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Narcisse Edmond Joseph Desmadryl. Galería nacional: o, colección de biografías i retratos de hombres célebres de Chile. Santiago de Chile: Imprenta Chilena, 1854.


José de San Martín (1778-1850), a colonial officer trained in Spain, returned to his native Argentina to defiantly support the independence movement. He quickly rose through the ranks in Buenos Aires taking over the defense of the northwestern provinces against the royalist forces.

While in the provinces, he conceived an audacious campaign to defeat the royalists by leading an army across the Andes into Chile and then sailing on to Peru to confront the Viceroyalty of Peru, the last stronghold of Spanish supporters in Latin America. San Martín crossed the Andes in 1817 and sailed to Peru from Chile in 1820. He confronted and gravely weakened the royalist forces in both countries. The two manuscript letters shown here deal with these campaigns. On April 13, 1820, San Martín writes to Bernard O’Higgins, Supreme Director of Chile, to request more troops and resources, threatening to retire if his demands are not met. The January 28, 1821, letter, written in Peru, reports that hostilities are dying out and that reason is starting to reign throughout Lima.

In 1822, San Martín resigned his commission and left Latin America for Europe where he would remain the rest of his life, never to return to the lands that he helped liberate.

See also: José de San Martín.

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