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The Military Order of San Mateo (Order Militar de San Mateo) was established in Colombia by law in October 1913, and regulated by decree in March 1914. It was named after the city of San Mateo (now Venezuela) where Simon Bolivar's troops defeated a large army of royalists forces in 1814.
The Order is currently conferred upon members of the Colombian Armed Forces for meritorious service and acts of exceptional bravery in the defense of the nation from external enemies.
The Order's grades are three; I, II, and III Class. Since its inception, it has been the highest military award and the second-highest award within the country.
The Order was founded in honor of Antonio Ricaurte (1786-1814) who sacrificed himself in the Battle of San Mateo. When the royalist army invaded San Mateo, they took hold of most of the estate, including the main house, which was used as the principal ammunition depot. Ricaurte realized that the main house could not remain in the hands of the royalists, then he ordered his men to leave and lit a barrel of gunpowder inside, thus killing himself and a large number of the royalist troops who were readily occupying the precincts. Thus, Bolívar seized the opportunity and launched an attack to regain control of the main house and later the whole of the estate.
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