Battle Of Las Piedras
The Battle of Las Piedras is a holiday observance celebrated in the Republic of Uruguay every May 18th. This official holiday commemorates the key battle in Uruguay’s struggle for freedom and independence, fought in 1811.
Some historians and military experts believe that the battle upon which this holiday is based was crucial for the survival of the revolution not only in Uruguay but also in Argentina. The date on which this battle was fought is also commemorated with the May 18, 1811 Medal—the second-highest military decoration of the Uruguayan Army.
The History Of The Battle Of Las Piedras
When the Spanish first arrived in the region now known as Argentina and Uruguay in the 16th century, they met with strong resistance from the indigenous tribes and faced a scarcity of precious metals. This made colonization of the area challenging, but over the next two hundred years, Spain managed to establish a foothold and colonize it.
In May of 1810, the May Revolution forced the Spanish to abandon Buenos Aires, so they moved their headquarters to Montevideo in Banda Oriental—the area now known as Uruguay. In an attempt to control the area, the Spanish sought to defeat the revolutionaries. As a result, they would encounter revolutionary leader José Artigas and his forces on the battlefield at Las Piedras on May 18, 1811.
The revolutionaries were outnumbered and had suffered a series of recent defeats, but they pressed on. Eventually, their forces were strengthened by 200 Spanish loyalists who defected to the revolutionaries. This bolstered Artigas’s forces, enabling him to win the battle. Although this was not a decisive battle in the push for independence, it was significant because without it, the march towards independence would have been much more difficult.
Observing The Battle Of Las Piedras
This holiday is commemorated with public speeches and military parades on this day. Since it is a public holiday, government buildings and many businesses are closed as well.