Cancha Rayada, Battle of

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Cancha Rayada, Battle of

Battle of Cancha Rayada, a clash between the patriot army and Royalist forces on 19 March 1818, during Chile's war for independence. The Argentine general José de San Martín had been pursuing the Spanish forces near Talca when he decided to stop for the night. Fearing an assault, San Martín was repositioning his troops when the Royalists suddenly attacked under cover of darkness. Surprised, some of the patriot units panicked. While San Martín's men were mauled, the Chileans had to absorb heavier losses, and their commander, Bernardo O'Higgins, who had his horse shot out from under him, suffered an arm wound. Given the high casualty rate, rumors spread that both O'Higgins and San Martín had perished. These tales proved false: the independence army, though badly battered, regrouped. Fortunately for the patriot cause, although O'Higgins's units had suffered heavy losses, the elements under the command of the other patriot officer, Juan Gregorio de Las Heras, emerged unscathed and hence able to actively pursue the war.

See alsoO'Higgins, Bernardo; San Martín, José Francisco de.


Stephen Clissold, Bernardo O'Higgins and the Independence of Chile (1968), pp. 62, 159-169, 171.

Simon Collier, Ideas and Politics of Chilean Independence, 1808–1833 (1968), p. 231.

Additional Bibliography

Archer, Christon I., ed. The Wars of Independence in Spanish America. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000.

Jocelyn-Holt Letelier, Alfredo. La independencia de Chile: Tradición, modernización y mito. Santiago: Planeta/Ariel, 1992.

Ibáñez Vergara, Jorge. O'Higgins, el Libertador. Santiago: Instituto O'Higginiano de Chile, 2001.

                                           William F. Sater