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Wars of South American Independence: Battle of Boyacá


Wars of South American Independence: Battle of Boyacá

Simón Bolívar

Photograph Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org


The Battle of Boyacá was fought during the Wars of South American Independence.


Fought near Boyacá, Colombia, the Battle of Boyacá took place on August 7, 1819.

Armies & Commanders:


  • Simón Bolívar
  • Francisco de Paula Santander
  • José Antonio Anzoátegui
  • 2,900 men


  • José María Barreiro
  • Francisco Jiménez
  • 2,700 men

Battle Summary:

Following his victory at the Battle of Pantano de Vargas, General Simón Bolívar opted to withdrawal to his base at Corrales de Bonza to rest and refit his army. On August 3, 1819, after reinforcing and re-supplying his troops, Bolívar decided to advance upon the capital of Gran Granada (modern-day Colombia), Bogatá. Anticipating this move, Spanish troops, under General José María Barreiro, marched to intercept the republican forces. Barreiro hoped to block Bolívar’s advance at Tunja, but was beaten to the city after the republicans marched all night and utilized a little-known shortcut.

Arriving at Tunja on the afternoon of August 5, Bolívar permitted his men to rest for forty hours. In taking Tunja, Bolívar captured valuable food, medicine, ammunition, and other supplies that were meant for Barreiro’s army. On the morning of August 7, scouts alerted Bolívar that the Spanish were approaching.

Deploying his forces, Bolívar caught Barreiro’s men as they were crossing the el Puente de Boyacá bridge. Sending two-thirds of his men forward under Brigadier Generals Francisco de Paula Santander and José Antonio Anzoátegui, the Colombian , Venezuelan, and British Legion troops successfully routed each half of Barreiro’s army in turn. The infantry attacks were supported by effective cavalry assaults on the Spanish rearguard.

Aftermath & Impact:

When the smoke cleared, Bolívar’s forces had only suffered 66 dead and wounded, while the Spanish incurred 250 dead and wounded as well as 1,600 captured. Among those take prisoner was Barreiro and his second-in-command Francisco Jiménez. The Battle of Boyacá secured Gran Granada’s independence from Spain. Later that year, Bolívar formed the Angostura Congress which founded Gran Colombia, a grouping of modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The congress quickly named Bolívar president of the new nation.

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