Ayacucho, Battle of

Ayacucho, Battle of

▪ South American history
      (Dec. 9, 1824), in the Latin-American wars of independence, revolutionary victory over royalists on the high plateau near Ayacucho, Peru. It freed Peru and ensured the independence of the nascent South American republics from Spain. The revolutionary forces, numbering about 6,000 men—among them Venezuelans, Colombians, Argentines, and Chileans, as well as Peruvians—were under the leadership of Simón Bolívar's outstanding lieutenant, the Venezuelan Antonio José de Sucre (Sucre, Antonio José de). The Spanish army numbered about 9,000 men and had 10 times as many artillery pieces as their foe. Just before the battle, large numbers of officers and troops crossed over to embrace their friends and brothers in the opposing battle lines.

      Sucre opened the attack with a brilliant cavalry charge led by the daring Colombian José María Córdoba, and in a short time the royalist army had been routed, with about 2,000 men killed. The Spanish viceroy and his generals were taken prisoner. The terms of surrender stipulated that all Spanish forces be withdrawn from both Peru and Charcas (Bolivia); the last of them departed from Callao, the port of Lima, in January 1826.

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