Battle of Zitácuaro/time/place/participants/cause/effect/winner

Battle of Zitácuaro (1812)

The Battle of Zitácuaro was one of those battles fought in the process of independence from Mexico, where two very different forces faced each other, one part was the realistic one with a better prepared and equipped army, with career military at the head and resources at the helm. hand; the other side was that of the insurgents, soldiers trained in the war itself, many people with improvised weapons, a command often divided, volunteers like many Indians who gave their lives in this battle, but all of them fighting for their independence, for their dream of a country that in those times, at the beginning of the 19th century, was like an epidemic in American lands. Battle of Zitácuaro

When was this battle fought and how important is the town of Zitácuaro in it? Who were recorded in history as participants in this battle? What consequences did this battle have in the independence struggle?

When and where did the Battle of Zitácuaro take place?

The Battle of Zitácuaro is one of the difficult wars of Mexico’s independence process, and it was fought on January 2, 1812, this war occurs in the town of Zitácuaro , a town that came to play a historical and emblematic role in the war of Mexican independence to the point that Zitácuaro receives the honor of being named City of Independence in a decree given by the governor of the state of Michoacán, General Epitacio Huerta in November 1858.

The battle in question takes place as follows. The insurgent commander Ignacio López Rayón had had time to prepare the defense of the town in the face of the attack that he knew would come upon them, he stored food, using iron cast new artillery, dug a trench around the town and filled it with water, removed the food from the neighboring villages so that the enemy would not supply himself, he had about 36 cannons and 700 men armed with rifles and another thousands at his side to defend the town.

General Félix Calleja sends an ultimatum from Viceroy Francisco Venegas to General López Rayón and his collaborators, they must surrender and hand over their weapons and their lives will be respected. Ignacio Rayón rejects the proposal. General Félix Calleja leaves Guanajuato and arrives in Zitácuaro on January 1, 1812 without any insurgent troops hindering his trip, he takes all his time to prepare the assault on Zitácuaro.

Who participated in the Battle of Zitácuaro?

In the Battle of Zitácuaro there are conditions that explain the defeat suffered by the insurgents in a quite dramatic way, and without many setbacks for the royalists. Let’s first talk about the armies that fought in that battle:

Realists in the Battle of Zitácuaro

  • The commander was General Félix María Calleja . He was a career military man, from his youth he entered

    at the service of arms. In addition, he was a very capable, brilliant, determined, very active soldier, and also cruel and unscrupulous, the latter, although it did a lot of damage to the insurgents, ended up being the main reason for him to be relieved of the viceroyalty of New Spain . In all fairness, this man almost completely crushed the independence feat.

  • His army was made up of some 5,000 men in this battle , which upon the arrival of Félix Calleja to the position of Senior Political Chief, he transformed into a disciplined, powerful, well-armed and well-paid troop.
  • The royalist troops had high morale, after the arrival of Félix María Calleja they obtained several victories in a row, and also the man was a career strategist, who planned his attacks very well, and then allowed his troops freedom to cause excesses, causing thus fear in the inhabitants of the attacked sites.

Independents in the  Battle of Zitácuaro

  • The commander was the insurgent general Ignacio López Rayón , who was not
    A career military man, but an outstanding lawyer, statesman and politician, to whom the insurgents owe many initiatives and efforts to organize a true government through appointments and positions given by a kind of governing board of the insurgents called the Supreme American National Board. López Rayón obtained victories that placed him at the head of the insurgent armies, he was secretary of the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
  • His army to defend his position in Villa Zitácuaro consisted of about 22,000 men, of whom less than 1,000 were armed with rifles , the rest were either unarmed or barely had improvised weapons. It was not a regular army, although many had participated in various battles. They had an advantage, they had 36 guns that neutralized Félix Calleja’s cavalry, inflicting serious damage.
  • In Villa Zitácuaro there was the Supreme National Board, a kind of provisional government that represented the independentistas, so that there was the incentive to defend this square at all costs. They dug a ditch and filled it with water to protect themselves from the imminent attack by Calleja’s troops.

Causes of the Battle of Zitácuaro

The cause of this battle is evidently the independence uprising of Mexican leaders such as Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Rayón, Morelos, Guerrero, Liceaga, Verduzco and many others, which was spreading like wildfire.

If we talk about this battle as such, there are other more personal causes. Zitácuaro had become at that time an icon or bastion of the independence insurrection , there was the Supreme American National Board or provisional government of the independence movement, there was Ignacio Rayón, the military leader or leader at that time of the insurgent army on whom it was had put a price dead or alive.

In such a way that this historic town appears as one of the towns where Mexican independence began to take shape, and where weighty decisions were made for the movement.


The consequence of this battle, far from what it seems, was not decisive for the war of independence, because although the insurgents lost goods and war supplies , most of the defenders and their military and political leaders such as those of the Supreme National Board American, they managed to escape and there was a certain division between them.

The direct consequence was painful for the insurgents, Zitácuaro paid dearly for having hosted the raised army and its governing junta. It was razed, burned and its people exiled by order of Félix Calleja .


The obvious winners were the royalists under the command of General Félix María Calleja , who in a matter of about 3 hours achieved victory and put the governing junta and the insurgent troops to flight. The insurgents had 400 dead, more than 200 wounded and 19 prisoners who were shot immediately. Many food, livestock and military supplies were lost. The royalist army only suffered the death of about 30 men and some wounded. The defeated and the government Junta managed to escape and withdrew to Tlalchapa.

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