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General Gerónimo Espejo became the first historian of the Grand Captain José de San Martín. And he was almost a beloved son of the procer. I know his life.
Born in the bosom of a humble family, with Indian blood in his veins, Gerónimo Espejo is undoubtedly the most true historian of the Sanmartinian campaigns. And one of the closest people to San Martin , who was almost a father to the brave soldier of Chacabuco and Ituzaingó. He entered the Army of the Andes as a child and was one of the few who was in Guayaquil living firsthand the historic resignation.
Every act performed in the glorious march was recorded in the hands of “a poor soldier without education in childhood, without literary beauties,” he said, and several drafts accompanied him to the battle itself. In the defeat of Cancha Rayada, the result of the desperate withdrawal, he misses the valuable notes and notes he had taken as a cadet of engineers under the command of José Álvarez Condarco . When San Martín learned of his passion in registration and writing, he commissioned Lieutenant Espejo , decorated by the governments of Buenos Aires and Santiago, the Army Operations Journal, who personally corrects the Liberator .
Forming the inner circle of San Martín, Espejo landed in Pisco and was a parliamentarian for the Army of the Andes in the liberated Lima of 1821. That was the beginning of his role as a public official that he would develop extensively in Argentina. So much confidence in him that , on several occasions, he carried secret documents and values across enemy territory, for which he received the Order of the Sun of Peru . At the same time, he treasures books, bulletins, proclamations, diaries and an infinite amount of independence material that he transported as he could from the different American cities.So he was able to bring a relevant library to Buenos Aires in 1825 while joining the army ready for war against Brazil . Of outstanding participation in Alvear's troops, he became lieutenant colonel and later joined General Juan Lavalle 's staff in the turbulent 1829. Won by the unitary cause under the command of General Paz, he suffers the defeats produced by the federal forces of Facundo Quiroga and is exiled to Bolivia, being considered a hero by Bolivian President Andrés Santa Cruz, who had seen him defend freedom in Callao . In these forced transits he loses much of his bibliographic treasures “under the pretext of the goods of unitary savages”, to which he writes “the memory of my Diary, an object of invaluable merit to me, was like an electric blow that baffled me... I resolved accordingly. strive to rebuild the lost book,” transcribes researcher Adriana Micale.
Installed in Cerro de Pasco, one of Peru's main mining enclaves, he lived between the reconstruction of his memories and the mining activity, of which he can consider himself an American driver with new rules between bosses and miners, fairer than the old forms of colonial exploitation. Returned in 1850 to Mendoza, he replicates in Uspallata, associated with a son of Alvarez Thomas, the mining operation with a modern direction. The times of the Confederation had him as a prominent legislator in the legal institution of Argentine mining and, a few years later, in the economic order, in important positions in the National Bank and the Customs of Rosario.
Retired from the public service, he began a profuse work in the dissemination of the Sanmartinian gesture with numerous articles in the Revista de Buenos Aires and the Revista de Paraná , crowned with the unavoidable publication in painters ” The Andes Pass. Historical Chronicle of the Operations of the Army of the Andes for the Restoration of Chile in 1817” in 1882. There, firsthand, he narrates the arrival of Saint Martin in Cuyo, vividly recreates the patriotic fervor that changed a continent and weighs the innumerable circumstances of war and politics. Juan María Gutiérrez, Mitre and Sarmiento were able to recognize the patriot's contribution to future generations, both for their publications and valuable historical documents, which are now available in the Mitre Museum, the National Historical Museum or the Archives Generals of the Nation and Mendoza.
Died in Buenos Aires in 1889, transferred his remains to El Plumerillo in 1935, in his will he stamped: “I declare that in my long military career I never made a profit from the interests of my homeland , and so my property consists only of the salary that I become Major General of the armies of the Republic”. Espejo bequeathed his vast library to Dr. Antonio C. Gandolfo, one of the parents of Argentine surgery , and, thus, to posterity. A soldier writer who admired Saint Martin and understood history as the basis of the future of peoples before many of his time and ours.
Sources: Espejo, G. El Paso de los Andes: Historical chronicle of the operations of the Andes army for the restoration of Chile in 1817 . Mendoza: Edifyl. 2017; Micale, A. " Gerónimo Espejo, the chronicler of San Martín” in magazine Todo es Historia nro. 594 January 2017, Buenos Aires; Cutolo, V. New Argentine Biographical Dictionary. Buenos Aires: Editorial Elche. 1983.
Publication Date: 23/08/2020
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