THE FIRST CIVIL WAR, 1830-1842
WHAT THEY CALLED "CIVIL WAR":
A Note on Then and Now
What They Called "Civil War"
A. L. de Santa Anna
Puebla & Charleston
Guanajuato & Bravo
Loot & development
Guatemala & Carrera
The Huasteca, & North
The Costa Grande
Outcomes, and Vision
|Commanders in that Civil War were opportunists. Whether they
were "centralists" or "localists" at any time depended on where they found
themselves in the strategic layout of the continent.
Consider Tolomé, the "first" battle in what was called Civil War, early in 1832:
Santa Anna, headquartered at Veracruz, had declared against the government
of Anastasio Bustamante. He enjoyed one immediate advantage:
without the customs revenue from the port, the government would wither
Troops, sent by the war department, were marching doggedly from the
interior. This force reached the edge of the coastal plain, at a
point on the main highway near Santa Anna's own hacienda (Manga de Clavo).
Santa Anna, still the "rebel" general with local knowledge, led
a small force quietly by night around the government troops, to the village
of Tolomé, where he planned to attack those troops from a
position astride their lines back inland. One of his own men
fired prematurely. The government commander, now forewarned and with artillery
on heights that commanded Santa Anna's lines back to Veracruz, made his
own pre-emptive attack, and with an enormous numerical advantage.
Santa Anna's soldiers men fought back (or fled) instead of surrendering.
His force was practically wiped out, even while it inflicted enough casualties
that the victors could not move quickly on. Santa Anna himself fled
back to Veracruz. The government force followed, but floundered through
weeks into months outside the city, as spring approached, bringing the
lethal yellow-fever season. With no immunity against the disease, this force was
now the one to flee, back to the upcountry. Santa Anna had time to start
over again, building up strength for operations inland.
One tactical feature of Tolomé had implications for later strategic
choices. The commander who began with control over communications
-- in this case from Veracruz to the interior -- could lose that advantage
if he made a tactical error. Positions could get reversed.
On the larger scene, if Santa Anna should ever get himself into the interior
position, he could find himself motivated by the same strategic situation
that Bustamante confronted at the beginning of 1832.
In a series of battles that year, Santa Anna
did conquer control of the central government. It then took him over
a year to adapt to his new circumstances. When he did adapt, he was
now to be the new Bustamante.
||[But of course they can be seen larger.]
This transformation had its parallel in the career of Andrew Jackson.
Earlier, he had been the representative captain at the head of interior
planter/farmers, operating against Indian enemies and against British forces
invading over the coast. He professed to support states' rights against
central power. By 1832, he was the head of a government that had major
allies among coastal economic interests. He faced the political resistance
of South Carolina planters. While he was anxious to preserve some
alliance between interior interests (himself) and coastal interests (such
as New York), he had to make tactical plans for a possible fight in which
he would represent strength coming in over the coast, against conservative
Tactical considerations, everywhere, pushed commanders to make a short-term
choice, taking sides between the "interior" or the "exterior" end of lines
of communication. Longer-term pressures, in all parts of the continent,
pushed commanders to resolve this same tension through political deals
-- which meant through understandings among rival economic interests.
The time-line of the War wound around the changing economic structure
of the continent:
1832, spring - fall. Conservative campaigns put liberals
on the defensive.
Santa Anna humiliated at Tolomé.
Bustamante defeats Moctezuma and Zacatecas forces, at El Gallinero.
Unionist candidates defeated in South Carolina elections. South Carolina
convention meets; adopts Nullification Ordinance, against collection of
tariff within South Carolina.
Late 1832 - early 1833. Aggressive liberal campaigns resist
conservatives' apparent victory.
Santa Anna, emerging from Veracruz, defeats Bustamante lieutenants at Palmar,
then at Puebla
Moctezuma reorganizes force at San Luis Potosí
.Jackson issues Proclamation against Nullification Ordinance.
Also late 1832 - early 1833. "Compromise" measures confirm
liberal victory, but in a manner that leaves unresolved the social content
Convenio of Zavaleta, between Santa Anna and Bustamante, recognizes
Manual Gómez Pedraza as president, with new elections set for 1833.
In those elections, Santa Anna is elected President, while the doctrinaire
liberal Valentín Gómez Farías is named Vice-President
Jackson signs measures that constitute Compromise of 1833:: a tariff
that scales down duties by a schedule that South Carolina accepts, and
a law specifying his authority to enforce the tariff..
Mid-1833 - early 1834. Apparent solidification of liberal program.
Santa Anna retires to his lands, leaving Gómez Farías to
govern. Gómez Farías adopts liberal program, including
the strengthening of Zacatecas militia and other state militias.
When conservatives attempt to recruit Santa Anna for their cause, he rejects
them, and uses Zacatecas force in defeating them at Battle of Guanajuato.
Accusations are made that this battle was phony.
Jackson continues anti-centralist program by removing federal deposits
from Bank of the United States, transferring them to selected local banks.
1834-1836. Conservative reorientation of programs and command
At Chilpancingo, government forces try to trap the conservative Nicolás
Bravo, but the war department removes its aggressive liberal commander
from that campaign, and announces a virtual truce, just before:
Santa Anna expels Gómez Farías from the government, and reverses
most of liberal program.
In a bloodless replay of El Gallinero, Santa Anna defeats the Zacatecas
militia, and sacks their capital.
Like Gómez Farías before him, Santa Anna uses severe repressive
legislation against his enemies.
Jackson administration and pro-Southern forces in Congress impose:
gag rule against debate of anti-slavery petitions to Congress
exclusion of anti-slavery materials from mail to South
Jackson administration sets up executive machinery to regulate state banks,
recapitulating some functions of the earlier BUS.
Mexican conservatives draft "centralist" constitution, designed to disfranchise
Conservative general Albino Pérez sent as governor of New Mexico.
Jackson administration carries out climactic implementation of Indian removal
policy; the "Trail of Tears" for Cherokees.
1835-1837. Border conflicts define the juncture between U.S.
and Mexican systems.
The defeat of Zacatecas serves as base for Santa Anna's unsuccessful attempt
to reconquer Texas from Anglo rebels.
Mexican leaders fail to establish alliance with indigenous forces in Texas.
Deployment of U.S. force toward Texas is crippled by miring of Army in
war against Seminoles of Florida
The interplay between financial measures in the two countries cements the
unequal economic relationship between the two.
Brister, Louis E., and Robert C. Perry, "La derrota de Santa Anna en Tolomé:
una relación crítica y personal," Historia Mexicana
- Brister, Louis E., ed., In Mexican Prisons: The Journal of Edward Harkort, 1832-1834 (1986)
Costeloe, Michael P. La primera república federal de México,
Rivera Cambas, Manuel. Historia antigua y moderna de Jalapa y de las
revoluciones del Estado de Veracruz (1869-1871)
Suárez y Navarro, Juan. Historia de México y del General
Antonio López de Santa Anna (1850)
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