Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/278

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The commanding-general, Trujillo, owed his life to his excellent horse, which bore him swiftly back to Mexico. Had Hidalgo marched immediately upon Mexico, then in a state of panic and confusion most advantageous to his cause, it might have been for him the victorious end of the struggle. Unfortunately, he decided to withdraw towards Querétaro, fearing the approach of reinforcements from the capital.

In fact, at Aculco he was vigorously attacked by the division of Calleja arriving from the north, and, after a hot combat, the insurgents were overcome, losing all their artillery and many men. The huge army melted, and Hidalgo went back to Valladolid with but a handful of men.

Calleja followed Allende to Guanajuato, where he attacked him with the same vigor, so that he was obliged to abandon the city and retreat to Zacatecas, which had already proclaimed independence. A cruel retaliation was taken by Calleja upon the inhabitants of Guanajuato.

Hidalgo again assembled an army, and went to Guadalajara, where the Independents had already declared themselves. No sooner had he left Valladolid than it was again occupied by royalist troops.

In Guadalajara Hidalgo organized a government, taking for himself the title of Generalissimo, and appointing ministers. He sent immediately a commissioner to the United States Government; but this emissary had not gone far before he was seized and made prisoner by the Spaniards. Hidalgo exerted himself vigorously to collect arms and