South America 1866: Chincha Islands War
In 1864 Spain occupied Peru's Chincha Islands following a diplomatic dispute between the two countries. Spain's increased presence in the Pacific antagonized Chile, which declared war the following year, and an alliance of four South American nations soon formed against the Spanish. Unwilling to push things further, Spain withdrew from the region in May 1866.
Patagonia was regarded as terra nullius by Britain and France until 1881 (and thus shown as a separate state in most maps of the period). Their main concern, shared with the United States, was to prevent any nation restricting navigation through the Straits of Magellan.
17 Aug 1865 Battle of Yatay▲
A 10,700-strong Allied army under Uruguayan General Venancio Flores attacked a 3,200-man Paraguayan force under Colonel Pedro Duarte at the confluence of the Yatay River and Despedida Creek in northern Argentina. The recent flooding of the Yatay and Uruguay Rivers helped protect the defenders but also made retreat impossible, leading to a bloody battle in which half the Paraguayans were killed and half captured. Yatay was a decisive victory for the Allies, prompting Paraguay to abandon Corrientes (Argentina) and Uruguayana (Brazil).
25 Sep 1865 Chincha Islands War begins▲
In the wake of the Spanish occupation of the Chincha Islands and the continued Spanish threat to Peru, President José Joaquín Pérez of Chile announced in 1865 that his country considered Spain a belligerent nation and would no longer grant it coaling rights. In response, the Spanish Vice Admiral José Manuel Pareja sailed into Valparaiso on 17 September 1865—one day before Chilean National Day—and demanded that the Spanish flag be given a twenty-one gun salute. Chile refused, declaring war on Spain a week later.
26 Nov 1865 Battle of Papudo▲
The Chilean corvette Esmeralda, under the command of Juan Williams Rebolledo, ambushed the Spanish schooner Virgen de Covadonga off the coast of the town of Papudo, Chile. After a short exchange of fire, in which the Spanish suffered 4 dead and 22 wounded to no Chilean losses, the Covadonga and its crew surrendered to the Chileans.
14 Jan 1866 South American Alliance▲
In a rejection of what was seen as his continued appeasement of Spain in the wake of the Spanish occupation of the Chincha Islands, President Juan Antonio Pezet of Peru was overthrown in November 1865. The new Peruvian government immediately announced its solidarity with Chile against Spain, signing the Treaty of Defensive and Offensive Alliance between Peru and Chile on 5 December. Two days after ratifying the treaty on 12 January, Peru declared war on Spain.
30 Jan 1866 Ecuador joins Chincha Islands War▲
Ecuador joined the South American Alliance with Chile and Peru by declaring war on Spain, entering the Chincha Islands War. Although Ecuador itself would not be involved in any combat, it fortified Guayaquil in anticipation of a Spanish attack and deprived Spain of more ports along the west coast of South America. A formal peace treaty between Ecuador and Spain would not be signed until 28 January 1885.
7 Feb 1866 Battle of Abtao▲
A Spanish squadron of two frigates encountered a combined Peruvian-Chilean fleet of a frigate, two corvettes, and a schooner in the shallow channels off the island of Abtao near Chiloé Archipelago in southern Chile. After two hours of exchanging fire, the Spanish, unwilling to risk crossing the shoals to more closely engage their enemy, abandoned the battle and returned to base.
22 Mar 1866 Bolivia joins Chincha Islands War▲
Bolivia joined the South American Alliance, declaring war on Spain and entering the Chincha Islands War. Although the Bolivians would not directly participate in the war itself, their action denied Spain access to the last South American ports in the Pacific south of Colombia and helped bring about the Spanish withdrawal from the Chincha Islands. Spain would formally signed a peace treaty with Bolivia only on 21 August 1879.