The Mexican Civil War was an armed conflict lasting for 7 years that was located in Mexico. There were factions in the war; the Mexican Army which supported Spanish colonial rule; the Mexican Republican Army which supported the democratic rule of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna; and the Empire Army, which supported Iturbide family's efforts to become Emperor of Mexico. In 1826, the United States intervened, and supported the Mexican Republican Army, which eventually prevailed in 1828.
Mexican Republican Army (MRA)
The Mexican Republican Army was led by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, an officer who supported Mexico's efforts for independence. The Republicans were mainly supported by liberals in major cities such as Mexico City. It was the strongest force of the three, with 123,000 soldiers. However, most of the soldiers were untrained, undisciplined, and armed with inferior guns, or just clubs, knives and pitchforks. The MRA was supported by the USA because Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams both wanted for Mexico to be a democracy. The MRA were the eventually winners in the war.
The Mexican Army was led by Ferdinand VII of Spain, who was the King of Spain until the conquer of it by France forced him to flee to Mexico, where he continued his rule. In order to keep Mexico from rebelling, he established the Mexican Army, a group of soldiers who were solely dedicated to keeping the country from rebelling and protecting the king. The Mexican Army was the smallest, with only a force of 17,000. However, those troops were the best of the three, and had modern weapons. After Mexico City fell in 1822, the Mexican Army's headquarters were at the city of Ecatepec de Morelos.
Empire ArmyThe Empire Army was led by Agustin de Iturbide, the self-proclaimed Emperor of Mexico. Iturbide built his army with a political and and military coalition. The Empire Army's march into Mexico City ended the Mexican War of Independence and began the Mexican Civil War. He was supported by conservatives, because they favored a more dictorial regime. The Empire Army was the second-largest force with 30,000 soldiers, but only half of that were well trained and had modern weaponry.
The war began with the Empire Army's capture of Mexico City on September 27, 1821. Ferdinand VII and his family was forced to flee, along with the Mexican Army to the city of Ecatepec de Morelos. Agustin de Iturbide, who led the march into Mexico City, crowned himself Emperor of Mexico. Both Santa Anna and Ferdinand VII denounced his claim for leadership. Those who did not support Iturbide in the capital city were brutally killed, which caused a massive number to leave the city. The majority of them joined the ranks of the MRA.Iturbide then ordered the Empire Army to head to Ecatepec de Morelos to capture the city and the royal family. Ferdinand VII ordered his army to set up posistions at the city of Toluca, where the bloody Battle of Toluca took place. The Empire Army was forced to retreat back to the capital. In order to get more men, Iturbide order his troops to search the countryside and force any able men to fight. This caused many people to flee to MRA fortresses. Iturbide ordered his men to surround the fortresses and lay siege to them. The most famous battle was the Battle of Puebla, where only 1,200 MRAs fought against an Empire Army force of 6,700. The Empire Army was eventually repulsed when the Mexican Army fought them. Ferdinand VII then offered an alliance to Santa Anna, and he agreed.
Empire RetreatsThe Empire Army expanded across the country at a fast rate, and on January 1, 1823, Iturbide claimed all of Mexico as his. In order to back this up, he attacked Veracruz because it was a large area of MRA and Mexican Army supporters. The Empire Army took control of the city of Xalapa and made it their headquarters in the Veracruz region. Most of the MRA and Mexican Army was in the city of Veracruz, which the Empire Army attacked next. The attack of bloodily repulsed, and the Empire Army regrouped and attacked again, ending with the same results. During a third attack, the Empire Army was surrounded and forced to surrender. With Itubirde's main force in Veracruz defeated, he ordered a retreat back to Mexico City. The Battle of Veracruz, the bloodiest battle in the war, was a major turning point in the war.
The Empire Army regrouped at Mexico City, wounded and tired. The Empire Army's control over Mexico shrunk, with many peasants and farmers joining the ranks of the MRA and the Mexican Army, and some men of the Empire Army defected to the two other sides. Iturbide's force shrunk from 30,000 to just 17,000 from the Battle of Veracruz on. Iturbide feared his army might lose the war. In order to get more weapons, the Empire Army was sent to the city of Mexicali, which was the first headquarters of the Mexican Army from 1815 to 1818.
The Mexican Army and MRA learned of these plans from a spy, and sent men to the Baja Peninsula, where Mexicali was located. The resulting fight was one of the largest in the war, with over 10,000 people laying dead in or near the city. Most of the casualties were local civilians. The news of the civilian deaths turned the opinion of many people against the Empire Army, who were thought to be the cause of the war. This drove even more people to join the MRA and Mexican Army ranks. With the country rallying behind them, the MRA and Mexican Army stormed Mexico City and Iturbide was executed. The Empire Army was disbanded, the soldiers in it either joining the MRA or Mexican Army.
The war was not over yet in Mexico. Two factions, the MRA and the Mexican Army still existed, and both supported different things. On October 14, 1825, the same date of Ferdinand VII's birthday, the Mexican Army turned on its MRA allies, catching the MRA off guard. Many areas with people from both factions were taken over by the Mexican Army. Santa Anna, fearing for his life, retreated with the MRA to Ciudad Juarez near the Mexican-American border.
US Enters the War
Ferdinand VII was crowned the King of Mexico from the Emperador Palace in Mexico City. Certain that victory was his, he ordered the Mexican Army to attack the city of Ciudad Juarez, which was now that last remaining MRA stronghold in Mexico. A force of 25,000 was sent to take it. Santa Anna knew an attack was inevitable, so he sent a request to American President James Monroe in Washington D.C. asking for US assistance in the war. While that was happening, the Mexican Army attacked Ciudad Juarez. The fight later spilled into the US settlement of El Paso. The Mexican Army won the battle and Santa Anna was forced to flee deeper into the United States with his army. Because many of the American citizens that were left in the settlement fought against the king, Ferdinand VII ordered the execution of all of the Americans. The El Paso Massacre killed 400 men, women, and children. The massacre convinced US President James Monroe to enter the war, and a force of 15,000 was assembled.Santa Anna and a US Army force led by Sam Houston liberated El Paso on January 13, 1826. This was the first defeat for the Mexican Army as well as the beginning of the US intervention in Mexico. Sam Houston devised a plan to defeat Ferdinand VII. Sam Houston's army in northern Mexico would force the bulk of the Mexican force to go there, which would open up Veracruz to a naval landing of US Marines led by Stephen F. Austin. The plan began on February 17, 1826.
The plan went smoothly at first. Ferdinand VII stationed the Mexican Army in northern Mexico, leaving Veracruz open. The US troops landed on March 23. The plan went wrong soon after. The Mexican Army discovered this and moved their faster than expected. By the time the Americans got to the city of Veracruz, the Mexicans were already waiting, and the Second Battle of Veracruz erupted. The Americans won, but it took five months and a tremendous amount of casualties. Houston's plan was stalled, which gave the Mexican Army time to regroup and think about a strategy.