José Francisco de San Martín Gómez y Matorras, known simply as José de San Martín (c. 1778 – 17 August 1850), was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from Spain.
Son of Spaniard Juan de San Martin y Gómez, born in Cervatos de la Cueza on 25 February 1778, and wife Gregoria Matorras, he was born the fifth and last child in Yapeyú, a small village in Corrientes, Argentina.
His father was a Colonel in office as Lieutenant Governor of Yapeyú beginning in 1774. In 1781, the family moved to Buenos Aires. In 1785, his father was transferred again, this time to Spain, first in Madrid and then in Málaga. And so the family moved to Spain, and San Martín enrolled in Malaga's school of temporalities where he studied from 1785.
In 1789, aged 11, San Martín left the Real Seminario de Nobles and enrolled in the Regiment of Murcia, starting his military career as a cadet in the "Unidad de Infantería Murcesa" (Murcian Infantry Unit).
Military career in Europe
After joining the Regiment of Murcia, San Martín participated in several campaigns in Africa, fighting in Oran against the Moors in 1791 among other places. Later, by the end of the First Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1797, his rank was raised to Sub-Lieutenant for his actions against the French in the Pyrenees. On August of the same year, after several engagements, his regiment surrendered to British naval forces in 1798. Soon afterward, he continued to fight in southern Spain, mainly in Cádiz and Gibraltar with the rank of Second Captain of light infantry. He continued to fight Portugal on the side of Spain in the War of the Oranges in 1801, and was soon after promoted to captain in 1804.