Army of the Andes
History of Argentina
History of Chile
Military units and formations of Argentina
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The Army of the Andes was a military force mustered by Jose de San Martin in his campaign to free Chile from the Spanish Empire. In 1817 it crossed the Andes Mountains from the Argentine Province of Cuyo , and succeeding in its objective by dislodging the Spanish from the country.
The exact number of the army varies between different sources; some have put the number as low as 3500, while others have it being as high as 6000 men. The army consisted of mainly Argentines and survivors of the then defeated Chilean Army, and included some 1200 auxiliaries to help in provisioning and supply as well as a complement of artillery. The Congress of Tucuman endorsed San Martin's proposal to form an army to fight the royalists in Chile, and between August, 1814, and February, 1817, San Martin trained his troops to prepare them for their ordeal.. While the army was made up of a less than experienced military force, San Martin intended to lead, with regular discipline and equipment, a proper army and not a "motley crew" into battle.
For the crossing of the mountains, the Army was divided into two main columns, the first, commanded by Bernardo O'Higgins, taking the Los Patos Pass and the second, commanded by Juan Gregorio de las Heras, taking the Uspallata Pass, which at its highest reaches some twelve thousand feet above sea level. Because this second pass was more negotiable, the artillery was taken in the second column.
These two divisions were the main body of the Army, but there were smaller detachments sent to the north and south as flanking wings. The smaller division to the north was composed of some 130 infantry as well as a group of Chilean expatriates, and was under the command of Juan Manuel Cabot. To the south was a group under the command of the Chilean Ramon Freire Serrano.
After their 25 day journey across the Andes, the Army of the Andes successfully met royalist forces in the Battle of Chacabuco. After the victory, they entered to Santiago de Chile, where O'Higgins was designated Supreme Director, and San Martin was designated commander of the "United Army", which was an army that combined the forces of the Army of the Andes and Chilean troops. This new army fought the battles of Cancha Rayada and Maipu.
Battle of Chacabuco
Crossing of the Andes
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