W. Harris Chynoweth.

The fall of Maximilian, late emperor of Mexico; online

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remarked, that he, with a heart full of sympathy and gene-
rosity for the fallen Emperor, being internally desirous that
he should escape, and disgusted with the treason, approached
him as though he did not recognise who it was (Maximilian
being in civilian costume), saying, " Ustcd es un particular y
" no tin soldado ; no tencvios que dccir a ustcd. Andalc T —
(" You are a private individual and not a soldier ; we have
" nothing to say to you. Away !") and he delicately put
the Prince outside the convent.

This opportunity of escape was not taken advantage of
The game was now up — all was lost ; still, with an inexplic-
able obstinacy, and an extraordinary lack of judgment,
being apparently unwilling to succumb without a final effort.


the Emperor hurried away to the heights of La Campana,
at the other extremity of the city.

" Towards that same point the Imperialist officers and
soldiers who had not yet been captured were going in con-
fusion, pursued by the cavalry of the enemy.

" Up to that time only a few shots had been fired.
General Corona, at all times prompt in his movements, had
made the principal part of the Liberal army enter into the
convent first, and afterwards into the town. He then flanked
all the positions of the Imperialists, when the defenders
threw down their arms, exclaiming, ' Viva la Liber-tad P
But Miramon was not disposed to yield so easily. Rallying
a portion of the regiment of the Empress, which he met in
the street of Las Capuchinas — the principal street of the city
— he checked the assailants. The first discharge wounded
Miramon in the face, under the left eye, which momentarily
deprived him of sight. Before he had recovered from the
shock all his soldiers had surrendered, and he was prisoner
in a neighbouring house !

" During this time Maximilian had reached the Cerro
de la Campana, a fortified hill which commanded the
northern part of the city ; he had been rejoined by his
generals, Mejia, Castillo, and Avellano, by the Prince Salm-
Salm and several others of his officers ; but it soon became
evident that all resistance was impossible. Four battalions
of infantry and all the Liberal cavalry surrounded the

" The white flag was then hoisted, and the Emperor,
with all his staff, surrendered to General Corona. Permis-
sion was granted to the prisoners to retain their horses, their
arms, and their personal effects, and some hours afterwards
they were conducted to the convent of La Cruz."

The siege had continued for sixty-eight days. " The Em-
peror lived like a common soldier ; full of hope, illusions,
and abnegation, he exposed himself with singular indiffer-
ence. His conduct has not ceased to be an example of
chivalrous courage, and a matter of admiration to all."


The following despatch from Baron de Lago, the Austrian
Minister, on the events of Queretaro, is replete with
interest : —

'' Mexico, 25th June, 1867.

'* I trust your Excellency has received my letter of the
30th ultimo, and will permit me to give you an abridged
account of the events which have happened since, so far as
time and circumstances will allow me, reserving details for
another occasion.

" Notwithstanding the obstacles which Lieutenant-Gene-
ral Marquez placed in my way, I was able to leave Mexico
on the 31st ultimo, by the Chalco canal, and, after a journey
of three days, I arrived at Queretaro on the night of the
3rd of June. On the following day I obtained from the
general-in-chief (Escobedo) permission to see the Emperor
as often as I pleased. I immediately went to the prison
of the Convent of Capuchinas, where I found his Majesty
on a sick bed, suffering from dysentery, but in good spirits
and courageously resigned.

" Some hundreds of soldiers were lying on the stairs and
in the passages through which it was requisite to pass, in
order to reach His Majesty, so that it was necessary
literally to pass over their bodies. The chamber itself was
a cell situated at the bottom of a corridor on the first
story, about ten yards long and three yards wide. It
contained nothing but a camp-bed, a cupboard, two tables,
an arm-chair, and four other chairs, all rush-bottomed ; the
floor was roughly paved with tiles ; it had a door and
window opening on to the corridor.

"At the door a sentry was placed, and before the window
an officer was lying on a mat. At night, a general and
three colonels stood sentinel before the Imperial chamber,
with revolvers in their hands.

" The two Imperial generals, Miramon and Mejia, were
confined in two cells adjoining that of the Emperor, and
were able to converse freely with their Sovereign. At
a short di.stance (not in the character of prisoners) were

I - 2


Doctor Basch, the private physician of Maximilian, and two
European servants.

" From the moment of my arrival I had almost daily in-
terviews of several hours with His Majesty, who invariably
treated me in the kindest and most courteous manner. His
Majesty also frequently saw my colleagues, who had like-
wise arrived at Oueretaro ; the resident minister of Prussia;
the Charge-d'affaires of Belgium, Monsieur F. Hoorickx ;
and the Charge-d'afifaires of Italy, Monsieur Curtopassi,
towards whom he showed much courtesy and amiability.

" In the interval, in consequence of the grave and despe-
rate aspect of affairs, we were persuaded that the two
advocates, Riva Palacio and Martinez de la Torre, who
had come from Mexico, would act more efficiently in the
interests of the cause of Maximilian in San Luis, the seat of
the Republican Government, and, therefore, the place where
the case would be definitively decided, than at Oueretaro,
where the other two advocates, Ortega and Vasquez, had
better remain.

" Shortly after the arrival of the first two advocates at
San Luis we heard from them, by telegraph, that their
efforts had completely failed, and that the request they
had made, that the tribunal appointed to try the Emperor
should be declared incompetent, had been refused.

" That tribunal was composed of six captains, presided
over by a lieutenant-colonel. The advocates had proposed
that the cause should be sent before a Court-martial com-
posed of generals, or before the National Congress.

" On the receipt of this unfavourable news, conveyed
to us the same day by express from the advocates at San
Luis, Baron de Magnus, Minister of Prussia, departed im-
mediately for that city, to attempt a last effort for a better
result, or to obtain, at least, a suspension of the judicial
proceedings. In order that nothing should be wanting on
my part in whatever way I could be useful to the unhappy
Imperial prisoner, I offered, even though I might not be
called to San Luis by telegraph, to accompany my Prussian


colleague, particularly as his chancellor was very ill in

" It was not until after the solemn declaration made by
the advocates who were staying with me and my col-
leagues, that the presence of an Austrian Minister at San
Luis could only injure the cause of the Emperor, that I
renounced the project of going, for which His Majesty
heartily thanked me the same evening, as he wanted
me very much to be at his side. The Emperor placed
no hope in the negotiations commenced at San Luis ; and
with reason, as the result has shown, he anticipated abso-
lutely nothing from that quarter for his life and honour.

"On the 1 2th and 13th the process commenced in the
theatre of the city ; the Court-martial as well as the accused
were on the stage, and the public were in the stalls and
boxes ; the theatre was faintly lit up. As His Majesty,
partly on account of his indisposition, but principally from
a sense of wounded honour, would on no condition, short
of actual compulsion, appear in such a place, the proceedings
respecting him were suspended, and the court began with
the generals Miramon and Mejia, who also had to be forced
to appear on the stage.

"At length, on the morning of the 14th, the Imperial
advocates commenced to plead, after they had shown that
the process might take place and the judgment be legally
pronounced without the presence of the accused before his
judges. At a future time I shall be in a position to render
to your Excellency a more detailed account of the thirteen
points of accusation and the defence. Besides the usurpa-
tion of supreme power, civil war, &c., the most prominent
point in the accusation was the sanction given to the law of
the 3rd October, 1865, in conformity with which, according
to Liberals of note {notabilitcs liberales), 40,000 persons had
been executed in the country after that date.

"At nine o'clock in the morning of the 14th an adju-
tant of General Escobcdo came to look for Messieurs
Hoorickx, Curtopassi, Forest (late French Consul at Mazatlan


and charge of confidential powers of the Ambassador of
France), and myself, and conducted us to the head-quarters.
There the order was given for us to leave Queretaro within
two hours. We had scarcely time to inform his Majesty of
that measure and to pack up our luggage, when a second
order enjoined us to quit the city immediately.

"A quarter of an hour afterwards a diligence which was
placed at our disposal conveyed us from Queretaro. A pass-
port for the towns of Cuautitlan and Tacubaya was given
to us by the adjutant, who declared to us in the name of
General Escobedo that if we did not instantly leave Quere-
taro, or if we returned within seven or eight days, it would
cost us our lives.

" On the evening of the i6th, after a tedious journey, we
arrived at Tacubaya, where we learned that General Mar-
quez did not by any means intend to surrender the city
of Mexico, but that he continued to despoil and ill-treat
the inhabitants in the most shameless manner, whilst he
caused it to be officially announced that the Emperor had
obtained brilliant victories, and that he might be expected

" Famine had made fearful progress in the capital ; one-
third of the inhabitants had run away towards the positions
occupied by the Liberals, where extreme misery reigned and
horrible epidemics began to make their ravages.

" In the camp of the Liberals exasperation against
General Marquez, against the other Imperial generals, and
against the officers and soldiers serving under their orders,
reached its highest pitch, seeing that it was impossible to
admit that these could be still in doubt as to the fate
of the Emperor. They were therefore reproached with a
desire to cause useless effusion of blood without any chance
of success, from sheer passion and obstinacy.

"All the superior officers, Mexican and European, were
then on the list of those who should be executed after the
taking of Mexico. On the other hand, His Majesty the
Emperor had described General Marquez to me — as well


as to my colleagues — as the greatest traitor, who, from the
time that he left Queretaro, had always acted in a manner
directly opposed to the instructions which he had received
from the Emperor. Thus, the Emperor told me that General
Marquez had never been authorized to march on Puebla,
but that he had received orders to repair with the gar-
rison of Mexico and the money deposited in that city to
Queretaro, where he might then have offered a decisive
battle to the principal army of the Liberals, the issue of
which would certainly have been favourable.

" Having waited some weeks in vain for the return of
General Marquez, it had been resolved, after many com-
bats always successful against the besieging army (six
times more numerous), to abandon Queretaro and march
on Mexico ; he should have left on the morning of the
15th; but at 3 o'clock, A.M., the traitor Lopez, up to
that time a great favourite of the Emperor and com-
mander of the fortified convent of La Cruz, had intro-
duced the enemy into that position, which commands all

" The Emperor himself related to me that with the in-
tention of rejoining his troops there he had gone to the
well fortified hill of the Cerro de la Campana, which is on
the west side of the town.

"There he would have awaited General Miramon, but
in the interval the latter had received a severe wound in
the face and had been made prisoner. Thus the precious
time, which might have been utilised by opening to him-
self a road for escape, passed away without benefit. When
the Emperor heard of the fate of Miramon he thought no
more of flight.

"The majority of the Imperial troops, who during the
siege had shown themselves so brave and so faithful, had
been surprised and found themselves prisoners all scattered
about. Even General Mejia advised the Emperor to sur-
render, seeing that assaulting columns of the enemy were
approaching from all points with a terrible fire. The


Emperor himself at that moment took the white flag, and
surrendered himself to the General Riva Palacio, the son
of his present advocate.

" Four days previously, Colonel Lopez — that traitor ! —
had presented himself at the quarters of General Escobedo,
and traded his treason for the sum of 2000 doubloons,
on account of which, however, it appears he only received
about 7000 dollars. The Emperor himself told me that
Lopez had sold him and his troops for about eleven rials
(five shillings and sixpence) per head.

" As soon as I arrived at Tacubaya, I addressed an
official communication to the officers of the Austrian staff,
to inform them of the fall of Queretaro and the captivity
of His Majesty. At the same time I stated that an auto-
graph letter from the Emperor, in which he requested them
to put an end to a useless effusion of blood, and which
I had sent to them by Baron Magnus, had been inter-
cepted by General Marquez ; and I told them that, under
the circumstances, it was my duty to hold them responsible
before His Austrian Majesty, our gracious master, for the
life of every Austrian soldier lost in a useless manner.

" I offered to have an interview in the trenches during the
night with Colonel Khevenhuller, to divest him of the least
doubt as to the authenticity of the fate of the Emperor. At
the same time I entered into communication with General
Porfirio Diaz, for the purpose of obtaining the most favour-
able conditions for the Austrians. General Porfirio Diaz
declared a proposition from the Austrian officers, to be
allowed to present themselves at Vera Cruz with arms and
baggage, to be wholly inadmissible, because the foreign
troops had for two months supported the violent and cruel
tyranny of General Marquez.

" Ultimately General Diaz and myself agreed on the
conditions of the capitulation of the Austrian troops and
their officers — conditions which the General designated as
the extreme concessions of which he could take the re-
sponsibility in the faicc of his Government. General Diaz


refused to give me a written declaration, but declared to
me and to the witnesses present — Monsieur Frederic Hube
and Governor Baz — that he, on his word of honour, engaged
to have the stipulations observed. It was in that sense that
I communicated to the Austrian superior officers the last
conditions of the General, which were nearly as follows : —

" ' 1st. The principal condition of the present convention
is that from this moment the Austrians shall withdraw
themselves from all participation in hostilities against the
Republican forces.

" '2nd. If, between this and the morning of the 21st —
that is to say, within forty-eight hours after receiving the
stipulations — the Austrians leave the city and deliver up
their arms. General Porfirio Diaz guarantees to send them
to Vera Cruz at the expense of the Republican Govern-
ment ; but he desires that the arms and horses should be
given up, wdth the exception of the swords and horses of
the officers.

" ' 3rd. In case of a fight, if, without taking any part
therein, the Austrians retire within the palace and hoist the
white flag, the General can only guarantee their lives ; in
all other respects the Republican Government will decide.

" ' 4th. These conditions also apply to the other soldiers,
not being Mexicans, placed under the command of Austrian
officers, according to the second condition.'

" At five o'clock in the evening of the 20th we heard at
Tacubaya that these points had been accepted without
reserve by the Austrian officers. They declared at the
same time that, on the following day, at ten o'clock in the
morning at latest, the Austrians would leave Mexico, and
deposit their arms at Tacubaya. Unfortunately, negotia-
tions had been entered upon, with the object of a capitula-
tion, by General Tabera, Commandant of the City of
Mexico in the place of Marquez — who had concealed
himself — which were completed about midnight.

" On the 2 1 St, about five o'clock in the morning, the
Republican troops were to enter Mexico — which, in fact.


took place. Therefore the fulfilment of the second point
on the part of the Austrians became impossible, without
any fault on their side.

" The Austrians were concentrated in the palace, and
after the entry of the Republican troops their arms were
not demanded from them. The Austrians and a party of
foreign troops were to leave the next day for Puebla ; there
they would await the decision which the Republican Go-
vernment might definitively arrive at respecting them."

All the Austrians were subsequently sent to Vera Cruz,
from whence they embarked.

Completing this sketch in the words of Mr. Stephenson's
letter : —

" The besiegers, immediately after the fall of Queretaro,
" advanced to join Porfirio Diaz in the siege of Mexico,
" which was defended by Marquez with the energy of
" desperation.

" For a long time neither provisions nor fuel had been
" allowed to pass into the Capital, and already many of its
" inhabitants were perishing of hunger when Queretaro fell.

" Marquez was officially advised of the capture of the
" Emperor with all his officers, and he was requested to
" deliver up the Capital, which he no longer had a legitimate
" motive for defending ; but he sternly refused, and con-
" cealing the intelligence, he actually ordered rejoicings
" to be celebrated for a fictitious victory of Maximilian,
" which he invented in order to deceive his soldiers and the
" people.

" Now did Maximilian experience the sad result of his
" own bad act, in appointing the savage Marquez to be his
" General-in-Chief and Governor of the Capital ; for this
" monster, taking counsel only of his own ferocious nature,
" heeded not the peril of his master and of his old compa-
" nions, but, regardless of what their fate might be, resolved
" to continue a useless defence — and thousands of people
" miserably perished by battle, pestilence, and famine !

•' Not only did Marquez disregard the death and suffer-


" ings of the poor, but in order to extract money from the
" rich, he imprisoned all that refused to comply with his
" demands — not merely natives, but likewise British and
" foreign merchants, without distinction ; and we are told
" that, with a characteristic refinement of cruelty, he had
" them placed in rooms at the highest storey, exposed to the
" greatest heat, and to the flying balls — and refused to give
" them food until the money he wanted was paid.

" Of course, all business and trade were suspended,
" and the streets deserted by all the men of peace ; because
" the press-gang was ever active to catch all it could, to
" oblige them to take part in the defence, so that only
" women or children, or aged men, could venture in search
" of the scanty means of subsistence.

" We are not yet fully acquainted with the horrors of
" that dread time in the City of Palaces, the beautiful
" Mexico ; but the following incident, related in a letter
" from that place, dated the 27th of June, may afford an
" idea. The writer mentions, that in a family consisting of
** father, mother, and three small children, the mother sick-
" ened and died, and nothing to eat remained in the house.
" The father ventured out to seek provisions for his little
" ones, locking the door to keep them safe until his return.
"He was caught by the remorseless press-gang, who hurried
" him off, regardless of his prayers and deep despair ; and
" when, after three days, he by some means succeeded in
" reaching home, he found all his young children sleeping
" with their mother — in death !

" When such heartrending disasters were being caused
" by Maximilian's officers in Mexico, for above a month
" after the Emperor became a prisoner ; and similar miseries
" were taking place, although on a smaller scale, at Vera
" Cruz, which port also refused to surrender ; when people
" in all parts of the country were being distressed by ruin-
" ous exactions to maintain the war ; and when more
" than 20,000 men, women, and children had perished in
'' the sieges of Mexico, Queretaro, Puebla, and Vera Cruz —


" can we wonder that at length arrived the hour of retri-
" bution for the man, who, by his culpable folly and wrong-
" headedness, had made himself the direct visible cause
" of all these sufferings and deaths ?

" In Mexico it is well known that Juarez is not a san-
" guinary man, but that he is, on the contrary, averse to the
" shedding of blood ; and when he previously triumphed,
" in i860, in that second great contest with the Conser-
" vatives, he allowed all his enemies to escape, and did not
" order a single execution, after concluding by force of arms
" a civil war of three years.

" The delay which took place in the execution of
" Maximilian and of his principal Generals was doubtless
" owing to the secret desire of Juarez to find some plausible
" occasion for sparing their lives ; and if Mexico and Vera
" Cruz had capitulated when their commanders received
" official advice of Maximilian's capture, such an oppor-
" tunity for the exercise of clemency probably would have
" been furnished in the universal joy of the nation at the
" restoration of the long-desired peace.

" It had been expected that, as a consequence of the
" signal triumph at Queretaro, the Capital and Vera Cruz
" would be delivered up ; but when Maximilian's own
" General-in-Chief continued a useless but terrible conflict,
" the indignation of the impatient people could no longer be
" restrained ; and on the 19th of June, after thirty-five days
" of suspense, the decree of a court-martial was carried into
" effect, and Maximilian, together with his Generals, Miguel
" Miramon and Tomas Mejia, was launched into eternity."

Wednesday, the 19th day of June, 1867, is a memorable
date in the history of Mexico. Ere the sun, which on that
day seemed to shine with more than usual splendour, should
have set, Maximilian would be no more.

At 6 A.M. the cortege left the convent of the Capuchinas.
The glories of that beautiful morning burst suddenly upon
them as they entered their carriages, each prisoner being
attended by a priest. Their sombre garments and saddened


faces stood out in striking contrast to the charm which
nature yields so unsparingly in that delightful climate.
Maximilian, enthusiastic to the last, could not refrain from
expressing his admiration. On reaching the threshold,
turning to his advocate, Ortega, he exclaimed : " What a
"beautiful sky! It is just like this that I should have
" wished the day of my death to be."

Four thousand soldiers formed an escort. The procession
slowly wended its way to the Cerro de la Campana, a hill
in the suburbs of Queretaro, which was the place selected
for the final scene in the life of the illustrious prisoner and
of his companions in arms. Generals Miramon and Mejia.

On arriving at the place of execution — about one hun-
dred yards from the spot where he had surrendered himself
on the 15th of May — the calm demeanour and courageous
bearing of the ill-fated Emperor testified to the dignified
resolution with which he met his fate.

On alighting from his carriage, he coolly brushed off" some
dust from his dress, and then, with head erect and with a
firm step, he walked to the spot where he was to be shot.

To each of the firing party he presented a twenty-dollar
gold coin, and enjoined them to aim at his breast.

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Online LibraryW. Harris ChynowethThe fall of Maximilian, late emperor of Mexico; → online text (page 7 of 23)