Miguel Hidalgo and the Mexican War of Independence

Mexico Begins Its Struggle, 1810-1811

Miguel Hidalgo, siglo XIX, imagen tomada de: Jean Meyer, “Hidalgo”, en La antorcha encendida, México, Editorial Clío, 1996, p. 2.
Miguel Hidalgo is an important revolutionary.

Anonymous/Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Father Miguel Hidalgo kicked off Mexico's war for independence from Spain on September 16, 1810, when he issued his famous "Cry of Dolores" in which he exhorted Mexicans to rise up and throw off Spanish tyranny. For almost a year, Hidalgo led the independence movement, battling Spanish forces in and around Central Mexico. He was captured and executed in 1811, but others picked up the struggle and Hidalgo is today considered the father of the country.

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Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Miguel Hidalgo
Miguel Hidalgo. Artist Unknown

Father Miguel Hidalgo was an unlikely revolutionary. Well into his 50s, Hidalgo was a parish priest and noted theologian with no real history of insubordination. Inside the quiet priest beat the heart of a rebel, however, and on September 16, 1810, he took to the pulpit in the town of Dolores and demanded that the people take up arms and free their nation.

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The Cry of Dolores

The Cry of Dolores
The Cry of Dolores.

Juan O'Gorman

By September 1810, Mexico was ready for a revolt. All it needed was a spark. The Mexicans were unhappy with increased taxes and Spanish indifference to their plight. Spain itself was in chaos: King Ferdinand VII was a "guest" of the French, who ruled Spain. When Father Hidalgo issued his famous "Grito de Dolores" Or "Cry of Dolores" calling for the people to take up arms, thousands responded: within weeks he had an army large enough to threaten Mexico City itself.

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Ignacio Allende, Soldier of Independence

As charismatic as Hidalgo was, he was no soldier. It was crucial, then, that at his side was Captain Ignacio Allende. Allende had been a co-conspirator with Hidalgo before the Cry of Dolores, and he commanded a force of loyal, trained soldiers. When the war of independence broke out, he helped Hidalgo immeasurably. Eventually, the two men had a falling out but soon realized that they needed each other.

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The Siege of Guanajuato

On September 28, 1810, an angry mass of Mexican insurgents led by Father Miguel Hidalgo descended on the hapless mining city of Guanajuato. The Spaniards in the city quickly organized a defense, fortifying the public granary. The mob of thousands was not to be denied, however, and after a five-hour siege the granary was overrun and all inside massacred.

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The Battle of Monte de las Cruces

In late October of 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo led an angry mob of close to 80,000 poor Mexicans towards Mexico City. The residents of the city were terrified. Every available royalist soldier was sent out to meet Hidalgo's army, and on October 30 the two armies met at Monte de Las Cruces. Would arms and discipline prevail over numbers and rage?

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The Battle of Calderon Bridge

In January of 1811, Mexican rebels under Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende were on the run from royalist forces. Picking advantageous ground, they prepared to defend the Calderon Bridge which leads into Guadalajara. Could the rebels hold out against the smaller but better trained and equipped Spanish Army, or would their vast numerical superiority prevail?

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Jose Maria Morelos

When Hidalgo was captured in 1811, the torch of independence was picked up by a most unlikely man: Jose Maria Morelos, another priest who, unlike Hidalgo, had no record of seditious leanings. There was a connection between the men: Morelos had been a pupil at the school Hidalgo directed. Before Hidalgo was captured, the two men even met once, in late 1810, when Hidalgo made his former student a lieutenant and ordered him to attack Acapulco.

Hidalgo and History

Anti-Spanish sentiment had been simmering in Mexico for some time, but it took the charismatic Father Hidalgo to provide the spark the nation needed to start its war of Independence. Today, Father Hidalgo is considered a hero of Mexico and one of the greatest founders of the nation.

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Minster, Christopher. "Miguel Hidalgo and the Mexican War of Independence." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/miguel-hidalgo-mexican-war-of-independence-2136393. Minster, Christopher. (2020, August 27). Miguel Hidalgo and the Mexican War of Independence. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/miguel-hidalgo-mexican-war-of-independence-2136393 Minster, Christopher. "Miguel Hidalgo and the Mexican War of Independence." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/miguel-hidalgo-mexican-war-of-independence-2136393 (accessed May 29, 2023).