Battle of Caseros | History, Causes & Effects

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Battle of Caseros – Causes and Consequences

Battle of Caseros: Armed confrontation occurred on February 3, 1852 between the Rosario troops of Buenos Aires and the Big Army led by Urquiza.

Date February 3, 1852
Place Estancia of the Caseros family, current party of Tres de Febrero, province of Buenos Aires
Belligerents Buenos Aires vs Big Army (Between Ríos, Corrientes, Uruguay and Brazil)
Outcome Victory of the Big Army

What was the Battle of Caseros?

The Battle of Caseros was an armed confrontation that took place on February 3, 1852, in the north of the province of Buenos Aires.

The sides that fought in this battle were the following:

  • The Big Army: Made up of troops from Entre Ríos, Corrientes, Brazil, Uruguay and unitary exiles. It was under the command of the Governor of Entre Ríos, Justo José de Urquiza, and had some 28,000 men.
  • The federal army of the province of Buenos Aires: Under the command of the Buenos Aires governor Juan Manuel de Rosas. It was made up of about 22,000 men.

The battle was relatively fast, since it began around 8 in the morning and ended in the early hours of the afternoon. It concluded with the triumph of the Big Army and the defeat of Rosas, who was wounded in the right hand. After this defeat, Rosas resigned his position, boarded an English ship, and went into exile in Great Britain.

Contemporaries saw in Caseros the end of an era. This is because Urquiza‘s triumph opened the way to the constitutional organization of the country, which Rosas had opposed for twenty years.

Drawing of the Battle of Caseros

Representation of the Battle of Caseros, on February 3, 1852. Painting by the Italian artist Carlos Penutti. In the center, mounted on horseback, the artist represented Urquiza leading the attack. In the background, you can see the helmet of the Caseros family ranch and the circular building of an immense dovecote.

Historic Context of the Battle of Caseros

Rosas‘ opposition to constitutionally organizing the country and allowing free navigation of the inland rivers provoked the reaction of one of his allies, the federal Justo José de Urquiza. The Governor of Entre Ríos wanted to enact a constitution that would guarantee internal peace, allow free navigation of the rivers and promote trade relations with the industrialized countries of Europe.

To carry out this project, in 1851, Urquiza accepted the resignation that Rosas presented every year to the management of foreign relations of the Argentine Confederation.

Prior to this pronouncement, which implied a declaration of war, Urquiza had secured the alliance of the governor of the province of Corrientes, Benjamin Virasoro, and the governments of the Empire of Brazil and Uruguay.

It also had the support of Unitarians who were exiled in Santiago de Chile and Montevideo, such as Bartolomé Miter and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Brazil contributed artillery pieces, its squadron, and granted Corrientes and Entre Ríos a loan to pay for war expenses. The guarantee of that loan was all the public lands of both provinces.

The allies formed a joint army of 28,000 men, whose commander-in-chief was Urquiza himself. In Entre Ríos, he finalized the preparations and invaded the province of Santa Fe, which he occupied without encountering resistance. From there he went to Buenos Aires.

Although the rest of the provinces spoke out against Urquiza, treating him as “mad, traitorous and unitary savage,” none sent troops to support Rosas.

Causes and Consequences of the Battle of Caseros

Causes of the Caseros Battle

The main causes of the Battle of Caseros were the following:

  • The opposition Rosas to organize the country constitutionally, which was provided for in the Federal Pact of 1831.
  • Rosas’ refusal to allow free navigation of the inland rivers by foreign vessels and to share the collections of the Buenos Aires customs with the provinces, which harmed the interests of Entre Ríos.
  • The single port policy implemented by Rosas, which forced all products entering and leaving the country to go through customs at the port of Buenos Aires, where they paid taxes.
  • The pronouncement of Urquiza, who on May 1, 1851 resumed the conduct of foreign relations in the province of Entre Ríos, which until then had been delegated to Rosas.

Consequences of the Caseros Battle

The main consequences of the Battle of Caseros were as mentioned below:

  • The defeat of Rosas, who resigned as governor of Buenos Aires and went into exile in Great Britain, where he died in 1877, at the age of 84.
  • The triumphal entry of Urquiza in Buenos Aires and its installation in which had been the residence of Rosas in Palermo. From there he began the negotiations and negotiations that allowed him to gather all the governors in San Nicolás de los Arroyos.
  • The execution of renowned members of La Mazorca, the political police of Rosas, among them Ciriaco Cuitiño and Leandro Antonio Alén, father of the founder of the Radical Civic Union (UCR).
  • The establishment of free navigation of the inland rivers, which favored Entre Ríos, Uruguay, Brazil and Corrientes, but also Paraguay, which had not wanted to commit itself to the anti-rosista alliance.
  • The beginning of a stage of transition from Rosista isolationism to the insertion of Argentina in world markets as an exporter of raw materials and as an importer of industrialized products, capital and labor.
  • The disgust of the Buenos Aires liberal leaders for the prolonged stay of Urquiza in Buenos Aires, for the place of preeminence that he attributed to himself, and for the obligation he established to carry the punzó badge, symbol of federalism. This disgust was soon translated into the open rupture of the confluence of interests between the Buenos Aires liberalism and the landowners and merchants of the Litoral that Urquiza represented, and was the prologue of the secession of Buenos Aires.
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