Bolivar returns to New Granada
Cartagena with Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
Bolivar and Marino, without touching anywhere on the way, landed at Cartagena on the 25 th September 1814. Castillo, the bitter enemy of the former, was soon busy representing that to Bolivar alone was due the loss of Venezuela to the republican cause. The Liberator's justification of his own conduct is contained in a manifesto of the 30th September, which has already been referred to. Bolivar very soon left Cartagena to go up the Magdalena and, via Ocana, to Tunja, where the Congress of New Granada was in session. When he got to Ocana he heard of the presence at Cikuta of Urdaneta, and that his Venezuelan troops were quarrelling with the Granadians. Turning aside to stop this friction, he heard at Salazar that the story was exaggerated, and, therefore, continued his journey to Tunja.
Urdaneta had been at Barquisemeto when the news of La Puerta and the other disasters reached him. Entirely cut off by the intervening Spaniards from Bolivar and the east, having only three Venezuelan battalions and a squadron of cavalry, and recognising that the republic had for the time being collapsed, Urdaneta decided to fall back on New Granada. Arriving at Trujillo, he reported his situation to the Congress at Tunja. In reply, he was taken under the protection of New Granada, and directed to march to Tunja. Bolivar joined him at Pamplona, and was cheered by an enthusiastic reception by officers and men alike, notwithstanding that he had reproached the force with its indiscipline and insubordination.
At New Granadian conress at Tunja
- Commissioned to retake Bogota from rebel
On arrival at Tunja, Bolivar was cordially received by Camilo Torres, then President of the Congress. He insisted on appearing at the bar of the Congress to submit an explanation of his proceedings. The assembly was pleased to express loudly its approval, and Bolivar was at once commissioned to reduce to order Santa Fe (Bogota), which had separated itself from the Union and set up as an independent State, under the Dictatorship of M. B. Alvarez. Manuel Bernardo Alvarez, born in Bogota in 1750, was a member of the Cabildo at the outbreak of the revolution in 1810. He was an opponent of Narino, after whose capture in Pasto he became Dictator of Cundinamarca. He was shot at Bogota in September 1816 by Morillo.
Marching from Tunja, Bolivar arrived before Bogota with 1800 men. In the city were Alvarez the Dictator and J. R. Leiva, a Spanish general in the service of the recalcitrant State. They had called in the aid of the Spaniards, and were supported by the influence of the clergy. The archbishop went so far as to excommunicate Bolivar as an enemy of religion.
That general was, on the 8th December 1814, camped at the farm of Techo, some four miles from Bogota. Thence he wrote to Alvarez that he (Bolivar) was destined to be the Liberator, not the conqueror, of oppressed peoples. He desired union, and demanded the surrender of Alvarez and his State to the government of Tunja. He promised security of life and property, but Alvarez refused to yield.
Bolivar attacks Bogota -
Alvarez surrends the city to the national government
- returns to Tunja
Attack on the Spaniards at Santa Marta,
Bolivar, reconnoitring the city, was fired upon by artillery. He at once brought up his forces and commenced the attack of the city, which was not walled. On the third day of street fighting, Alvarez found himself driven back to the great square, and very short of water. He begged for an armistice, and negotiations were at once commenced for a capitulation. On the 12th December 1814, Alvarez surrendered the city to the national government. The news was received with delight at Tunja, and Bolivar was appointed Captain- General of the forces of the Confederation. The loss in the fighting had not been great, some 300 men on Alvarez's side, and less on Bolivar's. Having settled affairs in Bogota, Bolivar returned to Tunja to arrange plans with the government for further operations. His proposal, which was accepted, was for an attack on the Spaniards at Santa Marta, on the north coast, which they still held in force. Thence a fresh advance east- wards could be organised against Rio Hacha, and later, against the Maracaibo province of Venezuela. Bolivar was clearly aiming at a repetition of his exploits of 1813. He had already indicated his views in his farewell to Venezuela at Carupano.
In the meanwhile, Urdaneta was to be sent to Cucuta with a division, to pacify that neighbourhood, and to be ready to support the advance against north-western Venezuela. Yet another detachment was sent southwards across the upper Magdalena, to Popayan in the upper valley of the Cauca, which was threatened by royalist attacks from the Quito direction. This expedition, which would have to cross the high passes of the Central Cordilleras, was commanded by Serviez (Manuel de Serviez, a Frenchman, after serving in the British and Russian armies, went to New Granada, where he played a part in Narino's civil war in 1813. In 18 16 he served in Casanare and under Paez. He was murdered in that year by robbers for the sake of $6000 which he had.) and Montufar.
Having arranged all this, Bolivar returned once more to Bogota, which he reached on the 1st January 1815, to prepare his column for the march on Santa Marta. On the same date Congress decided to transfer itself from Tunja to Bogota, and adjourn till the 23rd for that purpose. On the 13th, the President, the members of the Congress, and the chief officials were received in state outside Bogota by Bolivar, the Archbishop, the Cabildo, and others. Bolivar made a long speech, and was followed by others. The Representative Body of Cundinamarca did not separate till it had decreed to Bolivar the title of " Illustrious and Religious Pacificator." The second adjective was perhaps meant as an apology for his recent excommunication.
For the expedition against Santa Marta, the only
stronghold of the royalists now remaining on the Atlantic coast of New Granada, Bolivar had 2000 men, amongst whom was only one squadron of cavalry. Arms and ammunition are said to have been deficient, though it might be thought that enough would have been found in Bogota.
Intrigues with Castillo
Castillo, whom Bolivar knew to be intriguing against him at Cartagena, was still a thorn in his side. In order to get rid of this enemy from the scene of operations, Bolivar proposed to appoint him to a seat on the Supreme Council of War at Bogota, where he would be out of the way, and deprived of the local influence which he enjoyed at Cartagena. This being agreed to, Bolivar marched from Bogota, on the 24th January 1815, for Honda, the town on the Magdalena where the upper and lower rivers are separated by a mile of rapids.
In saying that Santa Marta was the last Spanish stronghold in the north of Colombia, it must be remembered that, besides the fortress, the royalists still held the province of that name down to Ocana, which they had just recovered from the republicans. Bolivar now once more drove them from it with heavy loss. Thence he proceeded to Mompox, which was commanded by his friends, the brothers Pineres.
All was going well when Bolivar found that Castillo, too wary a bird to be taken with the bait of honourable exile at Bogota, had refused his appointment to the Council of War there. It is certain that he had established himself as the principal power in Cartagena, the governor, Juan de Dios Amador, was his ally, and, though to some extent unpopular owing to his arbitrary conduct, Castillo had a large following, and held all the military power of the fortress.
The fact that the old enmity of 1813 between the two men was still as vigorous as ever is perhaps sufficient for our purpose. Castillo, determined not to have Bolivar at Cartagena, issued orders to oppose his march. During Bolivar's stay at Mompox, negotiations for a settlement with Castillo were carried on through the medium of Marimon, an ecclesiastic sent for the purpose from Cartagena. Nothing came of them, and Bolivar descended the Magdalena to Barranca, whence he again opened negotiations. Finding that Castillo was trying to suborn his troops, he marched to Turbaco, in the hills, a few miles from Cartagena. Thence he sent another emissary, Tomas Montilla, whose brother Mariano happened at the time to be military commandant of the fortress. He was not received at all, and some of Bolivar's friends in Cartagena were imprisoned when they demanded passports to go to him.
Relations with Castillo worsen
- Bolivar marches on Cartagena
- Spanish General Morillo arrives with large force
General Captain Pablo Morillo
Thus the relations between the two leaders grew worse and worse, until Bolivar finally decided to appear before Cartagena with his troops. On the 27th March 1815 he seized the hill of La Popa, an elevation within cannon shot, even in those days, of the fortress. It rises some 500 feet above the plain, and commands, from the monastery on its summit, the whole town and the fort of San Felipe (or San Lazaro), from which Admiral Vernon's attack was so disastrously beaten off in 1741. La Popa had a very deep well as its only source of water supply, and so bitter were the feelings against Bolivar in Cartagena that the garrison, unable to hold the hill themselves, poisoned the well by throwing rotten hides into it. That Bolivar should dare to sit down to blockade what was considered the strongest fortress on the north coast of South America, with a large garrison in it, certainly seems to show that his complaints of want of means to attack a place in the precarious state of Santa Marta were not founded.
The only thing in favour of the story is Ducoudray-Holstein's statement that Bolivar had only one small gun to mount on La Popa. From the Popa there were more negotiations with Marimon, into the details of which it is useless to enter. They dragged on without result till the 22nd April, when Marimon wrote that General Morillo, with a large army from Europe, was already in Venezuela. King Ferdinand VII of Spain appointed him Expedition Commander and General Captain of the Provinces of Venezuela on August 14, 1814. He set sail with a fleet of 18 warships and 42 cargo ships and disembarked in Carupano and Isla Margarita with the mission to pacify the revolts against the Spanish monarchy in the American colonies. About this time, too, Montalvo, the Spanish Viceroy at Santa Marta, sent offers to the Cartagenians of assistance against Bolivar. These they had the decency to refuse. Even the bitterness of civil war was not sufficient to induce one party to call in the common enemy to help in the destruction of the other.
Bolivar leaves for Jamaica
By the 29th April, the Spaniards had reconquered the Magdalena from Mompox to its mouth, and Bolivar was cut off from communication with Bogota- Then, at last, he gave way. Assembling a council of war, he explained that his own departure was an absolute necessity, if the situation was to be saved at all. The council agreed to this, provided they themselves, and any other officers who so desired, should be allowed to resign and leave the country. On the 8th, Bolivar embarked on the British brigantine Discovery,"sailing next day for Jamaica. Before sailing, Bolivar addressed his soldiers, explaining his motives. Advising his Venezuelans to go home, and his Granadian soldiers to conquer for their country, he laments the fate which compels him to resign the command, in order to save the army from destruction. He writes in a tone of deep despondency, saying that he is fated to have to leave his country and to die in inaction abroad. His own existence, he said, and that of the army being incompatible, he had preferred the army.
No sooner was Ferdinand VII. back on his throne at Madrid, on the 13th May 1814, than he began to think of measures for the suppression of the revolted American colonies.
Description of the large force
sent by Ferdinand VII
Spanish soldier of the era
The expedition now equipped by Ferdinand was the largest and most complete which Spain had been able to send. It consisted of 6 regiments of infantry, 2 of cavalry, and 18 guns, altogether 10,642 men, fully equipped in every way, including a siege train. The naval squadron, which carried and convoyed it, included 1 line of battleship of 74 guns, 3 frigates, 40 smaller ships of war, and 60 or 70 transports. To the chief command was appointed Don Pablo Morillo, who sailed, in the middle of February 1815, from Cadiz, as if for Buenos Aires, carrying sealed orders, to be opened off the Canary Islands. They were found to direct the fleet to Venezuela, which colony Morillo was to reduce to order. Having done that, he was to reconquer New Granada, then to march south, and, joined by the Quito royalists, under Montes, to carry the triumphant banners of Spain to Peru, and finally to Buenos Aires. Truly an immense and, as it turned out, impossible task.
Morillo takes Margarita island
On the 3rd April 181 5, the fleet reached Puerto Santo, near Carupano. Morillo decided that the first thing to be done was to subdue the island of Margarita,whose warlike inhabitants had kept the flag of liberty flying when it had been beaten to the ground on the main- land. At Carupano Morillo found Morales, now master of the eastern provinces, in command of 5000 men, ready to proceed to Margarita. When the expedition landed there, the islanders saw that it was too strong to be resisted, and Arismendi, who commanded there for the republicans, submitted, with practically the whole of the island. Not so Bermudez, who succeeded in sailing with a single ship through the midst of the Spanish fleet, and, making a long circuit by Martinique and St Thomas, eventually arrived safely at Cartagena.
Morillo himself landed at Asuncion in Margarita on the 9th April. That general, like so many of the Spanish commanders in South America, was of humble origin. Originally a sergeant of marines, he had served on shore under Wellington, and quickly risen to the rank of brigadier-general, which he held when Ferdinand returned to Spain. He was one of the first to salute the restored monarch, which fact is said to have gained him his appointment, one beyond his very mediocre talents. His second in command and chief of the staff was Don Pascual Enrile, a Cuban of good family, whom Morillo called the " terror of evil doers," but of whom Boves had said that he " exceeded in barbarity and cruelty." The latter character was truly remarkable, looking to the source from which it came.
Morillo takes Caracas
Leaving garrisons in Margarita and Cumana, Morillo left for Caracas, where he arrived on the 1 ith May, and took over charge of the office of Captain-General from Cajigal, who became commander of the army. One of Morillo's first operations was to raise a forced loan of 200,000 " pesos," to replace the military chest which had been lost by the burning of the " San Pedro." In Caracas, he and his men acted in a very overbearing fashion. Many leading Creoles were arrested, private property was confiscated, the inhabitants were treated with entire lack of consideration in billeting soldiers on them, and cattle were taken without payment for the expedition to Cartagena. On the 17th May, Morillo issued a proclamation, informing the Granadians that he would soon be in their midst with an avenging army.
Begins expedition to Cartagena
On the 1st June, the expedition left Caracas, consisting of 8500 men, led by Morillo and Enrile, and accompanied by two Inquisitors, who were to reopen the Holy Office at Cartagena.The fleet of 56 ships, sailing from Puerto Cabello on the 1 2th July, reached Santa Marta on the 23rd and 24th. Morillo despatched thence two columns to operate by land. The first was to clear the lower Magdalena, to reinforce Mompox, and to occupy Ocafia on the east bank, and the province of Antioquia on the west. The second, under Morales, was the vanguard of the force for the siege of Cartagena. By the 15 th August, Morales, after marching through a devastated country, crossed the Magdalena above Soledad and advanced on Turbaco, sweeping in all the resources in grain and cattle of the country to the south of Carta- gena. Morillo, leaving Santa Marta on the 17th August, landed unopposed with the main body not far from the fortress on the 22nd and 23 rd.
Siege of Cartagena
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas .
The fortress was begun in 1536.
It was significantly expanded in 1657.
Morillo's troops, however, were also suffering severely. Disease spread rapidly amongst the European troops, unseasoned to the trying climate of the neighbourhood, and they suffered constant loss in the frequent skirmishes which occurred. The defence was carried on with equal vigour by the gunboats in the outer harbour, and it was only after suffering considerable loss that the Spanish warships succeeded in entering it.By November the famine in the fortress was intense. All ordinary food had run out, and the wretched people were living on limited rations of horse-flesh, dogs, cats, and rats. A certain amount of food was procured by fishing in the harbour along the shore of the Tierra Bomba, the island lying between the obstructed channel of the Boca Grande and the forts of Boca Chica com- manding the open entrance of the harbour, seven or eight miles south of the city. This source of supply Morillo determined to cut off by occupying Tierra Bomba. In order to divert attention, he proposed to attack the hill of La Popa, half a mile inland from the harbour. In Bolivar's siege this height had been held by the besieger, though, as he had practically no artillery, he could do little or no harm from it to the fortress. Against Morillo's artillery it was absolutely necessary for the garrison to hold La Popa, from the top of which the whole fortress was commanded.
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, Colombia
On the 9th November, two deserters brought to Morillo the fullest information as to the defences of La Popa, and the attack was fixed for the night of the 10th. In the darkness the stormers arrived unperceived within 200 paces of the ditch of the defenders' works on the summit. Then a sentry gave the alarm. Though the surprise had failed, the Spanish column pushed bravely on up the steep hill ; two men had actually reached the ditch when, the commander being shot down, the rest retired in disorder, after losing a third of their number. At the same time, an attack by the Spanish gunboats on those of the defenders in the bay had been repulsed.
Another attack was driven off on the 12th, and the besiegers' gunboats were compelled to run close into the shore to seek protection from their infantry. On the 13th, Morales succeeded in landing on Tierra Bomba, which stopped the fishing. He was master of the outer harbour, but was repulsed in an attempt to storm the now isolated forts of Boca Chica.
Starvation of the soldiers and citizens
By the end of November, the sufferings of the inhabitants were so fearful that the civil population were urged to leave the fortress. A few hundreds, mostly women and children, got out, only to die for the most part of starvation.The garrison, reduced almost to a shadow, looked in vain for a ship bringing relief. Sentries actually died of starvation on their posts ; resistance was no longer possible. Morillo's men, the Europeans at least, were almost as badly off, owing to the ravages of disease, and the general called on the governor to surrender, throwing himself and his men on the mercy of the king. Other-wise, Morillo threatened to send back the starving wretches whose misery alone had induced him to forgo his right to prevent their exit.
But the governor, though determined not to surrender, now realised that further resistance was hopeless, and was preparing to evacuate the place by sea. On the 5th December, the guns were spiked as well as was possible, and the garrison, with about 2000 of the inhabitants, assembled on the edge of the harbour ready to embark. The last post to be abandoned was La Popa.
To carry this multitude there were but sixteen small ships, badly provisioned, and ill equipped for sea. Under cover of night the flotilla succeeded in running the gauntlet of the fire of the enemy's gunboats and shore batteries, and reached without very heavy loss the Boca Chica, where they anchored in safety under protection of the guns of the forts. Having taken in a supply of water and embarked the garrisons of the forts, the ships sailed the same night.
Execution of Castillo
Morillo, becoming aware of the evacuation on the 6th December, entered the fortress. In his official account of what he saw he writes — " The city presented the most horrible spectacle, the streets were strewn with un- buried corpses, which polluted the air, and the greater part of the inhabitants were actually dying of hunger." O'Leary states that Morillo and his men behaved with the greatest humanity to these starving creatures. The soldiers divided their own rations with them, whilst Morillo took all possible measures to relieve their sufferings. Not so Morales and his troops, mostly Venezuelans, who freely indulged their lust for blood by indiscriminate massacres. That commander, on occupying the Boca Chica forts, found in them three officers and sixty soldiers who had been unable to embark with the other fugitives. Every one of them was brutally murdered. Among those who were shot or hanged was Bolivar's enemy Castillo, the ex-governor of Cartagena .
Movements of Morillo in subjugating New Granada
As soon as he had occupied Cartagena,Morillo sent Colonel La Torre southwards with a strong column. He was to be joined on the way by Calzada, already arrived in New Granada from Barinas. Meanwhile, in Bogota things had not been going smoothly. There had been two reactionary plots, in one of which it had been sought to implicate Torices (formerly of Cartagena). He was honourably acquitted. The people, generally alarmed at the impending danger when Cartagena should fall, would give little assistance to the government's schemes for resistance. The Congress was busy talking of reforms, whilst the Spaniards were losing no time in following up their success at Cartagena.
Calzada, after suffering a slight check, had defeated Urdaneta at Chitaga, in the province of Trujillo, on the 30th November 1815. He had occupied Cucuta and Pamplona, and presently moved towards Ocana to meet La Torre. On the Paramo of Cachiri he attacked 3000 republicans, mostly recruits, on the 2 1st February 1816. Thanks largely to the " Numancia " battalion of Venezuelans, Calzada gained, in the second day's battle, a complete victory, which was followed by the usual massacres. One Spanish colonel is said to have boasted that he had, with his own hand, killed so many rebels that his right arm was useless for several days. The force destroyed at Cachiri was practically all the Bogota government had to oppose to the Spanish advance. Had Calzada advanced at once, he could have conquered Bogota there and then. But he had to wait for La Torre.
In Bogota, J. F. Madrid now succeeded Torres as President. He found himself with very little influence in the panic-stricken capital, and was abandoned by the troops under Serviez, who, with many of the country people, sought safety on the plains of Casanare. Madrid then retired with his personal guard to Popayan, leaving Bogota to its fate.
España no necesita sabios
"Spain does not need wise people."
Francisco José de Caldas
On the 5 th May, La Torre was in Bogota. A few days earlier he had issued promises of amnesty to all who should submit and swear fidelity to Ferdinand VII. When Morillo arrived, on the 26th May, he disallowed the amnesty. Those leaders who had remained at home on the strength of it were arrested, tried by court-martial, and hanged or shot. Amongst them, as already noted, were Torres, Torices, Camacho, Montufar, and others, including Francisco José de Caldas, a well-known scientist. When Morillo ordered the execution of the scientist Francisco José de Caldas (known as El Sabio Caldas, "Wise Caldas") and the people present at San Francisco Square of Santa Fe appealed for the life of the scientist, Morillo responded: "Spain does not need wise people." (Spanish:"España no necesita sabios").his sentence became the slogan of Spain's wars for the re-conquest of the rebel colonies.
Morillo stayed at Bogota till November 1816, when events in Venezuela, to be presently recounted, recalled him to that province. He left in command of 3800 men at Bogota General Samano, whom he later appointed Viceroy of New Granada, in place of Montalvo, whose methods were, he thought, too mild. Samano was a real savage, who deluged Bogota in blood. His troops were principally Venezuelans and Pastusos.
Amongst Samano's victims was a girl named Policarpa Salavarrieta. Her lover, a republican like herself, had been compelled to serve in the Spanish ranks. It is not denied that the girl plotted the desertion of her lover and others, and prepared supplies for their flight to join the republican bands in Casanare. They were arrested, and Polycarpa's letters, found on the lover, implicated her. The two lovers, with six companions, were shot in the back at Bogota on the 17th November 1817. Just before her death, the girl exclaimed, "My blood will very soon be avenged by the liberators of my country " This horrible case has attained the greatest celebrity in Colombia, where the story of the martyred heroine is a prime favourite of poets.
BOLIVAR IN JAMAICA,
Itis time to return to Bolivar, whom we last saw sailing from Cartagena on the 9th May, in the deepest despair. Arriving at Kingston, he sought help from the Duke of Manchester, then Governor of Jamaica, for the relief of Cartagena. The Duke, naturally, could not assist in the rebellion of his colonies against a sovereign with whom Great Britain was at peace. He seems, however, to have sympathised with the exile, and to have treated him with civility. Speaking of Bolivar on one occasion, and alluding to the fiery nature of the Venezuelan and his weak physique, the Duke remarked that, " the flame has absorbed the oil." Failing with the English authorities, Bolivar found little sympathy amongst the foreigners in the island, to whom he applied to aid him in his scheme for an attack on Venezuela whilst Morillo was busy at Cartagena.
As time passed in Jamaica, Bolivar realised the impossibility of organising an expedition there. It is true that the difficulty of ships and arms was to a certain extent got over by the generous offers of assistance made by Luis Brion .
This devoted adherent of the Venezuelan cause was born in 1782 in the island of Curacao, the son of a wealthy Dutch merchant, a native of Brabant. Luis had been sent to Holland to be educated. He voluntarily enlisted in the Dutch army, and served gallantly at the time of the Anglo-Russian descent on Holland in 1799. He was then sent back to Curasao, and, after some years spent in travel and trade, he returned there, with the large fortune which his father had left him much augmented by his own trading ventures. This was in 1804. In the following year he made a brave attempt to beat off the English landing in Curasao. Then he went to La Guaira and Caracas, where, amongst others, he met young Mariano Montilla, whose fortunes he pushed. When the revolution began, he joined the independents, and was appointed captain of a frigate in 1 8 1 1 . Thereafter, he devoted the whole of his large fortune to the cause which he had adopted.
Bolivar narrowly escapes assassination
When Bolivar was in Jamaica, Brion was at Aux Cayes, in Haiti, raising means for the relief of Cartagena, and Ducoudray-Holstein asserts that Brion actually supplied the place with a considerable amount of arms and provisions during Morillo's siege. On the 9th December 1815, Bolivar narrowly escaped assassination. A negro servant, at whose instigation is uncertain, entered his chamber at night, and stabbed to death the occupant of Bolivar's hammock. Fortunately for the Liberator, he was away in new lodgings at the moment, and the man in the hammock was Felix Amestoy, one of his officers. The murderer was duly captured, tried, and hanged. Larrazabal * snatches at a story that he was instigated by Moxo, the governor of Caracas, but O'Leary says the story was that Morillo was at the bottom of the affair. O'Leary, however, who was personally acquainted with Morillo in later years when the war was over, held him in esteem, and declines to believe him capable of such an action.
Bolivar goes to Haiti
and gets aid
Shortly after this escape, Bolivar sailed from Kingston. According to Larrazabal, he was bound for Aux Cayes to join Brion. Ducoudray-Holstein, on the other hand, says he was on his way to Cartagena to supersede Bermudez, at the request of Ducoudray himself. However this may be, both agree that, on the way, he met a Colombian privateer who informed him of the evacuation of Cartagena, whereupon he made for Aux Cayes, whither also the fugitives of Cartagena were bound. From Aux Cayes he proceeded to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, where at that time Alexandre Petion was President of Haiti. To him Bolivar was introduced by- Sir R. Sutherland, and found in the mulatto President an excellent friend, who gave him substantial assistance in the matter of arms and ammunition. Petion had to take precautions against this assistance embroiling him with Spain. On the 1 6th January 1 8 1 6, there arrived at Aux Cayes the remains of the party of fugitives from Cartagena. Immediately they got to sea after the evacuation, their ships were dispersed by a storm, some being lost or driven ashore on the coast between Cartagena and Puerto Bello. Amongst those who, at last, reached Aux Cayes were some notable enemies of Bolivar, especially Mariano Montilla, Bermudez, Aury, and Ducoudray - Holstein, though the latter professes to have been well disposed at the time towards Bolivar. On the other hand, Marino, Zea, Piar, and Brion were friendly, and tried to keep the peace. There was plenty of wrangling and squabbling. Mariano Montilla went so far as to challenge Bolivar to a duel, whilst Bermudez openly charged him with cowardice and incapacity.
Bolivar chosen as leader of expedition
Bolivar now summoned a meeting of all the exiled chiefs to consider the question of the proposed expedition to Venezuela. At this meeting Brion proposed the election of Bolivar to the chief command, provisionally at least, until the assembly of a larger number of leaders in Venezuela should enable a supreme chief to be chosen by a more general vote. Brion's proposal was supported by Marimon, Zea, and Duran, whilst Aury (commander of the ships), Montilla, and Bermudez strongly opposed it, proposing instead to entrust the command to a commission of three or five. In the end Aury yielded, whilst Bermudez and Montilla were turned out as irreconcilables. Bolivar was then elected unanimously. Marino became chief of the staff, with Ducoudray-Holstein as assistant ; Brion was appointed admiral, and Zea Intendant. The expedition consisted of six schooners and a sloop, with only about 250 soldiers, chiefly officers, though the ships carried arms and ammunition for 6000, the rest of whom were expected to join in Venezuela. The expedition was almost broken up at the last moment, for Aury put in a claim for the expenses of his ship, the " Constitution," and there was no money to meet it. Moreover, Aury, Bermudez, and Montilla tried to divert part of the expedition to Mexico. Petion again came to Bolivar's assistance, not only by guaranteeing the sum due, but also by refusing to recognise the Mexican scheme, or to acknowledge any leaders but Bolivar and Marimon. Aury and Montilla thereupon left the patriots, and Bermudez was refused permission to go with them. For all his services, Petion demanded of Bolivar a promise, which was given, that the freedom of all slaves in Venezuela should be decreed as soon as the Liberator landed there.
Expedition leaves March 31, 1816
The fleet sailed, at last, on the 31st March 18 16. In the " Bolivar " were Bolivar himself, Brion, and the staff. In the " Marino " were Marino, Piar, and MacGregor, a Scotch adventurer. Bolivar's orders were to sail for the island of Margarita. In that island the moderate Spanish governor, Herraiz, left there by Morillo, had been succeeded by Urreiztieta, a man of a harsher stamp. One of his first measures was to try and do away with Arismendi, who, it will be remembered, had surrendered with the rest of the islanders . We now return to Bolivar, whose fleet, after a very- slow voyage, only reached the Testigos islands on the 1st May. Next day the squadron came upon some Spanish warships, which it attacked. The brigantine " Intrepido " was captured by boarding, as well as a schooner, the " Rita." x Two other ships escaped.
Lands on Margarita Island -
declared Supreme Chief of the Republic
On the 7th May, Bolivar assembled, at Villa del Norte, the principal inhabitants of Margarita, and all the commanders. Addressing them, he said that it was necessary to appoint as commander the man in whom they had most confidence. Having his team now well in hand, he went on to deprecate his own appointment, which, perhaps, he would not have dared had Aury, Montilla, and Bermudez been still present. He was, as he clearly desired, elected unanimously " Supreme Chief of the Republic." On the following day, he issued a proclamation 2 in which he authorised the cities to nominate deputies to the Congress, with the same powers as they had enjoyed under the former republic, which had been wiped out by Boves and Morales. Moreover, he announced to the Spaniards in Venezuela the termination of war to the death on his part, provided they did likewise. It can hardly be doubted that, almost from the first, he had regretted his barbarous proclamation of Trujillo. To this Moxo, the Captain-General, replied by the offer of a reward of 10,000 pesos each for the heads of Bolivar and some of the other leaders.
Bolivar on the mainland - keeps promise to free slaves
Bolivar now determined to land on the mainland at Carupano, which he reached on the 1st June. The weak Spanish garrison was easily driven out, abandoning its ships, artillery and stores. Bolivar, in accordance with his promise to Petion, called upon the slaves to join his standard, offering to them their liberty, and to their masters compensation.Notwithstanding many proclamations by Bolivar decreeing the abolition of slavery in Venezuela, a law had to be passed providing for this reform so late as 1854. Marino was sent to Guiria, Piar to Maturin to raise the country, whilst the Liberator himself worked in Carupano at the general organisation of the republican army.
On the 28th June, a fresh popular assembly at Carupano recognised Bolivar as Supreme Chief, and demanded the constitution of a government " one and central." Three days earlier, Bolivar's authority had been recognised by the guerrilla leaders in the interior, Monagas, Rojas, Cedefio, and Zaraza. The expeditions of Marino and Piar were successful, but their value was marred by the fact that, as soon as they were out of reach of Bolivar, these two subordinates began to intrigue for his displacement in favour of Marino. Mean-while, Bolivar's advance on Cumana had met with a reverse at the hands of the Spaniards, who had also beaten the guerrilla forces of Rojas, Zaraza, and Monagas. Once more Bolivar, thinking his position at Carupano untenable, sailed on the 1st July westwards round the north of Margarita, leaving behind Ducoudray- Holstein and others who were hostile to him. Here Ducoudray's personal connexion with Bolivar ceased. According to his own account, Bolivar had refused to shake hands with him as a traitor who deserved to be shot.
The expedition, which consisted of fifteen ships and some 800 men, anchored at Ocumare de la Costa, between Puerto Cabello and La Guaira, on the 6th July. Once more Bolivar proclaimed the cessation of the war to the death, and offered an amnesty to all Spaniards surrendering. He also again notified the abolition of slavery. That same night Soublette was ordered to march across the mountains to La Cabrera, on the north side of the Valencia lake, and Pinango was sent to collect recruits at Choroni.
Brion, with some of the other ships, had already sailed on a cruise, with instructions from Bolivar to try and open up relations with Mexico and the United States. On the 1 6th July, Bolivar reached the little island of Buen Aire, near Curacao. Here he had fresh difficulties with the captains of his vessels, who proposed to seize the arms in payment of what was due to them. The situation was only saved by the arrival of Brion from Curacao.
At Barcelona MacGregor was superseded in his command by Piar, his senior, who had arrived from Cumana with reinforcements. Morales was hurrying up to Barcelona to avenge Lopez's defeat at El Alacran. To meet him Piar and MacGregor advanced to El Juncal, where they inflicted a very heavy defeat on him (27th September 18 16). The pursuit was carried out by MacGregor and Monagas as far as San Lorenzo, Morales' force being almost wiped out, though he is said to have had 3000 men against 2000 at El Juncal.
Conflict with Marino and Bermusez
- Bolivar returns to Haiti
Bolivar reached Guiria on the 16th August, twenty- four hours after Bermudez, who had already worked upon Marino to oppose the Liberator. Marino accord- ingly received him coldly, and the estrangement grew to such an extent that, on the 22nd, there was a riotous mob shouting, " Down with Bolivar and up with Marino and Bermudez ! " According to Larrazabal, there were plots even to assassinate Bolivar, and Bermudez went so far as to draw his sword upon him. Bolivar, in the end, finding his position at Guiria intolerable, re-embarked, leaving Marino and Bermudez in undisputed possession. He arrived once more at Port-au-Prince on the 9th October 18 16. There he found Mina, the ex-Spanish general of Peninsula fame, organising an expedition to Mexico, which he promised should return later on to Venezuela if Bolivar would join it. This offer Bolivar refused. He had hoped for help in his expeditions from the United States, but he found none was to be got, whether public or private ; indeed, President Madison issued a special proclamation against giving help to the revolted South American colonies. Thanks largely to the continued assistance of Brion and Potion, Bolivar was ready to start again in November.
Dec 21, 1816 Bolivar sails with a
new expidition for Venezuela
The various republican leaders in Venezuela were now separated by great distances from one another, each was acting independently, and all began to feel that the general control of Bolivar was necessary for united action. First Arismendi wrote (22nd September) 1 begging him to return. Then the chiefs of the central forces wrote (27th September) in a similar strain, with many expressions of regret at the recent unfortunate events at Guiria. Their letter was sent by Zea, who sailed from Barcelona. It was not till the 21st December 18 16 that Bolivar and Brion sailed from the Haitian port of Jacmel for Juan Griego in Margarita, which was reached on the 28th of the same month. The rest of the ships sailed on the 28th December from Aux Cayes under Villaret, only reaching Margarita a month later. As soon as Bolivar landed he issued the usual proclamation to the Venezuelans convoking a Congress, and again proclaiming the emancipation of the slaves. Margarita, " the Sparta of Venezuela," thanks to the exertions of Arismendi, was in the power of the republicans, and that leader, having completed his task in the island, had gone to the mainland at Barcelona with 400 men, just as Bolivar sailed from Aux Cayes.
Thither Bolivar followed him on the 31st December 1816, landing for the last time on South American soil, which he was never again to quit, except for the purpose of passing by sea from one part to another. At Barcelona, Bolivar and Arismendi met cordially. To the former, prospects seemed rosy, and he was already beginning to talk of proceeding, after the liberation of Venezuela and New Granada, to turn the Spaniards completely out of South America. His confidence is remarkable, especially when we know that he had only 300 men in Barcelona, besides the 400 Margaritefios who had followed Arismendi to the main-land. These latter would probably not have left their native island for any one with less personal influence over them than Arismendi had. Bolivar began with a very serious misfortune, for, advancing against Jimenez, who had 550 badly armed royalists at Clarines, he was heavily defeated and forced back to Barcelona. This at once reduced him to the defensive, and he had saved so few from the late battle that he could only get together 600 very inferior troops, whilst Moxo was understood to be mustering a force of 4000 at Orituco with which to crush the new revolt.
Bolivar, notwithstanding the weakness of his force, determined to carry out a passive defence of the Franciscan monastery at Barcelona. He chose to call it a fort (casa fuerte), though it was nothing of the sort. He also wrote to Marino, then near Cumana, urgently demanding help. Bermudez, the evil genius of Marino, tried to persuade him not to move, but he insisted on marching for Barcelona with the 1200 men he had. He came, partly by land, partly by sea, the point of reunion being fixed at Pozuelos. The Spaniards, now commanded by Pascual Real, with Morales and Aldama under him, appeared before Barcelona on the 8th February 1 8 1 7, and opened fire on the defenders of the monastery. On the same date Bermudez, with the land division of Marino's forces, was at Pozuelos. With great assurance he sent notice to Real that, Bermudez having arrived, he had better retire. This he at once did, first on Juncal, and then on Clarines. For this he does not seem to have had any excuse, except shortness of supplies and absence of his heavy artillery, defects which he should have taken care not to allow. Real being gone, Marino and Bermudez entered Barcelona, where Bolivar and Bermudez met on the most cordial terms. Truly kaleidoscopic are the quarrels and reconciliations of these Venezuelan patriots !
Pascual Real, after his unjustifiable retreat, left Bolivar unmolested in Barcelona, though the latter place was also short of food, and Bolivar found it difficult to maintain himself in it. The fact appears to have been that this part of the country was almost exhausted, through the constant war and destruction which had prevailed in it for years past. This remark applies to practically the whole of the hilly coast region of Venezuela, but it does not apply to the plains between the coast range and the Orinoco, which hitherto had vomited forth their hordes to prey upon the hill country, and had seen comparatively little fighting themselves. Still less does it apply to the plains south of the line of the Apure and the Orinoco. There there had been no fighting worth mention, and behind them lay in reserve the rich granaries of the missions. Not only were the Orinoco plains rich in supplies of food, but also they could supply large forces of cavalry to the party which should hold possession of the towns on the rivers. Hitherto the Llaneros had fought almost exclusively for the royalists, because the royalists were in possession of Angostura, San Fernando, and the other towns on the Apure and Orinoco, and alone represented authority. As we have already said, the Llaneros, thanks to their ferocity, their habits of life, and the impossibility of attacking them with a superior force, had nothing to fear from either Spaniard or republican. They had practically no interest in the contest, and, notwithstand- ing the flattering words of some South American writers on the subject of the patriotism of these semi-savages, they were probably innocent of any such sentiment. They joined Boves or Yanez in the hope of plunder, and perhaps to some extent from a love of fighting. They would be equally willing to join Bolivar or Piar from the same motives, provided they had a leader congenial to them, and that the republicans were in possession.
In addition to all this, the party which held the line of the Orinoco and the Apure had a splendid waterway connecting them with the sea. They could move in either direction along this waterway, or, if defeated in the north, retire behind it to a position of security, still leaving, as a covering force on the north bank, the whole Llanero population of the plains north of the river. Hitherto Bolivar had neglected all this vast area as a base, and had persistently aimed at the possession of Caracas, Valencia, Barcelona, and the northern coast. Now, at last, perceiving the superiority of this country over the northern hills as a base, he resolved to abandon the exhausted northern area and to base himself on the Orinoco and the country behind it. The credit of the discovery must be given to Piar rather than to Bolivar, for the mulatto chief had already, in the end of 18 16, transferred his operations to the Orinoco, and, by January 1 8 17, was blockading Angostura, though he had been badly repulsed in an attempt to carry it by assault. Bolivar, in great difficulties for provisions at Barcelona, resolved to join Piar before Angostura ; but, even then, he made the great mistake of leaving behind at Barcelona 400 men, under the command of Freites, to defend the Franciscan monastery.To do so was to doom this small isolated force to destruction. This decision is a notable instance of the military incapacity of Bolivar and the men who formed the council of war in which the measure was decided on. The rest of the forces, some 2000 men, were to march, under Marino's command, to Guayana
Barcelona taken by Royalists - massacres
On the 25 th March the Liberator started, with only 15 officers and a few orderlies, leaving Marino and the main body to follow three hours later. The leading man of Bolivar's small party suddenly came, at Quiamare, upon a Spanish ambuscade. He was closely followed by Bolivar himself, who had the presence of mind to dismount and shout loudly an order to attack on both flanks. This was followed by a volley from the escort, and the two combined had the effect of inducing the enemy to believe the force much greater than it was. The Spaniards promptly fled, and their commander was disgusted when he discovered later what a prize they had missed. Bolivar had very narrowly escaped capture, but, after that, he reached the Orinoco without further adventure and crossed it. Finding Piar engaged in the siege of Angostura without any siege artillery, Bolivar decided to retrace his steps to El Chaparro, and to bring up his artillery to breach the place. At Chaparro he found Bermudez and Valdds, from whom he learnt that the unfortunate Freites had been destroyed at Barcelona.
Moxo had replaced the incompetent Real by Aldama, who, placing his artillery behind the walls of Barcelona itself, was soon able to storm the monastery, which had no defensive strength, and was, moreover, crowded with non-combatant refugees. The assault was followed by the usual indiscriminate massacres. Freites and Francisco Ribas, who were taken alive, were sent to Caracas and there hanged by order of Moxo. Larrazabal gives a ghastly description of the Barcelona massacres and of the streets strewn with corpses on which the dogs fed. He puts the number slain, some of them even on the altar steps, at 1000, of whom many were old men, women, and children. Fifty of the sick in hospital were murdered by special order. Restrepo tells the same story.
During these events, Marino's army was still not far from Barcelona, but he remained deaf to all appeals for help. He objected to serving under Bolivar in the eastern districts, which he looked upon as his own special territory, and he had decided to go on his own account to Cumana. Others urged on this weak young man in his perverse and selfish decision, but Bermudez was not amongst them, for he was now entirely on Bolivar's side. Curiously enough, Urdaneta, hitherto always working loyally with Bolivar, now joined Marino, whilst Bermudez and Arismendi went on southwards to Chaparro to join Bolivar. They had but 500 men, the rest going with Marino.
Morillo returns to Venezuela -
amother Spanish expeditionary
force lands at Cumana
On the 25 th and 26th April Bolivar again crossed to the south bank of the Orinoco, just above the mouth of the river Pao. The river being now in high flood, owing to the heavy rains, the passage was effected with great difficulty. Bolivar's position was not a promising one, looking to the facts that Marino was gone off on his own account, Barcelona was lost, and Morillo, after reconquering New Granada, had returned to deal again with Venezuela. Finally, Bolivar now heard of the arrival at Cumana of a fresh expeditionary force from Spain, under the command of Canterac, a French adventurer. That officer's orders required him, after giving such assistance as might be necessary to Morillo, to proceed across the Isthmus of Panama, and embark his 2300 men on the Pacific for Peru.
On the 2nd May Bolivar, with the troops from El Chaparro, joined Piar. El Chaparro was by this time occupied by Morillo and Aldama with some 6000 men. Bolivar, operating against Angostura, feared an attack by them on his rear, and, in order to get the captive Capuchins out of the way of re-capture, ordered them to be transferred from Caruache to a settlement called La Divina Pastora in the interior of the missions. According to O'Leary and Restrepo, the officer who received the order, being a new-comer, was unaware of the existence of such a place, and interpreted the order to send these unfortunate men to La Divina Pastora (the Divine Shepherdess) as a euphemism for sending them to another world. The whole of them were massacred.
On the 26th May, Bolivar left San Miguel for Guayana Vieja, of which he rearranged the blockade, whilst he took up a position with his main body at San Felix to await the arrival of Brion. Angostura was still blockaded also. The Liberator busied himself at San Felix in drafting a decree regulating courts martial, which after all were the principal class of judicial institution likely to have much to do during the war. Bolivar now received a letter from Brion promising to sail from Pampatar in Margarita on the 31st May, and also sending the news that Morillo was proceeding to subdue that island. Both items of news were welcome, the latter because it promised Bolivar breathing space in which to make himself complete master of Guayana, and any attack on the brave Margaritenos was likely to prove a very thorny and unprofitable undertaking for Morillo. On the other hand, the unstable and ambitious Piar, excited by the apparent success of Marino's revolt against the authority of Bolivar, was beginning to be restive, and Arismendi, with perhaps better intentions, was talking of a separate government for his native island of Margarita. Piar was warned and went no further for the moment. Arismendi was set to work to construct boats and organise operations on the river.
Brion, after some delay, duly put in an appearance with his ships on the lower Orinoco. It was desirable to send down to him the boats above Guayana Vieja, and, in the night of the 2nd to 3rd July, nine out of eleven succeeded in passing the fortress unharmed. The other two, unable to pass, returned upstream. The nine which had got past took shelter in the creek of Casacoima, on the right bank, in order to avoid the pursuit of a superior royalist flotilla. To protect them there, Bolivar marched with a small force. The Spanish boats had also landed men.
Bolivar, carelessly riding with his generals at some distance from his troops, was surprised by the Spanish landing force, and was so nearly finding himself a prisoner that he was, it is said, preparing to stab himself rather than fall into the hands of the enemy. He was rescued by the arrival of his men in the nick of time. He was, however, too late to save his boats, the crews of which, abandoning them to the Spaniards, effected their own escape by land. On the other hand, some " flecheras " ( The "flechera" was a sort of large barge propelled by sails and oars. Many of them could carry 80 or 100 men, besides one or two cannon. Drawing very little water, they could penetrate into shallow places and backwaters of the rivers. They were fast, and, manned by the Margaritan sailors, gave excellent results both on the coast and on the Orinoco. ) belonging to Brion, under the command of Diaz, gained a considerable success over the Spanish flotilla, which lost seven of its " flecheras." The lower Orinoco being now open, Brion was able to sail up and meet Bolivar at Casacoima, where a fort was built to protect the squadron.
Guayana under control of the Republicans
The news of this river fight, and of Brion's arrival, determined La Torre to evacuate Guayana Vieja and Angostura. The latter place, closely blockaded by Bermudez, had been reduced to great straits, and, the command of the lower river being lost to La Torre, was no longer tenable. On the 17th July, La Torre, accompanied by Fitzgerald, the last Spanish governor of Guayana, all the officials and the garrison, slipping quietly away from Angostura down the river, safely reached the British Island of Granada. Bermudez at once occupied the place. Guayana Vieja surrendered at discretion on the 3rd August. Guayana was now completely in the power of the republicans. Writing to the Marquis de Toro in Trinidad, Bolivar says of his new acquisition : " This province is a point of capital importance, very suitable for the defensive, still more so for the offensive. We hold the rear of the enemy from here (Angostura) to Santa Fe [Bogota], and possess an immense territory on both banks of the Orinoco, the Apure, the Meta, and the Arauca. Moreover, we have cattle and horses, and, since the struggle now depends on maintaining territory and prolonging the campaign, the party which can secure this advantage the best is sure to be the conqueror."
Morillo attacks Margarita
Whilst Bolivar was establishing himself on the Orinoco, Morillo made a vain attempt to subdue Margarita. The islanders, whom Morillo himself described as " giants, fighting like tigers and facing fire and the bayonet with a courage unexampled amongst the best troops in the world," were the ruin of the expeditionary force. Hearing of Bolivar's conquests, and of other successes of the insurgents in all directions, Morillo returned to the mainland at La Guaira. He brought back 700 of his men wounded in the fighting in Margarita.
Piar plots against Bolivar -
Bolivar orders his arrest -
Piar captured and executed
(April 28, 1774 – October 16, 1817)
But matters were not going smoothly in Bolivar's camp. Piar, still plotting against him, now asked for sick leave to recruit his health in Trinidad or Curacao. After refusing it at first, Bolivar granted the leave on the 30th June. Piar, instead of going to Trinidad or Curacao, merely went southwards to Upata, where he continued plotting and accusing Bolivar of cowardice and ambitious designs. Worse than this, he tried to stir up race feeling and rivalry between classes. Returning after the capture of Angostura, he tried to incite Bermudez, and the leaders of mixed blood like himself, against Bolivar. Remonstrances being ineffectual, Bolivar ordered his arrest and transmission to headquarters. Piar was extremely popular in the army, and, had he held out boldly, it is quite possible he might have made matters very unpleasant for the Liberator ; but, his nerve failing him, he fled to Maturin, whence he entered into relations with Marino.
Thereupon, Bolivar made over Piar's division at Guayana Vieja to Urdaneta, who appears to have returned to his allegiance to his old chief, with directions to bring it into order and submission. Then Bolivar, after first obtaining from the assembled generals a fresh recognition of his own supreme authority, despatched Cedefio with some cavalry in pursuit of Piar. At the same time, he worked successfully at undermining the influence of Piar with the various leaders. The unfortunate mulatto, abandoned by most of his friends, fled with some cavalry to Cumana, in the hope of obtaining protection from Marino's people. Near that town Cedefio came up with him. Piar would have fought, but the commander of his cavalry deserted him. He was captured and led back a prisoner to Angostura. There he was tried by a court-martial, of which Brion was president, and sentenced, on the 15th October 1817, to be shot after military degradation. The charges of which he was found guilty were disobedience, sedition, conspiracy, and desertion. Bolivar confirmed the death sentence, but had the decency — perhaps, looking to Piar's popularity, the wisdom — to remit the degradation. The next evening Piar met his death, in the presence of the assembled troops, with the bravery which he had always displayed on the field of battle. Probably he was guilty, but, after all, his guilt was not greater than that of Marino, or Bermudez, or many another who had rebelled against the authority of Bolivar, but met with very different treatment. He was one of the most capable of the Liberator's commanders. Bolivar himself had recently admitted the excellence of his conduct at the Battle of San Felix. He was immensely popular with his men, and it certainly required a good deal of courage on Bolivar's part to risk the danger of an outbreak to rescue him from a public and ignominious death. The opponents of Bolivar do not hesitate to accuse him of sacrificing Piar because he was a dangerous rival, perhaps the most dangerous he had at the time. The charges are possibly exaggerated, but it cannot be denied that they appear, on the face of matters, to have some foundation.
Next day Bolivar published to the army a manifesto justifying the execution, which, he pointed out, was the result of a sentence unanimously passed by men of the distinction and reputation of Brion, Torres, Anzoategui, and other leaders. The immediate result of it was to bring the army and its leaders completely under the authority of Bolivar. Piar was born, the son of a poor carpenter, in Curasao, in 1782. He had served the republican cause steadily since Miranda's time in 1811, and had distinguished himself on many occasions, perhaps never more than by leading the way to the conquest of Guayana and the transfer of the republican base to that province. He was unquestionably brave and capable, but proud, ambitious, and cruel. Bolivar, having got rid of Piar, turned his attention to Marino, in pursuit of whom he was about to send Bermudez, naming him governor of the Cumana province. Marino, however, had gone to Margarita, and had ceased to be dangerous. Bermudez, too, put in a good word for his friend Marino, and the idea of capturing him was abandoned. Probably Bolivar was only too glad of an excuse for not proceeding to extremities against another very popular leader.
Council of State held
He had certainly strengthened his position, but he probably felt that there was a good deal of dangerous suspicion of his own motives and intentions, for he now instituted a " Council of State," in order, as he said, to surrender into its hands the supreme power, and to lay the foundations of a constitutional government. On the 10th November he assembled the principal leaders of the republican party at Angostura and addressed them at length on the situation. His speech is mainly taken up with an explanation of the reasons why, hitherto, since the destruction of the original republic of Miranda's day, nothing but a dictatorship had been possible. The present republic he dated from the assembly in Margarita on the 1 6th May 1816. It was now, he said, necessary to have a Council of State, partly as a legislative body, partly as an advisory council to the supreme chief, partly to take his place in case of absence or death. Further- more, a beginning of judicial organisation was to be made with the institution of a High Court of Justice. The Liberator then goes on to detail the arrangements made for the government of the liberated provinces, and for the distribution to the army of the confiscated Spanish property. Finally, he nominated the members of the various departments of the Council. They were to be presided over thus : — State and Finance - Zea, Naval and Military- Brion, Interior and Justice - Martinez.
Jose Antonio Paez
The fact of the matter seems to be that the Council of State was a mere sop to pacify public opinion, to allay suspicions of the Liberator's personal ambitions, and to flatter the vanity of some of the leaders by a nominal enlistment of their aid. Bolivar had himself done all the organisation, both civil and military, includ- ing the fixing of the capital of the new republic at Angostura. As soon as he was firmly based on Angos- tura and Guayana, Bolivar's ideas again reverted to the capture of Caracas. In order to facilitate his operations in this direction, he desired, if possible, to draw Morillo away westwards, and for this purpose he had the good fortune to secure the services of a remarkable man, of whom much more will be heard in the course of this history - Jose Antonio Paez.
Jose Antonio Paez
(13 June 1790 – 6 May 1873)
Jose Antonio Paez was born on the 13th June 1790, in the neighbourhood of Acarigua in the canton of Apure. His parents were in a very humble station of life, and the boy got no educa- tion. O'Leary describes him as absolutely illiterate. So he remained to the end of his life. Restrepo describes him as being Caucasian by race. At the age of sixteen, being attacked by robbers when sent for some money by his father, he killed one of them, and, fearing the consequences, fled from home and took service in the * Llanos " under a rich cattle breeder. There he acquired all the physical accomplishments of a Llanero. On the outbreak of the revolution in 1810, he enlisted in the Barinas militia, on the patriot side, under his master Pulido. Having risen to be a sergeant, he retired to his old employment after Monteverde's con-quest of Venezuela in 181 3. Presently he was offered a captaincy in the Spanish forces by Tizcar. To avoid this he fled, to become once more a soldier under Pulido, who commanded a guerrilla band working in support of Bolivar's advance from New Granada. At the end of 1813 he was captured by Puig, a subordinate of Yanez. He was ordered to be shot, but by bribery managed to put off his execution, and finally escaped when Puig fled after Bolivar's victory of Araure. He then joined Garcia de Sena, and was a captain of cavalry when that commander decided to abandon Barinas in January 1814, a decision which Paez strongly opposed.
When Garcia's cavalry broke up, Paez went to Merida, and there was accepted in his rank of captain in the patriot forces. He distinguished himself in action, and, after Bolivar's defeat at La Puerta, followed Urdaneta in his retreat on New Granada. In consequence of a dispute with the commandant of the cavalry, Paez left the force and went off to Casanare. There he was given the command of 300 men, and again distinguished himself in several actions, notably at Mata de la Miel 1 in February 1 8 1 6. For his conduct on this occasion he was promoted lieutenant-colonel by the Government of New Granada.Paez's operations against the royalists were generally successful, and on some occasions remarkable. Amongst his own troops he acquired supreme authority in the territory in which he operated.