The Niños Héroes were six Mexican children, students at the Military Academy, who died defending the territory of Mexico in the Chapultepec Castle on September 13, 1847.
These cadets, who were between 12 and 18 years old, defended the territory as it was going to be invaded by US forces during the Battle of Chapultepec. Today they are recognized and admired by the Mexican people.
Their bravery is remembered as they decided to stay to fight despite being ordered to go home. It is believed that there were about 50 children in total who stayed to defend the castle, but only 6 names are known.
The Niños Héroes are commemorated in Mexico every September 13.
Context of the story of the Niños Héroes
In the framework of the Battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican-American War, the protagonists were the six Mexican children who died during the American invasion of 1847.
All history can be traced back to the invasion of the US army to the Mexican nation, under the pretext of rapes in Texas, which at that time belonged to Mexico.
The two troops met on the Chapultepec hill, where the facilities of the Military Academy were located.
This land was the last place of refuge towards Mexico City, where the final battle that would have as a consequence the loss of the territory of Mexico in favor of the United States took place.
Chapultepec Castle was being defended by Mexican troops under the command of Nicolás Bravo, including cadets from the Military Academy.
The number of cadets present has varied according to historical reports, from as low as 47 to a few hundred people.
The defenders were vastly outnumbered and battled General Scott’s troops for two hours, before General Bravo ordered a withdrawal.
However, six cadets refused to surrender and fought to the death. Legend has it that the last of these six cadets, named Juan Escutia, jumped from Chapultepec Castle wrapped in a Mexican flag to prevent the flag from being taken away by the enemy.
According to a report by an unidentified American officer and made later, nearly hundreds of cadets between the ages of 12 and 18 were among the crowds of prisoners taken after the Castle’s capture.
The bodies of the six children were buried around the Chapultepec park area. On March 5, 1947, a few months before the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec was celebrated, US President Harry S. Truman placed a wreath on the monument and stood for a few moments in solemn bow.
In its early days, the defeat at Chapultepec was viewed by Mexicans as shameful. But after the year 1872, a great cult and importance began to be created to everything related to the battle.
In 1947, the remains of the bodies were found and identified; On September 27, 1952, they were re-interred in the Cadets’ Historic Monument in Chapultepec.
Currently, in the Castillo del Cerro de Chapultepec the National Museum of History is located; In its surroundings the different points where all the children who defended Mexican territory died are commemorated with plaques.
Juan de la Barrera
He was born in 1828 in Mexico City. He was the son of Ignacio Mario de la Barrera, an army general, and Juana Inzárruaga. He had enlisted at the age of 12 and was admitted to the Academy on November 18, 1843.
During the attack on Chapultepec, he was a lieutenant in the military engineers and died defending a hornabeque at the entrance to the park.
At 19, he was the oldest of the six children and was also part of the school’s faculty, as he taught engineering.
He was born between 1828 and 1832 in Tepic, the capital of the state of Nayarit. Historical documents show that he was admitted to the academy as a cadet on September 8, 1947; however his other documents were lost during the attack. It is believed that he was the second lieutenant in the artillery company.
This cadet is said to have wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped from the roof to prevent the flag from being taken away by enemy hands. His body was found on the eastern side of the hill, along with Francisco Márquez.
A mural painted by the muralist Gabriel Flores depicts his leap from the ceiling with the Mexican flag.
He was born in 1834 in Guadalajara, Jalisco. He applied for the military academy on January 14, 1847 and, at the time of the battle, belonged to the first company of cadets. He died at the age of 13, becoming the youngest of the six Child Heroes.
He was born between 1828 and 1832 in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. He was the son of Esteban Melgar, a lieutenant colonel in the army, and María de la Luz Sevilla; both parents died when he was young, therefore he was in the care of his older sister.
He applied for the academy on November 4, 1846. A note in his personal documents explains that after finding himself alone, he tried to stop the enemy in the northern area of the Castle.
Fernando Montes De Oca
He was born between 1828 and 1832 in Azcapotzalco, a city north of Mexico City and one of the jurisdictions of the Federal District.
He applied for the academy on January 24, 1847 and was one of the cadets who remained at the castle. His personal record reads as follows: “He died for his country on September 13, 1847.”
He was born in 1833 in Puebla, Puebla. He was the son of Miguel Suárez, a cavalry officer, and María de la Luz Ortega. He applied for admission to the Academy on October 21, 1845, and during his stay he was an official cadet.
- Children heroes. Recovered from wikipedia.org.
- Who threw Juan Escutia? (1998). Recovered from día.unam.mx.
- The mexican war. (1849), 10th Edition. New York, USA. Barnes & Co.
- The true story of the child heroes of Chapultepec (2016) Recovered from notiamerica.com.