Flags of the South American Wars of Liberation

Flags used by both patriots and royalists in the South American Wars of Independence. Up until 1812 both the royalist and patriotic forces were using the same colours.

Spanish Flags

The Spanish infantry of the Peninsular War and the later First Carlist War had Colonel’s colours in each regiment and different battalion flags. From what I’ve seen of flags in South America the flags used were battalion style, presumably because full regiments were relatively rare.

These are my notes for the flags of the First Carlist War.

Colonel’s Colours (Coronela) for Line and Light Infantry

The first battalion of each regiment bore the Colonel’s colour (Coronela). This was the same as used in its center – often surrounded by orders on chains – and the Regimental arms in the corners (Sorando, n.d.; Cairns, 1994, WI85, states the Spanish arms were superimposed on the Battalion Flag but I’ve chosen to follow Sorando).

Colonel’s Flag

Battalion Flags (Ordenanza) for Line and Light infantry

The Battalion Flag – also called Simple or Ordinance (Ordenanza) Flag – of both line and light infantry was the old national flag, a ragged cross of Burgundy (Cairns, 1994, WI85); as with the Colonels colours this was the same as used in the Peninsular War (Wise, 1984) . It had a red cross on a white field. The Crowns in the corners where gold and red, with multi-coloured jewels. The corner ovals were surrounded by draped flags or laurel wreaths, and contained the arms of the regiment.

Battalion Flag

The illustration is based on a sketch in Cairns (1994, WI85, p29)

Flags of Argentina

To give for his force and the nation a visual identity the Argentine General Manuel Belgrano created the new blue-white-blue flag. The flag was first flown, for the soldiers to swear allegiance to it, on 27 Feb 1812.

Flag of Argentina

Flag of Argentina
from 27 Feb 1812

Also see Flags of the 1817-18 Campaign in Chile for which units flew which variation.

Flags of Chile

The first Chilean national flag was raised for the first time on 4 Jul 1812. Named the flag of the Old Fatherland (Patria Vieja), the flag had three horizontal stripes of blue, white and yellow.

Chilean Flag Patria Vieja

Flag of Chile – Patria Vieja
from 4 Jul 1812

The “Flag of the Transition” (Bandera de la Transición) was commissioned after the Battle of Chacabuco (12 Feb 1817) (Wikipedia: Flag of Chile). The Chilean forces probably used this flag during the remainder of the 1817-18 campaign in Chile.

Chilean Flag - Transition

Flag of Chile – Flag of the Transition
from 12 Feb 1817

On 18 Oct 1817 the “Lone Star” (La Estrella Solitaria) pattern officially replaced the “Flag of the Transition”. Apparently, however, it was only used for the first time at the Chilean proclamation of the Independence (12 Feb 1818) (Miguel Landero on Liberators 1810-1830 Yahoo Discussion Forum).

Chilean Flag - Lone Star

Flag of Chile – Lone Star
from 12 Feb 1818

Also see Flags of the 1817-18 Campaign in Chile for which units flew which variation.

Flags of Gran Colombia

Source: Wikipedia: Flag of Gran Colombia

The first flag was adopted in late 1819. Originally used without arms, the first design of the state flag was based on the Venezuelan flag of 1811.

On 10 January 1820, the Department of Cundinamarca, one of the three official departments of the republic, adopted arms of its own alleging that the arms of the republic were only used in Venezuela. On 12 July 1821, the national congress decreed that the arms of Cundinamarca must be used on the common flag as part of the national coat of arms, until new arms could be decreed. Thus, the departamental flag of Cundinamarca was converted into the national flag of Gran Colombia, and was officially used in the department of Venezuela

A third flag was adopted in late 1821, with a different coat of arms.

On 11 July 1822 Guayaquil was incorporated and Gran Colombia reached its largest size. New arms were adopted, and the coat of arms was taken off the flag, and replaced with stars. It had three stars, but was upped to six, then nine, then finally twelve. Some variants had no stars, however. The color of the blue stripe was also changed to the dark blue seen on the flags of its successors. This flag served as the national flag until the country’s dissolution in 1830. Some variants have no star.

Flags of Venezuela

Source: Wikipedia: Flag of Venezuela

The flag is essentially the one designed by Francisco de Miranda for his unsuccessful 1806 expedition to liberate Venezuela and later adopted by the National Congress of 1811. It consisted of three equal horizontal stripes of yellow, blue and red. Miranda’s flag is also the inspiration for the flags of Colombia and Ecuador. This original design was first flown on March 12, 1806 at Jacmel, Haiti as Miranda’s expedition prepared to make the final leg of its voyage to Venezuela. The flag was first flown over Venezuelan soil at La Vela de Coro, on August 3.

Seven stars were added to the flag to represent the seven colonial provinces of Barcelona, Barinas, Caracas, Cumaná, Margarita, Mérida, and Trujillo that had united against Spain during the War of Independence.

On 20 Nov 1817, after the Guayana campaign, Simón Bolívar added an eighth star to the national flag (the so-called Flag of Angostura) in representation of the newly freed province.

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