Bolivia History 101: Battle of the Pari

This article belongs to Bolivia 101: THE BASICS

Battle of the Pari

Luis S CrespoBorn in Buenos Aires, Ignacio Warnes came to the Alto Peru as a Lieutenant Colonel with the auxiliary army from Argentinian General, Manuel Belgrano. In 1813 he was appointed by Belgrano as Governor of the province of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where he created a division of three branches [infantry, cavalry and artillery], with which he was proposed to defend its territory. He formed maintenance depots, manufactured weapons, melted cannons and worked as a laborer in order to be prepared to defend against any aggression. After the battles of Florida and Santa Barbara, in which he defeated the Spaniards, Warnes organized an army of 800 men, with five pieces of artillery, serving as base for the insurrection that stretched in the rest of the country.

Francisco Javier Aguilera was born in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Student of theology at the Seminary of Chuquisaca, one day he ran away from school to enlist in the ranks of the Royalist Army at the beginning of the war of independence. With the already rank of Colonel, he was sent by the Spanish Chief Juan Ramírez to fight the warlords Manuel Ascencio Padilla and Ignacio Warnes, Patriots who kept the spirit of insurrection, the first in the provinces of Chuquisaca and the second in the East of Alto-peru.


After beating Padilla on the day of the Villar (September 14, 1816), Colonel Aguilera launched the campaign against the Patriots in the East. In Vallegrande, he reinforced his army with soldiers from Cochabamba. Among his forces were: Fernando VII battalion of 500 men; the Talavera battalion of 300 men; two squadrons of cavalry from Cochabamba with 250 riders each; a section of artillery with eight units served by 100 artillerymen. In all 1,400 men. Completed the equipment and armament of this army, Aguilera went on to the rebel city, which was defended by Warnes. The march of the “realists” [loyal to the crown] was cautious and nobody is aware of their march but when they see the pitchforks, by Horcas, close to Santa Cruz, the bayonets of the head who would soon be the terror of those counties.


Before the surprise approach of the enemy, Warnes ordered his army to march at 11 hours, on November 21, 1816. At the time of the departure, harangued his troop: “Soldiers, win or die with glory”. A cry of enthusiasm was the response of the Santa Cruz army. The Pari is a wide meadow next to the suburbs of the city. The road that comes from the provinces of the interior across this field along its entire length, having the Pari stream to the right. In that field and about 800 meters from the suburb of the city, Warnes tended his line of battle. It supported its right on the creek and covered his left with the cavalry; by the center, he placed artillery, ambushing some parts in the islets and saplings. Arose shortly after the Spanish army. Aguilera deployed its line parallel to the Warnes, ambushing part of it on the edge of the Pari. Where called their artillery protecting both wings with his cavalry.


At the same time both lines advanced one above the other. the Fernando VII battalion, led by the same Aguilera, opened fire on the Santa Cruz infantry, whose Chief Commander, Saturnino Salazar, fled before the first downloads. The troop stretched on the floor until came Warnes on horseback and encouraged to move forward, locking a bloody combat. Aguilera reinforcement was presented by Commander Llanos, at the head of the dreaded battalion Talavera. In the most tough of the battle, the head of the patriots was knocked down by a shot to the horse, which fell to the rider’s right leg. The soldiers, believing him dead, retreated leaving him abandoned on the battlefield. A Spanish soldier found him alive, crossed the chest with his bayonet and finalized him with a bullet in the head.

“At the start of combat, the Santa Cruz cavalry, under the command of Colonel Mercado had hit with fury to the realist Cochabamba cavalry, to put it in disorderly flight. Mercado pursued it for five hours, fighting on the way riders squad to platoon, body to body, until the cochabambinos were destroyed completely. Mercado returned victorious to the battlefield and knowing the death of his boss, “screaming in rage, precipitated on to the royalists, but these forming solid groups, shot the intrepid riders, who had no more than their spears to attack”. Aguilera’s victory was cost expensive, because of the 1,400 men, he had left only 250, others had died or were wounded.

Aguilera sent to cut off the head of Warnes and place it on a pike in the plaza of Santa Cruz.

EL DIARIO, on November 21, 1926.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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