Battle of Ayohuma

Last updated
Battle of Ayohuma
Part of Bolivian War of Independence
Argentine War of Independence
Plano Ayohuma.jpg
Old map of the battle
Date14 November 1813
Location Bolivia
18°51′21″S66°8′5″W / 18.85583°S 66.13472°W / -18.85583; -66.13472 Coordinates: 18°51′21″S66°8′5″W / 18.85583°S 66.13472°W / -18.85583; -66.13472
Result Royalist victory
Withdrawal of the Army of the North towards Jujuy and Salta
Flag of Argentina (alternative).svg United Provinces of South America
Flag of Bolivia (state, 1825-1826).svg Republiquetas
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spanish Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Argentina (alternative).svg Manuel Belgrano Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Joaquín de la Pezuela
3400 soldiers
8 cannons
3500 soldiers
18 cannons
Casualties and losses
200 dead
200 wounded
500 prisoners
42 dead
96 wounded
Leader of the victorious royalist forces, Spaniard General Joaquin de la Pezuela. Joaquin de la Pezuela y Sanchez de Aragon.jpg
Leader of the victorious royalist forces, Spaniard General Joaquín de la Pezuela.

The Battle of Ayohuma ("dead man's head" in Quechua) [1] was an action fought on 14 November 1813, during the second Upper Peru Campaign of the Argentine War of Independence. The republican forces of the Army of the North, led by General Manuel Belgrano were defeated by the royalists, commanded by Joaquín de la Pezuela.

Upper Peru former region in South America that in 1825 became Bolivia

Upper Peru is a denomination for the land that was governed by the Real Audiencia of Charcas. The denomination originated in Buenos Aires towards the end of the 18th century after the Audiencia of Charcas was transferred from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. It comprised the governorships of Potosí, La Paz, Cochabamba, Chiquitos, Moxos and Charcas.

Argentine War of Independence 1810-1825 armed conflict in South America

The Argentine War of Independence was fought from 1810 to 1818 by Argentine patriotic forces under Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli and José de San Martín against royalist forces loyal to the Spanish crown. On July 9, 1816, an assembly met in San Miguel de Tucumán, declared full independence with provisions for a national constitution.

Army of the North

The Army of the North, contemporaneously called Army of Peru, was one of the armies deployed by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in the Spanish American wars of independence. Its objective was freeing the Argentine Northwest and the Upper Peru from the royalist troops of the Spanish Empire. It was headed by Hipólito Vieytes (1810), Juan José Castelli (1810–1811), Juan Martín de Pueyrredón (1811–1812), Manuel Belgrano (1812–1814), José de San Martín (1814), José Rondeau (1814–1816), Manuel Belgrano (1816–1819) and Francisco Fernández de la Cruz (1819-1820).



After the rout of Vilcapugio, Belgrano established his headquarters at Macha. There he reorganized his army, obtaining help from Francisco Ocampo (then President of Charcas), and from the provinces of Upper Peru (Cochabamba, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Chayanta). At the end of October 1813, the republican army included around 3,400 men, of which barely 1,000 were veterans. An important fraction of the republican army, under the command of General Díaz Vélez had remained isolated at Potosí after Vilcapugio, but was able to reunite with Belgrano after a small action at Tambo Nuevo relieved them from the pressure of the royalist army. [2]

Battle of Vilcapugio

The Battle of Vilcapugio was an action fought on October 1, 1813 during the second Campaign of Upper Peru in the Argentine War of Independence, where the republican forces led by General Manuel Belgrano were defeated by a royalist army, led by Joaquin de la Pezuela.

Santiago de Macha or Macha is a Bolivian locality in the department of Potosí, Chayanta Province, Colquechaca Municipality, Macha Canton. Macha had a population of 1,850 in 2001 and the canton was inhabited by 8,769 people. Most of the young adults works abroad, and the marketplace of the village opens only on Sunday. The main economic activity of Macha is subsistence agriculture.

Cochabamba City & Municipality in Bolivia

Cochabamba is a city and municipality in central Bolivia in a valley in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cochabamba Department and the fourth largest city in Bolivia, with a population of 630,587 according to the 2012 Bolivian census. Its name is from a compound of the Quechua words qucha "lake" and pampa, "open plain." Residents of the city and the surrounding areas are commonly referred to as cochalas or, more formally, cochabambinos.

Leader of the Independentist Army of the North, General Manuel Belgrano. Retrato del Gral. Manuel Belgrano - Atribuido a Francois Casimir Carbonnier.jpg
Leader of the Independentist Army of the North, General Manuel Belgrano.

Despite their recent victory, Pezuela's troops were short of horses and supplies. They had sought refuge on the Condo-Condo heights, where, being surrounded by hostile populations and still recovering from the casualties suffered at Vilcapugio, they could not readily take the offensive against the Army of the North. However, on 29 October, they left their camp in Condo-Condo in order to attack the republicans before they could obtain further reinforcements. On 12 November, they arrived at Toquirí, a hill dominating the small plain of Ayohuma, half a league from the village of the same name. [3]

In the meantime, just two leagues away from Toquirí, on 8 November, Belgrano had discussed his plans with his officials. The majority of them wanted to withdraw to Potosí, but the general convinced his officers to fight. That same night the army left Macha, reaching Ayohuma on the morning of the next day.


The armies that were about to face each other exhibited a significant disproportion. While the republican cavalry outnumbered the royalists' two-to-one, Pezuela had twice as much infantry and 18 pieces of artillery, against only eight carried by Belgrano's troops.

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

At dawn of 14 November the royalists began their descent from their high position and by mid-morning they had deployed the bulk of their forces on the plain. Belgrano's troops were meanwhile attending Mass, even if aware of the enemy movements. An hour later, Pezuela had completed their maneuver, outflanking the republicans on their right. In the opinion of Lieutenant Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid, one of Belgrano's best officers, this move proved decisive for the outcome of the battle. [4] Then, Pezuela's artillery opened fire, blasting holes in the republicans ranks. In a hail of enemy fire, Belgrano ordered the advance of his infantry and cavalry toward the enemy right flank, but they could not overcame Pezuela's entrenchments. To make matters worse, the republicans' lighter guns were no match for the royalist ones. Belgrano was forced to retreat. By a trumpet call and waving the United Provinces flag on the top of a hill, he managed to gather some 500 men, leaving around 200 dead, 200 injured, 500 prisoners and almost all his artillery on the battlefield.

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is a term used to describe the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Catholic Church and Anglican churches, as well as some Lutheran churches, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox and Old Catholic churches.

Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid Argentine military officer, governor

Comandante General Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid was an Argentine military officer and, briefly, governor of several provinces like Córdoba, Mendoza and his native province of Tucumán.

Among the dead was the commander of the Batallón de Castas ("Castes' Battalion"), Colonel José Superí, who was killed by the royalist artillery. His battalion was made of soldiers of African and mulatto descent. José María Paz, an officer who would later play a key role in the Argentine Civil Wars, had to rescue his brother, Captain Julián Paz, when the latter's horse was killed by gunfire while crossing a stream. [2] Three mulatto auxiliary women, María Remedios del Valle and her two daughters, became famous for their efforts to provide water to the troops and assist wounded soldiers on the battlefield in spite of the heavy royalist bombardment, and they are since remembered as the Niñas de Ayohuma ("Maidens of Ayohuma") in Argentina. [5]

Mulatto is a term used to refer to people born of one white parent and one black parent, or from two mulatto parents. Although historically considered a factual, fair term of racial classification, in modern day, it is generally considered to be derogatory or offensive.

Argentine Civil Wars series of civil wars in Argentina between 1814 and 1876

The Argentine Civil Wars were a series of civil wars that took place in Argentina from 1814 to 1880. These conflicts were separate from the Argentine War of Independence (1810–1820), though they first arose during this period.

An auxiliary force is an organized group supplementing but not directly incorporated in a regular military or police entity. It may comprise either civilian volunteers undertaking support functions or additional personnel directly performing military or police duties, usually on a part-time basis.


Belgrano's 500 survivors retreated to Potosí, but the city had to be quickly evacuated on 18 November due to the approaching royalists. Belgrano moved back to Tucumán, where on 30 January 1814, he resigned the command of the Northern Army to General San Martín. He would later write about the tactical superiority of the Spaniard officers as compared to his limited knowledge of warfare.

See also


  1. López, Vicente Fidel (1881).La revolucion argentina: su origen, sus guerras, y su desarrollo político hasta 1830, Volume 1. Imprenta y librería de Mayo, de C. Casavalle, p. 21 (in Spanish)
  2. 1 2 Mitre, Bartolomé: Historia de Belgrano. Imprenta de Mayo, Buenos Aires, 1859. V. II., page 226 (in Spanish)
  3. Paz, José María (1855). Memorias Póstumas. Imprenta de la Revista, p. 141. (in Spanish)
  4. Araóz de la Madrid, Gregorio: Obsebvaciones [sic] sobre las Memorias póstumas del brigadier general d. Josè M. Paz, por G. Araoz de Lamadrid y otros gefes contemporaneos. Imprenta de la Revista, Buenos Aires, 1855, pp. 35–36. (in Spanish)
  5. Elgul de París, Marta (1996). Amantes, Cautivas y Guerreras. Almagesto, p. 151. ISBN   9507511245 (in Spanish)

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