The triumphal entry of the Liberal Army troops into Mexico City

The Battle of Calpulalpan, a decisive event for the Liberal Army, since this allowed free passage to the capital of the country, thus concluding the Reform War on January 1, 1861.

The triumphal entry of the Liberal Army troops into Mexico City
A triumphant entry of the troops of the Liberal Army into Mexico City, January 1, 1861. Image: Sedena

The Reform War or Three Years War began on December 17, 1857, it was a dispute that took place between the Liberal and Conservative parties, who faced each other in a civil war mainly due to the difference they had over the application of the Constitution promulgated on February 5 of that year.

It was a period of social transformation characterized by the transition from the political structure of the Colony to the formation of a national state based on the constitutional order. On the part of the liberals, President Benito Juarez Garcia was the one who defended the liberal principles of the 1857 Constitution.

President Juarez appointed General Jesus Gonzalez Ortega, an outstanding politician, and military man, as Commander in Chief of the Army, being him and his troops who on December 22, 1860, defeated the conservatives in the Battle of Calpulalpan in the current state of Mexico, a decisive event for the Liberal Army, since this allowed free passage to the capital of the country, thus concluding the Reform War on January 1, 1861.

How did the liberals experience the victory parade led by General Jesús González Ortega through the streets of the capital that ended the Reform War against the conservatives?

On January 2, 1861, Lieutenant Liborio del Campo was on his way to the house of his good friend Don José García Cadena, where a lively get-together would be held to comment on the events of the previous day. He stopped at the bookstore of the printing house located at 3 San Juan de Letrán Street, to buy El Monitor Republicano, a liberal newspaper that, having been censored by the conservatives, was once again being sold in the capital.

The newspaper commented in its editorial on the apotheosis of the General in Chief of the federal troops, Jesus Gonzalez Ortega, in the capital of the Mexican Republic. His heart was overflowing with joy. He sped up his pace to get to his destination as soon as possible so he could tell his friends the extraordinary news.

When he arrived, the atmosphere was one of extraordinary joy; amidst hugs and expressions of jubilation, his friends, all of them of liberal ideology, exclaimed: "The Constitution of 1857 triumphed! Long live the triumph of liberal arms! General Felipe Berriozábal was there, who expressed:

-It cannot be believed that a simple clerk, who did not attend any military school, who served in a notary's office in a small town in the outskirts of Zacatecas, has defeated the indomitable Miramón! I can already imagine the envy that González Ortega will provoke among the liberal side, not to mention how humiliated the conservatives must feel: not only be defeated but also by an employee that they undoubtedly judged an insignificant man of the people! There is no doubt that our distinguished president, Don Benito Juarez, knew what he was doing when he appointed him general in chief of the liberal army. He surely felt very satisfied with his decision when, still in Veracruz, he learned of the victory of Calpulalpan through an urgent communiqué while he was attending an opera performance. Thus, Miramon's conservative government is over and our legitimate ruler is soon to return to our capital and restore the republican powers. But let me comment on yesterday's events, which I had the good fortune to witness and even, in a certain way, thanks to the generosity of General Gonzalez Ortega, to play a leading role in.
-Too bad I was not present yesterday, I was feeling indisposed and could not witness the triumphal entry of the liberals," commented another fellow guest, so please continue; general, lieutenant, tell us your impressions.

Berriozábal took the floor again:

-As you surely know, General Gonzalez Ortega wanted to start this glorious year of 1861 by entering the capital on January 1st, on the west side, to make his journey from the Alameda to the National Palace. The whole road was adorned with flowers, the balconies crowded with people throwing cheers to the heroes, it was an incomparable spectacle! Remember the merits of General González Ortega, who defeated the conservative troops in Calpulalpan, under the command of a military man as excellent and prepared as Miguel Miramón.
-Besides -intervened Del Campo-, there were also his triumphs in the battles of Peñuelas and Silao, to mention other of his victories... Well, the point is that I had the honor of parading among the troops and I can tell you that the tour must have started around twelve o'clock. At the Alameda, a multitude of representatives of the liberal clubs, with colorful red banners, joined the vanguard of the march, led by Don Jesus Gonzalez Ortega. When arriving at San Francisco street, I saw a spectacle that I will never forget, for the splendor of the decorations on the balconies, for the enthusiasm of the people, that I can tell you that it was natural, not feigned nor by order, as some evil tongues wanted to make belief; there were two impressive triumphal arches, one at the height of Correo street where, up to the top, they placed a platform with orchestra. The city council of the city went out to receive the army of the Reform and its leader, and a member of that corporation...
-Don Florencio del Castillo, says El Monitor Republicano, was in charge," interrupted Berriozábal, "and also that it was the members of the city council who gave General González Ortega a banner with the city's coat of arms.
-Indeed -continued Del Campo-, they put the banner in his hands and he thanked them and let them know that for all those who embraced the liberal cause, there was no doubt of the loyalty of our capital, despite the fact that the whole war had been dominated by the conservatives.

Sources: Relatos e Historias en México