Military Wiki
Peruvian War of Independence
Part of Spanish American wars of independence
Battle of Ayacucho.jpg
The Battle of Ayacucho
LocationPeru and Upper Peru
Result Peru becomes independent of the Spanish monarchy

United Liberating Army

Spain Kingdom of Spain
Spain Viceroyalty of Peru

  • Peruvian Royalists
Commanders and leaders

Francisco Antonio de Zela
Mateo Pumacahua
José de San Martín
Manuel Belgrano
Bernardo O'Higgins
José de la Riva Agüero
José Bernardo de Tagle
Juan Gregorio de las Heras
Simón Bolívar
Antonio José de Sucre
Lord Cochrane

Carlos María de Alvear

Ferdinand VII

Pro-independence militias
Army of the North
United Liberating Army
Royalist Army

The Peruvian War of Independence was a series of military conflicts beginning in 1811 that culminated in the proclamation of the independence of Peru by José de San Martín on July 28, 1821. During the previous decade Peru had been a stronghold for royalists, who fought those in favor of independence in Upper Peru, Quito and Chile. The wars of independence took place with the background of the 1780-1781 uprising by indigenous leader Túpac Amaru II and the earlier removal of Upper Peru and the Río de la Plata regions from the Viceroyalty of Peru. Because of this the viceroy often had the support of the "Lima oligarchy," who saw their elite interests threatened by popular rebellion and were opposed to the new commercial class in Buenos Aires.


During the Peninsular War (1807–1814) central authority in the Spanish Empire was lost and many regions established autonomous juntas. The viceroy of Peru, José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa was instrumental in organizing armies to suppress uprisings in Upper Peru and to defend the region from armies sent by the juntas of the Río de la Plata. After success of the royalist armies, Absacal annexed Upper Peru to the viceroyalty, which benefited the Lima merchants as trade from the silver-rich region was now directed to the Pacific. Because of this, Peru remained strongly royalist and participated in the political reforms implemented by the Cádiz Cortes (1810–1814), despite Abascal's resistance. Peru was represented at the first session of the Cortes by seven deputies and local cabildos became elected, representative bodies. Therefore Peru became the second to last redoubt of the Spanish Monarchy in South America, after Upper Peru.[1] Peru eventually succumbed to patriot armies after the decisive continental campaigns of José de San Martín (1820–1823) and Simón Bolívar (1823–1825).

Junta movements

Mateo Pumacahua

Despite the royalist tendencies of Peru, junta movements did emerge, often fomented by the approach of patriot armies from Buenos Aires. There were two short-lived uprisings in the southern city of Tacna in 1811 and 1813. One significant movement, led by Natives in Huánuco, began on February 22, 1812. It involved various leaders, including curacas and township magistrates (alcaldes pedáneos), but was suppressed within a few weeks. More enduring was the rebellion of Cuzco from 1814 to 1815. The rebellion began in a confrontation between the Constitutional Cabildo and the Audiencia of Cuzco over the administration of the city. Cabildo officials and their allies were arrested by the Audiencia. Criollo leaders appealed to retired brigadier Mateo Pumacahua, who was curaca of Chinchero, and decades earlier had been instrumental in suppressing the rebellion of Túpac Amaru II. Pumacahua joined the Criollo leaders in forming a junta on August 3 in Cuzco, which demanded the complete implementation of the liberal reforms of the Spanish Constitution of 1812. After some victories in southern Peru and Upper Peru, the rebellion was quashed by mid-1815.[2]

Founding of the Peruvian Republic

José de San Martín and the Liberation Army of the South

San Martín proclaims the independency of Peru. Oil painting by Juan Lepiani.

After the quashing of the after mentioned rebellion, Viceroy of Peru organised two expeditions; conformed by the royalist regiments of Lima and Arequipa, and expeditionary elements from Europe; against the Chilean Patriots. In 1814, the first expedition was successful in reconquering Chile after winning the Battle of Rancagua. In 1817 following the royalist defeat in the Battle of Chacabuco, the second expedition against the Chilean Patriots was sent in 1818 in an attempt to restore the monarchy. Initially successful in the Second Battle of Cancha Rayada, the expedition was finally defeated by José de San Martín in the Battle of Maipú.

To begin the liberation of Peru, Argentina and Chile signed a treaty the 5 February 1819 to prepare for the invasion. General José de San Martín believed that the liberation of Argentina would not be secure until the royalist stronghold in Peru was defeated.[3]

Peruvian Campaign

Following the Battle of Maipú and the subsequent liberation of Chile, the patriots began the preparations for an amphibious assault force to liberate Peru. Originally the cost were to be assumed by both Chile and Argentina, however Chile government under Bernardo O'Higgins ended up assuming most of costs of the campaign. Nonetheless, it was determined that the land army was to be commanded by José de San Martín, whilst the navy was to be commanded by admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane.

The 21st of August 1820, an amphibious landing took place in the city of Valparaiso by the Peruvian Liberation Expedition under Chilean flag. Said expedition was compromised by 4,118 soldiers. In the 7th of September the Liberation expedition arrives to the bay of Pisco in today's Region of Ica and captures the province by the following day. In an attempt to negotiate, the viceroy of Peru sends a letter to José de San Martín the 15th of September. However, negotiations broke down in the 14th of October with no clear result.

Beginning of Hostilities

The 9th of October 1820 marks the date of the uprising of the reserve regiment of Grenadiers of Cusco, which culminates in the proclamation of the Independence of Guayaquil. In October 21, General José de San Martín creates the flag of Republic of Peru.

Actual hostilities begin with the 1st Campaign of Arenales in the Peruvian highlands led by patriot General Juan Antonio Álvarez de Arenales between the 4th of October year 1820, until the 8th of January year 1821, when he reunites with General San Martín in Huaura. During this campaign, General Arenales proclaimed the independence of the city of Huamanga (Ayacucho) in Novermber 1st 1820. This was followed by the Battle of Cerro de Pasco, were he defeated a royalist division sent by viceroy Pezuela. The rest of the liberation forces under Admiral Cochrane capture the royalist frigate Esmeralda the 9th of November 1820, dealing the royalist navy a heavy blow. Moreover, in December 2 of 1820 the royalist battalion Batallón Voltígeros de la Guardia defects to the patriot’s side. During the 8th of January 1821, the armed column of General Álvarez de Arenales reunites with the rest of the expedition in the coast.

Viceroy Pezuela is ousted and replaced by General José de la Serna in January 29 of 1821. In March 1821, and incursion led by Miller and Cochrane attack the royalist ports of Arica and Tacna. The new viceroy announces his departure from Lima in June 5, 1821, but orders a garrison to resist the patriots in the Real Felipe Fortress, leading to the First Siege of Callao. The royalist army under the command of General José de Canterac leaves Lima, and proceeds to the highlands the 25th of June 1821. General Arenales is sent by General San Martín to observe the royalist retreat. Two days after, the Liberation Expedition enter Lima. Under fear of repression and pillaging, the inhabitants of Lima plea to General San Martín to enter Lima.

Declaration of Independence of Peru

Once inside Lima, General San Martín invites all of the population of the city to swear oath to the Independence cause. The signing of the Act of Independence of Peru is held in July 15 of 1821. Manuel Pérez de Tudela, later Minister of International Relations wrote the act of Independence. Admiral Cochrane is welcomed in Lima two days later. Later, General José de San Martín announces in the Plaza Mayor of Lima the famous declaration of independence:


—José de San Martín. Lima, 28th of July of 1821

San Martín Abandons Peru

José de la Serna, moves his headquarters to Qosgo, and attempts to help the beleaguered royalist forces in Callao. He sends troops under the command of General Canterac which arrive in Lima the 10th of September 1821. He is successful in reuniting with the besieged forces of General José de La Mar, in the Fortress of Real Felipe. After learning the viceroy new orders, he leaves to the highlands again in September 16 of the same year. The republicans pursued the retreating royalists until reaching Jauja in October 1 of 1821.

Antonio José de Sucre, in Guayaquil requests help from San Martín. He complies and leads the Auxiliary Expedition of Santa Cruz to Quito. Afterwards, during the Entrevista de Guayaquil, both liberators attempted to decide the political fate of Peru. San Martín opted for a Constitutional Monarchy, whilst Simon Bolivar (Head of the Northern Expedition) opted for a Republican. Nonetheless, they both followed the notion that it was to be independent of Spain. Following the interview, General San Martin abandons Peru the 22 of September 1822 and leaves whole command of the Independence movement to Simon Bolivar.

After a row with General San Martin, Admiral Cochrane leaves Peru in May 10, 1882, being replaced by Martin Guisse as head of the navy. In April 1822, a royalist incursion defeats a Republican Army in the Battle of Ica. Afterwards, in October 1822 the republicans under General Rudecindo Alvarado experience another costly defeat at the hands of the royalist.

Simón Bolívar, the Northern Expedition, and the end of colonial era

Following the declaration of Independence, the Peruvian state was bogged down by the royalist resistance, and instability of the republic itself. Hence, whilst the coast and Northern Peru was under the command of the republic, the rest of the country was under the control of the royalists. Viceroy La Serna had established his capital in the city of Cuzco. Another campaign under General Santa Cruz against the royalist is defeated. The end of the war would only come with the military intervention of Gran Colombia. Following the self exile of San Martin, and the constant military defeats under president José de la Riva Agüero, the congress decided to send a plea in 1823 for the help of Simón Bolívar. Bolivar arrived in Lima the 10th of December 1823 with the aims of liberating all of Peru.

In 1824, an uprising in the royalist camp in Alto Peru (Modern Bolivia), would pave the way for the battles of Junin and Ayacucho. The Peruvian Army triumphed in the battle of Junin under the personal orders of Simon Bolivar, and in the battle of Ayacucho under command of General Antonio José de Sucre. The end of the battle led to the end colonialism in Latin America.Yet the war would not end until the last royalist holdouts surrendered the Real Felipe Fortress in 1826.


After the war of independence, conflicts of interests that faced different sectors of the Criollo society and the particular ambitions of individual caudillos, made the organization of the country excessively difficult. Only three civilians: Manuel Pardo, Nicolás de Piérola and Francisco García Calderón would accede to the presidency in the first seventy-five years of independent life. In 1837, the Peru-Bolivian Confederation was created but, it was dissolved two years later due to a combined military intervention of Peruvian patriots and the Chilean military.

See also


  1. Lynch, John (1986). The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826 (2 ed.). London: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 164–165. ISBN 0-393-95537-0. 
  2. Lynch, Spanish American Revolutions, 165-170.
  3. "Aniversario de la Proclamacion de la Independencia del Perú" (in Spanish) (pdf). Retrieved 2013-03-21. 

External links

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