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Restoration War: triumph of the Dominican people in arms

ABSTRACT: The Restoration War can be defined as the most important political-military action in the Dominican Republic during its almost two centuries of republican life. The Grito de Capotillo of August 16, 1863 began the restoration war and after successive defeats of the Spanish Army in the Northwest Line and in Santiago, on September 14 the Provisional Government was installed in this last city, which immediately created the Army Liberator of the Dominican People. In this way, the leadership apparatus that the restoration movement required to achieve the systematic and coordinated development of the people’s war against Spain took shape, thus overcoming the little or no preparation that the Dominicans had in the field of arms. In this way, the indisputable triumph of the Dominican cause was being assured.

The Restoration War was the culmination of a complex process of struggle developed by the Dominican people and the followers of the Duartian ideal of a country absolutely free and independent of any foreign power, between the years 1861 and 1865, with weapons in hand. for the return of the sovereign exercise of power in the Dominican Republic.

This historic event, of great significance for the reaffirmation of Dominican nationality, was the logical reaction of Dominican patriots to the embarrassing and unwelcome act carried out by General Pedro Santana and his acolytes to annex the country to Spain on March 18, 1861. as an “overseas province”, after having waged many glorious days against the Haitian expeditionary army between 1844 and 1856.

The Restoration War can be defined as the most transcendent political-military action of the Dominican Republic during its almost two centuries of republican life. With this feat it was made clear once again that the Dominican people are endowed with a deep nationalist feeling and that it is possible to articulate and unify it around an alternative project, as long as they are able to collect, systematize and interpret their desires libertarian, frustrations and yearnings more heartfelt.

The reckless and inadvertent annexation of the Dominican Republic to Spain was immediately made known in the public square of today’s Parque Colón, the civic demonstrations and the armed actions of the Dominican people were immediate in different parts of the country. That was the response to the surrendering attitude of the Creole dominant sectors and to the arrogant, arrogant and discriminatory attitude of the dominant sectors of Hispanic origin.

By the year 1863, all the dreams and all the expectations of economic prosperity and social well-being that General Pedro Santana and his group had created in the Dominican population had vanished to justify the urgent need for the annexation of our country to Spain. These negative situations were what made possible the unification of the entire town around the liberation project that began firmly and decisively on the Capotillo hill, in Dajabón. In this way, they put aside, even momentarily, the different political plots and the multiple harrowing warlord struggles that had characterized the period of the First Republic, in order to face the common enemies of that time: Spain and its local allies.

The Dominican patriots realized the magnitude of the undertaking they intended to carry out, which is why from the beginning they understood it essential to have the determined support of the Haitian people and their Government, who would become the strongest rearguard and safe to guarantee the triumph of their cause. This is so because the Haitian people also felt threatened by the Spanish presence in the eastern part of the island of Santo Domingo, since this could awaken in the French metropolis the same desire to recover its former colony. This is what allows us to explain why, from the first moment, the different actions carried out by the Dominicans had the public or underhanded support of the Haitian Government, despite Spain’s constant threats to the sister country.

The different episodes that took place in the border area of ​​the two nations that share the island of Santo Domingo show that the political destiny of both republics is connected by unavoidable common points, such as the fight against reciprocal enemies at different historical junctures, such as France, Spain and the United States, as well as mutual support and solidarity when undertaking any emancipation project with respect to their oppressors.

In addition to offering their territory for the preparation of the armed uprisings against the Spanish Government, the Haitian authorities collaborated with the donation and introduction of weapons, ammunition and other supplies acquired abroad through its ports, in favor of the great and beautiful restoration company of the Dominican Republic.

After the uprisings drowned in blood in different parts of the country after the annexation to Spain, such as the one in Moca —led by Colonel José Contreras on May 2, 1861—, the one in San Juan de la Maguana —led by Francisco del Rosario Sánchez between the months of May and July 1861—, that of Neiba —headed by Cayetano Velázquez on February 9, 1863—, those of Sabaneta, Guayubín and Montecristi –headed by Santiago Rodríguez on February 21, 1863 – and that of Santiago de los Caballeros —on February 24, 1863—, several Dominican patriots led by Santiago Rodríguez, Benito Monción and José Cabrera proceeded to cross the northern border from the neighboring country of Haiti on August 16, 1863, to drum roll, and hoisted the tricolor flag on the hill of Capotillo, a community belonging to the current province of Dajabón.

In just twenty days, all the towns of the Northwest Line had been won by the Dominican patriots and the war took on such a dimension that it spread throughout the country, which is why the emergence of a political instrument was extremely necessary and urgent. -military who was capable of leading that glorious and immense national liberation movement to victory.

Between August 31 and September 13, 1863, the decisive Battle of Santiago de los Caballeros was fought between the restorers and the invading Spanish forces, which in its entirety lasted approximately 14 days. This military conflict ended with the surrender of the invading royalist forces, the action of September 6 of that year being the most decisive in defining the armed conflict that developed between the Dominican patriots and the peninsular troops.

That was how, in the heat of the struggle, the Central Command was created, made up of Generals Gaspar Polanco, Gregorio Lora, Ignacio Reyes and Gregorio Luperón, as well as Colonels Benito Monción, José Antonio Salcedo (Pepillo) and Pedro Antonio Pimentel. General Polanco was appointed as chief of operations, who, having held the rank of general since the First Republic and having designed various victorious war tactics against the Spanish, was invested with the highest rank of generalissimo.

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