Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory

By Richard W. Slatta; Jane Lucas De Grummond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
From Optimism at Aux Cayes
to Disaster at Ocumare, 1816

The year 1816 looked much brighter to Bolívar than had the previous one spent languishing in Caribbean exile. Bolstered by the vote of his supporters at Aux Cayes, he moved quickly to organize his followers. Acknowledging his critical support, he promoted Brión to captain of the navy and upgraded 118 infantry and cavalry officers. He promoted Mariño to major general and Soublette to colonel of cavalry. Bolívar named Zea secretary of the treasury for the Confederation of Venezuela and New Granada. According to Ducoudray, Bolívar appointed him chief of staff and promised to promote him to field marshal as soon as they entered Venezuela. The promotion never came, and the two men ended up bitter enemies.

Bolívar had a very young staff, mostly in their early thirties. The youngest officers, Carlos Soublette and José Antonio Anzoátegui, were only twentyseven. The former probably owed his standing more to Bolívar’s romantic interest in his sister than to any special military skills. Nonetheless, he would go on to a successful military and political career, albeit as the Liberator’s enemy by the late 1820s. Ducoudray exaggerated when he recorded a staff of five hundred majors, captains, and lieutenants. Historians put the figure lower: Paul Verna listed only 272 officers; Vicente Lecuna no more than 250. Ducoudray hit closer to the mark, however, when he said that the officer corps initially commanded no more than fifty soldiers. Ducoudray recalled in his memoirs that “[e]ach general had his aide-de-camp, a secretary, ser-

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