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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

And met the patriot forces near Talca


Battle of Talca]

[Sidenote: Battle of the Maypo]

[Sidenote: Liberation of Chile]

All Chile was free now except in the south. General Ordonez, commanding the Spanish forces there, was defeated and fell back to Talcahuano. San Martin prepared to invade Peru. Anticipating such an attack, Abascal, the Spanish Viceroy of Peru, despatched Osorio with an expedition of 3,500 veterans, who had just arrived from Spain, to Talcahuano. As soon as these reinforcements came, Ordonez set out from Talcahuano with the vanguard to march on Santiago de Chile, and met the patriot forces near Talca. The revolutionists largely outnumbered the Spaniards, but were poorly disciplined and ill-provisioned. While they lost time the Spanish main column under Osorio came up. Ordonez took advantage of the clumsy manoeuvres of the revolutionists to drive a sharp attack between their two wings, piercing their centre. The battle was won after the first fifteen minutes. O'Higgins was wounded and had to be carried out of the fight. San Martin, with his right wing, fell back on San Fernando. With great difficulty O'Higgins managed to reach Santiago, where he was presently joined by San Martin. Steadily the Spanish column advanced on Santiago. The two revolutionary leaders by almost superhuman efforts succeeded in rallying and equipping a force of 5,000 defenders. On April 5, the Spanish army appeared before Santiago

de Chile. Near the Maypo, nine miles from Santiago, the revolutionists took up a strong position. Osorio opened the battle about noon with artillery. Soon all the troops were engaged, the fiercest fight raging around a hacienda where San Martin and O'Higgins had their headquarters. Several times the ranch was lost and retaken. By sundown the Spaniards advanced all along the line. The battle seemed lost to the patriots. At this juncture, as the famous regiment of Burgos on the Spanish right was drawing in its deployed lines for a final column attack, Colonel O'Brien, at the head of the insurgent cavalry reserves, charged into the opening and overthrew the Burgos battalions. O'Higgins immediately charged the rest of the Spanish right wing, and San Martin simultaneously attacked in the centre. The whole Spanish army gave away. More than 2,000 Spaniards were killed and wounded. Osorio with his staff escaped to Peru. The victory of Santiago not only freed Chile, but left Peru open to the revolutionists.

[Sidenote: Monroe's Presidency]

In the United States of North America, during this interval, a new President had begun his administration. James Monroe was inaugurated as President in his fifty-ninth year. He had been a member of the Continental Congress, and at thirty-six a Minister to France. Under Madison he served as Secretary of War. Crawford, Calhoun, Meigs, Wirt and Rush were members of his Cabinet, and were all of the dominant Democratic-Republican party. Business throughout the country began to revive almost at once when the re-chartered National Bank went into operation in Philadelphia on the day of Monroe's inauguration.

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