José de San Martín was a general of the Spanish American Wars of Independence.
He was born in a Jesuit reduction in Yapeyu (currently part of Corrientes, Argentina), in a disputed year (likely 1777 or 1778). He was the son of Juan de San Martín, governor of Yapeyu on behalf of The Kingdom of Spain. The family briefly moved to Buenos Aires, and then returned to Spain. He was enrolled in the army and took part in several conflicts, including the Peninsular War (the Spanish theater of the The Napoleonic Wars). Although Spain was allied to France against The British Empire, Napoleon betrayed the country with a surprise invasion that captured the king Fernando VII and appointed José Bonaparte (Napoleón's own brother) as King of Spain. Several portion of Spain resisted this, and allied with the British. At one point San Martín left Spain and headed with other generals to Buenos Aires, to join the Spanish American Wars of Independence (which were not separatist yet).
As Buenos Aires lacked a decent cavalry, San Martín was tasked to create one, and with the overall protection of the city. He created the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers. He also created the Lodge of Rational Knights and deposed the First Triumvirate. He fought the battle of San Lorenzo against pillagers from royalist Montevideo, his first one in South America and the single one in the territory of modern Argentina.
He was appointed to the Army of the North, replacing Manuel Belgrano, but took a leave of absence as a result of his health, without conducting any new campaign with it. He moved instead to Mendoza, to build a large army and cross the Andes mountains to liberate Chile, which had been seized by royalists during the disaster of Rancagua. The Chilean patriots that escaped from it reinforced this army. Among their generals, Bernardo O'Higgins got along well with San Martín and joined his army as well, but José Miguel and Luis Carrera had other plans that San Martín rejected. The Congress of Tucumán declared independence in 1816, and the army crossed the Andes shortly afterwards. The campaign was a success and Chile was liberated, culminating in the battle of Chacabuco. San Martín declined to be appointed Supreme Director of Chile and proposed O'Higgins instead, as he though that Chile should be ruled by a Chilean.
San Martín started now a navy to take the fight to the Royalist stronghold of Lima by sea, avoiding the Upper Peru (modern Bolivia) where several campaigns failed. He declined to send the Army of the Andes to aid Buenos Aires against the federales, leading to its defeat and the "anarchy of the year XX". The navy reached Peru and San Martín was received in Lima without resistance. He announced the independence of Peru as well, and was appointed its protector. He had a meeting with Simón Bolívar, who was waging war against the royalists in the northern South America. He handed the leadership of the Army of the North to Bolívar, and retired from public life.
As he was still a notable figure even retired, he sailed to Europe to avoid the Argentine Civil War. He lived in several European cities, and died in Boulogne Sur Mer, France, in 1850.
- Votá con responsabilidad ("Vote with Responsibility"), a campaign about responsible voting.
- El cruce de los Andes
- San Martín
- The General in His Labyrinth
- El general y la fiebre
- El santo de la espada
- Revolución: Cruce de los Andes
- The Liberator