Ecuadorian War of Independence
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|Ecuadorian War of Independence|
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The Battle of Camino Real, November 9, 1820
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|Commanders and leaders|
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The Ecuadorian War of Independence was fought from 1820 to 1822 between several South American armies and
The military campaign for the independence of the territory now known as Ecuador from Spanish rule could be said to have begun after nearly three hundred years of Spanish colonization. Ecuador's capital
Then on October 9, 1820, the port-city of
By that time, the tide of the wars of independence in
The news of the proclamation of independence of Guayaquil spread rapidly to other cities in the Presidencia, and several towns followed the example in quick succession.
The military unit raised and financed in Guayaquil was given the name of Division Protectora de Quito ("Division for the Protection of Quito"). Its immediate purpose was to advance on the cities of
The Division, under the command of Colonels Luis Urdaneta and León Febres-Cordero, both of the ringleaders of the revolt in Guayaquil, began its advance out of the coastal plain towards the highlands, and by November 7, was ready to begin its march up the Andes mountains. The first clash with a
News of the presence of the patriot army in Guaranda had the intended effect: most of the towns in the highlands went on to proclaim their independence in quick succession,
But the hopes turned out to be premature and short-lived. Field-Marshal
Soon, an army of around 5,000 troops, under the command of veteran Spanish Colonel Francisco González, was dispatched south to deal with the 2,000-strong patriot army, stationed in Ambato. In the Battle of Huachi, on November 22, 1820, the Royalist army inflicted a severe defeat on Urdaneta's force, which had to fall back, badly mauled, to
Disaster struck the patriots. The Spanish army continued its advance south, towards Cuenca, retaking all major towns along the way. On December 20, 1820, after the defenders of the city were defeated at the Battle of Verdeloma, Cuenca was retaken by the Royalist army.
The authorities in Guayaquil, who on November 11, 1820, had issued a decree creating the Provincia Libre de Guayaquil (Free Province of Guayaquil), desperately organized a ragtag detachment with the survivors of Huachi plus some reinforcements (300 men altogether, including some 50 cavalry), ordering it to make a final stand at Babahoyo. As the Royalist army did not seem to be particularly inclined to come down to the plains to meet them, the patriots sent some guerrilla bands back into the highlands, which were finally ambushed and massacred on January 4, 1821 at the Battle of Tanizagua. The guerrillas' commanding officer, Spanish-born Colonel Gabriel García Gomez, taken prisoner after the battle, was executed by a firing squad and decapitated, his head sent to Quito to be displayed before the population. Thus, amid total military failure and a number of Royalist reprisals on the civilian population of the highlands cities, the attempt of the Junta de Guayaquil to carry out the independence of the Presidencia de Quito came to an end.
And yet, not all was lost: help was on the way. By February 1821, the foreign aid requested by the Junta de Guayaquil back in October finally materialized in the form of Irish-born independentist General
Joseph Mires, sent by General
By July 1821, Sucre had almost finished deploying the Army around Babahoyo, ready to advance on the highlands as soon as the weather allowed. Aymerich acted to preempt the patriot plans with a two-pincer movement: he would lead his Army from Guaranda down to Babahoyo, while Colonel González, coming from the southern highlands down to Yaguachi, would attack his flank. Sucre, privy to Aymerich's intentions (thanks to a well-developed espionage network), sent Mires to deal with González. The encounter, which ended up destroying Gonzalez's force, took place near the town of Cone, on August 19, 1821. Upon hearing the news, Aymerich retraced his steps and headed back to the highlands. Sucre advanced on to the highlands, his main force occupying Guaranda on September 2, 1821. Aymerich moved to block any further progress, and in the Second Battle of Huachi, which took place on September 12, 1821, annihilated Sucre's infantry. The patriot forces lost 800 men, mostly killed, plus 50 prisoners, among them General Mires. As Second Huachi had also taken a heavy toll on the Royalists, Aymerich decided against exploiting his victory with an advance on the coastal plains. On November 19, 1821, a 90-day armistice was signed at Babahoyo, putting an end to Sucre's ill-fated first attempt to liberate