Battle of Río Bueno (1759)

The Battle of Río Bueno in 1759 was a military engagement between Spanish colonial forces and local Huilliche in the Bueno River of south-central Chile. The battle was fought on January 27 with the Spanish forces led by Juan Antonio Garretón.[1] The battle of 1759 was an exception to the overall policy of befriending indigenous communities on behalf of the Spanish authorities in Valdivia.[2]

Battle of Río Bueno
Part of Arauco War
DateJanuary 27, 1759
Result Disputed
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Spanish Empire Mapuche-Huilliche
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Juan Antonio Garretón Catillanca

Beginning in the mid-18th century the Spanish enclave of Valdivia started a period of agricultural expansion. The expansion was mainly directed to the south and was done mostly by pacific means, but hostilities with indigenous Huilliches did occur.[3] In 1758 Huilliche chief Huarán requested Spanish soldiers to defend his lands against his Cunco enemies.[4] The Governor of Valdivia Ambrosio Sáes de Bustamante responded to this call leading to the Battle of Río Bueno in 1759.[2][4][5]

There are differing views on the outcome of this battle; according to Diego Barros Arana it was a Spanish victory,[1] yet historian Salvador Rumian Cisterna considers that with the battle chiefs Catrillanca and Paidil managed to halt any further Spanish advance.[5]

After the battle captured Huilliches told the Spanish about the existence of uncontacted Spanish settlements further inside indigenous territory, envigorating belief among the populace of Valdivia about the legendary City of the Caesars.[1][2] Ignacio Pinuer, a staunch believer in the existence of the city, was present in the battle of Río Bueno claiming "the Caesars" participated in the "Christian" side by attacking the indigenous rearguard at night, securing thus a Spanish victory.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Barros Arana, 1886, p. 310.
  2. ^ a b c Urbina Carrasco, 2009, p. 174.
  3. ^ Couyoumdjian, Juan Ricardo (2009). "Reseña de "La frontera de arriba en Chile colonial. Interacción hispano-indígena en el territorio entre Valdivia y Chiloé e imaginario de sus bordes geográficos, 1600–1800" de MARÍA XIMENA URBINA CARRASCO" (PDF). Historia. I (42): 281–283. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Rumian Cisterna 2000, p. 103.
  5. ^ a b Rumian Cisterna 2000, p. 104.
  6. ^ Urbina Carrasco, 2009, p. 181.