IN the mean time a republican fleet, commanded by the Italian adventurer Bianchi, had appeared off Cumaná with transports bringing Mariño's army. The Spaniards were blockaded and in danger of a landing at any moment. At Maturin, Piar had won a great victory over Monteverde in person.
Who was to be the first to enter Caracas?
Bolivar advanced like lightning; nobody withstood him, the Spaniards fled at his approach without even showing fight. He wished to have the honour of delivering the capital with his own hand.
The Spanish Major Izquierdo received orders to bar his way. Izquierdo had formidable artillery; he took up a position on the plain of Taguanes.
Bolivar and his lancers charged at the gallop, the infantry followed at the double. The Spaniards were in close column protected by their guns. The republican attack was twenty times renewed; bullets made terrible havoc in their ranks and there was a slight movement of withdrawal. Bolivar and his two lieutenants, Rivas and Girardot, rushed to the head of their troops and at last repulsed the enemy, who fell back upon a wooded hill. If once the Spaniards could gain this height, they would be safe, for from the cover of the trees they might fire unmolested.
Bolivar gave orders that every rider should take a foot-soldier on his crupper and cut off Izquierdo's re-