Capture of Valdivia
1820 in Chile
Battles involving Chile
Battles of the Chilean War of Independence
History of Chile
1820 in Chile Forum
The Capture of Valdivia was a battle in the Chilean War of Independence between Spanish forces commanded by Colonel Manuel Montoya and the Chilean forces under the command of Lord Thomas Cochrane, held on 3 and 4 February of 1820.
After failing to capture the Spanish fortress of Real Felipe in El Callao Thomas Cochrane decided to assault the city of Valdivia, the most fortified place in South America at the time. Valdivia was considered a threat to Chilean independence as it was a stronghold and supply base for Spanish troops. Valdivia provided a safe landing site for sending reinforcements to the loyalist guerrilla fighting the Guerra a muerte in the area of La Frontera.
Valdivia was isolated from the rest of Chile by native Mapuche territory, and the only entrance to Valdivia was via the mouth of Valdivia River; Corral Bay. The bay was fortified with several forts built to prevent pirate raids or any attack from a foreign nation.
The defenses at Valdivia consisted of a number of forts and defensive positions. On the South side of the habour were four forts - Fort Ingles, Fort San Carlos, Fort Amargos and Fort Chorocomayo. Further inland was Corral Castle to defend against a landward assault. On the Northern side was the stone walled Fort Niebla. Mancera Island in the centre of the habour was also heavily garrisoned.
Facing these powerful fortifications, Thomas Cochrane decided to attack the forts from the land in an amphibious nighttime operation. The troops landed south of the bay on the Aguada del Ingles (the English Beach). Taken by surprise, the Fort Ingles was captured quickly, with the fugitives running towards the next fort, Fort San Carlos. The attackers got in among the fleeing Spanish troops and in the confusion were able to capture San Carlos and subsequently the other two forts on the south side of the habour, with only Fort Chorocomayo showing brief resistance before capitulating.
After the success of the attack on the forts of the southern shore, Thomas Cochrane called a halt for the night. He anticipated an altogether grimmer fight in the morning to capture the remaining fortifications, as he had lost the element of surprise. Surprisingly, in the morning the commands of the other forts decided to surrender without a fight, with the garrisons of Fort Niebla and Mancera Island retreating upstream. The town of Valdivia surrendered soon after.
Reason for the loss
The overwhelming reason for the loss was the appalling morale of the Spanish troops in Chile, eroded by corruption and the sense that the war against the rebels in Chile was lost. They also held a deeply superstitious belief that Cochrane was a 'devil' and therefore could not be defeated.
The Spanish troops inside Valdivia itself sacked the city and
then went to Osorno. These troops later moved to reinforce Chiloe Island which was the last Spanish possession in Chile. Lord Thomas Cochrane tried to conquer the island without success.
The capture of Valdivia effectively ended the last vestiges of Spanish power in mainland Chile and opened up the way for Chilean and Peruvian independence.
External links and sources
History of the fortifications of Valdivia
Capture of Valdivia
Gonzalo Contreras. Lord Cochrane bajo la bandera de Chile. Santiago, Editorial Zig-Zag, 1993, ISBN 956-12-0812-1
Francisco Encina. Historia de Chile. Santiago, Editorial Nascimiento, 1949.
Jaime Eyzaguirre. ''O'Higgins. Santiago, Editorial Zig-Zag, 1982, ISBN 9561210223
Renato Valenzuela Ugarte. Bernardo OHiggins. El Estado de Chile y el Poder Naval. Santiago, Editorial Andres Bello, ISBN 9561316048
Estado Mayor del Ejercito de Chile. Historia Militar de Chile''. Memorial del Ejercito de Chile N 351. 1969
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Capture of Valdivia