The expeditionary force and campaigns
In 1815, Spain sent to its most seditious colonies the strongest expeditionary force that it had ever sent to the Americas. Colonel Pablo Morillo, a veteran of the Spanish struggle against the French, was chosen as its commander. The expeditionary force was made up of approximately 10,000 men and nearly 60 ships. Originally, they were to head for Montevideo in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, but soon it was decided to send these forces to the Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama) and Venezuela.
Leaving the port of Cádiz on February 17, 1815, the force initially landed at Carupano and the island of Margarita in April, where no resistance was encountered. After leaving the island, Morillo's troops reinforced existing royalist forces in the Venezuelan mainland, entering Cumaná and Caracas in May. A small part of the main corps set off towards Panamá, while the main contingent was directed from Puerto Cabello towards the Neogranadine coastal city of Santa Marta which was still in royalist hands.
After picking up supplies and militia volunteers in Santa Marta on July 23, the Spanish expeditionary forces besieged Cartagena. After a five-month siege the fortified city fell on December 1815. By 1816, the combined efforts of Spanish and colonial forces, marching south from Cartagena and north from royalist strongholds in Quito, Pasto, and Popayán, completed the reconquest of New Granada, taking Bogotá on May 6, 1816. A permanent consejo de guerra was set up to judge those accused of treason and rebellion, resulting in the execution of more than a hundred notable republican officials, including Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Francisco José de Caldas and
José María Cabal. Units of the republican armies of New Granada were incorporated into the royalist army and sent to Peru.