Bolivar the Liberator

By Michel Vaucaire; Margaret Reed | Go to book overview
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XXVIII

OUT of men whom nothing had called to a military career, Bolivar succeeded in making excellent soldiers. Negroes, half-castes, Indians, Creoles, French, and English, race mattered little.

Apart from his undeniable ability as a tactician who knew how to profit by the lay of the land and who had been the first to realize what sort of war he would have to wage, he possessed in the highest degree the gift of command. His rough and clear voice, the energy with which he overcame fatigue and fever, his authority and his tact, when he felt it called for, made him at once the Generalissimo. The most mutinous of his officers were obliged to admit his superiority; Mariño, after his deplorable attacks and reverses, was to come and ask forgiveness; Paez, looked on as a god by his own men, was to put them none the less at Bolivar's disposal. All were struck by the administrative power of this man whom nothing escaped, who in order to make canteens for his soldiers collected everything that was made of beaten brass, and iron wire cages. They lacked solder. One day Bolivar tore his breeches on a nail, examined it and found that it was of tin; all the tin nails in the town were requisitioned that same day. He noticed the smallest details, designed the uniform, tried several sorts of horseshoe to decide upon the soundest and most economical. And that was nothing. Scarcely was a

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