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CHAPTER VIII:
THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. RAFAEL AT TUBAC

G. 4. The Technique of a Successful Revolution

In British North America, loyal subjects of the King were called Tories by the rebels, who referred to themselves as patriots. In New Spain, the loyal subjects of the King were primarily Peninsular-born Spaniards and were called mostly Gauchupines while the patriots began calling themselves Mexicanos adopting the old Indian terminology. The Mexican revolution of 1821 succeeded and was relatively 526bloodless because so many of the men who would have been Tories in North America were patriots in Mexico. The 1821 revolution was not a completely radical revolution like the one in France nor the one its leaders had extirpated when Hidalgo raised the flag of popular revolt in 1810. This was an upper class or palace revolt by means of which the colonial leaders seized control of the machinery of government and continued to operate it much as they had before independence. They simply wanted independence from Spanish domination and interference, a termination of the viceregal system. But they were hardly radicals of the sort who rallied to the banner Hidalgo had raised, and were in fact the very royal officers who stopped that radical rebellion cold. They had learned since 1810 and the wide dissemination of the ideals of the French Revolution guaranteed that Mexican society could never be returned to its pre-1810 socio-political rigidity (Bancroft 1885:IV:714), and that it could never be as oblivious to the aspirations of the lower classes as pre-Napoleónic colonial government. Yet the revolutionary leaders intended maintaining their own power to rule even though they might have to make some concessions.

The character of the Mexican revolution of 1821 can be grasped clearly from the character and actions of the men who made it in the Western Frontier Provinces.

a. Alexo García Conde. The top imperial administrator in the Frontier Provinces had for many years been Intendent-General 527Alexo García Conde. This African-born Spaniard (Almada 1952:294) had become chief of the provinces toward the end of 1796 as a Colonel of Fuseliers. In 1802 he was promoted to Brigadier General. In 1810, Hidalgo's popular revolt threatened to overturn colonial government, winning great initial popular support, especially in central New Spain. The Frontier Provinces were less affected by the rebellion, and the revolutionists dispatched an expeditionary force under Colonel Gonzalez Hermosillo toward the northwest to bring Sinaloa and Sonora over to the rebel side. Intendent-General García Conde learned of the rebel advance through Sinaloa, where Hermosillo was sweeping the remaining royal garrisons before him, from Lt. Col. Pedro Villaescusa, who had been defeated at Rosario by the revolutionaries (Bancroft 1885:IV:238). The Intendent-General collected troops from the frontier forts under his command, and adding a large contingent of Opata Indians, marched south to meet the rebel column. General García Conde had not won his military rank as an administrator-he had learned his primary trade in the hard school of active fighting in Europe. He had been wounded during the Argel campaign and he had spent four years in the siege of Gibraltar. Fighting decisive battles with massed troops was something he understood very well, whatever his capabilities for frontier Indian warfare (at which he was no slouch). The rebel colonel led his numerically superior forces well armed with captured hand-arms and artillery and 528well provisioned from captured royal stores, against General García Conde's chosen position at San Ignacio Piaxtla in Sinaloa on January 8, 1811. When the smoke had cleared from the field, Hermosillo's enthusiastic thousands were either dead or fleeing for their lives. García Conde's few hundreds celebrated their victory which had shattered the rebel threat to northwestern New Spain in one brief engagement.

Brigadier General Alexo García Conde was promoted to Field Marshal and Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, an office he assumed in October of 1813 at Chihuahua. In November of 1817 he was made Commandant General of the Western Frontier Provinces. In this position, Field Marshal García Conde occupied a key position in Spanish colonial government in New Spain.  While the Frontier Provinces had been split into eastern and western sections and resubordinated to the overall authority of the viceroy, the Commandant-General still enjoyed considerable latitude of decision, particularly at that period of disorganization in Spain and the top colonial apparatus. Thus García Conde grew accustomed to making most of his own decisions.

When,the situation crystallized in 1821 on the question of independence or continued royal Spanish rule, Field Marshal Alexo García Conde, native of Ceuta, his entire professional career spent in the royal Spanish army in which he had reached top rank, decorated with the Order of San Fernando and the Order of San Hermenegildo by his King Fernando VII-this paragon 529of Spanish virtue took a walk. He didn't just walk out of the picture, but he took his command with him into the rebel camp, ordering the residents of all the towns in the Western Frontier Provinces to swear fealty to the revolutionary government.

Field Marshal Alexo García Conde took his decisive step on August 24, 1821, when he adhered to the Plan de Iguala, the pronouncement for independence. He guided the Western Frontier Provinces through the transitional period until July 1, 1822, when he was transferred to the capital city, promoted to Lieutenant General, decorated with the new Order of Guadalupe and made Inspector General of Cavalry (Almada 1952:295).

b. Maríano de Urrea. Another member of the Sonoran provincial elite who played a key role in Mexican independence was Lt. Col. Maríano de Urrea. He was born in the fort at Altar, grandson of old Captain Bernardo de Urrea, and gained his military training in Sonoran frontier posts. He served as a cadet at Altar, ensign at Horcasitas, lieutenant at Tucson, commanding lieutenant of the Bacoachi Opata Indian garrison and captain at Altar (Almada 1952:810). When Intendent-General García Conde called for presidial troops to meet Hermosillo's rebel expedition, Captain Urrea led out a strong detachment from Altar. After the rebel disaster at San Ignacio Piaxtla, Urrea carried on pacification campaigns in Sinaloa, then in Nayarit, and in 1815 was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and made governor of the Province of Colotlan. 530In 1819 he was made chief of the Fourth Section of New Galicia while retaining his governorship, and in June of 1821 he supported the commanding general there in swearing allegiance to the Plan de Iguala and independence (ibid., p. 811).

c. Simón Elías Gonzalez. One more officer who belonged to the Sonoran provincial elite helped take that province out of royal control in 1821. Simón Elías Gonzalez had at one time commanded the royal fort of St. Rafael at Tubac.  Born at Banamichi, Simón was a grandson of old Captain Francisco Elías Gonzalez. He had served in the garrisons at Tucson, Buenavista, Bacoachi and in the Secretariat of the Commandant-General of the Frontier Provinces when he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1805 and given command of the Tubac Pima Company. He remained at Chihuahua City, however, until April of 1807. After serving at San Antonio de Bejar in Texas and again at the City of Chihuahua, Eliaz Gonzalez returned to Sonora in 1814 to command the fort of Santa Cruz.  In 1820 he received a promotion anticipated six years previously, and as Adjutant Inspector of Sonora Simón Elías Gonzalez stepped out of the royal traces by adhering to the Plan de Iguala and Mexican independence (Almada 1952:242). His Lieutenant Colonelcy was confirmed, and he was elected a deputy to the first national congress in 1822, going on to a very distinguished political-military career including terms as governor of the State of the West (Elías June 18, 1826), Chihuahua and Sonora.

531d. Antonio Narbona. A criollo born at Mobile in Spanish Louisiana (modern Alabama) joined with the Sonoran officers to put across the movement for independence in 1821.  This was Antonio Narbona, who had first arrived in Sonora as a cadet in the Santa Cruz Company in 1789 (Mata B. 1794), sponsored by his brother-in-law Brigadier Enrique Grimarest (McKenna, July 28, 1794) the commandant of arms. Narbona became ensign of the Fronteras garrison January 27, 1793 (Mata B., 1794), became captain at Fronteras in 1809. In 1820 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and made Adjutant Inspector of the Comandancy General with command of the troops at Arizpe. When Lt. Col. Narbona led the garrison in adherence to the Plan de Iguala and independence, his commander, the Political and Military Chief, resigned and left Narbona to take actual command and insure the local success of the revolution. Having secured Arizpe and northeastern Sonora-in concert with Elías Gonzalez-Narbona marched on the Gulf of California port of Guaymas where a royalist priest was leading tory elements in opposing independence (Almada 1952: 500). Narbona later commanded the Sonoran troops and served as governor of New Mexico territory.

e. Tubac. Unfortunately for this study, documents relating the way in which the garrison of the royal fort of St. Rafael at Tubac was taken out of royal Spanish service into that of independent Mexico have not been located. In the absence of specific documentation, however, it must be assumed 532that the process of transfer to freedom there followed the pattern followed everywhere else in Sonora. Lieutenant Ignacio Elías Gonzalez, the post commander, simply swore fealty to the Plan de Iguala at a suitable moment, and ordered his subalterns and troops to do likewise, and the transfer of allegiance was accomplished.

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