Boyacá, Battle of

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Boyacá, Battle of

Battle of Boyacá, the most decisive engagement of Colombian independence. The culmination of a campaign begun by Simón Bolívar in late May on the Venezuelan llanos, the clash took place on 7 August 1819 at Boyacá, about 9 miles southwest of Tunja on the road to Bogotá. With an army of Venezuelans, New Granadans, and British legionnaires, Bolívar crossed the eastern plains, scaled the Andes, and emerged in the series of upland valleys leading to the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. After several inconclusive engagements, Bolívar consolidated his foothold and on 5 August occupied Tunja, placing himself between the main royalist army under Colonel José María Barreiro and Bogotá. When Barreiro tried to outflank Bolívar and secure the road to the capital, fighting broke out at a small bridge over the Boyacá River. Numerically, forces were evenly matched—about 2,850 patriots against 2,700 royalists—but the patriots were in better fighting condition. Combat lasted two hours, and neither side suffered major casualties. However, the patriots claimed the field and took most of the enemy prisoner, including Barreiro. Three days later Bolívar entered Bogotá, and with the momentum gained in this victory, the patriots fanned out through most of the rest of central New Granada.

See alsoWars of Independence, South America .


Juan Friede, ed., La batalla de Boyacá, 7 de agosto de 1819, a través de los archivos españoles (1969).

Camilo Riaño, La campaña libertadora de 1819 (1969).

Daniel Florencio O'Leary, Bolívar and the War of Independence, translated and edited by Robert F. McNerney, Jr. (1970), pp. 162-165.

Additional Bibliography

Earle, Rebecca. Spain and the Independence of Colombia 1810–1825. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000.

Ibáñez, José Roberto. La campaña de Boyacá. Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia: Panamericana, 1998.

Thibaud, Clément. Repúblicas en armas: Los ejércitos bolivarianos en la guerra de Independencia en Colombia y Venezuela. Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, 2003.

                                        David Bushnell