Battle of Carabobo

Last updated

Battle of Carabobo
Part of the Venezuelan War of Independence
La Batalla de Carabobo, Martín Tovar y Tovar
Date24 June 1821
Result Patriot victory

Flag of the Gran Colombia (1819-1820).svg Gran Colombia

Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Gran Colombia (1819-1820).svg Simón Bolívar Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Miguel Torre
6,500-8,000 4,000-5,000
Casualties and losses
300 killed and wounded 2,908 killed, wounded and captured

The Battle of Carabobo, on 24 June 1821, was fought between independence fighters, led by Venezuelan General Simón Bolívar, and the Royalist forces, led by Spanish Field Marshal Miguel de la Torre. Bolívar's decisive victory at Carabobo led to the independence of Venezuela and establishment of the Republic of Gran Colombia.


Before the battle

There were several events that led to the Battle of Carabobo. Francisco de Miranda, famed patriot that tried to free many Latin American countries alongside Simón Bolívar, had taken control of Caracas from 1810 to 1812. The Spanish took back control and Miranda was handed to the royalists because Bolívar, in one of the most questionable decisions of his life, believed him to be a traitor. Bolívar then fled from Venezuela, after which he organized the Admirable Campaign in 1813 and re-established the Second Republic of Venezuela. [1] Bolívar would lose Venezuela again in 1814 and he would re-establish the Venezuelan Republic one more time before uniting with the New Granada to form the Gran Colombia union. In 1820, an armistice was made between the Spanish, under General Pablo Morillo, and the Patriots, under Bolívar. During the years after he fled from Venezuela, Bolívar spent a lot of time regrouping his forces. He stationed his men on Lake Maracaibo, an area that was occupied by the loyalists. Bolívar had numerical superiority over the loyalists but it would still be a challenge. [2]

The battle

Painting by Martin Tovar y Tovar Batalla de Carabobo.JPG
Painting by Martín Tovar y Tovar

The Royalists occupied the road leading from Valencia to Puerto Cabello. As Bolívar's force of 6,500 or 8,000 (which included 340 [3] or 350 [4] men of the British Rangers battalion, the great majority of them of Anglophone origin [5] of the so-called "British Legions") approached the Royalist position, Bolívar divided his force and sent half on a flanking maneuver through rough terrain and dense foliage. Bolívar led the attack through the center while Gen. José Antonio Páez went around to the right flank. But before they could do it, the two Spanish field guns fired on the lines. [6]

Gen. Miguel de la Torre, commander of the Spanish, also split his force and sent half to deal with this flank attack. Hitting the Patriots, led by the Apure Braves Battalion, with musket fire, the Royalists initially held back the assault. Though the Venezuelan infantry failed in their attack and retreated, the men of the British battalion, commanded by Colonel Thomas Ilderton Ferrier and including many former members of the famed King's German Legion, fought hard and eventually succeeded in taking the hills. Though greatly outnumbered and low on supplies, the legion soldiers managed to maintain control of the tactically critical hills. By the battle's end, the legionary force had suffered 119 deaths, of which 11 were officers. Col. Ferrier was among the dead. Bolívar later praised the Legion troops and called them the "Saviors of my Fatherland", noting that they had distinguished themselves among other armies. [7]

Simon Bolivar Bolivar.jpg
Simón Bolívar

As the Legion gained the top, the Apure Braves and 2 companies of the Tiralleurs Battalion (2nd Division) reinforced them, and pushed the enemy off, just as Pedro Camejo, lance in hand, was trying to rally the formations, only to be killed due to two shots to the chest from enemy gunfire, in front of General Páez. Páez, watching him in retreat, told him that he was a coward, to which, with his dying breath, Camejo responded: No, I am not! My general, I have to tell you goodbye, because now I am dead! The cavalry militia of royalist "Llanero" fled [8] from battlefield as the Patriot infantry fought hard, and the patriot cavalry led by Colonel Munoz eventually broke through the Royalist lines on the center, and marched towards the rear of de La Torre's force. The Spanish infantry formed squares and fought to the end under the attack of the Patriot cavalry, but one battalion retreated in the face of the enemy. The rout was so bad that only some 400 of one infantry regiment managed to reach safety at Puerto Cabello. With the main Royalist force in Venezuela crushed, independence was ensured. Subsequent battles included a key naval victory for the independence forces on 24 July 1823 at the Battle of Lake Maracaibo [9] and in November 1823 José Antonio Páez occupied Puerto Cabello, the last Royalist stronghold in Venezuela.

The victory was a hard-won one for the independence forces. Both Ambrosio Plaza and Manuel Cedeno, commanders of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions, were killed in the battle by the enemy.


24 June is celebrated as Battle of Carabobo Day. This day is also called "Army Day" in Venezuela.

Every year during the month of June; the 24th specifically, honors the most important battle of the Venezuelan War of Independence and the largest battle of that war that finally secured national independence after years of war against Spain. It is a national celebration that is televised and streamed on the Internet. It lasts all day with a military parade of the Venezuelan Army, showing to public all armaments, tanks, battalions, weapons, etc. of the ground forces, as the main highlight, during the midday hours. [10]

Painting by Martin Tovar y Tovar Batalla de Carabobo.png
Painting by Martín Tovar y Tovar

This military parade doesn't have any sponsorship except by the government and the Army. It's the largest military parade in the country after the celebration of the birth of General Simón Bolívar on 24 July 1783 (Navy Day) and the annual Independence Day parades of 5 July yearly.

Also held is a joint historical reenactment organized by the Carabobo State Government, the Ministry of Defense, the National Armed Forces, and the Ministry of Education on the very site of the battle in the morning, joined in by elementary and middle school students. The 2015 event was held for the first time on the Sunday nearest the anniversary, 21 June.

See also

Related Research Articles

José Antonio Páez

José Antonio Páez Herrera was a Venezuelan leader who fought against the Spanish Crown for Simón Bolívar during the Venezuelan War of Independence. He later led Venezuela's independence from Gran Colombia.

Portuguesa (state) State of Venezuela

Portuguesa State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. Located in the west of the Republic, it is considered the "breadbasket of Venezuela" for the large amount of agricultural products produced there. The state is bordered on the north by the state of Lara, on the east by Cojedes, on the west by Trujillo and south by Barinas.

Military career of Simón Bolívar

The military and political career of Simón Bolívar, which included both formal service in the armies of various revolutionary regimes and actions organized by himself or in collaboration with other exiled patriot leaders during the years from 1811 to 1830, was an important element in the success of the independence wars in South America. Given the unstable political climate during these years, Bolívar and other patriot leaders, such as Santiago Mariño, Manuel Piar, José Francisco Bermúdez and Francisco de Paula Santander often had to go into exile in the Caribbean or nearby areas of Spanish America that at the moment were controlled by those favoring independence, and from there, carry on the struggle. These wars resulted in the creation of several South American states out of the former Spanish colonies, the currently existing Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and the now defunct Gran Colombia.

Venezuelan War of Independence

The Venezuelan War of Independence (1810–1823) was one of the Spanish American wars of independence of the early nineteenth century, when independence movements in Latin America fought against rule by the Spanish Empire, emboldened by Spain's troubles in the Napoleonic Wars.

Bolívars campaign to liberate New Granada

Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada of 1819-1820 was part of the Colombian and Venezuelan wars of independence and was one of the many military campaigns fought by Simón Bolívar. Bolívar's victory in New Granada secured the eventual independence of northern South America. It provided Bolívar with the economic and human resources to complete his victory over the Spanish in Venezuela and Colombia. Bolívar's attack on New Granada is considered one of the most daring in military history, compared by contemporaries and some historians to Napoleon's crossing of the Alps in 1800 and José San Martín's Crossing of the Andes in 1817.

Battle of Boyacá Decisive battle in Bolivars campaign to liberate New Granada

The Battle of Boyacá (1819), was the decisive battle that ensured the success of Bolívar's campaign to liberate New Granada. The battle of Boyaca is considered the beginning of the independence of the North of South America, and is considered important because it led to the victories of the battle of Carabobo in Venezuela, Pichincha in Ecuador, and Junín and Ayacucho in Peru.

Rafael Urdaneta Venezuelan general

Rafael José Urdaneta y Farías was a Venezuelan General and hero of the Spanish American wars of independence. He served as President of Gran Colombia from 1830 until 1831. He was an ardent supporter of Simón Bolívar and one of his most trusted and loyal allies.

Battle of Ayacucho

The Battle of Ayacucho was a decisive military encounter during the Peruvian War of Independence. It was the battle that secured the independence of Peru and ensured independence for the rest of South America. In Peru it is considered the end of the Spanish American wars of independence, although the campaign of the victor Antonio José de Sucre, continued through 1825 in Upper Peru and the siege of the fortresses Chiloé and Callao finally ended in 1826.

Battle of Lake Maracaibo

The Battle of Lake Maracaibo also known as the "Naval Battle of the Lake" was fought on 24 July 1823 on Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo between fleets under the commands of Republican Admiral José Prudencio Padilla and royalist Captain Ángel Laborde.

Battle of Pichincha

The Battle of Pichincha took place on 24 May 1822, on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, 3,500 meters above sea-level, right next to the city of Quito, in modern Ecuador.

State Railways Institution

The State Railways Institution is a state-run organization of Venezuela that manages the railway systems of the country. Its headquarters are located in Caracas, Venezuela.

British Legions

The British Legion or British Legions were foreign volunteer units that fought under Simón Bolívar against Spain for the independence of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and José de San Martín for the independence of Peru in the Spanish American wars of independence. Venezuelans generally called them the Albion Legion. They were composed of over seven thousand volunteers, mainly Napoleonic War veterans from Great Britain and Ireland, as well as some German veterans and some locals recruited after arriving in South America. Volunteers in the British Legion were motivated by a combination of both genuine political motives and mercenary motives.

Pedro Camejo, also known as Negro Primero or 'The First Black' was a Venezuelan soldier that fought with the Royal Army and later with the Rebel Army during the Venezuelan War of Independence, reaching the rank of lieutenant. The nickname Negro Primero was inspired by his bravery and skill in handling spears, and because he was always in the first line of attack on the battlefield. It is also attributed to his having been the only black officer in the army of Simon Bolívar.

Battle of Las Queseras del Medio

The Battle of Las Queseras del Medio was an important battle of the Venezuelan War of Independence. It took place on April 2, 1819. The forces of José Antonio Páez consisted of 153 lancers, who were llaneros. They were pitted against more than 1,000 Spanish cavalry. The battle is noted for a phrase of Páez's that became famous: ¡Vuelvan Caras! –although some sources state that he actually said ¡Vuelvan, Carajo! .).

Fortín Solano

Fortín Solano is an eighteenth-century colonial fortification overlooking Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. With the Castillo San Felipe, an earlier fort built at sea level, it formed part of a complex of fortifications designed to protect Puerto Cabello and its important harbour from naval attacks. It was constructed c. 1766 by order of Don José Solano y Bote on behalf of the King of Spain. It has been described as the last military construction built in Venezuela during the colonial era.

Mariano Montilla

Mariano Montilla was a major general of the Army of Venezuela in the Venezuelan War of Independence.

José Arizabalo

Jose Antonio Arizabalo Orobio was a Spanish military, born in Guipúzcoa, still a child at the age of seven he moved with his family to Venezuela, and played an important role in the Spanish American wars of independence.

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.

San Felipe Castle is an eighteenth-century star fort protecting Puerto Cabello in Venezuela. It was named in honour of Philip V, King of Spain at the time of its construction in the 1730s. It has an alternative name Castillo Libertador, explained by its connection with Simón Bolívar, known as El Libertador because of his role in Latin American independence.

State of Venezuela

State of Venezuela was the official name of Venezuela adopted by the constitution of 1830, during the government of Jose Antonio Páez. The name was maintained until 1856 when in the constitution promulgated in that year it changes the official name of the country to Republic of Venezuela. In the Constitution of 1864, the United States of Venezuela was established.


  1. Kris E. Lane; Matthew Restall (2011). Wadsworth (ed.). The riddle of Latin America (Student ed.). Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 173–174. ISBN   0618153063.
  2. "Battle of Carabobo". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. Gonzalo Pulido Ramirez (2011). Estudio Histórico de la batalla de Carabobo (1821). Universidad Andrés Bello, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas. pp. 163–164.
  4. Real Academia de la Historia. "Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia". CCIV: 42–43.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. Flórez Alvarez (1921). Campaña libertadora de 1821. Bogotá, Colombia: Imprenta del E. M. G. pp.  200.
  6. "Battle of Carabobo". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  7. Piero Gleijeses. "The Limits of Sympathy: The United States and the Independence of Spanish America". Cambridge University Press. JSTOR   156773.Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. from 1,551 of theoric cavalry , only two squadrons of hussars fight as infantry. The rest of royalist cavalry, 1,372 Venezuelan Llaneros, flee from the battle
  9. Albert H. Gerberich. "A Forgotten Episode of History: The Battle of Lake Maracaibo". The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 52 (1): 82–83.
  10. "Venezuela Battle of Carabobo Day". Archived from the original on 13 March 2014.

Coordinates: 10°00′16″N68°09′57″W / 10.0045°N 68.1657°W / 10.0045; -68.1657