Battle of Ituzaingó
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|Battle of Ituzaingó|
|Part of Cisplatine War|
Death of Federico de Brandsen during the battle
|Empire of Brazil||United Provinces of Rio de la Plata|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Marquis of Barbacena||Carlos María de Alvear|
2.000 Austro-Prussian mercenaries
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Ituzaingó (Passo do Rosário for Brazilians) was fought in vicinity of Santa Maria river, in a valley of small hills where a stream divided the valley in two.
Following a continuous two years of sundry skirmishes inside the Banda Oriental (present-day Uruguay and southern Rio Grande do Sul) and along the border of this country with Brazil, the advancing Argentine Army (including Orientals) engaged in combat with the Brazilian Army.
The Banda Oriental was incorporated as a Brazilian Province in 1822 when Brazil became independent from Portugal. The centralized government under Brazilian emperor Pedro I led to many revolts inside Brazil. Seeing a chance to break the rule of a foreign nation over their country, some Orientals raised the flag of rebellion against the Brazilian government in 1825.
At first, the fight did not attract great attention from the Brazilian government, which was dealing with revolts even in Rio de Janeiro by that time. Nevertheless, as the rebellion spread fast, D. Pedro I had to gather an army any way he could to send to "Cisplatina" (the province's name under Brazilian control).
The Army was, at first, led by D. Pedro I, himself. Due to political problems, he had to return to the capital without getting close to the battlefield. By December 1826, the command was given to General Felisberto Caldeira Brant, Marquis of Barbacena.
By this time, the appeal the Orientals sent to Buenos Aires brought Argentina into the conflict. The Buenos Aires leadership saw a chance to bring back the Banda Oriental into the Argentine Confederation as a province. General Carlos María de Alvear was appointed as commander of the Republican Army.
On January, 20, 1827, Alvear moved to the border with Brazil. He attacked some small towns and villages in order to bring Barbacena onto him. He succeeded in his plan.
By February 18, the Republican Army reached a stream of Santa Maria river. Alvear had previously chosen this position in order to maximize his advantage in cavalry. The Brazilian Imperial Army arrived in the battlefield the following day. Refusing some objections over the exhaustion of the army, Barbacena prepared his forces for action as soon as possible the next day.
Some historians[who?] say that Alvear misled Barbacena to believe that he was pursuing only the rear of the Republican Army. That is why he was anxious to take care of this part of Republican Army and then fight Alvear's main force in another battle. Believing so, Barbacena took the offensive and sent his cavalry and infantry toward the 1st Corps of the Republican Army under command of Oriental leader Juan Antonio Lavalleja.
The Imperial Forces crossed the stream as if to encircle Lavalleja's men. At first, the Oriental cavalry tried to block the passage of the 1st Imperial Army Division. Soon they were pushed back by the enemy, which managed to take control of the artillery pieces under colonel Felix Olazabal. Alvear counterattacked with his cavalry at this moment. While he would take care of the 2nd Division on the center of the Imperial Army, Colonel Julian Laguna would attack the extreme left of the Brazilian forces (which were formed only by volunteers). Colonel Soler would lead his men onto the 1st Division. As Alvear planned, the open fields proved to be more suitable for cavalry units than for infantry.
Only the center of the Imperial Army kept its position. The infantry here formed squares to repel any attempt made by 2nd Corps of the enemy cavalry to subdue them. Only when it was clear that the Republican Army could encircle the 2nd Division, did it withdraw from the battlefield. The Republican Army could not pursue the enemy. The lack of proper means made Alvear order his men to put fire to the battlefield and leave the scene.
The battle ended with a tactical victory for the Republicans since Barbacena could not move to Buenos Aires as he had planned, but with no strategic gain for either side.
The war went on for one year more with inconclusive frays between small groups of men on each side. Nevertheless, it seems that only the disputed province gained something. In 1828, a treaty was signed between Brazil and Argentina which granted its independence as present-day Uruguay.
- Carneiro, David. História da Guerra Cisplatina. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1946.
- Duarte, Paulo de Q. Lecor e a Cisplatina 1816-1828. v. 2. Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca do Exército, 1985
- Barroso, Gustavo. "História Militar do Brasil". Rio de Janeiro, Biblioteca do Exército, 2000.