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The section covers the South American Wars of Liberation fought between 1808 and 1830. These are the wars of the great Liberators Bolivar and San Martin who engaged in a series of conflicts that liberated South America from Spanish colonial rule.

These wars were a complex mix of patriotism and idealism mixed with race, class and regional identities. Not solely liberation from Spain, but between liberals and conservatives over what shape South America should take. All mixed with the usual power politics and of course money.

There were two main theatres of operations. The north including Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador; the south including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay. Brazil was a Portuguese colony. Linking the northern and southern theatres was Peru, the Royalist power base.

We have concentrated on the southern campaigns of the Patriot General Jose de San Martin. He used his Argentinean base to liberate Chile in a campaign that started in January 1817 and finished in May 1818 following the Battle of Maipo. This gave San Martin control of Chile and opened up the route to Peru.

For more information on these wars the following are recommended:

 Royalist Lancers - 28mm figures from Front Rank 

Liberators by Robert Harvey is the best military history covering all the campaigns. Essential reading.

Simon Bolivar: A Life by John Lynch is a good biography of the most famous liberator. Stronger on the the politics than the military campaigns.

For background reading only:

Born in Blood and Fire - John Chasteen. This is a concise history of Latin America.

Colonial Latin America - Mark Burkholder. Detailed primarily social and economic history.

Spanish Seaborne Empire - J.Parry. Good overview with more emphasis on the Spanish perspective.

Cazadores De Los Andes                                            Chile Grenadiers                    Don Carlos Regt.

Wargaming the South American Wars

Other than Liberators these are essential reading.

Liberators: Napoleonic Wargaming in South America by John Fletcher. This book together with the recent supplement give an overview of the campaigns in the south together with uniform details and scenarios. It can be purchased in the UK from Principles of War. There is a web site linked to the booklets run by the author with further information and a yahoo group.

The Armies of Bolivar and San Martin - Osprey MAA 232 by Terry Hooker. Short history together with the usual excellent colour plates.

There is not a great deal on the web. But an essential stop is:

Regimientos de America - Excellent resource with uniform details, models and history.

There are no wargame figures designed solely for these wars. However, all is not lost. Most of the regular and militia units had typical Napoleonic uniforms of the period and these can be adapted from those ranges. Most of my 28mm figures come from the Front Rank and Perry Miniatures ranges. The biggest gap is Gaucho and Llanero figures. The Gauchos on the right are converted from the Front Rank range. Spanish period buildings can be used and my preference is for the Grand Manner range.

To date I have collected two armies:

The Patriot Army of the Andes led by San Martin.

and their Royalist opponents.

(These armies are available for sale. Contact the Editor)

These armies were in action as the GDWS display game of the Battle of Maipo at the Falkirk Cannonade wargames show on Saturday 12 May 2007.

This was followed by the Battle of Chacabuco 1817 displayed at the Phalanx and Claymore shows in 2007. The armies were featured in the August 2007 edition of Wargames Illustrated.


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Copyright 2005 Balkan Military History
Last modified: 01/23/12