Blandengues, a special militia created in 1797 by Spanish authorities in the Río De La Plata region to protect frontier settlements from Indian attack and to combat banditry. In some areas the troops also fought smuggling and the illegal slaughter of wild cattle by traders of dried hides. An early decree authorizing the creation of the force called for eight companies of 100 men each, but these numbers were never reached. Manuel Belgrano, Ernesto Quesada, José Rondeau, José Gervasio Artigas, and other future leaders of the independence movement acquired valuable military experience in their ranks. The Blandengues were particularly important in the pre-independence period of the Banda Oriental (present-day Uruguay). Artigas, joining in 1797, fought with this group against the British invasions of 1806 and 1807, rising to the position of capitán. After declaring his commitment to the independence movement in 1811, he commanded his former Blandengue soldiers in important early victories against Spanish royalist forces.
See alsoWars of Independence, South America .
Azcuy Ameghino, Eduardo. La otra historia: Economía, estado y sociedad en el Río de la Plata colonial. Colección Bitácora argentina. Capital Federal: Imago Mundi, 2002.
Rodriguez Otheguy, Victor A., and Nelson Dellepiane. Cabalgando en la frontera: Historia de los blandengues orientales. Montevideo: [s.n.], 1997.
William H. Katra