John M. (John Milton) Niles.

A view of South America and Mexico, comprising their history, the political condition, geography, agriculture, commerce, &c. of the republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, Peru, the United provinces of South America and Chili, with a complete history of the revolution in each of these independ online

. (page 18 of 51)
Online LibraryJohn M. (John Milton) NilesA view of South America and Mexico, comprising their history, the political condition, geography, agriculture, commerce, &c. of the republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, Peru, the United provinces of South America and Chili, with a complete history of the revolution in each of these independ → online text (page 18 of 51)
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tered Sie place without opposition. Here he constructed a fort,

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and left a small garrison for the protection of his military stores^
and on the 24th of May commenced his march for the interior of
^e country.

At this time the revolution was at its lowest ehb, and little or
no resistance was openly made to the Spanish government, ex-
cept in the internal prov&ces ; there were, however, some guer*
rillas, in other parts, that kept the field. Calleja had been suc-
ceeded, as viceroy, by Don Juan H. de Apadoca ; and the new
viceroy departed from the policy of his predecessors, who had at-
tempted tp govern solely by fear and terror. Sensible that th«
cruel and bloody career of Calleja was not calculated to restore
tranquillity to a distracted countiy, where aU was war and desola-
tion, he resolved to try a different line of conduct, and attempt to
conciliate the affections of-the inhabitants, and to regain their con-
fidence. This conciliatory policy was attended with great sue- .
cess, and: almost put an end to the revolution, in the capital and
that part of Mexico. But the spirit of independence was sup-
pressed, not extinguished, and it was revived by the invasion of
the country by Mina. When he commenced his march, his
whole force, including officers, was 308 men ; with which he en-
countered a body of the enemy on the 8th of June, 1817, near
Yalle del Mais, routed them, and entered the town^ He made
no stay, but continued his march with great expedition, being de-
SHDus totmite with the independents in the interior, and on the
14th of June he encamped at the hacienda Peotillas. Here he
was attacked by a force greatly superior, but his heroic band, few
in number but brave in spirit, directed atid encouraged by their
gfdlant leader, not, only defended themselves, but compelled the
enemy to abandon the field with a heavy loss. In this action
Mina proved'himself to be a brave and skUfiil officer, and acquir-
ed the highest confidence of his followers. Continuing his march,
on the 18th he stormed and took the town of Real del Finos, al-
though defended by a garrison exceeding his own force ; and on
the 24th of June he reached Sombrero, where he found the forces
of the independents, having marched 660 miles in thirty-two days.
His -troops had endured the greatest fatigue, and almost every
hardship and privation ; but beii^g animated by their commander,
young, gallant, and popular, who shared himself hi all their suffer-
ings and wants, no murmtirs or complaints were heard. When
Mina arrived at Sombrero, he had 269 men, rank and file. Here
he wrote to the junta which had been established, acquainting
them with his object in invading the country, and offering his ser-
vices in the cause of independence ; he aLso wrote to Padre de
Torres, who was regarded as commander-in-chief of the patriots.

Mina learnt that a body of rojralists, amounting to 700, were in
the vicinity, and leaving the fort under the command of Don Pe<-


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dro Moreno, he marched in conjunction with a guerrilla, com-
manded by Ortisy of 100 men, to meet the enc^ngr. His whole
force amounted to 400 men, yith which he did not hesitate to en-
gage the reyalists, drawn up at the hacienda de los Llanos.. So
spirited and vigorous was the charge of the independents, led on
by Mina, that die enemy yielded hef<pre them and fled in disorder,
with thfe loss of half their nai;nber left on the field. After the
troops W^ere refreshed by a few days repose at Sombrero, Mina
and Moreno penetrated as far as Xaral, 60 mil^s from Ouanax-
uato, and surprised and took the place,^ in which they found im-
mense booty. * '
On his return to Sombrero, Mina received' intelligence of^the
surrender of Soto la Marina to the royalists, commanded by Ar-
redondo, governor of the internal ^ovinces. Following Up their
success, the Spaniards invested Sombrero. The patriots made ^
an obstinate defence ; but it being evident *the place could noft
hold out much longer, Mina left the fort and proceeded to gene-
ral Torres, in hopes of obtaining some troops for thfe relief of the
besieged, in which he did not succeed. ^ A few days after he left
the place, the patriots were compelled to evacuate it, and had no
other means of Escape but by cutting their way through the hnefi
of the enemy. Fifty only survived, who joined their leader^at
Los Remedies, the headquarters of general Torres. The royal-
ists under general Lihan, marched against Remedios, and invest-
ed the place on the 31st of August, which was defended by Tor-
res, assisted by some of Mina's officers. Mina, at the head of a
body of cavalry, marched toward Guanaxuato, and captured the
hacienda of Biscocho, and tlie town of San Luis la Bsiz., He al^o
advanced against the town of San Miguel, and commenced an lU-
tack . upon it, but retired on receiving information that a strong
force of the enemy was marching to the rehef of the place. ^ He
retreated to the valle de Santiago, where he was joined by man^
patriots, so that he soon was at the head of one thousand caval-
ry. With this force Mina set out for the rehef of Remedios, but .
learning that the besiegers were stronger than he had supposed,
he deemed his force insufficient for the purpose, and retired to the
mountains near Guanaxuato, being pursued by Orrantia* ^The
Spaniards carried on the siege of Remedios with great Vigowi
yet Mina continually harassed them with his cavalry, and cut off
their supplies. But at length he was attacked by Orrantia at the
hacienda of La Caxa, and defeated with a heavy loss. He re-
tired to a small town called New Puebla, twelve miles from ttie
scene of action, and attempted to rally the fugitives, who had es-
caped, but with little success, as most of them returned to their
homes. In this forlorn condition he proceeded to Xauxilla, to
obtain from the goveramj^nt of the independents, which was then

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foed at that place, aome troops to resume his military <mera-
tions. He proposed attacking Guanaxuato ; and after considera-
hle opposition to his plan it was agreed to, and he was suppUed
with a small body of troops. With this force he marched to the
valle de Santiago, where he was re-enforced by a few men from
Xalapa, waiting to join him ; but the approach of a detachment
of roycdists compelled him to withdraw from the valley. By a
nmid nKrvement throu^ the mountains, he descended in the rear
of the royalists, and marched to La Caxa ; and from thence he
proceeded by a rapid march across the country during the night,
tp an obscure place called La Mina de la Luz. Here he receiv-
ed some re-enforcements, which increased his little army to 1400
men, with which he did not hesitate to attack the city of Gua-
naxuato, although entirely destitute of artillery. As might have
been foreseen, the attack was unsuccessful, and afler burning the
machinery of the mine of Yalenciana, he retired, and ordered his
men Xo their difierent stations, retaining sixty or seventy only un-
der his immediate command. The bold career of this brave and
intrepid young officer and patriot was soon terminated. He was
surprised and captured by the Spanish general Orrantia, at Ve-
nadito, on the 27th of September, 1817. Apadoca the viceroy
gave orders for his immediate execution, and he was conducted
to the headquarters of Linan, commanding the royal army before
Remedios, where he was condemned, and shot on^the 11th of
November.* The capture of Mina not only occasioned great
joy among the royal chiefs in Mexico, but was regarded as so
import£mt an event by the Spanish government, that Apadoca was
honoured with the Mtle of Gonde del VenaditOi and Linan and
Orrantia received marks of distinction for having rendered so
great a service to their country.

The royalists now directed all their efforts in prosecuting the
siege of Remedios ; and Torres finding his ammunition failing,
evacuated the place on the night of the 1st of January, 1818.
The evacuation was so unskilfully conducted, that nearly all of
the garrison were killed or made prisoners, and ^he inhabitants of
the town, of all ages and both sexes, unarmed and unprotected,
were involved in one common ruin, and nearly all massacred.

The death of Mina, the fall of Remedios, and the loss of the
garrison, presaged the speedy overthrow of the cause of inde-
pendence, and encouraged the royaUsts to redouble their exer-
tions for file consummation of an object so devoutly to be desu-ed.
Th6 town and fortress of Xauxilla, the seat of the government
of the revolutionists, was invested by 1000 men under Aguirre ;
and the place was compelled to surrender, after being gallantly
defended for three moirths. The government was removed into

v^, T * Poinsett's notes on Mexico.

you 1. XJ

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the province of Valladolid, nidiere it was surimsed in the month
of F6hruary, 1818, by a party of royaiists, and the president
made prisoner. The popular government, however, still main^
tained a precarious existence, its members being obliged to re-
move from place to place, to avoid falling into tibe hands of the
Spaniards, having no troops sufficient for their protection. To
increase their difficulties, they were involved in civil dissensions.
Tories, after the fall of Remedies, had conducted in so capricious
and tynmnical a manner, that it liad been found necessaiy to de-
prive him of his situation as commahder-in-chief, by a ^rmal 4ie-
eree, which he resisted. Don Juan Arragon; a French offic^^
i^o came into the country with Mma, was appointed to succeed
Torres, and both parties had recourse to force, to settle the dis-
pute. The approach of the royalists ended this unhappy contest,
and Torres was obliged to yield, Und place himself under tl^e
protection of the government This occurred in tFuly, 1819, and
from this period ^e war languish^ eve;y where ; the ro3ralists
occupied all the fortresses, and every town, and the revohitionary
party appeared to be almost entirely crushed. General 6uerrer9>
however, a brave and enterprising officer, Arago, and a few othere,
eontinued to keep the field at the head of guerrillas, and roamed
over the mountains ; and Guadaloupe Victoria, an assumed namCi
but one which has since become illustrious in Mexico, after long
maintaining himself in the intendancy of Vera Cruz, as the only
resource left, disbanded his troops, and sought refuge in the
mountains fjom royal vengeance, by which m^ans his life was
preserved for the redemption of his country.

In 1821, after the revolution in Spain, deputies were sent from
Mexico to the cortes at Madrid, to propose terms (tf accommoda«
tion to the new government. ' On the 3d of May the subject was
brought before the cortes, by count Ferreno, which resulted m a
reference to a committee consisting of deputies of the Peninsula,
and of America, whp, in conjunction with the executive, were to
consider and propose such measure^ as they might deem best cal-
culated to " terininate the dissensions which prevailed in the va-
rious parts of America." Whilst the subject was before this com-
mittee, news arrived of the insurrection of Iturbide. * The dis- ,
cussions which this event occasioned, enabled tlie American de-
puties to show to the cortes the impracticability of the transatlan-
tic possessions of the monarchy being governed by the same sys-
tem and laws ad the Peninsula. The Mexican deputies offisred
a resolution, instructing the viceroy of New Spain to propose to
Iturbide a suspension of hostilities until the project of a govern-
ment for America could be decided on, which was rejected.

The committee devoted their attention to the subject with zeal
and assiduify corresponding with its importance. They had fire*

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quent conferences with the ministers, and at length succeeded to
their mutual satisfaction in maturing a plan of government for
the colonies, which, on being submitted to the kii^, met with his
utter disapprobation : thii^ caused the ministers to decline acting
further at that time upon the subject In consequence the com-
mittee reported that nothing could then be done but to excite the
zeal of the ministers, and reqiiest them to present to the cortes,
9s soon as possible, the fundamental measures which they maj^
depm calculated to complete the pacification of the revolted pro-
vmces. But this unsuccessful result did not discourage the Mex-
ican deputies from submitting to the cortes and the executive
another plan for die government of America. This plan was,
that Aiherica should be divided, into three parts. Mexico and
Guatem^a were to form one jurisdiction. New Grenada and Ve- .
nezuela {mother ; and Peru, Buenos Ayre% and Chih, the third ;
each of these jurisdictions were to have a cortes, possessing, with
certcdn limitations, the same power? as that of^ Spain. In each
division the executive power was to be exercised by a delegate,
named by the king, removable by' him at pleasure, and wholly ir-
responsible to the American cortes. He was to act in the name
of the king, having Ae power to appoint four ministers or secre-
taries, one of the interior of finance, one of justice and grace,
one oif war, and one of marinet In each government there was
to be a supreme judicial tribunal and council of state, and the
commerce of Spain and America was to be regulated as between
one colony and another. Mexico stipulated also to advance Spain
a large amount of money, as a gratuity, but further negotiation
was broken off by the Colombian commissioners disclaiming any
participation in the scheme, and insisting on the acknowledgment
of their independence as the only b&sis of any accommodation
with Spain.*

* See Letter of Mr. Brent, charge de affairs of the United States at
Madrid, to the Secretary of State.

,y Google



Koyal authority rC'estahlishedr-dnjlUence of the clergy— their views
changed by the revolt^on in Spain — second revolution planned
— plan of Iguala'proclaimed — viceroy deposed — disaffection of
the people — Victoria joins Iturhidcj who takes Queretaro-^^'SUC'
cess af the revolution-'-^rrival^ of O'Donoju — trea^yr^Mexico
the capital surrendered to the revolutionists'—Cortes assembled —
different parties — regency appointed— disputes between Iturbide
and the cortes^-^Iturbide declared emperor^— ambition of Iturbide
— proposes to establish military tribunals'— project defeated by
the cortes, •

THE struggle might now be considered as terminated, and the
royal authority as re-established throughout Mexico. This un-
fortunate issue of the revolution was mainly to be attributed to
the opposition of the clergy, whose influence had always con-
trolled the condtict of a large majority of the inhabitants. When
4he revolution first broke out, and (he standard of independence
was unfurled by Hidalgo, the shouts of liberty spread from river
to river, and from mountain to mountain, until they reached the
shores of the two oceans ; arid the whole country was electrified
by the patriotic flaipe. The people were evident^ ripe for a ge-
neral rising ; but this noble spirit was checked by the clergy, who
riewed in a revolution, origmating from,, and to be sustained by
the people, if not the overthrow of their power, at least great dan-
ger of it, and they immediately spunded the tocsin of alarm. The
church was in danger, the inquisition, and the Roman apostolic
catholic religion. All the engines of a powerful hierarchy were
put in requisition, and all the spiritual weapons of the church di-
rected against the revolution. Disloyalty to the Spanish govern-
ment was not only treason, but heresy, the greatest of all sins.
Ancient prejudices were rfenewed, the scruples of the cpnscien-
tious appealed to, the fears of some were excited, and the igno-
rance and superstition of the many taken advantage of, to oppose
the progress of the rev^ution, and aid the cause of royalty. The
want of an efficient goTemment, and unity of authority, dissen«
sions among the patriot chiefs, and the want of discipline in
their armies, and experience in their commanders, were the causes
of many of the disasters which retarded the progress of the revo-
.lutipn, and contributed to its unfortunate. teroiination; yet with

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all these dif&cidties, had not the rising current of popular feehog
been checked by the mfluence of the clergy, and religious preju*
dices been brou^t to oppose the cause of Uberty and inoepen*
dence, the furst revolution would have succeeded ; and its early
champions, instead of being rewarded for their exertions and
patriotism with a halter, would have been viewed as the redeem-
ers of their countty, ^d have received the highest honours on
earth, the homage of a free and grateful people.

But eyen as it was, we are not to suppose that their exertions
. were wholly lost, and that their blood flowed in vain. A despe*
rate struggle of ten years, for liberty, in which the best blood of
the country had been spilt, and the Creoles and Indians suffered
incredibly firom the cruel tyranny of the Spanish rulers, had exas-
perated the people against their oppressors, alienated their minds
from Spain, shaken ancient prejudices, and diffused much intelli-
gence among the inhabitsuits, which enabled them to understand
their lights, and rendered them more uneasy under the Spanish
yoke. During this long contest too, nnich experience had been
acquired by the patriots, and they had discovered the causes of
their disasters and miscarriages. Notwithstanding, therefore, the
xevblution had failed, it had scattered the seeds of independence
through the valleys, and over the mountains of Mexico, which
could hardly fail, in due time, of springing up and producing fruit
which would ripen to maturity. Had not the second revolution
been brought about in tiie manner it was, tranquillity could nof
long have been preserved, as the spirit of independence would
have ^oon disclosed itself among the people.

It is a curious fact, that the same cause which overthrew the
first revolution in Mexico, should have produced the second.
This cause was the exertions and influence of the clergy ; they
denounced the revolution at first, and afterward encouraged it,
without however becoming advocates, for liberty, or changing
their motives. The constitutional revolution in Spain, which
broke out in the isle pf Leon, the establishment of the cortes, the
various innovations made by them, particulariy tlie confiscating
the estates and reforming some of the higher orders of the priest-
hood, alarmed the clergy in Spanish America, and at once chang-
ed their attachment for the mother country into jealousy and ha-
. tred. Their affection for Spain proved to be nothing more than
an attachment for its ecclesiastical desp(Asm, and the moment
this was endangered, and there was a prospect of Spain becoming
free, they lost, all regard and veneration for the parent country,
and, from being its zealous advocates, becatne its open opposers.
The cortes were openly denounced from the pulpit, and their
patriotic measures, for the reformation of a corrupt and oppres-
sive system, were declared to be tyrannical, and calculated to

ToL.L 14 * r- T

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Overthrow aO civil order, and destroy the holy catholic religion^
Considering the government of Spain as now being in the hands
of disorganizers and impious men, they declared that a separation
was the only means of preserving the catholic religion ; and not
only openly advocat(^d a revolt against the Spanish government,
but assisted in devising and preparing the plan for giving eSect to
the revolution. The new order of things in the Spanish penin«
sula not only changed the views of the clergy in Mexico, but
many of the European Spaniards, who had been the most zecdous
Opponents of the revolution, were so indicant at the conduct of
the cortes, and so hostfle to the constitutional system, as to pre-i ^
fer the separation of Mexico from Spain, to its being governed
by the constitution of the parent country, and falling under the
dozhinion of the cortes. ^

The Spanish revolution, which entirely failed of securing the
freedom of the peninsula, was the meiems of establishing the inde-
pendence aiid liberty of Mexico.; and had the singular effect of
converting the clergy imd many of the European Spaniards, in
America, who had been the most violent o{^onents of the revo-
lution, into its most zealous: advocates. A considerable part of
the two classes* which supported the royal cause, having turned
against it, it had no other reliance but the officers of the govern-
mentand the military. The Spanmrds, and ihe clergy who were
at this time in favour of a revolution^ had very different views
from the Creoles | the first class wished for the independence of
Mexico, in hopes to preserve in America that system of despo-
tism, which they perceived overthrown in Spam, and thus secure
a refuge for Ferdinand VH. ; the clergy were in favour of a se-
paration, from an apprehension that the reforms and restrictions
of the prerogatives of the priesthood, which had been made in
S|>ain by the constitutionalists, would be introduced into Ameri-
ca; whSst the Creoles aiid Indians were anxious to throw off the
Spanish yoke, and thereby avoid its oppressions, and to establish
a free government. The latter, however, had little agency at
&st in the Second revolution, as it ivas planned and executed by
those who, though friendly to the independence of the country,
were opposed to its enjoying tlie benefits of liberty and free ia-
stitutions, securing equal rights to all classes of the people.

The principal difficulty with the clergy and Europeans who
were in favour of a revolution, was to' select a proper milits»y '
leader, as an instrument of carrying their plan into execution. At
length they fixed on Don Augustin Iturbide, who, although a Cre-
ole, had been zealous in the royal cause, and, as an officer of the
king, had fought against the independents with as much animosi-
ty as any* of ^e Spanish chiefs. He had been successful in his
military career, and had acquired the reputation of a brave and

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faiQiful officer ; and his situation at that time was veiry important,
as he had been appointed by the viceroy to command the army
desigaed to attack and disperse several popular chiefs, who, with
about 1500 adherents, had fortified an almost inaccessible moun-
tain, between Mexico and Acapulco, and thus to give the last
blow to the revolution. The European Spaniards considered him
attached to their p^rty ; the clergy thought he would maintain
their power' and privil^es, and^s^ the enemies of liberty and of
the equality of the difiSrent classes of the population, regarded
him as opposed to the establishment of a free government, and a'
fit instrument to bring about a revolution, which should separate
the colonies from Spain, and at the same time maintain the mo-
narchical system and the power of the hierarchy.*

The Spaniards JUad. priests engaged in the plot supplied Itur-
bfde yvith some funds, \v4uch he augmented by seizing on a con-
voy of specie of nearly a mfllion of dollars belonging to the Ma-
nilla merchants, whilst on his march against the insurgents. In-
stead of attacking the independents, under Guerrero, he formed a
junction with them, and attempted to explain tl^s event to the
viceroy, by representing, that the patriots had united with him,
claiming the protection of the government in pursuance of the
proclamation which he had issued. In the mean time, tfie revo-
lutionists in the capital had despatched agents to all the provinces,
and had been extremely active in disseminating revolutionary
sentiments ; and the great body of the clergy, together with many
of the Spaniards, now employing their influence in favour of a
revolution^ in a short time the minds of the people were prepared
to throw off the Spanish yoke. The united^armies proceeded to
Iguala, where on the 2ad of February, 1821, Iturbide submitted
to the officers a plan of independence, which being unanimously
approved of, copies of it were immediately despatched to the
viceroy and the governors of all the intendancies. This project
of independence, called therplan of Iguala, proposed that Mexico
should be independent of Spain, and be governed byahmited

Online LibraryJohn M. (John Milton) NilesA view of South America and Mexico, comprising their history, the political condition, geography, agriculture, commerce, &c. of the republics of Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, Peru, the United provinces of South America and Chili, with a complete history of the revolution in each of these independ → online text (page 18 of 51)