San Martin, strategist of the American Independence –

Today in overstory we will dedicate ourselves to one of the most important strategic-military exploits of all history: the Andes Crossing. This is the most famous feat of General Jose de San Martin which allowed the release of Chiliand gave renewed impetus to wars for american independenceat the beginning of XIX century.

How do you know, at the beginning of the XIX century unleashed a series of revolutions in the Spanish American colonies that started the wars of independence. One of the focuses was Buenos Airesin the United Provinces of the River Plate (today Argentina) from where various military campaigns were carried out against regions under the control of the Spanish royalist army.

The main objective of the American revolutionaries was Lime (Viceroyalty of Peru), stronghold of the viceregal forces. Successive attempts to get through the Upper Peru (today, bolivia) failed miserably.

Jose de San Martina brilliant military revolutionary, proposed a “Continental Plan”, try a different route, until then practically unthinkable: starting from mendoza and cross the Andes mountains to get to Chili and -from there- attack Lime where he would finally join the forces of Simon Bolivar. According to many historians San Martin had taken this idea from an English plan of the year 1800 known as “Maitland Plan”, which was never carried out.

Beyond taking on this ambitious plan, Jose de San Martin gave several displays of his skill and cunning as strategist. Mainly in the development of what was called the “Zapa War”.

The Zapa’s war is a term used to describe a series of planned intelligence actions that range from the circulation of false information to espionage. Thanks to her, it was possible to disorient the enemy about the route of the expedition, infiltrate spies in the royalist army in Chilisend advances to explore the different steps of the Mountain range of the Andes and draw up maps and through distraction actions disperse the rival army for the moment of the final attack.

But the real feat, the one that has gone down in history, went far beyond planning and strategy. Well, it was also a feat of physical strength and also of convictions, of 5000 men who had to face the harshness of the Mountain range and inclement weather. In the next article “The Crossing of the Andes”, we will take you in his footsteps.


PIGNA, Felipe. The myths of Argentine History II. From San Martín to “the granary of the world”. Planet History and Society, Buenos Aires, 2005.


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1. Franz Van Riel. Pass of the Andes. Oil, at

2. Portrait of José de San Martín in 1818, at

3. Continental Plan of San Martin, at