached Casa de Teja at 1:30 p.m., while the rearguard stopped a kilometer and a half behind to get some rest. Shortly before 2:00 p.m., Capitan Andres Ibarra and his forces spotted Casa de Teja and the vanguard of the Republican Army. The Spaniards spotted him too, and Coronel Sebastian Dias, chief of the vanguard of the Spanish army ordered to follow and engage what he believed was only a small observation force. They returned and General Santander ordered Lieutenant Coronel Paris to attack the Republican forces.
The Spanish vanguard crossed a strategic bridge over the Teatinos River and took attack positions there. Meanwhile, the full force of the Patriot army under Santander had reached Casa de Piedra. The Spanish rearguard was still several meters behind, so General Anzoátegui ordered to block the way between the vanguard and the rearguard of the Spanish forces. The rearguard, outnumbered, retreated to a small hill close to Casa de Piedra.
Simón Bolívar's forces arrived from Paipa, after the Vargas Swamp battle. He ordered a flank attack on the Spanish rearguard: battalions Barcelona and Bravos de Paez were to attack on the right side while the Legion Britanica and Rifles Battalion attacked on the left. The enemy assumed battle positions: in the center were three artillery pieces surrounded by royal battalions 12 and 22, and on the wings, cavalry units. Arthur Sandes commander of Rifles Battalion charges the royalist artillery. Outnumbered, the Spanish rear guard began to retreat without any clear direction. Therefore, Bolívar ordered lancers units to attack the center of the Republican infantry, while a full cavalry squadron ran away from the battle via the road towards Samaca. Bareiro attempted to break the blockage of the Patriot forces and rendezvous with the Spanish vanguard but heavy enemy fire forced him and his forces to surrender.
Meanwhile, one kilometer and a half behind Casa de Piedra, the Patriot vanguard managed to ford the river and was approaching the rear of the Republican vanguard force. Once it reached them, the vanguard forces engaged in battle, while the rearguard attempted to cross the river by force, using bayonets. The Spanish forces fled, leaving on the bridge their leader, Coronel Juan Taira. As the assembly of enemy prisoners began, the battle was over shortly after 4:00 p.m.
At least 1,600 troops and several of the Spanish commanders, including Barreiro himself, were captured at the end of the battle. New Granada's liberation was assured by this victory, which left the road to Bogotá and the city itself practically undefended, as the survivors headed towards other locations. After the battle, Santander and Anzoátegui were promoted to Divisional General. On the orders of Santander, Colonel Barreiro and 38 more were executed in Bogotá on October 11, 1819.
The bridge in question, el Puente de Boyacá, is no longer in use but it has been maintained as a symbol of the Independence of South America.
Historical consequences and legacy
- The final defeat of Royal forces in the New Kingdom of Granada and the weakening of the rest of the forces in all America.
- The end of Spanish control over the American provinces, with the escape of viceroy Juan de Samano.
- The creation of Gran Colombia.
- The start of an autonomous government in the former Spanish provinces.
- The subsequent independence of Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and the creation of Bolivia, after a liberation campaign.
Viceroy Juan de Samano was informed of the defeat and managed to escape and flee to Spain, which brought to an end the reign of the Spanish Empire in northern Latin America. In commemoration of this battle, August 7 is a national holiday in Colombia. On this date every 4 years the elected President of Colombia is proclaimed in the Casa de Nariño.
Bogotá starts the usual celebrations one day in advance in commemoration of the foundation of the city, on August 6, 1538.