Journal From Lima to Caracas

By William Owens Ferguson



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Los Zaragozas celebration at Sanare, Lara
(Estado Lara)

28th December 1826 Next morning continued and met near Sanare an Officer commissioned by the Commandant and Municipality of Araure to offer the submission of their Province. Having heard that I entered Barquisimeto with 1500 men. I thought it as well to go on to Araure and accordingly having first sent on a spy to see if there were any troops, I crossed a beautiful plain country and after twenty leagues ride entered Araure at sunrise with Major Escalona and two officers whom I had brought with me. The Commandant Escalon, brother of the Major, was the most perverse and intriguing agent in Venezuela, but fearing the invasion had made this ruse to gain merit in the eyes of the victorious party under the impression that I had a formidable division under my orders at Sanare; but the other brother finding that the operation of Barquisimeto had been a coup-de-main now regretted exceedingly having invited me, nevertheless as they were detested by the people, I could immediately perceive, I called a public meeting or Cabildo, where I dictated an act similar to that of Barquisimeto which every inhabitant signed.

I now understood that the Commandant was getting together a body of horse about 3 leagues distant to surprise and take me, but owing to the enthusiasm of the inhabitants, the Militia would not assist him.

Cala with the Division which had invaded Varinas was now on his retreat having heard of my march from Trujillo and fearing to have his communications cut off and was expected to pass through Araure within two days, so that as my Force could not be in Sanare for three or four days yet I resolved on leaving Aurare, first making the inhabitants abandon the Town and conceal their horses and cattle so that Cala might not receive any assistance there. I also deposed Mr. Commandant and sent him off. I before had remitted Pina and Cistiaga to Maracaybo.

29th Travelled all night, passed through and after 22 leagues arrived

30th at 7 0' clock in the morning at Yaritagua, where I learned that General Paez's brother, Commandant of the City of Felippe had got 800 men under arms and threatened this place where the troops were Militia only. I sent for two Companies to Barquisimeto and dispatched 3 or 4 secret agents to revolutionize San Felipe.

This day returned to Barquisimento, 8 leagues. The whole of this country is thickly populated. Wherever there can be water procured for irrigation there are beautiful plantations and farms and in the parts the ground is covered with the Cardon tree, a species of immense thistle that breeds the cochineal.

31st Received news of the Infantry from Carora and Quibor having presented themselves in Focuyo where everything went on swimmingly. Ordered two squadrons and all the flank companies up.

Jan. lst,1827 In Barquisimeto. This was the third city founded in Venezuela, Caro having been the first and afterwards Focuyo, it still retains vestiges of its former opulence as it was levelled to the ground by the earthquake of the year 1812. The houses at present are only one storey high on that account.

This day we received the account of San Felipe having declared itself under General Bolivar's protection and also the brother of General Paez whom they remitted prisoner. I sent off a column of 600 Infantry to march with what men they could collect in San Felipe and Yaritagua against the borough town of Nirgua, which they were to take in case of resistance and open communication with Puerto Caballo where General Bolivar would arrive in a day or two. After doing this the Division was to seize the Pass of Forito only 6 leagues from Valencia where Paez had his headquarters. As the ground here is very mountainous they were to defend this pass, which could not be turned, whilst I either dispersed or defeated Cala's Division and would then march on San Carlos and crossing from Finaco would form a junction in Forito having a secure retreat either on San Felipe or Puerto Caballo and with all calculating on a force from 2,000 to 2,500 disposable men, in opposition to which Paez had only about 2000 men in Valencia. Besides which my closeness on him would encourage desertion as his troops were beginning to demoralize.

Until now my servant had not even come up with me and I had been from the 25th of last month without any help taken away from Paez his Prime and Confidential Minister, the cities of Fucuyo, Carora, Barquisimeto, San Felipe, and Araure, the borough towns of Quibor, Yaritagua and Candare and Nirgua, beside ten smaller towns, upwards of 3,000 stand of arms, 57 barrels of gunpowder, 7 guns, 8 squadrons of local cavalry, all without ten shots and withal a foreigner and perfectly unacquainted with the country or any of its inhabitants.

2nd Marched to Sanare. The two companies of Paez and Company from Quibor, having arrived and ordered to continue at midnight as I had received information of Cala' s Division having arrived at Ospinos and expected to arrive at Araure the day after.

3rd To Araure 10 leagues. Found my little column rather in a funk, being only 200 strong and that of Cala's was stated to have 1500 veteran troops.

4th Crossed the River Facarigua and reconnoitred the town of Purificacion where I was chased by a party of Dragoons.

5th The Paya's and another squadron came up this day, also 200 Militia. This day I received accounts (not officially) of General Bolivar's having pardoned Paez and his abettors also an order from his Secretary to suspend hostilities, provided the other party remained in status quo. I immediately sent off an Officer to Cala to inform him of this and recommended him to remain where he was, as I would not permit him to pass without an express order from General Bolivar. I invited him to an interview in the Savannah of Choro.

7th Marched with Colonel Urslar to see Cala and was much surprised to meet his Division in full march at about 2 leagues distance. On my remonstrating with him for this breach of orders, I could perceive that he despised my force as being inferior so on his refusing to halt I darted off and in less than an hour had my line formed in the plain in a tolerably good position, he being within two musket shots, I immediately threw out skirmishers and advanced a squadron of Cavalry to turn and carry off his Park, cattle and baggage as I saw he had only about 80 ill-mounted cavalry left. He now saw what he had bought himself to and very wisely knocked under and capitulated on the spot with only condition of waiting General Bolivar's order concerning him.

8th Remained in Araure this day. General Urdanita arrived and having received despatches from General Bolivar, permitted Cala to proceed to Valencia with two companies, the remainder of his division having been sent in different directions.

9th Returned this evening to Aurare with the Column. Here we received letters and despatches from General Bolivar who had given a decree in Puerto Cabello indulting Paez, and those concerned in the Revolution. His motives for doing this were originated in the difficulty of securing the person of Paez, who could make himself formidable by retiring to the plains and carrying on a desultory warfare also be raising the black population, which would only end in the ruin of the country. Not withstanding we were not at all contented with these measures as in fact we would have taken Paez himself had the decree been a week later. As it was, I being recalled, dismissed all my volunteers and prepared to march on the morrow.

10th To San Carlos, 18 leagues. Cross the forest of Altar, pass the towns of Caramacate and Santa Rosa. The City of San Carlos has suffered greatly by the revolution and is situated in a splendidly fertile grazing country, on the banks of a river which takes its name, navigable very close to the City and falls into the Portugesa and Apure which join the Orinoco.

11th In San Carlos.

12th To Finaquillo, a town, pass through the borough town of Finaco, over a fine arable country well stocked with cattle 20 leagues.

13th To Valencia, through Carabobo and Focuyito, beautiful country covered with cattle and conucos or farms. Passed three English Settlers farms on the Carabobo. This city (Valencia) is situated about a mile distant from the famous lake of that name in a fertile plain, with a healthy appearance and salubrious climate.

14th In Valencia.

15th To Victoria, passing through the borough towns ,of Mocundo, Guacara and Maracay, besides several small towns, all situated the fertile and beautiful valley of Aragua. 21 leagues. Victoria is a handsome enough city.

16th January 1827 To Caracas, 23 leagues. Pass the town and mountain of Cocuisas (the estate of General Bolivar), San Mateo lies behind Victoria), the town of San Pedro and the great descent to Las Juntas from whence the road skirts off along a noble valley called San Francisco in which is situated the City of Caracas, birth-place of Bolivar.

The General was at dinner when I entered and in Paez's and Carabana's presence got up from the table and embraced me. This was satisfactory but all the reward I got for my commission which ended here with my Journal.

There are a great many towns not mentioned in this journal we not having halted in them. The leagues are of 6666 Toises.



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Copyright � Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2006

Online published: 1 March 2006
Edited: 07 May 2009

Ferguson, William Owens, '
Journal from Lima to Caracas, Commencing September 4th, 1826' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 2006. Available online (, accessed .


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