Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Argentine Civil War (1851–1861)

Argentine Civil War (1851–1861)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Argentine rebels (with Brazilian
aid) vs. Argentine government forces



MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Control of the Argentine

OUTCOME: Buenos Aires became part of the Argentine

Rebel forces, 28,189; government forces, 22,000

CASUALTIES: At the decisive Battle of Monte Caseros
(February 3, 1852), the rebels lost 600 killed or wounded
and the government, 900 killed, 600 wounded, 7,000


On May 1, 1851, José de Urquiza (1800–70), governor of
the Argentine province of Entre Rios, led a rebellion
against Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793?–1877), governor and
virtual dictator of Buenos Aires province. The neighboring
province of Corrientes joined Urquiza, and Brazil, always
eager to destabilize its rival, sent 3,000 infantry, a cavalry
regiment, two artillery batteries, and a naval squadron to
eliminate Rosas.
In July Urquiza led 5,000 troops from Entre Rios, who
were joined by 1,500 from Corrientes (across the Uruguay
River) against Rosas’s forces, which had been maintaining
a long siege against Montevideo. The siege was lifted, and
by December 11, 1851, Urquiza’s rebel forces numbered
28,189, including troops from Corrientes, Buenos Aires,
other Argentine provinces, Uruguay, and dissident Brazilians.
He led 24,000 into the major battle of Monte Caseros
near Buenos Aires on February 3, 1852. He faced 22,000
government troops and, after four and a half hours of fighting,
the army of the dictator Rosas collapsed. With this
defeat Rosas was forced out of office. Government casualties
included some 900 killed, 600 wounded, and 7,000
made prisoner. Urquiza’s rebels lost 600 killed or wounded.
Urquiza now squared off against Buenos Aires–based
dissidents known as the Centralist Porteños led by Bartolomé
Mitre (1821–1906). The first major battle between
the rivals came at Cepeda on October 22, 1859. Urquiza
commanded a force of 14,000 (including a 32-gun
artillery train) against 9,000 Porteños (and 24 guns)
under Mitre. Mitre lost 2,000 of his men as POWs and had
to abandon 20 of his valuable artillery pieces. However, on
September 16, 1861, Mitre led 16,000 men and 38 guns
against an equal number (plus 42 guns) under Urquiza at
the Battle of Pavón. Superior generalship allowed Mitre to
rout his rival, who lost 1,650 POWs and 37 guns. The Battle
of Pavón put Mitre in control of all of Argentina except
Entre Rios Province, which remained in Urquiza’s hands
until he was assassinated in 1871.

Further reading: Daniel K. Lewis, The History of
Argentina (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Nicolas
Shumway, The Invention of Argentina (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1993).

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