Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0178
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0178
To define the concept of armed forces in 19th-century Chile is a complex task, as their evolution is embedded in the process of state-building, originally characterized by the underdevelopment of its bureaucratic apparatus. Moreover, there were times in which ideological conceptions and political interests were critical of the presence of standing armies and tried to reduce their level of influence. This article, therefore, uses a minimal definition of the concept, considering the military as organized groups of people who, through the use of weapons, aimed at taking part in international wars, assumed functions of national defense or played an important role in its internal conflicts. Under this category can be found a multiplicity of armed bodies with different degrees of organization, stability, and dependence on the state. Hence, when speaking of armed forces, standing armies are considered to be both the regular army and the navy, and as irregular forces, the National Guard and the militias. Also, boundaries between these armed forces were porous and often tended to blur, as can be inferred from Sater 1986 (War of the Pacific), Fernández Abara 2004 (Chilean Civil Wars), Ossa 2008 (Chile’s Struggle for Independence), and Zauritz Sepúlveda 2009 (International Wars). In so doing, the historiography related to the Chilean armed forces during the period 1810–1900 is discussed, thus covering the process started when Chile became an independent state from Spain and finished with the consolidation of a professional army through the “Prussianization” of its forces and the adoption of compulsory service. There are different historiographical currents that have studied this subject. The 19th-century positivist historiography focused primarily on the narrative of the military operations that took place in armed conflicts, considering the role of senior officials and national political figures. Marxist historiography, especially after the 1973 coup, tried to understand the characteristics of the military and their relationship with the ruling classes and social conflicts that had plagued the country. Also, since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, modern variants of the nationalist-conservative historians have analyzed civil-military relations, seeking to legitimize political actions of the armed forces through the exhibition of historical examples that aimed to demonstrate the assiduity of their public interventions. More recently, the influence of the new social history and the history of private life has been perceptible in the study of the armed forces. They have focused on the role the army played within subordinate sectors. Cultural historians, for their part, have presented studies on nationalism and how this has permeated the history of the armed forces. Their main concern has been to see soldiers and officers as important actors in the formation of citizenship and the construction of national identity. Finally, work by historians linked to the armed forces, who have written a significant number of institutional histories, is also included here.
Most general works on the Chilean armed forces are institutional histories written at the request of military entities. That is the case of Historia del Ejército de Chile (1985), a detailed work whose aim was to reach an audience interested in specific aspects of military history. More recently, works such as Arancibia Clavel 2007 on the army, and Arancibia Clavel, et al. 2005 on the navy, maintain the institutional and general character, but in a shorter length and in an entertaining format accessible to the general public. Since the 1973 military coup and the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which lasted until 1989, historical studies on the armed forces have analyzed civil-military relations and the links between the military and politics. While most of this historiography addressed issues related to the 20th century, a few general works have paid attention to the 19th century. A pioneer work is Nunn 1976, which studied civil-military relations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries from a political and social perspective. From an authoritarian and nationalist perspective (and supportive of the Pinochet regime), works such as Molina Johnson 1989 and Bravo Lira 1996 tried to identify the role of the military as political actors, especially in situations of disorder and absence of civil authority. From a Marxist perspective, on the other hand, see Ramírez Necochea 1984, a posthumous and unfinished work written in exile. Ramírez Necochea studied the presence of militarism in Chile and the levels of autonomy or dependence of the army in regards to the state and the ruling classes. An exception to the dominant trend in general works on the armed forces is Vergara Quiroz 1993, which discusses the history of the army from a social perspective. Finally, the lack of general works related to the history of the National Guard throughout the 19th century is remarkable. The studies referring to that institution have addressed only specific periods, and the longest one, Hernández Ponce 1984, finishes in 1848.
Arancibia Clavel, Patricia, ed. El Ejército de los Chilenos (1540–1920). Santiago: Editorial Biblioteca Americana, 2007.
Even though Arancibia Clavel provides a general overview of the evolution of the Chilean army from the Conquest to the early 20th century, most of the text is devoted to the 19th century. It does not give a central thesis, but it provides systematized information about its organization and involvements in armed conflicts. This is useful for anyone wishing to get started in the theme.
Arancibia Clavel, Patricia, Isabel Jara Hinojosa, and Andrea Novoa Mackenna. La Marina en la historia de Chile. Vol. 1, Siglo XIX. Santiago: Sudamericana, 2005.
Arancibia Clavel, Jara Hinojosa, and Novoa Mackenna offer a general overview of the Chilean navy in the 19th century. This book provides interesting information about its institutional organization, its participation in military conflicts, and its contribution to the maintenance of state sovereignty in remote areas of the country.
Bravo Lira, Bernardino. “Ejército y estado de derecho en Chile (Siglos XVI al XX).” Estudios Públicos 61 (Summer 1996): 197–268.
Bravo Lira addresses the relationship between the rule of law and the armed forces in the history of Chile. According to the author, after independence the military emerged as an alternative to what the he calls disorder and political anarchy. After 1830 the armed forces focused on “external security” and the levels of militarism were successfully restrained. This changed only in the 20th century.
Hernández Ponce, Roberto. “La Guardia Nacional en Chile: Apuntes sobre su origen y organización.” Historia 19 (1984): 53–113.
Hernández Ponce explores the transformations experienced by the National Guard, arguing that this institution restrained militarism and inculcated notions of civil responsibilities in the population. Taking into account the colonial background of the National Guard, the author traces its history until the regulation of 1848, which reformed its organization.
Historia del Ejército de Chile. 7 vols. Santiago: Estado Mayor del Ejército, 1985.
This book is a general history that focuses on the military campaigns and the organizational transformations of the army. Between Volumes 2 and 7, this work studies the 19th century, from independence until the Prussianization. Even though this collection is of an institutional character and does not present a thesis, it is very useful for anyone interested in military subjects.
Molina Johnson, Carlos. Chile: Los militares y la política. Santiago: Editorial Andrés Bello, 1989.
Molina Johnson studies the relationships between the military and politics. The book addresses the role assigned by the state to the military, both individual and corporate, and the political actions of the latter. The author argues that the “Portalian state” took the military out from the political scene and subordinated the army to the executive.
Nunn, Frederick. The Military in Chilean History: Essays on Civil-Military Relations, 1810–1973. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976.
Nunn studies civil-military relations in Chile in the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing primarily, albeit not exclusively, on the army. The author argues that military caudillism was not a characteristic of the period from 1830 to 1891 as it was in other Latin American countries. Such tendency reversed at the end of the 19th century, when the professionalization of the army allowed military men to enter the political arena.
Ramírez Necochea, Hernán. Las fuerzas armadas y la política en Chile (1810–1970): Antecedentes para una historia. Mexico City: Cultura SEP, Casa de Chile en México, 1984.
Ramírez Necochea studies the relationship between the army and politics. He claims that in the 19th century the military lacked autonomy and was subordinated to the state. This tendency was reversed at the end of the century thanks to the Prussianization of the army, which grew in autonomy and was able to consolidate its corporative spirit.
Vergara Quiroz, Sergio. Historia social el Ejército de Chile. Vol. 1, Ejército, sociedad y familia en los siglos XVIII y XIX; Vol. 2, Los oficiales y sus familias en el siglo XIX. Santiago: Universidad de Chile, Vicerectoria Académica, departamento técnico y de investigación, 1993.
Vergara Quiroz analyzes the social composition and family ties of the officers of the army. He claims that the Santiago elites had only an occasional presence in the army. Most of the time the army was led by officers from the south, to whom were added men of modest origins after 1850.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas