THE MILITARY REFORM IN THE
VICEROYALTY OF NEW GRANADA, 1773-1796
ALLAN JAMES KUETHE
A DSfERTATION PRESENTED TO MIE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
0I PATIAL FULFILLMlENT OF THE REQUIREMENrS rOR THE
DEGREE OF D-TOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Allan James Kuethe
TO MY WIFE,
I wish to express my appreciation to Dr. Lyle N. McAlister
under whose supervision this dissertation was conducted. Dr.
McAlister gave generously of both his time and personal resources.
He served as an inspiration and assisted me in more ways than can
be enumerated. A special note of thanks is also due Dr. David
Bushnell, who not only rendered invaluable assistance in conducting
this project, but also imparted to me his enthusiasm for the
nations of the northern Andes.
I am also indebted to Drs. Carlos Restrepo Canal, director
of the Archivo Nactional de Colombia; Galo Martfnez, director of
the Archive Nacional de Ecuador; and Jos4 Marta Arboleda Lloren-
te, director of the Archivo Central del Cauca. In conjunction with
their able assistants, all three extended to me the warmest hospitality
and the fullest cooperation. I also wish to acknowledge the assistance
of Dr. Guillermo HernAndez d, Alba of the Colombian Academy of History
who most generously shared his personal library.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...... ..... .......... .
LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . .
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................. .
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .
I. A DESCRIPTION OF THE PRE-REFORM MILITARY
ORGANIZATION ....... . . ..... .
II. THE BEGINNING OF THE REFORM: CARTAGENA AND PANAMA
III. THE REFORM IN GUAYAQUIL AND POPAYAN . . . .
IV. THE IMPACT OF THE COMUNEROS . . . . . .
V. THE MILITARY ON THE FRONTIER . . . . .
VI. THE DYNAMICS OF EXPANDED MILITARY PRIVILEGES .
VII, REACTION AND READJUSTMENT . . . . . .
CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . .
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . .. . .
LIST OF TABLES
1. THE ARMY OF NEW GRANADA IN 1772 . . . . 14
2. ARMY OF NEW GRANADA 1779 . . . . . . 45
3. UMT ORGANIZATION UNDER THE REGLAMENTO FOR THE
DISCIPLINED MILITIA OF CUBA, 1769 . . . 50
4. ORGANIZATION OF A VETERAN INFANTRY REGIMENT . 54
5. THE MILITIA OF GUAYAQUIL AND QUIT IN 1783 . 120
6. ARMY OF NEW GRANADA 1789 . . . . . 127
7. STRENGTH OF THE RIOHACHA EXPEDITION . . . 147
8. DARIEN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, AUGUST, 1788 . . 168
9. DISPUTES BETWEEN ORDINARY AND MILITARY JUSTICES . 196
10. ARMY OF NEW GRANADA 1794 . . . . . . 224
II. UNIT ORGANIZATION UNDER THE REGLAMENTO FOR THE
DISCIPLINED MILITIA OF NEW GRANADA, 1794 . .. 235
12. ARMY OF NEW GRANADA IN 1799 . . . . . . 241
13. ARMY OF NEW GRANADA 1806 . . . . . 245
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
In citing manuscript materials the following abbreviations
have been employed for archives and their fondos:
Archivo Nacional de Colombia . . . . ANC
a) Milicia Y Marina . . . . .. MM
Archivo Nacional de Ecuador . . . .. ANE
a) Presidencia . . . . . Pres.
Archivo Central del Cauca ........ ACC
a) ilitaes ............... MI
Other fondos were employed, but not with sufficient frequency to
justify special abbreviation.
At the close of the Seven Years War the Spanish monarchy ini-
tiated a far-reaching colonial reorganization in its American empire.
Until that conflict, the new Bourbon dynasty had been chiefly concerned
with revitalizing the old Hapsburg system, but the serious reverses suf-
fered at the hands of the British nation and the anticipation of further
hostilities prompted the crown to undertake comprehensive reforms for
strengthening its domains. This reorganization consisted of programs
designed to stimulate economic growth, to increase public revenues,
and to develop an effective system of administration. More specifically,
the Jesuits were expelled in 1767; trade restrictions were relaxed
culminating In an edict of "free trade" in 1778 (except for Caracas and
New Spain which waited until 1789); special technical missions and
guilds were organized to modernize mining methods; new government monop-
olies were created and others expanded; and the intendent system of
administration was introduced. Another aspect of the colonial reor-
ganization was an empire-wide military revival intended to enhance
colonial defense capability and self-reliance. The course of that
reform in the Viceroyalty of New Granada is the subject of the present
study. The administrative division "New Granada" will be taken in the
Arthur S. Alton, "Spanish Colonial Reorganization under the
Family Compact," The Hispanic American Historical Review, XII (August,
following text to exclude the Captaincy General of Caracas because
that was a separate military jurisdiction.
The position of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the Bourbon
Reforms has to date remained obscure. Not only has there been a
relative neglect of this region by historians from the United States,
but the Colombians, Ecuadorians, and Panamanians themselves have
hardly recognized the presence of this movement within their nations'
histories. Rather, this period is almost exclusively treated as an
era of precursors and preparations signaling the dawn of the Wars for
Independence. This phenomenon cannot be attributed solely to a
fascination with the independence movement. A more satisfactory
explanation is likely to be found in the nature of the reforms them-
selves, for indications are that in many respects the Bourbon re-
organization made only a moderate although far from negligible long-
run Impact in New Granada. The primary example is that the intendent
system of administration was not installed except for a short-lived
experiment In the province of Cuenca. Nor did endeavors to modernize
silver mining methods in the viceroyalty bear appreciable results.
Less clear-cut were the consequences of the relaxation of trade
restrictions. On the negative side, both the Quito textile industry
and the Panamanian crossroads suffered serious recessions dating
from the opening of the more expedient Cape Horn route to licensed
vessels.2 On the positive side, a minor diversification of exports
2pedro tessia de la Cerda, "Relaci6n del estado del virreinato
de Santa Fe . 1772," Relaciones de mando: memorTas presentadas nor
ios nobernantes del Nuevo Reino de Granada, eds. F. Posada and P. M.
IbAfez (Bogot$, 1910), p. 108; Francisco Antonio Moreno y Escand6n,
did evolve by the end of the colonial period through the marketing of
small quantities of cotton, quina (medicinal bark), indigo, and dye-
wood; and a substantial expansion developed in cacao, chiefly from
Guayaquil, but also to a lesser extent from the Cucuta district.
Nevertheless, the preponderant item continued to be gold as it had
always been.3 Consequently, while substantial repercussions of varied
sorts were evident in the Presidency of Quito and in Panama, the effect
of "free trade" upon the main portion of New Granada was modest at the
most. However, in some instances the colonial reorganization did
produce unquestionable changes. Tobacco and anuardiente monopolies
became major sources of royal income, and along with an overall rise
in the aduana they were in a large measure responsible for a noteworthy
growth of public revenues from roughly 950,000 pesos in 1772 (terri-
tories later transferred to Caracas not Included) to just over
3,000,000 at the close of the colonial period, or nearly forty years
"Estado del virreinato de Santafe, Nuevo Reino de Granada . 1772,"
Boletrn de historic y antiquedades, XXIII (September-October, 1936),
588; Manuel de Guirior, "Relacidn del estado del Nuevo Reino de Granada
. 1776," Relaciones de mando . ., pp. 148-149; Francisco Sil-
vestre, Descripci6n del revno de Santa Fe de Boqota6 escrita en 1789
(Bogota, 1950), pp. 44-45.
31essra de la Cerda, Relaciones de mando . ., pp. 105-106;
Pedro Mendinueta, "Relacidn del estado del Nuevo Reino de Granada
. 1803," Relaciones de mando . . pp. 507-508; Luis Eduardo
Nieto Areta, Economfa Y cultural en la historic de Colombia (Bogotb,
1962), pp. 22-23; Luis Ospina Vgsquez, Industria Y proteccf6n en
Colombia (1810-1930) (Medellin, 1955), pp. 38-39.
4Moreno y Escand6n, Boletrn de historic v antiquedade XXIII,
603-605; Jos4 Manuel Restrepo, Historia de la revolucidn de la
renpblica de Colombia en la Amurica meridional (BogotA, 1952), 1, xxxi.
Because the number of systematic studies on the several aspects
of the Bourbon Reforms in the history of New Granada is exceedingly
limited, any explanation for their apparently moderate impact must
necessarily be hazy and ought at this point to be regarded as tentative.
Nevertheless, certain general observations can be made. The Granadine
counterparts of the well-known missions of Jose de Gilvez in New Spain
and Josh Antonio de Areche in Peru to organize the foundations for
fiscal and administrative reforms were those of Juan Gutierrez de
Pigeres in New Granada and Jose Garcfa de Le6n y Pizarro in its
Presidency of Quito. However, efforts by Gutidrrez to reform the fiscal
administration of the viceroyalty were met by the catastrophic Comunero
Rebellion of 1781 which for an instant threatened to topple the regime
in Santa Fe. As a consequence, although both the aguardiente and
tobacco monopolies were eventually extended, as sought by Gutierrez,
plans to introduce the intendent system were postponed.5 The uprising
of 1781 did, however, elevate to prominence the archbishop of Santa
Fe, Antonio Caballero y G6ngora, who conducted the pacification of
the realm, became viceroy in 1782, and then distinguished himself as
the viceroyalty's leading reformer.
The seven-year administration of the Archbishop-Viceroy was by
all indicatics the high point of the Bourbon Reforms in New Granada.
He personally solicited the assistance of a technical mission to
modernize silver mining and was granted the services of Juan Josg de
Elhuyar, the older brother of the better known Fausto who later headed
5Antonio Caballero y G6ngora, "Relaci6n del estado del Nuevo
Reino de Granada . 1789," Relaciones de mando . . pp. 256-257-
the mining reform in New Spain. Juan Jose arrived in New Granada In
1784 and the following year opened operations in the province of Mari-
quita. In 1788 he was provided with eight German scientists to assist
him in his labors. Caballero y G6ngora also sought to increase local
production and exports by granting Brazil wood trade concessions to
foreigners and by promoting the marketing of quina in Spain. Despite
entrenched opposition, he expanded the government aguardiente and
tobacco monopolies. And, after restoring domestic tranquility he
formulated a general plan for the establishment of an intendent system.7
The Archbishop-Viceroy's administration was also noted for under-
takings which if not precisely part of the reform movement wera con-
nected to the broader spirit of change. Under his auspices the famous
botanical expedition of JosAe elestino Mutis first received official
sanction. An independently organized economic society for the advance-
ment of applied learning was founded in Mr.mp6s in 1784 and received
viceregal approval the same year, and plans for another were initiated
in Quito. Large-scale, government-sponsored colonization enterprises
were conducted on the coastal frontiers. And, in connection with the
latter ventures, the local coast guard was greatly expanded.10
6Arthur P. Whitaker, "The Elhuyar Mining Missions and the En-
lightenment," The Hispanic American Historical Review, XXXI (November,
7Caballero y G6ngora, Relaciones de mando . pp. 253-254,
jb.d., p. 253.
9R. J. Shafer, The Economic Societies In the Spanish World (1763-
1821) (Syracuse, 1958), pp. 168-177, 154-156.
10Caballero y G6ngora, Relaciones de mando . . pp. 272-273.
Under the two immediate successors of Caballero y G6ngora this
commitment to reform declined. Both men were distrustful of the
wisdom of his far-flung schemes and shared a common reluctance to
press forward on such a grand scale. Indeed, the year 1789 when the
Archbishop-Viceroy left office opened a period of decided reaction
against many of the developing programs. The colonization endeavors,
the Brazil wood concessions, the support of quina exports, and the
mining reform were all suspended, and the enlarged coast guard was
reduced.l1 The Elhuyer mining reform was later reactivated, but
his mission, handicapped by the misfortune of having departed Europe
prior to the discovery of the more advanced Born method of amalgamation
and plagued by a poor choice of location, collapsed by 1795.12 Although
the Quito economic society was approved in 1791, it and that of Momp6s
soon disintegrated.13 And, more important, the intendent project
remained a scrap of paper. Thereafter, the surge of reform never
regained Its momentum.
A widely held concept of the Bourbon Reforms in Spanish America
has been that in promoting change they also produced disruptive contingent
IlFrancisco Gil y Lemos, "Gil y Lemos y su remoria sobre el Nuevo
Reino de Granada," ed. with introduction by Enrique Stnchez Pedrote,
Anuario de studios americanos, VIll (1951), 185-187; Jose de Ezpeleta,
"Relaci6n del estado del Nuevo Reino de Granada . 1796," Relaciones
do mando .. pp. 281-282.
12Ezpeleta, Relaciones de mando . . pp. 343-346; Mendinueta,
Relaciones de mando . . pp. 500, 502; Whitaker, Hispanic American
Historical Review. XXXI, 578.
13Shafer, pp. 155, 176-177. In the early 1800's a society was
planned for Santa Fe, but it never became operative. Ibid., pp. 235-
results more important than those originally intended. The introduc-
tion of a more vigorous system of administration brought higher
authority into an unwelcome contact with a people long accustomed
to Hapsburg inefficiency and at the same time undercut the traditional
governmental hierarchy; desired revisions clashed with vested interests,
while for many they did not go far enough; and new economic and cor-
porate bases for social prestige undermined the existing structure of
society, alienating some, whetting the appetites of others. As a
consequence, traditional loyalties were strained, and the ambitious
attempt to regenerate the empire worked instead to hasten its dis-
solution. For the Viceroyalty of New Granada the processes identified
in this interpretation were all present but not always in the same
degree, for there the progress of the colonial reorganization appears
to have been less extensive than elsewhere in Spanish America. And,
in at least several critical instances, notably the Comunero Rebellion,
the conservative forces of discontent prevailed prior to the Wars for
The military aspect of the Bourbon Reforms in New Granada was
introduced in 1773; and, accompanied by an amplification of military
corporate privileges, it consisted of a strengthening of the regular
army and a reorganization of the colonial militia. In the sphere of
empire military reform, as with the reform movement to which it
pertained, a case has been made that the most important consequences
were to be found in side-effects which eventually obscured the program's
14See Rt. A. Humphreys and John Lynch (eds.), The Origins of the
Latin American Revolutions, 1808-1826 (New York, 1965).
original purpose. Lyle N. McAlister in a study on expanded military
privileges in New Spain found that the chief significance of :he
military reform there developed not so much in its greater corhrZbu-
tion to defense as in the long-run implications of its unexpected
disruptive impact upon existing civil institutions.
During the closing decades of Spanish dominion, the army, 'Tu
created, acquired prestige and power as the defender of the
nation in the face of almost constant threats of war and 1- asion.
By the very nature of its functions and constitution it -i= also
a class apart and so regarded itself- The possession of s=ecial
privileges enhanced its sense of uniqueness and superiority, and
at the same time rendered it virtually immune from civil z- hority.
Unfortunately, power and privilege were not accompanied by a com-
mensurate sense of responsibility. A large proportion of crficers
and men regarded military service as an opportunity for tm advance-
ment of personal interests rather than as a civil obligat-=i. Until
the abdication of Ferdinand VII in 1808, the troublemaking catential
of the military was held in check by a long tradition of 1-valty to
the crown. However, as the prestige of the monarchy decll-ed in the
following years, this limitation was removed and the army -nerged as
an autona ,us and irresponsible institution. It was this sr.-y,
urser the banner of the Three Guarantees, that consummateD
Independence and behind a facade of republican institutions made
itself master of Mexico.15
The present study shall determine if New Granada's military
reform worked in the same way, or if, as was apparently true mf the
broader colonial reorganization in that viceroyalty, there was a
deviation from the standard experience attributed to the other parts
of the empire. To accomplish this objective special emphasis 'ill be
placed upon the growth of the military corporation in size, function,
and prestige in relation to the existing institutional struct-rre.
Thereby, it will be possible to determine if the reform appreciably
altered the status of the military, and if so, to what extent. First,
15Lyle N. McAlister, The "Fuero Militar" in New Spain 17W4-1800
(Gainesville, Florida, 1957), p. 15.
however, It will be helpful to review the pre-reform defense system
of the viceroyalty.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE PRE-REFORM
The second establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in
1739 fixed the jurisdiction of the viceroy as captain general of
Santa Fe de BogotA over most of the territory which now comprises
the nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. His authority
extended from the province of Veragua bordering the Captaincy General
of Guatemala in the north, to the province of Mainas on the Amazon
River in the south, and from the Presidency of Quito in the west, to
the province of Guayana across the Orinoco River on the Brazilian
frontier. Within these perimeters, only Caracas was independent of
his cocand. When the latter governorship was elevated to the rank
of a captaincy general in 1777, the three eastern provinces of Guayana,
CumanS. and Maracaibo, as well as the islands of Margarita and Trinidad,
were detached from Santa Fe and joined to the new military jurisdiction.
Thereafter, the Captaincy General of Santa Fe remained territorially
stable until just before the end of the colonial period, when the
southern provinces of Mainas, Quijos, and Guayaquil were transferred
to the Viceroyalty of Lima)
IRoyal cedula of July 15, 1802, and royal order of July 7, 1803,
with related correspondence, Cornelio Escipi6n Vernaza Compp.), Reco-
pilaci*n de documents oficiales de la 6poca colonial, con un ap6ndice
relativo a la independencla de Guayaquil . (Guayaquil, 1894), pp.
When the military reorganization was initiated in 1773, the main
defenses of the Viceroyalty of New Granada were concentrated within
three subsidiary military jurisdictions, the Commandancy Generals of
Cartagena, Panama, and Quito.2 The office of commandant general cor-
responded to the governor of the province from which each of these
units derived its name; in Quito this functionary was also the president
of the royal audiencia. In addition to their immediate governorship,
the commandant generals exercised military responsibilities in neighbor-
ing provinces. The Commandancy General of Cartagena extended east to
include Santa Marta and Riohacha; Panama encompassed Veragua, Porto-
belo, and DariEn; and Quito consisted of the seven governorships and
seven corregimientos dependent on that region's audiencia. While
the governors of Cartagena and Panama had traditionally acted as com-
mandant generals, the president of Quito did not enjoy that rank until
the administration of Viceroy Messfa de la Cerda.
It is difficult to formulate a set of hard and fast principles
defining the precise responsibilities of the commandant generals to
their outlying provinces. These relationships were vague and varied
considerably from one region to the next. Moreover, much depended
upon the individual administration involved and upon the particular
problems confronted. The conrmandant general of Cartagena exercised
2This excepts the areas later to be attached to Caracas.
3Governorships: Quito, Guayaquil, PopayAn, Cuenca, Mainas,
Quijos y Macas, Jagn de Bracamoros. Corregimientos: Quito, Loja y
Zamora, Riobamba, Chimbo or Guaranda, Ibarra, Tacunga, Otavalo.
4Silvestre, pp. 17-18.
authority in Santa Marta and Riohacha mainly in matters of common
defense involving his own governorship. The governor of Santa Marta
had an independent troop allotment and provided detachments for use
in Riohacha. In matters of local concern, he normally bypassed Car-
tagena, communicating directly with Santa Fe. In Quito, this was
also the prevailing relationship between the governors of Guayaquil
and Popaygn on the one hand, and their commandant general on the
other. However, the remaining provinces of that jurisdiction were
directly dependent on Quito for their troops and equipment. Likewise,
the provinces of Veragua, Portobelo, and Darien were dependent on
Panama for their military outlays. Nevertheless, the officials ruling
the dependent provinces within the jurisdiction of Panama and Quito,
although more directly tied to their respective commandant general
than their counterparts with independent troop allotments, often by-
passed this officer in purely local affairs. Not until the last decade
of the century did the functions of commandant generals assume more
clearly defined proportions.
The regular army of the Spanish domaTns was divided functionally
Into two types of military units, rotating and fiI, or fixed. Fijo
units were stationed in a particular locality on a permanent basis;
rotating troops were moved about the empire as need be, usually in
battalion strength. While the former depended largely upon local re-
sources for their recruits, the latter were European based and manned
mainly by Spaniards. In New Granada, where the population was small,
roughly one and one-half million, European troops were an especially
important asset since it was difficult to gather sufficient recruits to
allow fijo units to meet the region's extensive defense requirements.
Members of the regular army, whether from fijo or rotating units, were
also commonly called "veterans," and the latter usage shall be employed
interchangeably with "regular" in the present study.
Before the reorganization initiated in 1773, the permanent armed
forces of New Granada consisted of one battalion, eighteen companies,
and a detachment (piquete) of infantry; three companies and two half
companies of artillery; and a cavalry company (see Table 1). In time
of war or crisis they were normally supplemented by at least two
European battalions. For example, during the Seven Years War one bat-
talion each from the Spanish Regiments of Cantabria and Navarre were
dispatched to New Granada.5 They remained until mid 1763, at which
time they returned to Spain. Thereafter, New Granada also became a
frequent host to rotating units in time of peace. Two battalions from
the Regiment of the Queen arrived in Portobelo in 1766 for distribu-
tion in Panama and Quito.7 In 1769 they were replaced by two battalions,
one each from the Regiments of Murcia and Naples. A third battalion,
5Royal order, December 8, 1762, ANC: MM 83, fs. 316-322.
6Governor Gerardo Josef de la Sobrezza to Messfa de la Cerda,
Portobelo, May 11, 1763, ANC: MM 90, fs. 58-60.
7Governor Blasco Oresco to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, August
27, 1766, ANC: MM 92, fs. 750-757.
8Governor Manuel de Agreda to Messia de la Cerda, Portobelo,
April 25, 1769, ANC: MM 64, fs. 108-111; Governor NicolIs de Castro
to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, May 3, 1769, ANC: MM 90, fs. 825-826;
Governor Vicente de Olazinegui to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, August,
1769, ibid., fs. 948-952; id.. to id., Panama, September 10, 1771, ANC:
MM 92, fs. 527-529.
THE ARMY OF NEW GRANADA IN 1772
Two companies of Santa Marta
Battalion of Cartagena
Detachment of Chagres
Company of Guayaquil
Three companies of Quito
Company of Popayin
Halberdier Guard of the Viceroy
Three companies of Maracaibo
Three companies of CumanS (estimated)
Three companies of Guayana
Company of Margarita Island
Royal Corps (Panama)
Royal Corps (Cartagena)
Company of Cartagena (attached to infantry battalion)
Half company of Santa Marta
Half company of Guayana
Company of the Viceregal Guard
Spanish Rotating Infantry
Battalion of Murcia (Panama)
Battalion of Naples (Panama)
Battalion of Savoy (Cartagena)
TABLE I (cont.)
Numerous Unorganized Units ---
*The only available listing for the army at this time is
Francisco Antonio Moreno y Escand6n, "Estado del Nuevo Reino de
Santa Fe, Nuevo Reino de Granada, Ano de 1772," Boletfn de His-
toria v Antiquedades, XXIII (September-October, 1936), 609-610.
Unfortunately, Moreno's survey is far from systematic. For sone
units he lists authorized strength, for others he lists actual
strength;' for some he counts officers, for others he does not;
and in some cases he appears to have simply guessed. I have at-
tempted to systematize the list as much as possible basing my
entries on authorized strengths, not the force of the moment.
They do not include company officers and command and staff group
personnel which normally averaged about 6 per cent. This system .
is also followed in the other tables in the text. For corroborative
and corrective material for the Moreno list, see ANC: MM 51, fs.
601-602, nM 64, fs. 677-680, MM 65, fs. 370-372, MM 71, fs. 211-
214, 587-590, 1041-1044, 1066-1069, 1087, MM 81, fs. 962, MM 85,
fs. 230-233, 280-283, MM 89, fs. 585-596, MM 90, fs. 948-952, P.M
92, fs. 76-, 766, MM 97, fs. 837-842, MM 99, fs. 57-75, MM 100, fs.
658-659, 665-666, MM 103, fs. 75-88, 104-105, and MM 105, fs. 481-
486; ANC: Reales Ordenes 53, f. 188; ANC: Guerra v Marina 14,
f. 148; and ANE: Pres. 43, fs. 55-56, and Pres. 134, f. 101.
**Individual units and strengths have not been listed because
no uniform data are available. In any event, such information could
have little significance due to the erratic nature of company and bat-
this time from the Regiment of Savoy, was sent to Cartagena in 1771.9
In contrast to New Spain where this practice was abandoned in 1787, '
European units continued to serve in New Granada on into the nineteenth
In the Spanish Empire the regular army was supplemented by two
varieties of militia, provincial and urban. Urban militia was
normally sponsored by a municipality or a guild and was called into
service only when its immediate area was threatened. Provincial
militia, on the other hand, could be, and often was, employed for
duty outside its locality. In New Granada, the latter class was
both numerous and geographically diversified, ranging into the interior
as well as the coastal provinces. By contrast, urban militia seems
to have been almost non-existent. The only company which acquired
prominence in the records for the pre-reform period was that of the
Merchant Guild of Cartagena; this was a small unit consisting of
roughly fifty-four enlisted men and five officers.12
In Spain, the provincial militia underwent a major reform in
1734.13 Thereafter, "this class also became known as 'disciplined'
militia because the regiments had a standard organization, received
9Governor Gregorio de la Sierra to Messfa de la Cerda, Carta-
gena, October 11, 1771, ANC: MM 89, fs. 225-238.
10McAlister, The "Fuero Militar"". . p. 4.
1I1Flix Col6n y Larriategui, Juzoados militares de EspaRa v sus
Indias . (2a ed. corregida y aumentada; Madrid, 1788-89), 11, 562.
12Governor Fernando Mortllo Velarde to Messfa de la Cerda,
Cartagena, 1767, ANC: MM 57, fs. 1049-1053.
'13Col6n, II, 469.
systematic training, and were provided with a cadre of regular of-
ficers and enlisted men." Similar action was initiated in the
colonial empire beginning with Cuba in 1763.15 In New Granada,
none of the provincial militia was placed on a disciplined footing
until 1773. Prior to that time, they wer 'adly neglected and
generally in a state of shocking disarray.
Throughout New Granada the organizational structure of the
provincial militia had decayed to a point where it had become more
of a myth than a reality. Companies had few if any officers, lacked
training and discipline, and rarely possessed adequate equipment.
Drills were seldom held and membership rolls were outdated. On the
occasions when drills were conducted, attendance was frequently very
poor. For example, in 1761 a review was held in Riohacha to organize
men for the important task of confronting the Guajiro Indians.
Slightly more than 50 per cent of the membership appeared or had an
excusable absence.16 Moreover, in most cases drilling was of
questionable value; little could be accomplished for want of competent
professional advice. This was true in Neiva where the governor reported
that the officers, sergeants, and corporals knew nothing of the prin-
ciples of military procedure or of the art of warfare.17 In some areas
14McAllster, The "Fuero Militar" , p. 2.
15Lyle N. McAlister, "The Reorganization of the Army of New
Spain, 1763-67," The Hispanic American Historical Review, XXXIII
(February, 1953), 1-32.
16Governor of Riohacha to Messfa de la Cerda, Riohacha, ANC:
MM 97, fs. 848-850.
17Miguel de Gi6vez to Messfa de la Cerda, Neiva, March 19, 1766,
ANC: MM 105, fs. 901-902.
the militia had almost totally disintegrated. Francisco Requena, an
engineer commissioned to Guayaquil to initiate plans for fortifica-
tions, reported in 1771 that the militia of that important Pacific
port "existed in name only." In 1759 the governor of Maracaibo,
a province also important for defense purposes, colorfully referred
to the companies under his command as "ghost" militia.19 Indeed,
membership in the provincial militia seems to have signified little
more than a commitment to come forward to fight in case of attack.
In 1766 an unusually thorough inventory of men and equipment
was compiled for the forces of Ibaguo which clearly illustrates the
characteristic weaknesses of the pre-reform militia. There were
three companies nominally totaling 1,165 members. These units were
segregated, at least superficially, on a racial basis and varied sub-
stantially in individual strength. There were 526 whites, 280 mes-
tizos, and 274 mulattoes and Negroes. This left 85 unaccounted for,
as they failed to appear for review. Of the 1,080 militiamen who
attended, 33 were 60 years of age or older; two members had reached
80! The weaponry was far from adequate. There were only 69 fire-
arms, Including 61 rifles and 8 pistols, 200 swords, 9 daggers, 301
sabers, 164 machetes, and 109 lances. Most of the firearms belonged
to members of the company of whites. For that matter, many of this
unit possessed two weapons, leaving a third of the militiamen without
18Francisco Requena to Messfa de la Cerda, Guayaqull, ANC: MM
100, fs. 328-333.
1Governor of Maracaibo to Messfa de la Cerda, Maracaibo, ANC:
MM 105 fs. 489-492.
as much as a machete. Moreover, the companies of Ibagud had no
officers.21 It is difficult to believe that militia so poorly
prepared could have constituted a significant asset to the vice-
royalty's defense establishment.
In spite of its neglected condition, the provincial militia
was a needed adjunct to the small forces of the regular army and
was relied upon as a source of reserve strength. From time to time
these amateurs were called to active duty. During British Admiral
Vernon's siege of Cartagena in 1741, for example, two companies
of free pardos and Negroes, and 300 other militiamen formed part
of the army which turned back the Anglo-Saxon invaders.22 In the
province of Riohacha, militia was frequently used to supplement
regular troops employed in frontier duty against the Guajiro In-
dians.23 And, during the Pebellion of the Barrios in Quito, 1765-
66, 150 Spaniards, residents of the presidency's province of
Guaranda, were enlisted to assist an expeditionary force sent from
Panama to restore order.24 In a sense, however, the last two
examples were a discredit to the defense system. The militia from
20Governor Ignacio Nicolas Buenaventura to Messfa de la Cerda,
IbaguS. Ibid., fs. 903-928.
21Governor Agustfn Zeferino Correa to Messfa de la Cerda,
Ibague, October 27, 1765, jibld., fs. 872-873.
22Diary of Viceroy Sebastian de Eslava, Roberto ArrSzola
Compp.), Historial de Cartagena (Cartagena, 1961), p. 333.
23See chapter V.
24Sargento Mayor Andrgs Javier Arregui to Messfa de la Cerda,
Guaranda, May 25, 1766, ANC: MM 101, fs. 539-540.
Guaranda appears to have been enlisted extemporaneously without any
prior military training. Moreover, when in 1770 the governor of
Santa Marta, Manuel Herrera Leyba, was ordered by Viceroy Messfa de
la Cerda to mobilize fifty militiamen to supplement fifty regulars
destined for frontier duty in Rrohacha, he was unable to comply
because the available men were so poorly trained that they were next
to useless. Under the circumstances, he asked for authority to
employ twenty-four additional regulars instead.25 A defense system
which in time of emergency was forced to call upon reserves of this
caliber must have been anything but formidable.
On occasion, there were governors who took a lively interest
In the condition of their provinces' militia, but they were the
exception, not the rule. Most of the provincial leaders appear to
have been more or less indifferent to the problem, an attitude which,
If not shared at the viceregal level, was not vigorously discouraged.
In any event, without intensified assistance from Spain in providing
trained officers, adequate equipment, and proper incentives, sustained
efforts toward maintaining a well-disciplined militia were bound to
fall. Comprehensive reform was In order if the provincial militia
was to beccene an effective component for the defense of the viceroyalty.
New Granada's main defenses were based on an extensive series of
coastal strongholds and fortified cities. The most important were
Guayana, Cumani, Maracaibo, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Portobelo, Panama,
and Guayaquil. With the exception of a small number of companies
25AnC: MM 97, fs. 499-500.
stationed in the interior, the regular army of the viceroyalty had
traditionally been deployed arong these coastal defense bases and
in their respective provinces. A survey of these centers of military
activity will illustrate the motives for reform, as well as disclose
a number of special conditions which subsequently had a direct
influence on the military receganization.
Cartagena was by far the most important of the coastal defense
bases and accordingly was allotted larger quantities of personnel,
equipment, and fortifications. In conjunction with Santa Marta, it
guarded the Magdalena Valley transportation route into the interior
of the viceroyalty and was considered the key to the defenses of
northern South America. Became of the importance of this strong-
hold, the office of governor and commandant general of Cartagena was
one of the most prestigious in the viceroyalty. Indeed, in one
instance, a governor moved directly from Cartagema to serve as interim
viceroy. The defense complex of Cartagena was built around an
intricate system of fortifications.27 The character of these instal-
lations, while generally only of marginal interest in this study,
does tie directly into the reorganization in several important respects.
One of these was the problem of military finance, the other was the
question of manpower allocation.
The city of Cartagena ws located on a narcw tract of land
with its back to the open sea, and it faced a large deep bay to which
2This man was Juan PiNrenta who briefly served following the
resignation of Manuel Antonio Flores in 1782.
27The most exhaustive pajblicatlon on Cartagena's fortifications
Is Enrique Marco Dorta, Cert--na de Indias: pnrnto y plaza fuerte
it was connected by a small inlet, the Bay of Animas. The main bay
of Cartagena had two channels opening into the ocean, Boca Grande
and Boca Chica. Between them was situated a large island, Tierra
Bomba. The mainland side of the bay was webbed with swamps and lakes
making difficult movement from one end to the other by land.
During the period under consideration, four major installations
constituted the exterior defenses of Cartagena: the fortresses of San
Fernando and San Sebastian del Pastelillo, the battery of San Jost,
and the castle of San Felipe de Barajas. San Fernando, a very formidable
structure, and San Jost had been erected on either side of the channel
of Boca Chica to prevent entrance into the main bay. San Sebastian,
located on the mouth of the Bay of Animas, provided a second line of
defense. Should entrance be forced into the main bay, this fortress
would hamper penetration directly to the walls of the city. The
largest and most formidable of all the fortifications was San Felipe.
Dating from 1667, this massive structure was built on a small hill on
the mainland side of Cartagena, dominating land approaches to the city.
This installation was required due to two possibilities. First, an
enemy once safely within the calm waters of the bay might choose to
land his forces and maneuver toward the city through the swamps on
the bay's mainland side. This strategy was applied by the Bar6n de
Points in 1697 and by Admiral Vernon in 1741. The other possibility
was that an aggressor might land his forces directly on the main beach
to the back of the city. This was unlikely, however, because a strong
undertow made such an operation extremely hazardous. This had been
the original plan of Pointis, but his boats were unable to reach the
shore; he soon realized that his attack must be launched through the
main bay. The last line of defense was the wall of the city itself,
complete with built-in installations facing the sea, bay, and land
approaches. In addition, many of the fortifications of the city and
bay had small approach batteries to bolster the more vulnerable
aspects of their individual defenses.
The one great weakness which imperiled the security of Carta-
gena was its vulnerability through the channel of Boca Grande. This
opening had filled in with sand in the middle of the seventeenth
century and the bay's defense installations had been built on the
premise that it would remain closed. Just prior to the outbreak
of the War of Jenkins' Ear, a small waterway was opened in the old
channel for purposes of naval mobility; this triggered an unexpected
wave of erosion which in time completely reopened the channel. Rather
than construct a new series of fortresses on the location, it was
decided to build a dike across the channel which would finally resolve
the problem as well as limit manpower requirements. The project was
begun in 1771 under the direction of Antonio de Argvalo and was
concluded in 1778 at the cost of approximately one and a half million
pesos.28 Compared to the annual revenue of the Real Hacienda of New
Granada at that time, placed by Antonio Moreno y Escand6n in 1772 at
one million pesos, this was a huge monetary outlay.29 Moreover,
28Marco Dorta, pp. 273-276. 297-301; Silvestre, p. 64.
291n this sum, Moreno does not include revenues from the two
mints in Santa Fe and Pepaygn or the small income derived from the
royal fifth of pearls a d emeralds. Part of New Granada's defense
Cartagena's fortifications were subject to constant damage at the
hands of nature and required an almost continual process of re-
construction. These expenditures placed a hard strain on defense
funds, a crisis which coincided with the early years of the military
reform. The absence of adequate funds eventually had an important
impact on the development of the reorganized military.
Manpower requirements for Cartagena were abnormally large, not
only due to the size of her fortifications, but also because of their
widely scattered locations. The defenses of Boca Chica were ten
miles from the city making difficult if not impossible the rapid
transfer of men from one part of the complex to another. Neverthe-
less, sufficient military forces were rarely, if ever, provided due
to weaknesses inherent in the pre-reform defense mechanism. Cartagena
did maintain a fixed battalion, but this unit was chronically under-
The glorious Spanish victory over the British forces of Admiral
Vernon in 1741 is attributable to heroism, the deadly fortifications
of Cartagena, and perhaps British tactical error, but not to personnel
preparedness. At the time of the British attack, Cartagena's fixed
battalion was supplemented by troops frc. two Spanish battalions
dispatched to New Granada from the Regiments of Spain and Arag6n,
but the regular troops totaled only 1JO0. Although these units
expenditures were defrayed by her neighboring viceroyalties. Peru was
responsible for financing the maintenance of Panama's and Portobelo's
fortifications and their garrisons. New Spain was obliged to assist
with the expenses of the coast guard. Moreno y Escand6n, Boletfn de
historia y antiq~edades, XXVI, 602-606.
were supplemented by militia and some 1,000 seamen, the defenders were
badly outmanned by the invaders who possessed a landing force of some
9P00 men.30 Indeed, the margin of victory was not great. The British
forces broke through the defenses at Boca Chica, entered the bay,
captured a secondary line of fortresses in operation at that time,
and managed to drive all of the way to the Castle of San Felipe de
Barajas (also known then as San LSzaro) before being repulsed.31
Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa in their Noticias secrets
revealed precisely how fragile were the defenses of Cartagena.
The defense bases through which we traveled on the coasts of New
Granada en route to Peru were Cartagena, Portobelo, and the fortress
of Chagres which defends the entrance to the river of the same name.
These three defense complexes, although strong in fortifications,
did not possess in the essentials those capabilities which comple-
ment works of fortification for forming a rigorous resistance; and
although the contrary was experienced in Cartagena when the English
laid siege and were rejected with such great honor that the very
ferocious defense made filled the arms of Spain with glory, it is
common knowledge that the defense was bolstered by timely assistance
afforded by the arrival in the port of the squadron of Lieutenant
General Bias de Lezo, whose crew and munitions were employed
against the enemy from the first attack against the castle of San
Luis de Boca Chica, and although retreating to the base's interior
fortifications when it became necessary, they did-not quit the
defense until the enemy withdrew in dispair; the same applies for
the troops that were sent from Spain for garrison duty, and the
presence of two highly experienced leaders as were Don Sebastian
de Eslava (viceroy) and Don Bias de Lezo, all of which were missing
when we were there; and for that matter, the major portion of the
garrison that belongs there by allotment is still missing.
They further reported that although the fixed battalion's ten companies
should have totaled 770 men, a force which when aided by militia could
probably have managed a passable defense, in practice the unit was so
30giary of Viceroy Eslava, Arrdzola, p. 333.
31Charles E. Nowell, 'The Defense of Cartagena," The Hispanic
American Historical Review, XLII (November, 1962), 491-501.
depleted that the majority of the sentry boxes was not staffed. It
was also pointed out that discipline was exceedingly poor.32
It is apparent that at the time of Juan and Ulloa's visit, Car-
tagena would have been hard pressed to have offered suitable resistance
without the aid of Spanish reinforcements. This was a risky situation
as there was no absolute assurance that Spanish troops would be on
hand in time of emergency.' After the Seven Years War, during which
time Spanish reinforcements were again dispatched to Cartagena, the
crown began to assume a more vigorous attitude toward that defense base's
security. The fixed battalion was maintained near full force and a
company from the Royal Corps of Artillery was sent to Cartagena for
permanent service.33 The tenth company of the fixed battalion was
also an artillery company. Furthermore, the almost continual presence
of Spanish battalions in the viceroyalty during the post-war period
provided added security. However, a major effort to solve the
personnel problem was not made until 1773.
The remaining troops within the Commandancy General of Cartagena
were maintained at Santa Marta. The city was fortified, but this
defense center was of only secondary importance. Its forces consisted
of two companies of Infantry and a half company of artillery. Often,
part of this fixed contingent was employed in the sister province of
32Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, Noticias secrets de America
(Si1lo XVIII) (Madrid, 1918), I, 154-155.
330e la Sierra to Messfa de la Cerda, Cartagena, October 11, 1771,
ANC: MM 89, fs. 225-238; Troop inspection reports, Cartagena, 1765-
1768, ANC: MM 71, fs. 211-214, 587-590; 1041-1044, 1066-1069; 1087-
Riohacha for frontier duty against the Guajiro Indians, a formidable
nation posing a constant threat to the peace of the region.34 In
time of great need, Cartagena was relied upon for reinforcements.
Because of its strategical location, the Commandancy General
of Panama's defense bases were the second most important group in New
Granada. Both ports, Panama on the Pacific side of the isthmus and
Portobelo on the Caribbean, were fortified as was the entrance to the
Chagres River, part of the main transportation artery for interocean
crossings. However, Panama's military importance was not matched
either by economic productivity or by population. An important com-
mercial crossroads under the Galleon system, this region suffered a
drastic decline in economic importance upon the legal opening of the
Cape Horn route to licensed vessels. This recession was reflected
by the reduction of Panama from the seat of an audiencia to a mere
governorship in 1751. In addition, population was very sparse. Ac-
cording to Francisco Silvestre, a government functionary writing in
1789, the governorship of Panama had only 35,942 pacified inhabitants,
Veragua 21,061, Portobelo 1l62, and Darien 1,266. Throughout the
last half of the eighteenth century, these characteristics made Panama
and its dependencies an exceptional burden on the viceroyalty's defense
The condition of Panama's fijo units was the worst In the vice-
royalty. An attempt had been made to maintain a battalion of seven
34See chapter V.
35SIlvestre, pp. 43-50.
companies which was the bare minimum required for adequate defense
of the isthmus. However, apparently in order to reduce expenditures,
this battalion in time of peace was maintained only at the level of
a skeleton force. In 1759 its membership totaled only 119 enlisted
men plus a small number of officers.36 By recruiting from European
rotating battalions returning to Spain after service in Panama during
the Seven Years War, it was possible to increase the number of troops.
However, by 1769 the commandant general reported to the viceroy that
battalion strength had decreased to the point where it existed only
The danger in failing to maintain a substantial permanent military
force was amply demonstrated in 1739 by the attack of Admiral Vernon
against Portobelo. Unpreparedness and indiscipline were so great
that the British invaders encountered practically no resistance.
England declared war on October 19; word reached Panama on November
8; and Vernon appeared in Portobelo harbor on December 2.9 Although
the British force was much smaller than that employed against Carta-
gena in 1741, its size made little difference because the attack fol-
lowed the declaration of war so closely that emergency preparations
were incomplete. The governor of Panama had not begun to organize the
G36overnor Manuel de Montlano to Viceroy Jost de Solfs, Panama,
ANC: MM 103, fs. 709-712.
37Governor Josef de Arana to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, March 14,
1764, ANC: MM 90, fs. 43-47.
3801azinegui to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, ibid., fs. 948-952.
39james Furguson King (ed.), "Admiral Vernon at Portobelo: 1739,"
The Hispanic American Historical Review. XXIII (May, 1943), 259-260.
defense of the isthmus; no Spanish reinforcements had arrived; and
to make matters worse, the majority of the regulars stationed in
Portobelo were sick in the hospital. The governor of Portobelo was
forced to rely on the militia and about 175 combat troops sent ashore
by the coast guard.40
Vernon began his attack at mid-day and after only an hour's
combat had captured the first of Portobelo's major fortifications.
By that evening most of the militia had deserted and resistance had
disintegrated. With the cause being so obviously hopeless, the
authorities capitulated the following day, terminating one of the
most disgraceful episodes of Spanish military history.41 After
leveling Portobelo's fortifications, Vernon momentarily abandoned the
port in favor of greater objectives elsewhere. He returned in April,
1742, contemplating an attack on Panara, but by that time the second
battalion of the Regiment of Granada had arrived. Apparently believing
that these reinforcements would make operations too difficult, he
withdrew without attacking.42
In spite of Vernon's victory, no major changes were made in
the defenses of the Commandancy General of Panama. The fixed units
continued to languish; the militia remained disorganized and un-
disciplined; and European troops, if they could arrive on time, were
L0Council of War of 1he Lieutenant Governor of Portobelo . .
December 2, 1739, and Relaci6n de lo executado en la defense . ,
December 8, 1739, in King, The Hisoanic !-erican Historical Review,
XXIII, 269-271, 275-280.
420idor Antonio Beresteguli, "Relaci6n "sobre el gobierno del
Virrey Eslava," Relaciones de Mando . p. 20.
considered as the mainstay of the isthmus' war time defenses. During
the Seven Years War, European troops were again dispatched to the com-
mandancy general and they continued to serve on a regular basis in the
peace that followed. In addition, one company from the Royal Corps of
Artillery was placed in Panama. With the total disintegration of
the fixed battalion in 1769, the dependence on rotating combat units
The remaining regular troops in the Caribbean region of the
Captaincy General of Santa Fe were those of the three eastern provinces
of Guayana, Cumand, and Maracaibo, and of the island of Margarita.
These garrisons were the source of complaints similar to those already
discussed for the other defense bases. Moreover, the island of Trini-
dad was without a fixed military establishment. Each of the three
mainland governorships maintained several infantry companies on a
fixed basis, units which in the pre-reform tradition were chronically
understaffed.45 If anything, their condition was below par for New
Granada due to their remoteness from the center of military activity.
A safe distance from the troubled waters of the Caribbean, the
provinces of the Commandancy General of Quito were relatively late in
obtaining fixed military establishments. Prior to 1764, the only
permanent regular troops in this region were the audiencia's guard
43Sobrezza to MessFa de la Cerda, Portobelo, May 11, 1763, ANC:
MM 90, fs. 58-60; Agreda to Messra de la Cerda, Portobelo, July 27,
1766, ANC: MM 92, fs. 760-766.
44Messfa de la Cerda, Relaciones de mando . p. 117.
45Governor Pedro Jose Urrutia to Messfa de la Cerda, Cumand,
1766, ANC: MM 61, fs. 413-414; Governor Alfonso del Rfo to Messfa
de la Cerda, Maracaibo, February 15, 1769, ANC: MM 15, fs. 774-795;
Governor Manuel Centurl6n to Messia de la Cerda, Guayana, 1769, ANC:
MM 64, fs. 677-680.
of twenty-five men. In that year a request was made and author-
ization from the crown received for the augmentation of this company
to fifty members. The following year Viceroy Messfa de la Cerda
formulated a proposal which would increase the number of regulars in
the commandancy general to 200 men. These were to be distributed for
service among Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. The crown granted its
approval on June 26, 1765. However, this plan was interrupted and
later altered due to the severe upheaval which began in Quito a month
before the crown's action.
The Rebellion of the Barrios which erupted on the evening of
May 22, 1765, was one of the strongest uprisings in the late colonial
period. It began as a prearranged violent mass protest against the
aguardiente monopoly and the aduana, and contained strong anti-
Spanish undertones. Initially, the tax collection house was attacked
and burned and aguardiente was dumped into the streets. As the evening
progressed the temper of the mob grew meaner, ultimately compelling the
oilores of the audiencia to take pacificatory measures through the
mediation of the Jesuits. They agreed to suppress the monopoly and the
aduana, and in addition, granted a general pardon to all involved in
the disorders. With these assurances, the mob dispersed,ending serious
disturbances for a month. In the meantime, however, sporadic violence
was directed against Spaniards and their households.49
46Royal order, June 26, 1765, ANC: MM 51, f. 67.
47Royal order, September 26, 1764, ANC: MM 100, fs. 23-24.
48ANC: MM 51, f. 67.
49Federico GonzAlez Suhrez, Historia general de la Repdblica de
Ecuador (Quito, 1819-1901), V, 213-216.
On the evening of June 24 rioting broke out again, this time
stemming from an incident in the plaza of Santo Domingo. There, an
alnuacil accompanied by his assistants set upon a small group of
men, whipping two of them. This deed, whether justified or not,
again aroused the passions of the citizenry. The ensuing tunn'j]t
became clearly directed against the city's Spanish elite, reportedly
because of their haughty, abusive behavior. Some 200 were forced to
take refuge in the palace of the royal audiencia where they held off
the attacking mob with cannon and firearms; the oidores, abandoning
honor, hid in a convent. By the evening of June 28, with ammunition
and supplies depleted, there was little choice but to capitulate.
Throughout this turmoil the meager guard of the audiencia was unable
to play a significant role.50
In compliance with the wishes of the victors, the audiencia,
which continued to remain in hiding for some time after the fall of
the palace, finally agreed to the exile within eight days of all
unmarried Spaniards. In addition, the suppression of the aguardiente
monopoly and the aduana was reiterated. These terms were confirmed
by the viceroy on September 17, including a general pardon for all
participants. Thereafter, Quito was again at peace, but government
officials felt compelled to exercise their authority only with the
greatest discretion. Full governmental power was restored only after
a military expedition of 600 militiamen and regulars, originating in
Panama and Peru, marched into the troubled city in September of the
following year under the command of Juan Antonio Zelaya, governor of
50lbid., pp. 216-220.
Guayaquil.51 With that the rebellion was dead, but it had succeeded
in humiliating the Spanish regime, in undermining administration faith
in the innocence of the vassals of Quito, and in demonstrating the
deficiency of the small military establishment.
This series of events was considered additionally serious
because the unrest spread into surrounding areas. In the governor-
ship of Popayhn direct repercussions were felt in the cities of Cali,
Cartago, and Popayan. There also, the authorities had to temporarily
heed the popular demand for the relaxation of taxes and government
monopolies.52 To make matters worse, out of all the uprisings the
officials were able to apprehend only one suspected leader.53 Every-
where, resources for effective riot control were proven badly defective,
The authorities were quick to perceive in this series of events
a close connection between public order and military strength. Vice-
roy Messfa de la Cerda expressed his thoughts on this subject in his
relaci6n to Don Manuel Guirior in 1772.
. let it be noted, that the obedience of the inhabitants in
this kingdom has no other support, with the exception of the
garrisons, than the free will and pleasure with which the in-
habitants comply with orders; because, without their approval,
there is no force, weapon, or authority which their superiors
can use to gain respect and obedience; hence, command is very
hazardous and the good success of measures taken is excessively
provisional; by the same token, this lack of confidence requires
treading lightly and, at times, without complete freedom, trying
to be accommodating to the circumstances; and, according to this
situation, it results that the enemy can be of two categories,
the disobedient vassals and the rebellious barbarians who dwell
in the interior of the provinces.
51.Lb., pp. 220-226.
52Gustavu Aboleda, Historia de Calt (Cali, 1928), p. 441.
53Messfa de la Cerda, Relaciones de manda . p. 113.
The viceroy went on to report that he believed disloyal vassals to
be the most dangerous of the two threats, citing the humiliating
experience in Quito as evidence of the fact.54
Shortly after the rebellion was suppressed, Messfa de la Cerda
sent a communication to the president of Quito indicating his desire
to establish a large fixed regular force in the troubled areas which
would act as an agent for the preservation of domestic peace and
order,55 Such a program was not accomplished for several years, how-
ever. In the meantime, troop detachments usually numbering about 200
men were employed from Panama. For the most part these soldiers were
drawn from the European battalions currently available.56 The first
new fijo company was established in Guayaquil in 1767.57 Four years
later a fijo' contingent of three companies was organized for the city
of Quito, as well as one unit for Popayhn.58 All five were infantry
The troop commitment in Guayaquil was an outgrowth of efforts
already in. progress to build that port into a coastal defense base.
55President Juan Antonio Zelaya to Messfa de la Cerda, Quito,
April,.1767, ANC: MM 101, fs. 555-556.
560rosco to Messfa de la Cerda, Panama, July 1766, ANC: MM 92,
fs. 750-757; Captain Francisco Antonio FernAndez to hessfa de la Cer-
da, Quito, June 3, 1767, ANC:- MM 100, fs. 745-754.
57Governor Francisco de Ugarte' to Guirior, Guayaquil, August 2,
1773, ANE: Pres. 194, fs. 51-62.
580e la Sierra to Messfa de ]a Cerda, Cartagena, February, 1771,
ANC: HM 103, fs. 104-105; Report of Subinspector General Joaqufn de
Canaveral, Cartagena, May, 1793, ANC: MM 92, fs. 1019-35.
By royal order of December 8, 1762, the corregimiento of Guayaquil
was transformed into a governorship to be "served by a military
subject."59 In addition, plans for fortifications there were already
underway. More significant were the companies of Quito and PopaySn
which were the first units of appreciable size employed for duty in
the interior of the viceroyalty. This departure from the traditional
pattern, while initiated prior to the rebellion, was certainly in-
fluenced by it. First, the 200 troops deployed in the interior of the
commandancy general were a stronger force than that originally proposed.
Furthermore, the distribution pattern was altered; three full companies
for the city of Quito were more than formerly contemplated, and Cuenca
remained without a fixed contingent. And, the company of Popayfn was
an innovation explicitly formed for the purpose of enforcing royal
authority in response to unrest stimulated by tax collection.60 While
the new troop commitment in the interior of the Commandancy General of
Quito was not a huge or a particularly impressive force in its own
right, it was subsequently of primary importance in the evolution of
the military reform.
Although the evidence is not conclusive, a possible additional
consequence of the events In Quito and PopayAn was a strengthening of
the viceregal guard In Santa Fe de Bogota in 1768. With the excep-
tion of a small number of men employed for mission escort duty, the
59Abel-Romero Castillo, Los Gobernadores de Guayaquil del Siglo
XVIII (Madrld, 1931), pp. 48-49.
OExpedlente sobre el despacho de la compaifa fi a de Pooayvn a
Quito 1777, ANC: 1MM 52, fs. 520-529.
guard had been the only regular troops stationed in the interior of the
viceroyalty prior to the establishment in the Conmmandancy General of
Quito. It was established in 1750 consisting of two companies, one of
cavalry, the other of halberdiers. Although royal authorization for
this act provided for 100 men in the first unit and sixty men in the
second, Viceroy Jlos Alonso Pizarro chose to limit the new companies to
fifty men each.61 However, shortly after the Rebellion of the Barrios
in Quito, Viceroy iFessfa de la Cerda requested authorization to increase
these companies by twenty-five men each and royal approval soon fol-
lobed.62 Althoo h it is entirely possible that the strengthening of
the Guard had no direct relationship to the events in the Presidency
of Quito, circumstantial evidence indicates that this was indeed the
case. In the first place, the position of the viceregal capital was
similar to that of Quito in that the coastal armies, the nearest source
of military aid, were a considerable distance away; second, Messfa de
la Cerda's previtcrsly quoted statements regarding the subject of
domestic obedience indicated an appreciation for the role of the
military in supporting governmental authority; and, last, the numerical
upgrading of the viceroy's guard occurred simultaneously with the
establishment of interior military forces in Quito and Popaydn.
Whatever the case, although the changes in the viceregal guard did
represent a 50 per cent manpower increase, the resulting force was
still far from formidable. And, in spite of all the alterations
61Royal order, July 17, 1751, ANC: Reales Ordenes 53, f. 188.
62Tribunal de Cuentas to Viceroy Messta-de la Cerda, Santa Fe,
August 9, 1768, AIC: MM 51, fs. 601-602.
and innovations incurred in the interior of the viceroyalty after 1765,
the character of New Granada's military coaitment remained primarily
THE BEGINNING OF THE REFORM:
CARTAGENA AND PANAMA
The 1773 initiation of military reform in the Viceroyalty of
New Granada featured both a strengthening of the regular army and
the formation of new, "disciplined," militia. With New Granada's
key defense bases badly undermanned and its militia in a chaotic
condition, such action was imperative if the viceroyalty were to
become reasonably capable of repelling foreign invasion. However,
in undertaking preparations for the next phase of its struggle with
Great Britain, the Spanish monarchy had first directed its attention
to the more important and more vulnerable portions of its empire.
In 1763 a military reorganization was started in Cuba and Puerto
Rico, and in the following year efforts were extended to New Spain.
Before reaching New Granada, the military reform had also been
introduced in Peru.2 Consequently, the year 1773 was a comparatively
late date In the overall introductory process. With pioneering
experiences already completed, New Granada was able to take advantage
of a well-developed militia policy.
IMcAlister, The Hispanic American Historical Review, XXXIII, 9.
2Manuel de Amat y Junient, Memoria de qobierno, eds. Vicente
Rodrfguez Casado and Florentino Pgrez Embid (Sevilla, 1947), pp. 716-
Military reform was introduced piecemeal into New Granada with
no apparent comprehensive plan of dissemination from province to
province. The only thing approaching such a norm was a negative
accord by all parties concerned that endeavors should at first be
restricted to only those areas most critically in need of an invigorated
military establishment. The crown's initial reform plans were limited
in scope to the two most important defense centers, Cartagena and
Panama. Thereafter, the reorganization only gradually progressed
to other parts of the viceroyalty. Moreover, once the reform
advanced beyond Cartagena and Panama, little in the way of direct
aid was extended from Spain; rather, local resources and talents
were employed for the new programs.
Politically, the expansion of the military reform was conducted
upon the initiative of the government in Santa Fe. And, although
their measures required ultimate approval in Spain, the viceroys
themselves soon became the reorganization's active policy makers.
As a consequence of its piecereal introduction, the reform movement
assumed a decidedly federalist character; this was especially true
In the sphere of organizing disciplined militia. The programs
Implemented were frequently responses to local problems and were in
turn managed largely at the local level This pattern of diffusion
contrasted with the policy followed in New Spain where a special com-
mission under the direction of Lieutenant General Juan de Villalba y
Angulo was charged with implementing a comprehensive reform for the
entire viceroyalty.3 Only toward the end of the colonial period did
3McAlister, The "Fuero ilitar" . . pp. 3-4.
the Viceroyalty of New Granada develop a militia institutional system
of a more or less centralized nature.
The ability to conduct the militia aspect of the reform without
the benefit of a special high-ranking commission was enhanced by the
late date of New Granada's reform. By 1773 an extensive set of royal
legislation had already been enacted which served as a guideline for
disciplined militia organization. The most comprehensive crown policy
statement was the Real declaraci6n sobre puntos esenciales de la orde-
hanza de milicias provinciales de EspaFa que interim se regla la formal,
que corresponde a estos cuerpos, se debe observer como tal en todas sus
parties (Madrid, 1767), which was an up to date summary of crown legisla-
tion for the disciplined militia of Spain. In addition, a reglarento,
which was an American appendix to the Real declaraciSn and which con-
tained provisions especially applicable to the Caribbean region, was
Issued for Cuba in 1769.4 For the reform In New Granada, the royal
Instructions specified that the new militia was to be formed in ac-
cordance with the provisions of the Cuban reglamento; a number of
copies were sent to Cartagena and Panama.5
The reform was initiated by a royal order of November 24, 1772,
which commanded the expansion of Cartagena's fixed regular battalion
Into a regiment consisting of two battalions of nine companies each;
a second order issued on January II, 1773, reestablished the fixed
4 eolamento para las militias de infanterfa, v caballerfa de la
Isla do Cuba. aorobado por S.M. (.Ravana, 1769).
5Governor Roque de Quiroga to Guirlor, Cartagena, June IT, !773.
ANC: RM 87, fs. 784-795.
battalion of Panama. Orders for the establishment of disciplined
militia came on February 12, 1773, for Panama, and on March 18, 1773,
for Cartagena.7 The Comnmandancy General of Panama was authorized
to organize three battalions and twelve separate companies in the
governorshipsof Panama and Portobelo. More flexibility was granted
to Cartagena in that the Instructions did not place a definite
limitation on the number of units to be organized; the authorities
were instructed to form a battalion at a time confining recruitment
to only the more worthy candidates. Enough equipment for four bat-
talions was sent from Spain.8
For the implementation of these programs, existing institutions
were employed. In both Cartagena and Panama reform direction was
entrusted to the commandant generals; Roque de Quiroga occupied
this office in Cartagena and Nicolis Quijano in Panama. The new
responsibilities of the commandant generals regarding the regular army
were consistent with their traditional functions as supra-provincial
commanders just below the level of the viceroy in the chain of com-
mand. Moreover, their own governorships were those most involved.
In the sphere of disciplined militia leadership the commandant generals
assumed the duty of inspector, the most powerful militia post below
the viceregal level. That function placed them in a position to control
:ouiroga to Secretary of the Viceroy Pedro de Ureta, Cartagena,
February 8, 1773, ANC: MM 85, fs. 865-867; Governor Micol6s Quijano
to Guirior, Panama, June, 1773, ANC: MM 90, fs. l044-1049.
7Royal order, February 12, 1773, ANC: MM 98, f, 539; Royal
order, March 18, 1773, ANC: MM 87, fs. 790-794.
officer appointments, to conduct inspections, to serve as intermediar-
les in correspondence between the leaders of the various units and the
viceroy, and to maintain general supervision of militia affairs. For
the initial formation, they were personally entrusted by the crown
with raising the new units. The employment of the individual com-
mandant generals for the implementation of the reform provided the
advantage of on the spot direction uninhibited by the geographical
separation of the two affected regions which were connected only by
The expansion of the regular arrry was rapidly terminated. In
accord with royal provision, the new units were formed out of recruits
drawn from the European battalions currently deployed in the vice-
royalty. The Battalion of Savoy provided personnel for Cartagena's
second battalion, the Battalions of Murcia and Naples for Panama.9
The tenth company of Cartagena's original fixed battalion, the artil-
lery company, was disbanded and replaced by a new unit pertaining to
the Royal Corps of Artillery.10 The resvainder of the three European
battalions then returned to Spain.11 This expansion tripled the
strength of the regular fixed contingent in the two commandancy
generals, thereby drastically increasing the self-reliance of those
9Colonel Josef Bernet to Guirior, Cartagena, May 11, 1773, ANC:
MM 87, fs. 739-745; Quijano to Guirior, Panama, June, 1773, ANC: MM
90, fs. 1044-1049.
10Quiroga to Guirior, July II, 1773, ANC: MM 71, fs. 237-244.
Quiroga to Ureta, Cartagena, June 11, 1773, ANC: MM 84, fs.
916-923; Quiroga to Guirior, Cartagera. June 24, 1773, ANC: MM 87,
fs. 764-768; Quijano to Guirior, Panama, June, 1773, ANC: MM 90,
key strategic areas. Although future complications required further
employment of Spanish troops in the viceroyalty, the main burden of
defense from 1773 forward was borne by the newly strengthened local
The formation of disciplined militia was a tedious task entail-
ing the creation of an officer corps, the enlistment of troops, and the
provision of arms and other supplies; not until almost a year after the
initiating royal orders did the new units emerge in semi-finished form
prepared for drilling.12 in Cartagena two battalions and fifty-eight
separate infantry companies were raised; in the Commandancy General
of Panama, three battalions and twelve separate companies were formed
as specified by the royal order.13 Two battalions and a company
of Cartagena's militia were organized in the city of Cartagena and
its immediate surroundings. Twenty-eight of the governorship's
remaining fifty-seven companies were established in the outlying par-
tido of Lorica, sixteen in the partido of Barranquilla, and thirteen
in the partido of Momp6s. All of the militia for the Commandancy
General of Panama were established in the Governorship of Panama
and its partido of Nata except six companies raised in Portobelo
and on the margins of the Chagres River. Besides the infantry units,
two cavalry companies were formed in the partido of Barranquilla; two
artillery companies were raised in the city of Cartagena, a brigade
12Quijano to Guirior, Panama, November 20, 1773, ANC: MM 90,
fs. 645-662; Commander Josef P4rez Dtvila to Ureta, Cartagena, March,
1774, ANC: MM 88 f. 73.
13Quijano to Guirior, Panama, November 20, 1773, ANC: MM 90,
In Told of the partido of Lorica, and a company each in Portobelo and
Panama, The artillery units were segregated from the regular militia
command and were placed in care of the staff of the Royal Corps of
Artillery14 (see Table 2).
The disciplined militia of New Granada was segregated into two
broad social divisions, .Lanco or white, and those with all or part
Negro parentage. The latter class was subdivided into units composed
of pardos, a collective grouping which included the various categories
of mulattoes, and morenos the offspring of free Negro parents. This
system conformed with provisions made in the Cuban reglamento. How-
ever, New Granada added a new variety, the units of all colors; these
contained a mixture of the various Negro classes and on rare occasions
could contain whites.
For the units comprised of the various Negro groupings, the same
regulations applied except for a few minor details of which differen-
tiation in salaries, the morenos receiving less than pardas, was the
most important. In the period under consideration, the term "pardo"
was frequently employed in a general sense to include all of the
various militia units containing members with all or partial Negro
lineage; for expediency, the term will be so employed in this study
14GAlvez to Flores, Spain, March, 1777, ANC: MM 12, f. 423;
Report on the militia of Cartagena, Governor Juan Pimienta, March 26,
1778, ANC: MM 40, fs. 152-165; Royal order, September 4, 1778, ANC:
MM 9, f. 1061.
15Membership roll of the Company of All Colors of SinG, Lorica,
1780, ANC: MM 21, fs. 373-374; Libretas de servicio . del Rel-
mlento de Infanterfa de Todos Colores . Santa Marta, 1788, ANC:
MMt 97, fs. 79-124.
16Reglamento . Cuba, relaciones 9-11,
ARMY OF NEW GRANADA 1779*
Regulars Infantry Artillery Mounted
Two companies of Santa Marta 154
Half company of Santa Marta 25
Regiment of Cartagena 1,358
Royal Corps (two companies of
(company of Panama) 100
Battalion of Panama 679
Detachment of Chagres 29
Company of Guayaquil 100
Three companies of Quito 225
Detachment of Popayan 25
Halberdier Viceregal Guard 75
Cavalry Viceregal Guard __ 25
Totals 2,645 325 75
Total Regulars 3045
Disciplined Militia Infantry Artillery Mounted
Two companies of pardo dragoons,
Battalion of whites, Cartagena 800
Battalion of pardos, Cartagena 800
Company of morenos, Cartagena 90
Company of pardos, Cartagena 100
Company of morenos, Cartagena 100
Brigade of pardos, Toli of the partido
of Lorica (Cartagena) 30
Two companies of whites, partido of
Barranquilla (Cartagena) 180
Four companies of pardos, partido of
Barranquilla (Cartagena) 360
Four companies of morenos, partido of
Barranquilla (Cartagena) 360
Six companies of all colors, partido of
Barranquilla (Cartagena) 540
Company of white cavalry, partido of
Barranquilla (Cartagena) 90
TABLE 2 (cont.)
Disciplined Militia Infantry Artillery Mounted
Company of pardo cavalry, partido of
Five companies of whites, partido of
Two companies of pardos, partido of
Six companies of all colors, partido
of Momp6s (Cartagena)
Nine companies of whites, partido of
Nineteen companies of all colors,
partido of Lorica (Cartagena)
Battalion of whites, partido of Nata
Battalion of pardos, partido of Nata
Battalion of pardos, Panama
Three companies of whites, Panama
Two companies of morenos, Panama
Company of pardos, Panama
Company of pardos, Panama
Two companies of whites, Portohbelo and
the margins of the Chagres River
Two companies of pardos, Portobelo and
the margins of the Chagres River
Company of pardos, Portobelo
Battalion of whites, Guayaquil
Battalion of pardos, Guayaquil
Regiment of white dragoons, Guayaquil,
Five companies of whites, Guayaquil
Company of pardos, Guayaquil
Company of whites, Guayaquil
Two companies of morenos, Guayaquil
Eleven companies of whites, Popayan
Company of pardos, Popayan
Two companies all colors, Popayin
Total Disciplined Militia 14,592
*The above table was compiled from reports and other correspond-
ence. See Conmander Diego Antonio Nieto to Viceroy Manuel Antonio
Flores, Cartago, ANC: MM 52, fs. 332-348; report on the militia of
Cartagena, Governor Juan Pimienta, Cartagena, March 26, 1778, ANC:
MM 40, fs. 152-165; Estado de fuerza del ei6rcito, Guayaquil, Conmand-
er Victor Salcedo y Somodevilla, October, 1779, ANC: MM 101, fs. 708-
714; rEtado de fuerza del eiercito. Panama, Governor Ramin de Carvajal,
August I, 1781, ANC: MM 103, fs. 500-519; Estado de fuerza del ejer-
cito, Santa Marta and Riohacha, Governor AnLunio de Narvdez y la Torre,
August, 1784, ANC: MM 101, fs. 445-446. Also see ANG: MM 89, f. 547,
MM 90, fs. 600-608, 628-634, 645-662, 1040, MM 95, fs. 155-158, MM 106,
fs. 885-890, MM 109, fs. 171-172, MM 110, fs. 367-375.
unless clarity demands group differentiation. With respect to the
classification "blanco" or white, it cannot be presumed that all
members of the group were of totally white racial stock. By the
late eighteenth century miscegenation was at a relatively advanced
stage, and that classification might be based on other than racial
considerations, such as wealth or cultural habits. Moreover, for
the purpose of the militia, mestizos were considered white.17
As specified by the Cuban reglamento, the structure of command
In disciplined militia units consisted of a delicate balance between
regular and volunteer personnel. At the head of each battalion was
a command and staff group comprised of a colonel, who was a militia
volunteer; a sarnento mayor, who was a veteran plans and training
officer; an ayudante, who was also a veteran and charged with as-
sisting the sargento mayor in conducting his duties; and a group of
non-commissioned officers and other personnel. The veteran positions
of sargento nayor and ayudante were functions, not ranks, and they
were normally performed by men who in the regular army held the of-
fices of lieutenant or first sergeant. At the company level, the
captain was a militia volunteer, but as with the command and staff
group, the second In command, the lieutenant, was a veteran. The
latter function would normally be performed by a man who held the
rank of corporal or cadet in the regular army. In addition, the
militia was provided with a cadre of veteran enlisted mer, who served
as sergeants and corporals in the companies. By this method, the
17Lbid., relaci6n 1; Captain Diego Antonio Nieto to Flores,
Buga, January 13, 1779, ANC: MM 52, fs. 443-444.
crown entrusted command to volunteers, but insured proper discipline
and training by placing veterans where they could enhance quality
service and function as a check on the non-professionals (see Table
The militia colonel's position was considered equal to that of
his counterpart in the regular army. However, in relationships
between the regular army and the militia, he was to obey the orders
of veteran colonels and in effect was regarded as an officer of one
grade less than colonel.20 An illuminating example of this differen-
tiation was a ruling made on burial laws. A deceased militia officer
was entitled to the same honors in his funeral as those granted to
his equivalent in the regular army provided that the rites were
conducted by militiamen. On the other hand, if the ceremonies hap-
pened to be conducted by members of a regular unit the honors were
to be those of one rank lower.21
The colonel's second in command was the veteran sargento mayor,
who to be eligible for appointment must have at one time served in
Spain. Aided by his ayudante he was the most active member of the
command and staff group and was responsible for conducting inspections
and supervising the affairs of the battalion. Should he believe that
his superior the colonel was acting in violation of regulations, it
18Reqlamento . Cuba, chaps. 1-111.
19Royal order, February 13. 1778, ANC: M 100, fs. 165-172.
20Royal order, February 18, 1779, ANC: MM 88, f. 483.
21GSlvez to Flores, Spain, June 12, 1779, ANC: MM 9, fs. 870-
UNIT ORGANIZATION UNDER THE REGLAMENTO FOR THE
DISCIPLINED MILITIA OF CUBA, 1769
White Infantry Battalion
Fusileers 2 2 4 6 7
Fusleers 2 4 6 74 90
Fusileers I 2 2 4 6 1 74 0
Fusileers I 1 1 1 2 2 4 6 1 74 90
Fusileers I 1 1 2 2 4 6 1 74 90
10a1 C I 1 1 2 4- 6 a -
Fusileers 1 I 1 1 2 2 4 6 1 74 90
Fusileers I I 1 1 2 2 4 6 1 74 90
Fusileers I I 1 I 2 2 4 6 1 74 90
Totals 9 9 9 9 9
18 18 36 54 9 656 800
Command and Staff Group
1 Sargento Mayor (Veteran)
1 Ayudante (Veteran)
1 Drum Major (Veteran)
1 Corporal, Gastador
TABLE 3 (cont.)
Pardo Infantry Battalion
Grenadiers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I I
Fusileers I 1
Fusileers 1 I
Totals 9 9 9
1 I 2 6
I 2 6
I 2 6
1 I 2 6
1 1 2 6
1 I 2 6
I 2 6
I I 2 6
I I 2 6
9 9 18 54
Command and Staff Group
0 E 0 0
6 I 64 80
6 I 74 90
6 I 74 90
6 I 74 90
6 I 74 90
6 I 74 90
6 74 90
6 74 90
6 74 90
54 9 656 800
I Ayudante Mayor, Subinspector
1 Drum Major
1 Corporal, Gastador
TABLE 3 (cant.)
Second C 2 2 4 50
Fourth 2 2 50
pFifth 1- 2 2 50
__Carabineersxth 1 1 1 1 2 2 44 50
FirSeventh I I 1 2 2 44 50
-Eighth 1 1 1 2 2 44 50
FoNiurth I I 1 2 2 44 50
"Fifth 1 2 2 44 50
Seventh I 2 2 44 50
Tenth I I I I 1 I 2 2 44 50
* Eleventh 1 I I 1 I I 2 2 44 50
Twelfth 1 I1 I 2 2 44 50
Totals 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 26 26 572 650
Cremnand and Staff Croup
1 Colonel 1 Chaplain
1 Lieutenant Colonel 1 Surgeon
1 Sargento Mayor (Veteran) 4 Buglers (Veteran
I Ayudante Mayor (Veteran) or Militia)
TABLE 3 (cont.)
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 4 6 1 84 loo
I 1 1 I 1 2 2 4 6 1 84 00
1 1 1 I 2 2 4 6 I 84 100
1 1 1 0 2 0 3 3 0 42 50
I I t I a 2 0 3 3 0 42 50
I Ayudante Mayor (Veteran) I Surgeon
2 Standard Bearers
ORGANIZATION OF A VETERAN INFANTRY REGIMENT*
Grenadiers 1 1 3 3 I 54 63
Fusileers I 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 I 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 I 2 4 4 2 64 77
SFusileers 1 I 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I I 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I I I 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Grenadiers I 1 1 1 3 3 I 54 63
Fusileers I 1 1 I 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 I 2 4 4 2 64 77
oFusileers I I 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
o Fusileers 1 I I 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
v Fusileers 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers 1 I 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers I 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Fusileers 1 1 1 1 2 4 4 2 64 77
Totals 18 18 I 18 18 34 70 70 34 1132 1358
TABLE 4 (cont.)
Comnand and Staff Group
1 Sargento Mayor
I Ayudante Mayor
2 Standard Bearers
1 Corporal, Gastador
I Master Armorer
I Drum Major
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Ayudante Mayor
2 Flag Bearers
1 Corporal. Gastadores
1 Master Arrorer
*Adapted from Drdenanzas de S.M. para el regimen, disciplina,
subordinaciSn,. servicio de sus ex-rcitos . (Madrid, 1768).
was his duty to inform the colonel of his error; if need be, he could
appeal to the inspector, but only with the colonel's knowledge. In
this manner, the integrity of the office of colonel was preserved,
although he was prevented from wandering too far astray. A similar
relationship existed between the captains and the veteran lieutenants.22
According to the reglamento and a clarifying order of August 6,
1773, the inspector of militias bore the main responsibility for the
selection of personnel for the veteran positions in the militia and
he also made proposals for the office of colonel. The colonel's chief
appointive duty was suggesting candidates for the office of captain as
well as reviewing recommendations made for the lower company offices by
the senior officers of the unit. In conducting this function the
colonel's prerogatives were also effectively restricted. Unless there
was compelling reason to do otherwise, he was obliged to make his
selections from men of the next volunteer rank, and in doing so, to
consult with the sargento mayor whose opinion he was to include along
with his own report. Moreover, the inspector by his right of review
provided another check. For all offices, recommendations were to
consist of three nominations which were to be passed up the hierarchy
of command, including the cornments from each level, with the process
eventually terminating in Santa Fe or Spain depending on the importance
of the position.23
22Reglamento . Cuba, chaps. 1-111.
23Ibd., chap. VI; Jost Miarfa Zamora y Coronado Compp.),
Biblioteca de leqislacijn ultra-arina en forma de diccionario al-
fabhtico . (Madrid, 1844-46), III, 229.
A large portion of the veteran personnel for New Granada's new
militia was provided directly from Spain including two special com-
manders, Fiix? Martfnez Malo for Panama and Josef Pgrez Dlvila for
Cartagena.24 The two commanders acted as special technical assistants
for the commandant generals and during the formative years of the
militia assumed the roles normally reserved for colonels. They con-
tinued to serve until the militia was properly functioning, at which
time they were replaced by bonafide volunteer colonels. This transi-
tion occurred in Cartagena in 1777, but not until the following decade
in Panama where progress was slower.25 The initial royal Instructions
for the formation of the militia provided that if the number of regulars
from Spain proved insufficient, additional selections should be made
from the veteran units corresponding to the involved areas. Such a
shortage developed in Cartagena which was scheduled to receive three
sargentos mayores, three ayudantes, and eleven lieutenants. The
allotment was too small to begin with, and to aggravate the situation,
only eleven of the regulars had arrived by mid-December. Commandant
General Roque de Quiroga informed Viceroy Guirior who immediately
granted him authorization to initiate nominations from the fixed
regiment's cadets and sergeants.27
24Qulroga to Guirior, Cartagena. June 11, 1773, ANC: MM 87,
fs. 784-795; Quijano to Guirior, Panama, November 20, 1773, ANC:
MM 90, fs. 645-662.
25Royal order, June 17, 1777, ANC: MM 56, fs. 933-937.
26uiroga to Guirior, Cartagena, June 11, 1773, ANC: MM 87,
27Guirior to Quiroga, Santa Fe, January 30, 1774, ANC: MM 56,
For the volunteer officer positions, many candidates were
selected from the original militia which had been dissolved with
the inauguration of the new system; others were recruited from the
community at large.28 In all cases, special care was to be directed
toward selecting men of the best social standing in the community.
men who could maintain a prestigious position worthy of officership.29
During the formative period, nominations for these positions normally
would have originated from the special commanders acting as colonels;
however, Divila and Martfnez Halo did not arrive from Spain until
late in the year, and as a consequence, the commandant generals
functioning as Inspectors made the selections themselves.30 This
practice led to a dispute between newly appointed sargento mayor
Nicolas Palazuelos, who vas a recent arrival from Spain, and the com-
mandant general of Panama, Nicolfs Quijano. Palazuelos contended
that in the absence of a functioning colonel he as this officer's
consultant for formulating appointments ought to exercise the pre-
rogative of making the initial selections. Conversely, Quijano
claimed that under the special conditions created by the reorganiza-
tion's Initial problems, and due to his special orders, It was his
position to initiate appointments. The controversy was taken to
28Quijano to Guirior, Panama, October 8, 1773, ANC: MM 98,
29Reqlamento . Cuba, chap VI, art. 2.
30Quljano to Guirlor, Panama, October 8, 1773, ANC: MM 98,
fs. 534-542; Dtvlla to Guirior, Cartagena, December 9, 1773, ANC:
MM 56, fs. 794-801.
Viceroy Guirlor who upheld the commandant general.31 However, once
the special commanders arrived from Spain, they exercised power in
filling the remainder of the volunteer company positions.32
The enlistment of soldiers for the militia was initiated shortly
after the commandant generals received their royal orders of February
and March. The Real declaraci6n for the militia of Spain contained
an elaborate classification system by which potential recruits were
to be categorized into five groupings according to the severity of
hardship their possible absence would cause to their families and
other dependents. Under this scheme, first single men and widowers
without children would be subject to selection by lottery, then
married men without children, and so on down the list until the levy
would be filled, with those supporting children the last to be called.
In addition, a wide range of exemptions was granted for those hold-
ing critically important civilian positions, lest in time of mobiliza-
tion they be removed from their communities.33 Presumably because of
a smaller pool of available manpower, the enlistment practices out-
lined in the Cuban reglamento employed in New Granada were less
discriminatory.34 Nothing was said about classification on a hard-
ship basis which presumably made all in non-vital occupations equally
liable if they were between the prescribed ages of 15 and 45; the only
31Guirlor to Quljano, Santa Fe, ANC: MM 98, fs. 533.
32Officer proposals, militia of Cartagena, April, 1774, ANC:
MM 30, fs. 963-964.
33Real declaracln . tits. 11-111.
34ealamnnto . Cuba, chap. II, arts. 25-32.
specification was that recruitment lists should indicate whether or
not a man was married.35 A subsequent royal order issued in 1779
did exempt the only sons of widows.36 Occupational exemptions were
granted to members of the clergy, medical personnel, school teachers,
certain types of students, lawyers, scribes, notaries, tax collectors,
and a number of other public functionaries. In 1779 this list was
extended to include the maritime merchant class.37
There was little official commentary about the way recruitment
was actually practiced in New Granada. It appears that if the lists
indicated that there were enough useful men in a community to sup-
port a company, they were enlisted. In such a process it is un-
likely that fine distinctions such as having dependents would have
made a great deal of difference. Indeed, the company membership
rolls available for analysis reveal that a large share of the enlisted
men were at least married, although it is impossible to determine the
total number of dependents.39 Juan Pimienta, governor and commandant
general of Cartagena, complained in a 1778 report on the militia that
in the localities supporting companies almost all of the men between
the ages of 15 and 45 were enlisted, and that many of them were
351bUd., chap. I, art. 9, and relaci6n 1.
36Royal order, February 18, 1779, ANC: MM 12, fs. 340-353.
37Royal order, June 18, 1779, ANC: MM 71, fs. 532-534.
38Orders for the formation of recruitment lists were sent to
the commandant generals prior to the initiation of the actual reform.
Quiroga to Guirior, Cartagena, June II, 1773, ANC: MM 87, fs. 784-
39Lorica, 1780, ANC: IM 21, fs. 273-280.
fathers. He feared that if it became necessary to place the units
on active duty, their communities would suffer great hardship.40
Nevertheless, in spite of what seem to have been undiscriminatory
recruitment practices, many units, especially in Panama, had
constant problems in maintaining their full quotas; within several
years of their creation two companies from the Portobelo region
completely disintegrated, and several others were dangerously close
to doing likewise.41
Indians, legally perpetual minors, were not permitted to serve
in the militia. The question arose in New Granada when Pmrez Dtvila,
Cartagena's special commander, enlisted Indians in Turbaco. He based
his action on a special provision in the Cuban reglamento which al-
lowed the enlistment of Indians to complete the white battalions of
Cuba and Bayamo. Upon receiving word of this development, Commandant
General Roque de Quiroga became concerned for he suspected that such
recruitment was inconsistent with "the privileges and exemptions
conceded to this group of people." Finding nothing in the regula-
tions specifically prohibiting the practice, but believing the Cuban
example to be an exception due to extenuating local circumstances
rather than a precedent, he asked Viceroy Manuel Guirior for a ruling.
Guirlor replied confirming his suspicious; Indians indeed were not
liable for military service. The viceroy then ordered the immediate
40ANC: MM 40, fs. 152-165.
41Estado de fuerza del ei4rcito, Panama, Governor Ram6n de
Carvajal, August 1, 1781, ANC: MM 103, fs. 500-519.
termination of their enlistment.42 Guirior's ruling was consistent
with policy followed in New Spain where likewise Indians were not
permitted to enter the military.43
Drills were initiated for most of the militia between December
1, 1773, and January 1, 1774.44 Although initially conducted on a
more frequent basis, exercises were to be held once a week with the
selection of the day dependent upon the choice of the individual
units. The practice site was normally the local community, even for
the companies attached to battalions. This was necessary because
of their wide dispersal. For example, only six companies of the white
battalion of Cartagena were from the city itself; two of the remaining
companies were from Turbaco and Arjona both some 47 leagues from the
capital city, the other from Barranquilla and Soledad some 30 leagues
The responsibility for supervising the militia training program
rested with the command and staff groups. In addition to three of
the battalions, each of the three partidos of Cartagena sponsoring
militia also had a command and staff group to manage that duty.47
42kuiroga to Guirior and reply, 1774, ANC: MM 88, fs. 1-4.
43KcAlister, The "Fuero Militar" . p. 2.
44Quijano to Guirior, Panama, November 20, 1773, ANC: MM 90,
fs. 645-662; Quiroga to Guirior, Cartagena, December 26, 1773, ANC:
MM 57, fs. 482-490.
45Reqlamento . Cuba, chap. Ill.
46Report on the militia of Cartagena, Pimienta, March 26, 1778,
ANC: MM 40, fs. 152-165.
However, the immediate burden of forging suitable soldiers out of the
volunteers rested with the veteran sergeants and corporals. They
were obliged to reside in the communities supporting their units and
be constantly available in the event their services might be required. 4
Once a month the weekly practice became a special exercise which all
of the company officers were bound to attend; they were also encouraged
to participate in as many of the regular weekly training sessions as
possible. The veteran members of the command and staff groups were
expected to at least assist at firing practice which was a bimonthly
session. For the colonel, attendance was not obligatory. Enlisted
men were required to participate in all exercises unless granted
previous permission for absence because of a legitimate excuse. This
training program, if conducted as prescribed, would be a great
Improvement over the former practices.
Over half of the disciplined militia of Panama and Cartagena was
of the pardo category. This included three battalions, one from Carta-
gena and two from Panama, as well as fifty-four of the separate companies.
Because of their lower station in life, pardos were considered less
virtuous and less reliable than their white counterparts. The most
noteworthy consequence of this assumption was the limitation of the
authority delegated to pardos in the system of command. Their bat-
talions were equipped with a dual command and staff group, Including
one of white regulars, the other of volunteer men of color, which was
an extension of unit segregation. The head of the pardo section was
entitled the "commandant." He was assisted by standard-bearers, a
48Relamento . Cuba, chap. 11, arts. 15, 17.
drum major, and a number of non-commissioned personnel. The white
command and staff group was headed by a subinspector who held the
militia post of ayudante mayor. He was accompanied by four men of
the militia position of lieutenant who served as ayudantes. Since
the militia operated on a segregated basis, no veteran personnel
were integrated into the company ranks; rather, a number of pardo
officers were maintained on salary. In addition, the white staff
and command group contained a large number of non-commissioned of-
ficers, oarzones, available for the necessary technical advice. In
contrast to pardo units, those with the all-color designation operated
with only a white command and staff group in the same manner as the
In pardo units the designation of commander for the colored
chief was more pretense than reality. Supreme authority rested with
the subinspector who was responsible for supervising the training,
discipline, and general conduct of the battalion. In performing these
comprehensive duties, he was to be obeyed by all, including the pardo
commander. However, the subinspector was cautioned by the reglamento
that this officer was to be considered of the same authority as other
heads of battalions. Moreover, the commander had the power to arrest
any battalion soldier or officer who did not comply with his commands.
Here the precise lines of authority are very nebulous. It is in-
conceivable that the commander would have dared to arrest a subinspector,
or for that matter, any other white official. In any event it would
have taken an extremely creative mind to have produced such a con-
frontation because the supreme duties of subinspection, the key
loophole, were so broadly defined. Moreover, since the remainder of
the white officers and non-commissioned personnel were specifically
labelled by regulations as the subinspector's assistants for the
conduct of his duty, they also for all practical purposes would be
beyond the reach of pardo authority. In effect, the pardo commander
was commander of pardos, and no more.
In 1779 a serious dispute arose in Panama which reveals much
concerning the relationship between pardo and white officers.50 The
issue was a matter of etiquette: when, and for what duration, pardo
officers were to remove their hats in the presence of white officers.
Although this issue may seem absurd today, it was anything but that
at the time. The parties involved were unable to reach an agreement
and the matter ultimately had to be taken to the viceroy for a
decision. Unfortunately, the superior ruling, if ever made, has not
been uncovered.1 Nevertheless, the range of discussion in this dis-
agreement is most informative and clarifies much of what in fact was
the position of pardos in the militia.
The subject had originally been raised by special.Comeander
FliIx Martfnez Malo shortly after the pardo units were organized.
491jid., chap. I, art. 13; chap. II, arts. 13, 22, 34; chap.
IV, art. 13.
50Exoediente formado por aueia del comandante de militias contra
el teniente del Rey de esta plaza. 1779, ANC: MM 40, fs. 669-687.
511t is possible that a superior ruling was never made. Flores
left Santa Fe to assume command in Cartagena when war broke out that
year. This transfer was soon followed by the Comunero Rebellion and
then a rapid turnover of viceroys in 1782; hence, it is not unlikely
that the issue simply became lost.
In consultations with both Viceroy Guirior and Colonel Josef Bernet
of the Fixed Regiment of Cartagena, who had previously served as
sargento mayor during the formation of the disciplined militia of
Cuba, he inquired whether pardos in conformity with their inferior
birthright should be obliged to remove their hats in the presence
of white officers, as must white enlisted men, even though these
men of color held positions as officers in the militia. Both
authorities answered in the affirmative. Guirior's ruling, which
also placed certain limitations on the decorative aspects of pardo
uniforms, received crown approval.52 Colonel Bernet elaborated:
If there was a pardo or moreno in Havana who dared behave dis-
respectfully to an officer (white) he would be made to ride a
rail, and . during a grave dispute between the corr-ander
of morenos, Vicente Martfnez, and his subinspector, the former
quarreling with the subinspector, he was thrown into a dungeon
in irons, and after a detention of two months he was inforned
that if he did not restrain himself, and respect his superiors,
he would be discharged from his office and would be sent off to
The resurrection of the question in 1779 followed a series of
complaints by the pardo officers from the battalion of Panama. They
protested that white officers, out of malice and desire for amusement,
had begun approaching them without cause merely to force the removal
of their hats; these affairs sometimes endured in excess of a half an
hour. Moreover, some pardos charged that for alleged want of punctual-
ity in complying with this courtesy, they had been arrested and
maltreated by word. Knowledge of these abuses reached the governor's
office at a time when Commandant General Ram&n de Carvajal was
52Julidn de Arriaga to Guirior, Spain, October 21, 1775, ANC:
MM 92, fs. 197-201.
seriously ill. Jost Pgrez DOvlla, promoted in 1777 from his position
with Cartagena's militia to lieutenant governor (teniente del Rey) of
Panama, was acting governor.
DSvila responded to the pardo complaint by issuing an order
stipulating that white officers should approach pardos only in the
line of duty, and that, when doing so, they must confine the subject
of conversation to the business at hand. Moreover, to limit possible
contacts, he specified that pardo officers should receive ti-eir
instructions from white officers only through their cc-mander. When
legitimate contact did occur, pardo officers were to remain with hat
in hand. However, if at the time they happened to be discharging
duties with their unit, they could immediately; replace their hats,
continuing with their work. If by chance white and pardo officers
should meet on the street, or under similar conditions, the pardos
were to greet the whites first, but the white officers were then to
return the greeting with equal courtesy (con la misna ae-citM y
palftica). DSvila's measures might have passed without incident had
not the pardos concluded that the ruling freed them front the duty of
removing their hats when not specifically discussing militia affairs.
Smith this development the white officers believed their honor and
prestige to be threatened by what seemed to them an obvious breach,
not only of military etiquette, but of the very laws of hierarchy.
Jost de Matos, subinspector of the pardo battalion, immediately
filed a vigorous complaint which he sent to Militia Cor mander Martfnez
Halo. Martfnez in turn sent a strongly worded protest, accompanied
by Matos' petition, to Governor Carvajal asking for a nullification
of Dtvila's order. MartTez was incensed with the stipulations
that pardo officers could under some circumstances replace their
hats in the presence of White officers, and that, in exchanging
greetings, the whites were obliged to demonstrate equal courtesy.
The former ruling, he claimed, was
violating the natural mrder of mankind and fomenting the unjust
pretensions of the pardas who aspire to leave the condition of
their birth to which trey should be subject. Subordination,
courtesy, and respect are the fundamental bases within which the
good order of these rnlitias must be preserved to prevent the
pardos from becoming ITpudent with their respective superiors.
which defect has been experienced on various occasions because
of a lack of correctir m that would have taught them the dif-
ference that exists er-ween peoples.
With regard to the latter ruling, Martfnez claimed that there was
no law in the realm, in military regulations, or in the reglamento
making obligatory the exhibItion of courtesy toward pardos, although
doing so was a matter of good breeding. He added that there was a
great deal of difference inn quality between the soldiers of the
regular anny and pardo officers, but the regulations contained no
mention that regular officers need return courtesies to the
veteran soldiers. Yet, aider Divila's ruling white officers were
obliged to return a mandalmry greeting to mere pardos.
Katos in his petiti ra singled out an inconsistency in military
policy resulting from )Svilla's ruling. As ratters stood, In the
event of a shortage of alydantes, the garzones of the white command
and staff group were to assume the former's responsibilities, which
placed them in a position to render orders to the pardo officers,
However, militia garzones as non-commissioned personnel were obliged
to remove their hats in ithe presence of officers. Yet now, with the
latest ruling by DKvila, men to whom they could give orders were
granted greater liberties with their hats than were they themselves,
To these entreaties, Governor Carvajal replied that he was too
ill to conduct the investigation which would be necessary before he
could issue a judgment; in the meantime, DOvila's order stood unless
specifically contradicting a previous superior ruling. Shortly there-
after, DSvila presented his case to the governor. He pointed out that
his action was based on precedents established in Cartagena where un-
necessary friction was avoided by simply forbidding white officers
from "fraternizing" with the pardos. Preventing discord, he maintained,
was in the best interest of royal service, especially because the empire
was at war. Davila then asked Carvajal to refer the question to the
viceroy which the governor did.
For general policy, it made little difference what the viceroy's
ruling might have been; the differences of opinion were essentially
over details. It occurred to no one, for example, to suggest that
white enlisted men remove their hats for pardo officers. All parties
concerned, unless possibly some pardos, agreed that under at least
some conditions officers of color by penalty of their undistinguished
birth ought to stand before white officers with hats removed. D5vila's
rulings certainly were not intended to promote a social revolution, but
rather; simply intended to prevent unnecessary humiliation for a class
of men who at least in number bore a large share of the isthmus' defense
responsibilities. To this end he attempted to remove all possible
temptations from the white officers, but in doing so perhaps went
farther than the viceregency would have wished. Moreover, in Panama
and presumably in Cartagena it was customary for the commander of
militia to deal solely with the white command and staff group and
therefore completely bypass the pardo staff members, reducing them
in consequence to mere errand boys for their white counterparts.
Pardo officership appears to have been of meaningful consequences
only within the pardo group itself.
Prior to Spain's entry into the War of American Independence
in 1779, the extent of the reform in the Comnandancy Generals of
Cartagena and Panama remained confined to the provinces specifically
singled out in the royal instructions. An exception to this
generalization was the organization of two companies of dragoons
in the province of Rlohacha which, however, is part of another story
related later in this study. This left the provinces of Veragua and
Santa Marta momentarily without disciplined militia, while the regime
in Santa Fe set about expanding the reform into the provinces of Gua-
yaquil and Popayin, both of which possessed disciplined militia before
the outbreak of the war. It would seem to have been more logical for
the government to have pressed for expansion of the reform into the
two remaining important Caribbean provinces, rather than to extend
it to the back country, particularly to Popayin in the interior; but,
the province of Santa Marta was embroiled in a major Indian war, dis-
rupting any hopes of gaining the time necessary to establish
disciplined militia, while Veragua lost its chance due to an
administrative snarl resulting in an extensive delay.
The failure of Veragua to produce disciplined militia is
important not only because It represented a momentary check on the
progress of the reform, but also because the entanglement which
produced the delay elucidates the institutional structure of the
Comnandancy General of Panama. The dilemma began in September, 1773,
at which time Cormandant General Quijano in reporting on the progress
of the reform mentioned for the viceroy's consideration the possibility
of organizing disciplined militia in the governorship of Veragua,
where In addition to an ample supply of manpower, there were some 525
available firearms.53 Viceroy Guirior's response was highly enthusi-
astic. He soon sent orders to both the commandant general and to the
governor of Veragua expressing his desire to proceed. He instructed
Quijano to select a capable officer, to place him temporarily in
command of the project, and to send him to Veragua. In the meantime,
he should Initiate formal appointment procedures by sending a report
on his candidate to Santa Fe. He was also ordered to appoint some
corporals from the fixed battalion to assist with the project. The
governor of Veragua, FMlix Francisco Bexarano, was asked to extend
full cooperation to the officer being sent from Panama.
Bexarano, who had been governor for twenty years and was a long-
time advocate of a strong militia, Immediately began work on the
project. He welcomed the viceroy's decision because of a profound
fear he had developed of the Mosquito Indians, a tribe which prompted
by British Interlopers conducted periodic raids in his province from
53Expediente sobre la Insubordlnacl6n del qobernador de Veraqua,
1773-75, ANC: mm 16, fs. 949-971, MM 77, fs. 653-655, 847-850, 973-
979, and MM 92, fs. 882-883,
the adjoining Captaincy General of Guatemala. Commandant General
Quijano, however, soon had serious misgivings about the project due
to Information brought to his attention by an aide who had been ill
when the plan was originally conceived. This man pointed out that
In 1768, during the early planning stage of the militia reform,
Veraguals potential was Incldied in a survey report sent to Spain;
but, the crown excluded the province from its reform plans with the
given reason being that funds were too limited to organize a large
militia, and that If too many battalions were formed it would create
an Imbalance in the proper ratio between regular and militia units.
How fearful that the planned program in Veragua might be a violation
of the royal will, Quljano notified the viceroy of the new informa-
tion which had come to his attention and announced that he was delay-
ing further action until he had received a reconfirmation of his
instructions. Guirlor decided to go ahead anyway and in September,
1774, while answering Governor Bexarano's first progress report, which
had been sent to him directly rather than through Panama, authorized
the governor to communicate with the commandant general asking him
for the needed veteran persomr-el. This Bexarano did not do, but
Instead proceeded on his own.
Meanwhile, NicolIs Quijano was replaced by Pedro Carbonell who
did not receive word of what wos happening in his dependent province
until July, 1775. To make ratters worse, he did not obtain this
Information through offlclal channels. The new commandant general
immediately wrote to Baxarano demanding to know upon what authority
he was acting, and pointed out that the royal orders for the formation
of militia said nothing about organizing units in Veragua. Obviously
resenting his military dependence on Panama, Governor Bexarano, who
appears to have been an independent, vitriolic sort of individual,
replied in a curt fashion including with his communication the vice-
regal letters. He informed Carbonell that he had already formed a
battalion of whites as well as four separate pardo companies, and
that he had every intention of further expanding his efforts as soon
as weather would permit. Flatly stating that due to the Mosquito-
English menace his region was more critically in need of disciplined
militia than any other province, he announced that his program was
to form as many units as possible. Moreover, he declared that not
to form disciplined militia in view of Veragua's defense problems
would be a disservice to the king, against royal intentions, and a
grave injustice to the province's inhabitants, as he well knew from
his long years of experience.
Needless to say, Carbonell was taken aack by the whole affair,
for it seemed evident to him that his prerogatives as commandant
general had been seriously violated. He refused to send the needed
corporals on the grounds that he had none to spare, but was careful
to point out that had Bexarano originally informed him of the vice-
roy's intentions, as he should have, things might have been different.
Moreover, he ordered the suspension of further expansion endeavors
until he would have an opportunity to review the situation. Last,
Carbonell took issue with the contention that the Mosquito Indians
were a serious threat, pointing out that in the past six years the
Panama office had been informed of only one incursion. He added
that if what he, Bexarano, had said was true, the incidents should
have been reported.
At this point the breach between the two officials still might
have been healed by an apologetic letter from Governor Bexarano;
however, such a response was not forthcoming. Bexarano answered his
superior with one of the harshest communications produced during the
era of the reform. In this reply the governor made a wide range of
insulting allegations: he charged that the danger of the Mosquito
Indians was common knowledge, and indeed was able to produce several
royal orders demonstrating that the crown had been concerned about
the problem for some time; he intimated that the reorganization in
Panama had been grossly mismanaged; he contended that such a large
number of units was not necessary there, especially since Panama was
the place in the isthmus in which they were least needed; and he
claimed, and quite correctly, that most of Panama's units were far
understrength and that by merely combining some of them the com-
mandant general would have enough veteran officers left over for Vera-
gua. The deepest cut of all was a threat consisting of a blunt state-
ment that he had other objections to Carbonell's work, but that they
were reserved for a report to the crown of whose sympathy he was
certain due to his many years of service In the region; this was in
addition to a report he was sending to the viceroy which would also
Include the present communication.
That was more than Commandant General Carbonell, whose authority
at this point was clearly under attack, could take. Not panicked by
Bexarano's attempt at blackmail, he took decisive action. For the
record, he first replied to Bexarano that he was out of line, and
that corrective measures would be required if he did not immediately
mend his ways. Then, he sent complete records of the dispute to
Viceroy Guirior. In his accompanying report he emphasized to the
viceroy that he had suffered a serious affront to his position as
commandant general of Panama and asked the viceroy to correct the
governor's Insolence. Moreover, he re-emphasized his contention
that disciplined militia in Veragua were not a necessity and insisted
that he did not have sufficient veteran personnel at his disposal to
staff such militia. His recommendation was that Bexarano's units
merely be maintained on a pre-reform basis.
In his decision, December 15, 1775, Viceroy Guirior upheld the
commandant general's position, sternly rebuked Governor Bexarano, but
said little specifically about terminating the project in question.
Probably, he would have preferred to have gone ahead with his aspira-
tions for the establishment of disciplined militia in Veragua, but for
the time being had little choice. The matter had become a contest of
will between the two governors, and if the position of commandant
general was to be meaningful, Carbonell would have to be backed.
Actually, it was not so much what Bexarano had said, as most of it was
true, but how he said It. He had displayed no respect for the position
of his superior, and he had degraded him in word by impudent statements
and In deed by bypassing him as he saw fit without regard for the
established chain of military hierarchy. Thus, according to Carbonell's
wishes, the Veraguan militia remained on a non-disciplined basis. As
for Bexarano, being duly humiliated he complied in future dealings
with the established chain of command. He benefited thereby, for
Carbonell softened and found some expendable veterans after all.54
In consequence to this series of events, the sphere of disciplined
militia in the Commandancy General of Panama remained restricted
for the sake of harmony to the provinces of Portobelo and Panama
until the following decade. For, although the new units in Veragua
did by and large meet the criteria for disciplined militia, they
technically were not classified in that category.
54Carbonell to Flores, Panama, December 12, 1776, ANC: MM 75,
THE REFORM IN GUAYAQUIL AND POPAYAN
After the conclusion of the initial reorganization in Panama and
Cartagena, the military reform was extended to the province of Guaya-
qull, and shortly thereafter to Popaydn. Conducted with an almost
total absence of direct royal assistance, this step marked the ini-
tiation of a severe modification of militia policy at the hands of
Viceroys Manuel Guirior, 1772-76, and Jos4 Antonio Flores, 1776-82.
The changes effectuated were born out of necessity because, at least
for the immediate future, specified militia regulations were in
several important respects unworkable on a broad scope in New Granada.
Both Guirior and Flores were leaders whose aspirations for the rapid
expansion of the reform throughout the viceroyalty were more ambitious
than those of the crown. They boldly pushed ahead, scored major ac-
complishments, but failed to fully realize their aspirations.
With the viceroyalty left to its own resources, the key
problems in following the letter of the law stemmed from an inability
to provfd the specified veteran components for the militia. The
veteran cadre of an Infantry battalion required eighteen corporals,
nine first sergeants, and nine lieutenants, personnel which in the
cases of Cartagena and Panama were drawn from veteran sergeants,
corporals and enlisted men. In addition, two men of the veteran
officer category, or at least the rank of first sergeant, were
required for each battalion's command and staff group. To the regular
army units, the provision of such veteran cadres meant a manpower loss
of almost a half company per each militia battalion formed. Consider-
ing that a difficult time was had by all concerned in maintaining the
fixed units near their full allotted strength, this was a severe man-
power drain, especially since it meant the loss to regular service of
the army's best men. If the various provinces of New Granada were to
each establish several battalions of disciplined militia in rapid suc-
cession, the veteran unit would soon be totally depleted.
The corollary to this problem was rising costs to the extent that
the veteran personnel assigned to militia units was replaced in the regu-
lar army. On a unit basis, the cost of supporting the salaried personnel
of one white battalion maintained at proper veteran advisory strength
would come to 11,952 pesos a year.1 In practice, the payroll of Carta-
gena's disciplined militia presented an annual expense of roughly 51,000
pesos. Moreover, units were supposed to be uniformed and armed.2
While the responsibility for providing uniforms rested with the local
communities, the royal treasury was to defray the cost of arms and
the payroll. However, always a poor source of royal revenue, New
Granada at this time found the treasury especially depleted because
of the huge expenditures currently being lavished upon the new dike
under construction in Cartagena's bay. The impact of this burden was
harshly felt In the poverty-stricken Presidency of Quito where a large
IReqlamento . Cuba, releci6n 8.
2Report on the militia of Cartagena, Governor Juan Pimienta,
March 26, 1778, ANC: M 40 fs. 152-165.
share of the revenue collections was especially earmarked for sustain-
ing this construction. The outflow of currency surpassed 700,000 pesos
during the eleven-year administration of President Josd Diguja and
topped the 1,000,000 mark for the four-year rule of the vigorous tax
collector, Josd Garcfa de Le6n y Pizarro. The Governorship of Popa-
yin was also among those included for the provision of the special
funds.1 Under these conditions, if the reform was to be expanded, as
Guirior believed it must, either major assistance had to be rendered
directly from Spain, new revenues devised, or important modifications
would be required in the structure of newly planned units. Since the
former was not forthcoming and revenue reform just beginning, Guirior,
who abided by the rule in his work in Panama and Cartagena, had
little choice but to strike out on his own, to formulate policy which
would be workable in New Granada.
After Cartagena and Panama, the province of Guayaquil, whose
city of the same name was the most important Pacific port of the
viceroyalty, was the next logical objective for the reform. Guirior
solicited approval from the crown for the raising of disciplined
militia in that locality on May 15, 1774, and was granted this
authorization on August 26.5 Prior to this time, the viceroy had
ordered Governor Francisco de Ugarte to formulate lists of potential
3Gonzdlez Suirez, V. 295.
4Flores to the royal officials of Popaydn, Santa Fe, October 2,
1776, ACC: Colonia, MI 1, sig. 5493.
5Arriaga to Guirior, Spain, August 26, 1774, ANC: Mi 97, fs.
807-808; Guirior to Julign de Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15, 1775,
ANC: MM 10, fs. 812-820.
recruits. On March 17, 1775, Guirior commissioned Captain Vfctor
Salcedo y Somodevilla of Guayaquil's fixed company to function as
special commander in the raising of the province's planned dis-
ciplined militia. Salcedo's dual function, at one time acting
as both captain of the regular company and commander of militia,
was both an innovation and an economization of personnel, distinct
from practice both in Cartagena and Panama where the special command-
ers sent from Spain were employed solely in militia duty.
The sharpest policy break came In the provision of the new
militia's contingent of veteran advisors. Guirior limited this
cadre to only a first sergeant, who was a former member of the Regiment
of Murcia and who acted as ayudante, and to two corporals selected
from the veteran garrison of Panama. Guirior had wanted an officer
Instead of a sergeant, but in response to his request the governor
of Panama stated that compliance was Impossible because his battalion
was already five lieutenants short, and that his second lieutenants
were for the most part too inexperienced or otherwise unsuited for
the task at hand. This allotment was radically below specifications,
6Expediente de quelas del gobernador de Guavaquil de las facul-
tades Que se han conferidQ con periuicio suio, 1774-75, ANC: MM 108,
7ANC: MM 100, fs. 187-193.
8Guirior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15, 1775, ANC: MM 10,
fs. 812-820. All things equal, it would have been more feasible to
have selected these men from the fixed regiment of Cartagena since it
was larger; however, at this time the fixed unit's services were
actively engaged in an Indian war in Rlohacha (see chapter V).
9July 10, 1774, ANC: MM 74, fs. 18-19.
especially since two infantry battalions, one of whites and the other
of pardos, a regiment of dragoons, and three artillery companies were
raised.10 The plan was to employ the regulars for intensive instruction
of volunteer officers, so that they would become capable of imparting
suitable training to their troops, while the veterans would continue
to serve in a general advisory capacity as personal assistants to
Commander Salcedo y Somodevilla.11
The third innovation was in uniforming the new units. Monetary
expenditure was eliminated by conferring the rank of captain only on
those volunteers who would in advance agree to provide their companies
with uniforms at their own expense.12 This violated the reglamento
which specified that appointments to officership should be granted
without charge, and that they should be made only on an interim basis
until the crown could give its final approval.-3 Under these circum-
stances the crown's freedom of action was somewhat impaired by obliga-
tion to those who provided uniforms. Although the appointments could
still have been rejected, no vassals are on record as having lost
their investments. From a practical point of view, this method, or
something similar to it, was probably the only possible system of
providing uniforms for the militia of Guayaquil. Moreover, there
I0After the initial reorganization six more infantry companies
were raised (see Table 2).
11Salcedo y Somodevilla to Guirior, Guayaquil, June 2, 1775,
ANC: MM 51, fs. 55-56; Guirior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15,
1775, ANC: MM 10, fs. 812-820.
12Salcedo y Somodevilla to Guirior, Guayaquil, June 2, 1775,
ANC: MM 51, fs. 55-56.
13Relamento Cuba, chap. II, art. 1; chap. VI, arts. 8-9.
proved to be an ample number of citizens who were willing to follow
this route to the prestige of officership. However, many of those
committed to providing uniforms failed to honor their promises, leaving
by 1780 only twelve companies fully clothed in the proper fashion.15
In its subtler aspect, this policy created an opportunity for advance-
ment for those of the community who were not among the most distinguished
families in terms of lineage but who were of financial means, although
Viceroy Guirior testified that only men otherwise qualified were
appointed.16 Actually, most of the volunteer officer positions were
obtained by men who had served in the previous militia units now
disbanded with the reform.17 With regard to firearms, there was a
considerable number already in Guayaquil, although not enough for
all of the militia at this time.
Administratively, Viceroy Guirior's actions were a bold stroke
conducted in open violation of the expressed royal will. Wisely, he
did not Inform the crown of his practices until after the militia
had already been organized. This was done in a communication of
December 15, 1775, in which he justified each of his departures from
1lGuirior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15, 1775, ANC: MM 10,
15Salcedo y Somodevilla to Flores, Guayaquil, January 7, 1780,
ANC: MK 108, fs. 653-669.
16Guirior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15, 1775, ANC: MM 10,
17Salcedo y Somodevilla to Guirior, Guayaquil., October 5, 1775,
ANC: MM 107, fs. 742-743.
18G1lvez to Flores, Spain, March 17, 1776, ANC: MM 106, fs.
official policy, asked for royal approval, and in the case of the ab-
breviated veteran cadre, openly expressed his belief that the group
he had selected was adequate for the task. The crown replied on
November 18, 1776, expressing displeasure at the inadequacy of the
veteran contingent, but did not present any solution to the problem
of where to recruit, or how to finance the required officers and en-
listed men. Instead, a re-evaluation of the militia membership it-
self was suggested with the stipulation that it would be better to
maintain fewer units well trained rather than a large but poorly
disciplined militia. In essence, the crown was returning to its
original posture of limiting substantial implementation of the reform
to Cartagena and Panama. Nevertheless, Guirior achieved an important
victory, for the crown specified that the militia should remain as
it was while the possibility of reducing the number of units was
under consideration. And, although a decision was eventually made,
It came during wartime with the militia remaining at an inflated
size. Apparently, wishing to leave well enough alone,20 the crown
said nothing about the method employed in providing uniforms. The
essence of what occurred in Guayaquil was that for the time being
the viceregency moved out from under the direct hand of the crown in
determining militia policy. In subsequent endeavors, Guirfor and
his successors largely ignored Spain's displeasure and continued the
reform under the new guidelines. The crown, if truly displeased, did
19ANC: MM 10, fs. 812-820.
20ANC: MM 110, fs. 745-747.
not act decisively to halt the trend until the last decade of the
Commander Vfctor Salcedo y Somodevilla functioned in much the
same way as had his counterparts in Cartagena and Panama, although
under extreme harassment from Francisco de Ugarte, the province's
governor. Ugarte, described by Ecuadorian historian Abel-Romeo
Castillo as "brusk, violent, and despotic," was not a popular figure
in his province and was party to an intense factionalism among the
local dignataries. Prior to Salcedo's arrival he counted among his
enemies three members of the military: engineer Francisco Requena,
Captain of the Fixed Company Francisco G6mez Mir6, and Lieutenant
Rulz Romero. Upon the captain's death, the governor attempted to
undercut this faction of his opposition by opposing the promotion
of Lieutenant Romero who was next in line for the captain's position.
He appealed to Guirior for the appointment of an outsider and the
viceroy complied with his wishes.21 Salcedo was selected for the
position from the staff of Cartagena. However, this appointment
developed into more than Ugarte had bargained for; not only did
the newcomer assume the captainship, but shortly after his arrival
in Guayaquil obtained appointment to the special commandership for
the organization of the new militia as well. The governor had as-
sumed that he, the holder of a colonel's commission in the regular
army, would be personally entrusted with the reorganization.
21Castillo, pp. 153-155-
The appointment of Salcedo as commander of militia was by all
Indications an afterthought on the part of Guirior wto had originally
Intended to permit the governor to assume direct responsibility. But
the viceroy became dissatisfied with Ugarte's slow rate of progress,
which he attributed to the governor's other extensive duties, and in
consequence decided to delegate the burden to the captain.22 Probably,
he was also aware that Ugarte was old and in bad health. Salcedo, for
his part, was an energetic, fast-rising young officer who had the ad-
ditional qualification of having witnessed the implementation of the
reform In Cartagena.23 He began his military career as a cadet in
the Regiment of Savoy, secured appointment as second lieutenant three
years later, and was promoted to lieutenant upon his incorporation
Into the fixed regiment, May, 1773. He was only twenty-two years of
age when appointed by Guirior to the captainship of the company of
Guayaquil in late 1774.24
Ugarte was dismayed to discover that he had been denied first-
hand participation in the conduct of the reform, although he was
empowered to act in the higher capacity of inspector. Salcedo ag-
gravated this resentment by working independently of the unpleasant
governor wherever possible, a snub which led him to believe that his
22Ugarte to Guirior, Guayaqull, July 19, 1775, AMC: MM 110,
23Guirior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15, 1775, ANRC: MM
10, fs. 812-820.
24Service record of Captain Vfctor Salcedo y Samodevllla, July
19, 1776, ANC: MM 107, f. 189.
military authority was being undermined.25 To make i*ters worse,
Salcedo soon sided with his enemies in the province' lIocal
disputes. A vendetta en.ued which included public irirsults, charges
and countercharges of misconduct, threatened resignations, by both
parties, as weli as the monetary imprisonment of Salct by the
Such friction between inspector and special commander was the
exception, not the rule in New Granada; normally the report between
these officers was surprisingly good. Since the clastyo in Guayaquil
stemmed out of unusually intense personal animosity, they were handled
as such by Viceroy Guirior. He normally answered the Tomplaints
presented to him by confining himself to restating milliitia regulations
and by formulating state-ents intended to soothe heateg tempers. How-
ever, on occasion he did indicate annoyance with Goveror Ugarte either
by word, or by simply ignoring his complaints,28 Ugare's most effective
25Ugarte to Guirior. Guayaquil, April 19, 1775, AMC, MH 105,
fs. 302-312; id_. to aj... Guayaquil, June 2, 1775, ANCt MM 58, fs.
205-209; id. to J., Guayaquil, July 19, 1775, ANC: flO0, fs.
26Castillo, pp. 153-155; Ugarte to Guirior. Guayaquil, July 19,
1775, ANC: Pil 110, fs. 253-362.
27Salcedo y Sorodevilla to Guirior, Guayaquil, fvemiber 19,
1774, ANC: MM 106, fs. 699-701; id.. to id., Guayaquill, April 19,
1775, ANC: MM 101, fs. 233-235; Ugarte to Guirior, G/aaquil, April
19, 1775, ANC: MM 105, fs. 302-312; id. to id., Guayac>il, June 2,
1775, ANC: lM 58, fs. 205-209; id. to id., Guayaquil, July 19, 1775,
ANC: m- 110, fs. 353-362; Salcedo y Somodevilla to Girrior, Guaya-
quil, October 5, 1775, AJiC: MM 107, fs. 742-743; id. tC id., Guaya-
quil, December 2, 1775, N i: PM 107, fs. 135-136.
28UExediente de aueias del qobernador de Guayva-i f re las fa-
cultades ge se han conferido con periuicio suio, 177-75, ANC: MM
108, fs. 727-746.
weapon against Salcedo aes in rejecting officer proposals which he
was entitled to review as inspector. In the face of this tactic,
it is unlikely that Salceoa could have ever completed his task had
not Guirior as a -atter of course merely overridden Ugarte's vetos,
explaining to the cro' t-at the governor's objections stemmed from
personal vindictive-ess directed toward obstructing the progress of
the reform. Renarka-ly. Salcedo managed to terminate the formation
of the new units by iJe. 1775. This was a feat for which he won
lavish praise from Vicercy Guirior who was eager to see the program
In structuring tie chain of coraand for the new militia of
Guayaquil, Guirior bypssed the office of commandant general of
Quito by working directly with the governor of Guayaquil, who was
directed to function as inspector. This arrangement did not rep-
resent a break with established precedent, but rather, conformity
to it. Since the eszahlishment of the governorship, the governors
of Guayaquil had operated largely on an independent basis in military
affairs. The cmrad-a-t general of Quito was likewise excluded from
direct participation ia tre next area of reform, Popayhn, as was the
crnnandant general of Cartagena when endeavors were finally extended
to Santa Karta. The canrcun factor in all three cases was that the
29Ugarte to airier, Guayaquil, July 19, 1775, and Guirior to
Ugarte, Santa Fe, Secascer 17, 1775, AC: MM 105, fs. 313-326;
Guirior to Arriaga. Sa-:a Fe, December 15, 1775, ANC: Mf 10, fs.
30Salcedo y So-cideilla to Guirior, Guayaquil, June 2, 1775,
ANC: H9 51 fs. 55-56; Gairior to Arriaga, Santa Fe, December 15,
1775, ANC: HI 10, f5. S;Z-820.
local governor had an independent local regular troop authorization,
was a military man himself, and in consequence had traditionally
acted with a large measure of local autonomy. This system tended
to reconfirm the federalist character of the military establishment
in New Granada.
Guirior's modifications on the structure and procedures of
disciplined militia create problems with respect to classification.
The militia of Guayaquil, although referred to as "disciplined,"
was obviously not of the same military stature as the better of the
new units of Cartagena and Panama; due to a want of veteran advisers
it only partly met established standards and in consequence was most
certainly less thoroughly trained and disciplined. In effect, the
disciplined militia established in Guayaquil was second class. For
that matter, the militia of Cartagena and Panama which was not part
of battalions, the units of the outlaying regions, also frequently
languished for lack of proper attention and in that respect was not
far different from that of Guayaquil.31 It is difficult to determine
in concrete terms any significant difference between those second
class units and the militia of Veragua which came just as close to
meeting specifications, but which was not given the higher rating;
the distinction was largely bureaucratic. The primary difference
was that the "disciplined" militia should have enjoyed a full veteran
cadre as well as full complement of equipment, while there was no such
pressing obligation in the case of non-disciplined militia. Or to
31Report on the militia of Cartagena, Governor Juan Pimienta,
March 26, 1778, ANC: mm 40, fs. 152-165.
state the distinction another way, classification was based not so
much on fact as on aspiration.
Another development in militia terminology was a broadening
of the usage of the urban classification. Because the new type of
militia classified as disciplined was in fact a new variety of
provincial militia, the functionaries of the reform period began
to lump the non-disciplined provincial militia into the urban category
to distinguish it from its reformed counterpart. Hence, all non-
disciplined soon were generally referred to as "urban." For the
remainder of this study, in conformity with contemporary terminology,
non-disciplined militia will alho be referred to as urban.
The most concrete consequence of distinctions in formal clas-
sification was in the application of the fuero de querra militar.32
The fuero military was a body of judicial privileges enjoyed in vary-
ing degrees by the several branches of the military. Holders of the
fuero were entitled to have their cases brought before military rather
than civil or ordinary tribunals. This was a highly valued privilege
which set the possessor apart and above his neighbors. Members of
the regular army were entitled to this protection in both civil and
criminal causes. Those disciplined militia units of the empire
formed under terms of the Cuban reglamento were also so privileged.
By contrast, the fuero of urban militia was normally restricted to
officers and then limited to only criminal hearings. Only in case
of mobilization would the members be entitled to the complete fuero.
32For a complete description see chapter VI.
Because of this differentiation in privilege, it was of great consequence
to the membership whether or not their militia unit was formally clas-
sified as disciplined.
Viceroy Guirior was pleased with his accomplishment in Guayaquil
and in his relaci6n de mando to his successor Manuel de Flores recom-
mended that the incoming viceroy follow the system he had devised.33
This Flores did, expanding the reform to Popayan in a manner not far
different from that followed In Guayaquil. Popayfn was the first
province in the interior of the viceroyalty to raise disciplined
militia. The reason for this distinction was essentially the same
as for the establishment of the fixed company in 1771 and was one of
the long-run consequences of the disorders of 1765. In fact, domestic
peace with corresponding obedience to functionaries of the crown still
had not been totally achieved In spite of the presence of the company
of regular troops. Ruling circles continued to harbor a fear of lurk-
ing sedition, and this wariness Intensified due to word of royal inten-
tions to revitalize the tax system. Moreover, unrest in Buga in 1778
required the sending of a detachment of regular troops.34 Expediency
likewise in part determined this choice of location; the presence of
a company of regular troops provided an immediate source of personnel
33Gulrlor, Relaciones de mando . . pp. 186-187.
34Ureta to Zelaya, Santa Fe, October 17, 1774, ANC: MM 74, fs.
754-761; royal officials of Popayan to Flores, Popayan, August 2, and
November 17, 1778, bid.. fs. 926-927, 947-954; Nieto to Flores, Popa-
ydn, April 2, May 17, and May 24, 1779, ANC: MM 52, fs. 767-778;
Flores to the royal officials of Popayan, Santa Fe, August 26, 1778,
ACC: Colonia, Gobierno, sig. 5553.
for the formation of the cadre of regular officers. Indeed, It Is
significant that in the implementation of the reform in New Grenada,
disciplined militia was formed only in those areas which already had
a fixed contingent of regulars, or one within close proximity.
Based on recommendations by Captain Diego Antonio Nieto of
Popaydn's fixed company, Flores issued the initiating order on
February 17, 1777, with royal approval following on July 18.3 As
in Guayaquil, the special command of the militia was entrusted to
the captain of the local fixed company with the governor acting as
inspector. Militia was to be established on the basis of separate
companies of which the majority were planned for the cities of the
Cauca Valley, but with geographical dimensions ranging as far south-
west as Barbacoas near the Pacific Ocean.
In contrast to Guayaquil, the relationship between the governor.
Pedro de Becaria y Espinosa, and the special commander, Olego Antonio
Nieto, was relatively harmonious. Out of consideration for the huge
geographical scope of the enterprise, duties in the formation of the
companies were split between the two men. The governor himself
raised the new companies in Pasto and Barbacoas while Nieto handled
the project in the city of Popayan and regions to the north.3 Since
Becaria while working in the southwest was for practical purposes out
35Flores to the royal officials of Popaydn, Santa Fe, April 26,
1777. ACC: Colonia, MI-5P, sig. 7086; Royal order, July 18, 1777,
and Hieto to the Cabildo, 1778, ACC: Cabildo 29, f. 7; Nieto to
Flores, Homp6s, April 6, 1780, ANC: MM 87, fs. 822-831.
36Nieto to Flores, Cartago, February 2 and February 9, 1777, ANC:
MM 52, fs. 332-348; id.. to Id., Momp6s, April 6, 1780, ANC: MM 87, fs.
of the range of immediate communication with the special commander,
Nieto at times sent his officer proposals directly to the viceroy,
although he also sent a duplicate list to the governor. This system
preserved the technical chain of command, but bent it enough to
provide the viceroy with an advanced start toward making his own
decision before receiving Becaria's opinion. Such cooperation
would have been impossible in Guayaquil.
Good will at the upper level of activity was only part of the
story. At the local level government functionaries., particularly
the deputy governors, met the reform with a cool reception. Opposi-
tion was based on a genuine fear that the militia, rather than
strengthen royal authority, might instead undermine it. Tihe most pres-
sing concern was that the militia, once trained and armed, might not be
reliable. It was contended that in view of the unsettled state of
domestic affairs arming large portions of the citizenry was a dangerous
risk, for in time of need they might well turn their newly acquired
skills against royal authority instead of supporting it. Moreover,
local justices assumed a decidedly hostile attitude toward the prospect
of contending with the fuero military within their respective jurisdic-
tions. This body of privilege would remove many of the most active
members of the communities from the scope of their authority and in
consequence would tend to weaken the prestige of local government.
In many communities, there was already much left to be desired on
that account. Neither Viceroy Flores, Governor Becaria, nor Commander
37Nieto to Flores, Cartago, February 2 and February 9, 1777,
ANC: MM 52, fs. 332-348.
Salcedo shared these fears and the reorganization proceeded in spite
of the objections, although much more was to be heard of them at a
By 1779 a new militia of fourteen companies had taken shape, of
which two each were established in the cities of Cartago, Buga, Cali,
Pasto, and Barbacoa, with four organized in the capital city (see
Table 2). Plans called for a cadre of veteran personnel which in
addition to Nieto would consist of two ayudantes mayores for the
command and staff group, and a veteran sergeant acting as ayudante
in each city. However, in his initial efforts Nieto was aided only
by one ayudante mayor and two sergeants, all three drawn from the
fixed unit. As time passed, the list was completed, but not fully
so until the middle of the next decade which was too late to be of
appreciable initial assistance. By the end of 1779, for example,
at which time company formation was complete, only three sergeants
and two ayudantes mayores were functioning. The second ayudante
mayor, a cadet sent to Popay5n from the viceroy's halberdiers, had
The veteran staff members were to journey periodically from one
part of the establishment to another to provide required professional
38Becaria to Flores, PopaySn, January 2 and June 2, 1778, ANC:
MM 74, fs. 780-793, 932-935; Nieto to Flores, Momp6s, April 6, 1780,
ANC: MM 87, fs. 822-831; Becaria to Flores, Popaydn, 1780, ANC: MM
98, fs. 815-816.
39Militia salary lists, November, 1778, August, 1779, and
January, 1785, ACC: Colonia, MI-5P, sig. 5562, sig. 6027, and sig.
5932; Flores to Becaria, Santa Fe, June 23, 1778, ibid., sig. 7086;
Nieto to Flores, Momp6s, April 6, 1780, ANC: MM 87, fs. 822-831.