Monday, August 31, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Leonardo Marquez

Perhaps the most loathed member of the military high command of the 2nd Empire of Mexico was General Leonardo Marquez. He entered the era of the empire with an already fearsome reputation and ended it with one close to being treasonous. He was born probably sometime in 1820 and as a young officer fought against the revolution of General Paredes and captured the guerilla chief Jarauta near Guanajuato in 1848. Like many in the army he was disgusted by the liberal government and declared his support for Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna against President Herrera. His army deserted him and he was eventually arrested and then freed in a general amnesty. In the ongoing liberal-conservative civil war he backed the conservative General Zuloaga and took Zacatecas from the liberals on his behalf in 1858. He joined the forces of the young General Miguel Miramon in opposition to the liberal self-styled President Benito Juarez.

Marquez proved instrumental in this campaign, doomed though it was. When liberal troops under Santos Degollado marched against Mexico City, Marquez intercepted and totally defeated them at Tacubaya on April 11, 1859. However, the public was shocked when following the victory General Marquez executed the majority of his prisoners as well as six medical students who had come to treat the enemy wounded. Marquez claimed to have been ordered to do this by General Miramon, but throughout his career Marquez never showed any hesitation about dealing brutally with his enemies. Because of this incident he was known forever after by his nickname, the "Tiger of Tacubaya". In spite of this blot, General Marquez was celebrated when he and his men returned to Mexico City the next day. A group of leading ladies gave him a silk sash which read, "To virtue and valor, a token of the gratitude of the daughters of Mexico."

During the offensive into Michoacan Marquez won a number of victories In a raid on Tepic he executed a number of prominent liberals and carrying back 20 loads of bar-silver. On his way back, General Marquez moved against Guanajuato but was attacked by the forces of General Jose Maria Arteaga. Nonetheless, Marquez got round Artega, surprised his rear guard and routed the enemy army. Still, Marquez was not always popular. He had fallen out of favor with General Miramon and in November of 1859 Miramon ordered his arrest for taking $600,000 in silver in Guadalajara. However, circumstances saved Marquez as the conservative defeat at Silao on August 10, 1860 forced Miramon, who needed every experienced commander he had, to release Marquez.

Later overwhelmed and defeated by the liberals Marquez was forced to flee to Mexico City where he was besieged by Juarez' army. With no money, and desperate for resources to mount a defense, Marquez controversially raided the British legation of $620,000 on November 17, 1860. He joined with Miramon again for the last campaign of the war but the conservative cause was defeated at Calpulalpam. Marquez, however, refused to admit defeat and took to the mountains of Michoacan where he raided and harassed surrounding liberal forces, sometimes in conjunction with fellow conservative general Tomas Mejia. When the pair defeated and captured the liberal General Escobedo in Rio Verde, Marquez did his best to have him executed, but Mejia refused to allow it. Ultimately, Escobedo would greatly trouble their cause again and this may have fuelled a desire in Marquez to show no mercy to his enemies. In March of 1861, Marquez publicly decreed that anyone who served the government of Benito Juarez was a traitor to Mexico and if taken by his forces would be summarily put to death.

He continued his guerilla war against the liberal regime and Juarez put a $10,000 bounty on his head. In subsequent raids Marquez also captured, shot and hung General Leandro Valles. When the French became involved in Mexico, he cooperated with their operations and lead the vanguard of General Louis Forey's army in 1863. He supported the enthronement of Emperor Maximilian and was rewarded with the position of commander on the Pacific coast. In 1865 he fought with the French General Douay and was wounded in the eye after which Maximilian dispatched him as envoy to the Ottoman Empire.

As French support began to fade, Maximilian recalled Marquez and he returned to Mexico in November of 1866. He was given command of the troops in Mexico City but when General Miramon was defeated at San Jacinto on February 1, 1867 Marquez took his 4,000 men and joined Emperor Maximilian at Queretaro. Marquez was later dispatched with orders to organize a relief effort against the forces of General Escobedo that were besieging Queretaro. Instead, Marquez tried to relieve Puebla, which was besieged by General Porfirio Diaz. He failed to prevent the fall of Puebla and was himself defeated by Diaz at San Lorenzo on April 10. Marquez retreated to Mexico where he shook down the populace for all the money he could get his hands on and was soon besieged by General Diaz. Marquez tried to suppress news of the defeat of the Emperor at Queretaro, but ultimately Mexico City fell to the forces of Benito Juarez. Hiding himself in a grave and escaping through a secret tunnel General Marquez went into exile in Cuba where he lived for many years. Only able to return after a general amnesty and when years and other civil wars and revolutions had made him a distant memory he returned to Mexico to live out the rest of his life, by that time, according to some reports, a devoutly religious man.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...