Here we shall leave it for a while in order to follow the campaign against Paraguay.
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Heartened by the successes of Balcarce, the Junta decided to hasten the expedition against Paraguay under the orders of Belgrano. Though this expedition failed of its purpose to bring Paraguay under the control of the Junta, it helped in no small degree to create a separatist movement in Paraguay which led in a few years to the defeat of the Spaniards and the establishment of an independent government.
By this time also the situation in Uruguay called for the attention of the Junta. With the aid of these troops from Buenos Aires, Artigas obtained a signal victory against the Spaniards at Las Piedras, which enabled him to lay siege to Montevideo. Had the Argentine forces been successful, Bolivia and Uruguay would never have become separate republics. The complete independence of South America would have been attained ten years before the battle of Ayacucho , and, very likely, with its victorious armies, Buenos Aires would have been able to avoid the terrible civil struggle that, through the lack of a wise and strong central government, lasted till the downfall of Rosas.
It meant also that the way for a decisive blow at the Spaniards through the north was forever barred; that the attack had to be carried through the west to Chile, first, and then by sea to the heart of Spanish power in Lima; that while troops were being prepared slowly and patiently for this purpose, the constant pressure of the victorious Spanish armies from the north had to be withstood; and last, but by no means least, it emphasized the need for the presence of a strong man to bolster up the provisional government in Buenos Aires itself, which, after the death of Mariano Moreno, was left without a leader of ability and strength commensurate with the magnitude of the task to be accomplished.
The patriots were soon able, in spite of the friction that arose between Artigas and the Argentine troops, to pin the Spanish forces within the inner circle of the defenses of Montevideo. Thus the only immediate avenue for the supplying of provisions was closed. The desertion, however, of Artigas, and the harassing by his Uruguayan bands of the besieging forces, threatened once more to bring about the abandonment of the siege.
The defeat of the naval forces of Spain in the Plata River by Admiral Brown, an Irish sailor in the service of the government of Buenos Aires, came at this time most opportunely to close all avenues of replenishing, and the garrison was forced to capitulate.
The taking of Montevideo was an event of the utmost importance for the Revolution, since it made possible the concentrating of all forces for an attack upon Peru, the heart of Spanish power in South America. In addition to the strategic difficulties of this plan, new obstacles arose from the jealousies and ill-feeling caused by the ambition of General Alvear.
He has truly been called the Alcibiades of Argentina. Handsome, young, accomplished, and erratically brilliant in the conception of his military plans, he was consumed by a disproportionate ambition to be the leading military hero of the Revolution. It was in order to satisfy this inordinate craving for glory that he had himself appointed general-in-chief of the besieging forces of Montevideo, at a moment when that city was doomed to fall, thus depriving Rondeau of a victory which in reality was his.
As in the case of the campaign of Montevideo, Rondeau was first selected to command the second Army of the North, but Alvear intended to keep him in command only until the time should come for decisive action, when he himself, aided by the ascendancy he had gained with the provisional government, would assume command and reap the fruits of victory.
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In accordance with this plan, he attempted to supplant Rondeau towards the end of the year This time, however, Rondeau refused to deliver his command to Alvear, and, as his troops supported him, Alvear was forced to return to Buenos Aires. This was the first serious defection among the makers of the Revolution, if we except the work of the Uruguayan leader, Artigas, who by his constant opposition to the provisional government of Buenos Aires delayed and prevented the unification of forces necessary to bring about the fall of Spanish power, but who at least worked for the independence of Uruguay, whereas Alvear sought primarily to aggrandize himself.
With his swift band of gauchos he conducted such an effective guerrilla warfare against the victorious Spanish army, that they were unable to derive the full benefit of their great victory. The fortunes of the Revolution had never sunk so low as after the battle of Sipe-Sipe.
This was an artificial way of reviving the hopes of the Revolution, for what was wanted then was action, not words. Withal it did serve to rouse the failing enthusiasm of the people. Moreover, to substantiate the rhetorical enthusiasm of the Declaration of Independence, there soon came from an unexpected quarter deeds of such magnitude as to destroy for all time the power of Spain in America. On the 17th of January, , the Army of the Andes set out by the now historic passes of Los Patos and Uspallata on the expedition which was to win for democracy half a continent.
The crossing of the snow-capped Andes was rapidly and successfully accomplished, and on the 12th of February, , the Spanish Army, commanded by General Maroto, was completely defeated on the slopes of Chacabuco, not far from Santiago. The siege of Talcahuano had to be raised, and Las Heras withdrew in to join the corps of the main army.
The Argentine forces encamped outside of the city, and the Spaniards, surprising the patriots at night, charged their bivouac, dispersing and killing many of the patriot troops. This night attack is known as the battle of Cancha Rayada. With the aid of Lord Thomas Cochrane, an English sailor in the service of Chile, he was able to clear the seas of Spanish ships, and on the 7th of September, , he landed his forces in the Bay of Paracas. The former was evacuated by La Serna, Spanish viceroy of Peru, the 19th of July, , and Callao was surrendered on the 21st of September of the same year.
But the last remnants of the Spanish forces that had fled to the mountains of northern Peru had still to be vanquished before his task could be said to be fully accomplished.
He preferred to take no chances. On the 26th of July, , therefore, there took place at Guayaquil, Ecuador, a famous interview between the two greatest generals of South America. What took place at that meeting has been wrapped in mystery, though the results are known full well. He immediately called a meeting of the constitutional congress, and, on the 20th of September, , resigned his title of Protector. Coming to Chile, he met with equal, if not greater, hostility. He retired to the province of Mendoza in Argentina, where for a while he devoted himself to farming, and then made a voyage to Buenos Aires, then torn by contending factions, to meet there, in his own country, with indifference and disregard.
Stoically, therefore, and without a murmur, he betook himself to voluntary exile in France, where he died in poverty, in , forgotten by his countrymen, attended only by his daughter, who faithfully remained by his side throughout the long years of his exile. His was not the Marian temperament; no messenger was ever sent by him to his fellow-countrymen to tell them that their liberator had been seen in France eating the bitter bread of exile. Argentina, to-day, has made reparation for the oblivion with which she requited her greatest man during his lifetime, by erecting imposing monuments to his memory; but, above all, by enshrining his name in the heart of every one of her sons.
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Even as early as , however, the discordant elements that were to delay her progress almost half a century were clearly patent, not only in thought, but also in action. Each province had its caudillo , who was fiercely jealous of any limitations upon his power. The situation was similar to that of the colonies in North America, which, though willing to unite against England, resented any attempt at interference in their internal affairs by a central government.
Buenos Aires, the city, as the center of Argentine wealth, culture, and civilization, was the exponent of a unitarian form of government, that is, a strong, centralized government with Buenos Aires at the head. Naturally, the caudillos resented any interference on the part of Buenos Aires. Varying fortunes attended the civil strife which went on between these two factions.
Rivadavia now appears on the scene in Buenos Aires as Minister of Education, and later, as President of the Confederation in He introduced many noteworthy reforms, founded libraries and universities, and attempted to establish the government on a firm unitarian basis with Buenos Aires as the capital.
Despite the victory of Argentine arms, Uruguay had been ceded to Brazil. As far back as , Uruguay had been a bone of contention between Portugal and Spain, but at the outbreak of the Revolution in , the country was Spanish and was an integral part of the Viceroyalty of the Plata. Civil strife between Buenos Aires and Artigas ensued because the latter stood for a federal republic, while Buenos Aires, of course, was unitarian, and wished to retain her supremacy over the provinces.
In , Artigas became embroiled with the Portuguese, who routed him and captured Montevideo. Rivera, Oribe, and Lavalleja, lieutenants of Artigas, and later famous in the history of Uruguay, had to take refuge in the interior.
Artigas himself retired to Paraguay and died there of old age in By all resistance to Brazil was at an end. Rivera and many of the other caudillos had accepted commissions in the Brazilian army of occupation. So great was their success that by May of that year, the whole country was in revolt against the Brazilians, and the forces of the Empire were confined within Montevideo and La Colonia. The upshot of the whole matter was that both Brazil and Argentina gave up all claims to Uruguay and guaranteed its independence as a separate republic for five years.
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Argentina was being torn by federalist and unitarian dissensions, and could not press her claim. In Uruguay itself there were rival factions led by Rivera and Lavalleja, who held the presidency in turn, Rivera becoming the first official head of the nation in The chief names until , date of the advent of Rosas, are La Paz and Lavalle, as unitarians; Dorrego and the caudillos from the various provinces, as federalists.
It is now that Rosas comes to the fore, although Quiroga and the other caudillos all joined forces to help defeat Lavalle, who retired to Uruguay. La Paz, however, more than managed to hold his own in the provinces of the interior, defeating Quiroga twice with terrific slaughter. But he, too, was finally defeated and taken prisoner in Since , Rosas had become the provisional governor of Buenos Aires, that is, the head, in so far as there was any head, of the Argentine government.
And now for a few words on Rosas himself. He is referred to as the Argentine tyrant and has been compared to Nero for his wanton cruelty. True it is that he committed many deeds of cruelty, yet the times and conditions in which he lived were such that stern measures were necessary. He was of noble family and one of the wealthiest men in Argentina. From his own estancias he could raise a cavalry corps of gauchos and keep it in the field.
He made it a point to afford shelter to outlaw gauchos , and gathered about him a band of adventurous spirits ready to dare anything. His victories against the Indians increased his prestige, and in he was given supreme power by the Legislature in Buenos Aires. His control of the supreme power lasted until Immediately upon his assuming command, federalists were put in office everywhere instead of unitarians, who were forced to flee into exile. He incurred the enmity of France and England, and had to put down many revolts against his power. Lavalle played an important part in one of these and met his death at the hands of Oribe, who had aligned himself with Rosas.
In it Sarmiento published for the first time in serial form his Facundo , selections from which are given in this book. The five-year period of Uruguayan independence agreed upon by Argentina and Brazil had come to an end when Rosas came into power.