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Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes

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oranphil View Drop Down
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Joined: 08 Nov 2015
Location: Lima
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    Posted: 08 Nov 2015 at 15:46

On November 4th 1816 Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes was born in Lima, Peru, he was a colonel for the Peruvian Army and is now considered a national hero of Peru. 



So who was Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes?
Francisco Bolognesi was the son of a musician Andrés Bolognesi who was from Génova, Italy and his mother Juana Cervantes was from Arequipa and at a young age he moved to Arequipa with his family. In In 1830 Bolognesi studied at Seminario Conciliar de San Jerónimo and studied there until the death of his father. He then joined the military and was involved in a revolution lead by Ramón Castilla; one of the major battles Bolognesi was involved in at this time was the The Battle of Carmen Alto which took place on the 22nd of July 1844. The revolution was a success and it overthrew the president Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco. In light of this victory Ramón Castilla offered Bolognesi a position in the army but he refused and went back to civilian life, where he went into the trading business, travelling around Peru like Puno and Cusco involving himself in the coffee and coca trade. 
This trading business did not last as tensions between Peru and Bolivia rose to a level in which both countries prepared for a war this led to Bolognesi joining the military again in 1853 and this time he was selected as the second in command of a cavalry regiment. Peru and Bolivia never went to war however; he decided he would stay in the military. By this time Ramón Castilla had been succeeded after six years of power by José Rufino Echenique (President 1851-1855) this all changed once again as Ramón Castilla lead another coup in 1855, Bolognesi helped Castilla achieve victory in the Battle of La Palma on January 5, 1855, Bolognesi due to the success of the battle gained the rank Lieutenant Colonel. 
He went on to successfully suppress the revolt of the deposed president Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco in Arequipa in 1856 and was promoted to Colonel. At this time in Peru political power shifted around and relations with surrounding countries became tense this is evident when Bolognesi found himself fighting against the Ecuadorians in 1859 who were eventually pushed back. 
After the internal and external conflicts President Castilla sent Bolognesi to Europe to purchase weapons especially artillery, he returned to Peru with forty Blakely cannons which were used to defend Callao against the invading Spanish fleet which tried to recover their lost colonies in the Pacific. After another success he was then again sent to Europe in 1864 but this time to purchase weapons for the infantry especially French cannons and modern rifles from Belgium . His gained another title Commandant of the Artillery and in 1868 in he was appointed Civil Governor of Callao and in 1871 retired from the army, at the age of 55 years. 
At the age of 62 Bolognesi came of out of retirement to help fight against the Chilean army in 1879, the year in which the War of the Pacific broke out. In November, 1879 he helped fight in the Battles of Dolores and Tarapaca and in April, 1880, he was placed in command of the Peruvian port of Arica.
After the Peruvian and Bolivian military were defeated in the Battle of Tacna on May 26, 1880 it was only a matter of time before Arica would fall, at this time Arica was being held by Bolognesi along with 1600 soldiers this was no match for the 6000 Chilean soldiers surrounding them. News of the defeat in Tacna by this time had reached the Peruvian military but nevertheless the hope and the idea that the battle could still be won was still alive in the Peruvian soldiers. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed Juan de la Cruz Salvo a Chilean solider was sent to agree surrender terms with Bolognesi however, Bolognesi refused along with the other officers and the phrase he used is still echoed even in Peru (official motto of the Peruvian Army) and South America today that phrase was “We have to fulfill a sacred oath and we will fight until the last bullet has been fired." 
The battle of Arica (June 7, 1880) waged on and some stories tell of how Bolognesi even though wounded kept firing and fighting till he was killed with a blow to the head with the gun stock of a Chilean soldier. After three days of battle Chile lost 474 men and Perú 1000, one of the highest percentages of losses (60%) in any battle field. Most of the prisoners, mainly wounded, were executed after the battle.
On July 04, 1880, Bolognesi’s remains were brought back to Lima and buried in the “Presbitero Maestro” cemetery, later on moved to the crypt where most of Peruvians heroes rest.




Edited by oranphil - 08 Nov 2015 at 15:48
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