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Pardos, Indians, and the Army of New Spain: Inter-Relationships and Conflicts, 1780-1810 Author(s): Christon I.

Archer Source: Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Nov., 1974), pp. 231-255 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 22/05/2013 00:35
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1. Lat. Amer. Stud. 6,



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Pardos, Indians, and the Army of New Spain: Inter-Relationships and Conflicts, 1780-I810

Historians have long grappled with the problem of defining the precise nature of eighteenth-century Mexican society. Not only was the confused tangle of racial types which resulted from the three centuries of miscegenation vitally important in establishing social status, but special corporationsfurther divided the population into privileged groups and jurisdictions. Society was split into three general categories: ethnic whites, criollo (American-born)and gachupin (European-born);Indians; and finally the castas (castes) who belonged to the many racial permutations. Of the castas, the mestizos and the castizos were considered with whites to be of casta limpia or clean caste since in theory they carried no Negro blood in their veins and a good deal of white blood to offset their partial Indian origins.1 Castes which reflected the African heritage such as the pardos (those with some degree of mulatto origin), and morenos (those born of free Negro parents), were condemned to lower status by the infamous stain of slavery.2 By the end of the colonial period, however, it has been suggested that the complexities of the caste system were well beyond understanding, and that Mexicans often manipulated their status in order to escape taxation, military service, or other onerous levies upon particularcastes. If the authorities could not identify individuals by their race, it was only logical that the system itself would undergo severe erosion. It is the purpose of this paper to examine the attitudes of the Spanish regime toward pardos and Indians in the period prior to the outbreak of the Hidalgo Revolt. The military will be used as a vehicle to view racial relationships and
1 For studies on race mixture in Mexico, see Magnus M6rner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America (Boston, I967), Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran, La Poblacion Negra de Mexico, 15I9-I8io (Mexico, 1946), and Alexander von Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, i (London, 18I1). Lyle N. McAlister's essay, 'Social Structure and Social Change in New Spain', Hispanic American Historical Review, XLIII (August, I963), 349370, is a particularlythought-provoking general treatment of the subject. For an important regional study, see D. A. Brading and Celia Wu, 'Population Growth and Crisis: Leon, 720-1860 ', Journalof Latin AmericanStudies, v (May, I973), I-36. 2 McAlister, p. 355.

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Christon I. Archer

official attitudes toward changed status. Not only did the army represent government opinion, but it was a most important instrument of police power in the state as well as the bulwark against external invasion and internal challenges to the existing social fabric. Since the racially mixed population had to be relied upon to form defensive forces, the military reflected many facets of contemporaryopinion on race and class. With external dangers accentuated in the period following the outbreak of the French Revolution, viceroys in their capacity as captains general, and their subordinate officers, could not avoid the realities of the Mexican social situation. If there was erosion of the old caste system, and if the military was a catalyst for social change, it should become apparent as the army reached out to secure manpower suitable to counter the threats of Britain and France. In the case of the vast Indian population, the regime would have to combat a traditional fear of massive insurrectionand the idea that Indians, unlike Negroes, mulattoes, or any other groups, were more homogeneous and could exert a unified effort against Spanish rule. In a period of rather thoroughgoing administrativereform, and one in which foreign egalitarian ideas were beginning to enter Mexico, it is important to see whether the government could maintain or create lines of communication with the various elements of the population in order to avoid potentially disastrous misunderstandings. Exercising due caution, the historian can utilize the extensive documentation and correspondenceleft by the colonial military to open new windows into Mexican social history. By its nature, the army had to deal with the full spectrum of Mexican society from the preparationof census reportsand recruitment of common soldiers to the distribution of commissions to the aristocracy.With the passage of time, the army was to become progressivelymore important an institution. Not only did purely military personnel have a role to play, but with the expansion of militia forces and with the implementation of the system of intendancies, a new group of men exercised control over enlistment and the maintenance of provincial forces. The subdelegados and militia officers particularly were in positions to view village and town society and to comment upon racial relations. Fortunately for the historian, a great volume of their correspondence with petitions and letters written by local people has been preserved. Since the army was to become the dominant institution following independence, it is important to understand its earlier racial composition and the attitudes of its leadershiptoward the castas and Indians. Following the reverses suffered during the Seven Years' War, the Spanish imperial government could no longer leave the Americas without substantial military forces. In 1764, Lieutenant General Juan de Villalba arrived in New Spain with instructions to raise an army capable of throwing off any potential

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 233 foreign invasion. All of the castas except Indians and Negroes were to be enlisted into the new militias. Whites, mestizos, mulattoes, and other mixtures were to be admitted without distinction although care was to be taken to prevent more than a third of any given company being of one racial type. Under normal conditions the castas would form about a third of the total strength with the whites filling the other two-thirds.3If, on the other hand, the whites expressedgreat repugnancewhen confrontedwith the prospectof being mixed with the castas, Villalba could arrange the army along racial lines with regiments of whites, mulattoes, and others. In practice, the fears of racism proved to be very real. Whites, particularlyin the large urban centers, refused to accept the prospect of such close fraternization with those who could not boast casta limpia status. For this reason, single battalions of pardos were raised in Mexico City and Puebla and companies in Veracruz and a number of other locations.4In theory, all militiamen would receive certain privileges for enlistment including the fuero militar which in many circumstancesremoved them from the ordinary system of justice and assigned them to the army jurisdiction. Pardos who joined the militias were also given exemption from the payment of tribute which in itself proved to be a powerful incitement to enlistment.5 From the beginning, there was strong opposition to the entire militia system. Some members of the imperial cabinet and advisers to the king doubted the wisdom of arming any large force of Mexicans no matter what racial background. As early as 1766, the Spanish government received information on what appearedto be a Mexican plot to throw off the yoke of Spanish rule and to create an independent republic. While the plan was brushed aside as' pure imagination' by the imperial authorities, they considered it serious enough to report to Viceroy Marques de Croix.6 He sobered Spanish officials with his conclusion that the plan, which was to have British support, was not only crediblebut might not even be difficult to execute.7One need only examine the mixed cavalry and infantry Legion of San Carlos based in the Province of San Luis Potosi which enlisted 3,587 men, all of whom were Mexicans. The

4 5 6 7

Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla, Audiencia de Mejico (hereafter cited as AGI, Mexico), leg. 2422, and Archivo General de la Naci6n, Mexico, Indeferente de Guerra (hereaftercited as AGN, IG), vol. 224-A, Instrucci6n de I agosto de I764 para Gobierno y Commandancia General de las Armas e Instrucci6nde las Tropas del Reino, I764. AGI, Mexico, leg. 1438, Marques de Branciforte to Conde de Campo del Alange, no. 66, 30 September, I794. AGN, IG, vol. 224-A, Instrucci6nde I Agosto de 1764, and Lyle N. McAlister, The ' Fuero Militar ' in New Spain, 1764-i8oo (Gainesville, 1957), p. 44. AGN, IG, vol. 224-A, Noticias venidas de Londres con fecha de 8 de Agosto de 1766. AGN, IG, vol. 224-A, Julian de Arriaga to the Marques de Croix, Aranjuez, 24 January, 1767.

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234 Christon I. Archer

single regular army officer and several sergeants and corporals had no idea of what went on in the unit which was spread over a vast territory.8It was contrary to good politics to permit such dominance to fall into the hands of Mexicans. Even the criollos had grievances enough to make reform of such situations a priority of the central government. It was one thing to recommend reforms in the militia system and quite another to implement them. The Legion of San Carlos continued to draw the attention of officials who believed that it was, like many similar creations in Mexico, useless as a defensive force and a detriment in almost every other way. The Alcalde Mayor of San Luis Potosi, Antonio de Llano y Villaurrutia, described the legion in 1775 as ' a disordered multitude which served as an asylum for vagrants and the unemployed'. 9 Not only were too many men enrolled in the sixty or more companies, but very few officers or soldiers were whites. Most men belonged to the castas- mulattoes, lobos, coyotes,l? Indians, and as many other variations as one could describe. The only members of this unit who could legitimately claim the fuero militar were the Spaniards (whites), but when those of mixed blood ran foul of the law, they claimed to be Spaniards. Such cases resulted in angry disputes between the military and civil jurisdictions, permitting the offenders to escape punishment. Llano y Villaurrutia proposed a reduction in the size of the Legion and removal of the fuero from such a disorganized multitude. He argued that in some cities of New Spain the local government created the militia and then continued to exercise control over it. This had not occurred in San Luis Potosi where the city government was not consulted on matters dealing with the legion." While the castes themselves attempted to blur the color line in order to gain privileges or to avoid the payment of tribute, powerful forces opposed them. Francisco Antonio Crespo, the author of a plan presented in 1784for the total reorganization of the army of New Spain, condemned the castas as one of the most evil influences upon Mexican society. In his opinion, they could accept neither the honorable customs of Spaniards nor the humble hardworking life of the Indians. To Crespo, these people could best be compared with the gypsies of Spain: he listed the vices of gypsies from theft, deception, drunkenness, incontinence, and lasciviousness,just to mention a few, concluding that he had at the same time drawn an accurate portrait of the, coyote, salta
9 AGN, IG, vol. 202-B, Antonio Joaquin de Dlano y Villaurrutja to Viceroy Antonio Maria Bucareli, I February, 1775. 10 Lobos and Coyotes were two of the castes frequently mentioned by late eighteenth century observers. The lobos carried some Negro blood and the coyotes had both Negro and Indian blood as well as white. See Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran, op. cit. pp. 175-6, for charts showing the common names of various castes. 11 AGN, IG, 202-B, Llano Villaurrutiato Bucareli, I February, I775.
8 AGN, IG, vol. 224-A, Arriagato the Viceroy of New Spain, El Pardo, 15 March, I77I.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 235

atras, tente en el aire," and of the other evil mixtures of New Spain. In fact, however, the castes were incomparably more dangerous than the gypsies because they were spread over enormous territories. The only successes the army had experienced with these people were in cases where very young boys were sent to the regiments as drummers. Discipline and separationfrom their origins made these boys into good soldiers while those recruited at older ages had been alreadyruined by the vices of their parents.l3 During the I79o's, while no two military planners might agree on the form the army should take, most desired enlistment to be restricted to the so-called clean castes. Viceroy Conde de Revillagigedo (1789-1794) not only questioned the usefulness of the pardo militias, but of all provincial troops raised in the Americas. He portrayed the Spanish failure to defend Havana against the onslaught of the British in 1762 as clear proof of the irredeemable incompetence of the militias.l4 This viceroy, aided by his military second-in-command, Sub-InspectorGeneral Pedro de Gorostiza, wished to emphasize the development of a strong regular army. He viewed the militia units as ' truly metaphysical creations' 15which contained only vagabonds and castas by the time Mexicans of good quality had obtained exemptions from service. To rectify this situation, at least one-third of the army would have to consist of European Spaniards, and there must be at least as many peninsular sergeants and corporals as Mexicans in each company.'6 Mexicans of clean caste might be loyal and even useful in the new army, but they lacked the vigor to command without additional training and the stimulus which would be provided by a large complement of Spanish troops. To prevent the Europeans from becoming debauchedby the' degradation and laziness ' of the local population or by Mexicanization, regular transfers would have to take place between Europe and New Spain.'7 Revillagigedo held even stronger opinions when it came to race mixture. He condemned the Negro who had '... uglied and worsened the Indian caste

Aguirre Beltran, pp. 175-6. establecimientodel ejercito de Nueva Espafia por el Sefior Francisco Antonio Crespo.

13 AGI, Mexico, leg. 2418, Proyecro formado en el afo de I784 sobre el mejor arreglo y 14 AGI, Mexico, leg. 1437, Revillagigedo to Campo de Alange, no. 875, 29 May, 1793.

15 Archivo General de Simancas, Guerra Moderna (hereafter cited as AGS, Guerra Moderna), leg. 6959, Revillagigedoro Antonio Valdes, no. 296, 6 February, 1790. 16 AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6966, Revillagigedo to Campo de Alange, no. 177, 7 February

7 AGN, de los Virreyes(hereaftercited as CV), series 2, vol. 30, Revillagigedo Correspondencia to Valdes, no. 50, 12 July 1790, and AGI, Mexico, leg. 1538, Revillagigedo to Valdes, no. 528, 30 April I790. According to Revillagigedo, European officers who spent years in Mexico became 'true American patriots '. He considered ten years to be the absolute maximum period of colonial service before officers returnedto Spain.

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236 ChristonI. Archer and had been the origin of so many deformed castes '.8 Not unnaturally, the Battalions of Free Pardos of Mexico City and Puebla became early casualties of military reform. On January2, 1792, Gorostiza proposed the disbanding of the battalions,which he attackedfor having originated disorders,anarchy, and losses to the royal exchequer. The old idea of raising racially mixed units had been mistaken in its object'... of feigning that which was not and could not be '.9 There were now sufficient regular troops, and all militia formations were to be considered as auxiliaries. Enlistment would not interfere with the agricultural or industrial population and would be drawn strictly from the white and casta limpia sectors. Those castes obliged to pay tribute should not be required to carry arms. Here, of course, Gorostiza touched upon one of the central reasons for the demobilization of the two battalions. By removing the privileges of the castas, they would once again have to begin paying tribute. Not only might I6,ooo pesos be saved annually in operational costs, but the public treasury stood to gain even more than met the eye. Previously, entire families and anyone even remotely connected with a pardo militiaman used him to avoid paying tribute. Gorostiza dismissed these people not only as the most vice-ridden of Mexico City and Puebla, but also the most troublesome, since they constantly involved themselves in a multitude of legal cases and complaints resulting from their fuero militar.20 A number of pardo officers reacted bitterly against the liquidation of their units, upset at the prospect of being returned to the degraded position of having to pay tribute. Claiming to speak on behalf of all officers and men of the battalions, they challenged the viceroy to show them what order decreed the disbandment. In Puebla, no one had the slightest indication that the battalion might be in jeopardy until Colonel Vicente Nieto arrived and convoked a junta, to which was read the viceregal order. Those previously exempt
Jose Bravo Ugarte, ed. Conde de Revillagigedo: Instruccion Reservada al Marqucs de Branciforte, 1794 (Mexico, I966), articles I45 and 589. 19 AGN, IG, vol. 197-B, Pedro de Gorostiza to Revillagigedo, 2 January I792. 20 Ibid., and AGN, CV, series I, vol. 167, Revillagigedo to Campo de Alange, no. 602, 30 July, 1793, and AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6970, Revillagigedo to Gorostiza, 21 January, 1792. While Gorostiza's reports were condemnation enough of the pardos in Mexican society, he did not employ the extremely racist arguments of contemporary Cuba. In I792, the colonels of the disciplined militias complained to the captain general that their uniforms were the same as those of the Negro and mulatto militiamen and petitioned for a change. Captain General Luis de las Casas supported their request by pointing out that a white servant in Cuba would not admit the highest ranking pardo officer to his table. In such a situation, whites consideredit a terribleinsult to wear the same uniform as mulattoes and Negroes who may shortly before have been their slaves. See AGI, Section IIA, Cuba, leg. 1487, Luis de las Casas to Campo de Alange, no. 519, I4 December 1972. For a study on the pardo militias in the viceroyalty of New Granada see Allan J. Kuethe, 'The Status of the Free Pardo in the Disciplined Militias of New Granada', Journal of Negro History, LVI(April,
I971), I05--I 7. 18

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 237 from tribute and regarded by the populace with esteem and even fear because of their association with the battalion were now' mocked, hissed at, and considered to be the equals of the worst plebeian elements '. They could no longer hope to restrain such a rabble as they had done in the past. Not knowing Revillegigedo's desire to suppresstheir unit, they petitioned for his intercession with the king to have the unit re-created.21 Although Colonel Nieto confiscated their archives, the pardo officers could list the accomplishments of their militia formations stretching back into the seventeenth century. As early as 1621, a pardo company had been sent from Puebla to help garrison Veracruz, the maintenance of the troops being paid by the company captain. In 163I, Captain Juan Cobos had taken his pardo company to bolster the garrison of Campeche. During the Indian rising of I692 in Mexico City, the pardos of Puebla had been mobilized to police the town and to guard public buildings. In 1729, when the populace of Puebla burned the doors of the cathedral tower and attacked the palace, jail and gibbet, the pardos had been instrumental in suppressing the violence which cost the lives of several militiamen.22With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the pardos had again been activatedto quiet resistanceand they had remained under arms for five years. In I780, despite the fact that war with Britain broke out during the worst season of the year for disease at the coast, the pardo battalion had been dispatched to Veracruz where the troops perished while their families suffered and even starved at home. On their return to Puebla, they had put down a rising in the Barrio de Santa Cruz and settled into routine duty, patrolling the city day and night to maintain peace and apprehend thieves.23 What seems remarkablefrom these petitions is the historical awareness and pride in identity expressed by the pardos. Although many could likely have covered their racial origins to move into other castes, they indicated a desire to maintain their own special category. Of course, petitions by pardo officers representedtheir own particularway of thinking. They enjoyed the privileges granted by the fuero militar in the reign of Philip V and exemption from tribute which raised their position in Puebla society. When their letters to the viceroy failed to have any results, several wrote directly to the king. In one of these documents, Captain Josef Zambranoand SublieutenantJoaquin Medina,
21 AGN, IG, vol. IOO-A, Los Pardos de Puebla sobre que se les haga saber la Real Orden que

mand6 su reforme, y que se les permite ocurrir a S.M. para el restablecimientodel cuerpo, 1792. See the petition by Josef Arellano, Jose Moreno, Jose Zambrano, Jose Ricardo, and Ram6n Riveras, captains of the Free Pardo Battalion of Puebla to Sub-Inspector General Gorostiza, 23 April 1792. 22 Ibid.; the petition mentions a number of other services filled by the pardos in their years of militia duty. 23 AGN, IG, vol. I97-B, Pardo officers to Branciforte, 3 July I794, and Narcisco Zigarra, Yldefonso Silva, and Juan Pastor to Branciforte,n.d. I794.

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238 ChristonI. Archer both pardo officers, blamed the destruction of their battalion upon the European officers 'who have always been our mortal enemies'. They claimed to ask for the restoration of the unit, not for the sake of their privileges, but to remove pardos from the yoke of such persons who had finally achieved their ruin. While they were pardos in color, they were noble in heart and willing to sacrifice their property and their lives for the king.24 Even if the Spanish imperial government felt no sympathy for the pardos, the danger of unrest generated by Revillagigedo's steps was sufficient to have the matter reopened by Viceroy Marques de Branciforte (I794-1798), when he arrived in Mexico.25He ordered the Intendant of Puebla, Manuel de Flon, and Sub-InspectorGeneral Gorostiza to investigate pardo complaints and to discover whether there was real opposition to the dismemberment of the battalions. Fl6n confirmed all of the old arguments: the pardos were guilty of poor conduct and their battalion had degenerated long before active steps had been taken. Discipline was poor, uniforms were little more than rags, and the arms were useless. Even worse, the intendant supported Revillagigedo's charge that the pardos manipulated their fuero militar to protect themselves from true justice. Most pardos had not reacted negatively to the termination of the battalion and had met the matter with total indifference. Those who had complained did so because they wished to escape tribute payment and to return to their old abuses.26 Gorostiza agreed with Flon. Fears of tumult were quite unfounded and there had not been the slightest murmur from the vast majority of the pardos in the two years since the reform. What angered Gorostiza, however, were the false petitions submitted by the pardo officers.27 Since many had been granted lifetime exemption from tribute, continuation of the fuero militar, and even partial salariesif they enjoyed sufficient seniority, he saw no legitimate purpose in opposition to the official policy.28Intendant Flon received orders to seek out the petitioners and to inflict exemplary punishment upon them to prevent any recurrences of their offensive statements.29
24 25

AGN, IG, vol. I97--B,Josef Zambrano and Joaquin Medina to the king, 26 November I793. AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6970, Branciforteto Campo de Alange, no. 66, 30 September


AGN, IG, vol. I97-B, Manuel de Flon to Branciforte,I6 July I794. AGN, IG, vol. I97-B, Gorostiza to Branciforte, Jalapa, 6 August I794, and AGN, IG, vol.
IOO-A, Note of Gorostiza, II May I794.

28 AGN, IG, vol. I97-B, Plan de reforma de los dos Batallonesde Pardos de Mexico Puebla, y que proprone el Sub-InspectorGeneral D. Pedro Gorostiza, 2 January I792. Officers and sergeants who had served since the formation of the battalions and who held salaried posts were to receive half-pay, continued enjoyment of the fuero militar, and exemption from the payment of tribute. All others in the units were to be denied privileges and would begin to pay tribute as soon as the unit disbanded. 29 AGN, IG, vol. IOo-A, Revillagigedo to Flon, 12 May 1792, Flon to Revillagigedo, i6 May

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 239 To follow the invective of the authoritiesagainst the pardo militiamen leads one to believe that they were all drawn from the lowest and least productive elements in society. Gorostiza summed up contemporary opinion when he describedthem as' the most vice-ridden people in Mexico City and Puebla '.30 In fact, however, many of the pardos were legitimate tradesmen and were hardly as despicable as the commentary would suggest. While full occupational data for the two battalions is lacking, information is available on those individuals who had served for 15 years in 1792, and who received the privileges of the fuero militar and continued exemption from the payment of tribute. This totalled 192 men from the rank of common soldier to sergeant, not to mention an additional 19 pardo officers who received the same privileges although their trades or professions are not given. The occupational breakdown of the I92 pardosis as follows 31:

chairmaker shepherd provisioner shoemaker tailor hatmaker ironsmith carriage repairman carpenter coppersmith dealer stocking repairman cigar-maker potter brazier bench-maker cauldron-maker wafer-maker chocolate-cup-maker chocolate-maker chamois-maker

8 4

button-maker watercarrier embroiderer tanner baker pork-butcher breeches-maker musician herdsman tobacconist workman currier
mason sweeper cook boatman

1 2 2

I 2 I I I

6 I3


2 2

3 3 8
I I I 2 I I I II


confectioner gilder beadstringer


without occupation

and Revillagigedo

to the Archbishop of Puebla, 19 May I792.

It was discovered that

one of the petitions from the pardo officers had been prepared by a cleric from Havana named Dr Manuel Josef Rodriguez de Hurtado. He was arrested and sentenced to monastic seclusion for his offence.
30 31

AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6970, Gorostiza to Revillagigedo, 2 January I792. AGN, IG, vol. I97-B, Relacion de los individuos que sirven sin nota de deserci6n de 15

anos inclusive arriba, y se comprenden para las gracias de gozar fuero militar y distincion

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240 Christon I. Archer

Comparing these occupational statisticswith those available for the provincial regiments and holding companies (companias sueltas), the pardos appear as respectableor often more respectableby occupation than those men in units formed totally from the casta limpia population. The arguments put forward by the enemies of the pardo militia battalions leave much unsaid. The desire to increase tribute income only partially explains government policy. Even the complaints about abuses of the fuero militar, disputes between privileged jurisdictions, or the use of military protection to escape punishment for crime were not different from the problems encountered with other militias. Revillagigedo opposed militia units quite generally and wanted to lower their status in order to lift the fuero militar. Branciforte, however, re-establishedall of the provincial units disbanded by his predecessorand went on to create new ones wherever he could. The only exception was in the case of the two pardo battalions.32Whether or not the Haitian Revolution and disturbances elsewhere in the Spanish Empire had any bearing upon this policy goes unsaid in the documents. In any event, an undeniable effort was made to refuse pardos in Mexico City and Puebla the right to serve in their own units. The policy of excluding pardo units in the interior of New Spain could not be duplicated in coastal or frontier zones. There, the African heritage left a much more indelible imprint upon the population: to defend these areas without pardos would mean that there would be few men available to defend the country against foreign invasions. In the port of Veracruz, the key to the defenses of the viceroyalty,severalfactors made free Negro and mulatto troops absolutely essential. Yellow fever, or vomito negro as it was called in Mexico, decimated troops sent from the highlands and forced the army to depend upon the coastal population. During the epidemic from 1796to I8o0, a total of I,144 soldiers died in the two regular regiments which were normally stationed in cities of temperate climate. Only 74 deaths occurred over the same period in the recently created pardo and moreno Fixed Battalion of Veracruz.33In fact, Revillagigedo, notwithstanding his opposition to pardos, had been more or less obliged to form a regular battalion in the port when three of the four available regular infantry regiments had been dispatched into service in Santo Domingo, Cuba, Louisiana, and other Spanish Caribbean possessions considered to be in more danger of attack than New Spain.34
de no paga tributo. Batallon de Inflanterla Provincial de Pardos Libres de Puebla y Batallon de Infanteria Provincial de Pardos Libres de Mexico, 15 March I792. 32 AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6970, Royal Orders of 22 April 1794, and 12 February I795, approvedthe extinction of the pardo battalions. 33 AGI, Mexico, leg. 1453, Marquinato Cornel, no. 63, 27 July i800. 34 AGI, Mexico, leg. I437, Revillagigedo to Campo de Alange, no. 875, 29 May 1793.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain


The officers and sergeants of the Fixed Battalion of Veracruz must be whites, but the vast bulk of the recruits would come from the coastal region where the population demonstrated near total immunity to tropical disease. To attract pardos and morenos to army careers, volunteers were relieved of tribute payment for the duration of their enlistment and for life if they remained in the army for two consecutive eight-year terms. All of the normal racial qualifications for regular infantry units were lowered since few whites resided in the region and even fewer would serve in a racially mixed unit anyway.35 In theory, the Veracruz garrison would always have a climatehardened force of 737 troops. In fact, the mulatto battalion was less than a total success. By 1803 only 15 white officers remained in the unit, and of this figure only 4 were healthy enough to serve a tour of duty. This statistic alone made the usefulness of the battalion dubious since it could cover only a small percentage of the guardpostsassigned to it. While the army adjusted the peacetime enlistment to 502 troops, only some I45 were actually on duty.36The coloured classes who were to have volunteered were not attracted by the army: pardo artisans engaged in servicing the vast commerce of the port seldom wanted to prejudice their opportunities for high wages and other profits. Many of the recruits had to be found in the interior and a large percentage were petty criminals and chronic deserters. This defeated the whole rationale for the creation of the battalion. Viceroy Jose de Iturrigaray (I803-I808) made near desperate efforts to discover a workable system for the defense of Veracruz. Between 1799 and 1803, there had been 1,220 deaths and 1,558 desertions, statistics which pointed out the need to enlist the disease-resistantpardos.37 This became even more evident after the director of the Royal Botanical Expedition, Martin de SessC, found no solution to the epidemic conditions at Veracruz other than to reduce the population drastically.38Unfortunately, the exceptional economic importance and political power of the port made this sort of suggestion completely impractical. Despite the deaths of 48 out of every 50 presidarios sentenced to terms of imprisonment and labor in Veracruz, and the statistics of the merchant guild which showed that I,5oo persons perished upon arrival from the interior and overseas between April and October I802, the port retained its commercialand strategicimportance.39


Gazeta de Mexico, v, 24 May 1793, no. 36, and AGS, Guerra Moderna, leg. 6959, Revillagigcdo to Campo de Alange, no. 922, 25 May 1793, Estado del Batall6n de Infantcria Fixo de Vcracruz. AGN, Historia, vol. 367, Garcia Davila to Jose de Iturrigaray,9 March 1803.

37 AGN, cv, series i, vol. 2I5, Iturrigaray to Caballero, no. 251, 23 August I803. to Caballero,26 November 1803. .38 Ibid., Iturrigaray *9 Ibid. L.A.S.-4

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242 Christon I. Archer

The Fixed Battalion of Veracruz continued to draw criticism from all sides. Even when the danger of a British invasion appeared imminent, citizens of the port city rejected any suggestion that they might join with the mulatto battalion. Their nobility, professions, and occupations could not be tarnished by association with a unit composed of the lowest plebeian elements and by delinquents who had been sent to the battalion to commute prison terms.40A British observer,J. D. R. Gordon, who lived in Mexico for six years, dismissed the battalion as a unit of pardoned criminals who were 'looked upon with horror' by the rest of society.41Even the white officers, whether European or criollo, who served with the battalion expressed disgust with the mulatto soldiers. Brigadier Miguel Costans6 found even the uniform and the appearance of the troops to be ridiculous, 'more fitting for the personage of the buffoon in Italian comedies' than for regular soldiers.42 It was one thing to be critical of the mulatto battalion and quite another to provide some solution to the basic problems of defence. As early as i8oo, recommendations were made for the battalion to be increased to regimental size or even larger, but the problem of attractingsufficientpardos and morenos prevented implementation of the plans.43After I803, instead of allowing for an orderly increase in the size of the battalion, the military authorities merely forced men into the existing companies without any addition to the number of officers. All this accomplished was to introduce confusion and to make it virtually impossible for the few officersto command companies which at times exceeded 200 men.44 The cost in social terms of pressing pardos and morenos into the battalion was in itself excessive. Mulatto artisans of Veracruz, by all accounts a crucial element in a city which lacked persons skilled in the mechanical arts, found themselves under arms for long periods either in the battalion or in the two militia Companies of Pardos and Morenos which served in the port garrison. The problems were further exacerbatedwhen the demand for soldiers caused the army to remove Negro and mulatto farmers from the small villages around Veracruz. Not only did this depopulate the
40 AGN, Historia, vol. 52I, Ayuntamiento of Veracruz to Iturrigaray, 23 August I8o6, and 6 September I806. 41 Charles William Vane, Marquess of Londonderry, ed. Correspondence, Despatches, and other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry: Second Series: Military and Miscellaneous, vni (London, 1851), 429. The report by Gordon to Lord Castlereagh was dated 26 Januaryi808 and titled, ' State of Mexico '. 42 AGN, IG, vol. I66-A, Miguel Costanso to Viceroy-ArchbishopLizana, 29 December I809. 43 AGN, cv, series I, vol. 2I0, Marquina to Caballero, no. 635, 27 May I802, and AGI, Mexico, leg. 1464, Marquina to Caballero, no. 697, 27 August I802. The crown agreed to the proposal to increase the size of the Battalionof Veracruz, but demanded the disbandment of the Regiment of Puebla so that there would be no cost to the royal treasury. Since the latter regiment was in service in Havana, nothing could be done to implement the plan. 44 AGN, IG, vol. I66-A, Cosrans6to Lizana, 29 December I809.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 243 coastal region, but it damaged the delicate balance between agricultural labor and production. Other than a few staples such as ham, butter, flour, and some grain, most food consumed in Veracruz came from these small farming communities. Some were so hard hit by the demands of defence that they could scarcely produce sufficient food for their own consumption, let alone for the markets of Veracruz. On such occasions, food prices often reached four times their normal values.45By I8Io, while there were still grave reservationsabout the idea, the government accepted a plan to raise a Regiment of Veracruz consisting of three oversize battalions.46 On both coasts, the militia system depended heavily upon the pardos and morenos. Of the total population of 8,109 persons resident in the Province of Veracruz assigned to the Corps of Lancers of Veracruz, fully 5,841 were pardos and morenos, 1,614mestizos, and only 654 whites.47In such situations, all able-bodiedmen were obligated to serve in coastal militia divisions and, as a reward, they were relieved from the payment of tribute. To replace tribute, the regime levied another tax - the fondo de vigia (watchtower tax) of one peso annually upon all pardo residents from the age of I6 to 50. Those who enlisted in the militia companies contributed only 4 reales to this fund.48 Even in these areas there were instances of friction between the various castes. In Papantla, for example, a resident named Ignacio Patiniowho claimed to be a Spaniard or white wrote to the viceroy because his three sons had to serve in a militia company commanded by a pardo sergeant. Upon investigation of the matter, the local subdelegado reported that Patifio was a castizo married to a parda wife. He saw little grounds for complaint in a town in which there were only 7 Spaniards.49On the Pacific coast, two of the eleven companies of the Fourth Militia Division in the towns of Xamiltepeque and Ometepeque held a special designation as companies of Spaniards. Visiting army officers who came to review these companies could see no racial differencesbetween the so-called Spaniardsand those of other companies who made no effort to escape being designated in one of the castes. The compli45 AGN, Historia, vol. 358, Ayuntamiento of Veracruz to Marquina, I2 July 800o. Estado de los precios que ordinariamente tienen los viveres de este Ciudad de Veracruz y lo que actualmente valen, I8oo. 46 AGN, IG, vol. I66-A, Sobre que el Batallon Fixo de Veracruz se forme en Regimiento, I809-8Io0. 47 AGN, IG, vol. 47-B, Extracro General de los hombres, mugeres, niinos, nifias, y total de personasque tiene cada esquadradel Cuerpo de Lancerosde Veracruz, 1799. 48 AGN, IG, vol. 2I-A, Reglamento Provisional para el Regimen, Gobierno, y nueva planta de las Compaiiias de Milicias mixtas del seno que comprehende la Provincia de Tampico y Panuco hasta el Rio Guazacualco, Costas laterales de Veracruz, I793. 49 AGN, IG, vol. Ioo-A, RepreFentaci6n de Don Ignacio Patiniosobre que sus hijos alistados en las milicias de Papantla no hagan servicio con los mulatos, 1792.

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244 Christon I. Archer

cating factor was a militia tax of 4 reales levied annually upon all nonSpaniards. Since the population looked more or less the same and few considered themselves to be anything but Spaniards, the local authorities ran into great difficulties collecting the tax. Those who paid it did so with great reluctance and disgust.50 If the army was ambivalent in its approachesto the pardos and morenos of New Spain, it appeared to have a much more consistent policy when it came to the vastly larger Indian population. Quite often the military padrones (census lists) which preceded enlistment in a given region simply neglected to count the Indians who were not even consideredfor military service. During the I78os and I790s, however, whenever military planners thought at all about the Indian population, it was with a certain foreboding. The Revolt of Tupac Amaru in Peru and frictions with Indians and mestizos elsewhere in the empire made the Mexican authorities aware of similar potential dangers. While defence plans spent much less time on internal security than on the dangers of a foreign invasion, they did fear Indian rebellion which might spread to other castas and eventually overtax the available military forces. From a military point of view, the disturbances which rocked the Indian communities of Papantla and Acayucan in 1787 provided reason for concern. According to all reports, the Indians of the region lived normal, quiet lives without exhibiting any hint of latent violence. When trouble did break out, it came as that much more of a shock to the authorities. The trouble at first stemmed from differences with the local government over taxation which degeneratedinto rioting directed against the local iusticia. Had the local militia been able to organize quickly and to restore order before the tumults spread, nothing serious would have taken place. As it was, however, the militia demonstrated almost total incapacity when confronted with a legitimate crisis, and the long delay permitted the Indians to gain confidence in their own strength.51The Governor of Veracruz finally dispatched 171 Spanish regulars from the Regiment of Zamora, but by this time matters had reached danthe gerous proportions.52Before the uprising could be quelled, almost all of militia forces of Veracruz had been mobilized at a cost to the government of as 8,631 pesos.53The expenditure concerned Viceroy Florez, but not so much

AGN, IG, vol. 289-B, Informe dado al Exmo. Sefior Virrey de NE, Marques de Branciforte sobre las Divisiones 4a y 5a de Milicias de la Costa del Sur por el Tenienre Coronel del Real Cuerpode Artilleria, Don Pedro de Laguna, I July 1796. 51 AGI, Mexico, leg. I514, Florez to Valdes, no. 27, 23 November 1787. 52 AGI, Mexico, leg, I523, Florez to Valdes, no. 73I, 27 December 1788, and AGI, Mexico, leg. 1528, Florez to Valdes, 26 February I789. Lieutenant Jose Maria Morcillo of the Regiment of Zamorareceived a severe wound which almost killed him. 53 AGI, Mexico, leg. I523, Florez to Valdes, no. 73r, 27 December I788.

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the knowledge that this rather minor affair had tied up nearly all the military forces in the strategic region of Veracruz. He shuddered to think of the ramificationsof such events should an enemy squadron have approached the coast at the same time. While he considered the Indians of New Spain to be rustic and usually peaceful, there were some areas where they were given to tumultuous behavior. In such cases they might well contribute to the loss of the viceroyalty in the event of a British, American, or Russian invasion.54 As in the case of Papantla, many of the conflicts with Indians resulted from some source of friction between the government and the local populace. A similar situation occurredin Teutitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, during the smallpox epidemic of I796.55Viceroy Branciforteissued general orders in stricken areas for the sick to be quarantined in provisional hospitals isolated from the rest of the population. In Teutitlan, the Indians rejected this measure and employed violence to remove the sick from the hospital and return them to their homes. When the local authorities objected, the Indians became insolent and some minor scuffles resulted. Brancifortedispatched the recently re-established Provincial Battalion of Oaxaca to the town to prevent further trouble. In this case all went well, but the viceroy pointed out that it was indeed fortunate to have militia forces available since there were no others in the region to contain similar outbreaks.56 Viceroy Revillagigedo had adopted a strong stand on Indians which almost paralleled his moves against the pardo units and his opposition to the idea of arming any group of Mexicans. Since the Conquest of New Spain, he argued, Spanish policy had been to disarm Indians, reducing them to settled lives and making them forget the use of bows and arrows, spears, and obsidian-edged clubs. The only exception was in the Provincias Internas where the Indians had to defend themselves against the incursions of barbariantribes. At least this had been his concept of official policy until he had actually arrived in Mexico City. He found his beliefs to have been mistaken since on numerous occasions Indians from settled towns had appeared in the capital well armed with their traditional weapons. They even appeared before the viceroy and claimed the fuero militar in order to present their grievances and air their complaints. Generally these had something to do with the payment of tribute, claims of property usurpation, and charges of poor treatment and other vexations against them by the local justicias or subdelegados. The matter of their weapons was of particularconcern to Revillagigedo, and he commanded all provincial intendants to inform him about the existence of Indian militia
54 AGI, Mexico, leg. I514, Florez to Valdes, no. 27, 23 November 1787. 55 See Donald B. Cooper, Epidemic Disease in Mexico City, I761-I8I3 (Austin, 1965), pp. 96-99. 56 AGI, Estado, leg. 25, Branciforteto the Prince of Peace, no. 54, 27 October 1796.

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246 Christon I. Archer

companies and their possible utility. They were also to offer suggestions as to the best means of disbanding Indian militias to prevent friction or even a rising directed against such an order.57 In fact, the number of official Indian companies was insignificant. There were about 1,400 armed Indians in frontier provinces, particularlyin Sonora where they maintained coastal watchtowers as well as frontier defences. The Intendant, Henrique de Grimarest, describedhis Indian companies as' a guild of idle men ' who were so taken with their positions as soldiers that they never laboured in their communities.58Some could be disarmed, but not in frontier zones where the threat of Apache attack or internal unrest required the continuation of their service. In Nueva Galicia and the Intendency of Michoacan, a few Indian companies guarded coastal areas and frontiers. In the rough mountain terrain, however, most Indians used bows and arrows for protection and for hunting to provide their livelihood. Prohibitions against the use of such weapons would be of little use and would certainly cause resentment. Even worse, the Indians might adopt other arms which could be far more prejudicial to peace. For militia duty, Indian tributaries received exemption from one-third of their annual tribute although no one seemed to know the origin of this regulation. The intendants saw no reason to disband existing Indian companies.59 In many other provinces, the Indians no longer used bows and arrows or dressed in their ancient costumes except at the annual Corpus functions, during Holy Week, and upon other ceremonial occasions.60Such information convinced Revillagigedo to leave matters the way they were although no new enlistment was to be permitted and the companies would slowly crumble.61 After I790, the underlying fear of a great conspiracyof some kind surfaced once again. Some real or imagined threats were said to originate with criollo plotters, and others continued the old horror of a well-organized Indian uprising - possibly supportedby the foreign enemies of Spain. During the French scare which began in I794 under Viceroy Branciforte, some high officials suspected that the Indians might be aroused by French revolutionary tracts, propaganda, and promises to abolish tribute if they supported a revolt against
57 AGN, IG, vol. Ioo-A, Revillagigedoto Intendants, 3 JanuaryI792. 58 AGN, IG, vol. Ioo-A, Henrique de Grimarestto Revillagigedo, Real de los Alamos, 5 April

59 AGN, IG, vol. Ioo-A, Jacobo Ugarte y Loyola to Revillagigedo, Guadalajara, 17 January 1792, and Onesimo Duran to Revillagigedo, Valladolid, 12 March 1792. 60 AGN, IG, vol. IOO-A, Manuel de Teran, Rio Verde, to the Intendant of San Luis Potosi, Bruno Diaz de Salcedo, 20 JanuaryI792, and Miguel de la Corralto Revillagigedo, Veracruz, 26 May I792. 61 AGN, IG, vol. Ioo-A, RevillJgigedo to Intendants, 5 November I792.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 247 Spanish rule.62All kinds of wild projectswere spreadin Mexico through gossip which all levels of society enjoyed. A resident of Granada, Spain, Juan Ignacio de Bejarano y Frias, wrote to the Duke of Alcudia, enclosing a report from his son written in Veracruz. In this letter, Jose Maria Bejarano y Frias informed his father of a recently exposed plot to assassinate Viceroy Branciforte, the archbishop, the corregidor, and finally to burn the bull ring in Mexico City. Some of the conspiratorswere believed to belong to the household of the Conde de Revillagigedo, who was still in Jalapaawaiting a ship to return him to Spain. The Indian Governor of Tlaxcala had been approached for aid, but instead of joining the conspiracy he offered 6,000 Indians, should the viceroy need support.63 While all this information was apocryphal, it was not easily dismissed by nervous Mexican officials. Viceroy Felix Berenguer de Marquina (i800-I803) encountered another of these plots when he arrived in Mexico City. This one had been concocted by the highly fertile imagination of a scoundrel and bigamist by the name of Antonio Vazquez Fernandez. Under the name of Francisco Benitez Gailvez, he wrote a series of letters to the viceroy describing a revolutionary party which appeared to pose a serious threat to the maintenance of Spanish rule. According to the plan, a large Mexican criollo faction with substantial British help from Jamaicahad plotted for more than two years to establish an independent Mexican republic. Marquina, just recovering from the shock of having himself been captured by the British and not yet aware which of his subordinates might be implicated, was momentarily confused. A faction in New Spain espousing the ideas of liberty and independence was to be expected and '... some sparks of revolution must have jumped to these almost indefensible dominions so far distant from the throne '.64The plan itself seemed quite logical. Militia officers of the Tampico coast were ready to join an invasion force of British troops. The Indian population already had subscribed to the plan which would begin as others with the assassination of the viceroy to throw the defenses into disorganization.65
AGI, Estado, leg. 22, Branciforte to the Duke of Alcudia, no. 59, 3 December I794. See Hugh M. Hamill, The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence(Gainesville, I966), for information on the I799 Machete Conspiracyand the I809 Valladolid Conspiracy. 63 AGI, Estado, leg. 39, Juan Ignacio de Bejarano y Frias to the Duke of Alcudia, Granada, o0 January I795, and Jose Maria Bejarano y Frias to his father, Veracruz, 5 October 1794. The younger Bejarano listed the Spanish and French residents of Mexico who allegedly belonged to the RevolutionaryAssembly of Mexico. 64 AGI, Estado, leg. 28, Marquina to Urquijo, no. 85, iI June I8o0. Also see Ignacio Rubio Mafie, ' Don Felix Berenguer de Marquina, Virrey electo de Nueva Espafia, prisonero de los Ingleses en Jamaica', Boletin del Archivo General de la Nacion, xxx (Junio, 1959), I65-220, and AGN, cv, series 2, vol. 41, for many of the documents pertaining to this affair. 65 AGI, Estado, Leg. 28, Marquina to Urquijo, no. 87, 25 June I8oo, no. 9I, 27 July x800, and no. 97, 27 August fSoo. Also see AGI, Estado, leg. 29, Marquina to Pedro de Cevallos,

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248 Christon I. Archer

In the atmosphere of rumoured conspiracies and with projects surfacing from time to time, the regime anticipated the existence of a real threat. The most interesting of these for illustrating the attitudesand reactionsof Spaniards toward Indians was the rising of Mariano of Tepic in i80o. At a time when Marquina had his hands full planning the defences of New Spain against the threat of a British invasion, the spectre of a frightful Indian revolt forced him to divide his attention. The first information came from the subdelegados of Compostela and Apuacatlan who obtained copiesof some incendiary letters which were said to have originated in the town of Tepic. From the first, the conspiracy sounded dangerous and it became more and more fantastic as new information became available. Some reports discussed a summons issued by Mariano, said to be the son of the Indian governor of a town called Tlaxcala in Nueva Galicia, to a number of Indian communities for a general meeting at Tepic.66 There was mention of an Indian king or the election of an Indian king and of an army of 30,000 ready toimarch under his command. Indians throughout the viceroyalty were reported to be in contact with each other and with the Tlaxcalan nation.67A certain gentleman of Mexico City was implicated and armed horsemen were alleged to have been sighted with Indians.68 The plan was to become operativeon the day of Nuestra Sefiorade Guadalupe at the moment the tapers were lit in the shrine of the Virgin. These were to contain explosives which would blow up the temple. In the confusion, the insurgents would attack the viceregal palace which had been previously mined at the corners.69 As these revelationsand others circulatedin Nueva Galicia, the Comandante General, Jose Abascal,70the Audiencia of Guadalajara,and the Commandant
no. 28, 27 July i80o, and AGI, Mexico, leg. 1464, Marquina to Jose Antonio Caballero, 27 March I802. Although Vazquez Fernandez was jailed, Marquina still considered him dangerousbecause his mind was filled with plans to destroy the government. To prevent any possibility of a public stir during his trial, he was sent to Spain. 66 AGI, Esrado,leg. 30, Consulta, Consejo de Indias, I805. 67 AGN, Historia, vol. 428, Conjuracion: Acerca del cierto sefior de que el Comandante del Departamiento de San Blas di6 parte al Exmo. Virrey de Nueva Espafia, I80I, and AGN, cv, series i, vol. 207, Marquinato Caballero,no. II3, 26 June 80oI. 68 AGI, Estado, leg. 29, Da cuenta de una comocion de los Indios del Pueblo de Tepic y de otros inmediatos, 28 February I80o, and Marquina to Urquijo, no. 10, 26 February I80I. Also see Lucas Alamain, Historia de Mejico, I (Mexico, I849), I53. Alaman supposed that the rumours concerning a strange gentleman must have referred to the Conde de Miravalles, a large landowner in the area of Tepic. I found no evidence of any important individual being investigatedin connection with the uprising. 69 AGN, Historia, vol. 428, Conjuracion: Acerca del cierto sefior de que el Comandante del Departamientode San Blas di6 parte al Exmo. Virrey de Nueva Espafia, x8oI. 70 Mexican historians have long criticized Abascal for his role in putting down the Mariano Revolt. See Vicente Casarrubias,Rebeliones indigenas en la Nueva Espana (Mexico, I963), p. I57. One historian, possibly Carlos Maria Bustamante, made a notation on one of the

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of the Marine Department of San Bias, Francisco de Eliza, acted to suppress any revolutionary uprising. Abascal ordered the colonel of the provincial Dragoon Regiment of Nueva Galicia to march into the affected area with two squadrons and to leave two others preparedfor action. The provincial infantry Battalion of Guadalajarawas called into active service, and coastal militia units were placed on full alert.71In the meantime, the naval commandant of San Bias dispatched Captain Salvador Fidalgo to Tepic with a number of troops and orders to surprise the Indians in the midst of their illegal gathering. Apparently, most residents of Tepic either had not heard about Mariano or paid no heed to the letter summoning them to meet. Others, believing they were called together to meet some important personage, perhapseven the king of Spain, went to the town to see just what the affair was all about. Fidalgo surprised a gathering of Indians as planned and they surrendered,disarming themselves and calling out that they had come in peace. Some, however, feared arrest and attempted to escape. In the ensuing melee, the troops opened fire, killing two, wounding a number, and taking 71 prisoners. Over 200 were rounded up and sent to Guadalajarawhere many perished in prison.72 Upon receiving the first reports from the north, Marquina could scarcely avoid interpreting the events as a major threat to internal security. He ordered Francisco de Eliza to prepare for a possible evacuation of the San Bias naval base to Acapulco if an Indian assault materialized. The evil intentions of the Indians seemed to be confirmed by their precipitousflight into the mountains whenever troops approached their villages. No one considered the fact that they might be absolutely terrified and seeking safety in removing themselves from the wrath of the Spaniards.The reportsof horsemen having been sighted with Indians and unknown Europeans of strange speech and dress added to the atmosphere of fear. After all, Spain was at war with Britain and the possibility of foreign involvement could not be discounted.73 Perhaps one of the most alarming aspectsof the Tepic affair was the underlying supposition of a vast network of Indians tied together by one means or another through the mountains into Tlaxcala. Great efforts were made to
viceregal letters filed n the Archivo General de la Naci6n. It charged that Abascal used the 'insignificant' events to propel his career into the viceregency of La Plata and later of Peru, 'where his decisions sparked the revolution in spite of his title Marques de la Concordia. IQue burla! ' See AGN, cv, series i, vol. 207, Marquina to the Mini.,terio de Graciay Justicia,no. 96, 26 February i80o. 71 AGI, Mexico, leg. 1456, Jose Abascal to Marquina, 5 January I80o, and Marquina to Abascal, 9 JanuaryI80I. 72 Ibid., and AGI, Esrado, leg. 30, Consulta, Consejo de Indias, I805. 73 AGI, Estado, leg. 29, to Urquijo, no. o, 26 February I80o. Series of minor raids Marquinaquina on pearl fishermen and a skirmish at the port of Santiago in Nueva Galicia had recently taken place to demonstratethe British presence.

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confirm these rumors, especially since no one knew what the Tlaxcalan nation was in the early nineteenth century.74Marquina was still very nervous about the possible ramifications of Indian connections when he received a report from the Governor of Veracruz regarding two Indians, Miguel Aparicio and Sim6n Pascual, both from Texistepeque in the Subdelegation of Acayucan, who not only discussed the election of an Indian king, but had departedfrom their home village to go to talk with him. This seemed to confirm the worst fears of the viceroy. The officers and militia of the jurisdiction were placed on alert and ordered to arrest and remit to Veracruz any person who exhibited suspicious behaviour. To provide reinforcements, a corvette and two coastguard brigs were prepared at Veracruz. Having taken these steps and maintained complete secrecy to prevent any word escaping to the general populace, the authoritiesfound nothing at all out of the ordinary.75 During the month of February, I8oI, the Indian plot began to appearmore and more a reflection of Spanish insecurity than Indian belligerency. The census reports of the region most infected by the rumored revolt were found to list only about 2,000 inhabitants, hardly sufficient population for the massive rising first indicated. Even though the evil Mariano was not apprehended, no Europeans or other strangershad been discovered in the region. As far as the more outlandish aspects of the plot were concerned, Jose Verdia, a royal navy pilot, reported that the plan employing incendiary candles was not new and had long been spread amongst the common people.76Then came word from Veracruz of the arrestof the two Indians who had gone to interview the Indian king. Their testimony reflectedtotal innocence and naivety. They had gone to Tlaxcala with the intention of requesting a little money from the governor who was king there, and could favor them and give them sufficient money to raise them from misery. In reality, however, the Indian governor of Tlaxcala, while he was sympathetic to their cause, had not been able to help them since he required all of his money to build a church. He gave each of them two reales and they returned home.77 In retrospect,many observersfrom the viceroy down realized the insignifiAGN, Historia, vol. .428, Conjuracion: Acerca del cierto Sefior de que el Comandanredel Departamentode San Bias di6 parte al Exmo. Virrey de Nueva Espafia, x80o. 75 AGN, IG, vol. 396-A, Recelos de inquietud en los Indios de Texistepeque de la Subdelegacion de Acayucan en la Provincia de Veracruz. Garcia Davila to Marquina, no. 1449, 25 February I80o, Marquina to Antonio de Toro, 7 March I8oi, and Marquina to Garcfa Davila, 7 March I8o0. 76 AGI, Mexico, leg. I456, Marquinato Caballero,no. 113, 26 June I8oI. 77 AGN, IG, vol. 396-A, Testimony of Sim6n Pascual and Miguel Aparicio. The two Indians appeared before the Intendant on 4 April I80x. Aparicio's testimony was similar to that of Pascual. He had gone to obtain money to pay his tribute and dominicas. Both were found free of any guilt and immediately released.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 251 cance of the Mariano revolt. By June I8oI, Marquina complained that the most recent dispatches from his subordinates had 'notably diminished the history of the intended rising' and, in order to reveal the truth, he ordered priests who were in the mountains with the Indians to report the true situation.78As the facts were gradually pieced together, it became clear that the regime had over-reactedto the hoax of possibly only one man, an Indian named Juan Hilano,79 who died either in prison or on the way to prison at Guadalajara. Hilano seemed to have written the letters himself and the ,existence of Mariano was doubtful, to say the least. No evidence implicated any Spaniard or foreigner, and the region around Tepic was quiet following these events.80In reviewing the crisis several years later, the Council of the Indies found several officials had acted without due caution, and the actions of Captain Fidalgo, who surprisedand assaultedthe peaceful Indians, received a thorough condemnation.81The revolt of Mariano proved little, but it did illustrate the dangerous lack of contact with the Indian population of New Spain. If the Indians suffered from the heavy-handed insecurity of the Spanish regime, they also suffered constant abuses from the army itself. Soldiers had little regard for people whom they considered to be their social inferiors, and frequent complaints occurred, particularly in regions close to garrisons and cantonments. In Orizaba, one of the sites frequently used to congregate the army in order to avoid the harsh climate of Veracruz, Indians enjoyed little peace. In I797, the increasing volume of complaints resulted in several investigations. One Indian arrivedhome to find his wife in flagrante with a corporal of the provincial Regiment of Tlaxcala, and another from Ixhuatancillo near Orizaba was beaten and robbed of two reales by a group of soldiers. A little later, another Indian from the same village received a severe head wound in defence of his orchard. Several soldiers assaulted his fruit trees and one of them attacked him with a sabre when he tried to intervene. The governor of the Cabildo de Naturales presented himself to the military commanders to charge that Ignacio Velasco, a soldier of the Regiment of Toluca, had verbally
78 AGN, cv, series I, vol. 207, Marquinato Caballero,no. 113, 26 June I80I. 79 AGI, Estado, leg. 30, Jose de Irurrigaray to Cevallos, no. I75, 27 July 1803.

AGI, Estado, leg. 30, Consulta, Consejo de Indias, I805. Hilano was given traitor's treatment. His goods and property were confiscated, his house destroyed, and the site spread with salt. 81 Ibid.; the Minister of War agreed with the findings of the Council of Indies, but declined to reprimand either Francisco Eliza or Salvador Fidalgo for their role in the events. This was not the first time Fidalgo had been condemned for his violence against Indians. In I792, while serving on the Northwest Coast, he ordered his vessel to open fire on two peaceful Indian canoes killing all but two of the occupants. See C. I. Archer, ' The Transient Presence: A Re-Appraisalof Spanish Attitudes toward the Northwest Coast in the Eighteenth Century', BC Studies, No. I8 (Summer, 1973), pp. 25-26.


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Christon I. Archer

maltreated and threatened him with bodily harm. According to his evidence,. soldiers constantly invaded Indian lands to steal fruit and vegetables, chase women, and to engage in other excesses.82 Troops in transit from one place to another also caused severe strains in Indian communities. They expected everything to be provided for them and made no effort to pay for houses rented, tavern fees, or breakage of kettles,, pots, and pans. None stopped to consider that all damages had to be paid for from the Indian community funds which were kept for urgent necessities. Officers and soldiers frequently requisitioned pack animals to transportmilitary baggage over long distances without any payment. Indian men were compelled to serve the soldiers and the women to act as molenderas (tortillamakers). For their efforts, the Indians were treated to generous sword-slaps and blows from the soldiers. In one petition from the Indian governor and other officials of Puebla de Almoloya, charges were laid against a sergeant of the Battalion of Guanajuato who had ferociously slashed two Indian alcaldes leaving them gravely injured. These Indians had no objections to acting as carriers, tortilla-makers, and watchmen if the regular stipend was paid. Recently, however, the only payment had been in blows.83 After the turn of the nineteenth century, even the prohibitions which had kept Indians out of military service meant less and less. By i805, fears of an Indian insurrection had become definitely secondary to those of a British invasion. Until I8Io, the army was totally preoccupied with the development of a large force and garrisoning it at Veracruz and on the potential invasion routes inland. Hacendados, mine owners, and other employers who had labor forces to protect, began to use race as a means to avoid the increasing demands for manpower. They claimed to employ only Indians, pardos, coyotes, or other castas traditionally exempt from service.84As pressures mounted upon the subdelegados to provide militiamen, particularly after large-scale mobilizations, recruitmentbecame more and more haphazard and riddled with abuses. Naturally local officials fell upon the most defenceless elements in the population and any unsuspecting visitor who happened to stray into their hands. Tributary Indians, particularly from the Intendancy of Mexico, and others
82 AGN, IG, vol. I34-B, Diligencias practicadas en averiguaci6n de algunos hechos que han verificado con los Indios de este Cant6n de Orizaba algunos soldados acantonados en dicha
villa, 1797.


AGN, IG, vol. 4Io-k, Excesos cometidos en los pueblos de Indios por soldados ... Jose Antonio Mendez, Subdelegado of Apan, to the Viceroy, 25 May I8Io, and Petition of the Indians of Puebla de Almoloya, May I8Io. The Sub-InspectorGeneral, Carlos de Urrutia,i1 July I8Io, ordered officers to accompanytheir troops on marches to prevent further abuses. AGN, IG, vol.Io2-B, Joaquin Romero de Caamafio to Ignacio Beye de Cisneros, Subdelegado of Xochimilco, 12 May i797, and AGN, IG, vol. 60-A, Antonio del Corral Velasco, Subdelegadoof Taxco to the Intendantof Mexico, 28 November I807.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 253 who provided troops for the garrison of the capital as well as the cantonments, found themselvesmore frequently pressedinto the army. Little concern was paid to family and racial status, number of children to support, or any other factor until the new recruit reached his assigned regiment and could petition for release. By I807, the case of Mariano de la Luz was quite typical. He was working in his trade as a brick-makerin Cuernavacawhen he received a message from the alcalde mayor to come immediately to his office. On doing so, to his shock, and notwithstanding his protestationsthat he was an Indian tributary,he was inducted into the local militia company and the next day marched to Mexico City for assignment to one of the garrison regiments. There, he petitioned for release, enclosing two receipts showing that he had paid his tribute - the last payment had been made only a few days prior to his enlistment. If this was not sufficient evidence, he was married to an Indian and had a young child to support. These facts, he argued, provided circumstances enough even for a Spaniard to obtain exemption.85Despite the apparent merit of his case, Luz remained in the army. While the Cuernavacasubdelegado agreed with most of the evidence produced, Luz was identified as a mulatto: he did pay tribute, but could not enjoy privileges conceded only to Indians.86 Pressures for recruits disrupted the economy of many regions and led to a growing abandonment of agriculture by those who feared enlistment. The subdelegados simply could not produce men who had hidden themselves in the mountains or the large cities. Those who were presented reflected the weaknesses of one small group of recruits dispatched from Tacuba: one was a tributaryIndian, one a Negro, two were too short for service, and one was too scabbyfor induction into the army.87Despite the protestsof families, local governors, and those of priests which warned that families were being destroyed or reduced to begging for subsistence, and that women were prostituting themselves to feed their children, Viceroy Iturrigaray could do little other than to return men whose cases seemed most pressing. In other cases, he condemned petitions against the enlistment policy, asking those who complained loudest to unburden their purses to help the abandoned families.88
85 AGN, IG, vol. 28-A, Mariano Ignacio de la Luz to Iturrigaray,I807. 86 Ibid., Gregorio Joaquin de Castro to Iturrigaray, Cuernavaca,2I May 1807. 87 AGN, IG, vol. 60-A, Iturrigarayto the Commanderof the Regiment of Celaya, 30 January I807. The Subdelegado of Tacuba, Pedro Antonelli, reportedthat only 46 men had appeared for service with the local company. The rest had fled either to Mexico City or into the mountains. At Huehuetaca, all eligible candidates disappearedbefore they could be enlisted. See ibid., Antonio Enriquez de Esreroto the Intendant of Mexico, 5 October 1807. A large number of similar cases could be cited. 88 AGN, IG, vol. 402-A, Cura;Estanislao Segura and Administrador de Correos, Valdovinos

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254 Christon I. Archer

At the same time, the viceroy began to listen to those who pointed out the potential of drafting castas and even tributaryIndians. After all, it was well known that many besides true Indians found refuge in pretending to be registered Indians. Others claimed the status and paid tribute merely because they wished to use common lands or to free themselves from taxation.89In the interests of defence, Iturrigaray capitulated to the demands of the army. If there were not sufficient Spaniards to fill requirements, the non-tributary castes were to be enlisted; if there were still not enough the tributarieswould be called up, and ultimately when all other sources had been tapped, the Indians.90 While the regime had made an about turn in its enlistment policies, the cause was expediency rather than any basic change in attitudes on race. Between i808 and i8io, not only did Napoleonic France replace Britain as the foreign enemy, but the dangers of internal conspiraciesincreased. Only a few visionaries saw the need to effect basic reforms in the way the regime viewed race and caste. Bishop Manuel Abad y Queipo described tribute as a social evil and recommended the formation of an army in which the tributarypopulation would be rewarded for service by exemption from this onerous tax.91 Another proposal- even more far-reachingin its attempt to discover a panacea - was submitted in April I8IOby a lawyer, Juan Nazario Peimbert. He proposed the formation of an Indian army of 200,000 men and argued in favour of radical changes in racial policies and attitudes. In his opinion, Indians were not pusillanimous and cowardly, as they had been during the conquest of New Spain. Over three centuries most had mixed with Spaniards and other castes as their color and appearancedemonstrated. Pure Indians did not grow beards or spit - and one could see that in I8Io the population did both proving the role played by Spaniards,Negroes, and mulattoes in mixing with the Indian lineages.92Peimbert cried out for an end to the arrogant way the Spaniards and even the Negroes and mulattoes treated the Indians. The new army which he would christen 'El Irresistible' would serve to recognize the
Blanco to Iturrigaray, Cuernavaca, Io March I807, and Iturrigarayto Segura and Blanco, 89 AGN, IG, vol.
I807. 25 April 1807.

Ignacio Mufioz, Subdelegado of Mextitlan to Iturrigaray, 14 October

90 AGN, IG, vol. 60-A, Antonio del Corral Velasco to the Intendant of Mexico, 28 November 1807, and Pedro Telmo de Sandero to Iturrigaray, Veracruz, 20 July I807. The viceregal order calling for the extension of enlistment was issued on 8 July I807. 91 Manuel Abad y Queipo, Coleccion de los escritos mds importantes que en diferentes epocas dirigio al gobierno don Manuel Abad y Queipo (Mexico, 1813), Letter to the Real Acuerdo de
Mexico, I6 March I809.

AGN, IG, vol. 410-A, El Licenciado Don Juan Nazario Peimbert propone un arbitrio para la formaci6n de un Exercirode 200,000 hombres a poco costo, I3 April I8Io.

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Pardos, Indians and the Army of New Spain 255 true position of the Mexican Indians and to remove them from the payment of tribute.93 At this late date, while a few individuals could see the need to break down the caste system and to make concessions to the castas and Indians, the regime had not budged from its unrealistic attitudes affecting race. Perhaps the greatest single problem, notwithstanding men like Nazario Peimbert, was lack of understanding and an enormous gulf of communication between the various sectors of Mexican society. Politically, if imaginary plots could not be identified, real ones might remain concealed until they had developed considerable strength. Socially, while the complexities of the caste system were often beyond understanding, and Mexicans attempted to manipulate status in order to serve their own interests, powerful elements resisted any blurring of caste lines. During the I790's, particularly during the administration of the Conde de Revillagigedo, there was a definite increase in racism. Even in the Iturrigaray regime, the policy of enlisting men outside of the casta limpia sectorswas the result of necessity and not desire. For those pardos and Indians who ended up in the army, few opportunitiesfor social bettermentwere made available. On the other hand, the duress which forced enlistment of the unacceptable castas served to accentuate social change. Although the Spanish regime had little to offer these people, the very fact of being taken from their homes and exposed to the army must have allowed some men access to new methods of manipulating the system. If they had taken pride in their pardo or Indian origins before, they would soon see the social potential of claiming to be mestizo, castizo, or white. After the outbreak of the Hidalgo Revolt, even if such persons would see few reasons to spill their blood in defence of the existing social order, the opportunities for advancement increased. In the anarchy of the independence period and during much of the nineteenth century, new avenues opened for those who wished to escape their racial origins.

93 AGN, IG, vol. 41o-A, Lizana to Peimbert, 13 April ISo. The viceroy thanked Peimbert for his zeal and patriotism. One wonders how the zealous lawyer reacted to the outbreak of the Hidalgo Revolt in Septemberof the same year.

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