St. Patrick's Day in Peru, 1824
By Brian McGinn

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Killing of Sucre in Berruecos (4 June 1830)

The 1829 birth of a daughter, Teresita, had done nothing to bring warmth to this loveless union. Blinded by machismo, Sucre was so embarrassed at not having produced a son that he had his daughter baptised in secret. [29]

His young widow may have had this slight still in mind when, instead of waiting the then-customary five years, she remarried just thirteen months after Sucre's death. Mariana's second marriage, to a former subordinate of Sucre's, brought further tragedy to her life: four months later, her new husband accidentally dropped her daughter Teresita from a balcony and killed the infant. [30]

Although Arthur Sandes outlived Sucre by two years, there is no evidence that he ever met Mariana again. Certainly Sucre had not held the affair with his future wife against his Irish subordinate: in December 1824, Sucre personally recommended Sandes for promotion to Brigadier General after the Rifles Battalion was decimated during a heroic 1824 engagement with the Spanish in southern Peru. [31]

After a war in which Sandes and his battalion are estimated to have covered 35,000 kilometres [32] on foot and horseback, the Kerryman was appointed governor of the department of Azuay in southern Ecuador. [33] In Cuenca, the graceful colonial city that serves as departmental capital, visitors can still find an avenue named after the Irish governor. [34]

Here, at the age of thirty-nine, Arthur Sandes died of dropsy (edema) in 1832. Whatever regrets he may have harboured about the coin toss in Huamachuco went with the Irishman to his grave in the Carmelite Convent (monastery) of Cuenca. [35] Sandes left no memoirs, and his only known communication with Ireland is a letter of condolence he sent from Ecuador to Daniel O'Connell concerning the death under Sandes' command of a relative from Ennis, Co. Clare.

The sincerity and generosity evident in the letter, combined with the active interest Sandes took, as a member of Cuenca's Department of Public Instruction, in founding new schools, suggest that he would have made a responsible and caring parent. But no descendants have been located, and the consensus is that the Kerryman never married. [36]


Quito, 10th September 1822


Although I have not the honour of a personal acquaintance, I feel it my painful duty to announce to you the death of your relative Mr Maurice O'Connell, Lieutenant in the Regiment under my command, who fell a victim to a malignant fever on the 2nd of April last.

Brave, generous, sincere and possessing qualities which raise the esteem and talents which arrest the attention of mankind, Mr O'Connell's character was truly Irish, uniting in it all those virtues for which the sons of our country are so justly celebrated, being always worthy of his ancient and honourable name and of the love of liberty which had engaged him in the defence of an oppressed people.

As a friend to liberty you will be pleased to hear of the success of the last campaign?the Spaniards having solely possession of Puerto Cabello. All other parts of the country enjoy a state of the most profound tranquillity and the inhabitants are beginning to reap the fruit of the numerous sacrifices which they have made to emancipate themselves from the tyranny of Spain.

Major Rudd [38] and Captain Wright [39] join with me in requesting to be remembered to your son Morgan who they had the pleasure of knowing intimately at Santa Marta.

You will have the goodness to tell him that his friend Major Peacocke [40] died of a fever and that Captain Featherstonehaugh [41] was killed on the last campaign at the battle of Bombona. Doctors O'Reilly [42] and MacDavitt [43] have also died.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

Arthur Sandes

PS. I request you will do me the favour to let my friends in Kerry know that I am well.



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29. Martha Gil-Montero, 'The Marchioness and the Marshall', p. 12; Martha Gil-Montero, 'The Liberator's Noble Match', p. 17.

30. Martha Gil-Montero, 'The Marchioness and the Marshall', pp. 12-13.

31. The decisive Battle of Ayacucho liberated Peru and effectively capped the defeat of Spanish forces in South America. See Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 144.

32. Eric Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 146: 'He and the Rifles must have covered some 22,000 miles [35,000 kilometres] on the march and the incredible number of 25,000 men and officers passed though the battalion's ranks during the thirteen years of its existence.'

33. Lambert, op. cit, p. 145, has Sandes as 'governor of the department of Azuay at Cuenca.' Ecuadorean historian Dr. Ricardo Marquez Tapia, in his 'General Arturo Sandes: Datos Biográficos' (n.d.; n.p.), p. 165, writes 'más tarde en el año 1830 se instaló (Sandes) en la ciudad de Cuenca, y por este tiempo se hizo cargo del alto cargo de Prefecto General de los Departamentos del Azuay y Loja.'

34. Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 146; Eric Lambert, 'Voluntarios Británicos y Irlandeses en la Gesta Bolívariana', Tomo III (Caracas: Ministerio de Defensa; 1993), pp. 449-450. A 1971 Bolivian commemorative stamp depicts O'Connor in the uniform of his adoptive country.

35. Obituary notice in the Limerick Chronicle, 15 June 1833: 'In the city of Cuenca, Colombia (sic), after a tedious illness, which terminated in dropsy, General Arthur Sandes of the Service of the Republic, son of the late John Sandes, Esq., of Listowel, in the county of Kerry. ...  In the battles of Pantano de Vargas, Boyacá, Carabobo and Ayacucho, he displayed the genius of an accomplished soldier, combined with a chivalrous valour, which reflected honour on his country. In the first-mentioned of these bloody affairs which took place on the 25th of July, 1819 [Bolívar's birthday,] he received two severe wounds at the head of the victorious regiment, the Rifles, while commanding that Corps as Major, and finally his horse being shot under him-unable to stand from loss of blood, he supported himself leaning against the carcase (sic) of the dying animal, and could not be prevailed on to quit the field until victory was proclaimed, and at Ayacucho he was named General on the field of battle.'

36. Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 145: 'As far as the writer knows, Sandes did not marry.' Also letter dated 3 June 1993 from Rosaura García Alominia de Polit Molestina of Quito to Guillermo McLoughlin Breard of Buenos Aires: 'He consultado a los más conocidos especialistas de las ciudades en donde vivió Sandes y llegamos a la conclusión de que él no dejó descendencia alguna en el Ecuador.' I am indebted to Dr. MacLoughlin Breard for sharing this correspondence with me. Unverified reports that Sandes left descendants in Venezuela can be found in Hasbrouck, op. cit., pp. 318, 447, and also in Cyril Hamshere, 'The British in the Caribbean' (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 182. Hasbrouck cites an article by Carlos Schoffer titled 'Germans in Venezuela: Conquerors and Warriors' that appeared in El Universal, Caracas, dated June 12, 1911: 'There are not enough records to make it possible to follow the history of Col. Sandes much beyond this period (1830), but some of his descendants were said to be living in Venezuela as recently as 1911'; Hamshere erroneously claims that Sandes settled in Venezuela after his regiment was disbanded in 1830, and 'left his name in the country.' In light of what later historians, such as Eric Lambert, have learned about Sandes' postwar settlement and career in Ecuador, the above reports should be treated with caution if not scepticism.

37. The version of this letter reproduced in Maurice R. O'Connell (ed.) 'The Correspondence of Daniel O'Connell' (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1973), Vol. II, Letter 980, p. 410, is incomplete, omitting the references to the deaths of Capt. Featherstonehaugh, Maj. Peacocke and Drs. MacDavitt and O'Reilly. According to the Dr. O'Connell, this was due to the publisher's pressure to 'keep the publication as short as reasonably possible' (personal correspondence from Maurice R. O'Connell, Dublin, to Dr. Eileen A. Sullivan, St. Augustine, FL, 7 October 1996. I am indebted to Dr. Sullivan for sharing this correspondence). The missing names are included in the version of Sandes' letter reproduced in Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 143. The original letter is on deposit in the collections of University College, Dublin: O'Connell MSS, N° 729, Sandes to Daniel O'Connell, Quito, 10 September 1822.

38. Major Richard Rudd from Co. Wexford, a veteran of Waterloo where he saw action as a Lieutenant in the 40th Foot; in South America, he served as a Major in Sandes' Rifles. See Lambert, 'Voluntarios', II, p. 281.

39. Thomas Charles Wright from Drogheda, Co. Louth. An officer in Sandes' Rifles; Hasbrouck, op. cit. p. 261 n. 1; Lambert, 'Voluntarios', III, p, 418-419. Commended for bravery at the Battle of Bombana, Wright later settled in Ecuador, where he is regarded as a founding father of that nation's Navy; see Eric Lambert, 'Irish Soldiers in South America', op. cit., pp. 31, 34. For a summary of Wright's career both before and during his South American service, see Hasbrouck, op. cit., pp. 321-322.

40. Sgt. Maj. William Peacocke, from Garryowen, Co. Limerick. Said to be 'the handsomest man in the west of Ireland.' After sustaining wounds in the capture of Santa Marta, as a member of Sandes' Rifles Battalion, he later died from dysentery; see Lambert, 'Arthur Sandes of Kerry', p. 142; Hasbrouck, p. 224. See also Lambert, 'Voluntarios Británicos y Irlandeses en la Gesta Bolívariana', Tomo II, p. 433, where the cause of death for Peacocke and Dr. Michael O'Reilly is given as yellow fever.

41. In the Battle of Bombana, 1822, where the Royalists lost 300 killed, wounded and captured, the Patriot forces lost 341 wounded and 116 killed. Of the Rifles Battalion, five officers and fifty men were killed, including Capt. George Featherstonhaugh, who fell 'transfixed by a bayonet, while he was slashing his way through the enemy with his sabre'; Hasbrouck, p. 276-77. See also Lambert, 'Voluntarios', Tomo III, p. 421, 442; and Lambert, 'Irish Soldiers in South America' in The Irish Sword, Vol. XVI, N° 62, p. 31.

42. Dr. Michael O'Reilly from Thomas Street, Dublin came to Venezuela in September 1819 with Colonel William Aylmer, a former leader of the United Irishmen from Painstown, Co. Kildare. Aylmer was wounded at the Battle of Rio Hacha on 25 May 1820 and died in Jamaica on 20 June 1820. See Martin Tierney, 'William Aylmer 1772-1820' in The Irish Sword, Vol. VI, N° 23 (Winter 1963), p. 107; Maurice R. O'Connell, 'Correspondence', II, p. 263; Eric Lambert, 'Voluntarios', Tomo II, pp. 28, 302-303, 310, 327 n. 61. After Aylmer's evacuation to Jamaica, Dr. O'Reilly joined Sandes' Rifles Battalion. He survived gunshot wounds sustained at the Battle of Turbaco in September 1820, but died of yellow fever in 1821. See Lambert, 'Voluntarios', Vol. II, p. 433; idem., 'Voluntarios', III, p. 264; and Maurice R. O'Connell, 'Correspondence', II, pp. 278-79.

43. Dr. Stephen MacDavitt was an Irish surgeon on the staff of John Devereux, an adventurer from Co. Wexford who organized The Irish Legion for Bolívar. Devereux avoided service himself while collecting fees for those he dispatched to their deaths; Lambert, 'Voluntarios', Tomo II, p. 370. The doctors fell victims to the same ailments they were treating in the troops: see Lambert, 'Irish Soldiers in South America, 1818-1830', p. 33: 'Despite the magnificent efforts of the hundred or so British and Irish doctors and a fair number of locals, little could be done owing to the state of medical knowledge in those days and particularly the lack of drugs and instruments. Malaria, yellow fever, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, typhus and tropical ulcers carried off hundreds. Hospitals were set up in the towns and military bases, but little or nothing could, of course, be done on the long marches and men left behind had little hope of survival.'



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Last Update: January 2005


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