"We Are Now the True Spaniards": Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808-1824

By Jaime E. RodrÍguez O. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
A Fragmented Insurgency

THE DEFEAT of the movement led by Hidalgo and Allende did not restore order or reassure the people of New Spain. The survival of the Spanish Monarchy remained in question as did the legitimacy of the royal officials in America. The great insurgency of 1810 had undermined the viceregal government and encouraged discontented groups to take control of their regions. Since the royal authorities reinforced the cities, rural insurgencies—guerrilla wars—erupted throughout the viceroyalty. Despite efforts of some groups to establish a united command, fragmented guerrilla forces led by local chieftains proliferated. No insurgent force ever equaled the huge numbers that followed Hidalgo. A few insurgent armies occasionally had several thousand men, but most insurgents operated in groups of ten to several hundred. They raided towns, villages, and haciendas and often fled before royal forces could counterattack. As Christon I. Archer has observed: “Although there were thousands of sieges, skirmishes, ambushes, and raids, only a few conventional battles deserve the name…. Cavalry was more important in New Spain’s than in Europe’s wars since the rebels seldom stood to fight and the country was so large. Military operations were exceedingly difficult because there were few roads suitable for wheeled traffic.”1

Insurgent leaders and their supporters came from a variety of backgrounds. The majority were rural villagers led by curas, mayordomos of haciendas, ranchers, and caciques. The insurgents from the Tierra Caliente region in the south were primarily blacks and mulatos. Individuals joined the insurgency for a variety of reasons. Some were bandits who used the rebellion as a mechanism to gain stature or to justify pillaging on a broad scale. Others were unemployed and underemployed young unmarried males, who viewed the upheaval as an opportunity for advancement. In some cases, rural villagers had grievances against local authorities, merchants, or large landowners. Local conditions frequently determined the types of individuals who supported the rebellion and for how long.2 The overwhelming majority that joined left the insurgency after a few months and returned to their homes. Others participated for extensive periods and became disciplined fighters. Some switched sides a number of times depending on whether the royalists or the insurgents controlled their

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"We Are Now the True Spaniards": Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808-1824
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note about America and Americans xvii
  • Terms Used in the Text xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - A Shared Political Culture 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Collapse of the Spanish Monarchy 34
  • Chapter 3 - The Events of 1809 68
  • Chapter 4 - Two Revolutions 97
  • Chapter 5 - The Cádiz Revolution 149
  • Chapter 6 - A Fragmented Insurgency 195
  • Chapter 7 - Separation 235
  • Chapter 8 - The Mexican Empire 268
  • Chapter 9 - The Formation of the Federal Republic 305
  • Conclusion 335
  • Notes 347
  • Sources 445
  • Index 481
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