For almost 250 years after the conquest of Mexico, New Spain’s colonial military establishment was minimal. Except for occasional civil disorders aimed more at righting local inequities than at achieving major changes in sovereignty, no tradition of unrest justified maintenance of a large standing army. Even the potential threat of expeditionary forces sent across the Atlantic by Spain’s European enemies posed no immediate danger to the major population centers, since impassable mountain ranges, deserts, great distances, and a complete lack of developed roads prevented movement inland from the coasts. In 1762, however, England wrested the fortified city of Havana from Spanish control, and the Spanish Bourbons, fearful of further British encroachments on their possessions, ordered a rapid expansion of their overseas colonial militia. By 1800, the army in New Spain was firmly established as a corporate body enjoying the full fuero militar of the peninsula and numbering 6,150 regular army troops and 11,330 provincial militiamen, a significant increase from the estimated 3,000 regulars and unknown number of provincial militiamen who had borne the burden of defense in 1758. Rather than being defeated by the insurgents during Mexico’s struggle for independence, the royalist army led the ultimate break with Spain, and its Spanish-recruited creole professional military hierarchy remained intact and powerful. As a result, the army retained a strong sense of its corporate interests, and filled part of the vacuum left by the Spanish regime after independence.1

Mexican liberals like José María Luis Mora and Lorenzo Zavala recognized that the army’s role as arbiter in national politics was an evil which had to be tolerated until civilian power could be consolidated. Nevertheless, they hoped that development of a civic militia, to be composed of citizens in the states and the Federal District (who were known as cívicos), would curb the army’s strength.2 An initial attempt at codifying a body of laws for the civic militia was made in 1822, and it established some general rules which guided later organizational efforts. The civic militia was to be under the control of local authorities, have elected officers, preserve order and security, would not enjoy the fuero, and would include all males from 18 to 50 years of age who were not exempt for several reasons.3 Since these guidelines allowed the civic militia to become a bastion of federalism and civilian government during the first half of the nineteenth century, it came into conflict with high-ranking military officials and centralists, who feared it would be used to destroy the national army and the privileged position they held in society. Federalists and centralists battled for political supremacy between 1821 and 1845, and the civic militia fell victim to their struggle. It was suppressed and reorganized on a number of occasions, and did not flourish as it might have under more stable conditions.

Historians have thus far neglected the study of this institution.4 This essay examines how Mexican politicians manipulated the concept and reality of the civic militia to suit their ambitions in the political scenario of 1845. After overthrowing General Antonio López de Santa Anna with the aid of the civic militia in January 1845, the government of General José Joaquín Herrera had the opportunity to firmly establish this military force. However, Herrera and his advisors believed that the civic militia threatened the existence of the regime, and, after disbanding it once the rebellion had triumphed, refused to revive it for several months. The annexation of Texas by the United States paved the way for its reestablishment, but Herrera’s government then confronted numerous obstacles that made proper organization of the militia almost impossible. As a result, the civic militia failed to become a viable force, and the consequences of this failure were felt immediately. Herrera’s mistrust of the cívicos hastened the downfall of his own administration, and, more importantly, jeopardized Mexico’s military preparedness and political stability during the war with the United States.

The Early Years of the Civic Militia

The exact origins of the civic militia remain unclear, but some of its antecedents can be found in the Spanish resistance to the 1808 Napoleonic invasion and subsequent French rule. With Spain’s government in shambles and the chain of command in the national army shattered, irregular units of Spanish patriots with little previous military training formed throughout Spain to fight the French.5 Between 1808 and 1820, the Spanish Cortes passed several laws in an attempt to discipline and regularize these troops, but it seems that no civic militia existed in Mexico before the October 14, 1820 decree of the Cortes. This measure established rules and regulations for units in Spain’s overseas provinces, and the First Regency of the Mexican Empire approved it on February 11, 1822.6

For the next five years, Mexico’s civic militia legislation remained that of Spain. On August 3, 1822, the first Mexican Constituent Congress passed a law ostensibly setting up the civic militia, but this decree was scarcely more than a word-by-word copy of the one approved by the Spanish Cortes in October 1820.7 Nevertheless, several states moved to implement the terms of the decree, and it appears that a kind of militia which did not come under any effective national regulations arose between 1822 and 1827. The federal government moved to bring these units under its control, and on December 29, 1827 the national legislature passed a civic militia law to that effect.8

The new decree established some general rules for the states to follow when organizing the civic militia; for example, churchmen and public administration officials were exempted from service, and only property owners could be officers. However, the decree’s most noticeable feature was that it allowed each state to draw up its own civic militia ordinance; states could nominate their own inspectors and set up property qualifications for their officers. Moreover, since the law placed the civic militia under the authority of state governors, it became a military force to be used as the states saw fit. Individual states quickly moved to provide their militias with regulations; by 1830, the civic militia was well established in Jalisco, the State of Mexico, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Yucatán, and Zacatecas.9

Nevertheless, Mexico’s turbulent and often chaotic political scenario prevented this military establishment from developing properly. When General Anastasio Bustamante became president in January 1830, he unleashed a fierce attack against the civic militia, and he disbanded it in several states. However, some states, including Zacatecas, kept their militias from being destroyed, and these forces helped bring down the Bustamante regime in December 1832.10 In March 1833, General Santa Anna and Valentín Gómez Farías were elected president and vice-president, and Gómez Farías, on assuming the executive power due to Santa Anna’s alleged ill health, joined forces with a reform-minded congress to rush through a series of laws, some of which attempted to strengthen the civic militia at the army’s expense.11 The gains made under Gómez Farías were short-lived, for Santa Anna had deposed his former running mate, dissolved the chambers and rejected much of their legislation by October 1834. In March 1835, a new congress, desirous of establishing a centralist regime, passed a decree that restricted the size of the civic militia in the states to one militiaman for every five hundred inhabitants.12 Since the December 29, 1827 law required states to maintain a force of at least 1 percent of their population13—a minimum requirement that was five times the maximum allowed by the new law—it was obvious that the new decree sought to dismantle the civic militia, primarily the powerful units assembled by the governor of Zacatecas, Francisco García. When García refused to obey the decree, Santa Anna marched north and crushed his forces in May 1835. As a result, the last remaining obstacle on the road to centralism had been removed and the civic militia’s role in national politics was severely limited while a centralist constitution controlled Mexico’s destiny during the following decade.14

Despite this setback, the 1830s and early 1840s witnessed several attempts to recreate the civic militia. General Ignacio Mora y Villamil, who served as Mexico’s minister of war between October 20 and November 22, 1837, unsuccessfully proposed revival of this military force.15 When General Bustamante returned to power in 1838, he raised the civic militia under the name “Defensores de la Patria” to repel the French invasion.16 The government did not issue a decree dissolving this force once the war was over,17 but it is only logical to suppose, since the Constituent Congress of 1842 attempted to revive the militia,18 that Bustamante had disbanded it soon afterwards. In July 1844, another congress failed to recreate the civic militia,19 but the revolt of December 6, 1844 that toppled Santa Anna’s dictatorship revived it and relied on it for support. As a result, a new era appeared to dawn for the civic militia, but the events of 1845 would prove otherwise, as this military establishment fell victim to the fears and apprehensions of Herrera’s government.

Initial Vacillations of General Herrera

Under the auspices of the constitution known as the Bases Orgánicas, proclaimed on June 12, 1843, General Santa Anna established a personalistic dictatorship that widened the powers of the executive, restricted popular representation, and gave the national government almost total control over the states (which had been transformed into departments in 1836). However, the government’s plan for a public contribution of 10,000,000 pesos, in addition to steadily increased taxes and previous revenue-raising schemes, intensified public opposition against the regime. Leaders in Querétaro and Jalisco convinced General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga to launch a revolt against the dictatorship on November 2, 1844, and the rebellion reached its climax on December 6, when the national congress overthrew General Valentín Canalizo—who was acting as president ad interim in lieu of Santa Anna—and named General José Joaquín Herrera as chief executive.20 Since Santa Anna was at the head of an army of 12,000 men in Querétaro, it seemed that the uprising could only prevail if Santa Anna suffered a crushing military defeat. To prepare for the upcoming battle, congress passed a law on December 9 reviving the civic militia under the name “Voluntarios Defensores de las Leyes.”21 This decree allowed departmental assemblies to organize militia units, and authorized the national government to spend the funds deemed necessary for their maintenance until order was restored.22 According to a Spanish historian, as soon as this law was passed “every town wanted to show its adherence to the new order by taking up arms. In Mexico City, merchants, artisans, everybody enlisted to fight against Santa Anna’s army.”23 To try to take the capital—which was also defended by an army of 8,000 men led by Generals Paredes and Nicolás Bravo24—was to court disaster, so Santa Anna besieged the city of Puebla between January 4 and 11, 1845. However, the civic militia spearheaded the resistance and refused to crumble before Santa Anna’s onslaught.25 Consequently, many expected it to become one of the pillars of Herrera’s administration.

Mexico City’s ayuntamiento was the first of many voices to plead on behalf of this military force. On January 14, 1845, three of its regidores—Francisco Modesto Olaguíbel, José María Lafragua, and Manuel Robredo —proposed asking the departmental government of Mexico for permission to fully organize the militia units recently raised in the capital. This suggestion, however, led to a furious debate between two other regidores, Mariano Otero, who opposed the proposition, and Francisco Carbajal, who favored it.26 Although the discussion was inconclusive, Carbajal attempted to gain the upper hand by making two proposals. The first one consisted of two parts; it called for an ayuntamiento committee to urge the departmental assembly to ask congress to sanction the existence of the civic militia as a reform of the Bases Orgánicas,27 and also demanded that the units of “Voluntarios Defensores de las Leyes” already standing not be dissolved until congress reached a decision on the first part of this motion. Carbajal’s second proposal called for a cabildo extraordinario to be held on the following day, for rumors had begun to circulate that the government planned to disarm the civic militia, and he wanted to prevent it.28 The ayuntamiento then adjourned and all suggestions were passed on to a committee formed by Carbajal, Olaguíbel, Robredo, Lafragua, and Rafael de la Peña, who delivered their report three months later.29

Neither Carbajal’s efforts nor the valiant deeds of Puebla’s cívicos sufficed to prevent the government from carrying out its plans. The Ministry of War, on January 15, 1845, issued a circular letter ordering the disbanding of the new militia units.30 The government ostensibly wanted militiamen to return to their homes and occupations, but this contention, in view of the gallantry displayed by the militia during the December 1844 revolt, is dubious at best. The civic militia having helped topple Santa Anna, it is more likely that Herrera and his ministers feared the same force could just as easily bring about their downfall and chose to dismantle it. Political expediency would thus have been the real reason behind the January 15 directive.

Discontent aroused by this measure did not take long to surface. On January 23, El Monitor Constitucional, a newspaper generally supportive of Herrera’s administration, indicated that the capacity to raise the civic militia belonged to the departments, and that the December 9, 1844 law only authorized the national government to reduce or augment these units, and to spend the funds necessary for organizing them. It could not, however, discharge them. Consequently, the circular letter violated the Bases Orgánicas. There were other reasons to support conservation of the “Voluntarios Defensores de las Leyes,” according to the same newspaper. Militiamen could preserve internal order and security, which had been badly neglected. It would be extremely advantageous if Mexicans learned how to handle firearms, for a militarily disciplined country inspired respect. Finally, relations between soldiers and cívicos had been harmonious during December’s revolt and this harmony should be preserved, for many of Mexico’s problems derived from the “sinister division that evil spirits had ingrained between soldiers and civilians.”31

El Siglo XIX did not severely criticize the disbanding of the civic militia—doubtless because it was the government’s unofficial voice32—but it did point out the militia’s importance. On January 25, 1845, one of its correspondents wrote that the militia, whose performance in December’s revolt showed it to be an “effective and absolutely necessary tool” to overthrow tyrants, was indispensable to prevent another despotic regime from ruling the country. Since a “feeling of conformity and union” now prevailed in Mexico, it would be “much easier to organize the true national militia without awakening any resentments or the ominous memories that were once associated with it, and without fearing that it would become the instrument of a particular political faction.”33 Three weeks later, an editorial of El Siglo XIX noted that both France’s monarchical constitution and that of the United States contained clauses which provided for the existence of a civic militia. The Bases Orgánicas, on the other hand, did not even have “the seed of the institution.” Their only reference to militia units that were not part of the national army was to departmental police forces, which had nothing in common with the civic militia. In the doubtful case that the Bases had intended those forces to serve as a militia, the president’s omnipotent powers could easily neutralize its usefulness. Thus, Mexico’s constitution should clearly spell out the existence of the civic militia.34

At about the same time, several deputies presented congress with proposals that clamored for reestablishment of this military force. On January 30, the radical federalist (or later puro) Manuel Alas and four other deputies asked that all regular army corps, with the exception of those assigned to the División del Norte and those stationed in departments threatened by invasion of Indian tribes, be relieved of active duty.35 Alas’s proposal did not refer specifically to the civic militia, but Carlos María Bustamante —a conservative politician notorious for his rabid anti-federalism and disdain of the civic militia—might have been correct in suggesting that the true aim of this project was to destroy the army and elevate the militia to a position of eminence.36 A week later, Deputy Antonio María Rivera argued that revival of the civic militia was necessary because many Mexico City militiamen refused to surrender the weapons received in December 1844.37 Congress did not approve either project, but supporters of the civic militia were not discouraged. On February 28, Alas and 19 other deputies asked the national legislature to reform Article 19 of the Bases so that Mexican citizens would have the right of belonging to the civic militia.38 The Chamber of Deputies referred the matter to one of its committees on March 3 (it did not specify which one), but the issue apparently was never resolved.39

Why did congress deny these requests? Although the December 1844 revolt momentarily joined together the moderate and radical factions of the Mexican federalist party,40 the rebellion was spearheaded by the Mexican national legislature, which became the “one and only power” in Mexico in early 1845.41 Moderate federalists such as Manuel Gómez Pedraza, Francisco Elorriaga, Juan Bautista Morales, Juan José Espinosa de los Monteros, and General Pedro María Anaya controlled congress, and this group, while not yet openly bickering with radical federalists over the Texas question and that of constitutional reform, had reason to fear that a revival of the civic militia would enhance the political influence of their rivals, who were its strongest supporters.42 The intolerance of moderate federalists had been foreseen by Alas, who attempted to undermine their hold on power by demanding in early February, although unsuccessfully, the complete renovation of congress.43

Thus, the hopes of those who wanted to exalt the civic militia had been placed on hold, but not for long. At the end of March, Mexico learned that the United States had annexed Texas, and resentment flared up immediately; politicians made rash statements, and Mexico City newspapers clamored for war. At the same time, many correspondents emphasized the role that the civic militia could play in that struggle. According to El Siglo XIX, it would not be enough to revive public spirit, acknowledge the urgency of war, or announce that steps had been taken to prepare to fight against a foreign power. Those measures were necessary, but the most important one was to “arm the nation.” The government had

no need to fear the civic militia that brought it to power. As long as the cabinet remained the loyal and zealous defender of the rights of the people, it had no reason to mistrust them. The nation would never be inconsequent: it would only overthrow an administration to preserve its rights and its future, and in that case its downfall would be as just as General Santa Anna’s.44

General Herrera could no longer hesitate in arming the civic militia, for to do so would be to “abandon the country’s best interests. In order to carry out a successful campaign, Texas had to be invaded by a large army. However, it could not march forth if Mexico’s interior remained defenseless, a problem that was “virtually impossible” to overcome with regular army troops. The entire army could only be used in the war without endangering national security by raising, once again, the civic militia.45

On April 1, 1845, five regidores of the Mexico City ayuntamiento asked for reestablishment of the civic militia. However, the annexation of Texas was now at the center of their arguments. It was “a more horrendous crime than the one committed in 1521,” and such a “scandalous offense” had to be punished. The war against Texas was necessary not only to recover that territory, but to prevent Mexico’s ruin. North American influences in Texas would drain Mexico’s natural resources, and it would suffer a “prolonged and agonizing death.” Since the most appropriate means of expediting the campaign entailed revival of the civic militia, the regidores hoped the government would once again call on the cívicos to help preserve Mexico’s political existence.46

This exposition was assigned to the special committee formed on January 14, which decided, on April 22, to forward it to congress.47 Three days later, the ayuntamiento approved the decision. The final version of this document was an exact replica of the one presented before the ayuntamiento on April 1 with one exception; a new concluding paragraph had been added which argued even more vehemently in favor of the civic militia. Since Herrera’s administration boasted that it owed its existence to the will of the people, it had to place itself at their disposal or the war against Texas would remain a distant fantasy. To ignore this advice meant the government could raise a new army or divide the one that already existed, but either choice would prevent it from waging war. In the first case, a levy and new taxes would have to be imposed to raise the necessary soldiers and cover their expenses, but those measures were “conspicuously hated and harmful.” Should Herrera exercise the second option, Mexico would not have enough manpower to fight the war, and an opprobrious defeat would probably be its fate.48

The only solution to this vexing problem, according to the ayuntamiento, was reestablishment of the civic militia. The government would then be able to count on the entire army for the Texas campaign, as militiamen could keep order and tranquility in Mexico. In addition, should the Mexican army suffer an unforeseen defeat, the militia would facilitate the immediate replacement of battle casualties. Finally, since many departmental assemblies and a considerable number of citizens had already petitioned congress for its revival, it was obvious that the militia was backed not only by the “urgent necessity of war … , but by the will of the people. ”49

By the time the ayuntamiento’s exposition reached congress, other voices had joined the chorus that clamored for revival of the civic militia. A group of Mexico City residents petitioned congress to reinstate this force so that the Texas war could be carried out,50 while El Monitor Constitucional Independiente criticized the government more than once for disbanding the Voluntarios Defensores de las Leyes,” and urged recreation of the civic militia.51El Estandarte Nacional, which was edited by Olaguíbel, Carbajal, and Lafragua,52 made the same demands. On May 27, one of its correspondents wrote that

the immediate result of the disarmament of the people [in 1835] was the destruction of the federal system; to arm them now will bring about the return of federalism: let us not smother the popular vote, and a truly national government will be ours: because it is a shame that the people are feared every time they are armed for Mexico’s defense, just as happened in 1838 and in recent times.53

A week later, another editorial of El Estandarte expressed the hope that cívicos would form half of Mexico’s regular army. Such a measure would double the size of the army and allow professional soldiers to serve as role models for militiamen. Mexico would have to resist the territorial ambitions of the United States sooner or later, and it had to be ready to fight honorably to preserve its nationality.54

The annexation of Texas, besides intensifying public outcry on behalf of the civic militia, forced Herrera’s administration to act. On April 7, the committees on foreign relations and Texas of the Chamber of Deputies used the U.S. action to justify presenting congress with a project which authorized the government to arm the civic militia under the name “Voluntarios de la Independencia y de las Leyes.”55 Although the proposal became law on June 4,56 supporters of the militia remained convinced that Herrera’s regime had not moved fast or far enough. The Mexican president and his advisors then tried to make amends for their earlier refusal to revive the civic militia, but other problems surfaced and made their task a most difficult one.

Too Little, Too Late: The Failure of Reorganization

Herrera’s political rivals constituted one of these hurdles; they were already critical of his vacillating policies toward the Texas question and constitutional reform, and the Mexican president’s failure to act promptly on the militia issue gave them another excuse to plot against him. Prominent among them was puro leader Valentín Gómez Farias, whose aborted June 7, 1845 coup d’état attempted to bring about, among other things, the immediate reorganization of the civic militia.57

The government also made itself a target by not accompanying the legislation that revived the militia with any bylaws.58 To remedy this situation, in late June the Mexican foreign minister entrusted the Council of State with the formulation of an ordinance for the civic militia; it was ready by July 1, and the congress made it law on July 7.59 Reaction to the measure, especially Article Two, was not positive. According to this clause, a person had to comply with five requisites in order to be admitted into the civic militia: 1) be a citizen with full use of his rights60; 2) not be employed in public administration; 3) not be a day laborer (jornalero); 4) not be a clergyman; and 5) not be disabled, physically or morally, with any permanent handicaps or vices.61 Other provisions made clear that service was to be voluntary and unremunerated. Surprisingly, most of Mexico City’s newspapers did not protest against the ordinance, but El Amigo del Pueblo filled this void by printing several articles from regional dailies that pointed out its drawbacks. A Zacatecas paper wrote that citizens could only “scoff and jeer” at the bylaws, and warned that they would hasten a revolt against the government.62 A Puebla correspondent analyzed the three classes that made up Mexican society, and concluded that none of them would contribute to the establishment of the civic militia: the rich viewed military service with disdain, most of the middle class worked in public administration, and a majority of the lower class consisted of artisans, many of whom did not earn the two hundred pesos a year required by the constitution in order to be considered citizens.63 This writer’s judgment apparently was an accurate one. According to William S. Parrott, confidential agent of U.S. President James K. Polk,64 “the class designated for enlistment in the general regulation is not to be found in this country; the rich have neither the patriotism nor the inclination to serve for nothing … ; the poor day laborer, excluded by the regulation, could not be expected to perform the duty required of him without compensation.”65 In his opinion, the object of the law was “defeated by the government and council, no doubt intentionally, to avoid the arming of the militia.”66

It is difficult to ascertain whether that was the council’s or the government’s purpose, but the results of the recruiting process were clear—they were discouraging. On July 16, the Ministry of Foreign Relations authorized departmental officials to take the necessary steps to fulfill the object of the June 4 legislation, and one month later it asked these authorities to comment on the militia units raised, the obstacles encountered in organizing them and the best way of overcoming those problems.67 These reports, however, revealed the July 7 ordinance to be extremely deficient, and enrollment lagged far behind expectations. Only 37 persons registered in Morelia, 27 in Zacatecas, less than 20 in Tampico, another 10 in all of Querétaro, 3 in Guadalajara, 2 in Aguascalientes, and 1 in Puebla,68 while no one enrolled in Ciudad Victoria, Guanajuato, and San Luis Potosí.69 Enlistment in Mexico City, which began on August 20, totaled only 11 on the first day, and no more than 30 persons had registered after the first week.70 Enemies of the civic militia, such as Carlos María Bustamante, were overjoyed. He wrote that results in the Mexican capital were not “a great evil, but a … great benefit, as these soldiers are the former cívicos famous for their wickedness and offenders of laws and Christian piety. This only proves the common sense of the nation, for it hates and abhors this rabble.”71

What caused this dismal failure? According to La Voz del Pueblo, a radical federalist organ of Mexico City, the nation had remained silent due to “Herrera’s whimsical refusal to reestablish the 1824 constitution,” but this was mere propaganda.72 Most governors believed one of the main problems was Article One of the July 7 decree, which stated that enrollment in the civic militia was to be voluntary. Therefore, some of them advocated that service be made mandatory.73 Other governors pointed out that those clauses which excluded journeymen, public administration employees, and noncitizens from serving in the militia were harmful, and recommended their abolishment. Article Three, which prescribed that militia officers would be named by Mexico’s president and prevented them from keeping their posts for more than one year, was also deemed injurious; it was suggested that local governments be granted the power to name their own militia officers, whose term of office should last more than one year. Since militiamen were not paid a salary, other governors believed that they should receive a monetary reward for their services in addition to being preferred for appointment, under equal circumstances, to governmental positions. Finally, some letters indicated that lack of arms was also part of the problem.74

The national government quickly moved to remedy the deficiencies that had been pointed out. On October 14, General Pedro María Anaya, then minister of war, asked the Chamber of Deputies to abolish the prohibition of importing firearms into Mexico. This measure, he argued, would facilitate establishment of a true civic militia.75 Six days later, Manuel de la Peña y Peña, then minister of foreign relations, addressed the chamber and pointed out the obstacles encountered by the government as it had tried to carry out the June 4 law. The number of individuals who had taken up arms in the entire republic was “truly ridiculous,” and, whether this was due to Mexico’s continuous revolts or to the sinister ideas spread by the government’s enemies, the administration was truly saddened to see Mexicans avoid “one of their primary duties.” To correct this situation, Peña y Peña unveiled an eight-point project designed to serve as a new ordinance for the civic militia; it took into account many of the suggestions made by the governors. Service was to be compulsory for all citizens from the time they could exercise their rights until they were 50 years of age. Cívicos could name their own officers and leave their posts to settle personal affairs. In addition, militia units were not to be removed from their districts or departments unless several authorities granted permission. Finally, under the terms of the foreign minister’s proposal, only churchmen, public administration employees, and those who worked in educational or charitable institutions were exempted from service in the militia.76 The fate of both projects, however, remains unclear. It would not be unlikely that the Chamber of Deputies assigned them to one of its committees, which either dismissed or simply refused to consider them.

Despite Anaya’s and Peña y Peña’s protestations of support for the civic militia, the performance of the Herrera administration failed to convince radical federalists of its sincere interest in reviving the institution. In mid-September, General Ignacio Inclán offered to organize the same militia units that Puebla had raised to resist the Spanish invasion led by General Ignacio Barradas in 1829, which consisted of 26 infantry batallions, an artillery brigade, 4 cavalry regiments, and various small pickets. The minister of war responded that the government could not accept this proposal, for Puebla’s militiamen would then have to abandon their occupations.77 As was to be expected, the press strongly voiced its opposition. One Puebla newspaper wrote that not even the “chief of the Texas bandits” would dare utter such a hypocritical response, for no one doubted that the civic militia should be organized in a way that would allow its members to be ready to protect their homes without having to leave their jobs.78 In late October, Valentín Gómez Farías joined ranks with the press, and openly criticized the government for not arming the civic militia. He believed Manuel Gómez Pedraza—whom many considered to be the “soul of the cabinet”79—and Lucas Alamán encouraged this policy in order to facilitate the establishment of a monarchical regime in Mexico. If the people were armed,

they would vigorously oppose those that want to give us a king and they would repulse anyone who tried to subdue them, and if the government did not provide them with weapons, they would find them; if that were the case, they would not be invaded and find themselves without any means of defense, and they would not be entertained with lies that arms had been ordered from Europe because there are none in our depots, which is false since there are 14 or 15,000 muskets in Perote, most of which are brand-new while the rest only need minor repairs.80

Gómez Farías erred in linking Gómez Pedraza to the monarchist plot, but his judgment underscores the fact that Herrera’s policies toward the militia caused many to regard his administration with disdain as 1845 drew to an end.

Political events in mid-December suddenly appeared to favor the establishment of a powerful civic militia. On December 14, the commandant general of San Luis Potosí, General Manuel Romero, invited General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga to lead a “glorious and purifying” movement that would bring an end to the maladies brought on Mexico by the nefarious Herrera administration. One of these evils had been revival of the civic militia, for Herrera’s regime had proclaimed “a most heinous law designed to arm and let loose upon society masses of the most thoughtless, immoral and peace-hating men.”81 Since Paredes, who was at the head of an army of several thousand soldiers, accepted the offer, the government once again called on the civic militia for its defense. However, Herrera soon found out that his regime’s seemingly disdainful policies toward the militia prevented it from being as effective as in 1844.

Indeed, it did not take long to notice the consequences of Herrera’s mistrust. On December 20, the government asked the Department of Puebla to send five thousand cívicos to participate in the defense of the capital, but a force of that size did not exist, and Puebla’s militiamen were not willing to leave their homes to fight in Mexico City.82 On that same day, the government—for some unknown reason—also refused to organize a unit of one thousand men raised by Manuel Reyes Veramendi, a regidor of the Mexico City ayuntamiento.83 This was a gross error, and Herrera tried to make amends a week later. On December 27, he authorized the ayuntamiento to proclaim an edict (bando) organizing the civic militia, and he armed the three thousand cívicos that enlisted in the capital.84 However, the arming of the populace disturbed many, and their response negated the government’s latest effort to organize this military force.

The merchants were one group that felt alarm, for they remembered the atrocities perpetrated during the 1828 popular uprising commonly known as the motín de la Acordada.85 Consequently, the Junta de Fomento called for its members to arm themselves and be ready to resist any new outburst on the part of the populace.86 The regular army also viewed Herrera’s orders with a strong dose of suspicion. According to “A.” (probably General Juan Nepomuceno Almonte), the arming of the populace had

excited and angered the troops. My greatest worry now is how to control the situation so that there will not be a clash. Since no judgment was used in arming the people, I have very grave fears that they will indulge in all kinds of excesses, thus repeating the scenes of 1828. In that event, I shall be occupied in controlling the mob, and I shall even send troops against them if need be.87

On December 30, the members of the Council of State, fearing a popular rebellion headed by the civic militia, implored its president, General Gabriel Valencia, to take control of the situation. Valencia, who was also trying to outsmart Paredes and seize control of the revolt, visited Herrera and forcefully complained that the arming of the civil population threatened the security and order of the capital. By the end of the day, Herrera had resigned his office and the Mexico City militia had laid down its arms.88 This force was not revived until Gómez Farias and the radical federalists assumed power in August 1846.

Indeed, Herrera’s initial lack of confidence in the civic militia had dire consequences for his regime. As a contemporary writer noted,

if the government had ordered the militia to be armed immediately after the victory of December 6, the outcome might be different. But by following in the footsteps of its predecessor and with less prestige and power over the army, the present government made an effort to rely on the handful of troops still loyal to it and refused to put any confidence in the nation, to which it owed its amazing triumph.89

One may only speculate about what might have happened if the Mexican president had created a strong national guard. In that case, Paredes may well have doubted the wisdom of turning against the government. Since Herrera’s continued presence as Mexico’s head of state probably would have entailed the peaceful surrender of Texas to the United States, the Mexican War might have been forestalled until Mexico was better prepared to resist aggressive U.S. expansionism. There is no doubt, however, that a powerful civic militia would have enabled Mexico to offer a more stubborn resistance during the war. Militiamen saw action in Veracruz, New Mexico, Tabasco, California, Chihuahua, and Mexico City, where they distinguished themselves in the defense of the convent of Churubusco.90 In addition, establishment of an effective civic militia in 1845 would have prevented that force from becoming a divisive influence in Mexican politics during 1846 and 1847, when moderate and radical federalists used it to further their political ambitions. Both groups organized militia batallions along factional and social lines that opposed each other in the October 1846 riots in Mexico City and in the February 1847 uprising commonly known as “the revolt of the polkos,” which erupted at the same time General Winfield Scott and the U.S. army were landing in Veracruz.91 Because Herrera and his advisors initially neglected development of the civic militia in order to enhance their own chances for political survival and then could not overcome a series of obstacles that prevented its effective organization, their policies proved to be, in the end, costly ones.


Christon I. Archer, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760-1810 (Albuquerque, 1977), 1-3; Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of Mora, 1821-1853 (New Haven, 1968), 141; Lyle McAlister, The “Fuero Militar” in New Spain, 1764-1800, reprint ed. (Boulder, 1974), 1, 98, app. 1, table 5; Frank Safford, “Politics, Ideology and Society in Post-Independence Spanish America,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, Leslie Bethel, ed. (Cambridge, 1984-), III, 379.


Hale, Mexican Liberalism, 142-143. For Mora’s and Zavala’s opinions about the militia, see José María Luis Mora, México y sus revoluciones. 3 vols. (Mexico City, 1836) I, 104-106; Lorenzo Zavala, Memoria de la gestión de gobierno del estado de México durante el año de 1833 (Toluca, Mexico, 1833), 24. The civic militia was also known as the national guard, national local militia, or local militia, but to avoid confusion I will refer to it as the militia or civic militia.


Manuel Dublán and José María Lozano, eds., Legislación mexicana, 42 vols. (Mexico City, 1876-1904), I, 619-626.


The only paper that deals specifically with the Mexican civic militia was written by Maurice Brungardt while he studied at the University of Texas at Austin. Nettie Lee Benson kindly provided me with a copy of this essay, which traces the antecedents, establishment, and development of the militia in Mexico between 1810 and 1835.


Rafael Altamira, A History of Spain from the Beginnings to the Present Day (Princeton, 1955), 533; Jaime Vicens Vives, “Els catalans en el segle XIX” (Barcelona, 1958), 121, cited in Raymond Carr, Spain: 1808-1939 (Oxford, 1966), 89-90, n. 3.


The laws approved by the Cortes can be found in Colección de los decretos y órdenes que han expedido las cortes generales y extraordinarias desde su instalación, 9 vols. (Madrid, 1820-1822), II, 154-155; III, 77; V, 168-180; VI, 64-79, 201-215. The resolution of the Mexican regency appears in Mariano Galván Rivera, comp., Colección de órdenes y decretos de la soberana junta provisional gubernativa y soberanos congresos generales de la nación mexicana, 4 vols. (Mexico City, 1829-40), I, 117.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, I, 619-626.


Ibid., II, 49-51; Michael P. Costeloe, La primera república federal de México, 1824-1835: Un estudio de los partidos políticos en el México independiente (Mexico City, 1975), 155-156. I owe much of the preceding information to Brungardt’s paper.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, II, 49-51; Costeloe, La primera república, 155-156, 298-299; Stanley C. Green, The Mexican Republic: The First Decade, 1823-1832 (Pittsburgh, 1987), 187.


Costeloe, La primera república, 299-301; Green, The Mexican Republic, 201-202; Frank N. Samponaro, “The Political Role of the Army in Mexico, 1821-1848” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1974), 167, n. 137.


Costeloe, La primera república, 378-379.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, III, 38.


Ibid., II, 49-51.


Samponaro, “La alianza de Santa Anna y los federalistas, 1832-1834: Su formación y desintegración,” Historia Mexicana, 30:3 (Jan.-Mar. 1981), 383-384. Coahuila also opposed the decree and was similarly unsuccessful. See Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, The Texas Question in Mexican Politics, 1836-1845,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 89:3 (Jan. 1986), 311.

It appears that Santa Anna, after defeating García, sponsored a project which offered governors militiamen in return for the governors’ support of his centralist regime against an undependable army. Under the proposal, governors would control their civic militias without legislative restriction and presidents could, with state approval, use the militia for their own purposes outside the whims of a possibly recalcitrant national congress. However, this attempt to create a provincial constituency to counterbalance both an unreliable army and a balky congress foundered for political and financial reasons. Paul J. Vanderwood, Disorder and Progress: Bandits, Police, and Mexican Development (Lincoln, 1981), 36.


José Bravo Ugarte, Historia de México, 3 vols. (Mexico City, 1941-54), I, 189; Diccionario Porrúa de historia, biografía y geografía de México, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1970-1971), I, 862.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, III, 565-566. It seems, however, that the convocation’s results were dismal. Although the Mexican people rejoiced when war was declared, and many asked the ayuntamientos to supply them with weapons and military instructors, few militia units were organized, and they did not play a prominent role in the war. The government did not deem them trustworthy, for it feared they would use the resources placed at their disposal to proclaim federalism. Vicente Riva Palacio, ed., México a través de los siglos, 5 vols. (Mexico City, 1956), IV, 422-423.


Neither volumes III and IV of Dublán and Lozano’s Legislación, nor volumes XIV and XV of Basilio José de Arrillaga, ed., Recopilación de leyes, decretos, bandos, reglamentos, circulares y otras providencias de los supremos poderes y otras autoridades de la República Mexicana … formada de orden del supremo gobierno por el licenciado Basilio José Arrillaga, 17 vols. in 16 (Mexico City, 1834-50), which encompass the years 1835 to 1844, contain any such disposition.


Cecilia del Carmen Noriega Elío, El Constituyente de 1842 (Mexico City, 1986), 105.


Vázquez, “The Texas Question,” 339.


Fernando Díaz Díaz, Caudillos y caciques: Antonio López de Santa Anna y Juan Álvarez (Mexico City, 1972), 179; Barbara A. Tenenbaum, The Polities of Penury: Debts and Taxes in Mexico, 1821-1856 (Albuquerque, 1986), 45-46, 53; Vázquez, “The Texas Question,” 337.


Thomas Ewing Cotner, The Military and Political Career of José Joaquín Herrera, 1792-1854 (Austin, 1949), 110; Riva Palacio, México a través, IV, 592; Niceto de Zamacois, Historia de Méjico desde sus tiempos más remotos hasta nuestros días, 22 vols, in 25 (Barcelona, 1878-1902), XII, 363.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, IV, 769.


Zamacois, Historia de Méjico, XII, 363.


Wilfrid H. Callcott, Santa Anna: The Story of an Enigma Who Once Was Mexico (Hamden, CT, 1964), 210-211.


When Mexican Foreign Relations Minister Luis G. Cuevas addressed congress on Mar. 11 and 12, 1845, he praised the audacity and bravery of Puebla’s cívicos. Memoria del ministro de relaciones exteriores y gobernación leída en el Senado el 11 y en la Cámara de Diputados el 12 de marzo de 1845 (Mexico City, 1845). 116. Congress also acknowledged their gallantry through the decree of Sept. 6, 1845, which granted Puebla the surname of “Unconquerable,” and ordered construction in that city of a monument with the names of the siege’s casualties. The law also exempted militiamen from service in the army and awarded them diplomas recognizing their actions, which were to serve as a right for preferment in their military or civilian careers. Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, V, 34-35.


El Siglo XIX, Feb. 5, 1845. Unless otherwise noted, all newspapers cited were published in Mexico City.


On Dec. 6, 1844, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously decided that departmental assemblies should forward to congress those changes that, in their opinion, would make the Bases a better law. Juan A. Mateos, Historia parlamentaria de los congresos mexicanos de 1821 a 1857, 25 vols. (Mexico City, 1895), XVII, 214.


“Proposiciones presentadas al ayuntamiento de México en el cabildo de 14 de actual por el regidor don Francisco Carbajal,” in El Siglo XIX, Jan. 16, 1845. The cabildo extraordinario was in effect the same as what was most often known in the colonial period as cabildo abierto; see Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America, reprint ed. (Gloucester, MA, 1973), 160-161.


El Siglo XIX, Jan. 16, 1845.


Circular letter of the Ministry of War, Mexico City, Jan. 15, 1845 in El Monitor Constitucional, Jan. 17, 1845. It seems that Puebla, at least for some time, disobeyed this order and did not disband its units. El Monitor Constitucional Independiente, Mar. 5, 1845.


El Monitor Constitucional, Jan. 23, 1845.


Jesús Velasco Márquez, La guerra del 47 y la opinión pública (1845-1848) (Mexico City, 1975). 15.


El Siglo XIX, Jan. 23, 1845.


Ibid., Feb. 15, 1845.


Ibid., Feb. 28, 1845.


Carlos María Bustamante, “Memorándum, o sea, apuntes para escribir la historia de lo especialmente ocurrido en México,” Feb. 3, 1845. This manuscript is located at the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley and has been microfilmed in six reels, which were consulted at El Colegio de México. Since Bustamante wrote down on a daily basis those events he witnessed or which were referred to him, I have used the date of his entry as a reference in order to facilitate its location.


Bustamante, “Memorándum,” Feb. 6, 1845.


El Siglo XIX, Mar. 12, 1845. On May 18, 1847, a Mexican Constituent Congress passed the Acta de Reformas, which formally reinstated the 1824 federal constitution. Article Two of this code granted Mexican citizens the right of belonging to the civic militia. Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, V, 275.


El Siglo XIX, Mar. 12, 1845. Although this daily published the abstracts of the proceedings of that chamber, I have not found any reference in them or in the rest of my sources to Alas’s project. In addition, a document entitled “Lista del número de expedientes que han pasado a las respectivas comisiones en el mes de marzo próximo pasado, del que en dicho mes se han despachado y del que les quedan pendientes” reveals that the various committees of the Chamber of Deputies had 339 proposals pending at the end of Feb. 1845. Since 47 other projects were received during Mar. and only 30 were dispatched, the Chamber of Deputies probably decided not to act on a controversial matter like recreation of the civic militia. The above-cited document appears in El Siglo XIX, Apr. 24, 1845.


Jesús Reyes Heroles, ed., “Estudio preliminar,” in Obras, 2 vols. (Mexico, 1967), I, 35.


José C. Valadés, Orígenes de la República Mexicana: La aurora constitucional (Mexico City, 1972), 440.


Valadés, Orígenes, 431. Moderate federalists were willing to support Herrera’s efforts to reach an amicable accord over the Texas question and to preserve the Bases Orgánicas—with reforms—as Mexico’s constitution. On the other hand, radical federalists (who took the name of puros in 1846) advocated the recovery of Texas and a return to federalism under the auspices of the 1824 constitution. For details on their rivalry in 1845, see Pedro Santoni, “Los federalistas radicales y la guerra del ’47” (Ph.D. diss., El Colegio de México, 1987), 36-190.


El Siglo XIX, Feb. 6, 14, and 16, 1845.


Ibid., Mar. 26, 1845.




Three of these individuals—Olaguíbel, Lafragua, and Robredo—had already argued in favor of the civic militia; the two who now joined in were José María del Río and Rafael de la Peña. Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de México, Actas de Cabildo (hereafter cited as AACM/AC), vol. 166-A, meeting of Apr 1, 1845.


The ayuntamiento did not reach this decision without a struggle. Eulalio María Ortega argued that a new special committee had to be formed since three of its members —Lafragua, Robredo, and de la Peña—had subscribed to the Apr. 1 proposal. Ortega’s suggestion, however, was not approved. AACM/AC, vol. 166-A, meetings of Apr. 1 and 4, 1845.

When the ayuntamiento met in late Apr. to decide if that proposal should be sent to congress, four regidores voted against the motion; Otero, Ortega, Manuel Reyes Veramendi, and Leopoldo Río de la Loza. Otero also put forth a special opinion which argued that passing resolutions on political affairs—and, in his opinion, this was such a matter—was not among the ayuntamiento’s prerogatives. Their opinion did not prevail, as it was voted down by the other 14 regidores. AACM/AC, vol. 166-A, meeting of Apr. 25, 1845. Otero’s vote was published in El Siglo XIX, Apr. 27, 1845.


Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de México. Milicia Cívica (hereafter cited as AACM/MC), vol. 3275, exp. 117.


Ibid. Among the departmental assemblies that proposed creation of the civic militia when suggesting reforms to the Bases were those of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Guanajuato, Durango, Querétaro, and Coahuila. Their reports appear in El Siglo XIX, Mar. 18, Apr. 17 and 27, and May 4, 9, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25, 1845.


“Exposición que dirigen a la Augusta Cámara de Diputados los ciudadanos que abajo firman,” El Estandarte Nacional, Apr. 5, 1845.


El Monitor Constitucional Independiente, Mar. 5 and 18, Apr. 13, May 30, 1845. This daily later folded and went on to become El Amigo del Pueblo, one of the more prominent radical federalist organs of Mexico City. See El Monitor Constitucional Independiente, June 22, 1845.


Bustamante, “Memorándum,” Apr. 6, 1845.


El Estandarte Nacional, May 27, 1845.


Ibid., June 4, 1845.


El Monitor Constitucional Independiente, Apr. 9, 1845.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, V, 19-20.


“Plan” (of the June 7, 1845 revolt), in La Voz del Pueblo, July 5, 1845.


Among the newspapers that criticized this omission were the Periódico de a Cuartilla (Puebla), June 28, 1845, in El Amigo del Pueblo, July 3, 1845, and El Amigo del Pueblo, July 3, 1845.


Luis G. Cuevas to the president of the Council of State, Mexico City, June 20, 1845, Archivo General de la Nación, Mexico City, Ramo de Gobernación (hereafter cited as AGNM/RG), box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3; Gabriel Valencia to the minister of foreign relations, Mexico City, July 1, 1845, AGNM/RG, box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3. The ordinance appears in Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, V, 20-22.


According to Article 18 of the Bases Orgánicas, a person had to be 18 vears old and married, or 21 if single, and have an annual income of at least two hundred pesos in order to be considered a citizen. Felipe Tena Ramírez, Leyes fundamentales de México, 1808-1982, 9th ed. (Mexico City, 1982), 409.


Dublán and Lozano, Legislación, V, 21.


La Marcha del Siglo (Zacatecas), Aug. 15, 1845, in El Amigo del Pueblo, Aug. 23, 1845.


El Centinela (Puebla), July 17, 1845, in El Amigo del Pueblo, July 22, 1845.


David Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War (Columbia, MO, 1973), 258.


William S. Parrott to James Buchanan, Mexico City, July 15, 1845, Justin Smith Papers (located in the Nettie Lee Benson Collection, University of Texas; hereafter cited as JSP), VI, 50. Other personal papers cited in subsequent notes are located in the same collection.


Parrott to Buchanan, Mexico City, July 15, 1845, JSP, VI, 50. There is reason to suppose however, that blame for the militia ordinance lies not with Herrera but with the Council of State. At the head of this body was General Gabriel Valencia, an ambitious and scheming officer who had tried to seize power in 1841 and who despised the civic militia. It would not be too far-fetched to suggest that Valencia—who plotted to overthrow Herrera in Dec 1845 and who then also disbanded the militia units raised by the government—purposely drafted a defective ordinance in order to undermine Herrera’s popular support and enhance his own opportunities of reaching the presidency.


Circular letter of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Mexico City, July 16 1845, in El Amigo del Pueblo, July 22, 1845; circular letter of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Mexico City Aug. 23, 1845, in El Amigo del Pueblo, Aug. 30, 1845.


“Noticia del número de Defensores de la Independencia y las Leyes que según las constancias que hay hoy en este ministerio se han alistado en los departamentos que se citan,” AGNM/RG, box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3.


Juan Bautista Morales to the minister of foreign relations, Guanajuato, Aug. 29, 1845; José María Flores to the minister of foreign relations, San Luis Potosí, Sept. 3, 1845; Victorino F. Canales to the minister of foreign relations, Ciudad Victoria, Sept. 4, 1845, in AGNM/RG, box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3.


AACM/MC, vol. 3275, exp. 119; El Siglo XIX, Aug. 22, 1845.


Bustamante, “Memorandum,” Sept. 2, 1845.


La Voz del Pueblo, Sept. 3, 1845.


This had already been suggested by del Río, a regidor of Mexico City’s ayuntamiento, during that organization’s Aug. 1 meeting. However, the ayuntamiento refused to even discuss his proposal. AACM/AC, vol. 167-A, meetings of Aug. 1 and 5, 1845.


This paragraph synthesizes the principal complaints and suggestions made by governors regarding organization of the militia. The most useful letters were those of Manuel Rincón (Mexico), Antonio Escobedo (Jalisco), José María Flores (San Luis Potosí), Marcos Esparza (Zacatecas), Basilio Mendarrozqueta (Durango), Victorino F. Canales (Tamaulipas), Santiago Rodríguez (Coahuila), Antonio Domínguez (Querétaro), Juan Bautista Morales (Guanajuato), Juan González Cabofranco (Puebla), Juan Soto (Veracruz), and Francisco Moreno (Aguascalientes). They are located in AGNM/RG, box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3.


El Amigo del Pueblo, Oct. 25, 1845.


AGNM/RG, box 277, leg. 189, exp. 3.


Ignacio Inclán to the minister of war, Puebla, Sept. 11, 1845; minister of war to Inclán, Mexico City, Sept. 12, 1845, in La Voz del Pueblo, Sept. 24, 1845.


Periódico de a Cuartilla (Puebla), Sept. 20, 1845, in La Voz del Pueblo, Sept. 24, 1845. For further criticism of Anaya’s answer, see La Voz del Pueblo, Oct. 4, 1845.


José Fernando Ramírez, Mexico During the War With the United States, Walter V. Scholes, ed., Elliot B. Scherr, trans. (Columbia, MO, 1950), 11.


Valentín Gómez Farías to Manuel González Cosío, Mexico City, Oct. 25, 1845, Valentín Gómez Farías Papers 1291, f. 48.


“Plan de San Luis Potosí,” San Luis Potosí, Dec. 14, 1845, in El Siglo XIX, Dec. 20, 1845.


Procopio de Sanvictores to Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga, Mexico City, Dec. 20, 1845, Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga Papers (hereafter cited as MPAP) 579, f. 43; anonymous to Paredes, Mexico City, Dec. 23, 1845, MPAP 596, f. 43; [Salvador Bermúdez de Castro] to Paredes, Dec. 25, 1845, MPAP 606, f. 43. Sanvictores’s identity probably was General José María Tornel, one of the revolt’s chief conspirators. See Miguel Soto, “The Monarchist Conspiracy in Mexico, 1845-1846” (Ph.D. diss., University oí Texas at Austin, 1983), 67, 89, n. 2.


Ramírez, Mexico During the War, 13.


El Siglo XIX, Dec. 26 and 28, 1845; Ramírez, Mexico During the War, 28. According to an observer, seven thousand muskets were distributed among the Mexico City militia and the civil population. Bustamante, El nuevo Bernal Díaz del Castillo, o sea, historia de la invasión de los anglo-americanos a México (Mexico City, 1949), 77.


Costeloe, La primera república, 306-307.


Ramírez, Mexico During the War, 29.


Ibid., 27.


Ibid., 31, 35. Valencia’s conduct during the last days of Dec. is explained in Soto, “The Monarchist Conspiracy,” 71-76.


Ramírez, Mexico During the War, 27.


José María Roa Barcena, Recuerdos de la invasión norteamericana (1846-1848), 3 vols. (Mexico City, 1947), III, 344.


Pletcher, The Diplomacy, 485. For additional information on the civic militia during the Mexican War, see Santoni, “Los federalistas radicales,” 267-268, 292-299, 302-303, 340, 355-358, 361-362, 372.

Author notes


An abbreviated version of this study was presented at the annual meeting of the South-western Historical Association in Dallas on March 18, 1987. I would like to express my gratitude to Nettie Lee Benson, Paul Vanderwood, Donathon Oliff, Joseph Dawson, Mariano Díaz-Miranda, and William French for their comments and suggestions.