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The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships, 1810-1821 Author(s): Christon I.

Archer Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1 (May, 1981), pp. 57-82 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/07/2012 13:05
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The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships, I8IO-I82I


A late-comer in the privileged corporate structure of New Spain, the army struggled to wrest a position and to gain recognition. Other jurisdictions such as the merchant consulados, the Acordada, the Mining Guild, and the jealous creole-dominated ayuntamientos, contested military pretensions and triggered numerous judicial and jurisdictional disputes over how far the military could extend its legal powers. Representatives of the reformed Bourbon civil administration, unsure in some instances of the limits of their own authority, did not welcome a dynamic and grasping presence. For their own part, the army officers dispatched to command Mexican regular and militia units often represented the aggressively haughty airs of the European Spaniard - attitudes that rasped at the deep-rooted inferiority of the creoles and left them enraged. Little wonder that there was a constant stream of disputes, misunderstandings, and challenges directed against the army and
the fuero militar.l

Expansion of the provincial army to meet the defensive needs of the turbulent final decades of colonial peace strained relationships that were tenuous enough without the threats of foreign invasion and revolution. Because the ayuntamientos controlled militia appointments, financing of provincial regiments and battalions, and promotions, European officers could not escape close connections with the civilian sector. This did not mean, however, that the guardians of local interests would come to understand or respect the defenders of the empire. Officers expressed bitter complaints at the municipal authoritiesand the provincial populace. In 1797, when Colonel Juan Velazquez visited the town of Zamora to enlist a new militia dragoon
1For background see Lyle N. McAlister, The 'Fuero Militar' in New Spain, 1764I800 (Gainsville, '957); Santiago Gerardo Suarez, El ordenamiento militar de indias (Caracas,1971); Mariadel Carmen Velazquez, El estado de Guerraen Nueva
Espana, 1760-1808 and Society in New Granada, I773-i808 (Gainesville, 1978); and my own book, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760-I810 (Albuquerque, I977). ? I98x Cambridge University Press. $02.00 0022-216x/8I/JLAS-I3I2

Colonial Peru, 750o-181o (Philadelphia, 1978); Allan J. Kuethe, Military Reform

(Mexico, 1950); Leon G. Campbell, The Military and Society in


I. Archer Christon

regiment, he was incensed when the ayuntamiento refused his suggestions for officer candidates, and the young men who were to serve in the unit took to the hills. Velazquez condemned Zamora as 'an ungrateful town' and wrote
to Viceroy Marques de Branciforte, '. . this stormy cabildo commits errors

that are the legitimate sons of its ignorance.'2 Lieutenant Colonel Pedro de Laguna encountered a similar situation in Oaxaca during 1796 when he tried to raise an infantry battalion. Members of the ayuntamiento blocked his efforts and showed no understanding of the problems of defense. Their outlook was narrowly provincial and Laguna dismissed the alcaldes ordinarios appointed by the municipal government with the comment '... in their lives these officials have seen no other population than Oaxaca.' They abused the new miliatmen, stirred up disputes, and caused jurisdictional feuds with the militia commander. Although the incidents were insignificant in themselves, Laguna was certain that the ' . . immortal hatred they (the alcaldes)

have for militiamen' would continue to exacerbate relations between the two sectors.3 When similar conflicts occurred in Queretaro and Mexico City, SubInspector General of the Army, Pedro de Gorostiza, incurred the ire of the ayuntamientos by attempting to take over the power to appoint militia officers. As might be expected, no cabildo relinquished its hold over patronage powers without a struggle; in the capital the city government resisted Gorostiza and Viceroy Conde de Revillagigedo by making sure that there were insufficient donations to mobilize the regiment at private cost.4 Army officers argued that civilians lacked knowledge of the military profession and should not exercise control over candidates for commissions. They cited examples of ayuntamientos handing out militia posts without adequate consideration of social position, wealth, and the ability of individuals to take time from their regular professions to train with the unit. The ayuntamiento of Guanajuato was prodigal in its distribution of commissions - often assigning captaincies and lieutenancies to men who were visiting the region or who had no knowledge that they were being considered. When Guanajuato miner and smelter operator,Francisco de Septien y Montero, received surprise
2 3 4

Juan Velazquez to Viceroy Marquesde Branciforte,January1795, Archivo General de la Naci6n, Indiferentede Guerra(cited hereinafteras AGN:IG), Vol. 2II-B. Pedro de Laguna to Branciforte,Oaxaca,9 February1796, AGN:IG, Vol. I75-A. Ayuntamientoof Mexico to Viceroy Conde de Revillagigedo, I2 May I793, Archivo General de Indias, Section 5, Mejico (cited hereinafteras AGI, Mexico), leg. I437; Captainsof the Provincial Regiment of Mexico to the King, 29 July I794, Archivo General de Simancas, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6969; and Branciforteto the Minister of War, Conde de Alange, 5 October I794, AGI, Mexico, leg. 1438. Also see C. I.
Archer, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, pp. I47-9.

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


news that he had been awarded a captaincy, he had to petition the viceroy for permission to decline the honour.5 It is significant that Felix Calleja, the most outstanding soldier of the decade of insurrection, emerged early as an opponent of civilian intervention in military affairs. Writing in 1798, Calleja noted that in America all administrative branches of government exhibited tendencies toward disorder and the army was no exception. Officers often lacked talent or ability and they covered their weaknesses by blaming the system rather than improving the existing situation.6 As commander of the Tenth Militia Brigade based at San Luis Potosi, Calleja determined to root out errors in the militia structure and to establish his own office with powers to over-rule civilian direction. In i805 when command of the Dragoon Regiment of San Carlos became vacant with the death of Colonel Conde del Pefiasco, Calleja rejected the terna (list of three candidates) proposed by the ayuntamiento of San Luis Potosf. Scouring through the various regulations and ordinances governing the provincial militias, Calleja found differing interpretations depending upon which rules were in force. While it was obvious that the crown had granted a few municipal authorities the right to propose officer candidates, there was no specific ruling on the subjectby the crown.7 Quoting a series of reglamentos governing the provincial militias of other American provinces, Calleja convinced himself that there was no room for civilian interference, Since the militia ordinances of Cuba (1769) and Nueva Granada (I794) left officer selection in the hands of the army commanders, he saw no excuse for relaxing general practice in New Spain.8 Moreover, the establishment of a system of Mexican militia brigades had placed the power of inspection in the hands of the commanders.9 Obviously, argued Calleja, the crown wanted the chiefs who knew the qualities and abilities of officers to initiate promotions and to evaluate candidates for commissions. In his view, the selection of officers by a group of merchants would debase military
5 Francisco de Septien y Montero to Revillagigedo, Guanajuato, 14 March I794,

AGN:IG, Vol. I55-B. 6 Felix Calleja to Viceroy Miguel Jose de Azanza, 8 October 1798, AGN:IG, Vol. I57-B. 7 Calleja to Viceroy Jose de Iturrigaray,6 September1805, AGN:IG, Vol. 315-A. As a result of the dispute in I794 between the sub-inspectorgeneral and the ayuntamiento of Mexico, the minister of war granted the municipal authoritiespermission to propose militia officer candidates. In I795, Viceroy Branciforteused the ruling to permit all ayuntamientosthe right of patronagein this area. 8 See the Reglamento para las milicias de la Isla de Cuba... (Madrid, 1769); and the Reglamentoparalas milicias disciplinadasde Infanteriay Dragones del Nuevo Reino de Granada... (Madrid, 1794). 9 Instrucci6nque deben arreglarsus funciones los comandantesde brigada, I2 March I8oo, AGN: IG, Vol. 386-A.

60 Christon I. Archer honor and position. As if to underline his own feelings should his interpretation be rejected, Calleja requested a transfer to the regular army cantonment at Jalapa away from provincial militias '. . . the command of which is not for an officer who takes pride in his position of being one.'10 Although the army commanders chafed under what they termed to be unacceptable civilian meddling and checks by competing corporations, the regime ruled consistently against any expansion of military powers. The auditor de guerra, Miguel Bataller, dismissed Calleja's case when it came to the audiencia. In his view, neither the Cuban nor the Nueva Granadan ordinanceswere the law of Mexico, and all royal orders affecting this province upheld the rights of the ayuntamientos to propose officer candidates for royal approval. Bataller pointed out that article four of the Instruction for Brigade Commanders was specific in its assignment of these privileges to municipal authorities and not to the army.1l Quite clearly, until I810 the army was held within a controlled constitutional framework in which civil authorities checked the aspirations of those officers who desired additional autonomy. For Calleja and other chiefs, many of the weaknesses suffered by the Mexican military could be attributed to this straitjacketof corporationsand balances. The revolt which seared the fabric of Mexican society altered the form of the Bourbon regime and caused dramatic changes in the power structure. Overnight, the checks upon the army dissolved. In the struggle for survival, Felix Calleja and a small group of predominantly European Spanish officers re-arranged military relationships with existing corporations, the ayuntamientos, and all other institutions. Even the viceroy, Francisco Javier de Venegas, had to play an ancillary role. In many respects, the military policies that would underlie the basic principles of the royalist cause were hammered out in the first two years of the struggle. Calleja, ably supported by officers such as Brigadier Jose de la Cruz, who arrived in Mexico from Spain just in time to play a major role in the revolt, launched the army as a major political, social, and economic power.'2 Together, Calleja and Cruz as commanders of the Armies of the Center and the Right, and then as viceroy and captaingeneral of Nueva Galicia based at Guadalajara, prepared the counterinsurgency program to defeat Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos, and the

10 Callejato Iturrigaray, 6 September1805, AGN:IG, Vol. 3I5-A. Dictamen de Miguel Bataller, 9 February 1806, AGN:IG, Vol. 3I5-A. Iturrigaray approvedBataller'sreportin a note dated i i February 806. 12 Cruz arrived in Mexico in October I8Io, on the warship Mino and was ordered to report to the capital for immediate service. He was named commanderof the First Militia Brigadeand of the Ejercitode la Derecha.See FranciscoJavierde Venegas to Jose de la Cruz, 6 November 18io and I5 November 18io. AGN: Operacionesde Guerra(cited hereinafteras OG), Vol. 14I.

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


multitude of guerrilla chieftains. In doing so, these royalist commanders set up a pattern for military-civil relations in a war and revolution-torn society. The shock of the insurrection of September 6, 18Io, its popularity with plebeian sectors, and the speed with which it spread through the fertile Bajio provinces, left senior army officers momentarily stunned. Like the civil authorities, the army was caught unprepared for internal war and was incapable of rapid response to the violence directed against the regime and the hated gachupines. Although Viceroy Venegas ordered the army to concentrate at Queretaro for a rapid assault on the insurgent-held towns of San Miguel el Grande, Dolores, and Celaya, and to raise the siege of Guanajuato, the army was scattered and dispirited. Calleja received news of the Hidalgo insurrection at 10.30 a.m. on September I9, but, instead of conducting a rapid mobilization of his brigade, he had to begin the process of forming units, collecting arms, and requisitioning provisions. Since the only available firearms belonged to his two provincial dragoon regiments, he had to commission blacksmiths and other artisans to make lance points and to see whether or not the technological skills were available to cast cannon, to make swords, and construct other weapons. At the same time, he ordered the countryside to be scoured for mounted vaqueros, Indian bowmen, and any men who could bear arms or serve the army.13 Although confusion reigned, Calleja moved quickly to establish his own pre-eminence over the Intendant of San Luis Potosi, Manuel de Acevedo. The intendant was to mobilize transport, gather provisions, direct arms All resourceswere manufacture, and prevent speculation by war profiteers.14 re-directedto the army and, as terrified European and creole refugees poured into San Luis Potosi from Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, there could be no doubt about the failure of vacillating civil administratorsand the old bureaucracy. At first, neither Calleja nor any other army commander showed much taste for a quick test of strength with the insurgents. Calleja described Hidalgo's forces as a 'swarm', moving over the land, and he dared not take the offensive until he could trust his own troops and guarantee the safety of San Luis Potosi. In Queretaro where Manuel de Flon, Conde de la Cadena, Intendant of Puebla, arrived with a small force on September 29, the city was in turmoil and the commander of the Eighth Militia Brigade of Queretaro, Ignacio Garcia Revollo, resented having been bypassed as army chief.

Calleja to Venegas, 21 September I8io,

and 28 September 18Io, AGN:OG, Vol.


I69. Manuel de Acevedo to Calleja, I October I8IO, and Callejato Acevedo, 14 October
181o, AGN:OG, Vol. 91.


Christon I. Archer

In a consejo de guerra, officers voted to dispatch a force of 6oo troops and four cannon to attack San Miguel but Cadena expressed little confidence in the project. None of the junta officers volunteered to lead the proposed expedition and Garcia Revollo doubted the loyalty of the troops. The ayuntamiento objected to the removal of 600 troops for fear of the plebeian classes.15 Cadena was certain that the insurgents were gathering booty at San for a flight to New Orleans. Calleja wrote to the Intendant of Miguel Guanajuato, Antonio Rianio, encouraging him to hold out and explaining that he could not march immediately to relieve the siege.'6 Cadena followed the events in Guanajuato with even greater interest because Riafio was his brother-in-law. Although many officers considered the reduction of the Guanajuato defenses to the fortified Alh6ndiga de Granaditasa great disaster, Cadena believed that it might be a good thing since the insurgents lacked artillery and might suffer enormous losses assaulting the fortifications.l7 The fall of Guanajuato and the massacreof its European residents galvanized the royalists into action and hardened their policies toward the population of New Spain. News of the disasterat the Alh6ndiga reached Queretaro on October 2 and a saddened Cadena feared for the safety of Queretaro and its 60,ooo inhabitants. Insurgent bands now operated within five or six leagues of the city, forcing a delay of the plan to send a column to attack San Miguel. Cadena reported to Venegas: 'the insurrection has taken on a formidable size that merits the full consideration of Your Excellency. The rebels have ravaged the country and left it a skeleton'.18 Calleja, still struggling to form his army near San Luis Potosi, was little better off. The insurgents were less than eight leagues from his advanced positions and he anticipated attacks at any time. As he wrote to Cadena on October 2: 'My troops are short in numbers and of the same quality as yours. I lack artillery, infantry officers, and I am in a country so undermined by sedition that I cannot abandon it without exposing it'.19 Despite these fears, however, Calleja now realized that it was essential to concentratethe royalist forces and to strike at the insurgent hordes. One of the first royalist chiefs to emerge from near panic and to prepare a reasoned response to the insurgent masses was Jose Alonso Teran, commander at Valladolid. Teran pointed out to the nervous Cadena that
Vol. 94-A. 16 Cadena to Venegas, 29 September I8io, and Calleja to Antonio Riafio, n.d., AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A. 17 Cadenato JoseAlonso Teran, 2 OctoberI8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A.

15 Conde de la Cadena to Ignacio Garcia Revollo, 30 September I8Io, AGN:OG,

Cadena to Venegas, 5 October 1810, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A. 19 Callejato Cadena,2 October18ro, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A.

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


Queretaro, unlike Guanajuato, was located on a flat plain and could be defended. In his opinion, the insurgents were concerned primarily with
plunder and he pointed out that '.. . a single infantry regiment which can

make sustained and ordered fire, with necessary evolutions, will probably be sufficient to disperse all of that multitude.'20Furthermore,since the insurgents lacked artillery, although they were casting cannon at San Miguel, Teran
suspected that the enemy '. . will disperse like a handful of flies at the first

cannonades.' From his intelligence reports, Teran knew that Hidalgo and Allende had not garrisoned San Miguel, Celaya, or Salamanca, and that their forces were weighed down by their booty. The rebels were not fearful for their physical strength as much as for their 'moral force of deceit and seduction.' Towns accepted their threats and saw the pitiful European prisoners whom they marched before them - threatening executions and destruction to any who resisted. The plebeians joined simply for booty and, while European property lasted, they would be satisfied. Teran was certain that Cadena's forces would not encounter much resistance, but it was essential to strike quickly and to deny Hidalgo the resources of San Miguel, Guanajuato, Celaya, and Irapuato. He proposed an immediate march on Celaya, Salamanca and Irapuato with Cadena's main force and an attack on San Miguel with its cannon foundry by a smaller column consisting of an infantry battalion, a squadron of cavalry, and 500 armed countrymen. This latter force could then march on Guanajuato and remain behind enemy lines until the arrival of Calleja's army.21 Like Calleja, Cadena was fearful of withdrawing troops from his major city since priests and others reported that insurgent agents were undermining royalist support. Between October 9 and i i, seventy-four soldiers deserted and Cadena placed no confidence in men from the Queretaro and Celaya districts. Only twenty-five officers and dragoons of two companies of the Regiment of the Prfncipe from Guanajuato remained and there were so few left in the Regiment of Celaya that he transferredthem to other units. He begged the viceroy to send troops who were not native to the Bajfo region because those who were escaped to the insurgents less than two leagues from Queretaro. He wanted men from Puebla, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, and Toluca, even doubting the loyalty of the regular regiments since they had soldiers from Queretaro and the insurgent-held cities. He proposed sending the remaining troops from Celaya to Spain to fight because they would not in Mexico.22
20 21 22

Teran to Cadena,3 OctoberI8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A. Ibid. Teran did not know that Guanajuato had fallen to the insurgents. Jose Alonso to Cadena, 12 October I8Io; and Cadena to Venegas, 12 October 18Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A.


I. Archer Christon

Despite his fears of losing Queretaro from within, Cadena blundered into his first victory and proved correct much of the advice Teran had given about insurgent weaknesses. On October 6, Cadena dispatched a strong detachment of cavalry and infantry to reconnoiter the country surrounding Queretaro. At Puerto de Carroza, about nine leagues from the city, the royalists encountered an insurgent force estimated at between 2,000 and 3,000 men. The royalist commander, Captain Bernardo Tello, decided to withdraw, but the enemy attacked. Before any hostilities commenced, the auxiliary cavalry accompanying Tello's column fled back to Queretaro. There, they reported that Ioo men of the Regiment of Celaya had been slain and, doubtless, the two cannon they had with them, cast by the cabildo of Queretaro, had been lost. Shocked by what appearedto be a major reverse, Cadena dispatched a relief force of 200 regular dragoons and 200 regular infantry of the Regiments of Spain and the Crown.23Instead of rescuing a battered column, the relief force arrived to find that Tello had defeated the insurgents, killing more than 200 Indians. Only one soldier was killed in Tello's force and he died by error when he wandered in front of his own cannon after dark. Only four to six soldiers had been wounded by enemy fire and all of these suffered no more than contusions caused by stones thrown by hand or sling.24 From this point forward until the insurgents changed tactics and began to fortify positions and to force sieges, Calleja, Cruz, Cadena and other royalist chiefs smashed rebel troop concentrations almost at will. The Battles of Aculco, Guanajuato, and even Calder6n, if they can be given the name, were not in any sense even matches between opposing armies. The rebel hordes melted as Teran had said they would when confronted by semi-disciplined soldiers. Even so, Calleja was not at all certain that his troops would fight. At Calder6n near Guadalajaraon January I7, 181I, he was highly critical of his green soldiers who, during the conflict, '. . . showed little or no sign that they were imbued with principles of honor and martial enthusiasm.' When the insurgents did not run, many units wavered and began to fall back in disorder. Cadena's troops were repulsed twice and Calleja had to join the soldiers himself to bolster their sagging morale. Cadena died during the assault on the insurgents' grand battery. In summing up, Calleja reported that it was only the cowardliness and disorder of the rebels that made the royalist troops look better. This time, 60 soldiers were killed and go wounded. While Calleja claimed inflated figures of 6,000 to 7,000 dead on
23 24

Cadenato Venegas, 7 Octoberi8I0, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A. BernardoTello to Cadena,Chichimequillas,6 OctoberI8o1, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A.

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


the insurgent side, he was concerned that the enemy was learning how to fight.25 Although the royalist commanders regained their confidence quickly enough to prevent Hidalgo from obtaining total victory, success on the battlefield could not suppress what was obviously a popular revolutionary movement. Writing on January 7, 181 , just ten days before his own death, Cadena told Calleja that only two more months of inaction would have lost New Spain. The uprising was a general insurrection that included all inhabitants, even the friars, nuns, and ecclesiastics.Cadena felt that the populace would remain quiet because of the 'fear and terror' the royalist army had put into them, but it could not be forgotten that ' . . in their hearts they abhor the Europeans.'26Even earlier, after the recapture of San Miguel, Cadena had stated '.. . there is not a resident who does not deserve to have his head cut off for being a supporter of Allende and the priest.'27Calleja described the revolt as a 'hydra reborn as fast as one cuts off its heads.'28 While the royalist troops were present, the populace appeared humble, sincere, and loyal, but no sooner than the army moved on to a new location, they returned to take up arms or evade their duty to the crown.29In his view, large numbers of Spanish troops would be needed to restore order in Mexico. Calleja was realistic in his appraisal of the situation in New Spain. In a confidential and frank assessment preparedjust after his victory at Calder6n, he informed Venegas that, without reforms, the province could not be kept as a Spanish possession: its natives and even the Europeansare convincedof the advantagesthat would resultfrom an independent of Hidalgo had government.If the absurdinsurrection restedupon this base, it seemsto me that it would have sufferedlittle opposition.30 Calleja noted that everyone blamed the lack of specie in Mexico upon Spain, and condemned the mother country for its policies that permitted mercantile speculation, high prices, and limited availability of goods. He was particularly critical of the 'egotistical and greedy' European Spaniards. The few who had deigned to join his army demanded special treatment and acted as if they were doing the royalist cause a favor by enlisting. He condemned their 'lack of patriotism and criminal indifference.' Instead of uniting to defend their interests in a struggle which saw them as a central issue, they
25 26 27 28 29 30

Calleja to Venegas, I8 January I8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I71; and Lucas Alaman, Historia de MejicoII (Mexico, 1968), p. 92. Cadenato Venegas, 7 January 81ii, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A. Cadenato Venegas, 25 OctoberI8io, AGN:OG, Vol. 94-A.
Calleja to Venegas, 20 August 1811, AGN:OG, Vol. I90. Callejato Venegas, 14 August, I8I I, AGN:OG, Vol. I90. Callejato Venegas, 29 JanuaryI8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I7I.


Christon1. Archer

left the creoles to defend European lives and property.31Calleja pointed out that his army of 'buenos criollos' resented European attitudes. He asked Venegas to issue badges and medals honoring those soldiers who had seen combat in the battles against Hidalgo. As time passed, Calleja became more and more critical of the Spaniards who lived in luxury and '...occupy themselves exclusively with their interests and backbite the army that saves the smallest of their possessions.' He pointed out: 'they believe that they will save themselves at the cost of others, but no: they are mistaken; if the army loses, in moments the devouring fire will run to the extremes of the coasts'.32 If Calleja was irked by the lack of martial zeal shown by the Europeans, he and his associates had much more trouble developing a response to the guerrilla bands that sprang up everywhere to harass commerce, raid haciendas and towns, and generally to submerge much of Mexico in an enervating and prolonged conflict. From the outset, Viceroy Venegas proposed the use of 'extraordinary rigor' and 'terror' to crush insurgency and to frighten the population into non-belligerency. While Calleja and other officers practised summary justice, Jose de la Cruz became one of its major exponents. Sweeping northward from Mexico City with his Army of the Right in November and December, I8Io, Cruz experienced the frustration of trying to engage guerrilla bands led by Julian and Jose Villegran (El Chito), and Angel, Diego, and Esteban Anaya. These insurgents had interrupted commerce between the capital and the vital distribution and gathering point of Queretaro. When the Villagrans captured an ammunition convoy and executed the auditor of the army, Jose Ignacio Velez, and several other senior administrators, Cruz vowed to use 'blood and fire' to deter those who had not yet joined the rebellion.33 Calleja had introduced less brutal means to end the insurrection and on November 4, I8Io, he issued a pardon to insurgents who would surrender, identify their leaders, and give up their arms, machetes and knives. At Irapuato, however, one of his bandos pardoning rebels was torn down during the night. He ordered an investigation of this 'insolent act', but when no one came forward to identify the aggressor, he ordered the arrest of those found anywhere near the site of the removed proclamation. They were asked to
31 See, for example, Francisco Rendon to Venegas, Guadalajara,27 January I8II, AGN:OG, Vol. 17I; and Venegas to Calleja,3 February1811, AGN:OG, Vol. I8I. Also see Romeo Flores Caballero, La Contrarevolucionen la independencia: los espanoles en la vida politica, social y economica de Mexico (I804 1838) Mexico,
32 33

Callejato Venegas, 12 August 181 , AGN:OG, Vol. I90. Cruz to Venegas, 17 November I8io; and Venegas to Cruz, 22 November I8Io,
AGN:OG, Vol. I41.

I969), p. 69.

The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 67

one in ten to identifythe culprits,but when none did so Callejacondemned death, practisingdecimationagainst the forty prisoners.The unfortunate victimswere drawn by lots and then executedby firing squads.34 As more information becameavailable aboutinsurgentatrocities, Callejastrengthened the response of his army.On November27, 181o, at Guanajuato, he ordered the executionof i8 insurgents afterlots had been drawn.35 By this pointany rebel of captain'srank or abovewas executedalmost automatically, but it was impossible to chastise all who had helpedthe insurgency. evoked Having total terrorand uncertainty in the populace,Callejaissueda new pardonso thatthe citycouldreturnto normalcy.36 even more terrorto punishrebelsand to deterothers. Venegasdemanded He had reportsof many Europeans being executedat Valladolid(Morelia) and of I30 killed at San Felipe.Sinceas manyas 600 Europeans and creoles had beenmurdered at Guanajuato, the viceroywarnedagainstany relaxation of counter-insurgent violence.He demandedan energeticcampaignwhich set humanityaside in orderto annihilateanyonewho had the least role in the atrocities.In Venegas's view, 'the cancer must be cut out without sensibilities.' At Zapotlanel Grande,for example,the Indianshad risenup and put all Europeansand AmericanSpaniards to the knife without distinction.37

As has been mentioned,Jose de la Cruz was even more effectivethan he evolvedan efficientsystem Callejain using terrorand, with experience, of counter-insurgency. Beginning at Nopala and Huichapan, he held executionsof insurgentsbefore the assembledpopulace.The bodies were then hung up at the entrances to the townsas a 'healthfulexample.'He then disarmed the totally population;in Huichapan,only two residentswere declaredfree enough of guilt to be left in possession of their kitchen and table knives.38 Besidesliberaluse of the firing squadto intimidatethe subareas,Cruz developedthe conceptof the destacamiento jects of reoccupied volante(flyingdetachment) of about300 mountedsoldiers, designedto carry out searchand destroymissionsinto rebel-held The territory. objectwas to recover all horsesand livestock, all forges,apprehend arms,confiscate destroy rebel canalla,and to make examplesby using summaryjustice. Captured insurgentswere permittedfour hours to preparefor death as Christians beforethey met theirend and werehung up in treesalongroadsor displayed
34 35

to Venegas, 26 November Vol. 170. 18io, AGN:OG, Calleja

37 38

Callejato Venegas, 27 November I8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 170. Callejato Venegas, 28 November I8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 170. Venegas to Calleja, io December I8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. i70. Cruz to Venegas, 23 November and 30 November 18Io, AGN:OG, Vol. 141.

I. Archer 68 Christon at the approaches to towns as a gruesome reminder to others.39Cruz discovered that by using several flying detachments, he could scatter the insurgent bands and impair their effectiveness. He was concerned about petitions from blacksmiths begging that their forges be spared destruction, but since some had made lance points and swords, he wondered if any exceptions should be allowed.40 Although Cruz's policy of making 'harsh and repeated justice' resulted in many men being dragged before firing squads, some other commanders were sickened by the high level of inhumanity and bloodshed. Cruz wrote to Calleja: 'already I have caused suffering in this infamous race and I am going to completely terrorize them. I have almost reduced two towns to ashes and done the same to all haciendas belonging to the highwaymen.'41While Calleja also employed terror to pacify former insurgent towns, he was not at all convinced that Cruz was correct in being overly cruel. He responded: It is true that they are evil and that it is necessary to employrigor;but in my view one must use this means with such prudencethat there always remainsto them the hope of saving themselvesand of obtaininga pardon.Experiencehas made me see this and every day some individualspresentthemselvesto ask for peace.42 Notwithstanding Calleja's advice. Cruz continued to pursue insurgents with the utmost violence. After having been appointed commander of Nueva Galicia, he developed an effective system of divisions that held the province until I821. He viewed Valladolid as the source of insurgent activity and suggested to Calleja half seriously: 'we need to shoot half the canalla who form the population, and by not doing so the war will never be concluded.'43 Until he gained total control over Nueva Galicia, however, Cruz maintained a harsh policy of war to the death against the insurgents. During May and June, 18 I , more than 600 rebels were executed.44His system was to use his divisions to prevent any insurgent coalescence of more than 300 men. Once a rebel chief managed to accumulate 600 men, there seemed to be a spontaneous growth to as many as 6,ooo in little more than a month. Once that took place, a large force was required to extinguish the insurgents and to restore peace. Cruz pointed to the large rebel gatherings at Patzcuaro, Zitacuaro, and Cuautla as examples of royalist failure to act quickly enough.
39 40 41 42 43 44

Cruz to Venegas, 6 December 18io, AGN:OG, Vol. I42. Cruz to Calleja,2 December I8I0, AGN:OG, Vol. 140. Callejato Cruz, 5 December i8Io, AGN:OG, Vol. I40. Cruz to Calleja,2I June I8Io, AGN:OG, Vol I45. Cruz to Calleja,9 July i8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I45.

Cruz to Venegas, I December 18 0, AGN:OG, Vol. I42.

The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 69 He describedhis own approach as 'shoot hundreds, punish towns, and make the name soldier as fearful as death itself.'45 Despite Calleja's enormous military and political power, he chose a much less sanguinary approach to terminating the insurgency. The ignominious capture of Hidalgo, Allende, and other prominent insurgent chiefs on March 21, I8 I,46 gave hope of an early end to hostilities. Indeed, in a most important Reglamento Politico Militar dated June 8, i 8i, Calleja decided to announce the conclusion of the insurrection. In this document, he reduced the status of any continuing insurgents to that of 'bandits, thieves, and delinquents' who did not deserve the royal pardon. He declared that their sole motivation was to rob, interrupt commerce, destroy agriculture, and terminate mining.47 Through his plan, Calleja sought to mobilize and militarize the whole population and to employ a wide-ranging militia network to isolate and destroy insurgent bands. Since the army could not respond to every attack on a village, hacienda, or rancho, the obligation for defense devolved upon each community. The army would create garrisons and mobile divisions in strategic locations so that aid would be forthcoming without long delays. In each city, town, or district, a comandante de armas would be named - if possible uniting the military and civil jurisdictions in one individual to avoid delays and conflicts. This officer would form urban infantry and cavalry companies, arming them with lances and machetes or even slings and bows and arrows if no other weapons were available. Each company was then to place Ioo to I50 men on daily guard and patrol duty according to local needs. The costs would be supported by taxes and forced contributions levied according to ability to pay. In the countryside, hacendados and ranch owners were obliged to form smaller militia companies or squadrons from their workers. Their primary task was to watch the roads and to detain anyone who appearedsuspicious. In cases of attacks, the companies would coalesce into larger units. Militiamen were to carrya certificateof identification since no one else was permitted to bear arms. Even muleteers were restrictedto one axe and a short knife without a point.48

Cruz to Calleja, 15 July I8ii,

Vol. 145.

and Cruz to Calleja, 9 April I814, AGN:OG,

See Hugh M. Hamill, The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence (Gainesville, 1966), pp. 20-I I; and CharlesHarris III, A MexicanFamily Empire: The Latifundio of the Sanchez Navarro Family, 1765-1867 (Austin, I975), Reglamento politico militar que deberan observar bajo las penas que sefiala los pueblos, haciendas, y ranchos a quienes se comunique por las autoridades,8 June 81I, AGN:OG, Vol. 186. Ibid., and Calleja to the Alcalde of Le6n, Ildefonso Septien, 13 August 18ri,
AGN:OG, Vol. 145. PP- 134-5.




Christon I. Archer

The first problem with Calleja's plan was that it depended upon his premise - that the insurgents had become little more than bands of marauding outlaws. Secondly, to be successful, the counterinsurgency program required the active support of the urban and rural populations. Cruz disagreed with Calleja on the first point and argued in favor of his flying detachments that were more suitable to 'annihilate the rabble gathered in distant and diverse points.'49Cruz was quite right. It became painfully clear that without close proximity of Calleja's Army of the Center, the cities and towns of the Bajio were wide open to guerrilla attacks. Through I811 and 18 2, the cities of Guanajuato, San Miguel, and Celaya fell prey on numerous occasions to wandering bands that simply walked or rode into the urban areas and temporarily took over. Usually, the urban militias were noticeably conspicuous by their absence and their arms were often confiscated by their opponents. Finally, Calleja had not anticipated the ability of the rebels to recover and to begin fortifying themselves in positions such as Zitacuaro, Cuautla, Izucar, and on the Island of Mezcala in Laguna de Chapala, and, under Jose Maria Morelos, to surround and threaten to isolate Mexico City. In Guanajuato, the reoccupation of the city by the royalists introduced a lengthy period of disastrousinstability. Beginning as early as the departureof Calleja's army to chase Hidalgo to Guadalajara, rebel bands attacked outlying mines and executed principal residents. The nearby towns of San Miguel, San Felipe, and Dolores were sacked and prevented from any return to normal.50 Representatives of the Guanajuato ayuntamiento, mining deputation, and merchant group feared that they would become victims of the plebeian insurgents based in the mountains and valleys near the city. Indeed, there were daily reports of thefts, murders, and planned attacks. On January I8, 8 ii, the Intendant of Guanajuato, Fernando Perez Maranion, was awakened at 7.00 a.m. when 80 to Ioo insurgents showed up at his door. They said that they were the vanguard of an insurgent army of 6,ooo troops and claimed that Calleja had been defeated. They asked for lodging and other aid, but the intendant refused to help them. A great crowd gathered to witness these events and would not disperse until exhorted to do so by the priests.51 Perez Marafion managed to send a message to the Guanajuato militia, but most of the men had disappeared when the insurgents arrived. After some effort, a total of 1 I poorly armed individuals were scraped together, but they were not disposed to fight. In the meantime, the insurgent leader,
49 Cruz to Calleja, 15 July I8I1, AGN:OG, Vol. 145. 50 Fernando Perez Marafionto Calleja,20 December 18II-, AGN:OG, Vol. I95. 51 Perez Marafion to Venegas, 19 January I8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I79.

The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 71 Fernando Mallagoitia asked the intendant for I00 pesos plus a smaller sum for expenses. The intendant, teniente letrado, and regidores considered this request and agreed to pay the money since they had no forces and feared a popular tumult. The insurgents went to their lodgings and Perez Marafion hastened to the militia barracks to see if he could animate the men into capturing their enemies. This was a waste of time since none were willing to take any risks. Finally, at 3.00 a.m., Mallagoitia and his band rode out of the city.52 As might be anticipated from the success of this visit, another insurgent band numbering about 300 men armed with lances and some with muskets returned to Guanajuato on January 31. They aroused the populace, emptied the jail of prisoners, ransacked the treasuryoffices, burned the archives, and robbed some houses and haciendas. By the time they departed the city on the following morning, total anarchy reigned.53 Under his counterinsurgency plan, Calleja raised four additional urban companies in Guanajuato and several others in surrounding mines and haciendas. By November, 181 , there were ,60oo Voluntarios Distinguidos, most armed with muskets. Despite numbers, however, Calleja lacked confidence in the capacity of these troops to resist attacks. As he feared, the rebels entered Guanajuato again on November i8 with 500 cavalry, but few carried firearms. This time, however, some 200 militiamen awaited them in the plaza mayor and, in a battle that raged from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m., the insurgents were expelled from the city. On the 26th, they returned with a large force estimated at 5,000 men led by the implacable insurgent chief Albino Garcia. Once again, the urban militia held and the rebels were forced to suspend their attacks.54 Conditions were even worse in San Miguel. On September 24, 181I, using the excuse that they were the vanguard of an army commanded by the Negro Abanero, 300 guerrillas took over the town. The subdelegate sought refuge in a church, leaving the rebels to rob stores, wreck houses, and collect all arms they could find. Public offices were sacked and the archives scattered. Finally, loaded down with booty, they left San Miguel, taking a number of prisoners to hold for ransom.55 During the raid, the local defense forces dissolved and the militiamen did not reappearuntil later without their horses and arms. The few residents of San Miguel who opposed the insurgents were so frightened of the plebeian classes that they met in secret juntas to
Ibid. JoseLuis Garciato Perez Maranion, 21 January 8I I, AGN:OG, Vol. s95. 54 P&rez Marafion to Calleja, 19 November i81i, AGN:OG, Vol. 195. 55 FranciscoUraga to Calleja,24 Septemberi81o, AGN:OG, Vol. I89.


I. Archer 72 Christon discuss defense. Little could be accomplished, however, without arms, horses, or even men who were willing to serve as officers. With few exceptions, the population of the town was paralysed by fear of the rebel chiefs - especially the Indian Bernardo Huacal, the Negro Abanero, Bruno Guardiana, and Padre Pederosa.56About the only positive factor in this raid was that the lower classes refused to turn over the subdelegate to the insurgents. Encouraged by a number of loyal ecclesiastics led by Padre Francisco de Uraga, new efforts were made to re-arm and re-equip the urban defense companies. An Indian sling unit was formed, lance points readied, and a search conducted to see whether any firearms could be found. All went well for a week when the insurgents returned to confiscate the newly-constructed lances, strip the town of horses, and demand that the Indians and other plebeians join with them. Most did so and the result was total anarchy. Only two priests resisted and attempted to restore order.57At this point, Calleja dispatched an infantry and cavalry column commanded by Captain Francisco Guizarnotegui to disperse the insurgents before they were strong enough to occupy San Miguel. As might be expected, the honorable residents of the town welcomed the relief force. They thanked Calleja for their salvation, but were shocked to learn that Guizarnotegui planned to leave after a short time to continue his mission elsewhere. The junta of 'honorable residents' identified three classes in San Miguel: the one-hundred people of the decente class; a coarse and numerous class 'without ideas, honor, or religion;' and the rural people who had already joined the insurgency. The junta declared that the departure of the royalist forces would be '. . . a sentence to our ruin' because the enemy were all about and their leader Huacal was 'a wild beast.'58 When Captain Guizarnotegui met obstinate resistance from the men of San Miguel who were to form new urban companies, Calleja was forced to take harsh measures. The main force of his army was engaged in the campaign against Zitacuaro and could not respond to attacks on the Bajio cities. In the event that Guizarnotegui failed to raise an adequate defense force, Calleja ordered him to publish a bando when he departed from San Miguel, ordering all ecclesiastics and honorable residents to accompany the royalist column. They could take their valuables and the church ornaments, closing their houses, the churches, and public buildings. Those who remained in the town would be treated as insurgents when the army returned. This was
56 Luis Caballero to Calleja, 27 September I81,

AGN:OG, Vol. I89.

and Uraga to Calleja 4 October 1811,

57 Uraga to Calleja, 14 October 8I I , AGN:OG, Vol. 189. 58 Vecinos honorados de San Miguel to Calleja, 12 October I811, and Uraga to

Calleja, II November I8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I89.

The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 73 Calleja's method to end what he saw as lethargy and to compel the populace to make a choice between the two sides. Realizing that his own system of counter-insurgency lacked sufficient compulsion, Calleja decided to make examples out of a few places like San Miguel. He ordered his subordinatesto raze towns where no support existed for la buena causa.59 San Miguel took Calleja's threats to heart. The more faint-heartedresidents such as the subdelegate, the alcaldes, the alguacil mayor, and some militia officers departed with the royalist column. This left Jose Maria Malo in command as subdelegate and military commander. On November 5, a band of thirty insurgents burst into the town and went to the chapel of San Felipe de Neri. There, they stabbed a portero to death and refused to leave until they were threatened by the ecclesiastics. They returned the next morning commanded by the fearsome Bernardo Huacal - some carried muskets and pistols and they even brought a cannon without a carriage. Huacal took over the treasury building, but the populace showed no inclination to join him. Indeed, Malo was able to unite some militiamen and members of the plebeian classes and to attack Huacal's band. After an hour of fighting, Huacal was captured and his force dispersed.60 Calleja was ecstatic; for the first time, the common people and the better classes had combined to resist the insurgents.61 From the examples of Guanajuato and San Miguel, one can understand why Calleja was loath to march his army away from the smoldering revolution of the Bajfo provinces. He was not even certain that his men would follow him against Zitacuaro and then Cuautla. As early as the summer of 18 I, the army was wracked by desertion and what the officers described as an epidemic of venereal complaints. Like so many of his officers and troops, Calleja suffered constant dysentery and severe intestinal problems; he doubted that he would be able to remain in command.62He was painfully aware of the thin line between survival and total defeat for the royalist cause. Historians often describe Calleja as a conservative general, but, without fully realizing as he did that the Army of the Center was the one bulwark
59 60

Callejato Venegas, 15 OctoberI8II, AGN:OG, Vol. 192. Vol. 189.

Jose Maria Malo to Calleja, 17 November I81, Calleja to Venegas, 28 November

and 23 November I8Ii, AGN:OG,


publicized in the Gazeta de Mexico. See the Gazeta, 14 December 1811, and Lucas Alamain,Historia II, 19I.

AGN:OG, Vol. 195. This event was widely

Minister of War, 5 March I813, AGI, Mexico, Leg. 1322. Calleja'sbad health has been dismissed as a political illness by some historians. There can be no doubt, however, about his suffering. Calleja and Cruz discussed their -intestinal and stomach disordersand it was common knowledge in the army that he was in very bad health.

Calleja to Venegas, 29 January 1812,


Vol. 197; and Calleja to the

74 ChristonI. Archer preventing a rapid decline into total anarchy. Calleja knew that he could not risk losing a single battle. He dared not split his army into too many divisions and garrisons for fear of being overwhelmed by numbers. He worried about royalist commanders who saw only the small picture within their provinces and who competed with each other for troops and weapons. They had to understand that four-fifths of the population wanted the insurrection to succeed.63 By December, 181 1, the Army of the Center appearedto be close to breakdown. Heavy rains and snow storms slowed the march toward fortified Zitacuaro. Desertion and disease increased and food supplies began to falter. As Calleja approached the enemy town, pits and felled trees interrupted progress. The scorched earth policy of the insurgents made food and forage difficult to find. Despite these difficulties, however, Calleja was planning beyond Zitacuaro. First, this town had to be made to 'disappear from the surface of the earth' and then the attack carried to Morelos with the full weight of the army of operations so that the new insurgent leader would not become another Hidalgo.64 He would apply exactly the same policy at Cuautla, arguing that, if it was not absolutely obliterated and its defenders buried in the rubble, the insurgents would construct fortifications all over New Spain. The smaller royalist forces might exhaust themselves, become intimidated, and eventually fail.65 Both towns were put to the torch. At Zitacuaro after the royalist victory, Calleja issued a bando, confiscating rebel property and condemning the town to destruction. The people were permitted to carry what property they could to other towns, but their entire town was burned on January13, 1812.66 Following the lengthy siege and defeat of Morelos at Cuautla, Calleja ordered the defenses torn down and the town burned. Viceroy Venegas was not at all happy at the assault on real estate rather than on people, arguing that both guilty and innocent would be punished. Fearful of later criticismfor such a brutal policy, on May 8, 1811, he ordered Calleja to suspend his orders unless there were extraordinary reasons for going ahead with the destruction.67 Calleja informed Venegas that he had passed on the order, but
63 64

Calleja to Venegas, i August I81 i, AGN:OG, Vol. I90. Calleja to Venegas, 7 November I811, AGN:OG,





Bustamantenoted in the margin of this document that the monster (Calleja) had done just that to Zitacuaroby ordering the town burned. Callejato Venegas, 28 FebruaryI812, AGN:OG, Vol. 198. Bando of Calleja,5 Januaryi812, AGN:OG, Vol. I65, and JoseMariade Echeagaray to Calleja, 13 January I812, AGN:OG, Vol. I65. For a copy see Carlos Maria de Bustamante,Cuadrohistoricode la revolucionmexicanaI (Mexico, I96I), 42-4. Calleja to Venegas, 6 May 1812, and Venegas to Calleja, 8 May I812, AGN:OG,
Vol. 201.


Carlos Maria

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


either by error or connivance the change of plan did not reach Ciriaco de Llano who was left in command at Cuautla. He informed Calleja that he was sorry to report that he could not put into effect the 'pious intentions' of the viceroy. He had burned Cuautla the day before and left only the churches and a few other buildings." It is difficult to say whether the army overruled Venegas or if there was simply an error of communications. Certainly, however, the power of the army over society and the civil regime was now quite obvious. When Calleja attempted to resign his command in January, 1812, claiming that because of poor health he simply could not continue to serve, his officers believed that he was giving in to slander, back-biting, and rumors emanating from non-military circles in Mexico City. In a strongly worded petition sent to Venegas, Calleja's staff officers said they were certain that his illness
became worse with '. . . unjust criticism that men so destitute of knowledge

as of sane judgement have made publicly in the capital about the management of an army that has saved the kingdom from disaster so many times'.69 They warned of 'enormous evils' if Calleja resigned, since he and he alone enjoyed the support of soldiers and officers. In another petition to the viceroy signed by nineteen captains, they stated that the troops saw their general ' a father rather than as a chief.' They noted Calleja was the only commander who had been able to turn common men against the insurrection and to animate them to march so far from their families and homes. In the opinion of the captains, these troops would not take to a new leader and would desert the army. Cautioning against any attempt to divide the army into divisions, they pointed out the difficulties and failures experienced by small royalist forces confronted by larger insurgent formations. The enemy knew the country and could exhaust the troops by depriving them of food
and weakening them through constant marches. They warned: '. . .if (the

army) is subdivided into small parts, and if the name and reputation of Calleja is separated from us, the results will be regrettable, and the Mother Country will weep always for such conduct'.70
Calleja to Venegas, 9 May 1812, AGN:OG, Vol. 2oi; and Ciriaco de Llano to Calleja,io May 1812, AGN:OG, Vol. 288. 69 Petition of the officers to Venegas, 30 JanuaryI812, AGN:OG, Vol. I65. 70 Petition of 19 Captains to Venegas, i February 1812, AGN:OG, Vol. 165. For Calleja'sresponseto Venegas's request that he stay in command, see Lucas Alaman, Historia de Mejico II, 302-3; and Carol C. Ferguson, 'The Spanish Tamerlaine? Felix MariaCalleja,Viceroy of New Spain, I8I3-I816,' (unpublishedPh.D. Dissertation, Texas ChristianUniversity, 1973). It is worth noting that the correspondence between Calleja and Venegas shows almost no sign of the conflicts and rivalries attributedto them by Alaman and other historians. If there were personal differences, the two officers did manage to maintain excellent working relationships.See


Christon I. Archer

It was difficult to recognize the army of 1812 as the same force that had entered the war against Hidalgo. In I808, the officer corps watched in stunned silence while a small group of peninsular merchants toppled their commander, Viceroy Jose de Iturrigaray. By I812, the corporative spirit feared earlier had appeared. If Calleja was the ultimate authority in his wide jurisdiction, so too were other officers in their commands throughout New Spain. The revolution with its capacityto generate new centers of insurgency, guerrilla and bandit forces, and permanent rifts in the population, forced the army to bypass the regime, push aside competing comporations, and to deal directly with the populace. Without total controls over resources and manpower, the royalist army could not respond to the proliferating revolution. In every region touched by insurrection, there were permanent shortages of manpower and equipment. As Jose de la Cruz wrote from Guadalajara:'a dozen eggs cannot make fifty omelettes.' Criticized by Viceroy Venegas for permitting the rebel island fortress of Mezcala to withstand attacks, Cruz wrote: 'Your Excellency, do you believe that I can perform miracles? Can I make the rocks give me muskets, pistols, swords, or powder? My cavalry is entirely disarmed'.71Even with all of the resourcesof Nueva Galicia, Cruz had to arm his cavalry with lances - a weapon the soldiers abhorred. Swords constructed at great cost in Guadalajarawere so brittle that they broke with the movement of the horse and rider. Like most commanders, Cruz saw the regional rather than the general picture. When Calleja became viceroy in I813, Cruz submitted his resignation. Calleja chided him for his complaints and pointed out that all commanders lacked weapons and that there was no surplus of troops in the capital or anywhere else in New Spain.72 In the struggle for resources and manpower, the military expanded its powers and abused both the civil jurisdiction and the population. Men who marched with Calleja from San Luis Potosi were not returned home for ten years. The army was insatiable in its appetite for replacements and new recruits, using the most arbitrarymeans and employing threats, levies, and simply plain surprise. New recruits were jailed under military orders to keep them from deserting and then marched in cuerdas, chained together like criminals on their way to the presidios.73 The ayuntamientos which had
Lucas Alam;an,Historia de Mejico II, 306; and Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Governmentin Mexico City (Lincoln, I978), pp. 86-7. Cruz to Calleja, I6 June i8II, AGN:OG, Vol. I45; and Cruz to Venegas, 27 February 1813, AGN:OG, Vol. I49. Callejato Cruz, 6 July 18I3, AGN:OG, Vol. I49. Manuel de Acevedo to Calleja, 6 August i8i5, AGN:OG, Vol. 93; and Acevedo to ViceroyJuan Ruiz de Apodaca,4 May 1817, AGN:OG, Vol. 94.




The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 77 controlled patronage over militia appointments lost complete touch with their units which became de facto regular army regiments and battalions. Writing in 1816, the ayuntamiento of San Luis Potosi complained to Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca that it had lost touch with any aspect of regimental appointments and promotions. Apodaca admitted the theoretical rights of the municipal government, but blamed the urgency of the times for forcing the army to take over this power.74What was worse, however, the commander of the Brigade of San Luis Potosi, Manuel Maria de Torres, evaded the ayuntamiento and took full possession over all militias under his

While their powers over the military were curtailed, the ayuntamientos and intendants came under increasing pressure to raise new funds to support the army. What with economic dislocations caused by guerrilla activity, the mining, commercial, and agricultural base was eroded. Throughout the Bajio, mines were flooded, livestock run off to supply the armies of both sides, and the haciendas were ravaged and often abandoned.76In Queretaro for example, while hacienda owners and mayordomos crowded into the city, their workers joined the insurgents. By July, I8II, prices in the city had risen by seventy-five percent, all roads were blocked, and the ayuntamiento predicted the danger of famine. The fabrica de cigarros closed because of a shortage of paper and this resulted in severe unemployment.77The situation was similar to the south of the capital when guerrillas blocked the roads and threatened the grain harvest. In 1812, there were fears that the Atlixco wheat crop of between 35,000 and 40,000 cargas would be lost because of raids and a shortage of workers. Puebla, Mexico City and the army required this food source and its loss would have forced the government to import foreign grain.78 Mexico City, the refuge of many from the war-torn provinces, suffered food shortages and a general decline of income.79 Despite the loss of revenues, the army had to discover ways of extracting money. In cities and towns that had been occupied by insurgents, the ayuntamientos were obliged to levy forced contributions according to the capacity
74 75

Ayuntamientoof San Luis Potosi to Apodaca, 26 November 1816, and Apodaca to the Ayuntamiento,28 November x816, AGN:OG, Vol. 92. Acevedo to Apodaca,28 November I816, AGN:OG, Vol. 92. David Brading, Haciendas and Ranchos in the Mexican Bajio; Leon, 1700-1860 (Cambridge, 1978), pp. 200-I; and Charles Harris II, A Mexican Family Empire,
pp. 9 1-2.


Ayuntamientoof Mexicoto Calleja,I July 181i , AGN:OG, Vol. 32. Jose Miguel Morphy to Venegas, Atlixco, 28 March I812, AGN:OG, Vol. 32. 79 Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Government,pp. I40-6I.


I. Archer Christon

of residents to pay. There was a punitive side to these payments and very often the liberating royalist commander intended to enlist the able male population as well as to tap what remained of their fortunes. In Celaya, for example, Lieutenant Colonel Juan Nepomuceno Oviedo activated two 'volunteer companies' during the guerrilla menace of 8 I8. Later, two additional companies were placed on active duty and Oviedo assigned contributions of 26,515 pesos. Many of the hacendados were indigent because of the loss of income from rural properties, and others had moved for safety to Queretaro. Both of these groups either refused to pay or simply could not afford to support the militia. The garrison now totalled about 350 soldiers and the funds available expired. The ayuntamiento obtained permission from Calleja to levy new taxes of 2 reales per fanega of maize and 4 reales per carga of flour entering the city granary. Unfortunately, the income of both taxes was only about 520 pesos per month - not enough to support the garrison. The ayuntamiento then convened a junta general of honorable residents which after great efforts raised another I4,595 pesos. The junta recommended a surtax on tobacco, but this was rejected by the ayuntamiento since it would impinge upon the royal monopoly.80 Towns with no stain of insurgency fared little better. Jalapa, for example, agreed to support a militia garrison of 300 troops. However, because of the proximity to Veracruz, soldiers of the expeditionary forces from Spain stopped there to rest and to regain their health. Epidemics of yellow fever and other diseases ravaged many of the European battalions as soon as they arrived at unhealthy Veracruz. The ayuntamiento of Jalapa had to establish and maintain adequate hospital facilities. This was expensive for a town of only I,000o inhabitants. By 1813, the Spanish battalionsof Asturias, Lovera, America, Castilla, Fernando VII, Savoya, and Extremadura had been through Jalapa and several divisions of the Mexican army had stopped in the town for some time. The ayuntamiento estimated that it had spent more than 200,000 pesos in the three years since the outset of the insurrections.81

When the first battalion of the Regiment of Zamora arrived at Jalapa during October, 1812, it had funds for only twelve to fifteen days' pay. Colonel Melchor Alvarez, commander of the Regiment of Savoya and of the expeditionary forces, asked the town for funds and instead of pesos received a long letter detailing the economic disasters that had befallen Jalapa. By July, 1813, Alvarez's troops were suffering such great privations that he approached the commander of a silver convoy from Mexico City,

Ayuntamiento of Celaya to Venegas, 2 April 1812, AGN:OG, Vol. 32. Ayuntamientoof Jalapato Calleja,27 April 1913, AGN:OG, Vol. 32.

The RoyalistArmy in New Spain:Civil-Military Relationships 79 Miguel Menendez, to ask for funds. Already, the colonel had threatened the ayuntamiento, saying that he would allow his soldiers to use their bayonets to take food unless something was done.82 Seeing their salvation, the municipal government passed a tax of 1/2 percent on silver entering the town. Alvarez was asked to collect by force, and the possibility of conflict seemed inevitable. After a great deal of discussion and quoting of different sections of the Spanish Constitution, it was agreed that it would be a bad precedent for an ayuntamiento to touch a silver shipment and thereby to undermine the confidence of commerce.83 As might be expected, some army commanders used their positions to generate wealth for their own personal use. When Melchor Alvarez was sent to Oaxaca in I814 to reoccupy the province, he was accused by his commander, Brigadier Jose Moreno y Davis, of 'infidelity in the management of funds from the Oaxaca treasury.'84 In defending himself, Alvarez informed his division that commanders Viceroy Calleja appropriatedall resources that recovered from the tobacco alcabalas, tithes, they monopoly, and even from the ramo de bulas. They sold cochineal, cotton, tobacco, and other items of commerce confiscated from the insurgents. Captain Antonio Requera of the 5th and 6th divisions even distributedcotton among Indian towns and forced the women to weave mantas for his soldiers.85Alvarez described Requera as the absolute master of his territories from Ometepec to Jamiltepec. He had never given Alvarez any account of his operations, success in locating funds, or even the size of his units.86 Alvarez denied that he had profited personally during the reoccupationof Oaxaca. He claimed to have followed instructions regarding the maintenance of inventories of ownerless goods, but . . . a million interested persons fell on me like flies on a honeycomb, each demanding his property from the In the end, despite the lists of recoveredjewels, silver, gold, tools, treasury.'87 furniture, and utensils, the inhabitants demanded far more than the army had located. Other intendants made similar charges that they had no information about the booty captured during army operations in insurgent territories. The Intendant of San Luis Potosi, Manuel de Acevedo, had no clear idea what happened to horses, weapons, and valuables taken during raids conducted by Brigade Commander Manuel Marla de Torres. Acevedo
Alvarez to the Ayuntamientoof Jalapa,4 July 1813, AGN:OG, Vol. i. Ramon de Llano y Chavarri to Alvarez, 5 July I813, and 7 July I813, and Ayuntamientoto Alvarez, 7 July 18I3, AGN:OG, Vol. i. 84 Alvarez to Calleja, 14 December I814, AGN:OG, Vol. i. 85 Antonio Requerato Alvarez, 15 July 1814, AGN:OG, Vol. I. 86 Alvarez to JoseMorenoy Davis, 15 OctoberI814, AGN:OG, Vol. I. 87 Alvarez to Calleja26 FebruaryI8r5, AGN:OG, Vol. I.
83 82


Christon I. Archer

said that two of the best horses captured ended up in the personal possession of the army chief.88 Another very lucrative source of income for army officers lay in the extensive trade that went on between the royalists and the insurgents. Although it is exceptionally difficult to find solid evidence, military collusion was obvious. Regular exchanges of goods took place between rebel territories and the towns of Le6n, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas. Large numbers of cattle were moved without military escort, and sources indicate that in 1817 livestock was more plentiful than it had been in I810. Merchants from Le6n and Guanajuato were known to visit insurgent strongholds to purchase stolen furniture, firearms and swords. Some rebels sold their own products such as mescal, salt, and cotton. In a number of areas, the insurgents held weekly markets and charged taxes on the variety of goods they had on sale.89In one report which reached Spain, it was suggested that royalist division commanders actually tried to keep the insurrection alive so that they could further their own interests. Agustin de Iturbide was mentioned by name for his lack of activity in defeating the rebels.90 Although it is highly unlikely that officers orchestrated the revolution, the army did create new enemies as the state of war continued. Officers who permitted few controls over their activities became excessively arbitraryand showed little sympathy for civilians or other jurisdictions. Soldiers preyed upon the common people - especially those of the lower classes who enjoyed less recourse to the law. In Mexico City for example, poor Indians who carried fruit or cargo for up to ten or twenty leagues to sell in the markets were despoiled of their products. If they attempted to resist, they were beaten unmercifully. Other residents of the capital were robbed on the streets in broad daylight and the number of assaults involving soldiers who dealt out sword slaps and bayonet jabs became a matter for general concern.91Elsewhere, resistanceto military service increased among artisansand shopkeepers whose loyalty was stretched thin by years of active duty and by the knowledge that their regular business suffered during their absences. Those who could not serve personally had to pay between I2 and 14 pesos monthly to
88 Acevedo to Calleja, 5 September 18I5, AGN:OG, Vol. 93.

upon the laxity of Colonel Antonio de Linareswho commanded at Guanajuato.See Doris M. Ladd, The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780-1826 (Austin, I976),
pp. 16-17. 90 Report of the Consejo de Indias, 26 February I8I7, AGI, Mexico, leg. II47. For a discussion, see Brian R. Hamnett, Revolucion y contrarrevolucion en Mexico y el Peru: Liberalismo, realeza y separatismo, 1800-1824 (Mexico, 1978), pp. 249-51. 91 Ayuntamiento of Mexico to Calleja, 20 October I815, AGN:OG, Vol. 32.

Hermengildo Revuelta to Cruz, 6 August i816, AGN:OG, Vol. xI5; and Cruz to Apodaca, 26 December I818, AGN:OG, Vol. I55. Cruz blamed much of this trade

The Royalist Army in New Spain: Civil-Military Relationships


hire replacements.In cities where populations had contractedsince i 81o, the army required the same number of troops and level of financial support. In Veracruz, for example, the population declined from 15,ooo in I8 1 to only 8,934 in 1818.92 This marked a forty percent drop in available manpower and caused the army to enlist visitors to the city and even foreign residents. By I816 to i8I8, both sides began to show signs of exhaustion. Calleja turned over the vice-regency to Apodaca who had to deal with the Xavier Mina invasion of 817, but he was more interested in declaring peace than in continuing the war. Even if the struggle was far from won, Apodaca published reports in the Gazeta de Mexico announcing a royalist victory, granting pardons, and anticipating a return to normalcy. While some his torians accept Apodaca's appraisal of the reduced state of insurgency,93there is compelling evidence that the viceroy wanted to create an illusion. Although the rebels did not have massive armies in the field by i8i8, many officers expressed fears that the guerrillas had gone underground or temporarily withdrawn to isolated areas. Brigadier Jose Gayangos, governor of Zacatecas, feared new insurgent outbreaks and was sent a battalion of Spanish troops of the Regiment of Navarra. Incursions from the mountains of Guanajuato 'the seedbed of rebellion' as Jose de la Cruz described the region - demonstrated the existence of many small but tenacious bands. Cruz warned that it was folly to occupy the cities, towns, and villages of a province and then to declare the area pacified. If the countryside remained in rebel hands, the army would have to evolve methods and develop strong forces that could pursue guerrilla bands for as long as was necessary to eliminate them.94 Cruz was even more fearful of the great unguarded territoriessouth from Guadalajara to Uruapan and Apatzingan. His own forces were subdivided into so many garrisons that he lacked an expeditionary army to send after the insurgents. During the latter part of 1818, an epidemic of fevers called the mal de tierracalientestruck the royalist division garrisoning Uruapan, leaving less than fifty soldiers fit for duty.95 Since most of the rebels surrounding Nueva Galicia were 'old and resolved insurgents,' Cruz saw little reason for great optimism.96 After ten years of warfare, the struggle of the royalist army was still far


Ayuntamientoof Veracruzto Apodaca, 1 June i818, AGN:OG, Vol. 31. Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Government, pp. 179-80; and Lucas Alaman, Historia de MejicoIV, 409-10. 94 Cruz to Apodaca, io July i8i8, AGN:OG, Vol. I54. Cruz pointed out that there was no pointchasingrebelbandsfor I5 to20 daysand then supposing a regionto be pacified. 95 Cruz to Apodaca, 3 October18 8, AGN:OG, Vol. 155. 96 Cruz to Apodaca, i8 December i8i8, AGN:OG, Vol. I55.


Christon 1. Archer

from over. Because so much of the Mexican population supported the idea of independence, the level of oppression and control had to be maintained constantly. Had the army been able to keep up its own morale, it is possible that the colony could have been preserved. But with the restoration of the Spanish Constitution in 1820, soldiers joined civilians in secret clubs, juntas, and conversations that favored the goal of independence. At Zacatecas, Brigadier Jose Gayangos reported that all classes of the city were meeting at night outside the city, and soldiers of the Mixed Battalion were involved.97 Cruz continued to worry about the subdivisions of the army and proposed transferring some units from the provinces in which they were located. Too much connection with the local population after lengthy periods of sedentary garrison duty caused the officers and troops to identify with civilians. In the postscript of a letter that he later deleted, Felix Calleja wrote in I81 I: 'A hundred battles won will not assure us, but one defeat loses the kingdom forever.'88While Calleja meant a loss on the battlefield, the results were the same when the royalist officers and troops caught the 'contagion' of independence and rushed to join what they perceived to be the winning side. Even commanders who had been most loyal to the royalist cause had come to identify themselves with Mexico. When ugly incidents broke out between the European and creole soldiers, many Spanish officers wanted to identify themselves with the Mexicans. As Timothy Anna has pointed out, the final collapse took place in such a short time that senior officials scarcely knew what had happened.99Even in May of I82I, Jose de la Cruz reported that the danger was not irreparablewhile only the desire for independence was being expressed. The catastrophe occurred at the moment when the troops embraced the separatistcause and dispersed. After that there was no turning back.100 While Cruz and some senior officers could not compromise a career of loyalty to Spain, the siren call of Augustfn Iturbide was irresistibleand the royalist army rushed headlong with the rest of Mexico into independence. Unfortunately, the officers who joined Iturbide's Army of the Three Guarantees carried with them their corporative spirit and willingness to defend military privilege at the expense of other sectors. Since the generals and senior commanders assumed political offices from important regional posts to the presidency of the new republic, they entrenched the gains they had made at the expense of the Bourbon civil regime.

98 Calleia to Venegas, 27 November 1811, AGN:OG, Vol. I95.


Cruz to Apodaca,Conde del Venadito, 20 SeptemberI820,

AGN:OG, Vol. I57.


100 Cruz to Venadito, I May I821, AGN:OG, Vol. 148

Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Government,pp. 210-I