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Juan Gregorio de las Heras

Grand Marshal Juan Gregorio de Las Heras was an Argentine soldier who took part in the Spanish American wars of independence and was also a governor of the province of Buenos Aires.

Las Heras was born in Buenos Aires, from a moderately wealthy family. He engaged in business till the age of twenty-six, when he enlisted in the army, taking part in the resistance against the British invasions of the Rio de la Plata (18061807). In 1808 he became sergeant of hussars, and, when independence was declared in 1810, he acted with the patriots, was appointed captain of militia in Cordoba, and in 1812 became commander of the garrison of that city. In 1813 he offered to accompany the auxiliary Argentine division sent to Chile, of which he became second in command. After the Battle of Cucha-Cucha he attained the rank of colonel, and after the defeat of Rancagua (2 October 1814), he retired in good order and twice repulsed the enemy, returning to Mendoza, where he employed himself in the organization of the Army of the Andes.

On November 8, he was appointed as the first commander of the newly created 11th Line Infantry Regiment. Created at the proposal of General San Martin to the Government, during the organization of the Army of the Andes and using the Chilean Auxiliaries as the foundation. This was the same infantry corps that had been sent to Chile in 1812, commanded by then Lieutenant Colonel Las Heras to assist the Government Junta to face the invasion of the Royalists in the South of Chile. The Auxiliaries received their baptism of fire in the battle of Cucha-Cucha on February 23, 1814, and fought successfully for a second time in Membrillar on May 20. After the important Spanish victory in Rancagua in October, they were charged with covering the retreat of their Chilean comrades and their government to the city of Mendoza. In 1815, the 11th Line had the first regimental band of the Army of the Andes, thanks to the economic support of Rafael Vargas, a rancher from Mendoza. When the Army moved to Chile in 1817, the regiment crossed the mountain range using the Uspallata pass, always commanded by Las Heras. After contributing to winning the battle of Chacabuco, he headed the South Division, that was involved in a night battle on April 4 in Curapaligue and on May 5 in Gavilan, two resounding victories. It also took part in the failed assault on Talcahuano, December 6. On April 5, 1818, the 11th Line fought heroically in the Battle of Maipu, which sealed the freedom of Chile. It was created once again in 1885 and sent to hold positions in the frontier of the territories occupied by wild Indians, such as Tapalque, Olavarria and Tres Arroyos, in the Province of Buenos Aires. In 1910 the President of Argentina, Jose Figueroa Alcorta, issued a decree to rename it 11th Infantry Regiment "General Las Heras" in honor of its first commander. Currently, the 11th Mountain Infantry Regiment is headquartered in Tupungato, Province of Mendoza.

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