Crossing of the Andes

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Crossing of the Andes
Part of the Spanish American wars of independence
Cruce de los Andes.jpg
Generals José de San Martín (left) and Bernardo O'Higgins (right) crossing the Andes.
DateJanuary 19 to February 13, 1817
From Argentina to Chile
Result Patriot forces successfully enter Chile
Flag of Mendoza Province, Argentina.svg Army of the Andes Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spanish Royalists
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Argentina (alternative).svg José de San Martín
Flag of Argentina (alternative).svg Miguel Estanislao Soler
Flag of Chile (1817-1818).svg Bernardo O'Higgins
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Francisco Marcó del Pont
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Mariano Osorio

The Crossing of the Andes (Spanish : Cruce de los Andes) was one of the most important feats in the Argentine and Chilean wars of independence, in which a combined army of Argentine soldiers and Chilean exiles invaded Chile leading to Chile's liberation from Spanish rule. The crossing of the Andes was a major step in the strategy devised by José de San Martín to defeat the royalist forces at their stronghold of Lima, Viceroyalty of Perú, and secure the Spanish American independence movements.[ citation needed ]

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

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.

Chilean War of Independence conflict

The Chilean War of Independence was a war between pro-independence Chilean criollos seeking political and economic independence from Spain and royalist criollos supporting continued allegiance to the Captaincy General of Chile and membership of the Spanish Empire.


Setting out from Mendoza -then part of the Province of Cuyo- in January 1817, their goal was to enter royalist-held Chile without being noticed, through unexpected paths, so as to attack the royalist forces by surprise. The ultimate objective was the liberation of Chile from Spanish rule with Argentine forces. Led by José de San Martín, the crossing took 21 days.

Mendoza, Argentina City in Mendoza, Argentina

Ciudad de Mendoza is the capital of the province of Mendoza in Argentina. It is located in the northern-central part of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, on the eastern side of the Andes. As of the 2010 census [INDEC], Mendoza had a population of 115,041 with a metropolitan population of 1,055,679, making Greater Mendoza the fourth largest census metropolitan area in the country.

José de San Martín Argentine general and independence leader

José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras, known simply as José de San Martín or El Libertador of Argentina, Chile and Peru, was a Spanish-Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern and central parts of South America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire who served as the Protector of Peru. Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes, in modern-day Argentina, he left his mother country at the early age of seven to study in Málaga, Spain.


The idea of crossing the Andes was already developed by secret lodges seeking the independence of South America, and was part of the Maitland Plan designed by Thomas Maitland. San Martín learned of it during his brief time in Britain, before sailing to South America. After becoming aware of the difficulty of attacking the royalist stronghold of Lima across Upper Peru, he decided to proceed with such a plan.

Maitland Plan, refers to a plan created by Scottish Major General Thomas Maitland in 1800. The plan was titled Plan to capture Buenos Aires and Chile, and then emancipate Peru and Quito. The Kingdom of Great Britain was by then at war with the Kingdom of Spain and the French First Republic in the Napoleonic Wars, and was seeking to expand its influence in South America since the loss of the Thirteen Colonies of North America, which had become independent some time before.

Thomas Maitland (British Army officer) British Army officer

Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Thomas Maitland was a British soldier and colonial governor. He also served as a Member of Parliament for Haddington from 1790–1796, 1802–06 and 1812–13. He was made a Privy Councillor on 23 November 1803. He was the second surviving son of James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale and the younger brother of James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale. Maitland never married.

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.

The Captaincy General of Chile had removed their governor in 1810, and replaced him with the First Government Junta, starting a period of Chilean history known as Patria Vieja. However, they would be defeated in 1814 during the battle of Rancagua, and with the Reconquista Chile would become again a royalist stronghold. Bernardo O'Higgins and other Chilean leaders had fled to Mendoza during the new royalist government, which led to O'Higgins being part of the Army of the Andes as well as the Argentine soldiers.

Captaincy General of Chile Spanish 1541-1818 possession in South America

The General Captaincy of Chile or Gobernación de Chile, was a territory of the Spanish Empire, from 1541 to 1818. It comprised most of modern-day Chile and southern parts of Argentina. Its capital was Santiago de Chile. In 1818 it declared itself independent, becoming the Republic of Chile. It had a number of Spanish governors over its long history and several kings.

Government Junta of Chile (1810)

Government Assembly of the Kingdom of Chile, also known as the First Government Junta, was the organization established to rule Chile following the deposition and imprisonment of King Ferdinand VII by Napoleon Bonaparte. It was the earliest step in the Chilean struggle for independence, and the anniversary of its establishment is celebrated as the national day of Chile.

Patria Vieja

Patria Vieja refers to a time period in the History of Chile occurring between the First Junta of the Government and the Disaster of Rancagua. In this period measures were taken for the imprisonment of Fernando VII by Napoleon and this started the governmental organization of the Kingdom of Chile.

Troops and equipment

The city of Mendoza, during this time frame, became a factoring headquarters during the pre-crossing. The citizens of Mendoza assisted their troops by manufacturing gunpowder and ammunition. They also learned to make cannons.[ citation needed ]

The main food of the army was a regional meal called valdiviano. It was prepared with dry meat or charqui , sliced raw onion, and boiling water. They had designated soldiers who carried the food. These soldiers transported forty tons of charqui; maize cakes; meat; brandy, to counter the nighttime cold; garlic and onion, to deal with the lack of appetite; more than 4,000 cattle for the rest of the campaign; plus cheese and rum. [1]

Maize Cereal grain

Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.

Brandy spirit produced by distilling wine

Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume and is typically drunk as an after-dinner digestif. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks. Others are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of aging, and some are produced using a combination of both aging and colouring. Varieties of wine brandy can be found across the winemaking world. Among the most renowned are Cognac and Armagnac from southwestern France.


On the morning of January 19, 1817, San Martin and his army set out from their base camp El Plumerillo and began their journey across the Andes Mountain range. San Martin crossed with 4,000 men, only to end up losing 1/3 of them. It was a devastating blow to the troop. The number of auxiliaries reached 1,200.

For the crossing, San Martin split his army into two divisions: The main division, which traveled through the pass of Los Patos, was led by San Martin, Miguel Estanislao Soler and Bernardo O'Higgins. The secondary troop, which traveled through the more southern Uspallata, was led by Juan Gregorio de Las Heras. [1]

Coming to an end

On February 13, 1817, San Martín, O’Higgins, and their army successfully entered Santiago, Chile, after crossing 500 kilometers of mountain range, and the journey came to an end. [2] The royalist forces, by this time, had advanced north to avoid San Martín's army, but a royalist leader had stayed behind with 1,500 men to advance at a valley called Chacabuco, which was located near Santiago. [3] Thus, the Battle of Chacabuco began.


In 2010 the Argentine and Chilean armies recreated the crossing during the commemorations of the 200 years of Revolution. [4]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Chacabuco 1817." Archived 2008-10-29 at the Wayback Machine Glasgow and District Wargaming Society.
  2. Scheina, Robert L. Latin America's Wars.
  3. Robertson, William Spence. "History of Latin-America Nations."'
  4. Rememorando el Cruce de los Andes

Further reading

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