Jose Artigas, a South American general, born at Montevideo, in Uruguay, in 1755, died in Paraguay in 1851 (not, as often stated, about 1826). The son of a wealthy landed proprietor, he led for a time an adventurous life as a gau-cho, and then served as captain in the light cavalry of the provinces, but on account of some difficulty with the governor passed in 1811 into the service of the junta of Buenos Ayres, then in insurrection against Spain. At the head of a band of gauchos, he defeated the Spaniards in several encounters, and vigorously supported the republican army which besieged the Portuguese troops from Brazil who then occupied Montevideo. Passionate and scheming, he soon acted independently, and finally detached his men from the besieging army; whereupon Posadas, director of the junta, outlawed him and set a price upon his head. But the gauchos flocked to his standard, and Artigas, having defeated the troops sent against him, obliged his enemies to cede to him the whole of Uruguay (1814). He next compelled the Portuguese to abandon their attempt to regain possession of Montevideo, which had surrendered.
He now acted as dictator in his native country, and made a vigorous but unsuccessful attempt against Buenos Ayres (1815). After various contests he was twice defeated, in 1819 and 1820, and compelled to flee to Paraguay, where Dr. Francia, the dictator, banished him to Candelaria. Here the former gaucho chief devoted himself to husbandry, and to the care of the sick and needy, and attained a patriarchal age.