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The name of British Legion, or British Legions, was given to a group of foreign volunteers, who formed military units to fight under the command of General Simón Bolívar in the war of independence of the current countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Its units were part of the armies of the third republic of Venezuela and the extinct Gran Colombia (

British Legion (The British Legion)

The original names of the first bodies recruited were the following: First of Husares, Second of Husares, Red Husares, First Venezuelan of Rifles, First of Lancers, Artillery and Second of Rifles. The "Irish Legion" included the following units: Lancers, First of Riflemen, First of Rifles, Second of Rifles, Light Infantry of Cundinamarca, First of Light Infantry and Husares of the Guard. The expeditions of Gregor Mac Gregor, pioneer paladin of foreign heroes (unfortunately he also turned out to be a charlatan, masterminding one of the most brazen confidence tricks in history—the Poyais scheme), included: Lancers of Maceroni, Husares, Artillery, First of Lancers, Rifles, Light Infantry of Salabrietta and the Hibernia Regiment (


The first suggestion to recruit in the British Voluntary Islands to participate in the wars of South American independence was made in May 1812 by General Francisco de Miranda, Sebastián Francisco de Miranda y Rodríguez, 2.°Presidente de los Estados de Venezuela in a letter to a London-based source, but decisive steps in this direction were not given but in 1817. In January of that same year, Simon Bolivar, Simón Bolívar, El Libertador y 3er. Presidente de Venezuela appointed Luis Lopez Mendez, Luis Ceferino López Méndez y Núñez as agent of Venezuela in London, ordering him to search for recruits and the acquisition of arms. The time was very propitious for this, because of the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, many officers and demobilized soldiers of the British army were looking for work, and the army suppliers had large amounts of military supplies that they had not managed to sell. On the other hand, British public opinion, prompted by such well-known figures as Sir Robert Wilson (Sir Robert WILSON , General Robert Thomas Wilson, Sir, a liberal member of Parliament), and Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane Lord Admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, 1st Marquess of Maranhão (who was Governor and Commander of the British Treasury in Barbados), was broadly supportive of the Hispanic American patriots. This setting of events also encouraged the effective use of the press in favor of that cause (the press is the artillery of thought, or so do media moguls argue). Until then it had been almost always isolated individuals who had enlisted in the forces, first of Miranda, and after Bolivar, mainly from the British Antilles, but in 1817, the situation changed and the recruitment was acknowledged by whole units or by entire regiments at a time to form bodies in America. In May of that year, Gustavus Mathias Hippisley,Colonel Gustavus Mathias Hippisley, an officer of the British army who was at half-pay, offered Lopez Mendez to enlist a cadre of officers, sergeants and corporals to recruit and train a regiment of hussars in Venezuela. His offer was accepted immediately and soon other units began to be recruited: 3 more cavalry regiments, one rifle and one artillery corps. The organizers were so successful, and so many half-paid officers enlisted for the service of the patriots, that the English authorities were alarmed. In September the order was given that officers who enlisted to serve in a foreign power without special permission from the Prince Regent (George IV), George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, would lose their half pay; a few days later it was decided that the officers of the British army could not leave Britain without the authorization of the Sovereign. But all of this did not prevent the enlistment from continuing (people queuing outside 27 Grafton Street, Miranda's London residence and where Lopez Mendez was doing all the drafting from), so the ambassador of Spain in London, Duke of San Carlos, vehemently complained to the British government of this situation. There were also great British commercial interests at stake. Several merchants and ship owners financed the expeditions, upon receiving from Lopez Mendez the promise that the Venezuelan government would reimburse them when the ships arrived in South America. Among others, the expedition of Hippisley continued forward and at the end of November 1817 everything was ready to start, when the Prince Regent issued a proclamation that prohibited any recruitment. Given this circumstance, the ships of the Hippisley expedition immediately left, with such haste, that some of the volunteers remained on the ground, although apparently the authorities did nothing to prevent the departure of the expedition. The ships were involved in a tremendous storm and about 200 recruits for the Second Venezuelan Husares, perished when the "Indian" shipwrecked near the French coast. In total there were about 800 volunteers who crossed the Atlantic on that occasion. When they arrived in the Antilles they encountered many difficulties: 2 vessels were seized for violating the navigation laws, and other problems arose because there were provisions prohibiting the export of arms from Great Britain to South America. Having been grounded for a time in the islands, there were numerous defections and there were manywho became ill, so only about 240 volunteers finished their trip to the continent. The first, who set foot in Angostura in January 1818, were immediately sent through the Orinoco upstream to Apure, where under the command of James Rooke, who had recently enlisted on his own in the army of Bolivar, fought in the Battle of Semen. Hippisley did not arrive until April 1818, but after a confrontation with Bolivar (for trying to perjure Jose Antonio Paez José Antonio de los Santos Páez Herrera, 4º Presidente de Venezuela with a supposed "betrayal" of Bolivar), he returned to his country without having ever fought (some people believe he was an undercover agent of the Duke of San Carlos, Carlos Gutiérrez de los Ríos y Sarmiento Rohán, I. duque de Fernán Núñez).

The Regiments of the First of Rifles and the Artillery Corps arrived in July 1818 at Angostura, and immediately began to recruit and train Venezuelan troops in the Caroni Missions, (consisting mainly of indians of the region).

The First of Rifles fought throughout the entire emancipation until the Battle of Ayacucho (1818-1824), and when this body was dissolved in 1830, only 3 British officers remained. Two of the officers who arrived in Venezuela at the beginning of 1818, James Towers English and George Elsom, received authorization from Bolivar to return to England and organize two expeditions, but this time, not only formed by cadres, but also including soldiers. At the end of 1818 both were listed. In the Elsom unit there were some Hanoverians who had retired from the German Legion of the British Army, forces recruited by Johann Uslar, General Johann von Uslar-Gleichen, Prócer. For his part, Gregor Mac Gregor, a Scot who since 1811 had been linked to the Republican cause, was carrying out another independent recruitment from that carried out by Lopez Mendez, with whom he had antagonized over economic issues. These troops reached the shores of the Panama isthmus at the beginning of April 1819 and seized the town of Porto Bello; but Mac Gregor had to abandon it when the Spanish forces counterattacked 3 weeks later and most of the expeditionaries perished of fevers or were executed by the royalist troops. A new expedition raised by Mac Gregor left Great Britain during the summer (1818), composed mainly of the Hibernia regiment, recruited in Ireland by Captain Thomas Eyre, Brigadier-General Thomas Eyre. After many vicissitudes, they managed to seize Rio Hacha on October 5th, 1819, not before suffering serious losses. Shortly afterwards there were serious acts of indiscipline (the soldiers after the battle of Boyaca sacked the warehouses and looted stores and appeared drunk in the street the next day) and a whole unit embarked hurriedly to return in a ship to Great Britain, which they seized violently; the regiment having been incapable of maintaining its stronghold over Santa Marta. Mac Gregor had begun to evacuate this square, when the Royalist troops attacked, many volunteers were killed in the action, and about 110 were executed by their captors. Luckily, the Scottish chief and part of his men managed to flee on other ships. During the summer of 1819 John D. 'Evereux began to recruit an Irish Legion on Irish soil claiming that Bolivar had empowered him, and granted him the rank of General. He aspired to enlist 5,000 men but in fact, they were much less. All this time, the authorities, faced with such continued negligence of the proclamations of the Prince Regent, and the departure of one ship after another loaded with people and equipment to serve the cause of Hispanoamerica, the British government was finally forced to yield to Spanish diplomatic pressure. Despite many public protests, it was decreed that on August 1st, 1819, the law against the recruitment of British subjects to foreign countries would come into effect, which caused many volunteers to rush to South America before that date. Five (5) ships of the Irish Legion of D' Evereux raised anchors a few weeks later, claiming that they were driving emigrants. By this time, 53 ships had already left for South America, driving a total of 6,500 troops, of which only about 5,300 arrived at their final destination. Meanwhile, from the beginning of that same year of 1819, the contingents of Elsom and English had already begun to cross the Atlantic. The expedition of the second, formed by some 1,100 volunteers, disembarked in Margarita in April. Meanwhile, the 1,000 men led by Elsom began to arrive in Angostura and Margarita until the end of August. The first ships of the Irish Legion anchored on that island between September and December 1819, and two (2) more contingents landed at Angostura, respectively, between April and May 1820.

In September of that year, Bolivar put an end to the recruitment of foreigners and no more expeditions were organized in the British Isles, even though some volunteers were later admitted on an individual basis.

The first groups that appeared in Angostura of the expedition of Elsom during the initial months of 1819 were routed to the high Apure region, where they met with other Britons who had previously arrived and formed a battalion, called later the illustrious Albion Battalion , who accompanied the Liberator Simon Bolivar on his way through the Paso de Los Andes, envesting themselves with perpetual glory at the Battle of the Marsh of Vargas (July 25th, 1819), where its boss, Colonel James Rooke, was seriously injured, dying three (3) days after. Under the command of their new Colonel,John Mackintosh, they fought again at the Battle of Boyaca (07-08-1819), where they won the right to add that name, "Boyaca", to their colours and flags, and consecrated with their spears, swords and ballonets, that copious title of glory for posterity. By redeeming the Liberty of Nueva Granada; then, they continued fighting their way toward the South and they found themselves at the Batalla de Pichincha (25-05-1822), under the orders of General Antonio Jose de Sucre. This battalion was dissolved in Guayaquil in October 1822, and the few surviving volunteers were distributed among other units, or received an honorable discharge. General English's volunteers who had arrived in Margarita, took part in the campaign against Barcelona and Cumana, in 1819, under the command of Rafael Urdaneta, but General English seriously ill had to return to the island, where he past away. Those forces, after the failure suffered in Barcelona, ​​went to the region of Maturin (Venezuelan high plains), and then to the plains of Apure (Venezuelan low plains). Here they met with members of the Irish Legion, who had arrived before in Angostura and with other Englishmen, and were all reorganized into a single unit called British Hunters. There they were under the command of General Jose Antonio Paez in 1820, and they accompanied him in 1821 when he marched with his forces to join the army of the Liberator stationed in the Sabana de Taguanes, near San Carlos, shortly before the Battle of Carabobo. In this action, on 24-06-1821 the British Cavalry Battalion, had a very distinguished performance, and after the Battle received its new name from Bolivar: «Carabobo Battalion». After continuing to serve in Venezuela, they marched to the South, and finally this unit was dissolved in Ecuador, when the Gran Colombia was dismembered towards the end of 1830.

The part of the Irish Legion that had arrived in Margarita in 1819, and at the beginning of 1820, was very diminished by the illnesses and the defections it suffered within its ranks towards the beginning of March of that last year, when they embarked towards Rio Hacha, together with the Margaritan forces, some men from the English expedition who had been discharged from the hospital on the island and a group of navy-seals from Colonel Thomas Jackson. After having taken possession of Rio Hacha without resistance, they penetrated towards the South, about 250 km, to the region of Valledupar, where they had arranged to meet another column, where the Rifles Battalion was a part; the head of this column, Colonel Francisco Carmona, was delayed, and the link up did not take place on the proposed date. The Irish were forced to return to the coast, due to the attacks of the royalist troops against their lines of supply. In that city, they rejected an assault of the Spaniards, but then they mutinied, demanding their pay, their benefits and their rations. The population was sacked and burned. When these events occurred, the Irish Legion was in a deplorable state, and a third of its force had died or returned to their land. The rest seized several ships, and went to Jamaica, where many of them were subsequently transferred to Newfoundland and Canada. A unit of the Irish Legion that remained loyal to the Republic with Colonel Francis Burdett O'Connor remained on land and served under the orders of General Mariano Montilla, in Turbaco, during the siege of Cartagena. Subsequently, some of the surviving officers joined the Rifles Battalion. As for D'Evereux, he only came to South America, when his Legion had already disbanded, and in fact, never had any active service, nor did he fight in any military action.

Of the 5,300 volunteers who set foot in South America, very few returned to their homes in Britain and Ireland. Although many died in combat or as a result of wounds received in the fighting, it is probably correct to say that most were victims of tropical diseases and the harsh conditions of the campaigns. Their resistance to disease was weakened by the lack of proper food and clothing, as well as by the scarcity of available medicines: they succumbed to malaria, yellow fever, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, typhus and other ailments, and particularly, to the ulcers typical of the tropics, which blinded the lives of hundreds of them, especially during the long marches. The doctors, who in total were more than 150, did what they could, but practically all died, as did their patients.

Among the few survivors of the British Legion who remained in America, some reached high positions in the patriotic armies or occupied high positions in the governments of the newly formed States (countries).

Hundreds of soldiers and volunteer officers from England, Scotland and Ireland joined the patriotic forces and contributed greatly to the Republican cause. The demobilization of the army and the end of the Napoleonic wars sent thousands of men out to an already saturated labor market. Faced with the inevitable fallout of war, social unrest, unemployment, and the difficulties of adapting to new circumstances, Hispano-America presented itself as the possibility of immediate employment in its militias, and the need to procure weapons and elements for the continuation of the struggle against Spanish domination, leading the patriots to seek them in Europe. The human contingent was also desirable, especially that of officers with experience in the training of troops and for the purpose of a regularization of war actions. Because England was then the owner of the seas and because of its great political preponderance, the patriotic leaders considered that their help would be a decisive factor for the success of the liberation enterprise. (4)

Special references to the brave men who compounded these units are:

General Gregor Mac Gregor, General Gregor John MacGregor, Procer; Colonel James Rooke,Colonel James Rooke, Procer; James Towers English, Colonel James Towers English, Procer: George Elsom, Colonel George Elsom, Procer; Colonel Johann Uslar, General Johann von Uslar-Gleichen, Prócer; Thomas Eyre,Brigadier-General Thomas Eyre; John Mackintosh,John Mackintosh; Captain Thomas Ferriar, Captain, Aide D' Camp Thomas Ilderton Ferriar, Procer; Colonel Thomas Jackson,(no geni profile); Francis Burdett O'Connor; Francis Burdett O'Connor; Daniel Florencio O'Leary,General Daniel Florencio O'Leary Burke; General Arthur Sanders,Brigadier Gral. Arthur SANDES, Procer; General Thomas Charles Wright, Charles Thomas Wright; Naval Commander Captain Walter Dawes Chitty,Walter Chitty Dawes; Coronel Guillermo Smith, Francis William Smith ; General Charles Minchin, General Carlos Diego Jolysne Mínchin, Prócer irlandés; General William (Guillermo) Miller, General Guillermo Miller, Procer; Cmdte. Gral. de la Marina John ILLINGWORTH HUNT,Cmdte. Gral. de la Marina John Illingworth Hunt ; Major John BLOSSET, Procer, Major John Blosset, Procer; Guillermo White,Captain William (Guillermo) White, Procer; Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rafter, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rafter; Colonel Joseph BARNES, Procer, Colonel Joseph Barnes, Procer; Commander William Aylmer Commander William AYLMER, Procer, Robert Stopford, Admiral Admiral Hon Sir Robert Stopford , Julio Augusto de Reimbold Coronel Julio Augusto de Reimboldt, Procer, Admiral William Brown, Admiral William Brown

Surgeons in the Battle Fields.

Juan Manuel Manzo, Dionisio Bremont, Doctor Dionisio Bremont, Procer; Francisco Valbuena, José Eugenio Leiceaga, y Narciso Morales, Richard Murphy, Surgeon Edward BROWN, Procer, Surgeon Edward BROWN, Procer; Surgeon Richard MURPHY, Procer, Surgeon, Colonel Richard Murphy y O´Leary, Procer; Cnel. (Cirujano) Cervellon URBINA, Procer. Tte. Cnel. (Cirujano) Cervellon Urbina, Procer, Dr. Jennings Moore, MD Dr Jennings Moore.; Thomas Alexander, Tomás Alexander, Medico Cirujano.

During Venezuela's war-to-the-death (1814-1820), most of the British doctors died. Doctor Dewey was killed by machete blows in La Guaira; the Irishman Haly, who acted as surgeon of the patriotic forces of Cedeño, died in Calabozo shot by the Spaniards in 1818. In the advance through the Venezuelan plains the English Wielden served as a Major Surgeon; Louis Henry George Mayne Major Louis Henry George Mayne, MD. as Senior Surgeon of the Irish Legion and inspector of the hospitals of Margarita, and due to poor health, he did not continue in the southern campaign (Campaña Libertadora de la Nueva Granada); although he was present in the fighting at Riohacha in 1820, where he conspicuously stood-out for its activity in obtaining medicines in the Antilles for the Republicans.

From the year 1817, and in the following five years, the number of hirings in the ports of England exceeded six thousand men, however from the 53 ships that formed their expeditions it is said that there fought some (5,300) five thousand three hundred soldiers. Many of them were veterans of the United Kingdom, including Ireland, and there were also some German veterans serving in England. The main delegate to carry out the recruitment of the volunteers in London was the Venezuelan agent (Chilean born) Luis López Méndez, Luis Ceferino López Méndez y Núñez. Most of them had participated in the Napoleonic Wars or the British War of 1812. The volunteers in the British Legion were motivated by a combination of both political ideals and the benefit of being mercenaries, for the most part. Bolivar, for his part, hoped to raise the morale of the patriotic troops and incorporate more military professionalism into his soldiers.

The British Legions were composed by the 1st British Legion , by the 2nd British Legion , and the Irish Legion . They formed the battalions of Albion Infantry , Carabobo and Rifles, cavalry regiments such as the Húsares, although their members also fought as part of other American units. Units of foreign volunteers used their own banners, such as the Union Jack (7) for the English, or in the case of the Irish Legion, a green flag with the clàrsach, symbol of Ireland. (8) & (9) .

The British Legions formed an important part of the army of Bolivar, who credited them in the battle of Boyacá proclaiming "...those liberating soldiers are the men who deserve these laurels", and in the Battle of Carabobo where he described them as "The Saviours of my Nation" However, despite the fact that some historians say that they were later almost forgotten by the countries in which they fought; there are many demonstrations that this is a mistake since there are even today battalions in the South American armies that bear their names.

Forces of the British expeditions that sailed from London at the end of 1817 to 1819 and reached the coasts of Venezuela: (6)

'Expedition under'
'command of' Number of soldiers

Colonel Hippisley Colonel Gustavus Mathias Hippisley 720

Colonel English Colonel James Towers English, Procer 1,200

Colonel Elsom Colonel George Elsom, Procer 572

General D'Evereux John D'Evereux 1.729

General Mac Gregor General Gregor John MacGregor, Procer 600

Captain Thomas Eyre Brigadier-General Thomas Eyre 387

Coronel Francis Maceroni (1788-1846) (geni profile nonexistent) 300

Coronel Ferms Colonel William Anthony FERMS, Procer 250

Coronel Rooke Colonel James Rooke, Procer 200

Total 5.958

Liberating Campaign of Nueva Granada

In Angostura Simón Bolívar included the British Legion in the force that was to accompany him during the Liberating Campaign of Nueva Granada. Colonel James Rooke was in charge of 160 or 200 men, who fought for the Independence of Gran Colombia. (6)

After the Battle of the Pantano de Vargas (Vargas Marsh) Colonel Manuel Manrique,Brigadier Gral. Manuel Antonio Manrique Villegas , Chief of Staff, said: "All the army corps have distinguished themselves, but they deserve a special mention, (...) the British Companies. to which his Excellency the President of the Republic, has granted them the "Star of the Liberators", in reward for their perseverance and valor ». (6)

Colonel James Rooke was wounded by a bullet in the left arm. This one had to be amputated and when they took it off, he raised it with his right hand and shouted in Spanish: "Viva la Patria!". The surgeon asked him in English: "Which Country ??... Ireland or England?". Rooke shook his head and replied: "The one who will give me a burial." Colonel Rooke died days after the amputation. The widow of Colonel Rooke, Anna Rooke, Anna Rooke, by order of the Liberator was granted a life annuity and received a sum of money as compensation. (6)

The Battle of Boyaca followed shortly after, on August 07th, 1819 (see Bicentennial of the Battle of Boyaca Project).

What happened after Boyaca

With the victory at Boyaca, the Liberating Campaign of New Granada was fully realized, and therefore came to an end. Once the country was organized both politically and administratively, Bolivar went back to Angostura to give a briefing of military operations to the statesmen sessioning there, and to organize the new, newly born Republic of Gran Colombia.

Bolivar's next move was to clean up New Granada of royalists, North and South, and then return and finish the job he had started in Venezuela. Albion was now slinged shooted accordingly, to cover for the Southern Campaigns, heading towards the boarder of what is now Ecuador. The Rifles however, would stay in Colombia, in the Department of Cartagena, and march North , linking up with the Irish Legion who were expected to land at Rio Hacha during September-October of that year and take Santa Marta, at the mouth of the Magdalena River. This was also to be staged as a carefully rehearsed sea-land operation, where synchronicity was of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, the link up was a disaster, and some of the forces that landed in Rio Hacha were bogged down, taken prisoners and executed by October 11th, 1819. Having left stranded some of his men in Rio Hacha, Mac Gregor, now reduced in his forces to about 400 men (because of desertions, death or prisoners), and with moral running low amongst the remaining troops (who had not been paid what they had been promised, besides not eating, sleeping, dressing or being taken care of by a doctor, properly), sailed back to Haiti, making a quick stop at Jamaica to pick up his wife and child, and went all the way back to Scotland, and then to England (to organize henceforth what would become one of the most elaborate hoaxes in the history of embezzlement, the sad Poyais Scandal, which he repeatedly staged in Ireland, England and France). Mac Gregor had also had a rather tarnishing incident on his glowing reputation at the time (for the illustrious retreat he led from the advancing Spanish, to Barcelona, Venezuela (action for which he had even been commended by Bolivar himself, not to mention, decorated)) at Porto Bello, on the Panama isthmus, on April 18th, 1819, where, after capturing the port, he had to face drunkenness and indiscipline from his soldiers, which inevitably led to the town being recaptured three weeks later. The expeditioners, except for a few including Mac Gregor who got away, were marched prisoners to Panama on the other side of the isthmus. Some of the officers were later executed (as did also happen to the unfortunate souls left behind at Rio Hacha six months later, amongst them Captain William Rafter and General Thomas Eyre of Eyrecourt), while a few others survived until they were released in 1821.

On March 13th, 1820, the Irish Legion with some Margaritans, a group of marines under Thomas Jackson and a scratch unit of English's British Legion under O'Lawlor, another Irishman, made up of wounded and sick, had come out of the hospital in Margarita, landed from Admiral Luis Brion's ship and taken Rio Hacha without opposition. A week later they advanced some 150 miles to Valledupar, where they were to meet a column commanded by Colonel Francisco Carmona, which included the Rifles. Colonel Carmona, had however set out too late for the rendezvous, and the link-up failed. The Irish were forced to return to the coast, plaged by constant attacks by the Spaniards on their line of communication, and although they mauled a strong force sent against them at Rio Hacha, they mutinied for pay, allowances, clothing, footwear, medicines and food rations. They were now in a deplorable state, just about 30% of the force was dead or had returned home, and the majority were evacuated in the available ships to Jamaica, Haiti, and from there back to Ireland, England, US, Newfoundland or Canada.

A small group of those who stayed on were later at the siege of Cartagena, where they behaved with great heroism, in repelling a royalist sortie at Turbaco. In this action Lieutenant Barnes, son of Colonel Barnes of Dublin, met a gallant death defending his gun.'

The Rifles column, on arrival at Valle Dupar, the rendezvous point with the Irish Legion, received with great sadness the news of the debacle, and as they were instructed, turned west, continuing their march towards the Magdalena, where the Rifles took the major part in the Northern Army's successful capture of Santa Marta. Here they met some of the officers of the Irish Legion under Francis Burdett O'Connor, who had refused to take part in the mutiny, and D'Evereux, who had recently arrived with his staff (in a brand new taylor-made General's uniform !) and O'Connor's officers to join the Rifles and replace the heavy casualties they had sustained. Morgan O'Connor (son of Daniel O'Connor) soon left for home, and was shipwrecked on the way.

Treaties of Amnesty and War Regularization (November 1820- April 1821)

Soon after this, a truce was signed (lasting only six months), and when hostilities were resumed, Bolivar decided to deliver the coup de grace in Venezuela. He marched all his forces then available to San Carlos, forcing the Spaniards to engage in a bloody Battle at Carabobo, on June 24th, 1821.

Battle of Carabobo (June 24th, 1821)

June 24th, early morning. Sabana de Taguanes, San Carlos. The Liberator passes a final inspection of his troops. Everyone is wearing their best outfits, the Hussars shining in their brand new red uniforms. The calvary regiment of the first Rifles, now exhibiting their Boyaca banners in their colours caught high in the breeze, are longing for the moment they charge into the heat of battle. Thirst of Glory... thirst for immortality. They are only less than half a league from where the carnage will take place. It is a glorious day to die. Simon Bolivar peaks over a hill to recognite the enemy positions. They are fully displayed on the open fields of Carabobo, closing all major exits from the execution field, where the final battle will take place, where all the bets are placed in one final bid for immortality. Bolivar knows well the odds. He knows that the Spanish have the best positions. He knows that they have Valencia, the nearest city as a bastion and stronghold, under their control. He also knows that Caracas is a four-day journey away, and under total control of the enemy. But he is confident he can win this fight. He knows that Providence has handed him down a streak of golden light... a moment of total clarity and eternal wisdom. No mortal has been bestowed closer to the Gods, no mortal has had the fortune of counting Achilles amongst his Army (Gral. Jose Antonio Paez) in a totally willing way; ... not as greedy King Agamemnon would have boasted, to use Achilles as a weapon, no, no... Paez, on the contrary, is there because he is totally enthralled in Bolivar's beliefs, and because he is a true FRIEND of the Liberator., and willing to die for those same fleeting ideals. NOW, my friend, WE ARE GOING TO BE FOREVER IMMORTAL.. we have the Gods on our side, even better, JUSTICE AND FREEDOM are served by our noble ideals, and true PEACE is delivered from serving the latter... Peace is the daughter of Justice. No Spaniard can say that. They are just there to serve the vanities and contemptuousness of a King, a king they have never met, and who is a total stranger to their needs, both physically and emotionally. Someone who is just a symbol of a meticulously carved chivalry that has left all reasons for existence dry... This is why Bolivar basks in the uncertainty of the moment and with great courage and determination, he stoops above the killing fields below, with plummeting confidence, and delivers a final address to his soldiers, in the eloquent and graceful manner which has always characterized him above all men. One final conflict. One final duel. The Valquirias are drooling for these men of savage valor. Cassandra is envious, she needs to see misdeeds and misfortunes occur. That ain't gonna happen on Bolivar's watch. Not on that day... not on that day.

11 o'clock in the morning. What is now about to take place, has no precedent in the annals of military history.

There, on that glorious field of mighty memories, all the regiments of the Liberating Army marched for one last time in front of Bolivar, who from his inspired eloquence didn't miss an opportunity to pass down on every single one of those courageous souls, words of encouragement and self-esteem. In order to be present at that last fateful day in which Venezuela would seal its independence, all the major players of glorious past battles had attended to the gold-threaded invitation, after many years of fighting bloody battles for the freedom of Venezuela, of South America at large, there, in those few square km, were the compilation of the most sacred of triumphs, of all the heroes that had them made possible.

All of the men were wearing their best military fatigues and gear, if only for the first time in this war... The sun beating down on their golden uniforms... on their splendid shields, their naked swords giving glittering lightening glows from their reflections of the sun.

Three divisions ... (to be continued two years from now, Bicentennial of the Battle of Carabobo Project). This is a Homeric tale.

The End

The Legion covered itself in glory in the victory at Battle of Carabobo. Going into action some 350 strong (of the 6,200 troops total on the patriot side), no less than 11 officers and 95 other ranks were killed- there were over 50 wounded. The casualty list includes a large number of Irish names. Captain Charles James Minchin of the well-known Tipperary family, who was amongst the wounded, later rose to be Minister of War in Venezuela. So pleased was Bolivar with their outstanding bravery that he called them: «Saviours of my Country», renamed the Legion: «Battalion Carabobo», awarded the Order of the Liberators to all of the survivors, and attended personally the public funeral of Colonel Ferriar Captain, Aide D' Camp Thomas Ilderton Ferriar, Procer, who died three days later from wounds sustained in the battle. The loyalist forces now retreated to Puerto Cabello, their stronghold in the coast, while Bolivar marched on to Caracas.

Whilst what was left of Carabobo remained in the army in Venezuela for cleaning-up operations, Bolivar headed south, where Albion had been fighting on the borders of Ecuador. Unable to break through to Quito by land, despite a very brave effort, they had been embarked in an army under General Sucre and sent to Guayaquil, a town on the coast of Ecuador that had recently declared independence.

In due course, they fought their way up the Andes to Quito, and took a prominent part in the Battle of Pichincha, the heights above the town, which led to its capture on May 2nd, 1822. John Mackintosh, who had been wounded in the hand at an earlier encounter, was one of the officials who accepted the surrender from the Spaniards, handing down the capitulation terms.

Meanwhile, Bolivar had passed through Bogota and reached Pasto on the Ecuador border. Here, at Bombona, he broke the road-block through the mountains which had held up Albion. The Rifles were the main unit in the battle and for their heroic conduct received the distinction of the «First of Guard». They had been joined on the way by a few more officers, including James Whittle, a T.C.D. graduate, born of an Irish father in Jamaica, Major General James Whittle, Procer - later to reach the rank of General in Ecuador. At Bombona, Captain George Featherstonehaugh, George Featherstonehaugh sword in hand, led the way through the enemy's columns and was killed by a bayonet thrust. Thomas Charles Wright of Drogheda was commended for his bravery.

The next move was Peru and at this stage Albion at their own request, returned to Bogota to be disbanded, the few remaining troops trickling off to the coast for home whilst most of the officers joined other units. They had a very low moral, due to the lack of pay, improper clothing, and rations . Lieutenant John Mackintosh, who had taken over command on Rooke's death, took a pension. He had been wounded several times and lost the use of a hand. The Riffles went on to Peru with Bolivar, where they fought through the campaign that liberated Peru and Bolivia. Several other officers from the Legion were here too, including O'Connor of the Irish Legion who was Chief-of-Staff to Sucre at the Battle of Ayacucho. Shortly before the battle, in an action at Corpahuaico, the Rifles were practically decimated defending the baggage train and the army, as they traversed a ravine.

At the time of Bolivar's death in 1830, when the Republic broke up into the Republica de Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, they were disbanded, but not before they had distinguished themselves at the Battle of Tarqui when Peru attacked Colombia. Arthur Sandes was here too, as a General in command of one of the two divisions, other being commanded by General Juan Antonio Mina, Both served under the orders of Grand Field Marshall Antonio Jose de Sucre,General Antonio José Francisco de Sucre y Alcalá, 4th President of Peru, 2nd President of Bolivia, Field Marshal.. When disbanded in 1830, there were no British or Irish survivors in the Battalion, but the remaining patriot officers burned the colours in the plaza of San Carlos, Venezuela. The last foreign commander, William Harris Commander William Vesey Hamilton Harris RN, an Irishman, had gone to command Battalion Carabobo.

The Battalion Carabobo was sent after the Pacification of Venezuela, south, to sustain the authority of the Central Government (in Bogota), but were finally disbanded in Ecuador, when that Republic was born. It is probable that at that time, Colonel Harris would have been the only foreigner left in this unit.

On December 15th, 1827, Simon Bolivar wrote to King George IV, (George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1762-1830), George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) of England, the following: "Colombia would not be worthy of all the joys of a government of its own, if by enjoying such precious goods it could forget the cooperation it obtained from some indefatigable friends of oppressed humanity. It is impossible to remember all the help that foreigners have given us, without noticing the resolute will of many subjects of H.R.H. that impelled exclusively of their noble generosity, came to participate in our hardships, in our shortages and in our fate. They were subjected to the most severe penalties, and siding by our compatriots, having to chose between coping with these hardships along with them, or abandoning the cause of an entire continent, their virtuous hearts did not waver for a moment. But, holding them accountable to their fault (for not having obeyed the Princess Regents' Decrees forbidding them to participate in foreign wars) seems eclipsed by the friendship that H.R.H. dispenses to the new American States. They, however, still suffer the penalty that in 1819 British subjects were forced to endure should they take part in foreign contests: a punishment that is somewhat more sensitive to them because additionally they have had to bear the grudge H.R.H. still holds them accountable for. Your Grace, on behalf of my companions in arms, on behalf of a thankful Colombia, I implore the grace of H.R.H. in favor of those generous helpers. I remain of H.R.H. your good friend, obedient and devoted servant, Simon Bolivar".

What Became of the Ones that Were Left

We may add a final word on some of the participants. Let us take first, the organizers. General English was dead within five months, so was Elson, within a month of arriving at Angostura. Hippisley went home at the outset, Wilson was justly reprimanded, jailed and sent home. MacDonald, killed by the Indians, Cookson, eaten by a panther. Piggot (who succeeded Campbell) spewing blood on getting sick by Malaria, and yellow fever. Peter Campbell, killed in action during one of the first battles, John Makintosh taking over the Black Riffles unit (after Piggot). Lieutenant John Makintosh himself had to retire under pension, due to the lack of mobility of one hand, because of the wounds he had sustained during different battles. Gillmore, after acting as Chief of Staff in Margarita, took ill and went home (probably amongst the few who ever were able to return alive). Skeene Lieutenant Colonel Robert SKEENE, Procer was drowned almost within sight of England, Blosset Major John Blosset, Procer was killed by Middleton Power in a duel. D'Evereux and Mac Gregor survived, but they were both labeled as con-men the rest of their lives, for pulling the most elaborate frauds and scams.

Of the 1st Rifles, General Thomas Charles Wright, General Charles Thomas Wright, Procer carved out a distinguished career in Ecuador, and after leaving the Rifles, was one of the founders of the Ecuadorian Navy.

Generals Charles James Minchin, General Carlos Diego Jolysne Mínchin, Prócer irlandés, William "Guillermo" Smith William 'Guillermo' Smith Gorferey and the Hanoverian, Johann Uslar General Johann von Uslar-Gleichen, Prócer, of Elsom's expedition, made their homes in Venezuela, where the first two held cabinet rank positions for some years. General Arthur Sandes retired to Cuenca, in Ecuador, where he was appointed Governor. Before his death 1832, he joined the Department of Public Instruction, opening up new schools. Thomas Manby lived until he was over 80 yrs of age in Bogota, Colombia. When he passed away, he was given a burial with full military honors. He had descendants. Federico Basch, Coronel Federico Basch Holge, Procer also made Colombia his home, and has traceable descendancy to this day.

Of the Irish Legion, General Francis Burdett O'Connor, Francis Burdett O'Connor became Minister of War in Bolivia; General James Whittle was murdered in Quito, Ecuador, while trying to smoother a revolt; Colonel Francis Hall, who edited a newspaper for time, retired to Quito, where, as a follower of Bentham, he founded the Liberal Party, only to be killed later. Colonel Edward Stopford, Chief of Staff of English's Legion, founded and edited a newspaper in Caracas for some years and was the governor of he province of Cumana for the first years of the Constitutional Republic of Venezuela.. The early printers of gazettes were from Britain, as were their presses. Commodore Walter Chitty, a relative of Admiral Brown, became a prominent figure in the Colombian Navy, and General and Admiral John Illingworth Hunt achieved a high position in the Peruvian, Colombian and Ecuadorian Navies. Sergeant Thomas Green was buried in the Pantheon Nacional in Caracas in 1876, the last veteran (left alive) of Carabobo.

Many of the hundred or so doctors, mostly Irish, stayed in practice. A few were killed, some went home, but a large number died from contagious diseases or infections. There is a monument to Sligo-born Dr. Richard Murphy of J.T. English's Legion in the hospital gardens in Puerto Cabello, where, after the War of Independence in Venezuela, advocated to do work for the poor.

Other officers, such as the Irishman, Colonel John Johnson, received commercial concessions and established mining and steamship companies.

Fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate'er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all !!

Of all the comrades that I e'er had
They're sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that I e'er had
They'd wish me one more day to stay.

Since it felt into my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be to you all !!


 Alexander Walker (1822). Colombia, geographic, topographic, agricultural, commercial and political relationship of this country: adapted for all readers in general and for the merchant and settler in particular. Volume II. London: Bank of the Republic, pp. 284  Brown, Matthew (2006), p. ?  Brown, Matthew (2006), p. ?  Valarino, Maria Verónica (2017). Venezuela and Great Britain in Historical Perspective. New letters p. 101. ISBN 9781365762475.  Simón Bolívar: a life. John Lynch [1]  Colonel Guillermo Plazas Olarte - UK in Colombia. «British Legion in the Independence of Colombia». Retrieved on August 2, 2010.  Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of the New Nations, Brown, Matthew 2006 [2]  Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of the New Nations, Brown, Matthew 2006 [3][6]  Flags of Ireland. English Wikipedia [4] [5] Irish Soldiers in South America, (1818-1830), Eric Lambert,

Conquer or Die!: Wellington’s Veterans and the Liberation of the New World by Ben Hugues;

Ref: Carlos Gutiérrez de los Ríos, Duque de San Carlos,Carlos Gutiérrez de los Ríos y Sarmiento Rohán, I. duque de Fernán Núñez D'Evereux, John (1778- 1860), James Towers English, La Gran Colombia, _________________________________________________________________________________________ Project Created by Pedro Luis Baldo D. on April 21st, 2019 15:04 HRS ARR

Se le dio nombre de Legión Británica, o Legiones Británicas, a un grupo de voluntarios extranjeros, que formaron unidades militares para luchar bajo el mando del general Simón Bolívar en la guerra de independencia de los actuales países de Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú y Bolivia. Sus unidades formaron parte de los ejércitos de la tercera república de Venezuela y de la desaparecida Gran Colombia

Centenares de soldados y oficiales voluntarios de Inglaterra, Escocia e Irlanda se unieron a las fuerzas patriotas y contribuyeron enormemente a la causa republicana. La desmovilización de la armada y del ejército con el fin de las guerras napoleónicas lanzó a miles de hombres al ya saturado mercado de trabajo. Ante la secuela inevitable de toda guerra, intranquilidad social, desempleo, y las dificultades de adaptación a las nuevas circunstancias, Hispanoamérica se presentó como la posibilidad de empleo inmediato en sus milicias, y la necesidad de procurarse armas y elementos para la prosecución de la lucha contra la dominación española, llevó a los patriotas al empeño de buscarlas en Europa. También era deseable el contingente humano, sobre todo el de oficiales con experiencia en el adiestramiento de las tropas y para el objetivo de una regularización de las acciones de guerra. Por ser entonces Inglaterra dueña de los mares y por poseer gran preponderancia política, los jefes patriotas consideraron que su ayuda sería un factor decisivo para el éxito de la empresa de la liberación.(4)​

Desde el año 1817, y en los cinco años siguientes, el número de contrataciones y enganches en los puertos de Inglaterra exceden de los seis mil hombres,5​sin embargo desde las 53 naves que formaron sus expediciones se afirma que combatieron unos (5,300) cinco mil trescientos soldados. Muchos de ellos eran veteranos del Reino Unido, incluyendo a Irlanda, y también se contaba con algunos veteranos alemanes al servicio de Inglaterra. El principal delegado para efectuar el reclutamiento de los voluntarios en Londres fue el venezolano Luis López Méndez.(6)​ La mayor parte de ellos habían participado en las guerras napoleónicas o la guerra británico estadounidense de 1812. Los voluntarios en la Legión Británica estaban motivados por una combinación tanto de ideales políticos y del beneficio de mercenarios, en gran mayoría. Bolívar por su parte esperaba elevar la moral de las tropas patriotas e incorporar más profesionalidad militar en sus soldados.

Las Legiones Británicas estuvieron compuestas por la 1ª Legión Británica, por la 2ª Legión Británica, y la Legión Irlandesa. Formaron los batallones de infantería Albión, Carabobo y Rifles, regimientos de caballería como los Húsares, aunque sus miembros también combatieron encuadrados en otras unidades americanas. Las unidades de voluntarios extranjeros usaron sus propias enseñas, como la Union Jack(7)​ para los ingleses, o en el caso de la Legión irlandesa una bandera verde con el clàrsach, símbolo de Irlanda.(8​) &(9​).

Legion Britanica (The British Legion)

Los nombres originales de los primeros cuerpos reclutados furon los siguientes: Primero de Husares, Segundo de Husares, Husares Rojos, Primero Venezolano de Rifles, Primero de Lanceros, Artilleria y Segundo de Rifles. La «Legion Irlandesa» incluia las unidades siguientes: Lanceros, Primero de Fusileros, Primero de Rifles, Segundo de Rifles, Infanteria Ligera de Cundinamarca, Primero de Infanteria Ligera y Husares de La Guardia. Las expediciones de Gregor Mac Gregor, pionero paladin de heroes extranjeros, incluian: Lanceros de Maceroni, Husares, Artilleria, Primero de Lanceros, Rifles, Infanteria Ligera de Salabrietta y el Regimiento de Hibernia.

La primera sugerencia de reclutar en las islas britanicas voluntaios para participar en las guerras de independencia suramericana fue hecha en Mayo de 1812 por el General Francisco de Miranda en una carta para un perodista de Londres, pero pasos decisivos en este sentido no fueron dados sino en 1817. En Enero de ese mismo ano, Simon Bolivar nombro agente de Venezuela en Londres a Luis Lopez Mendez, ordenandole buscar reclutas y la adquisicion de armas. El momento era muy propicio para esto, pues, a causa de haber terminado en 1815 las guerras napoleonicas, numerosos oficiales y soldados desmobilizados del ejercito britanico estaban buscando empleo, y los proveedores de los ejercitos disponian de grandes cantidades de pertrechso militares que no habian alcanzado a vender. Por otra parte, la opinion publica britanica, incitada por personajes tan conocidos como Sir Robert Wilson (un miembro liberal del Parlamento), y el Almirante Lord Thomas Cochrane (quien fuese Gobernador y Comendador del Tesoro Britanico en Barbados), era ampliamente favorable hacia los patriotas hispanoamericanos. Este ambiente fue ademas incentivado mediante el uso habil de la prensa a favor de aquella causa. Hasta entonces habian sido casi siempre individuos aislados los que se habian alistado en las fuerzas, primero de Miranda, y despues de Bolivar, principalmente desde las Antillas Britanicas, pero en 1817, la situacion cambio y el reclutamiento se verifico por unidades enteras o por cuadrs completos para formar cuerpos en America. En Mayo de ese ano, Gustavus Mathias Hippisley, un oficial del ejercito britanico que estaba a media paga, le ofrecio a Lopez Mendez alistar a un cuadro de oficiales, sargentos y cabos para reclutar y adiestrar en Venezuela un regimiento de husares. Su ofrecimiento fue aceptado de inmediato y muy pronto empezaron a ser reclutadas tambien otras unidades: 3 regimientos mas de caballeria, uno de rifles y un cuerpo de artilleria. Los organizadores tuvieron tanto exito, y tantos oficiales a media paga se alistaron para el servicio de los patriotas, que las autoridades inglesas se alarmaron. En Septiembre se dio la orden de que los oficiales que se alistasen para servir en una potencia extranjera sin permiso especial del Principe Regente (George IV), perderian su media paga; pocos dias despues se dispuso de que los oficiales del ejercito britanico no podian salir de Gran Bretana sin la autorizacion del Soberano. Pero todo esto no impidio que el alistamiento continuase, por lo cual el embajador de Espana en Londres, Duque de San carlos, se quejo vehementemente al gobierno britanico de esta situacion. Habia tambien grandes intereses comerciales britanicos en juego. Varios comerciantes y armadores financiaron las expediciones, al recibir de Lopez Mendez la promesa de que el gobierno de Venezuela los reembolsaria cuando los buques llegaran a Suramerica. Entre otras, la expedicion de Hippisley continuo adelante y a fines de Noviembre de 1817 todo estaba listo para emprender la salida, cuando el Principe Regente publico una proclama que prohibia cualquier reclutamiento. Ante esta circunstancia, los buques de la expedicion de Hippisley zarparon inmediatamente, con tal premura, que algunos de los voluntarios se quedaron en tierra, aunque al parecer las autoridades no hicieron nada para impedir la salida de la expedicion. Los barcos se encontraron envueltos en una tremenda tempestad y alrededor de 200 reclutas para el Segundo Venezolano de Husares, perecieron cuando el «Indian» naufrago cerca de la costa francesa. En total fueron unos 800 voluntarios los que cruzaron el Atlantico en esa ocasion. Al llegar a las Antillas se encontraron con muchas dificultades: 2 buques fueron embargados por haber infringido las leyes de navegacion, y otros problemas surgieron debido a que existian disposiciones que prohibian la exportacion de armas desde Gran Bretana a Sur America. Al quedarse la expedicion por un tiempo en las islas, se produjeron numerosas deserciones y hubo bastantes enfermos, por lo cual solo unos 240 voluntarios llegaron hasta el fin del viaje en el continente. Los primeros, que pusieron pie en Angostura en Enero de 1818, fueron enviados de inmediato Orinoco arriba hacia el Apure, donde bajo el mando de James Rooke, quien se habia alistado recientemente por su cuenta en el ejercito de Bolivar, combatieron en la Batalla de Semen. Hippisley no llego sino hasta Abril 1818, pero despues de un enfrentamiento con Bolivar (por tratar de calumniar a Jose Antonio Paez con una supuesta «traicion» a Bolivar), regreso a su pais sin haber combatido.

Los cuadros del Primero de Rifles y del Cuerpo de Artilleria, llegaron en Julio de 1818 a Angostura, y de inmediato empezaron a reclutar y a adiestrar tropas venezolanas en las misiones del Caroni.

El Primero de Rifles combatiria a lo largo de toda la gesta emancipadora hasta la Batalla de Ayacucho (1818-1824), y cuando este cuerpo fue disuelto en 1830, solo quedaban en el 3 oficiales britanicos. Dos de los oficiales llegados a Venezuela a comienzos de 1818, James Towers English y George Elsom, recibieron autorizacion de Bolivar para volvera Inglaterra y organizar sendas expediciones, pero esta vez, no solo formadas por cuadros, sino incluyendo tambien soldados. A fines de 1818 ambas dos estaban listadas.En la de Elsom figuraban algunos hanoverianos que se habian retirado de la Legion Alemana del ejercito britanico, fuerzas reclutadas por Johann Uslar. Por su parte, Gregor Mac Gregor, un escoses que desde 1811 habia estado vinculado con la causa republicana, llevaba adelante otro reclutamiento independiente del que realizaba Lopez Mendez, con quien se habia enemistado. Estas tropas llegaron a las costas del itsmo de Panama a comienzos de Abril de 1819 y se apoderaron de la poblacion de Puerto Bello; pero Mac Gregor tuvo que abandonarla cuando las fuerzas espanolas contraatacaron 3 semanas despues y la mayor parte de los expedicionarios perecieron victimas de fiebres o ejecutados por las tropas realistas. Una nueva expedicion levantada por Mac Gregar salio de Gran Bretana durante el verano (1818), compuesta principalmente por el regimiento de Hibernia, reclutado en Irlanda por Thomas Eyre. Despues de muchas vicitudes, lograron apoderarse de Rio Hacha el 05 de Octubre de 1819, sufriendo graves perdidas. Poco despues se produjeron serios actos de indiciplina (los soldados despues de una batalla posterior a Boyaca saquearon las bodegas y aparecieron ebrios en la calle al dia siguiente) y toda una unidad se embarco apresuradamente para regresar en unos buques a Gran Bretana, de los cuales se apoderaron violentamente; regimiento incapaz de mantener su dominio sobre Santa Marta. Mac Gregor habia empezado a evacuar esta plaza, cuando las tropas realistas atacaron, muriendo muchos voluntarios en la accion, y alrededor de 110 fuero ejecutados por sus captores. El jefe escoses y parte de sus hombres lograron sin embargo huir en otros buques. Durante el verano de 1819 John D' Evereux empezo a reclutar una Legion Irlandesa en la propia Irlanda, alegando que Bolivar le habia facultado para ello, y concedido el grado de General; aspiraba a alistar 5,000 hombres pero de hecho, fueron muchiiisimos menos. Ante tan continuados desconocimientos de las proclamas del Principe Regente, y la salida de un buque tras otro cargados de gente y pertrechos para servir a la causa de Hispanoamerica, el gobierno britanico se vio finalmente obligado a ceder ante la presion diplomatica espanola. A pesar de muchas protestas publicas, se decreto que el 1ro de Agosto de 1819 entraria en vigor la ley contra el reclutamiento de subditos britanicos con destino al extranjero, lo cual hizo que numerosos voluntarios se apresuraran a salir hacia America del Sur antes de aquella fecha. Cinco (5) buques de la Legion Irlandesa de D'Evereux elevaron anclas unas semanas mas tarde, petextandose de que conducian emigrantes. Por esta epoca, 53 barcos ya habian partido hacia America del Sur, conduciendo en total 6,500 tropas , de los cuales, alrededor de 5,300 llegaron a su destino final. Entre tanto, desde comienzos de ese mismo ano de 1819, los contingentes de Elsom y English ya habian empezado a cruzar el Atlantico. La expedicion del segundo, formada por 1,100 voluntarios, desembarco en Margarita en Abril; entertanto, los 1,000 hombres conducidos por Elsom fueron llegando a Angostura y Margarita hasta fines de Agosto. Los primeros buques de la Legion Irlandesa echaron anclas en aquella isla ente Septiembre y Diciembre de 1819. y dos (2) contingentes mas desembarcaron en Angostura, respectivamente, entre Abril y Mayo de 1820. En Septiembre de ese ano, Bolivar puso fin al alistamiento de extranjeros y ya no se organizaron mas expediciones en las islas Britanicas, aun cuando algunos voluntarios fueron admitidos posteriormente a titulo individual.

Los primeros grupos que se presentaron en Angostura de la expedicion de Elsom durante los mases iniciales de 1819 fueron encaminados al Apure, donde se reunieron con otros britanicos anteriormente llegados y formaron un batallon, llamado mas tarde el ilustre Batallon Albion, que acompano al Libertador Simon Bolivar en su travesia por el Paso de Los Andes, y se cubrio de gloria perpetua en la Batalla del Pantano de Vargas (25-07-1819), donde su jefe, el Coronel James Rooke, resulto gravemente herido, muriendo tres (3) dias despues. Al mando de su nuevo Coronel John Mackintosh, pelearon nuevamente en la Batalla de Boyaca (07-08-1819), donde ganaron el derecho de poner ese nombre, «Boyaca», en sus banderas, y consagraron con sus lanzas, espadas y ballonetas, ese copioso titulo de gloria para la posteridad, al redimir la Libertad de la Nueva Granada; luego, siguieron combatiendo hasta el Sur y se encontraron en la Batalla de Pichincha (25-05-1822), a las ordenes del General Antonio Jose de Sucre. Este batallon fue disuelto en Guayaquil en Octubre de 1822, y los escasos voluntarios sobrevivientes fueron distribuidos entre otras unidades, o recibieron un honroso retiro. Los voluntarios de English que habian llegado a Margarita, tomaron parte en la campana contra Barcelona y Cumana, en 1819, bajo el mando de Rafael Urdaneta, pero el General English gravemente enfermo tuvo que regresar a la isla, donde murio. Esas fuerzas, despues del fracaso sufrido en Barcelona, se dirigieron a la region de Maturin, y luego a los llanos de Apure. Aqui se reunieron con miembros de la Legion Irlandesa, que habian llegado antes a Angostura y con otros ingleses, y fueron reorganizados todos en una sola unidad llamada Cazadores Britanicos. Alli quedaron bajo el mando del General Jose Antonio Paez en 1820, y lo acompanaron en 1821 cuando el marcho con sus fuerzas a incorporarse al ejercito del Libertador acantonado en la Sabana de Taguanes, cerca de San Carlos, poco antes de la Batalla de Carabobo. En esta accion, el 24-06-1821 el Batallon Cazadores Britanicos, tuvo una actuacion muy distinguida, y despues de la Batalla recibio de Bolivar su nuevo nombre: «Batallon Carabobo». Despues de continuar sirviendo en Venezuela, marcharon hacia el Sur, y finalmente esta unidad fue disuelta en el Ecuador, cuando se desmembro la Gran Colombia, hacia fines de 1830.

La parte de la Legion Irlandesa que habia llegado a Margarita en 1819, y a comienzos de 1820, se hallaba muy disminuida por las enfermedades y las deserciones hacia Marzo de este ultimo ano, cuando se embarcaron hacia Rio Hacha, junto con las fuerzas margaritenas, algunos hombres de la expedicion de English que habian sido dados de alta en el hospital de la isla y un grupo de Infantes de Marina (navy-seals) del Coronel Thomas Jackson. Despues de haberse apoderado de Rio hacha sin resistencia, penetraron hacia el Sur, unos 250 km, a la region de Valledupar, donde debian encontrarse con otra columna, donde figuraba el Batallon Rifles; el jefe de esta columna, el Coronel Francisco Carmona, se retraso, y la conexion no se produjo. Los irlandeses se vieron obligados a regresar a la costa, debido a los ataques de las tropas realistas contra sus lineas de abastecimiento. En aquella ciudad, rechazaron un asalto de los espanoles, pero despues se amotinaron, exigiendo su paga, sus prestaciones y sus raciones. La poblacion fue saqueada y quemada. Cuando estos hechos s produjeron, la Legion Irlandesa se hallaba en un estado deplorable, y un tercio de su fuerza habia muerto o regresado a su tierra. Los restantes se apoderaron de varios buques, y fueron a parar a Jamaica, de donde muchos de ellos fueron transladados posteriormente a Terranova y Canada. Una unidad de la Legion Irlandesa que permanecio leal a la Republica con el Coronel Francis Burdett O'Connor se quedo en Tierra Firme y sirvio bajo las ordenes del General mariano Montilla, en Turbaco, durante el sitio de Cartagena. Posteriormente algunos de los oficiales sobreviviente se incorporaron al Batallon Rifles. En cuanto a D'Evereux, este solo llego a Suramerica, cuando ya su Legion se habia desbandado, y de hecho, nunca tuvo servicio activo, ni llego a combatir en ninguna accion militar.

De los 5,300 efectivos voluntarios, que pusieron pie en America del Sur, muy pocos fueron los que regresaron a sus hogares en Gran Bretana e Irlanda. Aunque muchos murieron en combate o a consecuencia de heridas recibidas peleando, probablemente es correcto decir que la mayoria fueron victimas de las enfermedades tropicales y de la dureza de las condiciones de las campanas. Su resistencia se vio debilitada por la falta de alimentacion y vestido apropiados, asi como por la escasez de medicinas disponibles: sucumbieron a la malaria, fiebre amarilla, colera, disenteria, tuberculosis, fiebre tifoidea, tifus y otros flagelos, y particularmente, a las ulceras propias del tropico, que cegaron las vidas de centenares de ellos, especialmente durante las largas marchas. Los medicos, que en total fueron mas de 150, hicieron lo que pudieron, pero practicamente todos perecieron, al igual que sus pacientes.

Entre los escasos sobrevivientes de la Legion Britanica que permanecieron en America, algunos alcanzaron elevadas situaciones en los ejercitos patriotas o ocuparon altos cargos en los gobiernos de los nuevos estados.

El 15 de Diciembre de 1827, Simon Bolivar le escribio al Rey George IV, de Inglaterra, lo siguiente: « Colombia desmereceria todos los goces de un gobierno propio, si al disfrutar de tan preciosos bienes pudiese olvidar la cooperacion que obtuvo de algunos denodados amigos de la humanidad oprimida. Es imposible recordar los auxilios que nos prestaron los extranos, sin excitar nuestro reconocimiento la resolucion de muchos subditos de V.M. Que impelidos exclusivamente de su noble generosidad, vinieron a participar de nuestras fatigas, de nuestras privaciones y de nuestra suerte. Sujetaronse a severas penas, permaneciendo al lado de nuestros compatriotas, y entre sobrellevarlas o abandonar la causa de todo un continente, no dudaron sus corazones virtuosos. Mas, su falta parece borrada por la amistad que V.M. dispensa a los nuevos Estados Americanos. Ellos, sin embargo, sufren todavia la pena que en 1819 se impuso a los subditos britanicos que tomasen parte en contiendas extranjeras: castigo que les es un tanto mas sensible cuanto que con el sufren el desagrado de V.M. Senor, a nombre de mis companeros de armas, a nombre de Colombia agradecida, imploro la gracia de V.M. en favor de aquellos generosos auxiliares. De V.M. Soy buen amigo y devoto servidor, Simon Bolivar.


Las Legiones Británicas formaron una parte importante del ejército de Bolívar, quien las acreditó en la batalla de Boyacá proclamando "Esos soldados liberadores son los hombres que merecen estos laureles", y en la batalla de Carabobo donde los describió como "Los Salvadores de mi Nación". Sin embargo, a pesar de que algunos historiadores dicen que ellos fueron posteriormente casi olvidados por los países en los que lucharon; hay muchas demostraciones de que esto es un error ya que inclusive hay batallones en los ejércitos suramericanos que llevan sus nombres.

Fuerzas de las expediciones británicas que zarparon de Londres desde fines de 1817 a 1819 y llegaron a las costas de Venezuela:(6)​

Expedición al
mando de Número de soldados

Coronel Hippisley 720

Coronel English 1.200

Coronel Elson 572

General D’Evereux 1.729

General Mac Gregor 600

Coronel Meceroni 300

Coronel Ferms 250

Coronel Rooke 200

Otros 387

Total 5.958

Campaña Libertadora de Nueva Granada

En Angostura Simón Bolívar incluyó la Legión Británica en la fuerza que debía acompañarlo durante Campaña Libertadora de Nueva Granada. El Coronel James Rooke estuvo al mando de 160 o 200 hombres, quienes lucharon por la Independencia de la Gran Colombia.(6)​

Después de la Batalla del Pantano de Vargas el coronel Manuel Manrique, Jefe de Estado Mayor, dijo: «Todos los cuerpos del ejército se han distinguido, pero merecen una mención particular, (…) las Compañías Británicas. A las que su Excelencia el Presidente de la República, les ha concedido la “Estrella de los Libertadores”, en premio de su constancia y de su valor».(6)​

El coronel James Rooke fue herido por una bala en el brazo izquierdo. Éste tuvo que ser amputado y cuando se lo desprendieron, lo alzó con su mano derecha y gritó en castellano: «Viva la Patria!», El cirujano le preguntó en inglés: «¿Cuál Patria?, ¿Irlanda o Inglaterra?», Rooke meneó negativamente la cabeza y contestó: «La que me ha de dar sepultura». El Coronel Rooke murió días después de la amputación. La viuda del coronel Rooke, Anna Rooke, por orden del Libertador disfrutó de una pensión vitalicia y recibió una suma de dinero como indemnización.(6​)


Alexander Walker (1822). Colombia, relación geográfica, topográfica, agrícola, comercial y política de este país: adaptada para todo lector en general y para el comerciante y colono en particular. Tomo II. Londres: Banco de la República, pp. 284.
Brown, Matthew (2006), pág. ?
Brown, Matthew (2006), pág. ?
Valarino, Maria Verónica (2017). Venezuela y Gran Bretaña en Perspectiva Histórica. Nuevas Letras. p. 101. ISBN 9781365762475.
Simón Bolívar: a life. John Lynch [1]
Coronel Guillermo Plazas Olarte - UK in Colombia. «Legión Británica en la Independencia de Colombia». Consultado el 2 de agosto de 2010.
Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations, Brown, Matthew 2006 [2]
Adventuring through Spanish Colonies: Simon Bolivar, Foreign Mercenaries and the Birth of New Nations, Brown, Matthew 2006 [3][6]
Banderas de Irlanda. Wikipedia en inglés [4][5]

Proyecto Creado por Pedro Luis Baldo D. el 21 de Abril de 2019 15:04 HRS ARR