The Battle of Vuelta de Obligado is remembered as the moment in which a Latin American country was able to oppose foreign interventionism in its internal politics. In Argentina this battle is commemorated every year on November 20, it is known as “National Sovereignty Day”. Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
Discover in the following article all the information about this conflict, who participated, why it is known as the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado, the events that preceded it and what were the consequences of the Latin American victory.
What was the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
It was a naval battle that took place on November 20, 1845 . The events took place on the Paraná River , towards its right bank and north of Buenos Aires. The conflict was the confrontation between the Argentine Confederation and an Anglo-French fleet .
Why was it called the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado?
The battle bears this particular name because it took place precisely at an angle where the riverbed becomes narrower and turns, called Vuelta de Obligado , in the current town of Obligado.
This stretch of the Paraná River has an “S” shaped space, where the invading ships had to slow down. To further complicate the invasion, the Argentine side placed chains from one bank to the other. This allowed the European troops to be delayed, doing more damage than they expected.
Participants of the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
The belligerents of the Battle were the following:
- Argentine Confederation: Commanded by General Lucio N. Mansilla , appointed by Brigadier Juan Manuel de Rosas.
- Anglo-French squad : Commanded by the Englishman Samuel Inglefield and the Frenchman François Thomas Tréhouart .
The intervention by the European squad was made under the pretext of restoring peace to the problems that had arisen between Montevideo and Buenos Aires. They sought to achieve direct commercial relations with the provinces of Entre Ríos, Santa Fe and Corrientes. They tried to ignore the authority of Juan M. de Rosas, who was in charge of foreign relations in the Confederation. Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
Between the years 1830 to 1840, the United Kingdom and France maintained marked discrepancies with Juan M. de Rosas due to his nationalist disposition and the economic policy that sought to protect the national industry through high tariffs. Rosas also tried to incorporate Uruguay and Paraguay into the Confederation, which clashed with the economic interests of these European countries.
Throughout his government, Rosas faced various problems with these foreign powers. Sometimes they reached an open aggression, which included the naval blockade on two occasions, by France in 1838 and in 1845, the one that concerns us in this article, commanded by Anglo-French troops.
The events in Montevideo
It is important to note that in 1845, Uruguay was waging a civil war between two caudillos: Manuel Oribe and Fructuoso Rivera. The former goes to Rosas to give him support to regain his government that had been taken from him by Rivera and which was also supported by Brazil. Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
Rosas agrees by contributing troops and weapons, with which Oribe invades Uruguay and besieges Montevideo. This motivated the United Kingdom and France to intervene in the conflict, proclaiming themselves mediators of the conflict, but supporting the Government of Defense.
Economic interests of the United Kingdom and France
The Industrial Revolution brought with it the development of steamships , progress experienced by the United Kingdom, France and the United States. Military ships were capable of navigating rivers with heavy loads and at excellent speed.
This new technology allowed both the United Kingdom and France to avoid the Customs that were in Buenos Aires, by navigating directly through the La Plata estuary and trading with the inland cities directly.
The government of Juan M. de Rosas tries to stop this by declaring the internal rivers of the Confederation not navigable by foreign countries , also preventing entry to the ports of Paraguay. The UK and France do not recognize this statement and challenge Rosas by sailing upstream with their joint fleet, setting the stage for a confrontation.
Causes that originated the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
The following can be mentioned as causes that led to the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado:
- The disagreements between the caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas with the United Kingdom and France .
- The shock suffered by British and French economic interests in the region when trying to reincorporate Uruguay and Paraguay into the confederation.
- The siege that was made of Montevideo by Oribe, supported by Rosas.
- The desire of Europeans to navigate the inland rivers and do business in the cities avoiding Argentine customs .
- The lack of recognition of the Rosas orders that declared the internal rivers of Argentina not navigable by foreigners.
- The defiant action on the part of the United Kingdom and France in navigating upstream a military fleet.
The combined Anglo-French troops navigated the waters of the Paraná River beginning in November. The squad consisted of 11 warships. They had the most advanced war machinery of that time; They were armored vessels with rapid firearms . Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
The corner of the Vuelta de Obligado was the perfect site for the Argentine defense , with its tall barracks and a sharp curve that required the ships to lie down in order to pass. In this part the width of the river is only 700 meters and navigation becomes difficult. Rosas was aware of this strategic geography and decided to place the main defense in this place.
General Lucio N. Mansilla arranged three thick metal chains that suspended over 24 boats and that went from one side of the river to the other, the purpose was to prevent the advance of the enemy fleet. The operation was carried out by Aliverti, an Italian immigrant.
Towards the right side of the river, 4 batteries had been posted with 30 cannons , most of them made of bronze, with a division of about 160 soldiers in charge of handling them. In the trenches were 2,000 men led by Colonel Ramón Rodríguez, in addition to the only warship (Republican) that guarded the chains that were across the river.
The beginning of the combat occurred at dawn , with the intense detonation of cannons on the batteries of the Creoles , which contained pieces of smaller caliber and slower loading. Since the confrontation began, the Argentines suffered numerous casualties.
The boats holding the chains were burned and Republicano, the only warship, was blown up by its own commander when he was unable to protect it any longer.
- The Argentine side resulted in 250 dead, 400 wounded and a total of 21 guns taken by the European force.
- The Europeans suffered the death of 26 of their fighters, 86 wounded and their fleet suffered such damage that they were forced to leave it stranded in Obligado for about 40 days, making emergency repairs.
- The Anglo-French forced the way and continued north, claiming victory for themselves .
- This victory was Pyrrhic , since the few Anglo-French ships that were left with the ability to navigate were again attacked at Paso del Tonelero and Angostura del Quebracho.
- It became clear that it was impossible to navigate the inland rivers without authorization from the Argentine Confederation. Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
Consequences of the Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado
The battle, despite the tactical defeat, was a diplomatic victory for the Argentine Confederation . The high cost that the operation demanded and the resistance that the Argentine government managed to impose force foreigners to recognize Argentine sovereignty over the rivers of the interior.
The Arana-Southern Treaty in 1847 was the end of the conflict with Great Britain, which withdrew its troops in March of that year. In the case of France, a year later the Arana-Lepredour Treaty is signed.
Both treaties assumed that the navigation of the Paraná River was an internal road that belonged to the Argentine Confederation. This section was subject only to Argentine laws, as was the Uruguay River, shared with the Eastern State.
On the other hand, the impact that this battle had on the continent was such that nations that opposed Rosas, such as Chile and Brazil , modified their position and temporarily joined the cause of the Confederacy.
This was also the case of some of the leading unit (enemies of the leader of the Partido Federal , Juan Manuel de Rosas), an example of them was Colonel Martiniano Chilavert who volunteer to join the military forces of the Confederacy. Battle of the Vuelta de Obligado