The Execution Of Father Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla
By Dan Arellano
We all know how Father Hidalgo cried out for a new government on September 16, 1810, starting a revolution in Mexico; but we know nothing about the death he suffered at the hands of his executioners.
There were several eye witness accounts of Father Hidalgo’s heroic and tragic death but it is best described by the leader of the execution squad, Captain Pedro de Armendariz. Captain Armendariz explains that he reluctantly accepted the assignment and recruited the execution squad from amongst his men, who had no desire to kill a priest.
On the day of his execution, his soldiers, in complete silence, marched Father Hidalgo towards his place of execution, the silence broken only by the prayers of Father Hidalgo. His soldiers, already shaking like a leaf for what they were about to do; their nerves frayed even further listening to his prayers. Arriving at the stool placed for his execution, he hands his prayer book to a priest and in silence and on of his own accord sat in the assigned place.
His arms were bound by two musket slings and a bandage was placed over his eyes against the post. Ready to meet his maker he raised his crucifix with both hands and faced his executioners, which were in formation two steps away, three deep and four abreast.
According to Armendariz, when he ordered the first row to fire, several of the men, being nervous and trembling, managed to only wound him in the arm and abdomen. His head, jerking due to the pain, caused his blindfold to fall from his head revealing his beautiful brown eyes which he affixed upon his executioners; and the soldiers could see that he was weeping.
Hurriedly he orders the second squad to fire and all of the bullets miss his heart, some striking him in the abdomen and some going astray. Father Hidalgo showed little reaction and his unwavering gaze remained upon his executioners. His tears flowing from his brown eyes caused such a reaction that even some of the soldiers began to weep.
Armendariz orders the third squad to fire; his soldiers trembling caused the bullets to miss their mark, only managing to cut his back and abdomen to pieces; obviously no one wanted to kill a priest.
At this point he orders his men to march forward and orders them to place their muzzles over his heart, firing point blank, and that is the way he was finally killed. It took sixteen musket bullets to kill Father Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla.
[Photo By J. Stephen Conn]