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Colombia - Irish Legion in the Neogranadine Army

Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador - XIXth Century

Last modified: 2021-08-26 by klaus-michael schneider
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Irish Legion in the Neogranadine (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador) Army - XIXth Century

Since most Latin American countries are in the "Bicentennial frenzy" due to the commemoration of 200 years of Independence (between 1809 and 1825 most of current-day existing Latin American nations gained their independence), several government websites, museums and scholars have been in lectures, speeches and commemorating acts. During these exhibitions and events, new information has come to light (lucky for us!)
So one of these "new things" is the Seal of the Irish Legion (Sello de la Legión Irlandesa) that fought alongside Neogranadine and Peruvian (creole) troops during the Independence wars. It is worth mentioning that present-day Colombia, Venezuela , Ecuador and Panama were back then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, and back then the Alto Perú (present-day Bolivia) was part of the Viceroyalty of the Plate River. Also Peru was known then as Viceroyalty of Peru.

Also worth mentioning is that this contingent of foreign troops were referred to as Legión Británica (British Legion) or even Legiones Británicas (British Legions, encompassing all of the U.K., hence the Irish contingent or Irish Legion).
This Legion received the highest decoration back then, the Orden de los Libertadores (Order of Liberators) ( and ) for their actions in the Battle of Boyaca (August 7, 1819) which gave the New Granada its Independence (this holiday is commemorated in Colombia as Army Day, since the New Granada split afterwards, each country having its own Independence Day).
Sources: (UK Embassy on Colombia official website)

"The British Legions were composed of the 1 Legión Británica (1st British Legion), 2 Legión Británica (2nd British Legion) and the Legión Irlandesa (Irish Legion). Tactial Units that were part of these formations were the Infantry Battalions "Albión (Albion in English)", Carabobo and Rifles", Cavalry Regiments such as the "Húsares (Husars in English)", although some foreign soldiers also fought in squads in other Neogranadine units as well. Foreign volunteer and auxiliary units used their own flags and ensigns, such as the Union Jack for the English and the Green flag with harp for the Irish".
(Book: "History of Europe : from the commencement of the French Revolution in 1789, to the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815", by Archibald Alison, 1848)

The British Legion fought between 1817 and 1819.
(Book: "History of Europe : from the commencement of the French Revolution in 1789, to the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815", by Archibald Alison, 1848)

So the Seal (or most likely Coat of Arms) of the Irish Legion, which in turn was part of the British Legion, is seen here: (image of the Ministry of Culture of Colombia website).
It reads: Dios y Nuestra Causa (God and our Cause) - La Legión Irlandesa (The Irish Legion).
Esteban Rivera, 21 April  2010

Here's another article from the Colombian Ministry of Culture where General Simón Bolívar orders General José Antonio Páez to incorporate the Batallón Bravos de Apure (Apure Braves Battalion) to the Division that will be formed out of the British Legion.
Esteban Rivera, 24 April  2010

For further information regarding the British aid to Colombian Independence from Spain, the Museo Nacional also holds several books and paintings, as follows:
- Daniel Florence O'Leary Burke ( a notable member of the British Legion, as mentioned here: , and,
- "The present state of Colombia; containing an account of the principal events of its revolutionary war; the expeditions fitted out in England to assist in its Emancipation" 1827 (,
- "Recolections of a service of three years, during the war-of-extermination in the Republics of Venezuela and Colombia." (
Esteban Rivera, 24 April  2010