Pablo Morillo y Morillo, Count of Cartagena and Marquess of La Puerta, a.k.a. El Pacificador (The Peace Maker) (5 May 1775 – 27 July 1837) was a Spanish military officer who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and in the Spanish American Independence Wars. He fought against French forces in the Peninsular War, where he gained fame rose to the ranks of Field Marshall for his valiant actions.[1] After the restoration of the Spanish Monarchy, Morillo then regarded as one of the Spanish Army's most prestigious officers,[2] was named by King Ferdinand VIII as commander-in-chief of the Expeditionary Army of Costa Firme with the goal to restore absolutism in Spain's possessions in the Americas.[3]

Pablo Morillo y Morillo
Captain General of Venezuela
In office
MonarchFerdinand VII
Preceded byJuan Manuel Cajigal
Succeeded bySalvador de Moxó
In office
Preceded byJuan Bautista Pardo
Succeeded byMiguel de la Torre
Personal details
Born5 May 1775
Fuentesecas, Spain
Died27 July 1837 (1837-07-28) (aged 62)
Barèges, France
Military service
AllegianceKingdom of Spain
Branch/serviceSpanish Navy (1792-1808) Spanish Army
CommandsEjército Expedicionario de Tierra Firme

Born to a peasant family in Fuentesecas, Spain, at the age of 16 he joined the Spanish Navy as part of the Spanish Marine Infantry where fought in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent and the Battle of Trafalgar where both times he would be taken prisoner. After the outbreak of the Pennisular War, Morillo left the Spanish Navy and joined the Spanish Army and fought at the Battle of Bailen under the command of General Castaños, he would also be present at the Battle of Vitoria. He rose through the ranks quickly during the war. His actions at the Battle of Puente Sanpayo won him fame, as he commanded an army that defeated Marshal Ney and forced the French army to evacuate Galicia.[2]

After the end of the war, in 1814 Morillo was named Captain General of Venezuela and given command of an Expeditionary Army to defeat the rebellions in New Granada and Venezuela. This expeditionary force of 60 ships and 10,000 men left Spain in early 1815 arriving in Spring of 1815 to Venezuela. Morillo led a successful campaign to Reconquest New Granada, his victory at the Siege of Cartagena earned him the title of Count of Cartagena. He successfully reconquered New Granada in 1816 and ordered the execution of various independence leaders as well as the confiscation of their assets.

In 1817 he returned to Venezuela where Simon Bolivar had begun a new campaign to liberate Venezuela from Spanish rule. He fought Bolivar to a stalemate when he managed to best him at the Third Battle of La Puerta in 1818, where he was wounded and successfully defended the capital, Caracas, from Boilvar's forces which earned him the title of Marquess of La Puerta. After the loss of New Granada in 1819, the war shifted and in 1820 Morillo signed an armistice with Bolivar and later also signed the treaty on "War Regularization." After repeated requests for retirement, Morillo was finally given royal approval and returned to Spain in 1821.[1] After his service in the South America he was appointed Captain General of New Castille in May 1821, a position from which he resigned the following year. In 1832 he was appointed captain general of Galicia, a position he left for health reasons in 1835. He died in the French city of Baregés, where he had gone to take medicinal baths, on July 27, 1837.[2]

Early career


In 1791 he enlisted in the Real Cuerpo de Infantería de Marina (Spanish Royal Marine Corps) and during the War of the First Coalition participated in the landing operation on San Pietro Island in 1793, as part of the campaign that repelled the French expedition to Sardinia[4] and later that year was wounded at the Siege of Toulon.[4]

During the War of the Pyrenees, he took part in the Siege of Roses (1794–1795).[4]

During the Anglo-Spanish War (1796–1808), Morillo saw action at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1797), on board the San Isidro, which was captured and he was taken prisoner.[4] The following October he was promoted to sergeant and sent to Cadiz, where he took part in the defense of the city following the British assault and blockade.[4]

At the Battle of Trafalgar (October 1805), he was wounded while serving on board the San Ildefonso, which was captured. Morillo then spent the following three years at the barracks at Cadiz awaiting an assignment on one of the few Spanish ships that survived the defeat.[4]

Peninsular War


With the outbreak of the War, Morillo left the Spanish Navy to enlist in the Llerena Voluntary Corps, in which, given his military experience, he was made a sub-lieutenant. In June 1808, he saw action at the Battle of Bailen[4] and, later that year, saw action at Elvas, Almaraz and Calzada de Oropesa.[4] He was promoted to lieutenant that December.[4] The following January he was promoted to captain and sent to Vigo, in Galicia, where the commander of the French garrison, besieged by guerrilleros, refused to capitulate to civilians and demanded the presence of a high-ranking officer.[4]

Morillo's rank was not accepted, but as the only officer present, the besiegers appointed him their colonel, and he was thus able to negotiate the terms of capitulation.[4] Regarding this incident, Oman (1903), citing various sources, offers a different version of the events at Vigo.[5][note 1]

Following the capitulation of Vigo, Marshal Ney occupied Santiago de Compostela, and headed towards Vigo. Morillo's troops intercepted the French force, and at the Battle of Puente Sanpayo, forced it to retreat.[4]

Spanish American war of independence

An engraving made in 1814, with caption "Field Marshall Pablo Morillo of the Royal Armies and Commander-in-chief of the expreditionary troops destined for Montevideo"

Once the war ended and the Spanish monarchy was restored, on August 14, 1814, King Ferdinand VII of Spain appointed Field Marshall Morillo as Commander of the Expeditonary Army of the Americas with the purpose of quashing the rebellion and restoring order in the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata. This expeditionary force would be recruited and organized in the port city Cadiz, a large effort was expended to acquire a large amount of troops and material that would keep them well supplied, despite this however morale was low and the expedition was unpopular amongst the troops due to the long journey, tropical diseases, and the nature of warfare being conducted in Spanish America. As a result of this sentiment by December of 1814 all troops bound for the Americas were restricted to their barracks and heavily monitored to prevent desertion. [6]

On February 17, 1815, Morillo set sail from Cadiz bound for Montevideo with a fleet of 18 warships and 42 cargo ships along with some 10,400 troops with the majority of these troops being veterans of the Pennisular War. Unknown to his troops in November 1814 Morillo had been secretly informed that his destination would be changed, the new orders from the Spanish Government were to sail to Costa Firme to put an end to the rebellion in New Granada and Venezuela, with this new mission the King named him Captain General of Venezuela in order to have all of the legal authority in order to reconquest that province.[1] Morillo did not inform his troops of this decision until February 25th, 1815 with the expedition well underway at sea which caused his troops to express further discontent as they had heard about how the war in Venezuela was a war to the death, Morillo would also be promoted to Lieutenant General during this journey.[6] On 6 April the Expedition disembarked in Carupano and Isla Margarita off the coast of Venezuela, with the mission to pacify the revolts against the Spanish monarchy in the American colonies. He travelled to La Guaira, Caracas, Puerto Cabello, Santa Marta and Cartagena de Indias (United Provinces of New Granada) in a military campaign to fight Simon Bolívar's revolutionary armies.

Reconquest of New Granada

Pablo Morillo (c. 1815), Colombian National Museum

On 22 August 1815 Morillo put the walled city of Cartagena under siege for 105 days,[7] preventing any supplies from going in until 6 December that year, when the Spanish Royal Army entered the city. In a letter written to the Viceroy of Peru José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa dated December 7th, Morillo informed the viceroy of the victory with minimal damage done to its fortifications and the capture of a large amount of artillery pieces and ample amounts of gunpowder he also described the level of starvation within the city where estimated that some 2000 Cartagenians where suffering from starvation.[8] The victory over the republicans in Cartagena led to the King granting Morillo the title Count of Cartagena. With control over Cartagena, Morillo continued with the Reconquest of New Granada marching south from Cartagena into the interior in tandem with General Juan de Samano's troops marching north from the Royalist strongholds of Quito and Pasto along with Colonel Sebastián de la Calzad's troops marching west from Venezuela. This campaign would culminate with the fall of the capital, Santa Fe, when his second-in-command General Miguel de la Torre assaulted the practically undefended city on May 6, 1816,[9] Morillo himself entered the city on May 26.[1] Upon entering the capital an amnesty which had been granted by General de la Torre was revoked, and Morillo began a Reign of Terror in the city.[1] The various leaders and intellectuals who had participated in the Juntas of 1810 and that were part of the New Granadan independence effort were arrested and tried before a consejo de guerra which judged the accused of treason and rebellion, this resulted in the execution of more than a hundred notable Republican officials with many being executed in the main plaza of Santa Fe such as Camilo Torres Tenorio, Francisco Jose de Caldas, and Jorge Tadeo Lozano as well as countless others.

War in Venezuela


He then returned to Venezuela to continue the fight against revolutionaries, where Simon Boilvar had just returned from his exile in Haiti in a renewed effort to liberate Venezuela from Spanish rule . In June 1820 Morillo, under Royal mandate, ordered that everyone in the colonies obey the Cadiz Constitution and sent delegates to negotiate with Bolivar and his followers. Bolivar and Morillo later met in the Venezuelan town of Santa Ana and signed a six-months' armistice followed by a second one named "War Regularization".

Post-war career


Morillo returned to Spain, was named General Captain of New Castile, and supported the Liberal Constitution during the Liberal Triennium. He prevented a coup against the Constitution in 1822, and fought in 1823 the French invasion under Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême in the north of Spain, where he was defeated.

When King Ferdinand VII restored the absolute regime in 1823, Morillo went to France. A few years later, he returned to Spain and participated in some military operations during the Carlist Wars. He felt ill and went back to France where he died on 27 July 1837, in Barèges.

See also



  1. ^ "When Soult had passed out of sight on the way to Orense, the Galicians of the coast-land, headed by Pablo Morillo, a lieutenant of the regular army whom La Romana had sent down from the interior, and by Manuel Garcia del Barrio, a colonel dispatched by the Central Junta from Seville, had taken arms in great numbers, and blockaded Vigo. The French commander, Colonel Chalot, found himself unable to defend the whole extent of the fortifications for sheer want of men, and could not prevent the insurgents from establishing themselves close under the walls and keeping up a continual fire upon the garrison. He believed that a serious assault would infallibly succeed, and only refused to surrender because he was ashamed to yield to peasants. On March 23 two English frigates, the Lively and Venus, appeared off the harbour mouth, and began to supply the insurgents with ammunition, and to land heavy naval guns for their use. On the twenty-seventh one of the gates was battered in, and the Galicians were preparing to storm the place, when Chalot surrendered at discretion, only stipulating that he and his men should be handed over to the British, and not to the Spaniards. This request was granted, and Captain Mackinley [captain of HMS Lively] received twenty-three officers and nearly 800 men as prisoners, besides a number of sick and several hundred non-combatants...". (Oman 1903, pp. 264–5.)


  1. ^ a b c d e Ullrick, Laura F. (November 1920). "Morillo's Attempt to Pacify Venezuela". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 3 (4): 536 – via JSTOR.
  2. ^ a b c "Pablo Morillo y Morillo | Real Academia de la Historia". Retrieved 2024-02-18.
  3. ^ Echeverri, Marcela; Soriano, Cristina (2023), Soriano, Cristina; Echeverri, Marcela (eds.), "Introduction: Rethinking Latin American Independence in the Twenty-First Century", The Cambridge Companion to Latin American Independence, Cambridge University Press, pp. 11–12, ISBN 978-1-108-49227-0
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l (in Spanish). Quintero Saravia, Gonzalo M. "Pablo Morillo". Diccionario Biográfico electrónico (DB~e). Real Academia de la Historia. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  5. ^ Oman, Charles (1903). A History of the Peninsular War, Vol. II, pp. 264–5. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 8 August 2023.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ a b Calvo Stevenson, Haroldo; Meisel Roca, Adolfo, eds. (2011). "El sitio de Cartagena por el general Pablo Morillo en 1815". Cartagena de Indias en la Independencia (in Spanish) (1. ed.). Cartagena: Banco de la República. pp. 412–413. ISBN 978-958-664-238-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ Lemaitre, Eduardo (1994). A Brief History of Cartagena. Medellin: Compania Litografica Nacional S.A. p. 56. ISBN 9789586380928.
  8. ^ "Oficio de Pablo Morillo, general, a José Fernando Abascal informando de la toma de Cartagena de Indias". PARES. Retrieved 2024-02-16.
  9. ^ Calvo Stevenson, Haroldo; Meisel Roca, Adolfo, eds. (2011). "El ejército expedicionario de Tierra Firme en Nueva Granada". Cartagena de Indias en la Independencia (in Spanish) (1. ed.). Cartagena: Banco de la República. p. 362. ISBN 978-958-664-238-5.


  • Costeloe, Michael P. (1986). Response to Revolution: Imperial Spain and the Spanish American Revolutions, 1810-1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32083-6
  • Earle, Rebecca (2000). Spain and the Independence of Colombia, 1810-1825. Exter: University of Exter Press. ISBN 0-85989-612-9
  • Stoan, Stephen K. (1959). Pablo Morillo and Venezuela, 1815-1820. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Military offices
Preceded by Capitan General of Venezuela
Succeeded by
Salvador de Moxó
Preceded by
Juan Bautista Pardo
Capitan General of Venezuela
Succeeded by