Vicente Benavides

Vicente Benavides Llanos (Quirihue, 1777 – Santiago, Chile, February 23, 1822) was a Chilean soldier who fought in the Chilean War of Independence.

Vicente Benavides
The head of Benavides stuck on a pole
DiedFebruary 23, 1822 (aged 44–45)

Life as soldierEdit

He initially sided with the patriots but changed sides later to side with the royalists. He then led the royalist bands during the so-called Guerra a muerte. This was a time of irregular warfare and Benavides got the aid of many Mapuche chiefs to combat the Chileans and pillage the countryside. He became known in this period for cruelty towards prisoners and breaking faith during truces. The Pincheira brothers, a future outlaw group, served Benavides in the Guerra a muerte by defending the Cordillera.

In March 1821 Perseverance was anchored at St Mary's (37°03′S 73°31′W / 37.050°S 73.517°W / -37.050; -73.517) when a boat belonging to Benavides captured her; she was later burnt in the Tubul River (37°13′59″S 73°26′35″W / 37.233°S 73.443°W / -37.233; -73.443). Benavides had murdered her master, two mates, and part of her crew.[1]

On 14 May Benevides seized the American merchant vessel Hersilia, also at Santa Maria island, and later destroyed the vessel.


Benavides was captured near the end of the war. After a brief trial in Santiago, Benavides was hanged on 23 February 1822. His body was mutilated and dismembered, due to popular feeling against him.

In literatureEdit

The author Joseph Conrad modeled his character Gaspar Ruiz on Benavides. Conrad wrote "Gaspar Ruiz": in 1904–5, published it in The Strand Magazine (1906), and again in A Set of Six (1908 (UK); 1915 (US)). This story was the only piece of Conrad's fiction ever adapted by the author for cinema, as Gaspar the Strong Man, 1920. Conrad found Benavides in Chapter 4 of Captain Basil Hall's 1824 book.[2]

Citations and referencesEdit


  1. ^ "The Marine List". Lloyd's List (5684). 26 March 1822.
  2. ^ Conrad (2011), pp.197-8.


  • Barros Arana, Diego (1850), Estudios históricos sobre Vicente Benavides i las campañas del Sur: 1818-1822 (in Spanish), Santiago, Chile: Imprenta de Julio Belin i Compañia
  • Castedo, Leopoldo (1954), Resumen de la Historia de Chile de Francisco Antonio Encina (in Spanish), 2, Santiago, Chile: Empresa Editora Zig-Zag
  • Conrad, Joseph (2011) Joseph Conrad's Letters to R. B. Cunninghame Graham. (Cambridge University Press). ISBN 9780521129411
  • Hall, Basil, (1824) Extracts from a Journal written on the Coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico, in the years 1820, 1821, 1822. (Edinburgh: Constable).
  • Vicuña Mackenna, Benjamín (1868), La guerra a muerte: memoria sobre las últimas campañas de la Independencia de Chile (1819-1824) (in Spanish), Santiago, Chile: Imprenta Nacional, p. 562
  • Archivo O'Higgins (in Spanish), II, XVI & XXI, Santiago, Chile: varias imprentas, 1946–1966