Mariano Matamoros (1770-1814) was a Mexican Catholic priest who participated as a revolutionary soldier in the Mexican War of Independence against Spain in the early 19th century.
Matamoros was considered the right hand of José María Morelos during the war. He was one of the 400 priests who got involved in the War of Independence. His military strategies made Morelos place him as the second on board in the hierarchy, even above the warrior Hermenegildo Galeana , because he was the most literate.
Although Matamoros lived longer as a priest than as an insurgent, his character as a just man forced him to fight alongside the cause of the independentists. He was characterized as one of the most learned religious of the time, so he identified with some liberal ideologies of the Creoles , as well as the ideas that derived from the Enlightenment .
Matamoros not only knew how to discipline his troops, but he remained loyal to his superiors, which is why Morelos trusted him.
Mariano Matamoros y Guridi was born in Mexico City, on August 14, 1770. He was the son of José Matamoros and Mariana Guridi. During his youth, he studied art and theology at the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco. In 1786 he received his bachelor’s degree.
After his basic studies, he became a Catholic priest serving various churches in the capital. In 1799 he was assigned as vicar of the Parish of the Asunción de Pachuca, where he gave his first mass. In 1806 he was parish priest for eight months at the Santa Catarina de Alejandría church.
He began to exercise his priestly ministry from the year 1808, in the Sagrario Metropolitano parishes, in Querétaro and Jantetelco.
During the time in which he served as a priest, he was captivated by the independence ideas of the Creoles. Soon after, he was imprisoned by Spanish authorities long before the war for independence began.
He finally managed to escape from prison and joined the revolutionary army of José María Morelos, on December 16, 1811.
From priest to lieutenant
The next day, after joining the army, the Battle of Izúcar took place. Morelos appointed him colonel and ordered him to create his own forces with the inhabitants of Jantetelco. As he could, he created two cavalry regiments, two infantry battalions and one artillery. Matamoros managed to create a total force of 2,000 men.
With an independent side, he went to Tecualoya and Tenancingo, this journey being his first war actions as a colonel. From February 9 to May 2, 1812, Matamoros accompanied Morelos to Cuautla, leading to the first battle of Matamoros.
Matamoros took command over the trenches to the south of the city, while Morelos devoted himself to inspecting his troops, supplies, and guarding the northern part of the city. Although the battle was much more favorable for the Spanish, the Creoles managed to successfully withdraw from the attack.
During the siege of Cuautla, Morelos recognized Matamoros’ skill on the battlefield and promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general; the second man in command of the army.
Battle of Oaxaca
When José María Morelos was in Tehuacán, he learned that the royalists would go after him to attack him; Quickly, he made the decision to regroup his forces.
At that time, his army made up of Mariano Matamoros, Hermenegildo Galeana, Víctor Bravo, Miguel Bravo, Pablo Galeana and Nicolás Bravo managed to gather forces, obtaining more than 5,000 men with 40 guns.
Before leaving for Oaxaca, Morelos appointed Matamoros as marshal of the insurgent troops, becoming the second in hierarchy. Matamoros replaced the position of Leonardo Bravo, who was imprisoned by the royalist troops.
The importance of the charge was that in the event of Morelos’ death or prisoner, Matamoros would take full command of all the insurgent forces.
On November 25, 1812, the insurgents began the attack in Oaxaca. With Matamoros in the rear and Morelos in a cavalry section, the royalist artillery managed to stop the insurgent advance. However, the insurgent fire decided to attack the main royalist positions; the defender of the royal mutiny quickly ordered the withdrawal of the place.
The royalist loss in Oaxaca was a severe blow to the viceregal government; while for the insurgents, the taking of the plaza meant an increase in military prestige for both Morelos and Matamoros.
Battle of Chincúa
One year after the Battle of Oaxaca, from April 19 to May 28, the insurgents commanded by General Matamoros managed to defeat the royalist forces. Matamoros defeated Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Servando Dambini, in charge of leading the royalist troops.
Matamoros moved with more than 1,000 men in order to fight hard against the royalists. Manuel Servando Dambini, understanding the insurgent offensive, quickly began the withdrawal. Both troops met near Tonalá and Matamoros was the winner.
After the defeat, the royalists were pursued by the insurgent cavalry; forcing them to enter the town of Tonalá. Matamoros demanded that Dambini hand over all his supplies, weapons and ammunition.
During that battle, Matamoros was injured in the leg, for which he remained a refugee in the La Chincúa ranch. The royalist prisoners were shot in the bay of Paredón. After the battle of Chincúa, Morelos conferred on Matamoros the position of lieutenant general.
Battle of Valladolid
Between December 23 and 24, 1814, in the town of Lomas de Santa María, the insurgent troops attacked Valladolid. They had 5,600 men, commanded by Matamoros himself together with José María Morelos, Hermenegildo Galeana and Nicolás Bravo.
Morelos promised Landázuri to respect the life of the royalist defenders in exchange for the surrender of Valladolid. From there Landázuri began to prepare the defenses of Valladolid, awaiting the attacks of the insurgents.
A division commissioned by Hermenegildo Galeana began the attack on Valladolid. Approximately 1,200 men entered the city and defeated the Landázuri. Iturbide’s reinforcements entered Valladolid and had a strong confrontation with Galeana.
Later, the royalists avoided the advance of the insurgents to the square, so they decided to withdraw.
Morelos wrote to Agustín de Iturbide , commander general of the plaza, demanding the surrender of the city. Iturbide flatly refused and defended the city. The insurgent attack was repelled by the Spanish troops who arrived from Mexico City.
After the forces of Matamoros were defeated, they settled on the outskirts of the Lomas de Santa María. On December 24, Iturbide learned of the location of the insurgent army. At midnight, the royalist forces attacked the insurgent camp, defeating the rebel forces.
Battle of Puruarán
After the massacre in Valladolid, the insurgents decided to withdraw their forces from the place and take shelter in the Hacienda de Puruarán, in Puebla. Immediately, a fight began that ended in another battle.
Morelos met with Ignacio López Rayón to give the order that Matamoros be the head of the battalion. The royalists began to attack the insurgent contest. Many of the Matamoros men dispersed while they were killed.
After the triumph of the royalists, Mariano Matamoros was arrested. He tried to flee to the battlefield, when cadet Eusebio Rodríguez intersected him. 23 guns and 1,000 rifles belonging to the insurgent troops were captured.
After the capture of Matamoros, Morelos offered to deliver 200 Spanish soldiers in exchange. However, it was immediately rejected by the Spanish authorities.
At dawn, the royalists arrived with Matamoros in Pátzcuaro. There they exhibited it in the square of the place and then it was taken to Valladolid.
On February 3, 1814, Matamoros was shot. The royalists asked him to kneel down, to which he immediately refused. However, he agreed to be blindfolded and a bad aim shot wounded him. At that same moment, he began to pray and with a second shot he died on the spot.
With his death, Morelos ordered the execution of all Spanish prisoners.
In 1823, Matamoros was honored as a worthy of the homeland. His remains rest in the Column of Independence located in Mexico City. He is considered a national hero of Mexico. In his honor, the Cuernavaca International Airport bears his name.
A large number of Mexican regions are named after the hero, Municipality of Matamoros (Tamaulipas), Izúcar de Matamoros (Puebla), Landa de Matamoros (Querétaro), Matamoros (Coahuila), Municipality of Matamoros (Chihuahua), Mariano Matamoros (Chiapas) , etc.
In 2008, a total of 13 coins were created in commemoration of the War of Independence and the centenary of the Mexican Revolution. Seven were from independence and six from the revolution. The face of Mariano Matamoros was captured in the 5 Mexican peso coin, along with other heroes of independence.
- Mariano Matamoros, Wikipedia in English, (nd). Taken from wikipedia.org
- Toma de Oaxaca, Wikipedia in Spanish, (nd). Taken from wikipedia.org
- Mariano Matamoros Facts, Encyclopedia of Word Biography, 2010. Taken from yourdictionary.com
- Don Mariano Matamoros, Military Historical Archive, 2010. Taken from archivoshistorico2010.com
- Mariano Matamoros, Writers of Buscabiografia.com, (nd). Taken from Buscabiografia.com
- Battle of Chuncúa, Spanish Wikipedia, (nd). Taken from wikipedia.org
- Battle of Puruarán, Spanish Wikipedia, (nd). Taken from wikipedia.org