Patriot Flags of the 1817-18 Chilean Campaign

The Patriot flags seemed to be in a state of flux during the 1817-18 Chilean Campaign so I thought I’d summarise the various bits of information. For reasons outlined below this is my best guess for which flag for which unit at which battle.

Origin Name Chacabuco Talcahuano Cancha Rayada Maipo
12 Feb 1817 6 Dec 1817 19 Mar 1818 5 Apr 1818
Argentine HQ San Martin Flag? Flag? Flag of the Army of the Andes
Argentine Cazadores a Caballo de la Escolta del General Flag? Flag? Flag?
Argentine Granaderos a Caballo Flag? Flag? Flag? Flag?
Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment
Argentine 8th Infantry Regiment
Argentine 11th Infantry Regiment
Argentine Cazadores de los Andes
(Cazadore Infantry Regiment #1)
Argentine Grenadier and/or Cazadore Battalion(s) No Flag No Flag
Chilean HQ O’Higgins
Chilean Caballeria Cazadores de la Escolta Directorial
Chilean Lancers Flag?
Chilean 1st Infantry Battalion
Chilean 2nd Infantry Battalion
Chilean 3rd Infantry Battalion
Chilean 4th Infantry Battalion
Chilean National Guard Battalion
Chilean Coquimbo Cazadore Battalion
Chilean Infantes de la Patria Battalion
Chilean Santiago Military Cadets (Esculea Militar)
Chilean Ad Hoc Assault Party No Flag
Chilean Engineers Probably no flag

General comments

  • All line and light battalions of both the Chileans and Argentines had flags.
  • Ad hoc formations, such as converged grenadier and cazadore battalions, did not.
  • Cavalry also carried flags.
  • Paintings suggest the headquarters of the generals had flags.
  • The painting the Embrace of Maipu (Abrazo de Maipu) has the flag of the Army of the Andes next to the lone star flag of Chile.
  • In the Rugendas painting of the Battle of Maipu (Batalla De Maipu) you can see the Chilean flag with three stripes, the Chilean Lone Star, and the striped blue-white-blue Argentine flag.

Argentine Flag 1817-18

Although other styles of flag were in use, this set represents what I think is the most likely pattern for the 1817-18 period.

The first example is the Argentine National flag adopted in 1813 (based on Fletcher, 2005). It has the blue-white-blue stripes typical of Argentina.

The second is my rendition of the flag of the HQ of the 5th Regiment in 1813 based on that in Argentine Flags of the War of Independence, 1810-1824.

The last is the flag for the 9th Regiment in 1816-1820 (by David Prando and appears in the Museo de Armas, Buenos Aires).

The second and third flags have the regimental number in the centre, although that of the 9th has the number 9 inside a laurel wreath.

In the absence of other evidence, I assume the rest of the Army of the Andes fighting in Chile in 1817-18 used something similar.

Note: Up until 1812 both the royalist and patriotic forces were using the same colors, Spain’s yellow and red. To give for his force and the nation a visual identity Manuel Belgrano created the new blue-white-blue flag. The flag was first flown, for the soldiers to swear allegiance to it, on 27 February 1812.

Chilean Flag 1817-18

Both of these are based on Fletcher (2005, p. 37). 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.

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).

It is possible that some new units carried it at the latter battles of the 1817-18 campaign. At Maipo in particular some units are more than likely to have carried the Lone Star (Miguel Landero on Liberators 1810-1830 Yahoo Discussion Forum):

  • 3rd Infantry Battalion – lost their striped flag at Cancha Rayada
  • 4th Infantry Battalion – newly raised
  • “Infantes de la Patria” Battalion – newly raised
  • Coquimbo Cazadore Battalion – raised Nov 1817

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

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