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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Riobamba: Salute to the Argentine Soldiers of 1822


The 9th of July is a special holiday in Argentina. It is their Independence Day. How fitting that I can tell a story of Argentine bravery on the battlefield to assist in the securing of Ecuadorian liberty today. During the early 1820's the South American continent struggled for liberty. The forces of Simon Bolivar in the north and those of Jose San Martin in the south continued to strip away Spanish control. On 21 April 1822 some of San Martin's Argentine cavalry were on loan to the forces of Bolivar as they fought in the pitch battle of Riobamba. The Argentine cavalry was commanded by Juan Galo de LaValle, later to become a political force in Argentina. LaValle had been sent out with nearly 100 men to reconnoiter the terrain on this rainy, muddy morning. The commanding general wanted to know where best to make his stand against the advancing Spanish forces. When LaValle came upon the Spanish infantry he attacked, even though the force was three times bigger than his own. The Spanish infantry broke and ran and the Argentines pursued them a distance, then turned and slowly meandered back towards the liberating army. This angered the Spanish commanders who ordered a full out pursuit of LaValle's forces. The Spanish charged forward in pursuit and found themselves entrapped as the rest of the liberating army was in position to defeat them. The victory at Riobamba paved the way for the victory on the slopes of Volcano Pichincha overlooking the city of Quito, Ecuador. This battle was the final blow in Ecuadorian's liberation from Spanish rule. So today I salute my Argentine friends and family recognizing the sacrifice that these heroes made so many years ago. Of the 1000 men who marched from Mendoza, Argentina to assist in the fighting in countries like Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, only six were in the force when, some fourteen years after the creation of the regiment, they marched into Buenos Aires. I also appreciate jimnet2005 for showing me the hilltop park in downtown Riobamba where part of the battle was fought. I had hoped to hide a geocache there but was not able to. I do recommend that you visit the park. Maybe you can hide one there!




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