GENERAL LABATUT had given Bolivar orders to go to Barranca and there await instructions. The Spaniards held part of the country, and Barranca, on the banks of the Magdalena, was a village of considerable strategic importance.
Bolivar was scarcely there before he reviewed the garrison. There were in all two hundred and fifty men, fairly well equipped. He sent a messenger to President Torres begging to be allowed some initiative. Bolivar undertook to drive back the enemy and establish a stronger line of defence. Torres consented, impressed by so much confidence and decision.
Bolivar took two hundred men, built ten long covered rafts and embarked his soldiers with provisions and gunpowder. The expedition moved off. They advanced upstream, the rafts being pushed by poles on either side. Navigation was fairly easy because the water was at least five feet deep, and there were as yet neither rapids nor sandbanks. Bolivar was at the head of his flotilla; he had forbidden them to shoot at the alligators which slept in groups on the banks. They pushed on without speaking, only the orders passed from one boat to another. It was a matter of speed.
Just before he came in sight of Tenerife, Bolivar anchored his rafts and sent one of his officers to demand the surrender of the Spanish commander.
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Publication information: Book title: Bolivar the Liberator. Contributors: Michel Vaucaire - Author, Margaret Reed - Translator. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1929. Page number: 72.
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