Calleja Del Rey, Félix María, Conde de Calderón (1757–1828)

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Calleja Del Rey, Félix María, Conde de Calderón (1757–1828)

Félix María, Conde de Calderón Calleja del Rey (b. 1757; d. 24 July 1828), commander of royalist forces in the War of Mexican Independence and viceroy of New Spain (1813–1816). Born in Medina del Campo, Castilla la Vieja, Spain, Calleja entered the infantry regiment of Savoy as a cadet in 1772. He saw wartime service in the abortive 1775 expedition to Algiers, served aboard the floating artillery platforms during the 1782 siege of Gibraltar, and was present at the siege of Menorca. Promoted to the rank of captain in 1789, Calleja accompanied his patron, Viceroy Conde de Revillagigedo, to Mexico. From 1790 to 1797 he held important commissions to inspect frontier districts, to raise militia units, and to conduct detailed geographical and resource studies. After promotion to colonel in 1798, he took command of the Tenth Militia Brigade, based at San Luis Potosí, in 1799. Calleja further strengthened his position in the Mexican north through marriage in 1807 to María Francisca de la Gándara, daughter of a wealthy landowner. He was promoted to brigadier in 1810 and to field marshal in 1811.

Although surprised by the Hidalgo revolt of September 1810, Calleja acted quickly to mobilize the militia brigade at San Luis Potosí, which formed the core of the effective royalist Army of the Center, and successfully dispersed the rebels at Aculco (7 November 1810), Guanajuato (25 November 1810), and Puente de Calderón (17 January 1811). In 1812, following the defeat of Hidalgo, Calleja led his army out of the Bajío provinces to raze the insurgent town of Zitácuaro and south to Cuautla, where his army besieged the defensive positions of José María Morelos. Both sides suffered terrible hardships during the seventy-two-day siege, and starvation forced the insurgents to flee Cuautla.

Calleja introduced a controversial counterinsurgency system designed to mobilize the urban and rural populations and to free army units to chase major insurgent forces. On 4 March 1813, he was named viceroy of New Spain. By 1815 his forces had eliminated Morelos and fragmented if not defeated the insurgency. By the time he transferred command to Viceroy Juan Ruíz De Apodaca on 19 September 1816, Calleja had come to believe his own propaganda that the royalists had won the war.

Calleja returned to Madrid, where he received the title of Conde de Calderón. In 1819, King Ferdinand VII named him captain-general of Andalusia, governor of Cádiz, and general in chief of the Spanish army that was being assembled to reconquer the Americas. In the military campaign of 1820 and the restoration of the constitution, Calleja was arrested and experienced political difficulties that continued until the return of absolutism in 1823. In 1825, he went to Valencia, where he remained until his death.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: War of Independance .


Material on Calleja's campaigns during the War of Mexican Independence can be found in Lucas Alamán, Historia de México desde los primeros movimientos que prepararon su independencia en el año de 1808 hasta la época presente, 5 vols. (1849–1852; repr. 1942); Wilbert H. Timmons, Morelos: Priest Soldier Statesman of Mexico (1963); Hugh M. Hamill, The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence (1966); Christon I. Archer, "La Causa Buena: The Counterinsurgency Army of New Spain and the Ten Years' War," in Jaime E. Rodrígue z O., ed., The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation (1989); Brian R. Hamnett, Roots of Insurgency: Mexican Regions, 1750–1824 (1986). For biographical data, see José De Jesús Núñez y Domínguez, La virreina mexicana: Doña María Francisca de la Gándara de Calleja (1950); and Christon I. Archer, The Army in Bourbon Mexico, 1760–1810 (1977).

Additional Bibliography

Orozco Linares, Fernando. Fechas Históricas de México. México City: Panorama Editorial, 1988.

                                 Christon I. Archer

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Calleja Del Rey, Félix María, Conde de Calderón (1757–1828)

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