April 5, 1818

On this day in 1818, Bernardo O’Higgins helped to secure the independence of Chile from Spain in the Battle of Maipú. O’Higgins, then Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, was the illegitimate son of Ambrosio (formerly Ambrose) Bernardo O’Higgins, an Irishman from Co. Sligo who had moved to Spain as a young man and received colonial postings of increasing importance from the Spanish government, eventually becoming Marques de Osorno. His mother was Isabel Riquelme, from an upper-class Chilean family. Under Jose de San Martin’s official command, O’Higgins fought tirelessly in the War of Independence to gain Chile’s freedom. After the war, he became Supreme Director of the newly independent country.

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