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"War of the Confederation, 1837-1839" Topic

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Bozkashi Jones26 Apr 2022 6:15 a.m. PST

Having been inspired by some beautifully done Black Seas ships on these pages, I'm considering taking the plunge and painting some up. Personally I tend to like simple campaigns to give context and having wider goals changes the game dynamic and makes for a more interesting game.

In my search for a campaign with manageable forces, I'm veering towards the War of the Confederation, 1837-1839, between Chile and the Peru-Bolivia Confederacy. The forces are small, it takes place in a well-defined geographical area and I do love obscure, esoteric conflicts, especially Latin America.

Here's a wikipedia article: link

So I wondered if anyone out there has done any prior research into this fascinating conflict?

Most of the sources are in Spanish, naturally, and while I do speak Spanish I'm very rusty – it's been 25 years since I lived in Spain and spoke it daily, so reading a history book in Spanish is going to take me some time, even if just extracting the naval elements.

As a starting point, could anyone help me with the ships involved? Here's what I have so far:


Naval Squadron, Robert Winthrop Simpson commanding

Aquiles – brigantine
Arequipeño(*) – brigantine
Libertad – corvette
Valparaíso – corvette
Monteagudo – frigate(?)
Confederación (22 guns)
Santa Cruz(*) (20 guns)
Valparaíso (20 guns)


Naval Squadron, Juan José Panizo commanding

Socabaya – corvette
Junín – brig
Fundador – brig
Arequipeño(*) – brigantine
Santa Cruz(*)

Privateers, Juan Blanchet commanding

Mexicana (12 guns) – corvette
Peru (10 guns) – brigantine
Arequipeño(*) (6 guns) – barque (?)
Esmond (5 guns) – schooner

(*) The Arequipeño is an odd one, as is the Santa Cruz – in 1836 Victorino Garrido in the Aquiles raided Callao and captured the Confederate ships Arequipeño, Santa Cruz and Peruviana but these were supposed to have been returned to the Confederacy before the war. It could be that two, or even all three Arequipeños are the same ship and Santa Cruz likewise!

As I say, if anyone can point me to any sources so that I can put flesh on the bones, or if anyone has previously researched this war that they can share, I'd be very grateful.

The books I have listed so far are the "Historia de la Marina de Chile" by Carlos López Urrutia and the "Historia naval del Perú, Volume 3" by José Valdizán Gamio.


Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 8:38 a.m. PST

I had never heard of this war. I am amazed at the vast number of conflicts that were fought in Latin America during the 19th Century. Seems this would be a gold mine for gamers if there were the figures available.

Bozkashi Jones26 Apr 2022 9:59 a.m. PST

It certainly is a rich seam with all the dash and 'Boy's Own' flair. I'm mostly a naval and aerial gamer, but if land combat is your thing neither army ever amounted to more than 12-14,000 with major battles being just a couple of thousand a side.

I'm not an expert, but most of the uniforms from what I've seen could be proxied in smaller scales with Napoleonic figures. With all the elan and heroic derring-do, the land side of this war could be a lovely subject for a Sharpe Practice campaign…

Bozkashi Jones28 Apr 2022 2:00 a.m. PST

A little bit more on this, in case anyone is interested. I've found a few websites, including some Spanish-language sites which have some good information. The Chilean Navy has a particularly good archive for this era but it does need to be accessed via a wayback machine.

At the beginning of 1836, from what I can work out, the Chilean Navy had three warships (transports excluded) – Aquiles (brigantine, 20 guns), Valparaiso (corvette, 20 guns) and Colo Colo (brigantine, 5 guns).

The Confederation had twelve – Libertad (corvette, 24 guns), Socabaya (corvette, 24 guns), Confederacion (corvette, 22 guns), Monteagudo (frigate, 11 guns*), Santa Cruz (frigate, 20 guns), Arequipeno (brigantine, 6 guns), Fundador (brig, unknown), Junin (brig, unknown), Oebeguso (brigantine, 6 guns), Limena (schooner, unknown), Peruviana (schooner, unknown) and Yanacocha (schooner, unknown).

(*) The Monteagudo was a Spanish frigate captured in the 1820s. It was subsequently used as a transport, which may explain the relatively light armament.

Although not balanced as a starting point, in July 1836 the Confederation lent two ships (Monteagudo and Orbeguso) to Ramon Friere. Friere was the former President of Chile, living in exile in Peru, and the ships were to assist him in a coup attempt. It didn't work and both ships were captured by the Chileans.

The Chileans by this point have 5 warships to the Confederation's 10. Crucially, though, in terms of the most powerful (i.e. 20+ guns) the Confederation have twice as many.


In August 1836 (still before a formal declaration of war) the Spanish officer Victorino Garrido, in Chilean service, entered the harbour of Calloa on a 'goodwill' visit. Goodwill seems to have been in short supply, as during the night he stole away with THREE Confederation ships (the Santa Cruz, Arequipeno and Peruviana). The cheeky chappie then added these to the Chilean navy.

So, by the time war is declared in December, the Chilean Navy has 8 ships (of which 3 mount 20 guns) and the Confederation have 7 (including 3 of 20 guns or more), with a small flotilla of French privateers engaged during the war itself.

That to me looks like a nice balanced starting point for a small campaign.


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