201th Anniversary of the Battle of La Victoria, 12th February 1814

As the sun was rising, at approximately 7:00 in the morning of 12 February 1814, the spearhead of the Republican forces located at El Pantanero spotted Morales’s forces moving in from the south and west of the town. The first clash between the vanguard forces occurred an hour later. Morales’s forces quickly pushed the defenders back and took control of the positions near the Aragua River and on the heights of El Calvario and El Pantanero, while the Republicans retreated behind the defensive perimeter they had set up around the houses in the town surrounding the main plaza.

In his book El General en Jefe José Félix Ribas, the Venezuelan historian Héctor Bencomo Barrios describes the battle as follows:

The magnificent barrier of artillery fire and fusiliers, coupled with existing obstacles, had turned the main square into a true stronghold. Nine times the enemy cavalry charged, and nine times it was forcefully pushed back, because the position was virtually impregnable to cavalry forces. Morales, blinded by his ignorance of tactics and his thirst for blood, was incapable of realizing this and obstinately tried to overcome the Republicans….

Edgar Esteves Gonzales, in turn, in his book Batallas de Venezuela 1810-1824, describes the events as follows:

The infantrymen sought to protect themselves behind any breastwork they could find, trying to hold off the waves of cavalrymen that came at them, one after the other, with no surcease for the Republicans. Morales’s men doggedly attacked again and again while the inexperienced defenders dropped one by one….
Yet another author, Juan Vicente González, in his biography of General José Félix Ribas, published in La Revista Literaria in 1865, quoting from Gaceta de Caracas number 42, tells us that:
…nine times Morales charged and nine times he was pushed back; the battle began at 8:00 in the morning and was fought on the outskirts of the town, and was fought in the streets, where the enemy hordes were finally able to penetrate; and was fought from the square, where the formidable leader regrouped, uncertain whether help would or would not come, self-confident and trusting to his luck. On horseback, in the midst of his soldiers, he encouraged and drove them; he was everywhere; he held back and tired the enemy forces. There was in his eye, in his speech, a spark that shone in those dark moments; his look forced hearts to strive. Thrice the horse under him fell to the ground; a thousand bolts of lightning flashed around the plumage on his head, the target of every shot, heroically handsome and visible in the midst of his comrades.
This episode in the War of Independence has gone down in Venezuelan history as a most significant battle thanks to the courage of the young university students and seminarians from Caracas who, although not men of arms, did not hesitate to seize them and offer up their lives in defense of the cause of independence.
In commemoration of the Battle of La Victoria and in honor of the young men who fought there, on February 10, 1947, the National Constituent Assembly proclaimed February 12th as Youth Day in Venezuela, “in recognition of the services young people had rendered to the republic.”

Retrieved from: Orinoco Miniature, 02/12/2015