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War of the Confederation - 1836-1839
Guerra con la Confederació

The Peru-Bolivian Confederation was organized in 1835, consisting of three States — North Peru, South Peru, and Bolivia—each with a President and Congress, and General Santa Cruz as Protector of the Confederation. The country enjoyed peace for nearly three years. The new regime gave the benefits of order in the administration, purity in the management of the public funds, internal quiet, and active promotion of useful engipeering and other works.

During the colonial era, the territory which constituted the audiencia of Charcas or Upper Peru, initially dependent on the Viceroyalty of Peru, since 1776 became part of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. This territory was independent in 1826, born the Republic of Bolivia. Years later, would emerge an ambitious political project whose main driver was the Bolivian Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz, which advocated the creation of a confederate state on the basis of the territories of Peru and Bolivia, historically united by various ties, especially economic.

This integration sought among other things to restore the old commercial circuits established in both territories since ancient times, and to promote a policy of free trade with foreign countries. After an intense period of political crisis, the Confederation was established in 1836, it consists of three Confederate states: the Peruvian North, the South Peruvian State, and Bolivia State.

The formation of this new country, had important impact on the departments of southern Peru to be able to benefit from free trade, but instead was not well received by the Lima elite and northern Peru, which had traditionally maintained a close with Chile trade, country turn this confederacy saw as a threat to their economic interests.

It was at this juncture that the Republic of Chile began to wage her first war with her neighbor. General Joaquín Prieto Vial served two terms as President in Chile (1831-36, 1836-41). Prieto and his adviser, Portales, feared the efforts of Bolivian general Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana to unite with Peru against Chile. These qualms exacerbated animosities toward Peru dating from the colonial period, now intensified by disputes over customs duties and loans. Chile also wanted to become the dominant South American military and commercial power along the Pacific.

The Chilian Government acted as if it believed that for Chile to be prosperous, it was necessary for Peru to be in a state of anarchy. Arica had been declared a free port, and several fiscal regulations had been introduced which were considered to be detrimental to Chilian commercial interests. The prosperity of the Confederation was viewed with jealousy. The Chilian ex-President Freyre had obtained two vessels in Peru when he commenced one of the frequent revolutionary movements which had taken place in Chile. These were the causes of the war. The Protector Santa Cruz only thought of the development of the resources of his country, and of remaining at peace with his neighbours. Callao Castle had been dismantled, and the Peruvian fleet of twelve sailing vessels was disarmed and laid up in ordinary. Then, as now, the command of the sea was the main thing necessary for a successful invasion of Peru, and this the Chilian Government well knew. But their method of securing it was not creditable.

The naval actions by the Chilean Navy did not wait: on August 21, 1836 the Chilean war brig Achilles arrived at Callao, in what was supposed to be a goodwill visit. The fleet of Chile then consisted of two small sailing-vessels, the Aquiles and Colocolo. They were sent to the Peruvian ports of Callao and Arica, in time of profound peace.

Taking advantage of the state of disarmament of the Peruvian ships of war from the internal struggles of the previous years, on the same night the Chileans carried out a surprise attack that allowed them to capture the Holy Cross, Arequipeño and Peruviana brig sloop. They were hospitably received and entertained, when suddenly they seized upon the unmanned and unarmed Peruvian ships and carried them off. The war between Chile and the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation thus began.

The first phase of this war must be defined in the sea, and it was why both sides tried to take their control. In the case of the Confederation, this phase of the campaign was in the hands of the Peruvian navy, whose fleet consists of the Socabaya and Confederation Congress and the brig corvettes sailed in November 1837 with the aim of entering over enemy territory. First they attacked the islands of Juan Fernandez, where they surrendered the garrison that was responsible for the prison and freed political prisoners, then bomb the Chilean port of Talcahuano, Huasco and San Antonio, also coming to land troops Marina in San Antonio and Caldera.

Meanwhile, the Chilean government and opponents of the Confederation Peruvian prepared an expedition under Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada landed in southern Peru and moved on Arequipa. After staying in the city for longer expeditionary force Blanco Encalada he was forced to surrender by Marshal Santa Cruz, signing the Treaty of Paucarpata the 17 November 1837 and return to their country.

The treaty was subsequently disowned by the Chilean government, which sent a squadron composed of five warships under the command of British sailor Robert Simpson to harass the Peruvian coast. These ships went to meet him outside the Peruvian port of Islay a Peruvian squad formed by the corvette Socabaya and Junin brigs and Founder orders of the commander Juan Jose Panizo. Simpson tried to destroy the naval force on January 12, 1838, but managed to maneuver intelligently Panizo for several hours making to safeguard their ships against an enemy superior in number and strength. That action, known as the Battle of Islay, was a Peruvian victory, which ended with the withdrawal of the Chilean ships.

Having gained this immense advantage, war was declared on the Confederation. An army of 3000 men, commanded by General Blanco Encalada, was landed at Quilca on the Peruvian coast, and advanced towards Arequipa. The Chilians were out-manoeuvred by Santa Cruz, their supplies were cut off, and eventually they agreed to capitulate rather than risk a battle. But the Protector only longed for peace. There was a Plenipotentiary, Don Antonio J. de Irizarri, with the Chilian army, and the Treaty of Paucarpata was negotiated with him on November 17th, 1837. The invaders were allowed to embark again on condition that the war ceased.

As soon as Blanco's force was safe, the Chilian Government broke the treaty, and despatched another army of 6000 men to invade Peru, accompanied by all the military anarchists and malcontents who had been banished. The Protector was still in the south, and Lima was therefore occupied without difficulty, after a brush with part of the garrison just outside the gates, at a place called Guia. Santa Cruz advanced from the south, the Chilians fled before him, and on the 9th of November, 1838, he reoccupied Lima and Callao. If he had followed up his advantage he would easily have secured another Paucarpata, but a fatal delay of six weeks at Lima gave time for the invaders to get safe off to the northern provinces of Peru, where the native malcontents busily collected recruits, until the original force of 6000 Chilians was increased by 2000 Peruvians.

Santa Cruz still sought to appease Chilian animosity, and to secure peace without further bloodshed. He proposed to retire with his army to Bolivia if the Chilian invaders would also return to their country; that a National Assembly should be convoked as soon as Peru was free of all foreign troops, and that the people should again be allowed to decide whether or not they would adhere to the Confederation. The proposal was made to the Chilians by Colonel Wilson, her Britannic Majesty's Minister, the British mediation being a guarantee for an exact compliance with the terms. But these peaceful overtures were brusquely rejected; and Santa Cruz was obliged to march against the invaders. In his anxiety for peace he had neglected the needful military precautions ; he had no reserve, and he committed several extraordinary blunders in the field; so that an easy victory was won by the combined invaders and malcontents at Yungay, on the 20th of January, 1839.

On January 12, 1839, the Chilean naval squadron commanded by Simpson and some ships that had transported the expedition of General Bulnes They were attacked in the port of Casma by the Confederate squadron formed by Esmond corvette, the Mexican boat, the brig Arequipeño and schooner Peru, under the orders of French sailor Juan Blanchet. The action lasted several hours, passing away Blanchet and missing the Arequipeño, but causing considerable losses to Chilean vessels.

But throughout the year, Chile managed to gain control of the sea and in September was able to dispatch a powerful new expedition with 5,400 soldiers under General Manuel Bulnes. Bulnes' forces, reinforced by opponents Peruvians to Santa Cruz, among whom were Gamarra and Castilla, managed to defeat Orbegoso, in August; and then to Santa Cruz in the decisive Battle of Yungay, on January 20, 1839.

Chile had defeated the Peruvian fleet at Casma on January 12, 1839, and these Chilean victories destroyed the Peru-Bolivia Confederation, made Chile lord of the west coast, brought unity and patriotism to the Chilean elites, and gave Chile's armed forces pride and purpose as a military with an external mission. The successful war also helped convince the European powers and the United States to respect Chile's coastal sphere of influence. Subsequently, the country won additional respect from the European powers and the United States by giving them economic access and concessions, by treating their citizens well, and by generally playing them off against each other.

The defeat of the Bolivian army at the Battle of Yungay on January 20, 1839 ended the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation and produced the fall of Santa Cruz. With regard to the Confederation, after the removal and resignation of Santa Cruz after the defeat of the Confederates against the restorers troops in the Battle of Yungay, its existence ended with its dissolution, leading to a restored government commanded by Agustín Gamarra.

Chile sought for indirect domination over an anarchical Peru through her own nominees. Gamarra, therefore, was allowed to return to power with the aid of Chilian bayonets, and the unhappy land of the Yncas was once more plunged into anarchy and strife, which continued from 1839 to 1844. For this state of things the Chilian Government was responsible. The motives of the war were bad, the incidents of the seizure of Peruvian ships and the breach of the Treaty of Paucarpata were discreditable, and the results were ruinous strife and misery entailed upon a neighbour. Forty years of peace and progress had redeemed Chile from the discredit of this aggressive war.

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Page last modified: 05-06-2016 20:46:48 ZULU