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 dead and 40 wounded.[5] 2,100[6]–3,000 dead, wounded and prisoners[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 in 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 successful taking of Caracas on July 29, 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 renegade exiled colonels overtook him early the following year. Simón Bolívar began his Admirable Campaign in the West, while Santiago Mariño reached the East with exiles from Trinidad Island.

Before this desperate situation, Monteverde tried to reconquer Maturín, as the provinces of Guayana, Nueva Barcelona and Cumaná had fallen to Mariño quickly, but he failed on multiple occasions. When he tried to stop Bolivar in the West, he was wounded in battle and was forced to take refuge in Puerto Cabello, where Cajigal relieved him from command. After Bolívar took Caracas on August 6, 1813, the Royalist forces were reduced to their positions in the 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 men) and Juan Manuel Cajigal (3,000 men), who had reorganized their forces after the Admirable Campaign, and were starting their offensive. At the same time, Colonel Francisco Rosete (under Boves' orders) was 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 March 23, the patriot army in the West and its partner in the East, under the command of Bolívar and Mariño respectively, joined in Los Pilones - currently Guárico State - in order to join forces against the Royalists. However, they remained under separate rule and that would be decisive in their future.[11] Most of Bolivar's troops came from the Andean regions in the west, and Mariño's were on the east coast.[12] When many of Mariño's troops began to desert after the Battle of Bocachica (March 31), Bolívar repraoched him, even though the same was happening in his own ranks. Also, there were spies from the Royalists in their units. This only increased the tension between the two commanders.[13]

The Spanish army stopped in Guataparo on May 16 after leaving Coro, just a little more than 4 miles away from the city of Valencia, where Ceballos' army was close by. 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 May 16 with four divisions, and the next day found Cajigal deployed in combat in Tocuyito: patriots attacked the vanguard enemy[14] but Cajigal 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 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 view on the 18th.[14]

Cajigal again advanced towards Valencia, reaching the outskirts of the city on May 20. Noticing the proximity of the patriotic forces, he retreated and took position in the savannah of Carabobo. Hereafter, the patriot forces advanced from their positions to the savannah on the 25th,[17] and Bolivar left on the 26th with five divisions and all the horses that were in the city. On the 28th of May, both armies took up positions in the savannah, ready for battle.[18]


The war began at 3:00 PM, when the division of Rafael Urdaneta opened fire on the enemy who were trying to outflank the Royalists to the right, but this was a trick to distract Cajigal. The main attack occurred straight on with José Francisco Bermúdez, Juan Manuel Valdes and Florencio Palacios advancing.

The Royalist Forces resisted for about one hour, under heavy cross-fire, until their center began to break. Then, Marshal Cajigal sent his best troops in, the Carabineros de Granada, to protect that position. In response to this, Bolívar ordered to Santiago Herrera to let the cavalry of José Gregorio Monagas, John Josephus Rondon and Lucas Carvajal attack the Grenadian army while Diego Jalon's patriot artillery dedicate themselves to bombard the Royalist Staff position, forcing them to relocate several times without the possibility to react.

After being attacked by the Patriot Lancers' cavalry, the Granadians started to retreat, dragging along with them the Royalist infantry, which broke ranks and fled in panic.[19]

The battle ended at 6:00 PM. Cajigal tried to organize an orderly retreat, which was made impossible by the Republican cavalry, which attacked from all sides. The marshal and his staff were barely able to escape with a couple of men.[20]


Ceballos moved to the East. Cajigal escaped to Apure[15] and granted broad powers to Boves to continue this campaign, but he retired to Los Llanos to take care of his elderly grandmother who was sick with tuberculosis.[21] The battle could have been decisive for Venezuelan independence, but Bolívar, instead of moving to Guárico against Cajigal to end the rebellion of the llaneros with his entire army, which would have been the most sensible decision,[13] opted to divide them. He ordered General Rafael Urdaneta to march to the West with 700 infantrymen. He sent a division of 400 infantry and 700 cavalry after Cajigal and Ceballos to prevent them from supporting Boves.[22] He decided to go to Valencia, José Félix Ribas was sent to reinforce 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.