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Battle of Vuelta de Obligado
Batalla de la Vuelta de Obligado.jpg
Late XIX century depiction of the battle
Date 20 November 1845
Location Vuelta de Obligado in the Paraná River, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Result Anglo-French tactical victory
Strategic allied failure
Belligerents
Flag of the Argentine Confederation.svg Argentine Confederation France Kingdom of France
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Commanders
Flag of the Argentine Confederation.svg Lucio N. Mansilla France Francois Thomas Trehouart
Strength
2160 men
4 coastal batteries
1 brigantine
2 gunboats
11 warships
Casualties and losses
150 killed
90 wounded
1 brigantine lost
21 cannons lost
28 killed
95 wounded
Multiple damage to the warships, forcing emergency repairs

The naval Battle of Vuelta de Obligado took place on the waters of the Paraná River on November 20, 1845, between the Argentine Confederacy, under the leadership of Juan Manuel de Rosas, and an Anglo-French fleet.

Contents

Background

During the 1830s and 1840s, the British and French governments were at odds with Rosas' leadership of the Argentine Confederation. Rosas economic policies of protecting the national industry with high tariffs, combined with his attempts to incorporate Paraguay and Uruguay to the confederacy, were in conflict with French and British economic interests in the region. During his government, Rosas had to face numerous problems with these foreign powers, which in some cases reached levels of open confrontation. These incidents included two naval blockades, the French one in 1838, and the Anglo-French of 1845.[1]

With the development of steam-powered sailing (which mainly took place in Great Britain, France and the USA) in the third decade of the 19th century, large merchant and military ships became capable of sailing up rivers at a good speed and with a heavy load. Lord Palmerston was the first to propose the use of steamers for commerce along the internal waters of Argentina in 1841.[2]

This technology allowed the British and French governments to avoid Argentine custom houses in Buenos Aires by sailing directly through the La Plata estuary and engaging in commerce directly with the Argentinian inland cities. This avoided taxation, guaranteed special rights for the Europeans and allowed them to export their products cheaply.

Rosas government tried to stop this practice by declaring the Argentine rivers closed to foreign countries, barring access to Paraguay and other ports in the process. The British and French governments did not acknowledge this declaration and decided to defy Rosas by sailing upstream with a joint fleet, setting the stage for the battle.[1]

The battle

Chain links and ammunition used by the Argentine forces during the battle

The Anglo-French squadron that was sailing through the Paraná river in the first days of November was composed of eleven warships. These ships were among the most advanced military machinery of their time, and at least three of them -Fulton, HMS Firebrand and HMS Gorgon- were steamers, which initially stayed behind the sailing vessels.[3] They were partially armoured and had rapid-fire guns and Congreve rockets.[4]

The main Argentine fortification was located on a cliff raising between 30 and 180 mt over the banks at Vuelta de Obligado, where the river is 700 metres wide and a turn makes navigation difficult.[5]

The Argentine general Lucio N. Mansilla set up three thick metal chains suspended from 24 boats completely across the river, to prevent the advance of the European fleet. This operation was in charge of an Italian immigrant named Filipo Aliberti.[6] Aliberti was the master of one of the boats, the Jacoba, sunk in the battle. Only three of the boats were naval vessels, the rest were requisitioned barges. Their owners received a compensation in case of loss.[7]

On the right shore of the river the Argentines mounted 4 batteries with 30 cannons, many of them made of bronze, of 8, 10, 12 and 20 pounds, and served with a division of 160 gaucho soldiers. There were also 2,000 men in trenches under the command of Colonel Ramón Rodríguez, and the brigantine Republicano assisted by two small gunboats, Restaurador and Lagos,[2][3] with the mission of guarding the chains across the river.[8]

The combat begun at dawn, with an intense cannon fire and rocket discharges over the Argentine batteries, which had less accurate and slower loading cannons. From the beginning the Argentines suffered many casualties — 150 dead, 90 wounded. Furthermore, the barges that held the chains were burnt down, and the Republicano was lost, blown up by its own commander when he was unable to defend it any longer. The gunboats Restaurador and Lagos disengaged succesfully and withdrew up river, toward Tonelero pass.[9][7] Shortly after, the French steamer Fulton sailed through a gap open in the chain's barrier. Landed troops overcame the last defenders of the bluff, and 21 cannons fell into hands of the allied forces. The Europeans finally had won free pass at a cost of 28 dead and 95 wounded. The ships suffered severe damage that left them stranded at Obligado for 40 days to make emergency repairs.[3][8] Meanwhile, 40 km to the north, a small Argentine naval force composed of the sloop Chacabuco, the gunboats Carmen, Arroyo Grande, Apremio and Buena Vista kept watching a secondary branch of the Paraná whose control gives full access to ports of Entre Rios. A double chain held by seven barges was also deployed across the river.[2] After the battle, the Chacabuco was scuttled and the reminder of the flotilla took shelter in the port of Victoria.[10]

The British and French ships that were able to sail past up river were again attacked in their way back at Paso del Tonelero and in Angostura del Quebracho on 4 June 1846. The combined fleet suffer the loss of six merchant ships during the later engagement.[4] Therefore, the Anglo-French victory did not achieve their economic objectives. It was proved to be practically impossible to sail Argentine rivers without the authorisation of Argentinian authorities.[11]

The aftermath

The battle had a great impact on the continent. Chile and Brazil changed their stance (which until then were against Rosas), and turned, momentarily, to the Confederation's cause. Even some unitarian leaders (traditional enemies of the Argentine caudillo) were moved by the events, with General Martiniano Chilavert offering to join the Confederacy army.[8]

France and the United Kingdom eventually lifted the blockade and dropped their attempts to bypass Buenos Aires' policies. They acknowledged the Argentine government's legal right over the Paraná and the other internal rivers and its authority to determine who had access to it, in exchange for the withdrawal of Rosas army from Uruguay.[12]

The Battle of Obligado is remembered in Argentina on 20 November, which was declared "Day of National Sovereignty" in 1973.[13] The French Paris Métro had a station named after this battle until the 1950s, when it was renamed Argentine.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Lewis, Daniel, K.: The history of Argentina. The Greenwood histories of the modern nations. Palgrave Essential Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp. 46-47. ISBN 1403962545
  2. ^ a b c Batalla de la Vuelta de Obligado (Spanish)
  3. ^ a b c Marley, page 495
  4. ^ a b De León, pp. 18-19
  5. ^ Rodríguez, Moises Enrique: Freedom's Mercenaries: British Volunteers in the War of Independence of Latin America: Southern South America. Volume 2. Hamilton Books, 2006, page 566. ISBN 0-7618-3438-9
  6. ^ Mansilla, page 175
  7. ^ a b Las naves argentinas que participaron del combate de la Vuelta de Obligado (Spanish)
  8. ^ a b c Battle account on Luche y Vuelve website (Spanish)
  9. ^ Academia Nacional de la Historia (Argentina): Investigaciones y ensayos, Issue 43, 1993, page 119 (Spanish)
  10. ^ Anadón Carlos y Murature María del Carmen Historia de Matanza-Victoria: desde los orígenes hasta 1900. Talleres Gráficos Nueva Impresora, 1968, page 102 (Spanish)
  11. ^ "For nearly four years we kept a squadron there, seldom consisting of less than a dozen ships, to cooperate with the similar force mantained by the French; yet, after all our trouble and lavish expenditure, we concluded a treaty in 1849, which was only a diplomatic avowal of the failure of our intervention." Westmister review, page 165
  12. ^ Scheina, Robert: Latin America's Wars: The age of the caudillo, 1791-1899. Brassey's, 2003, page 122. ISBN 1-57488-450-6
  13. ^ Congreso de la Nación: Diario de sesiones de la Cámara de Diputados, page 3569, 1973
  14. ^ Paris Metro

References

  • Marley, David: Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present. ABC-CLIO, 1998. ISBN 0-87436-837-5
  • Mansilla, Lucio Victorio: Mis memorias y otros escritos. Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación en coproducción con Lugar Editorial, 1994. ISBN 950-9129-91-7 (Spanish)
  • De León, Pablo: Historia de la Actividad Espacial en la Argentina. Lulu.com, 2008. ISBN 0-557-01782-3 (Spanish)
  • The Westminster review, Volume 131. J. Chapman, 1889.

External links

Coordinates: 33°35′31.56″S 59°48′26.73″W / 33.5921°S 59.807425°W / -33.5921; -59.807425

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Battle of Vuelta de Obligado
File:Batalla de la Vuelta de
Late XIX century depiction of the battle
Date 20 November 1845
Location Vuelta de Obligado in the Paraná River, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Result Anglo-French tactical victory
Strategic allied failure
Belligerents
 Argentine Confederation Kingdom of France
 United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Lucio N. Mansilla Francois Thomas Trehouart
Strength
2160 men
4 coastal batteries
1 brigantine
2 gunboats
11 warships
Casualties and losses
150 killed
90 wounded
1 brigantine lost
21 cannons lost
28 killed
95 wounded
Multiple damage to the
warships, forcing emergency repairs.

The naval Battle of Vuelta de Obligado took place on the waters of the Paraná River on November 20, 1845, between the Argentine Confederation, under the leadership of Juan Manuel de Rosas, and an Anglo-French fleet.

Contents

Background

During the 1830s and 1840s, the British and French governments were at odds with Rosas' leadership of the Argentine Confederation. Rosas economic policies of protecting the national industry with high tariffs, combined with his attempts to incorporate Paraguay and Uruguay to the confederacy, were in conflict with French and British economic interests in the region. During his government, Rosas had to face numerous problems with these foreign powers, which in some cases reached levels of open confrontation. These incidents included two naval blockades, the French one in 1838, and the Anglo-French of 1845.[1]

With the development of steam-powered sailing (which mainly took place in Great Britain, France and the USA) in the third decade of the 19th century, large merchant and military ships became capable of sailing up rivers at a good speed and with a heavy load. Lord Palmerston was the first to propose the use of steamers for commerce along the internal waters of Argentina in 1841.[2]

This technology allowed the British and French governments to avoid Argentine custom houses in Buenos Aires by sailing directly through the La Plata estuary and engaging in commerce directly with the Argentinian inland cities. This avoided taxation, guaranteed special rights for the Europeans and allowed them to export their products cheaply.

Rosas government tried to stop this practice by declaring the Argentine rivers closed to foreign countries, barring access to Paraguay and other ports in the process. The British and French governments did not acknowledge this declaration and decided to defy Rosas by sailing upstream with a joint fleet, setting the stage for the battle.[1]

The battle

File:Rotas
Chain links and ammunition used by the Argentine forces during the battle

The Anglo-French squadron that was sailing through the Paraná river in the first days of November was composed of eleven warships. These ships were among the most advanced military machinery of their time, and at least three of them -Fulton, HMS Firebrand and HMS Gorgon- were steamers, which initially stayed behind the sailing vessels.[3] They were partially armoured and had rapid-fire guns and Congreve rockets.[4]

The main Argentine fortification was located on a cliff raising between 30 and 180 mt over the banks at Vuelta de Obligado, where the river is 700 metres wide and a turn makes navigation difficult.[5]

The Argentine general Lucio N. Mansilla set up three thick metal chains suspended from 24 boats completely across the river, to prevent the advance of the European fleet. This operation was in charge of an Italian immigrant named Filipo Aliberti.[6] Aliberti was the master of one of the boats, the Jacoba, sunk in the battle. Only three of the boats were naval vessels, the rest were requisitioned barges. Their owners received a compensation in case of loss.[7]

On the right shore of the river the Argentines mounted 4 batteries with 30 cannons, many of them made of bronze, of 8, 10, 12 and 20 pounds, and served with a division of 160 gaucho soldiers. There were also 2,000 men in trenches under the command of Colonel Ramón Rodríguez, and the brigantine Republicano assisted by two small gunboats, Restaurador and Lagos,[2][3] with the mission of guarding the chains across the river.[8]

The combat begun at dawn, with an intense cannon fire and rocket discharges over the Argentine batteries, which had less accurate and slower loading cannons. From the beginning the Argentines suffered many casualties — 150 dead, 90 wounded. Furthermore, the barges that held the chains were burnt down, and the Republicano was lost, blown up by its own commander when he was unable to defend it any longer. The gunboats Restaurador and Lagos disengaged successfully and withdrew up river, toward Tonelero pass.[9][7] Shortly after, the French steamer Fulton sailed through a gap open in the chain's barrier. Landed troops overcame the last defenders of the bluff, and 21 cannons fell into hands of the allied forces. The Europeans finally had won free pass at a cost of 28 dead and 95 wounded. The ships suffered severe damage that left them stranded at Obligado for 40 days to make emergency repairs.[3][8] Meanwhile, 40 km to the north, a small Argentine naval force composed of the sloop Chacabuco, the gunboats Carmen, Arroyo Grande, Apremio and Buena Vista kept watching a secondary branch of the Paraná whose control gives full access to ports of Entre Rios. Like in Obligado, a double chain held by seven barges was also deployed across the river.[2] After the battle, the Chacabuco was scuttled and the reminder of the flotilla took shelter in the port of Victoria.[10]

The British and French ships that were able to sail past up river were again attacked in their way back at Paso del Tonelero and in Angostura del Quebracho on 4 June 1846. The combined fleet suffer the loss of six merchant ships during the later engagement.[4] Therefore, the Anglo-French victory did not achieve their economic objectives. It was proved to be practically impossible to sail Argentine rivers without the authorisation of Argentinian authorities.[11]

The aftermath

The battle had a great impact on the continent. Chile and Brazil changed their stance (which until then were against Rosas), and turned, momentarily, to the Confederation's cause. Even some unitarian leaders (traditional enemies of the Argentine caudillo) were moved by the events, with General Martiniano Chilavert offering to join the Confederacy army.[8]

France and the United Kingdom eventually lifted the blockade and dropped their attempts to bypass Buenos Aires' policies. They acknowledged the Argentine government's legal right over the Paraná and the other internal rivers and its authority to determine who had access to it, in exchange for the withdrawal of Rosas army from Uruguay.[12]

The Battle of Obligado is remembered in Argentina on 20 November, which was declared "Day of National Sovereignty" in 1973.[13] The French Paris Métro had a station named after this battle until the 1950s, when it was renamed Argentine.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Lewis, Daniel, K.: The history of Argentina. The Greenwood histories of the modern nations. Palgrave Essential Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp. 46-47. ISBN 1403962545
  2. ^ a b c Batalla de la Vuelta de Obligado (Spanish)
  3. ^ a b c Marley, page 495
  4. ^ a b De León, pp. 18-19
  5. ^ Rodríguez, Moises Enrique: Freedom's Mercenaries: British Volunteers in the War of Independence of Latin America: Southern South America. Volume 2. Hamilton Books, 2006, page 566. ISBN 0-7618-3438-9
  6. ^ Mansilla, page 175
  7. ^ a b Las naves argentinas que participaron del combate de la Vuelta de Obligado (Spanish)
  8. ^ a b c Battle account on Luche y Vuelve website (Spanish)
  9. ^ Academia Nacional de la Historia (Argentina): Investigaciones y ensayos, Issue 43, 1993, page 119 (Spanish)
  10. ^ Anadón Carlos y Murature María del Carmen Historia de Matanza-Victoria: desde los orígenes hasta 1900. Talleres Gráficos Nueva Impresora, 1968, page 102 (Spanish)
  11. ^ "For nearly four years we kept a squadron there, seldom consisting of less than a dozen ships, to cooperate with the similar force mantained by the French; yet, after all our trouble and lavish expenditure, we concluded a treaty in 1849, which was only a diplomatic avowal of the failure of our intervention." Westmister review, page 165
  12. ^ Scheina, Robert: Latin America's Wars: The age of the caudillo, 1791-1899. Brassey's, 2003, page 122. ISBN 1-57488-450-6
  13. ^ Congreso de la Nación: Diario de sesiones de la Cámara de Diputados, page 3569, 1973
  14. ^ Paris Metro

References

  • Marley, David: Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present. ABC-CLIO, 1998. ISBN 0-87436-837-5
  • Mansilla, Lucio Victorio: Mis memorias y otros escritos. Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación en coproducción con Lugar Editorial, 1994. ISBN 950-9129-91-7 (Spanish)
  • De León, Pablo: Historia de la Actividad Espacial en la Argentina. Lulu.com, 2008. ISBN 0-557-01782-3 (Spanish)
  • The Westminster review, Volume 131. J. Chapman, 1889.

External links

Coordinates: 33°35′31.56″S 59°48′26.73″W / 33.5921°S 59.807425°W / -33.5921; -59.807425


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