General Mariano Escobedo (1826-1902)
by Jesus Ibarra
Return to Maximilian
General Mariano Escobedo
  Mariano Esconedo Peña was born in the town of Galeana, State of Nuevo Leon, in the north part of Mexico, on January 16 1826. He was the youngest of six brothers, and although his family enjoy of a wealthy position, Mariano did not have the same chance as his brothers to study and prepare himself. His brothers were sent to Monterrey to continue their studies while Mariano reimained by his father's side. After cursing elementary school, he helped his father in agricultural labours. He lived a wild youth, spending money in drinks and parties.
   In 1846, when he was twenty years old, the North American invasion took place in Mexico and Mariano joined the army. As a second lieutenant he participated in several battles like the one of La Purísima, Tenerías and Cerro del Obispado. Then he fought in the battle of La Angostura and Sta Rosa Cannon, where he caught many enemy soldiers. At the end of the war he returnd to agricultural labours.
   Escobedo's  political ideas were inclined towards the Liberal party; he fought against the dictatorship of General Santa Anna and in 1855 he joined the Plan of Ayutla, which would depose the latter. He fought in this campign under General Santiago Vidaurri and afterwards with General Blanco, perfoming mainly in Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas. He took part in the ocupacion of Guadalajara, being promoted to the rank of colonel. On February 7 1861 Escobedo was attacked by the Conservative forces of Tomás Mejía, in Rio Verde, San Luis Potosí and was captured, but Mejía saved his life and release him.
   At the end of the War of Reforma, Mariano returned again to the north, taking part ina a campaign against the wild indians of the Frontier, who made incursions in those places. At the beginning of the French Intervention he organized a brigade, sustained with his own money, and went to San Luis Potosí and then to Mexico City and Puebla; in Acultzingo he put himself under the command of general Ignacio Zaragoza, General-in-chief of the Orient Army.
   On May 5 1862, Escobedo took part in the victoiorus battle that had the Mexican Army of General Zaragoza in Puebla against the French invasors, sent by Napoleon III, who was supporting the comming of Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg, to form a Mexican Empire. Zaragoza said about Escobedo that with other four like him, not a single French would enter in Mexico.For his brave performance in the battle of Puebla he was promoted to the rank of brigade general.
    The French army, surprised by this unespectable defeat, spenmt several months recovering and gathering elements to march against Puebla again. Exobedo took also part in the heroical defense that the Mexican Army performed in Puebla the following year, this time under the command of General Jesús González Ortega, since Zaragoza had died just after his heroical victory in Puebla on May 5th the previuos year. After the fall of the city in French hands in May 1863, Escobedo was imprissoned, but he escaped when he was been taken to Orizaba. He stole some horses thanks to which he could reach Mexico City in 48 hours. As the French were advencing towards the capital, he escaped to Querértaro and then to San Luis Potosí; as he did not find anybody to whom he could join to continue fighting, he enlisted in the Orient Army, commanded by Porfirio Díaz, who was going to Oaxaca to defend this city.
   After several days of siege, Porfirio Díaz sent Escobedo to search Juárez, who was runniung away in some place in the north, to ask him for help, since without it the Orient Army could not resist the siege any longer.Mariano began his way and marching alone, without an escort, in September 1864, he traveled to the Istmo of Tehuantepec, avoiding the French troops who were everywhere. In the Istmo he could't find a way to continue his journey, so he turned to the south, and hiding himself he arrived to the San Juan Bautista port in Tabasco. Learning that Monterrey had fallen in the enemy's hands, he decided that the best he could do was to embark to New York. An so he did, disguised and with a different identity in order to not discovered by the French. who occupy the port. When he arrived to new York, he felt lost sionce he did not know the language; anyway he managed to arrive to Washington, where he turn to the Mexican Embassy and had an interview with Matías Romero, Embassador in the United States of the Juárez's Government. Romero told him that his mission was a lost cause since the Orient Army had surrendered in Oaxaca to the French Army of General Aqulle Bazaine. But Mariano did not gave up; he wrote some letters to Juárez, who was now in Chihahua, informing him that he was diceded to form an army nto defend the states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila. He travel back through the United States, up top Texas, where he arrived on January 13th 1865. There he joined two Republican colonels, Francisco Naranjo and Nicolás Gorostieta. The latter had just arrived from France, where he had been sent when he was caught by the French in Puebla.
    The three officers managed to join 26 men with whom they attacked and took Laredo by force. As their army was so reduced, they were forced to reduce their rank, being too little army for a general and two colonels. Escobedo became captain and Naranjo and Gorostieta, became sargents.
   By March, the group had incresed to almost two hundred men, with whom they managed to took Piedras Negras. Unfortunately the ammunition was not enough and they had to abandon the fight, losing their advance towards the enemy. The army Escobedo had managed to form, was divided becoming guerrillas devoted  to revolt the towns of Coahuila.
   Little by little, Mariano began to discipline his army again and soon he manegd to conform the so called North Army, to which he try to supply with the best armament, supported by the United States.

   The imperialist general Tomás Mejía, guarded the port of Matamoros, which was full with goods; there was the necessity to send this goods to Monterrey. The oparation was difficult becuase the way to Monterrey was full with Republican guerrilla bands. But the commerce urged Mejía to organized a convoy to take those goods to their destiny. Mejía, in accordance with the French general Pierre Jenningros, decided to reestablish the comunication with Monterrey and to send the convoy which was formed by two hundred cars, filled with goods valuated in two million pesos.
   In his general quarter at Linares, Mariano Escobedo learnt that the convoy was in its way to Monterrey and that it was escort by two thousand Austrians and imperialist troops under the command of General Rafael Olvera At dawn of June 16 Escobedo's troops, suported by General Treviño and Colonel Sóstenes Rocha, attacked the convoy in the spot called the plateau of Santa Gertrudis. Many imperialist Mexicans who were escroting the convoy joined the republican band and the Asutrian volunteers were taken prissoners. The spoils obtained by  Escobedo's men were considerable; besides the convoy, they got eleven pieces of artillery with enough munitions.
   The battle of Santa Gertrudis weakened the imperilists so much that Generla Mejía had to leave the port of Matamoros. Escobedo and his army, formed by 4,000 men entered Matamoros at one in the afternoon of June 24 1866.
   Once he had taken all the frontier states, Escobedo sent munitions to Durango, San Luis Potosí, Gunajuato and Michoacán. He received the order to  leave Matamoros and advance over San Luis and so he did, taking with him a convoy of 170 cars filled with five thousand arms, ammunition, uniforms and everything necessary to equip an army. He also could sent some money to help President Juárez, who had  ran out of resources in Paso del Norte.
   In January 1867, the imperilaist general Miguel Miramón attacked and took the city of Zacatecas, where Juárez's government had lodged at that time. Juárez was almost taken prisoner by Miramón, but he managed to run away to San Luis Potosí.
   Knowing what had happened in Zacatecas, Escobedo decided to advance towards the city and to attack Miramón. He gathered the troops he had in Mexquitic with the ones of General Treviño and commanding them himself he advanced to Zacatecas. Knowing that Escobedo was coming closer, Miramón ran away. Escobedo reached him in San Jacinto on February 1st 1867. The combat began from the estate of Ledesma up to San Jacinto, being beaten by Escobedo's troops in the rearguard and in both flanks.Feeling themselves chased, some imperilist regiments dispersed and brought about the total defeat of their army.
   Mariano Escobedo took prisoners about 800 imperialists form who 600 were Mexicans and the rest Austrians and French. From trhe foreigners 107 were chosen and shot form ten to ten. This fact transform Escobedo's victory in a bloodbath without precedent. The reasons Mariano gave for executing the prisoners were that the imperilists had behave with great cruelty when they took Zacatecas and to his eyes it was indispensable to give an exemplary punishment in order to teach a lesson to the traitors. Among the executed prisoners there was General Joaquín Miramón, Miguel's brother.
   In February 13th, when he realized that his Empire was a lost cause, Emperor Maximilian took himself the command of his army and left Mexico City, taking refuge in Querétaro, one of the few cities in the country that was still under Imperiliast control, being in the hands of generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía. Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacan, was recovered by Juarist troops, when imperilist general Ramón Méndez abandoned the city. The Orient and Central Armies, under the command of generals Nicolás Régules and Ramón Corona respectively, received oreder to chase Méndez, who had taken Querétaro's direction. When the republican chiefs learnt that Maximilian and his army were gathering in Querétaro, they began their advance towards this city, so the armies of Mariano Escobedo, Jerónimo Treviño, Sóstenes Rocha, Ramón Corona and Nicolás Régules, the two latters advancing in persecution of Ramón Méndez, soon besieged Querétaro, all under Escobedo's command.
   The action did not begin but until March 12 when Escobedo began a wrapping movement around the city, throwing his first attack on March 14 against San Gregorio hill, in the northern part of the city, which was defended by imperialist general Severo del Castillo, and against La Cruz convent, Maximilian's general quarter.The battle was a failure for the republicans, to whom it cost great loses, and achieving only to took San Gregorio hill, of little strategic value.
   On March 24 Escobedo received the reinforcements of the troops of Ignacio Martínez and Vicente Riva Palacio, with 7,800 men, who added to rest of the army resulted in more tan 40 thousabnd soldiers. By noon, they attacked Casa Blanca and the Alameda, being rejected by Miramón and Mejía's troops. In this combat many republican soldiers fall prisoners of the imperialists. The following days Escobedo carried out several attempts, being rejected all the times.
   On April 27 after more than a month of siege, the Imperialists tried to brake it, opening fire against the Republican line that kept the Cimatario hill, which caused certain confusion among the republicans; nevertheless Escobedo managed to cotrol the situation and after a bloodly combat, he fulfill in stopping the Imperilists, although his army suufered great loses too. After this attack by the Imperialists, Escobedo's situation became desperate and he expressed so in a letter to General Pofirio Díaz:
If you do not come, I will take my forces to any other point, because it's not possible anymore to keep the line of siege. Come and with your presence everything will change. About the command, it is unuseful to say I will consider myself honoured if you judge me able to be serve your command".
Díaz, busy in those days in the siege of Mexico City, answered him that he must keep his positios for some more days and he would arrive eigth days later. Some days later Escobedo, realizing that the Imperilists did not take benefit of his despérate situation and did not make any other attmept to braek the siege, changed hsi mind and ask Díaz only to send him some munitions.
On May 13th Escobedo wrote:
"I'm desperated about the prolonged siege. Nevertheless, after the last news of the plaza, we beleive that everything will end soon and in a happy way, since the biesiged are in a true demoralization and in extreme necesity. What make us learn of their demoralization are the constant disertions they are suffering, since each day about forty or fifty men pass themselves to our lines. I'm waiting that at any moment they will try to break the line, and I' have taken all the precautions needed so they do not get away with impunity.
Mr. Díaz is still good in his operations in Mexico City. He resolved noto to come, but he sent me some amunition who has arrived in good oportunity".

   The following day, May 14, around six o'clock in the afternoon, an Imperialist officer appeared in the Republican camp, which ocupied the most advanced position inside the city, on a trenched field across the river. The officer aproached to the lookout post, which was situated where now is 15 of May street, and was supported by a batalion under the command of lieutenant Concepción Soberanes, with a white handckerchief in the point of his sword. The officer identified himself as Colonel Miguel López and asked to talk to the chief of that section, who was Colonel Julio M. Cervantes, to whom López said he had a message for General Escobedo. Cervantes sent someone to inform Escobedo, who arrived half an hour later. López begged the General to listen to him in private, to which Escobedo agreed, remaining both men alone. They talked for more than half an hour. Escobedo's version of this conversation can be read in the
Report that he wrote twenty years later about the events at Querétaro. When the conversation ended, Escobedo ordered Cervantes to escort López up to his lines. Mariano Escobedo returned immediately to his general quarters and required the presence of General Francisco A.Vélez, who had once belonged to the Conseravtive band, and was now under his orders; Escobedo ordered Vélez to wait for López at two in the morning outside La Cruz because he had arranged with him the surrender of the convent. He then gave orders to his officers to be ready in case of a treason, and to prepare themselves for the taking of the city.
   As he had agreed with Escobedo indeed, López joined Vélez outside the convent, where, guided by López himslef, the republicans entered and in less than an hour they had occupied the whole garden, the cemmetery and the convent itself. Meanwhile Escobedo in his camp, was not yet aware that the convent had already been taken and was impatient for the lack of news; he directed himself towards La Cruz, and when he entered the cemmetery he was informed by lieutenant colonel Agustín Lozano that the convent was already under the repiublicans' control.
   When Maximilian learnt that his general quarter had been taken, he went out and direct himself to the Las Campanas hill, where he surrendered, hoisting a white flag. Republican General Ramón Corona took him prisoner and took him to the Garita of San Pablo, when he joined with Mariano Escobedo, who talked alone with the fallen Emperor; when the conversation ended Maximilinao gave his sword to the Republican general and he and his officers became prisoners of war.
   On May 20 Mariano received in his general quarter in Hércules, the visit of Princess Agnes of Salm-Salm, wife of the prince of the same name, who fought beside Maximilian, and who was imprisoned together with the Emperor. She ask permission to see her husband and the Emperor as well. Later that same day, Escobedo received the Princess again, but this time accompanied by Maximilian and Prince Salm Salm. The Emperor begged the General to let him sail for Europe togeher with his party, promising not to interfere again in Mexican affairs, and to order the surrender of the cities of Mexico and Veracruz, who were still in Imperialist hands. With certain reserve, Escobedo said that he would trasmit President Juárez the Emperor's propositions. Juárez would lately send a negative answer.
   In his 1887 Report to President Díaz, Escobedo mentions Maximilian's visit to his general quarters, saying that it took place on May 18 instead of May 20, and according to Escobedo, during it, Maximilian asked permisson to travel to San Luis in order to talk to President Juárez; it is never mebntioned that Princess Salm Salm had been present during thos conversation. Nevertheless the Princess mentions this interview on her dairy, without alluding dates:
"I turned then to Escobedo's general quarter; I found him in good spirits since he was waiting for his sister to whom he had not seen for years. He told me he could not go out but that he would receive the Emperor with great pleasure if he wanted to make him a visit accompanied by my husband and I...The Emperor felt strong enough to go out, he offered me his arm and followed by colonel Villanueva and by my husband, we went downstairs...We drove to Hércules...General Escobedo came to find us and he shake the Emperor's hand...and the Emperor told General Escobedo that he had to made him some propositons in his name..."
On the other hand, Dr. Basch, Maximilian's particular surgeon, who accompanied him all along the siege, assures that Maximilian's visuit to Escobedo's general quarter took place on May 20:
May 20
...After she had talked with the Emperor, the Princess directs herself to Escobedo's camp and comes back around four o'clock with Colonel Villanueva. Soon later another asistant of Escobedo arrives, Colonel Palacios, with the order to take the Emperor to the general quarter...The Emperor, although being so weak, gets up from bed to attend  Escobedo's call and goes to the camp, accompanied by Prince and Princess Salm Salm, Colonel Vilanueva and Palacios...The Emperor tells me that he found Escobedo, much more kind as ever, and that everything was all right for one part and for the other.
Prince Salm Salm, who acted as a mediator during the interview, tells me the following:
1º The Emperor is able to order the surrender of the cities of Mexico and Veracruz, that are still occupied by the Imperial forces.
2º He is also able to decalre that he will not interfere in Mexican businness
3º He asks for an escort to accompany him to Veracruz together with the persons of his party. In which respects to the Mexican officers he beg the Government to be merciful with them."
  Basch mentions a previous interview that Escobedo had with Maximilian on May 19 in the Emperor's prison at the convent of Teresitas which was not more than a mere formality.
   Escobedo mentions in his
Report another interview he had with Maximilian on May 28 in the Emperor's prisson; this visit was made spontaneosly by Escobedo himself. According to the General, during this inteview Maximilian begged him to keep the secret about the talk General Escobedo had with López, by the Emperor's own orders, to hand over the siege. This visit paid by Escobedo was not mentioned by Dr. Basch in his Reminiscences of Mexico. ¿Why did Maximilian had to wait until the 28 to make Escobedo such an important request, and even more, in an interview he had not asked for, when he had already had previuous interviews with his captor?
   Escobedo also visited generals Miramón and Mejía. As Miramón had been wounded during the teking of the city, he refuge in the house of Doctor Licea, who gave him away to Escobedo, besides stealing his wallet with some papers and some golden ounces who were in his coat. Escobedo wetn to Licea's house to return the wounded his properties:
-"General, he said, here you have your wallet; I assure you under word of honour that I have not read your papers"
   He visited Mejía some days before the execution took place, in his cell at the Capuchinas Convent. He proposed the imprisoned general to let him go in payment for the ocassion when Mejía saved his life in Río Verde. Mejía declined the offer.
    The last visit Escobedo paid to the Emperor was on the day before the execution, at eleven o'clock of June 18. Maximilian told Doctor Basch about this visit: "Escobedo came to say good-bye. ¡Oh! I'll rather have prefered to keep on sleeping."
    Maximilian, Miramón and Mejía were executed in the morning of June 19 at the Campanas Hill.
   Twenty years later, on April 29 1887, Mariano Escobedo receiveds a letter from Colonel Miguel López asking him to reveal the true about the events of Querétaro, when the taking of the city by the Republican forces. It was then when Escobedo published his Report, addressed to the President in turn, Don Porfirio Díaz. In it he exonerated López of having treasoned Maximilian, saying that the Colonel acted by Maximilian's orders. nevertheless there are several contradictions in this Report, as the interview between the Emperor and the General mentioned above. Ten years after having published his Report, Escobedo fell into new contradictions during an interview with Baron Gustav Gostkowski, French liberal who lived in Mexico and who was proud of being Escobedo's intimate friend. According to Gostowski Escobedo assured him that he saw López three times, while in the Report, only refers one. By other side, Escobedo sent on May 15, day when Querétaro fell, a letter to President Juárez announcing him that the Repubklicans had taken the city, without mentioning López intervention.
   Why does Escobedo contradicts himself in his Report? Was he honest in exhonerating López from the treason and accusing Maximilian? He did not have any reason to lie; as he himself said, for him it was the same who had handing over the siege; he only took advantege of that offering, no matter who had madee it, to take the city without bloodshed? Nevertheless he not only did not apprehend López as he did with Maximilian and the rest of his officers, but he issued him a passport to travel to M;exico City and Puebla and a reference letter addressed to Porfirio Díaz. Which was the true? Maybe we will never know it.

   Three years after the siege, Mariano Escobedo asked President Juárez for his drop out form the Army, arguing he had a chronical disease.Juárez denied it to him, but he conceded him a temporal license. Esobedo was elected governor of San Luis Potosí and then of Nuevo León, occupying later the charge of President of the Supreme Court of Military Justice. In 1876, under the government of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, he was appointed Minister of War and he fought the rebelion of Porfirio Díaz against the government. At Díaz's success, Don Mariano tried to fight against the new government but he failed and was aprehended in the estate of Cuatro Ciénegas, owned by Don Jesús Carranza. He was taken to México and imprissoned in the jail of Santiago Tlatelolco on September 13 1878, being realesed some time later and being confined in her own house, with certain prerrogatives. On April 29 1879 he traveled to New York when he joined with Lerdo de Tejada, of whom he was unconditional.
   At his return to Mexico, in 1884 he was deputy for Aguascalientes an in 1886 he was for Celaya. In 1888 when Manuel González left the Presidence, having been only a puppet of Porfirio Díaz, Don Mariano was mentioned as presidential candidate but he only got one percent of the votes against Díaz who won the elections with ninety eight percent.
   In 1889, at Lerdo de Tejada's death, Escobedo was commisoned by President Díaz to take the deathbody back to Mexico, as official representative of the Mexican Government. After 1890 Don Mariano kept his charge of deputy for different states, except Nuevo León, which was his birthplace, and having his son Mariano as reserve deputy.
   Mariano Esobedo retired competely form military service short before his death, still being deputy. He passed away on May 22 1902 in Mexico City.
Report by General Mariano Escobedo, adressed to President Porfiro Díaz 1887
Interview with General Mariano Escobedo by Baron Gustav Gostkowski  1897
Letter from General Mariano Escobedo to President Benito Juárez  May 15 1867
Moreno, Daniel; El Sitio de Querétaro

Taibo, Paco Ignacio II: El General orejón ese

Junco, Alfonso: La traición de Queréatro

Rivera Cambas, Manuel: Historia de la Intervención Europea y Norteamericana en México y del Imperio de Maximiliano de Habsburgo