Mexico's Independence from Spain came at a high cost. Thousands of Mexicans lost their lives fighting both for and against the Spanish between 1810 and 1821. Ultimately, patriot heroism at these legendary battles secured Mexico's Independence.
On September 16, 1810, rebel preist Miguel Hidalgo took to the pulpit in the town of Dolores and told his flock that the time had come to take up arms against the Spanish. In minutes, he had an army of ragged but determined followers. On September 28, this massive army arrived at the rich mining city of Guanajuato, where all of the Spaniards and colonial officials had barricaded themselves inside the fortress-like royal granary. The massacre that followed was one of the ugliest of Mexico's struggle for independence.
With Guanajuato in ruins behind them, the massive rebel army led by Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende set their sights on Mexico City. Panicked Spanish officials sent for reinforcements, but it looked like they would not arrive in time. They sent every able-bodied soldier out to meet the rebels to buy some time. This improvised army met the rebels at Monte de las Cruces, or "Mount of the Crosses," so-called because it was a place where criminals were hung. The Spanish were outnumbered anywhere from ten-to-one to forty-to-one, depending on which estimate of the size of the rebel army you believe, but they had better weapons and training. Who would win this epic battle?
In early 1811, there was a stalemate between rebel and Spanish forces. The rebels had massive numbers, but determined, trained Spanish forces proved tough to defeat. Meanwhile, any losses inflicted on the rebel army were soon replaced by Mexican peasants, unhappy after years of Spanish rule. Spanish General Felix Calleja had a well-trained and equipped army of 6,000 soldiers: probably the most formidable army in the New World at the time. He marched out to meet the rebels and the two armies clashed at Calderon Bridge outside of Guadalajara. The unlikely royalist victory there sent Hidalgo and Allende fleeing for their lives and lengthened the struggle for independence.