Battle of Carabobo (1814)

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First Battle of Carabobo
Part of Venezuelan War of Independence
Date 28 May 1814
Location Savannah of Carabobo
(Present day Carabobo State)
Result Republican victory
Bandera de la Guerra a Muerte.svg Second Republic of Venezuela Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Spanish Empire
Commanders and leaders
Simón Bolívar
Santiago Mariño
Juan Manuel Cajigal
José Ceballos
Units involved
4,000[1]–5,000[2][3] 6,000[4]
Casualties and losses
12 deads y 40 wounded.[5] 2,100[6]–3,000 deads, wounded and prisioners[3][7]
Capture of 5,000 rifles, 9 flags, 4,000 horses, the entire artillery, food, livestock, baggage and documents.[3]
Western 1814

The 'First Battle of Carabobo' (1814) was a battle of the Venezuelan War of Independence, in which the forces of the Second Republic commanded by Simón Bolívar defeated the Spaniard forces under Field marshal Juan Manuel de Cajigal y Martínez.


The colonial government was restored in Venezuela after Domingo de Monteverde's success taking Caracas in 29 July 1812 during his reconquest campaign. Monte Verde planned to launch an offensive against the United Provinces of Nueva Granada. However, before he could execute it, two rebels exiled colonels overtook him early next year. Simón Bolívar began his Admirable Campaign in the West, meanwhile Santiago Mariño reached the East with exiles from Trinidad Island.

In front of this desperate situation, Monte Verde tried to reconquest Maturín as the provinces of Guayana, Nueva Barcelona and Cumaná had fallen to Mariño quickly but he failed repeatedly. When he tried to stop Bolivar in the West, he was mutilated in battle and forced to take refuge in Puerto Cabello where Cajigal relieved him from command. After Bolívar took Caracas in 6 August 1813, the royalist forces were reduced to their positions nearby Orinoco valley, Apure and the province of Coro.[8] Fortunately for them, the arrival of Brigadier José Ceballos with 5,000 Spaniard soldiers allowed them to resist the offensive again.[9]


In February 1814, the main threats to the Second Republic of Venezuela were José Tomás Boves's armies in Los Llanos (8,000 men), José Ceballos in the West (4,000) and Juan Manuel Cajigal (3,000) who had reorganized their forces after the Admirable Campaign and were starting their offensive. Besides Colonel Francisco Rosete (under Boves' orders) were acting wildly in Valles del Tuy. Given this danger, Santiago Mariño finally tried to help Bolivar but it was too late to contain all their enemies.[10]

On 23 March the patriot army in the West and its Eastern pair in command of Bolívar and Mariño respectively joined in Los Pilones - current Guárico State - in order to join forces against the royalists. However, they remained ruled separately and that was decisive in their future.[11] Most Bolivar's troops came from the Andean regions in the west and Mariño's were on the east coast.[12] When Mariño's troops began to have many desertions after the battle of Bocachica (31 March, 31), Bolívar protested him even though the same was happening in his own ranks. Also, there were spies from the royalists in their units. This only contributed to increase the tension between the two commanders.[13]

The Spanish army stopped in Guataparo on 16 May after leaving Coro, just a little more than 4 miles away from the city of Valencia where Ceballos' army was close to. Cajigal assumed a defensive position as he wished to refrain from attacking until Boves had penetrated into the valleys of Aragua. Bolívar left Valencia on 16 May with four divisions and the next day found Cajigal deployed in combat by Tocuyito, patriots attacked the enemy vanguard name[14] Cajigal but avoided combat and withdrew via San Carlos. to give aid to the defeated army of Ceballos in his attempt to take Valencia .[15] Solomon and other local commanders who recognized him as the new Captain General of Venezuela and commander of the royalist army. .[16] Bolívar retreated to Valencia where he had a better strategic position on the 18th.[14]

Cajigal again advance towards Valencia reaching the outskirts of the city on 20 May but seeing the closeness of the patriotic forces retreated and took positions in the savannah of Carabobo. At this the patriot forces advance out of their positions to savannah on the 25th.[17] out Bolivar 26 this month with five divisions and all the horses that were in the city. The 28 May both armies took up positions in the savannah ready for battle.[18]


The war began at 13 h. when the division of Rafael Urdaneta opened fire on the enemy trying to outflank the royalists to the right, but this was a trick, and that distracted Cajigal. The main attack occurred on the other flank and center with advancing of José Francisco Bermúdez, Juan Manuel Valdes and Florencio Palacios.

The Royalist Forces resisted for about one hour with a fierce fighting and against a heavy fire crossed until their center began to break. Then, Marshal Cajigal sends his best troops: Carabineros de Granada to protect that position. In response to Bolívar's orders to Santiago Herrera to let the cavalry of José Gregorio Monagas, John Josephus Rondon and Lucas Carvajal attack the Grenadian army while patriot artillery of Diego Jalon is dedicated to bombard the position of Royalist Staff forcing them to relocate several times without possibility to react.

After an horseback attack from the Patriot Lancers to the granadians, these start to go back, dragging with them the royalist infantry breaking ranks and flee in panic.[19]

The battle ends at 18 h. and Cajigal tried to organize an orderly retreat, what is prevented by the Republican cavalry attacking them from all sides. The marshal and his staff barely escape with a few men.[20]


Ceballos moved to the north and Cajigal escaped to Apure[15] and granted broad powers to Boves to continue this campaign while he retired to Los Llanos to get reinforcements and apertrechar his troops.[21] The battle could be decisive for the Venezuelan independence but Bolívar instead of moving to Guárico against Cajigal to end the rebellion of the llaneros and all his army. In fact, that would be the most sensible decision,[13] but he chose divide them. He ordered General Rafael Urdanetato march to the West with 700 infantry. He sent a division of 400 infantry and 700 cavalry after Cajigal and Ceballos to prevent the support from Boves[22] He decided to go to Valencia and José Félix Ribas was sent for reinforcements Caracas and Santiago Mariño was stationed in Aragua with 3,000 men. Mariño camped in Villa de Cura, where he could attack Los Llanos, a royalist stronghold. Meanwhile, José Tomás Boves left with a powerful army from Calabozo in a campaign that ended in the Second battle of La Puerta.


  1. ^ Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia. No. 47. Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1964, Venezuela. "Aun cuando el Libertador al frente de 4,000 hombres obtuvo el 4 de julio un brillante triunfo en Carabobo, sus fuerzas en La Puerta recibieron de Boves el 15 del mismo mes un golpe mortal. (pp. 329)"
  2. ^ Historia constitucional de Venezuela. Volumen 1. José Gil Fortoul, Liberia Piñango, 1967 (original de 1930). "Pero Bolívar le gana la batalla de Carabobo el 28 de mayo, aunque con fuerzas inferiores en número (5000 hombres). Empero, ya se acercaba el desastre final. Boves sale de Calabozo con 5000 ginetes y 3000 infantes; (...)"
  3. ^ a b c Esteves, 2004: 76
  4. ^ Ensayos históricos. Rufino Blanco-Fombona & Rafael Ramón Castellanos. Fundación Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1981, pp. 365. "Bolívar sale a defender la república contra ese monstruo; contra Ceballos aniquila 3.700 guerreros en Araure; contra Cajigal, de quien destruye 6.000 hombres en la primera batalla de Carabobo. (...) En vano Bolívar contiene en San Mateo 8.000 caballos de Boves; en vano deshechos 6.000 realistas en la primera batalla de Carabobo, (...)"
  5. ^ Diego Barros Arana (1865). Compendio de historia de América. Tomo IV. Santiago: Imprenta del Ferrocarril, pp. 216
  6. ^ Micheal Clodfelter (2002). Warfare and armed conflicts: a statistical reference to casualty and other figures, 1500-2000. London: McFarland, pp. 347. ISBN 978-0-78641-204-4. Estima en 300 muertos, 700 heridos y 1.100 prisioneros.
  7. ^ Juan Bosch (1981). De Cristóbal Colón a Fidel Castro: el Caribe, frontera imperial. La Habana: Casa de las Américas, pp. 246. ISBN 978-8-47291-910-5. Estima en 1.000 muertos e igual número de heridos.
  8. ^ Casa de Colón de Las Palmas. Anuario de estudios Atlánticos. Número 13. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1967, pp. 203.
  9. ^ Micheal Clodfelter (2002). Warfare and armed conflicts: a statistical reference to casualty and other figures, 1500-2000. Londres: McFarland, pp. 347. ISBN 978-0-78641-204-4.
  10. ^ Thomas Rourke (1942). Man of glory, Simón Bolívar. Nueva York: Morrow, pp. 124; Thomas Rourke (1942). Bolívar, el hombre de la gloria. Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, pp. 143.
  11. ^ Efemérides - Los Ejércitos de Oriente y de Occidente
  12. ^ Carlos D. Malamud Rikles (1992). Las Américas. Los países andinos: De la Independencia a la Gran Depresión. Tomo XXXIV. Madrid: Ediciones Akal, pp. 10, ISBN 84-7600-905-4.
  13. ^ a b Roberto Barletta Villarán (2011). Breve historia de Simón Bolívar. Madrid: Ediciones Nowtilus, pp. 118. ISBN 978-84-9967-241-0.
  14. ^ a b Esteves, 2004: 74
  15. ^ a b Nuestras batallas de Independencia
  16. ^ Asdrúbal González (1988). La Guerra de Independencia en Puerto Cabello. Caracas: Editora Venezuela en el Mundo, pp. 133
  17. ^ Esteves, 2004. 74
  18. ^ Esteves, 2004: 74-75
  19. ^ Esteves, 2004: 75
  20. ^ Esteves, 2004: 75-76
  21. ^ Manuel Guevara Baro (2007). Venezuela en el tiempo: cronología desde la Conquista hasta la fundación de la República. Tomo II. Caracas: El Nacional, pp. 51. ISBN 978-9-80388-358-4.
  22. ^ Bartolomé Mitre (1990). Historia de San Martín y de la emancipación sudamericana. Tomo II. Corrientes: El Tacurú de Corrientes S.A. Ediciones Sanmartinianas, pp. 764. ISBN 978-9-50995-850-0.