A New World Wreathed in Freedom - An Argentine Revolution TL

1 - May Revolution
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    Chapter 1 - May Revolution

    The May Revolution

    When the news of the fall of the Junta of Seville arrived in Buenos Aires in the middle of May aboard British ships, rumors immediately started spreading in the city about the implications despite the best efforts of colonial authorities. Chief among the rumors was that - given the fall of the Junta - Cisneros’ position as Viceroy teetered on the brink. After all, if the body that had appointed him Viceroy had ceased to exist, didn’t that logically mean that he had thus ceased to be Viceroy?

    Painfully aware of just how precarious his position was, and hoping to both save himself and forestall the proliferation of cabildos in open rebellion like the ones he’d faced upon his appointment, Cisneros attempted to thread the needle but time was against him: local patriots like Belgrano and Castelli had heard the rumors almost as soon they arrived in the city, and his Cisneros’ authority eroded more every day he attempted to delay confronting the issue. By the 20th, his position became untenable: the criollo regiments formed to combat the British invasions and which had already proven their importance in Buenos Aires politics by helping put down the Alzaga mutiny, refused orders to defend him and Cornelio Saavedra went so far as to suggest his resignation.

    Cisneros could put it off no longer and agreed to demands from local leaders that an open cabildo should be held. But the delay - both in publicly recognizing the news of the fall of the Central Junta and in convening a cabildo to deal with the fallout - had led to a radicalization of local sentiment: a mob threatened to storm the Cabildo’s first regular session the next day, fearing that Cisneros had only agreed under duress and was plotting to go back on his word, and the crowd would refuse to vacate the square until the Cabildo produced a guest list for the open session.

    With the list published, criollos worked tirelessly, both to procure their own invitations and to ensure that they would have full control over proceedings the next day. A sympathetic printer made sure to produce surplus invitations for distribution among the locals, while criollo leaders visited the troops to keep them on their side. When the Cabildo finally opened the next day, criollos made sure they commanded a majority inside, while armed sympathizers held the square and stood ready to intervene if somehow their majority faltered. But the most radical of the criollos, spearheaded by Mariano Moreno, did not trust Cisneros or the Cabildo: the former had already tried to manipulate the crisis to his own benefit, whereas the latter - the ongoing open session notwithstanding - had been reticent to move on its own and Moreno was convinced that their acceptance of the open Cabildo was under duress as well, so he conferred with his fellow revolutionaries the night before and hatched a plan[1].

    Moreno feared that Cisneros had no intention of stepping down, and worse, that his allies in the Cabildo could command a plurality if not a majority even if he were forced to resign given the divisions in the anti-Cisneros camp. While they were certain they had the votes to remove the Viceroy, what came next remained uncertain, so Moreno had an idea: force the issue of the Viceroy to a vote early, then use the rest of the debate to try and unify around an alternative.

    Benito Lue y Riega, bishop of Buenos Aires and speaking in support of Cisneros and the ratification of his position, set the tone for the debate on the 22nd by stating plainly that “not only is there no reason to get rid of the Viceroy (...) America should only be ruled by the natives when there is no longer a Spaniard there”. Castelli would seize on the bishop’s statement, and would end his speech with a short proposal, which likewise served as a signal for Belgrano - perched at the window - to wave for the crowd to once again chant against Cisneros and demand his resignation: “I suggest we vote immediately, for all else rests upon this decision: shall we ratify Cisneros as Viceroy, or shall this body decide our fate”.[2]

    Control of the mob would once again prove decisive for the patriotic cause, as the Cabildo bowed to the pressure and put the matter of Cisneros’ position up for a vote early in the day: with 125 votes against 99, the Cabildo voted to remove Cisneros as Viceroy and assume the authority to replace him[3], and he abandon the meeting in dismay as the crowd outside cheered. As the people in the square calmed down, the Cabildo resumed its debate in a tense atmosphere, as Cisneros’ absence left only their divisions over what should take his place.

    During the rest of the day, several attendees would make their own proposal: the most conservative members hoped to maintain the status quo as best they could, and proposed simply that the Cabildo rule in the interim but ultimately appoint or accept a new viceroy; Cisneros’ supporters for their part sought a compromise and proposed that the deposed Viceroy continue with a new title, but this was fiercely resisted by the revolutionaries and the Cabildo was hesitant to force the issue with the crowd still outside. At the end of the day, a consensus seemed to form over the proposal that obtained a plurality of the votes: proposed by Saavedra, it empowered the Cabildo to form a governing Junta and appoint its members.

    When the ordinary Cabildo reconvened on the 23rd, they set about carrying out the decision of the previous day’s session. Despite the explicit rejection of Cisneros, its members were hesitant to dispense with him entirely, and as they debated the composition of the new Junta, they resolved to name the former Viceroy as its president in an effort to preserve the status quo as best they could. They hoped that by completing the Junta with a plurality of patriots like Saavedra, Castelli and Solá they could mollify the revolutionaries, but as the events of the 24th would show, they had severely underestimated the opposition to Cisneros.

    When the composition of the Junta was announced early on the 24th, the reaction of the crowd headed by French and Beruti - many of them members of the militia and congregating in the square armed and irate - forced the Cabildo’s members to retreat back into the building and hide from hurled insults and stones[4]. Cisneros, attempting to exercise the authority the Cabildo had conferred to him, summoned Saavedra, Huidobro and Rodriguez and ordered them to disperse the crowd, hoping that Saavedra - the most prominent of the three - would acquiesce and force the other two to do so as well by virtue of his inclusion in the named Junta. Instead, Saavedra rebuffed his command, and all three commanders repeated the suggestion they’d made to Cisneros earlier in the week: resign, because even if they were willing to order their soldiers to disperse the crowd, they would simply mutiny and join the mob.

    The Cabildo attempted to negotiate with the crowd and its leaders, but they refused to accept any Junta presided by Cisneros. These failed negotiations, combined with Cisneros’ intransigence in the face of mass opposition, only served to radicalize the revolutionaries, and as the former Viceroy attempted to save his position, patriot leaders began collecting signatures from among the crowd and draft a manifesto.

    The standoff lasted for most of the day, but the steadfast refusal of the city’s military commanders to order their forces to intervene on his behalf forced Cisneros’ hand: he announced to the commanders that he intended to resign, and they took the news to the crowd that - once more - greeted the news with glee.

    The Cabildo however would not be so easily swayed: they met once again early on the 25th and promptly voted to reject Cisneros’ resignation, stating bluntly that whatever the mob might claim, the only thing that had been clear from the votes on the 22nd was that it was the Cabildo’s prerogative to name the Junta, so they ratified his designation and summoned the top military leaders of the city to order them to carry out their duty and defend the government it had appointed. The day had dawned overcast, but a crowd began to gather outside the building despite the inclement weather, and soon it swelled to a mob that threatened to break down the doors.

    When it became clear that the Cabildo refused to budge, the crowd surged forward and forced the exterior doors open, forcing them to open negotiations with its leaders; despite the Cabildo members’ pleas for calm and for the crowd to accept the will of the Cabildo - which they again stated was fully in keeping with the letter of the proposal that had been voted on the 22nd - the crowd grew more agitated at the protracted negotiations, and their warnings that Buenos Aires could not unilaterally upend the entire political order of the Viceroyalty fell on deaf ears.

    Defeated, the Cabildo finally accepted Cisneros’ resignation and agreed to name a new Junta, but by then the revolutionaries’ patience had run out: they demanded that the Junta be elected by the people. The Cabildo scoffed at first, but with the angry mob still gathered outside, the negotiators calmly told them that they could hardly contain the passions of the crowd as it was, and ultimately they could not guarantee the safety of the Cisneros or the Cabildo if they refused. Hoping to buy time for Cisneros to gather support and summon more loyal troops, they agreed on the condition that the leaders of the revolutionaries presented their proposal in writing.

    Much to their dismay, the revolutionaries had come prepared: Antonio Beruti produced the document[5], which carried the signature of the most prominent patriots in the city as well as hundreds more unidentified signatures purported to belong to other notable members of society and of the different militia regiments that had proven decisive in Cisneros’ downfall. The Cabildo members asked for more time to deliberate, but Beruti and his compatriots refused: too much time had already been lost to the Cabildo’s spurious efforts to circumvent the will of the people. If they did not accept the terms, the negotiators would leave and return with a better armed crowd.

    And so, as the sun broke through the clouds in the afternoon of May 25, 1810, the Cabildo read out the proclamation of the country’s first revolutionary government, and the crowd cheered as the composition of the Junta was announced. A dejected Cisneros fled to his house to send a messenger to his predecessor in Córdoba as Cornelio Saavedra, commander of the Regiment of Patricians, was introduced as President of the Junta and was joined on the balcony by the rest of its members: Manuel Alberti, Miguel de Azcuénaga, Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli, Domingo Matheu and Juan Larrea, and secretaries Juan José Paso and Mariano Moreno. The May Revolution had begun.


    Litograph of the first patriotic government

    [1] Moreno was amongst the most radical of the revolutionaries, and IOTL had good reason to be suspicious of the Cabildo’s intentions, as their insistence on designating Cisneros as the president of the Junta meant to replace him showed. IOTL, he expressed his concern after the open session, but ITTL he’s a bit more machiavellian and hatches a plan to try and set the tone of the session early on.

    [2] The first PoD: IOTL, the debate lasted all day long, and the voting was tallied after all the proposals had been presented, running the gamut from ratifying Cisneros to convening a Constitutional Assembly. ITTL, the revolutionaries force the issue early and demand that the vote be held immediately with the help of the raucous crowd outside (which had gathered IOTL, but was not signalled to intervene).

    [3] The tally IOTL was 155 to 69; ITTL, the vote is closer because the issue of the removal of the Viceroy is being forced early, and while there was an overwhelming majority in favor of deposing Cisneros, it may not have been quite as overwhelming if the 30 votes for Huidobro’s position didn’t hope to score a plurality in favor of having their own candidate take his place.

    [4] The second PoD: both sides are slightly more radical than their OTL counterparts, and given the explicit repudiation of Cisneros on the 22nd, the Cabildo’s decision to name him president of the Junta is even worse received ITTL - to the extent that the rest of its members don’t swear loyalty to it before being forced to resign later that night. Another key detail is that the revolutionaries have had a lot more success with their use of the mob, which is shown by their confrontation with the Cabildo early in the morning.

    [5] A third PoD: IOTL, it took the revolutionaries several hours to gather the signatures and present the document. ITTL, its most radical members have been preparing for this precise moment since the day before, and Beruti arrives at the negotiations with the document already prepared.
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    2 - The Revolution on the March
  • Chapter 2 - The Revolution on the March

    The Junta set to work quickly, weary of further delays giving royalists an opportunity to organize a response, and acutely aware that - despite their triumph in Buenos Aires - the Cabildo’s warning that Buenos Aires could not upend the entire political system of the colonies unilaterally had a great deal of truth to it. As a result, one of their first acts upon consolidating control of Buenos Aires - which included the arrest of Cisneros upon the discovery that he’d sent word to Liniers asking the former Viceroy to invade the city - was to summon delegates from the other provinces to the capital.

    Initial debates about the nature of these summons swirled around two contradictory proposals: on the one hand, the most cautious revolutionaries were reticent to make any moves that could be interpreted as a definitive break with Spain, whether out of genuine fear of ultimate defeat or an overabundance of caution given the violent end of previous efforts that sought independence; they proposed that the delegates be invited to join the Junta, thus making them stakeholders in the revolution while keeping the fig leaf of doing so only in an interim basis.

    But the events of the previous week had weakened their hand, primarily by making it clear that they’d face royalist intransigence no matter what they did, and news that Liniers was trying to raise an army in Córdoba only reinforced this perception. Thus the radicals in the Junta, led by Moreno, felt emboldened to take a more drastic step: they summoned delegates from the other provinces to assemble in Buenos Aires and convene a Constitutional Assembly to decide the fate of the colonies.

    The tension between the two camps threatened to undermine the revolutionary government, especially as news of Royalist uprisings in Alto Peru, Montevideo and Paraguay trickled in and delegates arrived and began demanding a definitive answer about their role: they argued that if they were to be included in the Junta, they should be included immediately, and if they would not be included in the Junta, the promised Constitutional Assembly should be held as soon as possible lest the revolution lose momentum in the face of their enemies.

    If not for a stray bullet in the revolution’s first military triumph, those tensions may well have continued to escalate as the growing number of delegates diluted the consensus over the direction of the revolution: as the Junta debated whether to have Liniers arrested or summarily executed in the event of his defeat, Cordoba’s delegates arrived with news that would buoy the spirits of the radicals: after forcing a small army led by Ocampo to withdraw, Liniers had refused to surrender when confronted by the revolutionary militia led by Castelli, and had died in the fighting alongside the royalist governor[1].

    The defeat of Liniers’ counter-revolutionary militia was a further boon to the radical cause because it cleared most of the provinces of any substantial threat to the patriots: Royalist attempts to invade from the north were rebuffed by local guerillas, forcing the counter-revolutionary forces to retreated back toward Alto Peru, and despite Montevideo’s refusal to recognize the Junta’s authority and its proclamation of allegiance to the Regency Council - which earned its leader Francisco Javier de Elío a promotion to Viceroy - they lacked the ability to threaten Buenos Aires.

    In an effort to consolidate his control of the Junta and counteract the growing influence of Moreno, Saavedra proposed that the revolutionary government go on the offensive; Castelli, lauded for his quick suppression of the Cordoban threat, was ordered to head north and take command of a campaign to subdue Alto Peru, while Saavedra would take personal command of a similar mission to subdue the royalists who had taken control of Paraguay[2]. Although fearing initially that leaving Buenos Aires would weaken his position, he decided that Castelli - a loyal Morenist - could not be allowed to overtake him as the premier military leader of the revolution, and after Castelli’s success in Córdoba, further success in Alto Peru would position him as its most successful general.

    Both expeditions departed Buenos Aires with much fanfare, as Moreno and the remaining members of the Junta set the stage for an Assembly including the delegates from the interior; although small by European standards, the revolutionaries would mobilize nearly 2000 soldiers in total between the two expeditions, while volunteers and local militias rallied to the cause en route and bolster their numbers to double that.

    The string of successes for Castelli continued as his expedition arrived in time to reinforce the local forces that had rebelled at Cochabamba but had been repulsed at Potosí, and would deliver a stinging blow to the royalists by defeating them at the Battle of Suipacha. As it had in Cordoba, this victory all but secured the province for the revolutionary government, and Castelli continued to amass prestige on the field of battle. As the Royalists were forced to retreat across the border to Perú, he set about organizing the local government along revolutionary lines, and arranged for an open Cabildo like the one that had kickstarted the revolution to elect the province’s delegates to the Assembly to be held in Buenos Aires[3].

    While Castelli went about reforming the administration of Alto Peru - including the abolition of the mita system, the proclamation of equal rights for criollos and natives and the abolition of trade privileges - Saavedra advanced with caution against Paraguay. Despite early reports that support for the revolution was strong in the province, as Saavedra approached, he was confronted by a sizable Spanish army bolstered by thousands of Paraguayans. Although he had confidence in his 1500 troops, organized around the semi-professional core of the Regiment of Patricians[4], he understood the dangers of invading unfamiliar terrain against well-organized locals and set up a base at Candelaria to fully prepare and make sure his army was fully armed and supplied.

    When he crossed the river in December, he brushed aside a small force of Paraguayan soldiers at Campichuelo then advanced towards Asunción, meeting the Spanish forces at Paraguarí. Although equally matched numerically, Saavedra was weary to attack head on, as the Spanish had taken up defensive positions upon Mbaé Hill; when his scouts brought back news of a Paraguayan force twice the size of his own - which seemed intent on reinforcing the 1500 Spanish soldiers on the hill - he adjusted his plans, and sent representatives to parley with the Paraguayans led by Fulgencio Yegros[5].

    The Paraguayans impressed upon Saavedra their belief that, as far as they were concerned, the Junta in Buenos Aires was no better than the Spanish: Buenos Aires felt as remote to them as Madrid had before it, and they refused to submit to a new overlord, especially one better positioned to attack them than the Royalists appeared to be. Saavedra replied that he had not come to conquer Paraguay, but to liberate it, and his only goal was to eliminate a royalist threat. But the Paraguayans refused to abandon the field unless given assurances that Saavedra would depart Paraguay as soon as possible and promise to not return.

    Saavedra was loath to leave Paraguay empty handed, so he came to an agreement with Yegros: in exchange for Paraguayan support in defeating the Spanish army, Saavedra would withdraw from Paraguay afterward and allow local patriots to decide their own fate, although Saavedra extended an invitation for them to send delegates to the assembly gathering in Buenos Aires. The combined forces of the revolutionaries outnumbered the Spanish by 3 to 1, and the subsequent battle quickly turned into a rout as the royalist army was destroyed and dispersed into the Paraguayan hinterland. While some of them would manage to make their way to Uruguay and Brazil, by the end of the year, Paraguay would be free of Royalist forces[6].

    By the beginning of 1811, the revolution was ascendant and secure: after the successes of Castelli and Saavedra - although the latter’s victory was partially overshadowed by the realization that Paraguay, while free from the Spanish, had practically been lost to Buenos Aires - the royalists had been swept from the entire territory of the Viceroyalty between the Andes mountains and the Uruguay river. Saavedra arrived in Buenos Aires hoping for a hero’s welcome, but much to his chagrin, while his position as President of the Junta was still secure, his expedition had been eclipsed by Castelli’s, and he was frustrated to discover that the press - including Moreno’s Gaceta de Buenos Ayres, which had become the virtual mouthpiece of the revolution - was quick to highlight the contrast.

    As the anniversary of the revolution approached, it would also score a decisive victory in Uruguay: the interior of the Oriental Province had risen up against Elío’s government in Montevideo in February, and on the 18th of May, a revolutionary army led by José Artigas would face a Royalist army led by José Posadas and crush them on the field, capturing hundreds of royalist soldiers along with their commander. With this victory, the revolution’s armies have successfully reduced Royalist control in the region to just Colonia de Sacramento and Montevideo, which is besieged soon after[7].

    On May 25, 1811, the Revolution celebrates its first anniversary, with public celebrations in the central square of every major city from Chuquisaca to Buenos Aires - including Asunción, which votes to send a delegate to the Assembly in Buenos Aires in recognition of Saavedra’s help in their own liberation - and the Junta can point to an incredibly successful term in office. To mark the occasion, a decree is issued across the territory of the Viceroyalty of La Plata: the delegates have assembled, and they shall convene as the first National Assembly of the colony starting July 1st.


    Surrender of Posadas at Las Piedras, by Juan Manuel Blanes. This victory would leave the vast majority of the Viceroyalty of La Plata free of Royalist forces on the anniversary of the Revolution.
    [1] A pretty significant departure from OTL, Ocampo captured Liniers along with the rest of Cordoba’s counter-revolutionary leaders without firing a shot as Liners’ army deserted then decided to send them to Buenos Aires even as conflicting orders demanding they be summarily executed arrived with Castelli. ITTL, the counter-revolutionaries stand and fight, Ocampo is rebuffed in his first attack, and Liniers is killed in a subsequent battle with Castelli’s forces (preventing another rift amongst the revolutionaries, since Saavedra later pleaded for clemency for the captured royalists and Moreno’s intransigence and insistence on their execution alienated the Saavedrists).

    [2] The changes begin to ripple out in rather drastic fashion starting from here: IOTL, Saavedra did not leave Buenos Aires because he (quite astutely) feared that his position as President would be in danger if he left the capital; ITTL, and as a result of Castelli’s more clear-cut success in Cordoba -- sidestepping the controversy around the treatment of Liniers and his co-conspirators -- he feels the need to prove himself militarily, lest the Morenist camp hog all the glory.

    [3] Both the military success and the local reorganization are the same as IOTL, but Castelli’s star is still rising without the stain of the controversy surrounding the execution of Liniers. The election of delegates to attend the assembly is another ripple effect of earlier changes.

    [4] Similar to Belgrano’s OTL campaign, but Saavedra has both the benefit of having the Regiment of Patricians to bolster his forces (Belgrano invaded Paraguay with fewer than 1000 men) and the experience from the British Invasions has taught him that it can be perilous to attack recklessly into unfamiliar terrain with a potentially hostile local population - as demonstrated by the success of the Buenos Aires militias in repulsing British regulars.

    [5] Saavedra decides not to attack the entrenched Spanish forces head on, preventing his army getting attacked by the combined forces of the Spanish and the locals, which resulted in Belgrano being forced to retreat. It helps in this case that the Paraguayan forces are commanded by someone Saavedra would know, having fought alongside Yegros against the British invasion of Buenos Aires.

    [6] This has pretty substantially accelerated the timeline of Paraguayan independence, by turning the Junta (by way of Saavedra) into an ally instead of an early enemy in their eventual liberation from Spain. While IOTL its own revolution against the royalists would succeed in expelling the Spanish by June of 1811, ITTL they’ve arrived at the same result by March.

    [7] Same as OTL, with the only minor difference that Artigas’ nephew survives.
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    3 - The First Patriotic Government
  • Chapter 3 - The First Patriotic Government

    Saavedra portrait.jpg

    Mariano Moreno and Cornelio Saavedra, leading figures of the revolutionary Junta and heads of the first Patriotic Government

    With Saavedra on campaign in pursuit of military glory to bolster his political clout, Mariano Moreno quickly became the most influential member of the Junta. His position as Secretary of War strengthened his association with the rising star of Castelli, and as Secretary of Government, he could set the agenda of the Junta, in addition to commanding a majority among its members. Additionally, his ownership of the Gazeta of Buenos Aires allowed him to set the tone of the revolution, making him a popular figure among the politicized mobs that had been instrumental to the Revolution’s success in Buenos Aires.

    Capitalizing on Saavedra’s temporary absence[1], he made sure to always be the first to meet with the delegates that arrived from the provinces, and thus began to plan for the kind of Assembly he dreamed of: an Assembly of representatives of all the provinces and all its peoples, convened in Buenos Aires with the express aim of deciding the fate of the entire Viceroyalty. While their sympathies and level of commitment to the Revolution varied, Moreno was able to use his clout on the Junta and oversight over military and governmental appointments to recruit allies.

    While some cabildos would send more conservative delegates, none would ultimately send any delegates associated or sympathetic with the royalist cause. Their cause had been too badly beaten by revolutionary armies, and the Junta’s success on the field of battle gave it momentum in the cities. The revolution’s argument that the King’s abdication meant that sovereignty reverted to the people as expressed by their duly elected Cabildo’s was easy to understand for the provinces, and while some may have chafed at the Junta’s assumption of primacy, they could all see the results of their initiative.

    Moreno kept the Junta busy in Saavedra’s absence: the revolutionary government would dispatch embassies and assume control of the Viceroyalty’s tax collection, as well as overseeing the implementation of tariffs on a range of luxury goods to raise funds for both military supplies and infrastructure projects. Despite the tariffs however, the revolutionary government also sought to actively open up the port of Buenos Aires, repealing colonial restrictions on trade with foreign merchants.

    But Moreno and the Junta also had to tread carefully: for all their claims of acting only out of dutiful loyalty to the unjustly deposed king Fernando VII, many of them assumed that the King’s cause was all but lost. Some conservatives grumbled aloud that soon enough the Junta would forget its perfunctory mention of the King as the Junta took on more and more powers of the Viceroyalty.

    The Cabildos of the Viceroyalty chafed under these efforts however, straining both the goodwill that the revolution’s military successes earned it and the resources of the Junta itself, which kept its original 8-man membership throughout the rest of its term[2]. Moreno capitalized on his majority on the Junta - strengthened in Saavedra’s physical absence - to interpret the mandate the Cabildo of Buenos Aires had granted the Junta liberally. The most significant of these was Moreno’s appointment of the arriving provincial delegates to non-voting administrative positions, allowing him to simultaneously reward the other cabildos that recognized the authority of the Junta while preserving his majority on it.

    The ordinary Cabildo of Buenos Aires chafed most of all under Moreno’s direction: its composition remained the same as before the Revolution, so it remained a conservative redoubt, and it guarded its authority over other remaining colonial institutions jealously. But Moreno still had the sympathy of the mob, and French and Beruti rallied the militias to the town square once again when the Cabildo attempted to hold a session to vote to dissolve the Junta. Control of the crowd continued to be decisive, and the Cabildo could do nothing to prevent the people from drowning out their session with demands for new elections. Hot on the heels of news of Castelli’s victories in the North, the Morenists capitalized on their popularity and had an amenable Cabildo elected in Buenos Aires, removing a substantial roadblock to the Revolution’s government[3].

    Several of the removed members of the Cabildo flee the city for Montevideo, further weakening the conservative faction in Buenos Aires. Opposition to Moreno and the Junta instead begins to rally around the figure of Dean Funes, a prominent priest from Córdoba and the most prominent provincial delegate already in the capital. But his conservatism takes the form of opposition to Moreno’s attempt to monopolize appointments, denouncing it as centralist and tyrannical. The issue would come to the forefront by January of 1811, as the delegates from a majority of the provinces had already gathered in Buenos Aires and waited.

    Moreno could only placate them with non-voting appointments for so long; by March, with Saavedra back in the capital carrying a letter of intent from Yegros promising to hold a cabildo of their own to elect delegates. With the arrival of Oriental delegates led by Artigas’ nephew following the victory at Las Piedras, delegates from all the provinces had gathered in one place for the first time in history. On May 25th, Saavedra and Moreno spoke from the balcony of the Fort that functioned as the seat of government and announced that the Junta would end after a successful year in government, to be replaced by a General Constitutional Assembly of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata[4].

    Finally, on June 1st, the delegates gathered for a session presided by the priest Juan Nepomuceno Sola, one of the most venerable members of the delegation elected by the morenist majority in the local Cabildo; symbolically, the delegates from across the provinces gathered in the hall of the building where the revolution had started by popular acclaim, and they would publish the news in newspapers across the country. Emboldened by a string of victories that have also enflamed their patriotism, they announced themselves to the world as the General Constituent Assembly of the United Provinces of the River Plate and proclaimed that they met in compliance with the principle of retrocession of sovereignty - championed originally by Monteagudo and an increasingly popular idea among the revolutionaries elected by the cabildos the principle rested upon - and thus represented the only legitimate voice of the people of the Viceroyalty of La Plata.

    The radicals rode that revolutionary fervor right to the worst nightmares of the few ardent royalists that remained: the Constituent Assembly dropped the oath to Fernando VII from its preamble, and thus represented a clear break with the metropole. Some delegates agitated for a formal declaration of independence, but Saavedra, speaking primarily on behalf of the military and buoyed by the support of prestigious and popular arrivals like San Martin and Alvear, urged a measure of caution in order to prevent drawing the ire of the Portuguese crown in Rio, and to give the incoming government more flexibility in its handling of the war. The compromise is begrudgingly accepted, and by the end of June 1, all the delegates have been sworn in to the Assembly.

    The Constituent Assembly would undertake the task of reforming the provinces from a colonial subject to a self-governing nation; it would create the country’s first basic legal code, and propelled by the prestige of the Morenists and Castelli’s successful reforms in Alto Peru, extend some of their more radical ideas to the rest of the provinces. Seeking to solidify his alliance with the provincial Cabildos he relied upon to recruit potential allies, the Assembly would proclaim that every city with more than 15,000 residents was entitled to hold a cabildo and elect a delegate.

    The Assembly also voted to recognize the primacy of the colonial provincial capitals and instructed the cabildos to send delegates and organize provincial constituent assemblies along the model of the National one. These reforms radically transformed the nation, promoting the cities of Santa Fe, Paraná, Corrientes, Salto, Posadas, Mendoza, and Salta to provincial capitals in their own right, and assigned all provincial capitals with an additional delegate.

    Buenos Aires' primacy was also recognized by the Assembly, with the city earning the monikers "Mother of the Revolution" and "First Seat of Government", but the Assembly also passes a motion "to designate as soon as circumstances allow a commission to plan for the preparation and construction of a new city to serve as permanent capital of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata".

    The Assembly would also implement liberal reforms like freedom of the womb, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, trial by jury, the abolition of the mita and torture, and codified the separation of powers for the new revolutionary government. It created the position of Supreme Representative to fill the role of head of state, while Moreno transformed his informal system of patronage into the blueprint for the country's budding parliamentary government: the powers of appointment he had amassed as Secretary of the Junta and Secretary of Government were transferred to the newly created position of General Secretary of the National Assembly; the General Secretary would then preside a Governing Junta composed of the remaining Secretaries, the Supreme Representative, the most senior member of the clergy, and the eventual heads of the Army and Navy that the new government is instructed to form.

    On July 1st, with the Constitutional Assembly still hard at working ironing out the details of the new constitution, two messengers arrived: a delegate from Montevideo, who had crossed the river aboard a British ship, accused them of treason against the Regency Council; while a delegate from Rio arrived and "informed" the revolutionary leaders that Brazilian forces would be compelled to march to Montevideo and relieved the besieged city "in order to mediate and bring an end to the anarchy that besets the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata and preserve the birthright of the Imperial Princess".

    Overcome by overconfidence and a nationalistic urge to defend their nascent government from outside intervention, the Constituent Assembly would respond to the royalist and carlotist threats by voting unanimously to declare independence. The Supreme Representation would become the Supreme Directory, and on July 9th, Cornelio Saavedra and Mariano Moreno would swear fealty to the new Constitution as the first Supreme Director and General Secretary respectively of the United Provinces.

    Saavedra would ratify the structure that Moreno carried over from the Junta in exchange for making the Supreme Director Commander in Chief of the armed forces as well as granting his militia - the Regiment of Patricians - a privileged position in the military pecking order by making its commander (appointed by the Supreme Director) a member of the Governing Junta along with the chiefs of the Army and the Navy. The two leading men of the revolution threw themselves into their new missions: to defend and to develop the United Provinces respectively, for the war for independence had only just begun.

    Escudo Provincias Unidas de la Plata.png
    [1] With Saavedra out of the capital and the Morenist camp basking in the glow of Castelli’s success, Mariano Moreno is in a much stronger position in Buenos Aires. With the President of the Junta on campaign, his opposition lacks a strong counterbalance to a skilled administrator and politician like Moreno - those conservatives that do arrive in Buenos Aires can only rally around the figure of Saavedra, while Moreno gathers more allies to his side.

    [2] A major butterfly of Saavedra’s campaign: Saavedra and Moreno would butt heads often, with the matter of the arriving delegates causing the deepest rift. ITTL, Moreno has the entire Paraguay campaign - which keeps Saavedra away from July of 1810 to March 1811 - to rally allies to his corner while preventing Saavedra from forcing a change of composition in the Junta to dilute Moreno’s power (the Junta Grande).

    [3] The Revolutionaries successfully capitalize on their control of the mob in Buenos Aires to hamper the incumbent Cabildo’s counter-revolutionary efforts. Moreno’s allies justify the need for a new Cabildo by arguing that the city also needed to hold a new open cabildo to elect its own delegates to the upcoming assembly.

    [4] We’re in uncharted waters from here on out: IOTL, the Junta would become the Junta Grande before the end of 1810, a decision which diluted Moreno’s power and influence but which also made the revolutionary government cumbersome, conservative and cautious. ITTL Saavedra’s absence means that the incoming anti-Morenist delegates lack a strong figure on the Junta to rally around, so the idea to expand the Junta gains less traction, allowing it to survive as an interim government until replaced by the Assembly.
    4 - The War for Independence
  • Chapter 4 - The War for Independence

    Juan José Castelli became a darling of the Revolution, scoring both its earliest political and military victories;
    his early death, hastened by his prolonged campaigns, turned him into a martyr and a radical rallying figure

    The jubilation following the country’s declaration of independence would give way to grim resolve as the news was immediately followed by the revolution’s first significant military setbacks: as the Assembly was voting to become a free nation, royalist troops advanced into the Alto Peru after first pushing back a garrison guarding the crossing at the Desaguadero River near Lake Titicaca. Castelli’s forces attempted to intervene, but the general was dealing with the effects of advanced tongue cancer and was forced to stay behind at Chuquisaca, and the revolutionaries under the command of his deputies were forced back from their positions[1].

    The Spanish pursued, threatening to overtake them and subsequently capture Cochabamba then Potosí, but the revolutionary cavalry headed by Juan Martin de Güemes - bolstered by native auxiliaries and guerrillas - hampered their advance, and the Army of the North was able to reform in good order on the outskirts of Potosi. By then, Castelli had joined up with his troops and dispatched urgent missives to Buenos Aires requesting reinforcements, but the missives wouldn’t reach the new government for several weeks, forcing him to face an enemy army 8,000 strong with only 5,000 troops in total.

    Güemes’ troops - a heterogenous blend of gaucho militias recruited from the northern ranching regions and lightly-armed native guerrillas that swarmed behind his mobile cavalry - were decisive: the road to Potosí traversed difficult terrain hemmed in by mountains on all sides, and the talented guerrilla leader used this to his advantage to harass the invading army along the entire length of its march. Forced to take the city of Cochabamba en route, the local garrison was fiercely opposed to the royalists and fervently supported Castelli’s reforms, causing the Spanish further delays and costing them precious amounts of supplies and manpower.

    Castelli prepares his forces for a siege, counting on his cavalry to harass the Spanish from the rear and hoping that the seeds he’d sewn in Peru would bloom at last, and when it seemed that the Spanish would begin preparing siege lines of their own, the royalist army decamped and began to withdraw towards the Desaguadero River once more. Revolution was brewing in Peru, and with the revolutionary army entrenched in Potosi, the royalist army chose to withdraw rather than risk getting trapped between Castelli’s forces in Potosí and a rebel army that was gathering in their rear.

    Despite chronic pain and difficulty speaking due to his cancer, Castelli urged his subordinates to press their advantage and give chase, but by September he was bedridden and slipping in and out of consciousness, leaving overall command of the Army of the North in the hands of his second-in-command, Juan Jose Viamonte. In contrast to the morenist Castelli, Viamonte was a supporter of Saavedra, and he hesitated to pursue the Spanish too aggressively for two main reasons.

    The first was admittedly strategic in nature: the royalist army still outnumbered his own, and he feared that any advance into Peru would court disaster and risk an army the United Provinces could not afford to lose; but the second reason was strictly political: Viamonte feared that any successful pursuit would only further aggrandize Castelli’s reputation, whose insistence on joining his soldiers at the front even in the throes of a cancer that would kill him before the year was out had already turned him into a martyr for the revolutionary press.

    It would fall to other subordinates of Castelli to take up the pursuit, but their lack of resources - experienced infantry and field artillery in particular - meant they would be unable to advance into Peru: Güemes’ mounted irregulars would force the Spanish to abandon and spike several cannons of their own (in short supply in the American theater), while Cochabamba would be freed by a native militia levied and led by Francisco del Rivero. They’d chase the Spanish forces all the way back to the Desaguadero, where they’d finally be forced to halt their attack, repulsed by the royalists before they could cross the river; by November of 1811 it was once again the de-facto boundary between royalist Peru and the revolutionary Alto.

    But it was a bloody stalemate: while the more numerous Spanish had lost nearly 1500 soldiers - and most importantly, half of their artillery - in the campaign (mostly in the retreat), the revolutionaries had lost 1000 of their own, including Castelli, whose death on October 12, 1811 would prompt calls for public mourning by the cabildos of Chuquisaca, Charcas, Potosí, Cochabamba and La Paz.

    Despite its later repudiation of Viamonte’s refusal to pursue the Spanish, the national government’s initial response to the news of the Spanish withdrawal is elation: with reports of Brazilian troops massing near the border and preparing to invade and increasing naval raiding out of Montevideo, the government was quick to portray events in the north as a resounding victory for the Revolution even as Viamonte reported that the army would need months to reorganize and recover. Castelli’s death, while a tragic loss and a political blow to the morenist camp, gave the revolution a martyr that would solidify support for the fledgling nation.

    It was a timely morale boost, as the heartlands of the revolution suddenly came under threat: royalists ships were growing bolder in their raids, and were sailing as far up as Santa Fe in their attacks. While incapable of posing an existential threat to Buenos Aires, these raids hurt the United Provinces in subtler ways, both dampening revolutionary fervor and exacerbating supply and trade problems that were already causing shortages and price increases. While Montevideo remained under siege - thus forcing the royalists in the region to concentrate their forces and neutralize the threat of an invasion of Buenos Aires - the Spanish ships supplying the city were soon supplemented by Brazilian ones, rendering Artigas’ land blockade practically powerless.

    The threat of a Brazilian invasion further complicated matters by prompting the Paraguayan delegates to inform the Assembly of their cabildo’s recall of its militias to defend the province. A harbinger of bigger problems later on, Saavedra could only grit his teeth as the delegates produced his letter to the Paraguayan cabildo as President of the Junta guaranteeing them full autonomy “in matters concerning the administration or defense of the Province of Paraguay”. This decision tied down thousands of soldiers in Paraguay that the Brazilians could safely ignore.

    This severely damaged Saavedra’s reputation, and he resolved to once again take the field to try and secure his position by force of arms. Exercising his power as Commander in Chief, he appointed himself in command of the Army of the Orient instead of Artigas, hoping to tilt the balance of the siege of Montevideo by adding his Regiment of Patricians to his army and assaulting the city. Artigas’ nephew protested, both for the degrading demotion of his uncle and for the suicidal nature of the plan - which he noted would leave the army vulnerable to getting trapped by the combined Brazilian and Royalist armies.

    He departed Buenos Aires on January 31st, 1812, but this time his absence from the capital would have more dramatic consequences: the Assembly’s opinion of Viamonte had soured considerably upon discovering that the rebellion in Peru had been crushed by the retreating army despite Castelli’s promises of support, tarnishing the saavedrists by association, and the withdrawal of Paraguayan troops was seen as an unforgivable blunder that made his first campaign seem worse in hindsight. On February 11, 1812, the General Assembly convened and voted to remove Cornelio Saavedra as Supreme Director, naming morenist Juan Jose Paso in his place. Manuel Artigas would cross the Rio de la Plata that night, rushing to his uncle’s side to give him new orders: lift the siege, detain Saavedra then regroup in friendly territory to await reinforcements.

    It would mark the first violent confrontation between revolutionaries since the movement had started, but it would be a brief one: Artigas would intercept Saavedra while he was attempting to cross the Rio Negro, catching him by surprise as he had not heard of his removal. His fiercely loyal troops fight back when some of Artigas’ men attempt to reach his tent, but upon hearing the gunshots and the shouting, Saavedra orders a flag of truce to be hoisted and confronts his attackers.

    Informed of his removal, he commanded his soldiers to lay down their weapons and surrendered himself to Artigas, asking his troops to “continue to fight for the cause I have always faithfully defended”. While the Regiment of Patricians would lose its political privileges with Saavedra’s downfall, his decision to surrender himself and instruct the regiment to remain loyal - which also earned him a pardon upon his arrival in Buenos Aires - would allow it to survive the subsequent military reforms.

    The General Assembly appealed to the British to mediate with Brazil, worried about the threat of their material support for the royalists in Montevideo; diplomacy would thus score the revolutionaries their biggest victory of 1812 on the second anniversary of the Revolution, when that mediation secured a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Brazilian troops in October of that year[2], allowing the revolutionary armies to campaign freely in the Oriental Provinces once again.


    José Gervasio Artigas commanded the revolutionary armies that would liberate the Oriental Provinces from Spanish rule

    Artigas’ forces would quickly capture Colonia upon the resumption of hostilities, and a second battle for Montevideo would begin on New Year’s Eve[3] as the royalists sallied out in an effort to prevent a new siege. Arrayed against a heterogeneous army composed of uplifted militias, gaucho irregulars and new regiments of freed slaves, the royalists were overconfident, attacking their besiegers at their positions on Cerrito. Despite early gains forcing the revolutionaries from the heights, exhaustion and ammunition shortages would rob their attack of momentum, and the revolutionary counter-attack - led by Soler’s freedmen - would push them back and retake the high ground, forcing the royalists into the path of the patriots’ fierce gaucho cavalry.

    The Battle of Cerrito would once again confine the royalist army to Montevideo, but the revolutionaries were prevented from pressing their advantage as royalist naval superiority allowed them to hammer their assaults from land and sea, so the army settled in for what threatened to be a long siege. Royalist Montevideo presented a significant problem for the Buenos Aires government: politically, the city’s stubborn resistance kept awkward questions about the legality of the revolution alive, and strategically, its fleet gave them control of the River Plate, severely hampering trade and reaving up and down the rivers. The task of creating a fleet for the fledgling country was commissioned to Irish-born mariner William Brown, but progress would be slow.

    With the siege lines drawn, the royalist army firmly entrenched in Montevideo, and the Upper Peru front quiet for the time being, 1813 would see only one other major engagement, and its importance was more political than strategic: José de San Martín’s efforts to establish a professional mounted regiment were put to the test as his soldiers intercepted a Spanish raid harrying the outskirts of Rosario. The small battle - involving fewer than 500 troops between the two forces - would allow San Martin to stand out among the cadre of American-born veterans of the European wars by showing his offensive bonafides early on. His 200 mounted grenadiers would descend upon the royalists as they were disembarking, forcing them to abandon their cannons in the mud and torching one of their three ships as they withdrew. Drawn from gaucho recruits of the Upper Peru and Oriental campaigns, they successfully wreak havoc between the royalist ranks as the Spanish troops struggled through the silty banks of the river[4].

    There would be no major engagements in the Rio de la Plata theater until the end of the year, when William Brown’s hodgepodge of a navy set sail on its campaign to wrest control of the estuary: the fleet’s baptism of fire would be its assault on the island of Martin Garcia just off the coast of Buenos Aires, successfully capturing it after a hard day of fighting, but the ship it cost was irreplaceable. Brown’s approach to Montevideo would be more cautious, and he’d attempt to draw the royalist fleet out into open water rather than attempt to attack them in port. His feint worked, and as he forced the last of the royalist fleet to give chase and defeated them one by one with support from the recently captured island fort, Artigas would lead the final assault on Montevideo safe from naval barrage[5]. The city would finally surrender in early may of 1814, in time for its inhabitants to participate in the anniversary of the revolution at last.

    The revolution’s 4th anniversary was celebrated with much fanfare from Montevideo to Potosí, with gauchos, urban criollos, emancipated slaves[6] and liberated natives toasting its triumphant armies that had driven the royalists from the field from the mountains to the ocean. While heavy fighting would continue in Alto Peru, and the revolution’s guns would not go silent for years to come, the War for Independence had been won. With the fall of Montevideo, the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata were finally free.

    Labeled 1814 with provinces.png

    The United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, on the 4th Anniversary of the May Revolution
    [1] IOTL’s battle of Huaquí, the royalist victory that sent the Army of the North reeling all the way to Jujuy. ITTL, the Army is in better shape and Castelli’s position is more secure, allowing them to slow down the royalist advance. The simultaneous rebellion in Peru is from OTL.
    [2] The same as OTL’s mediation, which took me by surprise as I looked into the Luso-Brazilian intervention in the Oriental Provinces.
    [3] OTL's Battle of Cerrito.
    [4] OTL’s Battle of San Lorenzo, happens more or less on schedule, but with an alteration which I could justify with lore reasons but that I’m including because I found the idea delightful: San Martin recognized the value of Güemes’ gaucho cavalry when he was briefly in command of the Army of the North, and ITTL, those gaucho troops (both the ones that served with Güemes and their counterparts from Artigas’ army) are more closely tied to the revolutionary cause, leading to San Martin recruiting from their numbers to make his mounted regiment. Mostly just adding this because I couldn’t get the image of gaucho grenadiers out of my head once I started picturing it.
    [5] Practically unchanged from OTL, the most significant change of course is the fact that Artigas is leading the siege instead of an upstart appointee from the central government. It may seem like I’m trying to squeeze in a lot of events near the date of the 25th of May, but that’s all from OTL so far, especially in the Oriental Provinces.
    [6] No one could be born a slave in the United Provinces, but slavery was not abolished by the Constitutional Assembly in 1811; however, the revolution has taken quite enthusiastically to emancipation as a means to recruit more able-bodied men. The next chapter will likely cover the political ramifications of independence, but one thing I’m certain to include is the imminent abolition of slavery in the entire country - the emancipation by recruitment was a very common practice IOTL, and the high number of former slaves serving in the military contributed to their decimation in Argentina as they were sent to the front in the War of the Triple Alliance.
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    Cornelio Saavedra infobox
  • Interesting I will be following.
    About this scenario and on the military side should be noted that although the Portuguese traditional invasion ways to the, then Banda/Province Oriental would be open and unprotected the more probably and possibly the greatest possible danger would be if the implied/announced Portuguese relief/expeditionary Army (transported and followed by the Portuguese fleet would arrive for the Spanish controlled Montevideo and/or even worse to the Bs. As. neighboring stronghold of Colonia del Sacramento...
    Thus, aside to invest even more resources to the Patriot Navy, to start the process of recruitment and/or supplying of an Army that with the local Militias, by menacing the Portuguese positions/cities in Southern Brazil would be able to dissuade these possible invasion way... Of course that, IMO, the best military and political option would be to take the risk and as was proposed in a similar situation IOTL to attempt to take by assault to Montevideo.
    I'm re-quoting this because, ultimately, I thought that as long as the royalists controlled the river, a frontal assault on Montevideo would be so costly in men and supplies that as much as the revolutionaries may want to attempt an immediate assault, any attempt is more or less doomed to failure until they can wrest the estuary from Spanish control. That said, I do accelerate the timeline once the fleet is ready, leading to Montevideo falling a bit sooner than IOTL. The biggest ramifications are undoubtedly political: Artigas is another radical general leading the revolution's armies to victory and liberating the peripheries from the royalists. I didn't necessarily plan it this way, but the more moderate and conservative generals are not having a good time of it ITTL.
    Great, detailed writing as always.
    Thank you! I hope that nothing is getting lost in the details/
    Good update--sounds like Argentina will be larger than OTL...
    Yes, although it's substantially different from OTL's Argentina: for one, while Buenos Aires is still larger than practically all the cities, and has earned its reputation as the "leader" of the revolution, Chuquisaca, Asunción and Montevideo were all seats of different institutions of the Viceroyalty in their own right, so political power in the United Provinces is a lot more diffuse than the hyper-centralized Argentina that would ultimately lose Alto Peru, abandon Uruguay and was dismissed by Paraguay.

    The next chapter is ready, and I'm working on the subsequent one as well - the former dealing with the immediate aftermath of the fall of Montevideo, the latter trying to take a step back and take stock of the system that I've created - but I'm going to post the next update tomorrow, to try and space them out a bit. The butterflies are beginning to swarm around me: Chile's revolution is about to diverge wildly from OTL's trajectory as the consequences of the United Provinces' success spread through the Andes, and of course, events in New Granada and Venezuela are about to break my butterfly net as well. While I'm doing my best to research and do these revolutionary processes justice, sources, suggestions and comments on the topic are appreciated!

    To tide y'all over, I'm going to keep working on graphics for the TL; fortunately, the fact that it's a historical timeline means that I can also include ATL wikiboxes, which I think are fun bite-sized portions of alternate history. Today's wikibox is dedicated to Cornelio Saavedra, a man who I think has been both lifted up and sidelined compared to OTL; I didn't start writing this with the highest opinion of him, but as I was writing his downfall ITTL, I couldn't help but give him a more tragic, heroic end.

    Infobox Cornelio Saavedra.png
    5 - Securing the Peace
  • Chapter 5 - Securing the Peace

    The Cabildo became the principal instrument of popular sovereignty in the United Provinces and the heart of its democratic system

    The General Assembly’s term had originally been for two years, but the ongoing fighting in the Oriental Provinces and the heavy Spanish raiding left little appetite in Buenos Aires or the provinces to hold new elections. But by 1814, the royalist threat had been cleared from most of the country save for a stretch of land in Upper Peru, and the morenists wanted to capitalize on their popularity as the victors of the war and the leaders who - with distinguished generals like Castelli and Artigas - led the fight for liberation.

    As the third anniversary of the Assembly’s first session approached, the body sent invitations to the cabildos of the country to elect new delegates, also formalizing some rules for the next General Assembly: it ratified that any city with more than 15,000 inhabitants had the right to convene a Cabildo and elect a delegate and officialized the distribution of delegates for provincial capitals. The cities of Colonia, Rosario, San Luis, San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, Santiago del Estero, Jujuy, Tarija, Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz would elect a single delegate to the assembly; provincial capitals like Santa Fe, Paraná, Salto, Corrientes, Posadas, Córdoba, Mendoza, Tucumán, Salta, Potosí and La Paz would elect two; and as the most important cities of the nation, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Asunción and Chuquisaca would elect four delegates each.

    While far from unanimous in its support for Moreno, the outgoing Assembly had convened at a time of war and danger to the nation, and it supported his wartime government to the hilt. The 1814 election didn’t have any formal parties, and nominally none campaigned in opposition to the revolutionary government, but factionalism was seeping in as it seemed the war was winding down. The morenist faction still triumphed, but its political opponents were beginning to organize and would secure delegates in several provinces.

    While the saavedrist faction had disintegrated upon its leaders’ fall from grace, they’d ultimately drift close to the position of the Paraguayan delegates, as they sought a similar level of autonomy for their own provinces; this faction would secure delegates from each of the Littoral provinces and even win over one of the delegates elected from Montevideo, totaling 8. La Paz, Santa Cruz and Oruro would provide the biggest surprises however: despite the popularity of the morenists and Castelli’s reforms in Potosí and Chuquisaca, the persistent fighting in the north and the radicalism of the reforms was beginning to turn conservative criollos against the revolution. While they did not dare openly sympathize with the royalists, they prioritized peace with Peru over independence, and would focus their arguments on the legality of independence with the return of Ferdinand VII to the Spanish throne. Disparagingly called the peninsular faction, they’d elect 3 delegates in the north and, to the horror of the morenists, would manage to elect a delegate each in Córdoba and Mendoza as well.

    The Assembly would reconvene in November with its new composition: the morenists had retained an absolute majority of 37 delegates, more than enough to govern as they saw fit, but cracks were forming in its ranks as well, particularly as Moreno’s trade policies seemed to aggravate economic problems in provinces that depended on overland trade. Nonetheless, he’d be reelected comfortably to the position of General Secretary.

    When it came time to vote for Supreme Director, the Assembly demurred: the original position of Supreme Representative had originally been meant as a sop to the notion that the United Provinces was not intended to be an independent republic, a pretense they were all eager to drop. The position of Supreme Director had been created as a stopgap as the Assembly rushed to independence, and then had only really worked because of a personal arrangement between Saavedra and Moreno. Paso’s appointment as Supreme Director had rendered the position virtually superfluous, as he served as Moreno’s right hand man in the Assembly.

    As popular as Moreno was, the General Assembly wanted to rein him in, at least enough that he couldn’t have every decision rubber stamped. They would turn to Antonio González de Balcarce, a member of Castelli’s staff and one of the most popular military commanders of the country. His bravery at the Battle of Suipacha had been instrumental in the victory that liberated Alto Peru, and the Assembly hoped to consolidate the Supreme Director’s position as Commander in Chief of the armed forces as well as the chief executive of the country. The division of powers between the positions of Supreme Director and General Secretary were more clearly defined, and much to Moreno’s chagrin, the former was also given a role in the nomination of secretaries and the power to sign or veto legislation.

    On December 10, 1814, the United Provinces’s second patriotic government was officially sworn in, with Moreno and Balcarce recreating the gesture from years prior and greeting the crowd from the balcony of the Fort. Balcarce, a strong supporter of recruiting freed slaves, would sign the law abolishing slavery in the United Provinces starting on January 1, 1815; the Assembly would rush to amend its language to strike a provision inviting slaves to escape to the country after protests from the Brazilian court, but the Littoral and Oriental provinces would become the destination for slaves fleeing plantations in the empire.

    The end of combat in the Rio de la Plata would prove to be a life saver for the United Provinces: trade could start to recover - quickly outpacing pre-independence figures - and the government’s coffers would begin filling up for the first time; Moreno reinvested it enthusiastically into the country, increasing funds for Brown’s efforts to build a navy - his duties now expanded to include the enlargement of the nation’s merchant navy and the continuation of hostilities with the Spanish overseas - and infrastructure to improve commerce. The most ambitious of these projects was the construction of the Panamerican Highway, a monumental project to pave the road from Buenos Aires to Potosí.

    Balcarce would undertake significant reforms of his own, reorganizing the army with the threat from Montevideo dealt with. Half the Oriental army was redeployed to reinforce the Army of the North, which was placed under the command of José de San Martin. The revolutionaries would marshal a commanding force of nearly 8,000, but as San Martin discovered upon his arrival in Chuquisaca, they remained poorly equipped and lacked discipline. Rather than lead the army on an immediate offensive, San Martin would instead task his subordinates Manuel Artigas and Güemes to take their cavalry and harass the Spanish forces across the Desaguadero while he stayed behind and procured supplies for his infantry and drilled his artillery.

    Flag United Provinces Alt.png

    The flag adopted by the revolutionaries in Cuzco[*]

    This expedition would be the precursor to the revolution’s most radical policy: it would signal loud and clear to the other revolutionaries up in arms against the continued Spanish control of the American colonies that, as far as the United Provinces were concerned, its war against Spain was still ongoing. The Spanish for their part shared this view, and refused any and all attempts to end the wars in the colonies: Ferdinand insisted that he would hold the rebels to their earlier oaths or hang them for breaking them. Despite only crossing into Peru proper with just 400 cavalrymen, Güemes’ gauchos - bolstered by San Martin’s grenadiers - arrived in time to rout a royalist army attempting to subdue a rebellion in Cuzco. The outnumbered royalists were hit in the rear as they pressed into a native army ten times their size, forcing the Spanish army to retreat to Lima.

    The victory in the Puno would further undermine the Viceroyalty in Lima, which was also reeling from an earlier rebellion in Tacna[1] in the south. The Revolution would wrest control from the royalists in Lima slowly but surely, as support from Buenos Aires poured into the north. To accelerate construction of the Panamerican highway, San Martin would also employ part of his army in its construction, drawing from architects and masons to create a corps of engineers capable of keeping up with military discipline.

    To make matters worse for the royalist stronghold, Brown’s fleet had crossed the Magellan Strait and had started to raid the Peruvian coast; his naval campaign would take him as far north as Guayaquil, and although Brown would turn back with his ships laden with spoils, ships flying the flag of the United Provinces would continue to prowl the Pacific in pursuit of Spanish ships and occasionally even attack and “liberate” small towns and villages as far north as California and as far east as the Philippines[2]. Moreno and Balcarce both felt strong ties of camaraderie with the other revolutionary governments of Latin America, sending embassies to both the United Provinces of New Granada[3], Chile[4] and the Republic of Haiti[5], but distance kept it from supporting New Grenada against the Spanish expeditionary force sent to reconquer the country.

    But at home the United Provinces sprang back to life slowly but surely: as militias demobilized, agricultural production grew quickly, and these products would find willing buyers in the British; traffic between the provinces and along the rivers would increase dramatically as the Highway advanced and dredging began for canals to connect the Littoral and Central provinces and improve domestic trade[6]. In a decision that would have dramatic repercussions for the country’s relationship with the natives that inhabited the vast territories the provinces claimed but did not control, it proclaimed the interior of the country “open to settlement for any man wishing to be free and willing to work it” as a way to raise funds and encourage colonization, in addition to establishing a special commission meant to encourage immigration from Europe.

    Starting in 1815, the General Assembly began to plan a new capital: striving to soften the blow to Buenos Aires’ prestige for losing its capital, the Assembly instructed its commission to select a location within the Province of Buenos Aires to establish the capital, compensating the former capital with two extra delegates “in recognition of its revolutionary honors” and a substantial financial compensation for the plot of land the new city would occupy that amounted to a significant cut of revenue from the customs its port produced. The small town of San Nicolas, on the border with Santa Fe and commonly known as the meeting point between Buenos Aires and the interior, is eventually chosen. On May 25, 1815, the government of the United Provinces broke ground on its new capital of La Plata on the banks of the river Parana[7].


    OTL's plan of La Plata, Buenos Aires' planned capital to replace the eponymous city. The inspiration drawn from DC and the masonic ties of those involved are just as strong ITTL, even if it's being built earlier and for a different purpose.
    [1] Both the rebellion in Tacna and in Cuzco are OTL; the rebellion in Tacna doesn’t just dissolve ITTL since the revolutionaries haven’t been defeated in Upper Peru - meaning that Peru’s control of its southernmost regions is tenuous - and the intervention of the Argentine troops is enough to swing the balance of the battle and prevent the rebellion in Cuzco ending in its infancy.
    [2] The exploits of Hyppolite Bouchard are too great to leave them out of TTL. They’re also helpful to illustrate that “export the revolution” was very much a throughline of even the more conservative revolutionary governments of the time, so it makes sense that a more stable revolution would dedicate more resources to the goal; material support for the revolution in Peru was the most consistent foreign policy of the Argentine revolutionaries IOTL.
    [3] Unfortunately, the 10,000 strong expeditionary force that’s arriving in April of 1815 will doom the revolutionary republic much like IOTL.
    [4] Chile’s revolution avoids the royalist reconquest of OTL due to the more precarious position of the Viceroyalty of Perú. I will go into greater detail about the changes to Chile’s independence in a later update, but for now it’s enough to know that the country hasn’t fallen to the royalists.
    [5] The Latin American revolutionaries were quite friendly with and sympathetic to the Haitian government that considered itself a descendant of the Haitian Revolution (less so with the monarchist Haitian government that set up in the north of the country). This was evidenced by Bolivar’s decision to flee to the Republic of Haiti IOTL, and his Haitian benefactor’s decision to support his renewed campaigns in New Granada with supplies and men.
    [6] I’m basing these policies on those implemented by High Federalists in northern USA, given that - allowing for the different origins of their liberalism and different underpinnings for their beliefs - Moreno would govern in a way that they would certainly find recognizable, believing as he did in the use of state resources to actively improve the national economy.
    [7] The controversy over the status of Buenos Aires persisted well into the 19th century IOTL, until the eventual transformation of the city into a special district administered by the federal government separate from the behemoth that was the province it led. ITTL, the controversy is resolved much sooner, since the revolutionary government isn’t as concentrated there, but the selection of a location within the province is a sort of capitulation to Buenos Aires, as are the two extra delegates.
    [*] The flag is the OTL flag of the short lived rebellion, with a Sun of May mostly as an artistic license
    Dean Gregorio Funes infobox
  • Infobox Dean Funes.png

    A bit of a teaser and harbinger of things to come to tide y'all over; the next chapter is finished, and intense work has begun on the one after that - it's going to be a big one.

    I also want to thank Lenwe and Xenophonte, who have been extraordinarily patient with me as I mine them for information and use them to brainstorm ideas for my silly little project. And thank all of you who've read it so far and have been kind enough to share your thoughts and comments!
    6 - Growing Pains
  • Chapter 6 - Growing Pains

    By 1815, Ferdinand VII had returned to the Spanish throne and redoubled royalist efforts to reconquer its lost colonies
    Even as the parties begin to diverge domestically in 1814, both remained fully committed to the revolutionary cause, with renewed vigor in the case of the Federalists when news reached the country of the fall of Bogota to a massive Spanish army that - if rumors out of Madrid were to be believed - was originally meant to invade the United Provinces. Ferdinand VII’s absolutist restoration and willingness to send armies to subdue Spain’s former colonies gave more strength to the notion that the Revolution could not be secure until the royalists were cast out of the entire continent.

    As a result, the United Provinces would expand its efforts to combat the Spanish presence in South America: an expeditionary force under Juan Gregorio de las Heras had been dispatched to Chile in 1813, but the war on the western side of the Andes had devolved into a bloody stalemate by 1814 as neither patriots nor royalists could score a decisive victory over the other[1]. While a small expeditionary force led by Gabriel Gainza would depart from Lima in January and would help to reinvigorate the royalist campaign in the south, the Cuzco Rebellion would force the royalists to abandon plans to reinforce the expedition as a new army led by Osorio was sent to reinforce the front in the east instead.

    With the fall of Montevideo, the United Provinces would redouble its efforts to support its sister republic: in addition to Brown’s fleet, which would further strain royalist logistics in Chile, it would supplement las Heras’ contingent with a detachment of military engineers, sappers and dragoons under the command of José María Paz and allow the Chilean revolutionary army - now under O’Higgin’s command after the Carreras’ fall from grace - to push back the Spanish forces and recover the lost ground of the year before, ultimately capturing the stronghold of Valdivia with naval support. By 1816, the royalists were reduced to the island of Chiloé, and the local government settled into the tasks of managing Chile’s recovery from years of intense fighting and reforming its armed forces to prepare for an invasion of Perú. Like the General Assembly in La Plata, the governing Junta in Santiago identifies Lima as an existential threat and believe that the southern archipelago will fall when Perú does.

    But as the government focused on the seemingly receding threat of Lima, the cabildos of the East - Montevideo, Salto, Corrientes, Asunción, Paraná and Posadas - were starting to debate how long the country could carry on a war on foreign soil while new enemies seemed to gather on the border: Brazil still claimed the entirety of the Oriental Provinces, and with the changes in the neighboring empire’s leadership at the end of 1815 combined with rumors of 5,000 Portuguese veterans arriving in Brazil in early 1816, the Assembly elections of that year would be forced to deal with the questions that gripped these Littoral cabildos.

    Ever since Moreno sealed his first alliance with the provincial cabildos, these colonial institutions quickly became the core of the United Provinces’ conception of popular sovereignty and popular representation: although the General Assembly recognized the old provinces - and even created new ones - as administrative subdivisions and allowed them to elect their own authorities, the Platine constitution was also clear that all power emanated from the popular assemblies that governed the cities of the country.

    In the traditional seats of colonial power like Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Asunción and Chuquisaca, their cabildos were all but synonymous with their provincial governments, as was the case for provinces like Potosí, Córdoba, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Uruguay and Misiones, whose provincial capitals dwarfed all other cities in their provinces. But the provinces of Mendoza, Tucumán and Santa Fé boasted multiple cabildos, and highlighted in a way the drawbacks of this system: Mendoza and Tucumán would ultimately be divided further as the advancing frontier required administrative changes to the borders, while a protracted legal battle between the cities of Santa Fe and Rosario would rob the province of a delegate for several years.

    Encouraged by loans from the national government, the major cabildos of the country would undertake their own infrastructure projects, with toll roads and frontier colonies proliferating rapidly in the second half of the decade. This rapidly brought the cities into conflict with the natives that still dominated the hinterlands, and more than one veteran of the future wars of Latin American independence saw first blood against the tribes of the Gran Chaco and upper Patagonia. While actual control of the territory fluctuated wildly, by 1820, the United Provinces claimed to own the entirety of the Gran Chaco, and the General Assembly even created two provinces out of the sparsely settled territory, Chaco Austral and Chaco Boreal.

    The encroachment on Chaco and southward were both propelled by the efforts of ranchers looking for new lands to graze cattle, but the two processes would diverge quickly, as gauchos that returned from the Upper Peru campaigns moved south with a new appreciation and sympathy for the natives; characterized both by smaller plots of land and a culture of inter-cultural solidarity and support, settlement of the south contrasted with settlement of Chaco, as relations with the natives in the latter soured quickly as they resisted the allotment of more land for cattle ranching. In the Pampa, the frontier moved more slowly, as the gauchos pushing the border intermingled with the natives and fought together against more aggressive tribes raiding from further south.

    The national government under Moreno enthusiastically supported both as European immigrants trickled then streamed into the country while both emancipated slaves and liberated natives migrated to the frontiers as well. To further foster national development and economic growth, Moreno’s government would also oversee the establishment of a national bank, establish schools throughout the country and would liberally invest in enterprises in conjunction with a burgeoning core of merchants and owners of manufactories that continued to grow rich off government contracts. Moreno had first started the practice while Secretary of the Junta, using public resources to help establish the first armories of the country and to pay for the mass quantities of uniforms required by the revolutionary armies and its missions abroad.


    Juan Larrea was a close collaborator of Mariano Moreno on the Junta and became the first Secretary of the Treasury under the General Assembly

    The fledgling country flourished under these policies, and when an enlarged Assembly convened in 1816, the morenist majority had grown in absolute terms, with the “peace before independence” party dissolving as Spain invaded its former colonies demanding unconditional surrender and Ferdinand VII rolled back what little reform his abdication had allowed. But the factionalism that the 1814 elections had hinted at crystallized in 1816, and the expanded body would be more clearly partisan as a result. The cabildos that had elected peninsular delegates like Santa Cruz, La Paz, Oruro and Cordoba, plus the cabildo of San Juan that had sent one as part of the Mendoza delegation, would elect delegates that were now more openly in opposition to Moreno’s faction.

    These delegates would join together with the better organized Littoral delegates and form the core of the first real political party in the country: although they identified with the label for different reasons, they rallied together in opposition to the morenist monopoly on the direction of the Revolution. Once at the Assembly, these delegates would rally behind the figure of the Cordoban priest Gregorio Funes, and would begin styling themselves as federals, gathering both opponents of Moreno’s radical policies and proponents of greater local autonomy under one banner into a bloc of 18 delegates.

    The rivalry between Funes and Moreno started in the heady days of the Junta, as the Cordoban feared that Mariano Moreno was concentrating too much power in his positions as Secretary of Government and Secretary of War; he’d find a sympathetic ally on the Junta in Saavedra, but the President of the Junta was away for most of his term, and Funes focused his energies on agitating for the General Assembly instead. Although incapable of preventing Moreno’s subsequent election as Secretary General of the new Assembly, he supported Saavedra’s negotiations with the radicals to prevent Moreno from monopolizing political and military power in the new system, and although Saavedra’s removal would weaken his position, he remained an influential figure and was intimately involved in the Assembly’s early work creating the nascent country’s liberal legal code between 1811 and 1814, while his influence was also instrumental in Paso’s replacement by Balcarce.

    By 1816, his estrangement from Moreno is complete: despite Balcarce’s appointment as Supreme Director, Mariano Moreno maintains a firm control of the Assembly and revolutionary government, and although both represent different but compatible schools of liberal thought, the venerable Dean of the University of Córdoba can no longer tolerate the young porteño’s monopoly on appointments. Although there is little he can do to stop it, that the morenist majority has to contend with an organized opposition - which can count on Funes’ quill and clout to get their message across to the nation at large - changes the dynamic of the General Assembly, where the morenists begin to identify themselves as liberales to both attempt to portray their opponents as anti-liberal enemies of the revolution (which fails, given Funes’ role in writing much the country’s liberal legal code) and to counteract the growing phenomenon of personal opposition to Moreno translating into political opposition to his government (which also fails, due to Moreno’s continued dominance of the party).

    But the biggest boon to the Federal party came from an unexpected source: alarmed by the buildup of Brazilian troops on the border with the Oriental and Littoral provinces, Artigas had engaged in an intense letter-and-pamphlet writing campaign, allowing the Federals to secure at least one delegate from each Littoral province, including a second delegate from Montevideo, although he disavowed any affiliation with either party in the pamphlets and hoped simply to alert the national government of the threat on its border. But in a twist that would ultimately lead to renewed questions about the role of Supreme Director, those same Oriental and Littoral delegates arrived in La Plata with an additional instruction from their cabildos of both parties: although Balcarce would ultimately be reelected, the Oriental and Littoral delegates would cast their vote for Artigas.

    These delegates implored the national government to divert more resources to the Oriental provinces, as the advance of freemen and independent ranchers had drawn the ire of Brazilian forces and tensions were escalating under the specter of 10,000 soldiers poised to cross the Ibicuí and descend along the Paraná and Atlantic Coast. They judged that the conservative court in Rio presented a more pressing threat than the beleaguered Viceroyalty in Lima, and much to their horror, a desperate letter from Artigas as he left Montevideo at the head of the few forces at his disposal in August proved them right: the Brazilian invasion of the Oriental Provinces had begun[2].


    Brazilian troops preparing to deploy to the Oriental Provinces in 1816
    [1] IOTL, Gainza’s expedition secured a string of early successes, forcing the Chilean patriots to negotiate a treaty (which was really more of a ceasefire); the subsequent arrival of Osorio’s army would doom the Chilean cause, and the country would fall to the royalists before the end of the year. ITTL, Osorio’s troops can’t be spared, Gainza’s original expedition is less successful, and the revolutionaries are still holding on.
    [2] The incentives for Brazil’s invasion of the Oriental Provinces are a bit different than IOTL, but they’re just as strong. Although IOTL they invaded under the assumption that Buenos Aires wouldn’t interfere - which indeed it didn’t, permanently destroying relations with Artigas who already considered the capital’s attempt to negotiate with Montevideo in the wake of the 1811 invasion an unforgivable betrayal - ITTL they have just as much reason to invade as the United Provinces are as much a threat in success as they are in failure: the revolutionaries’ habit of spreading their literature in Brazil has continued unabated, the border provinces are rallying grounds for escaped slaves, and Dom Pedro is less permeable to British pressure than the regency court that buckled so easily in 1811.
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    Battle of Carumbé infobox
  • Battle of Carumbé infobox.png

    A teaser for the next chapter; the war will cover at least two chapters, and as you can see here, it does not get off to a good start for the United Provinces. The Battle of Carumbé is OTL, but there are a few changes here (chiefly, that Artigas is fighting under the flag of the entire confederation instead of having to face the full might of Brazil with just the forces of Uruguay and its neighboring provinces).

    As I continue working on part 2 of the war, I'd like to extend my thanks to ByzantineCeaser and Viniazation, who've suffered a similar fate to Lenwe and Xenophonte and have had to put up with my walls of texts in PMs while I work on this war.
    7 - The Platine War (Part 1)
  • Chapter 7 - The Platine War (Part 1)

    Ejercito Artiguista.png

    Artigas would depart Montevideo at the head of a small force built around veterans of his earlier campaigns in August, 1816

    Brazilian forces found the Oriental Provinces ripe for invasion: more than half of Artigas’ veterans had been transferred away from the region, most of them bolstering the Army of the North as San Martín continued to prepare it for an invasion of Perú, and the small navy that the United Provinces had assembled was dispersed up and down the Pacific coast of the South America. Although Artigas departed Montevideo with all 3,000 soldiers at his disposal, and hastily-levied militias of ranchers and freedmen would bolster his forces along the way, he was quickly reduced to shadowing the Brazilian march menacingly and forcing them to concentrate their armies by unleashing his cavalry to raid their supply lines.

    The Brazilians advanced in three columns: one army would march along the Atlantic Coast under General Lecor, supported by the Luso-Brazilian navy as it stormed the forts along the narrow strip of land that made up the border between the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and the Platine province of Montevideo; a second army led by General Silveira marched out of Porto Alegre and began marching along the Rio Negro towards the Paraná; while a third army under the command of Major Jardim remained poised in the Misiones Orientales to support either army if necessary and to eventually threaten Posadas and cleave everything east of the Uruguay River off from the rest of the United Provinces.

    Despite his best efforts, there was little that Artigas could do in the face of such an implacable enemy: in an effort to take the war to the enemy and force its armies to turn back, Artigas snuck past the Brazilian columns and headed north. But it was not enough: he lacked the men, artillery or ammunition to besiege Porto Alegre, and although his forces managed to score some minor victories against isolated detachments and garrisons on the march, they were mere pinpricks for the Brazilian behemoth, and his incursions failed to slow down their advance: Maldonado would fall by December of 1816, placing the entire Atlantic Coast of Montevideo under Brazilian occupation.

    It would also end in disaster: the major part of his forces that had been transferred north was what little experienced infantry he had, while reinforcements to Chile had also stripped the Oriental Provinces of the veterans of the liberation of Montevideo; the hastily-levied militias that he’d gathered en route to the north crumbled in the face of Brazil’s professional army, failing to form up into squares as the enemy cavalry carved through his lines and forced Artigas to retreat[1]. Artigas would subsequently write that his defeat at Carumbé proved to him the superiority of the Brazilian army they faced and the desperate need for reform of Platine infantry.

    It was a lesson that other Platine commanders in the region would quickly learn as well: the recently-elected Governor of Misiones, a guaraní by the name Andresito Guazurarí, obtained early successes with his militia composed primarily of native regiments, turning back probing attacks across the Iguazú and the Uruguay, but his efforts to invade Misiones Orientales were hampered by his irregular army’s lack of artillery and shortage of firearms and munitions, and he was forced to withdraw from the region as Brazilian reinforcements threatened to encircle his army as it tried to besiege Rincón unsuccessfully.

    Platine forces fared even worse at sea: Brown had made great strides in the formation of a Platine Navy, but he had also been instructed to use that new navy to pursue the war against Perú. When the war with Brazil began, they faced no significant naval resistance, and the Rio de la Plata was once again threatened by corsairs and privateers bearing the flag of its enemies. With the fall of Maldonado, the Brazilian fleet could operate freely throughout the basin, and the United Provinces watched with dismay as the country faced another naval blockade.

    The rapid collapse of organized Platine resistance to the invasion was a boon to Brazilian morale and a political catastrophe for Moreno’s government: secure in his post only because the war had started early in the Assembly’s term, Moreno’s popularity would never recover, and as popular opinion and the war turned against him, Mariano Moreno began to withdraw from the public eye. The publication of Artigas’ dire warnings - which would be published across the nation thanks to the support of federalist-leaning newspapers promoted by Funes - would cause irreparable harm to his reputation, and in a tragic end to his stewardship of the revolutionary government, he would ultimately be passed over as delegate by the Cabildo of Buenos Aires in 1818. It would be an ignominious end to a dazzling career, but in light of the scale of the defeats early in the Platine War, his position was untenable.

    But as Moreno’s government reeled in the face of Brazil’s invasion in the press, it would nonetheless press on with a military response: San Martin’s invasion plans were put on hold, further deployments and shipments of supplies to the north were redirected to the east, and new regiments were raised and began drilling to reinforce Artigas’ army. Even as Montevideo was placed under siege - just 3 short years after it had been liberated by Artigas - in May of 1817, the United Provinces would muster over 6,000 new troops in Corrientes under the command of another veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Carlos Maria de Alvear.

    More than enough to make up for the losses Artigas had suffered at the Battle of Carumbé, and enough to even overwhelm the spread out Brazilian forces individually, Artigas pleaded with Alvear to cross the river Uruguay quickly and ensure that the Brazilians don’t have time to occupy large swathes of the provinces or combine their forces. But Alvear, who had obtained the commission primarily due to his position as a Napoleonic veteran and his close ties to powerful interests in Buenos Aires, was disdainful of the practical Oriental general; he distrusted him politically and dismissed him militarily, especially in the wake of his defeat early on in the war.

    So Alvear waited, in a move that morenist and federalist papers would both hurry to compare with Viamonte’s infamous hesitance in the wake of Castelli’s death: by the time Alver crossed over into Salto in June, Montevideo was surrounded and its hinterland swarming with Brazilian soldiers. To make matters worse, Alvear had reined in the cavalry detachment that had joined his expedition: commanded by Manuel Artigas and dispatched with San Martin’s blessing, they were by far some of the best troops in the province and the best in Alvear’s army by an even wider margin, but Alvear took the appointment of Artigas’ nephew as a personal slight and was determined to sideline his gaucho veterans from the glory - reducing them to rearguard duty, and robbing his own army of valuable scouts and a formidable vanguard.

    Battle of Rio Negro infobox.png

    The Battle of Rio Negro would be a disaster for the Platine war effort

    The consequences would be dire: Alvear’s 6,000 troops would be attacked by a Brazilian detachment half its size on its way to cross the Rio Negro, and by the time the battle was over, half the army had been mauled and the other half forced to retreat in disarray to Salto. If not for the valiant rearguard action of the cavalry, the destruction of the Platine army would have been complete, but the casualties were staggering all the same: 1,800 soldiers lay dead or wounded, Alvear among the fatalities, and the army lost all its baggage and artillery trains.

    As the demoralized army limped into Salto, the bad news would pile on: after only a year of fighting, the Brazilian army had managed to successfully roll up the entire Atlantic Coast, seize Maldonado and then Montevideo, bloodied Artigas’ attempt to take the fight to them, and had inflicted a massive blow to Platine morale and manpower by mauling an army led by a prominent and well connected general, and went so far as to threaten Buenos Aires itself with an attempted landing at Ensenada that would fail to capture the port but would scatter the hastily-assembled Platine “fleet” that attempted to stop it[2].

    José Artigas feared the worst, especially in the wake of Alvear’s appointment, and began to make arrangements to continue the fight alone. But his nephew, riding out from Salto in a daring mission to contact his uncle, brought with him a secret letter from Mariano Moreno himself addressed for the Oriental liberator. It granted him command over the remnants of Alvear’s army, encouraged him to fight on, and commissioned him with a special mission: Moreno, like Balcarce, had taken to abolitionism enthusiastically, and they instructed Artigas to weaponize it against their enemy - any and all efforts should be made to encourage slave rebellions in Rio Grande do Sul, and the government in La Plata had dispatched caches of weapons and supplies to Andresito’s forces and to Salto for just that aim.

    As Lecor settled in to besiege Montevideo and Silveiras pressed on and laid siege to Colonia - which would repulse a frontal assault in September, much to the Brazilian general’s surprise - the entirety of the interior of Montevideo from the Atlantic to the Rio Negro were lost to the United Provinces. But Artigas, whose combined forces now numbered 8,000, and who could count on a further 3,000 guaraní militiamen provided by Andresito, was ready to fight on: his nephew would be dispatched at the head of a flying column of nearly 1,000 cavalrymen, sewing chaos behind enemy lines in Rio Grande do Sul, while Artigas’ forces capitalized on their superior knowledge of the terrain to begin harassing Brazilian patrols in the interior of occupied Montevideo, ambushing isolated patrols and raiding baggage trains and supply depots to rob them of food, ammunition and - most importantly - horses.

    But despite these efforts, morale in the United Provinces was crumbling as the Brazilian invasion seemed unstoppable and its blockade sent the economy tumbling. Spirits in the new capital were at an all time low since the revolution had begun in 1810, and some grumbled about how the United Provinces were reaping what Moreno had sewn in his pursuit of turning the country into a revolutionary beacon. Before the end of 1817 however, that beacon would glow just a bit brighter and spirits would finally begin to recover as news reached La Plata of two events that would breathe new life into the war: tensions that had been simmering for years in Pernambuco had finally boiled over into open revolt[3], and much to Balcarce and Moreno’s elation, it would be followed by a slave uprising right behind Brazil’s front lines.

    Pernambuco Rebellion 1817.jpg

    The Pernambuco Rebellion in late 1817, in conjunction with slave uprisings in Rio Grande, would be the biggest boons to the Platine war effort in a year marked by defeats at land and sea
    [1] Lifted from OTL’s Battle of Carumbé, including Artigas’ appraisal of the reasons for his army’s defeat at the hands of the Brazilian invaders.
    [2] Based on OTL’s battle of Monte Santiago; it’s still a decisive luso-brazilian naval victory, further strengthening their dominance of the seas and allowing them to tighten the blockade on Buenos Aires. The biggest difference is that it’s not the entirety of the Platine fleet, since most of its navy is still in the Pacific, or already operating in the Atlantic without being able to make it back to Buenos Aires.
    [3] OTL’s Pernambuco Rebellion was both short-lived and doomed by incompetence and misfortune. But the enlightenment and masonic influences from OTL are much, much stronger ITTL due to their success in the United Provinces, and the rebels are ever so slightly better organized, enough that it doesn’t blow up as soon as it starts.
    8 - The Platine War (Part 2)
  • This was originally going to be a teaser with Mariano Moreno's infobox, but I completed the update ahead of time and realized as I was about to post the teaser that I'd included a glaring error in the infobox, so early update it is!

    Chapter 8 - The Platine War (Part 2)


    Andresito and his guaraní militia were lauded in the revolutionary press and the native governor of Misiones became a romantic figure throughout the country
    With the Brazilians firmly entrenched around Colonia and Montevideo, close enough to succor each other if either Lecor or Silveira were attacked and supported by a fleet that scoured the River Plate, Platine forces had very few options at their disposal to fight the invasion: while Colonia and Montevideo continued to resist - spared from assault thanks to the efforts of Platine privateers and corsairs forcing the Brazilian navy to spread out its forces - the south of the Oriental Provinces was the site of bloody guerrilla warfare.

    But Major Jardim was forced to turn his attention northward as slaves rose up in revolt, armed with Platine muskets and lances: although militarily irrelevant, the political threat of allowing the slave revolt to spread demanded a response, and Jardim was forced to decamp from his defensive positions in the Misiones Orientales to stamp them out. It presented Platine troops with their best opportunity to counter-attack since the beginning of the war: Andresito’s guaraní militia would once again cross the river Uruguay, but this time they’d bring with them weapons and supplies of their own, and soon the entire province - majority Guaraní like the Misiones Occidentales - rebelled, swelling Andresito’s ranks with thousands more native volunteers.

    As Jardim’s forces spread out to try and defeat the rebels quickly, they were left vulnerable to Artigas’ flying column, and the gaucho veterans would score a string of victories in small engagements across Rio Grande. Although it wasn’t enough for the slave rebellion to succeed as armed militias formed by plantation and ranch owners who depended on slavery for their livelihoods would soon join their strength with the Brazilian army to prevent further uprisings on their lands, the efforts bled Jardim’s detachment dry of manpower and supplies, ultimately forcing his army to withdraw to Porto Alegre and abandon the countryside.

    Worse for the Brazilian war effort along the River Plate however was the court’s decision to divert nearly a thousand of Lecor’s vital veterans away from the front as the rebellion in Pernambuco began to spread: initial hesitancy to embrace emancipation as the rebels sought recognition and support from the United States gave way to an enthusiastic campaign to recruit slaves into their ranks as Platine ships sailed into the port of Recife with promises of support and recognition for the fledgling revolution. Like the slave uprisings in Rio Grande, this represented an unacceptable threat to the Brazilian economy - as evidenced by the souring of the Pernamubcan revolution’s relations with some of its early supporters among its own planter class - which prompted the order to send the Portuguese regulars to snuff it out.

    Now reduced to fewer than 7,000 soldiers in total with Jardim’s forces holed up in Rio Grande and with 1,000 of its best troops sent north to fight a rebellion that, for all its enthusiasm, was too isolated for Platine supplies or support to reach them, the invasion had devolved into a merciless slog: what had initially been pinpricks that Lecor’s invasion could easily brush off soon turned into painful headaches that Lecor was forced to confront, as the Platine army used the horses it captured to augment its cavalry and turned the guerrilla war into a real threat. While the Brazilians continued to dominate the waves, ensuring that the besieging armies couldn’t be cut off from resupply, what began to worry Lecor most of all was the real possibility that his armies would be cut off from retreat if Artigas brought his army to bear and attacked him.

    Forced to score a decisive victory to try and bring the United Provinces to the negotiating table, Silveira’s remaining 2,500 soldiers were ordered to lift their siege on Colonia and join forces with Lecor’s 4,000 troops to storm Montevideo. After a week of bloody fighting, which cost Brazil another 1,000 casualties in the assault and filled the harbor with the wrecks of a half dozen ships, Montevideo would finally fall in April of 1818. But the simultaneous lifting of the siege of Colonia and the loosening of the blockade on the estuary to support the attack courted further setbacks for the luso-brazilian invasion: William Brown snuck into the River Plate with a small squadron of ships, and at Juncal would score the only significant naval victory for Platine forces.

    While it did little to dent Brazilian naval superiority - which continued to hamper Platine shipping on the high seas and which was batting off the republic’s efforts to attack Brazilian shipping - it represented a significant morale boost for the United Provinces, and most importantly for its war effort, freed the Uruguay and Paraná rivers of raiders, significantly improving the supply situation of Artigas’ army harassing Lecor’s invasion force[1]. As the war’s second anniversary approached on August 1818, the situation had shifted ever so slightly in the United Provinces’ favor on land: with the siege of Colonia lifted, Artigas secured a strong position south of the Rio Negro to continue his attacks on Lecor’s rear, and much to Rio’s frustration, its armies were limited to probing attacks out of Montevideoo while the interior fell to the United Provinces once more.


    The Battle of Juncal did little to alter the balance of power at sea, but helped to alleviate the supply issues of the Platine armies fighting the invasion and was a much-needed boon to Platine morale

    Robbed of the horses his cavalry and baggage trains desperately needed, Lecor’s advance ground to a halt: Artigas’ mobile forces wreaked havoc on any detachments sent out to pursue them, and Lecor was forced to encamp in Montevideo for the rest of the year as the attrition of trying to chase the Platine forces down was beginning to threaten the viability of his army as an offensive force. For their part, while Platine guerrilla efforts managed to force Jardim and Lecor to garrison their forces to keep them safe, the cavalry-heavy and artillery-starved armies at Artigas’ disposal remained incapable of threatening the garrisoned armies - and Artigas personally still considered his infantry insufficient for a pitched battle.

    As the war dragged on in the field, it scored its most significant casualty in La Plata: Moreno’s failure to secure one of the delegate positions in Buenos Aires in the 1818 elections brought the government of the United Provinces crashing down, and even as its forces began to recover some of the ground lost in the last two years, La Plata was gripped by a severe political crisis. For one, the Federalists would sweep the Littoral and Oriental delegates this time, more than compensating the morenist recovery in the north as the seeming success of the Cuzco rebellion weakened the counter-revolutionary parties in Upper Peru; this meant that as the General Assembly gathered, the two parties were close to parity, and the Federalists would successfully block Juan José Paso’s nomination as Secretary General. Stunned by the upset, especially as Balcarce was handily reelected as Supreme Director (with Artigas on campaign, the Littoral and Oriental delegates backed him unanimously), they would subsequently turn to Manuel Belgrano as a compromise candidate.

    Although a morenist, Belgrano enjoyed enough clout of his own that he could portray himself as a successor instead of a placeholder for Moreno, unlike Paso, who just 6 years earlier had proven his bonafides as a Moreno loyalist when he put the powers of the Supreme Director entirely at his disposal. He was also popular among Federalist delegates, as he had spent the early years of the revolution both writing enthusiastically in support of the sorts of land reforms that had secured the Littoral and Oriental provinces for the revolution, even implementing them personally in Corrientes and Entre Rios as attaché to Saavedra’s army in its liberation of Paraguay[2]. Although he maintained several Secretaries from Moreno’s cabinets, chief among them its financial mastermind Juan Larrea, he’d also signal an end to porteño hegemony in the cabinet, especially in his promotion of Monteagudo as chief spokesman of the party in the Assembly.

    Further efforts were made to resolve the political crisis through military appointments: Artigas’ commission was increased in rank, and the army under his command was elevated to the same status as San Martin’s; thus, José Artigas was created as Brigadier General of the Army of the East, and several of his close confidantes and allies like Fructuoso River, Manuel Artigas and Juan Antonio Lavalleja were promoted and given commands of their own in the newly-upgraded army. As the war in the north degenerated into a stalemate with its frontline running from Cuzco to the coast, San Martin also dispatched the sapper corps and professionalized grenadiers south; by the end of the 1818, the reinforcements - which compensated their smaller number with years of training at San Martin’s direction - were ready to cross into the Oriental Provinces at last.

    The Brazilians were now heavily outnumbered, although they still had the advantage that their Platine enemies were spread out while they had concentrated safely in Montevideo under cover of the Brazilian navy. But the Army of the East would not hesitate: Lecor had dispatched Silveira to interdict Platine efforts to bypass Montevideo and retake Maldonado, and Artigas’ army would take their chance to inflict the most significant defeat against the Brazilian army of the war. Intercepting Silveira’s army north of Montevideo near the Sarandí Creak, recently promoted commander Lavalleja caught the Brazilian army on the march, and the generals faced off with 2,000 soldiers each.

    Not only did the Platine infantry fare better in the face of the Brazilian cavalry charge after concerted efforts to train them, the cavalry they faced was much reduced due to the effects of both the regular attrition of war and the success of Artigas’ guerrillas in robbing the Brazilians of their horses. Although able to retreat in good order and hole up in Montevideo with the rest of Lecor’s army, it was a costly defeat for the invaders: of the 2,000 men Silveira arrayed for battle, a quarter of them laid dead or wounded at the end of the day[3]. The Brazilian army had been reduced to just 6,000 soldiers, and while they were of generally superior quality to their Platine counterparts, the gap in quality was closing and the Platine advantage in numbers was growing.

    Not even the defeat of the Pernambuco rebellion in November of 1818 could eclipse the news of Silveira’s defeat. With the main Brazilian army trapped in Montevideo, the United Provinces rapidly reconquered the interior of the province: Maldonado was liberated in November of 1818, Rocha a week later, and the border forts on the narrow strip of land leading to the city of Rio Grande were reoccupied by Platine soldiers by the new year. By January of 1819, the war devolved into a stalemate, with Andresito’s forces besieging the last bastion of Brazilian control in the Misiones Orientales at San Borja, Artigas’ army besieging Montevideo, and Jardim’s army trapped in Porto Alegre by roving bands of gauchos and slaves flying the Platine flag.

    But Brazil was far from beat: the forces that had been diverted north because of the Pernambuco rebellion were rushing south once more and would be ready to reinforce the invading army soon, and while relatively small, Brazil’s absolute naval superiority meant that they could reinforce Jardim’s army trapped in Porto Alegre as easily as it could reinforce Lecor’s larger and more experienced army in Montevideo. And while the effects of Platine privateering was hurting Rio’s finances, the blockade of the River Plate was even more damaging to La Plata’s. Reluctantly at first, both sides began exchanging feelers for talks, and soon the British would be brought in to mediate an end to the war.

    Battle of Sarandí Infobox.png

    The Battle of Sarandí was the largest single defeat of a Brazilian army of the war so far, as the Platine Army grew bolder and more willing to attack in strength after years of small-scale skirmishing and hit-and-run attacks
    [1] ITTL, the order of events has been inverted: IOTL, the Battle of Juncal preceded the Battle of Monte Santiago, the attack on Ensenada from the previous update. ITTL, the Platine flotilla dispersed at Ensenada is a smaller part of the whole navy, while the battle of Juncal - which, as the update makes clear, still doesn’t actually affect Brazilian naval superiority - is relevant primarily as a morale boost and due to the improvement of the supply situation for Platine forces along the Uruguay and Paraná rivers.
    [2] This is a bit of a retcon; as the Castelli-Viamonte structure showed, there was at least an attempt at politically balancing the military appointments, and I think it’s likely that Belgrano would have played a similar role to Viamonte (but inverting the partisan lean) in Saavedra’s army. IOTL, Belgrano lead the invasion rather than Saavedra, but ITTL, he’s attached but subordinate to the President of the Junta. The reforms in the Littoral provinces are from OTL.
    [3] Based on OTL’s Battle of Sarandí from the Cisplatine War.
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    Mini-update - Map in Early 1819
  • So in light of the delay on the upcoming debate, I'll go ahead and post a map showing the situation on the ground in early 1819 when the first feelers are sent out. It includes a retcon, with the city of Posadas renamed as Candelaria, since the name Posadas was given OTL after the POD, as well as a graphical representation of the "frontline from Cuzco to the coast" in Perú. I've also added Porto Alegre, Rio Grande and San Borja to make following the war easier, and I'll also have to apologize to Xenophonte because I haven't gotten around to retconning the borders of the Oriental Provinces yet, even though I should because the division of Uruguay would have been an unacceptable imposition; it would mean one fewer Littoral delegate, so not a big change all things considered. EDIT: Never mind, went ahead and did it.

    The war in the North is going "better", but it's slow going in general, with San Martin still stuck in Upper Peru continuing to train his forces and keeping them busy with the occasional sally led by Güemes' cavalry (much reduced due to the contingent sent south under Manuel Artigas) to perk up the Cuzco rebels and prevent Lima from concentrating forces to attack.

    Lima is reeling a bit from all of this, which would also help to explain why Brazil was so overconfident: the United Provinces were dedicating as many of its resources as it could to the war against Perú, with some regiments - like the expeditionary forces led by las Heras in Chile - heading north even as the war was starting in the east. To further take advantage of this mini-update to fill in the gaps from the rest of the region: Chile, as IOTL, has dedicated the time since it secured its independence to build up its navy, which is about to get its baptism of fire in the fall of the Chiloe archipelago in the south before being unleashed on the remnants of the viceroyalty. The independence wars in New Grenada have continued AOTL as well. Finally, I've changed the color of the Cuzco rebels to better differentiate them from the United Provinces, since the color used previously was too similar to the color I've been using for the UP, and despite their fraternal ties, they have no intention of trading one yolk for another.

    Labeled 1819.png
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    Mariano Moreno infobox
  • Also, here's the fixed Mariano Moreno infobox as I work on part 3 of the Platine War!

    Infobox Mariano Moreno.png

    EDIT: Well, there's another error in the infobox, but it's not as glaring as the one that stopped me from posting it earlier so it's staying up for now. Error? What error? The infobox always showed the correct dates for his term as Delegate.
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    Balcarce Infobox
  • Infobox Antonio Balcarce.png

    As I continue working on the 3rd and final part of the Platine War, I wanted to give you a little something to tide you over, and to celebrate my country's independence day.
    9 - The Platine War (Part 3)
  • Chapter 9 - The Platine War (Part 3)

    Carlos Federico Lelor, Baron of Laguna, Lieutenant General of the Royal Army, and briefly the governor of the Cisplatine Province of the United Kingdom.

    The British mediators came into the situation expecting some sort of repeat of the 1812 settlement, but this time their proposal of status quo ante bellum was met with scorn by both parties: the Brazilians felt unbeaten and - most importantly - unbeatable, firmly entrenched in Montevideo and with an unassailable advantage at sea; the Platines for their part felt ascendant, and as their multi-year siege of royalist Montevideo had shown, they considered its loss a temporary inconvenience. Brazilians and Platines alike felt that too much blood had been spilled for the war to end with nothing to show for it, so their delegates presented their demands at the talks.

    Brazil’s demands were simple: recognition of Brazilian sovereignty over the Oriental Provinces. Platine demands were equally simple: an immediate end to hostilities and the removal of Lecor’s army from Montevideo. Both had reasonable arguments in support of their respective positions: the Brazilians argued that Lecor’s army was far from spent and had yet to suffer a defeat in pitched battle, while the Platines retorted that it had avoided such a fate precisely because it was forced to encamp in Montevideo. Both wrote back furious condemnations of their counterparts to their capitals, and talks broke down as both governments grew convinced that the war couldn’t end until they struck a “final blow” on their enemy.

    Lecor and Silveira fumed in Montevideo at the news, but both recognized that with the arrival of the remaining 1,000 portuguese veterans with their accompanying supply and artillery train by boat, their army was once again a formidable force that the Platines could no longer safely ignore in their rear. But much to their chagrin, they were alone in being able to menace the enemy, as the inhabitants of Porto Alegre refused to let Jardim sally from the city while the interior of Rio Grande was still swarming with rebel slaves. If Brazil was to inflict a decisive defeat on the United Provinces, it would be up to their crack army to do so on its own, especially as the Platine navy continued to frustrate Brazilian efforts to engage it in a pitched battle at sea.

    Lecor was forced to decamp from Montevideo in the middle of February, instructed as he was to seek a fatal blow to the Army of the East; to his credit, he took up the task admirably, and set a plan into motion that would allow Brazil to win decisively. Taking advantage of Brazilian Naval superiority once again, Lecor retraced his steps from 1816 and retook the lands liberated by the United Provinces at the end of 1818, once again placing the Atlantic coast of the province under Brazilian control and allowing his army to operate along a wide swathe of territory from the narrows protecting Rio Grande to Maldonado and Montevideo.

    But again he was frustrated in his efforts by Artigas, who continued to harass his forces with guerrilla warfare and forced Lecor to advance carefully lest he lose his vanguard and scouts to Platine ambushes. Worst of all, while he could count on the navy to protect Montevideo from a Platine assault, he understood that the recapture of Maldonado, Rocha and the border forts was temporary, as they were not important enough to warrant a garrison he could ill afford to leave behind. Arriving in Rio Grande by the end of February, the war had by this point devolved into a bloody battle on Brazilian territory on land, with only a perfunctory siege of Montevideo serving as reminder of its aims.

    If Lecor could combine forces with the mostly-intact army under Jardim in Porto Alegre, the Brazilian commander reasoned that - as hesitant as the Platine forces were to face him on the field - they would be forced to give battle, as otherwise he intended to smash the guaraní rabble besieging San Borja against its defenses and, this time, burn his way south if he had to until he reached the River Plate. Jardim, determined to contribute to the war after years of babysitting frightened slavers, sallied from Porto Alegre at last; but arduous negotiations with the city’s leaders forced him to leave behind nearly 1,000 soldiers to guard against rebel attacks, in a move that would have disastrous consequences for Brazilian plans.

    Lecor would be bitterly disappointed at the news, as Jardim joined him on the march with a third of his army left behind. But he wagered that 8,000 troops would be more than sufficient for his aims, so he set out on the offensive once again; Manuel Artigas’ flying column would be his first target, and he would set upon his smaller detachment with a righteous fury. What passed for infantry in his army broke upon contact with the enemy, with the rebel slaves and guaraní irregulars melting away into the countryside, but the cavalry would withdraw in relatively good shape despite some casualties. Eager to press his advantage, Lecor would pursue them into Platine-occupied Misiones Orientales, setting the stage for the decisive land battle he was under pressure to deliver.

    Unfortunately for Lecor, the stage had been set by Artigas: gathering his 6,000 regulars, reinforced by the 800 surviving members of his nephew's detachment and bolstered by 4,000 guaraní militiamen, Lecor had not expected to run into the full force of the Army of the East so soon. Crossing paths near the headwaters of the Ibicuí, Lecor did not shy away from the fight: fully expecting the Platine infantry to buckle under pressure like they had so many times before, Lecor arrayed his lines for battle. But while the militia wavered, the regular infantry stood strong and rebuffed the initial attack, trapping Lecor into a slugfest against a numerically superior for and ultimately dooming his army to defeat[1]. The superior Platine cavalry, which by this point of the war also heavily outnumbered its Brazilian counterpart, would play a key role in the battle: blocking the Brazilian cavalry charge early in the engagement, they prevented the Platine lines from breaking, and seizing on the initiative, they'd capture the Brazilian artillery later in the day.

    batalla de Ituzaingo-cavalry charge.jpg

    The Platine infantry's improved performance in the face of Brazilian cavalry charges was a turning point in the conflict.

    The loss of his artillery was the final nail in the coffin for Lecor's advance, robbing his army of any real capability to achieve its goals of conquest and forcing him to retreat before his cannons could be used against him. Leaving over 1,500 casualties behind as he raced back to Porto Alegre, the defeat at the Battle of Ibicuí is the decisive battle that both sides were desperately seeking: Lecor's army is spent, too battered for offensive operations and now separated from its targets by an enemy army twice its size; while the Army of the East reigns supreme on the field, capable of threatening either Porto Alegre or Rio Grande with relative impunity. With the fall of San Borja in early April, the Brazilian position is untenable even as its garrison in Montevideo refuses to surrender, especially as Artigas unleashes flying columns even deeper behind Brazilian lines to wreak havoc and continue arming slaves.

    When delegates met again under the auspices of their British mediators, Brazil had lost a great deal of its bargaining power: their control of the seas wasn’t the crippling threat to the United Provinces they had hoped, while their armies had not only been beaten on the field, they had been beaten a week’s march from a major Brazilian city, and their guns had been used to capture the largest and oldest Brazilian city on the Uruguay river. But the United Provinces were likewise eager to bring an end to the war: its victory on land had been costly with more than 4,000 fatalities over three years, while the Brazilian blockade had forced the Platine government to scrape the bottom of the barrel in its desperate need for money, and every inch outside of the Misiones Orientales was crawling with as many armed slavers as armed slaves, making an invasion of Rio Grande proper a deeply unappealing prospect.

    Although Brazil’s negotiators demanded the immediate return of the Misiones Orientales in exchange for the surrender of Montevideo, they could offer no counter-argument to the Platine response: if the Brazilians would rather wait until the fall of Montevideo to hold talks, they could convene again in two months time. They set their sights on more realistic concessions instead, ultimately extracting financial compensation for the United Provinces’ campaign of violent emancipation and - most importantly for Rio - securing free navigation rights for the United Kingdom’s ships throughout the River Plate and its tributaries, with a menacing commitment from the British mediators that the Royal Navy would guarantee the terms of the agreement.

    The war had lasted three long, brutal years, leaving large stretches between the Uruguay River and the Atlantic in ruins; thousands of civilians had perished on both sides of the border, thousands more were displaced from their homes never to return, and the economies of both Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul were left in tatters due to the bloody guerrilla fighting that frequently included the wholesale theft or slaying of entire herds, a violent escalation of a low-intensity bush war that had raged across the border in the run up to the war. Platine freemen and riograndese slaves were the hardest hit by the war, with many free black ranchers ending up in chains and even more slaves massacred by vengeful owners in the wake of Manuel Artigas’ campaign of emancipation at gunpoint.

    It also made heroes out of José Artigas and Andresito, further consolidating the radical Federalist hold on the Littoral provinces, and turned the free blacks and natives that made up the majority of the infantry into darlings of the press, which was likewise quick to seize upon the violent excesses of Rio Grande’s slave owners to portray the war as an ideological battle far bigger than the petty territorial dispute that had sparked it. In an odd twist of fate, this triumphalism in the East led to an upswing of support for the war in Perú and the fight to support the rebels at Cuzco.

    But as the United Provinces emerged feeling victorious and hungry for more - especially against an enemy lacking the ability to threaten its heartland or its trade like the Brazilians - the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves turned inward in the wake of the war. Although the loss of territory was relatively minor, the loss of prestige for its army was a tremendous blow to the prestige of the court in Rio, and the war had brought the issue of slavery to the forefront of political controversy like never before: a resentment towards the slave owners took root in the army, as they felt betrayed by the slavers who had forced them to hold back soldiers to help them feel safe and protect their “property”. When the remnants of Lecor’s army were ordered to help hunt down the remaining rebel slaves in the Rio Grande countryside, a small cadre of liberal officers led a mutiny among the Portuguese veterans and European mercenaries, forcing the government to turn to local regiments for the task as more mercenaries were shipped from Rio de Janeiro to end the mutiny.

    The seeds of abolitionism had also taken root in the northeast, but any support for emancipation in the south had burned in the war, as the effects of Platine raids persisted even months after the last foreign troops had departed. But the war had strengthened the royal court in one significant way: its willingness to defend their livelihood - and the slavery that supported it - had sent the elite of Rio Grande straight into its arms, strengthening Rio de Janeiro’s position towards the other provinces.

    With the end of the Platine War, Belgrano and Balcarce turned their attention back towards Lima: San Martin wrote to them that the Army of the North was ready, William Brown departed Buenos Aires once more with a new handful of ships to support the invasion, and Chile’s conquest of the last royalist redoubt to its south meant it could turn its full attention north. The ink on the treaty marking the end of the war with Brazil hadn’t finished drying before the order left La Plata: the invasion of Perú would begin at last in 1820.

    San Martin con sus tropas.jpg

    San Martin inspects his troops as final preparations for the invasion of Perú are made.
    [1] Based on OTL's Battle of Ituzaingo, what was the high-water mark for an ultimately doomed Argentine invasion IOTL is the nadir of the Brazilian attempt to conquer Uruguay.
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    10 - The Invasion of Perú
  • Chapter 10 - The Invasion of Perú

    José de San Martin, Brigadier General of the United Provinces, Commander of the Army of the North, and Liberator of Perú

    When San Martin had arrived in Buenos Aires in 1812, he joined the ongoing revolution with a single goal in mind: the total liberation of Latin America from Spanish colonial rule. Exposed to both fighting of a standard unlike anything the Americas had seen since the American Revolutionary War and to liberal ideas unlike anything the Spanish colonies had experienced, he represented in some ways the typical contradictions of his generations. Initially a reluctant supporter of independence as an inevitable response to the Spanish promise to reimpose the traditional colonial order on the colonies, he departed for Alto Perú in 1814 committed to the aims of its most radical proponents, and began meticulously planning for the invasion of Perú, last and greatest bastion of Spanish power in the southern cone.

    Finding the Army of the North in perilously bad shape after years of non-stop skirmishing with small detachments up and down the front, he settled in for what he envisioned would be the long process of turning a hastily-gathered rabble meant to prevent the north from falling to the royalists into a real army capable of taking the offensive against Lima. His first steps involved reorganizing the defenses of the region, recognizing Castelli’s cavalry commander Juan Martin de Güemes’ talents immediately upon his arrival[1] and putting the gaucho leader in charge of the guerrilla forces meant to deter further royalist incursions past Lake Titicaca.

    Now more or less secure in his defensive positions, he began the arduous task of professionalizing his infantry, which - like most of the infantry in the revolutionary armies - consisted primarily of emancipated slaves, criollo militias and native detachments which, though numerous, tended to lack modern equipment and training. The first fruits of these efforts were the country’s first professional sapper corps, which would serve with distinction in the final phase of the Chilean independence war alongside Las Heras’ expedition.

    When the war with Brazil was starting in 1816, his efforts were almost complete, but he would be disappointed by both the government in La Plata and Santiago: nearly half his cavalry was redeployed to Uruguay, alongside the recently returned sappers, and his Chilean counterparts likewise redirected efforts to the south in response. But he would not sit idly while the fighting raged in the Littoral provinces: Las Heras’ expeditionary force, 1,200 strong and with 3 years of experience at that point, was folded into the Army of the North, which now had a strength of nearly 10,000 men on paper (although only 6,000 of those were properly enlisted or on the government’s payroll), and continued organizing his army along European lines.

    When the order to invade finally arrives in mid-1819, the army he leads is truly formidable: it has been thinned down to its professional core, with many of the criollo and native militiamen either being resettled elsewhere or formally enlisted, but still numbered nearly 8,000: all told, he had molded his infantry into a powerful contingent 6,000 strong running the gamut from grenadiers to military engineers and rifle-armed chausseurs. The remaining 2,000 soldiers officially under his command included both the European style cuirassiers and mounted grenadiers he’d helped train and the mobile and relentless gauchos under Güemes and Manuel Artigas who’d spent the last 6 years in almost constant combat. His army was also supplemented by a Chilean expeditionary force, totaling another 4,000 men under the command of Bernardo O’Higgins and fresh off their conquest of the last royalist stronghold to Chile’s south.

    But for all the combined might of the Platine and Chilean armies, which would be reinforced by the militias of the still-extant revolution in Cuzco, their success depended more on the combined fleets of the Chile and the United Provinces, which were placed under the command of the Scottish commander Thomas Cochrane. Fresh off its baptism of fire in the conquest of Chiloe, the Chilean navy was instrumental in San Martin’s invasion plan, finally giving the revolutionaries a naval contingent capable of more than just raiding the coast or preying on royalist shipping.

    Just as San Martin had dedicated the time since the liberation of Chile to training his army, so too had the government in Chile embarked on an ambitious naval armament plan which forced the remnants of the Spanish navy in Peru to hide in its ports and allowed it to subdue the heavily fortified islands south of Valdivia. It would also mark the beginning of the invasion of Perú with a bold attack right at the heart of the viceroyalty, placing the port of Callao under blockade in the early weeks of 1820 and capturing the royalist flagship - the frigate Esmeralda - in a daring assault that neutralized the last major naval threat against the invasion.


    The capture of the royalist flagship Esmeralda by Chilean sailors in a daring attack

    With the port under siege and the Spanish fleet trapped by Cochrane, the combined Platine, Chilean and Cuzcan attacked the viceroyalty from both land and sea; landing at the head of a Platine-Chilean invasion at the Bay of Pisco, San Martin would take personal command of the invasion and would march towards Lima - whose port remained under blockade - in February of 1820, forcing the royalists to confront him or risk getting trapped in the capital with a quarter of the Royal Army of Peru and the viceroy.

    Sallying under the command of Brigadier Osorio, they moved to intercept San Martin before he could cut off Lima from the rest of the interior; despite a heavy numerical advantage, the united revolutionary armies were unwieldy and of varying quality, while Osorio commanded over 5,000 veterans. The invading army made slow progress on the march, and were caught early in the morning by Osorio’s attack, spreading panic through the revolutionary ranks and neutering their superiority in numbers - nearly 2,000 militiamen would simply desert the field when attacked that morning - before San Martin and his subordinates were able to restore order in their ranks.

    It was a shocking start to the campaign: although his casualties were relatively light and he was able to withdraw from the field of battle with most of his professional formations mostly intact, the 2,000 deserters wouldn’t rejoin the army before it faced Osorio’s detachment again, and most damaging to his campaign, the surprise attack robbed him of a third of his artillery[2]. But it was simply not enough: rallying over 8,000 troops, he took the offensive against Osorio this time, and forced the Spanish to take up desperate defensive positions as he used his advantage in numbers to try and outflank the royalists.

    After long, grueling fighting, which cost the revolutionary army 800 dead and nearly twice as many wounded, the Spanish were beaten and what remained of Osorio’s army limped back to Lima. San Martin’s army had not only made good the loss of his artillery by capturing over a dozen of the Spanish pieces, it had also decimated Osorio’s forces: of the 5,000 soldiers the royalists arrayed for battle in the second battle of Pisco, 1,000 laid dead on the field, another thousand wounded, and 2,000 in total surrendered to the revolutionaries along with what remained of their ammunition and supplies[3].

    The Viceroy in Lima, Joaquín de Pezuela, attempted to negotiate, and while San Martin agreed to parley, talks broke down almost immediately: Pezuela’s offer to “restore” the Cadiz Constitution of 1812 seemed of little of value to the revolutionaries, who’d held large swathes of southern Peru for longer than the constitution was in force, and it proved to be the last straw for the leaders of the royalist army in Perú, which would mutiny at the news of talks with the revolutionaries and force Pezuela to resign in April.

    As San Martin made his final approach to the city, he was shocked to discover the drastic steps the mutineers had taken: abandoning Lima with the majority of the garrison, its food stores, its supplies, and most importantly, its treasury, the revolutionaries arrived to find a city wracked by fear and convulsing from brutal fratricidal fighting that would leave the majority of its Spanish population dead or exiled. But the fear gave way to exuberant celebrations as San Martin made his terms to the city public: his offer to recognize the rank and seniority of the remaining garrison prompted them to surrender immediately, and the city’s leaders acquiesced without hesitation to his condition that they convene a Cabildo Abierto of their own.

    San Martin entered the city on the 25th of May[4] accompanied by leaders from Cuzco and settled in to garrison the city as its Cabildo gathered. Emulating the May Revolution of Buenos Aires, the Cabildo of Lima proclaimed a governing Junta presided over by the Peruvian general José de la Mar and sent out summons for a constitutional assembly, but they would take a further step that their Platine counterparts presided by Saavedra had failed to do ten years prior: on June 1st, 1820, the assembled delegates proclaimed Perú’s independence from Spain.

    Although some fighting would continue, royalist power in South America had been smashed to pieces: the remnants of the viceroyalty’s army were dispersed throughout the countryside, trekking north as quickly as they could to the last redoubt of royal authority left, Quito. The Royal Army of Perú had numbered as many as 20,000 when the revolution had begun, but after a decade of heavy fighting and bloodletting across the Alto region, only half that many would manage to gather, exhausted and demoralized, in Quito. Formidable as the remaining royalist army was, it was soon trapped in Quito, as the rapid collapse of the Viceroyalty had only hastened an uprising that had been brewing in Guayaquil for years, culminating in the creation of the Free State of Guayaquil on October 9, 1820. The mighty Spanish Empire, which had controlled South America from the Darien Gap in Panama to the Strait of Magellan in Patagonia and the continent on two oceans and the Caribbean, was reduced to the outskirts of Quito by the end of the year as Gran Colombia consolidated its independence from Madrid the year before.


    The Second Battle of Pisco definitively broke the back of Spanish power in South America
    [1] San Martin was only very briefly commander of the Army of the North IOTL, being replaced more or less immediately by Belgrano due to his own health problems, but despite that brief stint in command, he immediately recognized Güemes talents and the effectiveness of his tactics to defend against invasion. It was in the context of defending Salta and Jujuy IOTL, but it would be just as true in the Upper Perú.
    [2] Instead of going to Chile ITTL, Osorio was forced to stay behind and fight the longer-lasting Cuzco rebellion, which has survived primarily because the UP treats it as if it were its front line of defense. The battle I’m describing is based on OTL’s Battle (or Disaster) of Cancha Rayada.
    [3] Like First Pisco is based on Cancha Rayada, Second Pisco is based on the Battle of Maipú
    [4] Ok, I admit this one is the biggest stretch, since it has involved the biggest alteration from OTL: the army arrived on July 9 IOTL. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of having Lima call for a Cabildo Abierto on the 10th anniversary of Buenos Aires’.
    Mini-update - 1820 Map and Round-up
  • South America 1820.png

    I'm overall much more satisfied with this map, but admit it's very much a WIP: I would like to add the subdivisions to the United Provinces at some point, and still feel like Perú's color could be more distinct. I'm going to miss the clearer demarcation of where the UP's authority in the Chaco region thins out, so I may add it back in as I work on its internal subdivisions, but at the point I'm leaning more towards the possibility of having it filled in with a lighter color and including the borders of the future provinces.

    So here we are, 10 years in: the United Provinces obviously have managed to not just secure their position, but in fact push their eastern border a bit further to their advantage with Brazil's loss of the Misiones Orientales. Its successful defense of the Alto Perú has had dramatic consequences for the independence wars: the royalists are forced to flee to a last bastion to the north, instead of fighting on from Bolivia for years IOTL. This means two things: Perú's liberation goes a lot smoother, happening both sooner and more swiftly while being spared several years of costly warfare (so costly it would bolster royalists ranks due to lack of payment for its troops twice); but Quito's defenses are a lot stronger, making it a considerably more formidable redoubt.

    This turns Ecuador into a huge flashpoint: IOTL, it was liberated in 1821-22 with help from Gran Colombia, but its 200-man intervention won't be enough ITTL, since there are now some 10,000 royalists garrisoned in Quito. They could also theoretically threaten Guayaquil, but most of them have just limped into the city after a desperate retreat through hostile territory, so they're not in any shape to do so just yet. But the threat exists, so Guayaquil is going to ask for help to everyone willing to listen, which includes the UP ITTL.

    But the 1820s are also going to see the United Provinces and Chile pushing south now: Chile's conquest of Chiloe is the result of a generally less acrimonious civil war, meaning that its relations with the Mapuches to its south haven't soured quite as badly as OTL; while the United Provinces can now turn their navy's attention to consolidating its control of the Atlantic Coast at least as far south as Carmen de Patagones (and it'll be setting up outposts further south too), with demobilizing veterans leading the charge into the south of the pampas.

    1821 is going to be quite a turning point as well, with the imminent collapse of Spanish authority - even if it's essentially only symbolic at this point - in Central America that's coming up. But in general, the region is considerably more peaceful than IOTL: the South American Wars of Independence are all but finished everywhere but in Ecuador, Chile and the union of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay have been spared decades of civil war between them, and Perú won't have to spend the first several years of its existence "re" conquering its south.
    11 - A Decade of Revolution
  • Chapter 11 - A Decade of Revolution


    A portrait of Manuel Belgrano, 2nd Secretary General of the United Provinces, during his time as Ambassador in London.

    The United Provinces greeted the 10th anniversary of its Revolution with jubilant celebrations, holding that year’s elections in the middle of the high from the victory over Brazil and the expectation over the invasion of Perú. When the news that Lima had fallen to San Martin’s army on the 25th of May arrived in the middle of the elections, it brought a wave of delegates that sang the praises of the exploits of the Armies of the North and East in unison. For a brief moment, the divisions that had started splitting the delegates into Liberals and Federals seemed to disappear, and would send to the General Assembly both the most radical and liberal of their respective camps. Belgrano and Balcarce were reelected unanimously, and the whole country basked in the glow of the Revolution’s success.

    But the regular business of government continued, and as Belgrano saw it, with the Royalist threat dealt with it was time to turn over a new leaf: among the slew of promotions and prizes for the Army of the North, there were instructions for San Martin to begin the process of demobilization of his forces. First San Martín then Balcarce protested: San Martin had been commissioned by Perú’s new government to support Guayaquil’s liberation of Quito, and they both considered the liberation of the continent incomplete as long as the Royalist army survived to threaten Perú.

    Balcarce threatened to resign if Belgrano did not extend the Army of the North’s mission, but the Secretary General persisted: funding the invasion of Perú had already sapped the treasury, and with the Oriental Provinces in desperate need of reconstruction, Belgrano could not support maintaining 8,000 soldiers in the northern Andes for an indefinite amount of time. When Balcarce followed through on his threat and resigned in November of 1820, the fate of the Army of the North hung in the balance as Belgrano suddenly found himself in the middle of a debate that placed him at odds with his own allies in the Liberal camp while earning him the support of Littoral federalists, by far the most radical members of their party.

    His erstwhile liberal coreligionists spearheaded by Monteagudo, rode the wave of popular support for the war to make him reconsider and force him to compromise: San Martin’s commission was extended, but the Army of the North was split in half. San Martín was ordered to divide the armies as he liked: he would proceed to succor Guayaquil at the head of the Army of the Andes, while a subordinate would return to Alto Perú with the rest of the Army of the North. But Belgrano seized on the opportunity to repay Balcarce for the resignation that precipitated the crisis: to disqualify him from returning as Supreme Director, Belgrano proposed that he be named commander of the Army of the North with San Martín heading to Guayaquil.

    With Artigas still under commission as General of the Army of the East, there were no obvious candidates to succeed Balcarce as Supreme Director. The liberal faction would turn once more to a relatively obscure figure, whose primary qualification for the role was his popularity among the majority of liberal delegates at the Assembly: Nicolás Rodríguez Peña was elected as Supreme Director on January 15, 1821, bringing 3 months of political uncertainty to a close but unwittingly opening a new fault line that would further split the parties.

    Rodríguez Peña’s appointment was met with a shrug from the rest of the country, which prompted critics of the long-time morenist domination of the General Assembly to complain that the post was meaningless if, when push came to shove, the Secretary General could exploit a vacancy to appoint a lackey - as Moreno had in 1812 - or a minnow - as Belgrano had engineered in 1820 - thanks to their control over a majority of the Assembly by virtue of their position.

    By virtue of his prestige and his near-brush with the post himself, Artigas’ criticisms gained the widest circulation; a firm believer in federalism and the radical egalitarian and democratic tenets of the revolution, he complained in letters that it seemed as if Moreno’s allies in Buenos Aires “had a chest from which they pull the next man in uniform to parade in front of the Assembly, noting that “the same men cannot elect both of the highest positions in the country from the same room in the capital”. His solution was relatively straightforward: the Cabildos should elect the Supreme Director, just as they elected the members of the General Assembly.

    Indeed, as far as the Federalist delegates were concerned, this was already the case: what had originally been a quixotic decision in the republic’s infancy became a tradition that soon undergirded a core belief, as the Littoral cabildos adopted the custom of voting to “instruct” their delegates to vote for a specific candidate for Supreme Director. But there was no requirement for this, and was confined to the Cabildos from the Paraná to Montevideo, with little sign that the custom caught on in the cabildos of the interior even as they voted for delegates who belonged to the same parties before it became a partisan issue in 1822.

    The morenist response was, simply, that if the Cabildos were sovereign, and the Assembly represented the Cabildos, then the discussion was moot: the representatives of the Cabildos were just as legitimate as the Cabildos themselves they said, and closed ranks around the supremacy of the General Assembly. But as their majority implemented more policies that they considered vital for national consolidation, it caused tensions with its most radical northern members as those policies incorporated the concerns of the merchants and beneficiaries of state contracts and the lack of funds slowed the pace of land grants and gave way to bank loans.

    The north’s shift away from the Liberals would be the death knell for its monopoly on power: without the afterglow of triumph and revolutionary fervor in 1822, the partisan divide roared back to life and the Liberal majority cratered. Manuel Belgrano was reelected with the thinnest margin in the body’s history until that point, and it would mark the first time that a competing name was voted upon concurrently: Tomás Guido, a one-time ally and private secretary of Mariano Moreno who had drifted away from the firebrand into the arms of the previous leader of the Federalist bloc, Gregorio Funes, fell only a handful of votes short of beating Belgrano for the post of General Secretary.

    But the biggest shock came with the vote for Supreme Director: with votes against from northern Liberals, some of whom would switch parties to the Federal before the term was done, Rodríguez Peña was not reelected as Supreme Director. When Paso had been passed over for reelection, his name had been withdrawn before a majority could vote against him; his rejection came as a shock, especially when the Northern delegates informed the assembly that they had also received instructions from their cabildos: reelect Balcarce, who had grown immensely popular in the provinces of the north for his associations with Castelli and his continuation of San Martin’s policy of employing the army for civic projects.


    Nicolás Rodriguez Peña, the short-lived 4th Supreme Director of the United Provinces. He would return to his private business as a merchant after his ignomious defeat.

    Sensing an opportunity, the Federalists struck: throwing their votes in with the northern delegates, a stunned Manuel Belgrano noted the vote and had the order drafted and sent out for Balcarce to resign his commission and resume his position as Supreme Director. It would be a watershed moment in Platine politics, culminating in 1824 with the formalization of the process from cabildo to cabildo.

    The General Assembly also continued to expand as its politics matured and developed: new delegates from northern cities like Atacama, Cobija, and La Laguna were joined by delegates from the newly recognized cabildos of San Borja, Fuerte Saavedra (renamed earlier in the year from Fort Borbón by the provincial assembly in Asunción) and Paysandú in the Littoral provinces and the creation of “frontier” cabildos in Formosa [1], Castellia[2], Carmen de Patagones and Bahia Blanca.

    When the instructions from the Cabildos were tallied up in 1824, they returned a result that surprised even the winner: Artigas’ letters in defense of the proposal had earned him considerable fame across the country, and their circulation in conjunction with his earlier prescient warnings about the risk of Brazilian invasion - a drum he beat in frustrating solitude for two years before the federalist press took it up in the run up to the war in 1816 - turned him into a celebrity, especially among radicals who’d grown disillusioned with the more straightlaced style of Belgrano’s liberal governments. Like Balcarce in 1822, he was ordered to resign his commission and take the post of Supreme Director, although unlike Balcarce, Artigas only agreed after considerable cajoling from his own supporters to accept the job and step down as Commander of the Army of the East.

    Fortunately for the restless war hero - who had criticized previous holders of the post as “sedentary” and “passive” - it would be a time of turbulence that suited his need for a more active role in day to day affairs perfectly. Chafing at his “confinement” in La Plata early into his term, 1825 would be a difficult year for the United Provinces: the continued strain of maintaining San Martin’s Army of the Andes, much reduced as it was, had significantly deteriorated the country’s financial outlook. A financial panic in London impacted La Plata especially hard, with the Natonal Bank of the United Provinces only spared from insolvency thanks to the silver from Potosí. But the crisis left the government with a shortage of hard cash, and by 1825, the amount of money it was paying in veterancy pensions had ballooned to uncontrollable levels.

    To make matters worse, in many cases, the beneficiaries of the veterancy pensions remained active and were still paid as such: thousands of gauchos had joined the Revolutionary army throughout the years, and having fought as far afield as the outskirts of Quito for a decade and a half, many of them find the idea of returning to sustenance farming on someone else’s land thoroughly unappealing. When the General Assembly, short on cash, voted to pay them in promissory notes in 1825, hundreds rose up in open revolt.

    Operating primarily in the interior of Uruguay, they weren’t a threat militarily, but for the same reason they’d been such valuable auxiliaries to Artigas, they were still an economic threat. Arguing that the national government was in arrears with them, they began to “collect” taxes themselves in the region, generally in the form of heads of cattle from the ranchers that had advanced into the territory in the Army of the East’s protective shadow. Artigas rode from La Plata to his old headquarters at Purificación del Hervidero, setting himself up temporarily in the old house he’d inhabited before in the middle of a small plateau overlooking the plains around him. Sending one rider to Montevideo to order the Army of the East to rally at his position and another to the rebels to parley, he waited and enjoyed the simple life he’d missed since being forced to relocate to the capital.

    Campamento Artigas.jpg

    Artigas had set up his base and maintained an encampent at Purificación del Hervidero throughout his campaigns against the Royalists and Brazilians

    The leaders from the rebellion - all of them veterans of Artigas’ army - arrived as his nephew camped with the Army of the East’s vanguard a day’s ride away. They pleaded with their old commander to support their cause, but as sympathetic as he was with their requests, he could not allow their transgressions - which had included raids against towns under the protection of his government - to continue. No matter how little blood had been spilled as a result, it was still too much blood for former brothers in arms to lose to one another.

    The rebels hesitated, but Manuel Artigas’ arrival with several hundred lancers compelled them to negotiate. The deal they struck would be transformative, especially in how it changed the country’s relationship with its territorial claims on Chaco’s interior and to the south of the Pampas; taking advantage of the grounds around his former homestead, which had been granted to him in thanks for his services by the provincial government, he exchanged lots of land from his property for the members of the rebellion to settle on as long as they waived their pension.

    This settlement would set the precedent for years to come: as more veterans returned home from the expedition in the Andes or simply retired from active duty, they were offered land on the frontier instead of a costly cash pension, and the pace of colonization of the border areas accelerated accordingly. Their military experience made them better settlers in regions like the north of Uruguay or the eastern shores of the Paraná, since they could withstand native raids that would send traditional settlers running.

    Settlement increased faster than just this national-level decision could explain, however: travel from the Alto to Asunción along the Pilcomayo increased faster than could be explained by just the settlement of criollos and gauchos, while the frontier in the interior of Buenos Aires also outstripped what the trickle of veterans could provide. The explanation lies in the provincial militias: an important part of Platine political life in the early days of the revolution and a vital source of manpower as the fighting dragged on. Too large to dismiss in Buenos Aires, and too far removed from civilian life in the North or the Littoral, they proved instead to be fruitful sources of manpower as the provinces pushed the border into the hinterland.

    Guaraní settlers spread from Misiones and Paraguay, Quechua settlers trickled south into the plains of Chaco, and to the south of Buenos Aires, the coastal forts built in colonial times grew and were supplemented in the interior by newer fortified colonies manned by veterans of the revolutionary wars. The Platine navy, which had grown at a remarkable pace with the end of the war with Brazil, fueled a migratory boom of its own: timber-harvesting colonies spread to feed the booming shipyards of Corrientes, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, which worked tirelessly to provide the navy with new ships to supply the increasingly far-flung outposts along the Atlantic coast.

    Artigas’ resolution of the conflict was transformative politically as well: it gave the position of Supreme Director an authority of its own that it had lacked under previous holders of the office, most of them overshadowed by the Secretary Generals they served alongside with. While he had rallied the army and showed a willingness to use force to restore order, his personal prestige had also allowed him to bring the conflict to a peaceful resolution that simultaneously strengthened and extended the country’s borders.

    While he remained stubbornly unaffiliated, openly and proudly fraternizing with liberal and federalist delegates alike, the Federal party benefited most from his popularity, upending the political landscape in 1826 when they finally scored a narrow majority of their own. Manuel Belgrano’s impossible balancing act had finally come crashing down around him as the tensions between the two different strains of radicals in his own supporters exploded: the Liberal delegates that supported him for his land reform policies abandoned him as he was forced to give ground to pressures from monied interests in the heartland, while the Federal delegates that had once sympathized with him blamed his (and Moreno’s) policies for the Panic of 1825 and the rebellion it had caused.

    After coming close in 1822, Tomás Guido became the first Secretary General of a different party in 1826, although the country would still have to wait to break Buenos Aires’ monopoly on the post. The bloc of delegates that elected him was as heterogeneous as the one that had elected Moreno for the first time, slowly revealing the hidden fissures within the Federal coalition as they exercised power nationally. The party had formed primarily as a vehicle to oppose the Morenist agenda in all its radicalism and perceived centralism; radical egalitarians celebrated alongside dough faced conservatives from the interior, united first in their distrust of Mariano Moreno and his cadre of porteños and then in their shared desire to loosen the reins of national power over the provinces and their cabildos.

    As he had in his first term, Artigas grew bored with life in the Capital, and secured from the newly formed Federal government a special dispensation that inaugurated a new period in Platine history: taking to the field as Commander in Chief as opposed to General, he “joined” an armed expedition led by his nephew to the south, leading the country’s first campaign to “tame the desert” of the Pampas[3].


    Artigas would lead the largest Platine expedition into the southern Pampas since independence.[4]
    [1] Same place as OTL’s Formosa, downstream from Asunción on the opposite shore of the Paraguay and halfway between the Pilcomayo and Bermejo rivers.
    [2] Located at the location of OTL’s Resistencia, Chaco, opposite the city of Corrientes.
    [3] Everything I’ve read so far about Artigas leads me to believe it would be very in character for him to seek new excuses to leave the capital and do literally anything else but sit around and wait for things to get done. It also seems characteristic of his beliefs IOTL to support a military expedition in support of frontier settlements, which were getting their start IOTL around this time as well.
    [4] The upcoming campaign will generally be based on the Rosas expedition of the early 1830s, the one this painting represents.
    Bonus: 1826 Election infobox
  • The relationship between the Supreme Director position and the military is still evolving: both Saavedra and Balcarce had military experience prior to their designations, and were in fact selected for the role specifically because of it. Both Paso and Rodriguez Peña were civilians, but the nature of the revolution meant that pretty much all of the patriots enlisted at one point or another, either in the army or the militia. At the moment, the reason Balcarce first and Artigas later were required to resign their commissions was to prevent superposition of responsibilities, not so much to separate the civilian and military duties.

    What Artigas has done is something of a medley between what Rosas did prior to leading his campaigns to the south and what Mitre did during the war with Paraguay: leaving the capital to take personal command of the army, and placing himself above the military hierarchy by virtue of his political post. All of this is naturally still developing, not just ITTL but also in my head, but one of the big precedents I think will stem from this is that it'll continue the process of distinguishing the Supreme Director and his duties from those of the General Assembly (ironically, even as the Federalists and Artigas specifically view their goal as "weakening" the Assembly and the Secretary General, both would be greatly empowered by an Executive which is less involved in the day-to-day duties of government, as Artigas is eschewing with this move).

    Sadly, I can't envision European liberals drawing from American experiences just yet, especially as republicanism is still associated with jacobin radicalism at this point. I like that the political developments are prompting conversation though, as I'm quite pleased with it and feel that it has developed rather organically. As a bonus, I'd like to share with y'all the infobox for Guido's election, and would be happy to field any questions about how I imagine the system works.

    Screenshot_2020-07-19 Editing User Minifidel sandbox - Wikipedia.png
    Map with Subdivisions
  • United Provinces Subdivisions.png

    I hope it's legible and relatively clear; in what is a teaser but, sadly given what we know of history, not really a spoiler, here's a map of the United Provinces, now with improved provincial borders! Included as well in the map is a subtle hint at the composition of the General Assembly: the cities marked in yellow, the "capitals of the nation", each get 4, although Buenos Aires was granted 2 more - in recognition for its role in the revolution and in compensation for the loss of the capital. The cities marked in white correspond to provincial capitals, and get 2 each. And finally, the cities marked in grey are "recognized cabildos", either cities that have reached the population threshold or have delegates from the revolutionary era or for other political reasons (this is especially the case of the frontier cabildos). The dark blue in the south is territory which is under the effective control of the United Provinces but which haven't been organized into a province or had a frontier cabildo established.
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