Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hidalgo y Costilla, Miguel

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HIDALGO Y COSTILLA, Miguel (e-dal'-go), Mexican patriot, b. on the farm of Corralejos, Guanajuato, 8 May, 1753; d. in Chihuahua, 30 July (according to others, 1 Aug.), 1811. His parents were Cristobal Hidalgo y Costilla and Ana Maria Gallaga, and therefore, according to Mexican custom, his name is Hidalgo y Gallaga, but in his earlier years he used to sign it Hidalgo y Costilla. He studied philosophy and theology at Valladolid, and in 1779 went to the city of Mexico and was ordained priest. He served in several parishes, and after the death of his elder brother, Dr. Joaquin, rector of Dolores, he was appointed as first assistant and afterward rector of that parish, which gave him enough income to sustain a curate. He established a tannery, a pottery, and a brick-yard, and the cultivation of the mulberry-tree and breeding of silk-worms. The first conspiracy, under the pretext of opposing the French rule in Spain, was formed, 21 Dec., 1809, in Valladolid, but was discovered and thwarted. But the enterprise was taken up by Dominguez, mayor of Queretaro, in whose house the conspirators met, Hidalgo being one. The conspiracy was denounced to the mayor of Guanajuato, Riano, who sent a force to capture the principals. Dominguez was arrested, but his wife managed to send notice to Allende at San Miguel, who had gone to Dolores for consultation with Hidalgo, and when Aldama arrived there with the news in the night of 15 Sept., 1810, Hidalgo resolved to anticipate the blow, and convinced his friends that it was the only way of salvation. With his brother Mariano, Jose Santos Villa, Allende, Aldama, and ten armed men, he went to the jail, compelled the keeper to set at liberty the prisoners, whom he armed with swords, and with the forces thus gathered he arrested the police delegate and all the Spanish residents. When the country people began to arrive for mass, it being Sunday, he issued the celebrated declaration of independence, commonly called the “Grito de Dolores.” With about 300 badly armed men, the same day he marched on San Miguel, where a regiment of dragoons joined him, and, with his forces continually augmented by the country people, he continued his march, taking at the shrine of Atotonilco a picture of the virgin of Guadalupe as his banner, and on 21 Sept. occupied Celaya, where he was elected general-in-chief. With about 50,000 men, poorly armed, he invaded the rich city of Guanajuato, where the mayor had intrenched himself in the granary of Granaditos, which after an obstinate defence was stormed, and all its defenders massacred, 28 Sept. Here Hidalgo established a cannon-foundry and a mint, and marched, on 10 Oct., although excommunicated by the church, against Valladolid, which city he occupied on the 17th without serious resistance, and was joined by the dragoons of Patzcuaro and the militia battalion of Michoacan. With a motley army of about 80,000 men he marched on the city of Mexico, and after defeating, 20 Oct., in the wood of Las Cruces, a force of about 3,000 men, sent against him by the viceroy Venegas, did not deem it prudent to attack the capital. Many of his men deprived of the hope of plunder deserted, and on 2 Dec. he began his retreat on Queretaro. On the 7th he was surprised near Aculco by the army of Gen. Calleja, and the greater part of his army dispersed. Allende retired with few followers to Guanajuato, and Hidalgo to Valladolid, and, hearing there that his followers had taken possession of Guadalajora, he marched for that city with about 7,000 men, arriving on 26 Nov., and was joined on 12 Dec. by Allende. Here he organized a government and prepared for resistance. But the forces organized by the viceroy, after occupying Guanajuato, advanced under Callejas against Guadalajora, and the bridge of Calderon over the Santiago river was chosen as the point of resistance. There the forces met on 17 Jan., 1811, the independents with 100,000 badly organized men and 95 cannons, and the Spaniards with 6,000 disciplined veterans, and the latter gained a complete victory. Hidalgo fled to Aguas Calicutes and Zacatecas, and was joined by Allende and the other chiefs, who on 25 Jan. divested him of the supreme command, nominating Allende in his stead. It was resolved that the principal chiefs, with the best troops, should march to the United States, to reorganize and procure arms and ammunitions; but, after their departure from Mondova, a counter-revolution broke out, 1 March, and Capt. Elizondo, who at first had taken their part, resolved to gain the reward offered for their capture. With 342 men he awaited them at the Norias de Bajan, and, feigning to receive them with military honors, made them all prisoners. They were sent to Chihuahua, and after a long trial were condemned to be shot. Hidalgo was degraded on 29 July from his sacerdotal character, and at dawn of the following day was executed. This date is fixed by congress for displaying the national flag at half-mast; but most writers fix the date as 1 Aug., probably counting the three days that according to the historian elapsed between the sentence and its execution. Hidalgo's body was buried in the church of St. Francis of Chihuahua; but by order of congress it was carried to Mexico and buried in a vault of the cathedral, with great ceremony, on 17 Sept., 1823. A colossal statue of the revolutionary chief has been modelled by the brothers Isla, and is to be cast in bronze by order of the Mexican congress.