War of South American Independence





South America


South American victory; Treaty of Brasilia





Simon Bolivar
Agustín de Iturbide
Pedro de Alcântara

Napoleon I
Jospeh Bonaparte




Casualties and Losses



Invasion of Venezuela (May 1821-August 1821)

The multiple nations of South America declared their independence in what was called the United Congress of South America on March 4, 1821. They are supported by Brazil, which declared independence from Portugal after it was defeated in the First European War in 1807, and Mexico, which declared independence from Spain after the last Spanish reserves were brought out of the country in early 1809. The Spanish saw this as a great threat and the Iberian king, Joseph Bonaparte, asked his younger brother, Napoleon I of France, to help Spain and lead a military force going to South America to re-establish Iberian control on the continent. Napoleon agreed and an initial military expedition of 80,000 men left their base in Gibraltar on April 7.

The expedition arrived on the north Venezuelan coast on May 10, and they moved to capture Caracas, the provisional capital of what was proclaimed as the Republic of Venezuela. Meanwhile, an army of 120,000 revolutionary lead by Simon Bolivar, who had been proclaimed the Supreme Commander of the United South American Armies, to counter Napoleon's invasion. The two armies met outside of Caracas on May 14, and the result was a humiliating defeat for the Revolutionaries, who were forced to retreat southwest to Colombia. Napoleon, meanwhile spent the next few months defeating the remaining resistance in Venezuela. But Napoleon was himself humiliated as he had expected to conquer in a few weeks, and this allowed Bolivar to gather his army and prepare to defend Colombia, Napoleon's next objective.

Invasion of Colombia (August 1821-March 1822)

With a successful invasion of Venezuela, Napoleon then moved to capture Colombia, another major point of the Revolution. Cucuta was captured on August 23, and Bucaramanga on September 2, but at the cost of 5,000 French soldiers. Although reinforcements soon arrived, a campaign for Bogota was seen as a costly maneuver, and he decided on a flanking maneuver, to strike the Revolutionary's left flank. But when he moved to capture the city of Medellin, he was ambushed by an army of Mexican soldiers, sent by Mexican Emperor Augustin I to assist the South American revolutionaries. 120,000 Mexican soldiers fought 170,000 French and Iberian soldiers, ending in a Pyrrhic victory for the French and Iberians, who lost 23,500 soldiers, and then continued to march, finally capturing Bogota on March 12. Soon 300,000 French and Iberian reinforcements arrived in Colombia on April 9, for a new French and Iberian campaign.

Invasion of Peru (March 1822-September 1822)

The French and Iberian soldiers were lead by Napoleon into Peru in March 1822 to crush what was seen as the mainstay of the revolution. Where he then moved to capture the town of Iquitos, and then to march on Lima, the Peruvian capital. The Revolutionaries, instead of trying to stop him, allow this and form a defensive line along Cusco, where they were then able to hold off the Imperial forces for two weeks, until they retreated to the town of Arequipa, where Napoleon then pursued them to finish them off. But at the battle they were confronted by not only 40,000 revolutionaries, but by 50,000 Brazilian and Mexican soldiers, who then engaged the 200,000 Imperial troops in urban-style warfare, and the French were thrown into a retreat, where they eventually were forced to evacuate out of Peru and back into Colombia.

Invasion of Brazil and Retreat to Guyana (September 1822-May 1823)

After the disaster in Peru, Napoleon decided to move his army down into Brazil in an attempt to knock them out of the war. He lead 250,000 Imperial troops to invade Brazil from the north, but his march through the Amazonian Rainforest was disastrous as 20,000 troops died in the march, mostly from heat exhaustion. But regardless of this, he is able to march and capture much of the north Brazilian coast and march to the southern coast, where he also had wide-scale success and then moved to capture the Brazilian capital, Rio de Janeiro, which he does on December 21. But he is then confronted by 120,000 troops at Sao Paulo, where he is defeated and forced off of much of the Brazilian coast after a lengthy retreat, he then is forced to retreat back into the north. After the end of another campaign by the Brazilians and revolutionaries, he is forced back into French Guiana, where he then decides to sue for peace for with the revolutionaries and their supporters.

Treaty of Rio de Janeiro

On July 10, 1823, a French and Iberian delegation signed the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro, which ended the War of South American Independence, and gave the new states of South America: Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, and Suriname. France and Iberia also had to give large reparations to the South American countries, which almost lead to an economic collapse in France, and would have destroyed Iberia completely. This peace was absolutely humiliating to France, who was seen before the war as invincible.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.