Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/284

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from one triumph to another as far as Cuautla, a picturesque town eighty-five miles southeast of the city of Mexico. Its lower level makes it tropical and picturesque, with lanes winding about among the adobe huts of the Indians, hedged with banana and orange trees, and hung with all manner of wandering vines and brilliant blossoms. Water trickles everywhere, and across the broad valley rises toward the north the peak of Popocatepetl.

Here Morelos sustained a siege against the well trained army of Calleja, still in the field, and ripe with the honors of victory in the campaigns at Hidalgo. The Independents held out from the 19th of February to the 2d of May, with great valor and endurance, repulsing three assaults, and sustaining daily attacks, while their sufferings were great from lack of food and water. The fame of Morelos, heroic defender of Cuautla, spread far and wide. After sixty-two days of steady resistance, Morelos, recognizing that he must abandon the place, succeeded in coming out at night without molestation, retiring in order towards the north.

Until the end of the year 1812, Morelos was engaged in leading his army from one victory to another, and gathering everywhere additions to his forces. The next year he ventured as far as Acapulco, scene of his first expedition. The garrison there capitulated, and he took possession of the fortress of San Diego in August, 1813.

On the 14th of September, Morelos called together the first Mexican Congress, at Chilpantzingo, not very far from the Pacific coast. Among its members