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Category: Military

567. general dn hilario lagos

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Hilario Lagos

Born in 1806 in Buenos Aires, Hilario Lagos had a life-long military career & participated in most major conflicts during Argentina’s formative years. He grew up just as the nation gained independence from Spain, & the constant conflict of that time drew him to the army. Lagos enlisted just before his 18th birthday & quickly rose in the ranks.

Local skirmishes against indigenous tribes prepared Lagos for his first international conflict. Brazil had declared independence from Portugal in 1822 & then tried to extend their control all the way down to the Río de la Plata… incorporating territory that formed part of Argentina. Losing the war, Brazil’s failure created a new nation: Uruguay.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Hilario Lagos, plaque

Lagos gained more military experience as he joined the private army of Juan Manuel de Rosas & continued to push back the native frontier. All these previous battles proved invaluable during Argentina’s internal conflict for the role Buenos Aires would play in national politics: economic capital or part of a confederation? The future of the country hung in the balance with Lagos caught in the middle.

He stayed true to Rosas until the bitter end, but after defeat Lagos switched sides in an attempt to bring about a more peaceful resolution. Buenos Aires did not take kindly to Lagos, whatever side he chose… after Buenos Aires became capital & the idea of confederation was discarded, they confiscated all the territory Lagos owned & forced him to live away from the city in exile. In 1857 Lagos was offered a command position to fight indigenous tribes yet again, but he refused. He passed away & was buried in Recoleta in 1860. Although a central figure in Argentina’s history, the legacy of Lagos is overshadowed by many others. However, many of his descendants also joined the military & even became high-ranking officers, carrying on a family tradition of national service.

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560. brigr genl dn juan martín pueyrredón

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Martín Pueyrredón

Straddling the east wall & tucked away near a corner, the simple tomb of Brigadier General Juan Martín de Pueyrredón receives few visitors. One of the founding fathers of Argentina, his memorial seems almost low-key compared to some of his contemporaries.

Born in 1777 in Buenos Aires, his father passed away when he was only 14 years old. That event would change his life. Sent at the age of 18 to Cádiz, Pueyrredón took over his father’s export business & continued increasing the family’s fortune. He also took the opportunity to travel in Europe before returning to Argentina in 1805. He’d married his cousin two years earlier, but she passed away (also in 1805) due to complications from a miscarriage. Influential & well-received back home, Pueyrredón first tried to act as a liaison when the British invaded Argentina the following year. But he soon decided to fight & joined local forces that would defeat the British.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Martín Pueyrredón

Although sent to Spain as a regional representative, Pueyrredón returned just in time to join the 1810 revolution that began his homeland’s struggle for independence. He was not a successful soldier in the following years but was named to replace Juan José Paso in the First Triumvirate —a prototype executive branch in the newly-formed United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Alongside San Martín, Pueyrredón organized army & naval forces against the Spanish.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Martín Pueyrredón

In 1815, Pueyrredón returned to Buenos Aires to marry his second cousin… he was 39 while she was only 14. Times have certainly changed! The following year he was elected as Supreme Director for the national government at a constitutional congress. Pueyrredón founded the national bank & continued to send funds & supplies to San Martín as troops marched toward Perú.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Martín Pueyrredón

Unfortunately, those early years of independence proved difficult to survive. Discontent brewed within the new government & in 1819, Pueyrredón was forced to resign & eventually went to Montevideo in exile. The political situation changed constantly & he was allowed to return to Buenos Aires two years later. In 1823, his wife gave birth to a boy —Prilidiano— and lived a comfortable life on her family estate in San Isidro. In a brief return to politics, he tried to negotiate an agreement between Juan Manuel de Rosas & Juan Lavalle but to no avail. Leaving for exile in Europe once again, Pueyrredón returned to Buenos Aires in 1849 & passed away a few months later. He left behind a long legacy of public service & commitment to Argentina.

Buenos Aires, Juan Martín Pueyrredón, Plaza X, statue

In spite of such a modest tomb, commemoration of Pueyrredón can be found throughout Buenos Aires: his statue decorates Plaza Chile in Palermo (above), a major north-south avenue (ending just behind the cemetery) connects Recoleta with the Once train station, & a small neighborhood in the western part of the city was named after him in 1907.

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541. manuel j. campos ◊

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos

One of 17 children—four destined to occupy high-ranking positions in the military—Manuel Jorge Campos participated in many of the major events of his day. Breaking from the influence of older brother General Luis María Campos & establishing a distinguished career of his own, the current condition of Manuel’s tomb suggests that history has perhaps forgotten his many contributions to Argentina… just compare with Luis María five mausoleums away.

As a young man, Manuel fought & was injured in several battles during the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay. Plaques at the mausoleum’s base depict those struggles:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos
Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos

He also helped squash the several rebellions of Buenos Aires against the national government as well as assisted Julio Argentino Roca in the fight to acquire land from the indigenous population in 1879. But his most historic claim to fame is a still-unconfirmed conspiracy which made the 1890 Revolution against the national government fail. Manuel Campos conspired with revolutionaries, gained their trust & became their military leader. Arrested & jailed shortly before the day of attack, President Roca visited Campos in his cell… historians believe some sneaky plans formed as a result of that meeting.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos

From his cell, Campos ordered the revolution to continue & fighting broke out in Buenos Aires. Only lasting four days, hundreds of people died including another Campos brother, Julio. Many believe that Campos made bad tactical decisions on purpose, throwing the revolution so Roca & his elite allies could remain in power. In spite of leading a rebellion, Campos never received any punishment. In fact, he spent the rest of his life in politics as either a Representative or Senator, supporting modernization of the military as proposed by fellow general Pablo Riccheri. On the back wall, a large plaque given by the legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires commemorates that service:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos

Of artistic merit is one of the few surviving works in Buenos Aires by Spanish painter & sculptor José Llaneces. Contemporary of Joaquín Sorolla & favored by the Spanish royal family at the beginning of the 20th century, Llaneces painted a series of murals for the Jockey Club… all destroyed in the 1953 fire set by Peronistas. A monument to Hipólito Vieytes by Llaneces sits in the neighborhood of Barracas, unseen & forgotten. The cemetery’s sculpture depicts a shrouded woman guiding a fallen soldier to heaven, perhaps Campos himself. The mausoleum received a write-up in a 1912 edition of the Spanish magazine Mundo Gráfico:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos, José Llaneces
Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos, José Llaneces, Mundo Gráfico
Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Manuel J. Campos, José Llaneces, Mundo Gráfico
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540. tomás guido

Occupying a prime piece of cemetery space —a wide, main axis close to the central Cristo Redentor statue— this mausoleum also attracts lots of attention thanks to an interesting design. Unfortunately its first occupant no longer resides here; you’ll have to go to the cathedral on Plaza de Mayo to pay your respects. Read on…

Born in 1788, Tomás Guido witnessed or participated in almost every major event during the creation of Argentina as an independent, new nation. He started young, defending Buenos Aires from both British invasions in 1806 & 1807 at the age of 18. Guido later accompanied Mariano Moreno on a diplomatic mission to the UK & was on board when Moreno passed away at sea. During independence wars, Guido traveled to Tucumán where he became a secretary & befriended both José de San Martín & Manuel Belgrano. Memoirs of his time with San Martín became an invaluable historic document, published in 1816. Over time, he would advance in rank & participate in the liberation of what we know as Chile & Perú.

Returning to Buenos Aires, Guido worked with the Rivadavia government during the war with Brazil. He continued to be appointed by successive leaders such as Manuel Dorrego, Juan Lavalle, Juan José Viamonte & surprisingly by both Juan Manuel de Rosas & Justo José de Urquiza at different moments. Usually involved in diplomacy & international relations, Guido passed away in 1866 in Buenos Aires after negotiating a peace agreement between Paraguay & the United States just a few years prior. His last wish was to be buried in the Andes, in remembrance of his time fighting for South American independence.

Legend claims that Guido’s second youngest child, Carlos Spano y Guido, felt so committed to his father’s final wish that he had stones brought from the Andes to build this mausoleum. We’ve yet to see any hard proof, but it’s a wonderful story. Some even insist that Carlos built the tomb himself by hand. Again, unlikely but hey… sounds great! The design of the tomb fits an era when romantic ideas were combined with images of nature, & the pintoresco style was born:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Archivo General de la Nación, AGN, Tomás Guido
Image courtesy of Archivo General de la Nación, copy taken by author.

Also check out a nearby tomb to Gregorio Torres with an almost identical wrought-iron door:

On the 100th anniversary of his death, descendants of Tomás Guido authorized the national government to transfer his remains. Guido keeps company once again with San Martín in the cathedral of Buenos Aires:

An important figure in his own right, Carlos Spano y Guido & his descendants remain buried here. Guido y Spano wrote well-received romantic prose & became director of the National Archive (plaque below dedicated to his passing). He also worked to found the Sociedad Protectora de Animales with José Pérez Mendoza. In 1946, this tomb was designated a National Historic Monument by the Perón government.

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503. coronel juan de dios rawson

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson

Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson, whose father came from Massachusetts, fought in several battles during Argentina’s early years of organization, including the Guerra de la Triple Alianza. He was also the half brother of Dr. Guillermo Rawson. But his great-grandson, Arturo Rawson, became President of Argentina… for only 72 hours.

Rawson had a long career in the military & rose to the rank of General after several decades of service. As commanding officer of the cavalry, he possessed the troops needed to stage a successful coup d’etat already planned by the GOU (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos) in 1943. This secret, informal collection of officers aimed to end the Década Infame where electoral fraud kept the same people in power year after year.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Arturo Rawson

On 04 Jun 1943, Rawson marched 10,000 soldiers into Buenos Aires & took control of the country. While naming fellow officers to government positions & before he was sworn in as de facto President, the GOU realized they had made a mistake in asking Rawson for help. He supported the Allies in World War II while the GOU thought Argentina should remain neutral. Juan Domingo Perón, along with other GOU members, forced Rawson to resign & General Pedro Ramírez took his place.

For a brief period Rawson served as ambassador to Brazil. He also supported an attempted coup to overthrow Perón’s government in 1951. Rawson died of a heart attack the following year & did not live to see the eventual ousting of Perón in 1955.

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