War of the Thousand Days

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

War of the Thousand Days

War of the Thousand Days (1899–1902), the last and greatest of Colombia's nineteenth-century civil wars. On 18 October 1899, Liberals in the northeastern department of Santander rose in revolt against the Conservative regime in power since 1886, and warfare soon spread throughout much of the country. The Liberals failed to capitalize on their early victory at Peralonso (15-16 December 1899), permitting the government to retain the initiative throughout the war. At Palonegro (11-25 May 1900), near Bucaramanga, the government routed the Liberals in the largest battle in modern South American history. During the next two years the focus shifted to the central departments of Cundinamarca and Tolima, and conventional warfare gave way to a guerrilla struggle, both sides frequently acting without control from above. By late 1902 the warring factions, and the country, were exhausted; but the Liberals' position was far more desperate, after their failure to win support from Liberal regimes in neighboring countries. In October-November 1902 the largest Liberal armies, in Panama and on the Atlantic coast, capitulated in return for amnesty and limited political reforms; Liberal guerrilla holdouts in the interior were then crushed by the government. As many as 100,000 may have died in the conflict, from disease more than from combat wounds; the war also produced, albeit indirectly, Panama's separation from Colombia (under United States auspices) in 1903.

See alsoPanama .


Charles W. Bergquist, Coffee and Conflict in Colombia, 1886–1910 (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Galindo H., Julio Roberto. Benjamín Herrera, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán: grandes caudillos liberales, gestores de la Universidad Libre. Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia: Corporación Universidad Libre, 1998.

Parra Ramírez, Esther, and Eduardo Guevara Cobos. Periódicos santandereanos de oposición a la regeneración, 1889–1899. Santander, Colombia: Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, 2000.

                                  Richard J. Stoller