Battle of Junín
|Battle of Junín|
|Part of the Peruvian War of Independence|
Battle of Junín by Martín Tovar y Tovar. Oil on canvas.
|Pro-independence army||Royalist army|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Antonio José de Sucre||José de Canterac|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Junín was a military engagement of the Peruvian War of Independence, fought in the highlands of the Junín Region on August 6, 1824. The preceding February the royalists had regained control of Lima, and having regrouped in Trujillo, Simón Bolívar in June led his rebel forces south to confront the Spanish under Field Marshal José de Canterac. The two armies met on the plains of Junín, northwest of the Jauja Valley.
Bolivar (with 8,000 soldiers), in a hurry to try to cut the royalist retreat (8,000 soldiers) towards Cuzco, sent out his cavalry (1,000) to delay the movement of Spanish troops out of the Junin Plain. The Spaniards sent out their cavalry (1,300) to disrupt the incoming patriot cavalry to give Canterac time to withdraw his infantry from the plain.
The plain is a marshland close to the Junin lake and the patriot troops were trying to form for battle when they were struck by the charge of the Spanish cavalry and sent back in confusion.
However, the Spanish charge missed one squadron of the Colombian Grenadiers under Felipe Braun, which managed to form and charge the Spaniard cavalry's rear. The surprise caused the Spanish cavalry to drop their weapons, turn tail and run for the protection of their infantry, which had already vacated the plain. The battle lasted about one hour, and it involved hand-to-hand cavalry clashes with lance and saber.
As solely a cavalry battle, no firearms were used. About 250 royalist and 150 pro-independence fighters were killed.
Although in actuality this battle would qualify as little more than a skirmish, this military engagement greatly enhanced the morale of the victorious pro-independence fighters, with a first win in Perú. The retreat of Canterac's troops after the defeat in Junin was relentless and defections from the Peruvian royalist troops to the patriots increased considerably. Eventually the Viceroy of Peru, José de la Serna e Hinojosa, had to step in as commander of the Spanish forces to try to restore morale. Felipe Braun became the "hero of Junín".
The Battle of Junin in Literature
- Ecuadorian poet Jose Joaquin de Olmedo, from Guayaquil, wrote a famous poem about the battle.
- Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote about his famous ancestor Colonel Suarez, who led the Argentinean forces at Junin.
Order of battle
- Jorge Luis Borges, "Pagina para recordar al Coronel Suarez, Vencedor en Junin" (Page to Remember Colonel Suarez, victor in Junin), in Poesia Completa (2012), pages 180-181)
- Higgins, James (editor). The Emancipation of Peru: British Eyewitness Accounts, 2014. Online at https://sites.google.com/site/jhemanperu
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