Battle of March 19: war conflict that prevented the seizure of independence
Santo Domingo, DR
March, like February, is a month that hosts several patriotic dates, among them the Battle of March 19, 1844. This was the first of many battles fought by Dominicans in defense of national sovereignty.
The heroic joust took place less than a month after the proclamation of national independence on February 27 of the same year.
After the group of patriots guided by the ideals of Juan Pablo Duarte rebelled against the Haitian yoke that repressed the Dominicans from 1822 to 1844, the country was in a constant struggle to keep its independence out of the clutches of the invaders who sought to reconquer the eastern part of the island.
The first attempt of the Haitian people to regain the territory they had occupied for 22 years was registered 20 days after the revolt that began with the blunderbuss of the Father of Pariah Ramon Matias Mella at the Door of Mercy.
At that time, the country was governed by the Provisional Government Junta, presided by Tomás Bobadilla and constituted by Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, who served as a member during the period known as the First Republic.
Under these circumstances, the Haitian troops commanded by Charles Hérard took advantage of the situation to penetrate the southern part of the country to reoccupy the eastern part of the island.
The battle occurred on March 19, 1844, in the province of Azua in the country’s south. There, Haitian soldiers who had entered through San Juan de la Maguana confronted the Dominican army commanded by Generals Antonio Duvergé and Pedro Santana.
The war, which on this day celebrates its 179th anniversary, began around noon on Tuesday 19 and lasted approximately three days of intense fighting.
The Haitian casualties were heavy. It is speculated that more than 200 rival soldiers lost their lives, while Dominican losses were minimal.
This first post-independence war combat was dominated by the Dominican armed forces, comprised of 2,500 soldiers from the South and East against a robust military corps of more than 8,000 members.
The key to the victory of the Creoles was in the war strategy implemented by Generals Santana and Antonio Duvergé, who, for his outstanding work in the surveillance of the southern zone, was given the pseudonym “The Sentinel of the Border.”
Sentinel of the Border
Among the most influential men in the Battle of March 19, we must highlight the work of Antonio Duvergé, who, with his arduous surveillance of the southern zone of the country, prevented the invading Haitian troops from entering deeply into Dominican territory, thus acquiring the nickname of “The Sentinel of the Border.”
The strategic participation of General Duvergé, combined with the support of Pedro Santana, was fundamental in the Dominican triumph over the adversaries.
Faced with the defeat, the Haitian contingent had no choice but to retreat to the west, in present-day Haiti, where they would plan another attack that they would carry out 11 days later.
Seal of Independence
The triumph of March 19 became a seal of our independence. With this, we demonstrated our power to defend our sovereignty from foreign forces.
This day is remembered by Dominicans with great pride, especially by the natives of Azua. Accordingly, this province annually honors with several solemn activities the historic deed that made the retention of our independence possible.