After the founding of the Junta de Buenos Aires in 1810, some of its members showed a certain loyalty to Fernando VII, but elements characterized by their high radicalism refused, because they believed that the crown was in Spain no longer exists and that neither the Regency Council and the alleged successor of Joseph Bonaparte represented nothing. As a result, the junta informed the entire territory of the Viceroyalty of Plata of the need to seek support and solidarity for the cause of liberation.
It was known that Alto Peru and Montevideo were not only occupied by loyal forces, but also had strong royalist roots. This was worrying in Buenos Aires, so without wasting time, Don Manuel Belgrano was sent to the head of some troops in order to achieve at least advantageous positions in Paraguay. Nothing could be achieved because after Belgrano and his people had fought with the royalist forces approaching them, they had to retreat to Candelaria.
When Hidalgo de Cisneros ceased as the last viceroy on Argentine territory, the council of the Hispanic reign appointed Don Francisco Javier de Elo captain general and viceroy for the provinces of Plata. Military of great strength. This manifested itself as a die-hard absolutist, which may have been counterproductive on this occasion. In Montevideo he settled down with the desperate eagerness to support this last monarchical bastion, accompanied by a good core of enthusiastic royalists.
Montevideo was a coastal stronghold at the mouth of the Plata and had a splendid port from which predominant commercial operations could be carried out. However, it was in the Eastern Province and there were leaders who, in time and soon, would claim their right to independence. Among them was one who would be a figure in Uruguayan history. His name was Jos Gervasio Artigas and he differs from the other South American liberators in his education. He lacked lineage, but possessed a great dose of patriotism that grew with the daily work of this beautiful red earth of his fief. From there he followed the events of Buenos Aires with interest.
Share the ideas of San Martín and Bolvar and accept the creation of a confederation of American states in which there will be mutual understanding and harmony. Driven by this sentiment, Artigas toured the entire Banda Oriental to gather and discipline the various leaders of the rebellion until he managed to unite them. When he was in Calera de las Hurfanas on April 9, 1811, he was elected sole command. From there they set out with them and a contingent of Argentine patriots to besiege the Plaza de Montevideo, in front of which was the tough General Elo, who had left the enclosure and was determined to clash in what became the so-called battle from Campo led de las Piedras. Elo’s troops fought with great courage, unable to avoid being overwhelmed by Artigas, and again sought refuge in Montevideo. This victory encouraged Artigas to continue the fight in the area. Paso del Rey and Ro de San Jos. Then, with the reinforcement of Benavides and after various alternatives, on April 25th of the same year he finally took the city of San José.
The judgment that Elio’s troops earned from the fighters of Artigas is worthy and noble: the behavior of the Spanish army was brave.
After this siege of Montevideo, the royalist forces besieged Buenos Aires at the same time, but thanks to compromises between the English and Portuguese, an armistice was signed on October 24, 1811. In 1812 the battle of Cerrito de la Victoria took place which the attached sheet is the object. On the occasion of the repetition of a new siege of Montevideo this time General Vigodet was defended. The eastern troops were commanded by an Argentine colonel, Don Jos Rondeau, who was from the Banda Oriental and would be in his homeland three years later. He was also a general, a third of the directors of the United Provinces.
Rondeau assembled and organized various armed forces that he could master with warrior skills. There were several regiments, including those of Vargas and Soler, and most notably the mighty cavalry who were the Gauchista Montoneros, considered accurate marksmen even by these cerril mounts and very adept at handling the rudimentary lances of the Charro Indians . These troops have inflicted real terror on their enemies.
On December 31, 1812, the Battle of Cerrito took place. Vigodet, who watched the movements of Rondeau’s forces from a watchtower in Montevideo without waiting for more, made a ruthless exit on the same hill and surprised the besieging army, which was forced to retreat with great losses. But Rondeau regrouped and reorganized his cadres, attacked vehemently, and was able to defeat Vigodet, forcing him to focus on the plaza again.
The Uruguayan people had to face great vicissitudes and a long road before they achieved their complete independence. But the tenacious will to achieve this has not been erased in this strong ideal of Artigas and his followers, despite obstacles and obstacles such as the treaties between the Buenos Aires junta with Spain, with Brazil, Portugal and even with England, which were determined not to do so recognize them as free. Artigas did not pass out and from Salto, Ayui or Entre Ros he fought inch by inch against everyone. In 1816 Uruguay was annexed to Brazil under the name Cisplatina. Nine years later, it was salvaged by Colonel Lavalleja with the legendary Thirty-three who established their first constitution in 1830.
From the uniforms, they offer little security as they do not have the correct information, apart from what Colonel Rondeau wore, as the Argentine officers used to wear. Those of the troops were very similar to those of the South American armies, that is: a short blue jacket with lapels in white or in a lighter shade, long white trousers and a black rubber jacket with a red or green feather, depending on whether it belonged to grenadiers or Hunters.
(Text and drawing by Miguel Montaner)
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