Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires Map, 1806

Commander Home Popham had recently captured the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch. Using his own initiative he decided to see if he could topple Spanish control in the Americas with a surprise attack on the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires in 1806. At this point, Spain was an ally of France in the Napoleonic Wars. Despite seizing the capital in a relatively bloodless swoop, desertions conspired with Spanish and local reorganisation to see the British lose control of the town just 47 days later. A second invasion 11 months later saw more street fighting and another British defeat in Buenos Aires (although they had seized Montevideo). Spanish control may have been crumbling in the Americas but it could still count on support in the developed areas. Despite the ultimate failure, the British had unwittingly set in motion a sequence of events that would combine with yet more confusion back in Europe as Spain officially changed sides just a year later to start the dominoes of South American Independence to start falling.

South America | 20th Light Dragoons

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by Stephen Luscombe