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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 12th, 1817 - The Battle of Chacabuco

Conflict: The Chilean War of Independence

Combatants: Chileans vs. Spanish

Location: Chile

Outcome: Chilean victory

After a nascent independence movement was defeated by the Spanish, Argentine-born Jose de San Martin resigned from the Spanish army and returned to his homeland. There he spent three years training an army of Argentinians and Chileans in the Andes mountains.

Batalla de Chacabuco by José Tomás Vandorse C.

In July of 1816, Argentina declared independence. Then, in January of 1817, San Martin led his army of 5,200 trained soldiers across the dangerous mountain passes of the Andes. At Chacabuco, just north of Santiago, Chile, a Spanish army of 2,000 marched out to halt San Martin's advance.

Batalla de Chacabuco by Edward Loevy

On February 12th of 1817, the two armies clashed. The Chilean contingent moved out before sunrise to contest the Spanish forces. San Martin and the remainder of the revolutionaries turned the Spanish left and sent them into rout. The Spanish lost 500 men killed, another 600 as prisoners, and 7 canons to the rebels. The losses of the revolutionaries were only 12 killed and 120 wounded. The rebel forces occupied Santiago within two weeks. Chilean independence would be proclaimed just one year later.

Battle of Chacabuco by Pedro Subercaseaux

Points of Interest:

  • Jose de San Martin was born in Argentina to Spanish aristocrats. He lived in Spain as a child and served in the Spanish army as a lieutenant colonel in the Peninsular War.

  • After Chile, San Martin campaigned against the Spanish in Peru. When an attempt to coordinate with Simon Bolivar to defeat the Spanish failed in 1822, San Martin retired to Europe.

José de San Martín (retrato, c.1828) by unknown artists(s)



Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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