Arms for Revolutions: Military Demobilization after the Napoleonic Wars and Latin American Independence

  • Rafe Blaufarb
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


By the end of 1815, the Latin American independence movement was stalled. In New Spain (Mexico) the creole elites, who elsewhere led the movement, had been frightened by the spectre of social upheaval into supporting the royalist cause. The last major Mexican insurgent leader, Morelos, was executed in December 1815. His army disintegrated. On the Costa Firme, infighting and an effective, homegrown royalist military response hindered the insurgents’ ability to resist the expedition of Spanish General Morillo when it arrived in mid-1815. Composed of over 10,000 veterans of the Peninsular campaign, it overwhelmed the insurgents. Their last bastion, Cartagena, surrendered on 6 December 1815. Only a few insurgents escaped, fleeing by boat to Jamaica or Haiti. Six months later, Morillo took Bogotá, the last major city in insurgent hands, which in turn prompted Quito to surrender. Only in Buenos Aires did independence seem secure. Yet, even there, all was not well. Repeated attempts by Buenos Aires to invade Peru, the centre of royalist power in South America, failed. In Buenos Aires itself, factionalism produced instability. At the same time, the provinces chafed at the city’s centralizing ambitions. Trouble was also brewing across the River Plate, in the Banda Oriental (Uruguay), where a local independence movement was confronting Buenos Aires, Spain, and Portugal. The troops of the last-named power occupied the area in August 1816, probably with Argentine complicity.


Slave Trade Purchasing Agent Privy Council Independence Movement Foreign Legionary 
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© Rafe Blaufarb 2016

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  • Rafe Blaufarb

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