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The R — Techmania P. Hands In The Air!! Remixes While Lopez hesitated, his commander in chief, General Morillo, had the application drawn up and personally insisted that Lopez sign it. After a rigid inquiry into the merits of this petition, which was backed up by the endorsement of his comrades and of Morillo himself, the cross was granted. But it was no more than common justice that Morillo should take this stand, for far better than anyone else had he cause to be grateful for the bravery of this twenty-three year old boy.
The larger part of the Spanish army at this time was infantry, while the army of the insurgents was largely cavalry. The natives knew the country, and were able to carry on a successful guerrilla warfare, without allowing the Spaniards to engage them in open battle. This harassed the Spaniards, wore down their morale, and slowly but surely decimated their forces. Morillo, well knowing this, was pursuing the insurgents, in a vain attempt to join them in conflict. Lopez at this time was in charge of his cavalry company, which had been almost exterminated in a conflict that morning.
Only a little band of thirty-eight men remained. Morillo was not aware of the catastrophe which had overtaken Lopez's command, and did not know how greatly it had been reduced in numbers.
Much more than documents.
He therefore issued orders that it gallop forward to attack the enemy in the rear, with an idea of forcing them to face about and give battle. The engagement took place on the plains, and the handful of men could be plainly discerned by the enemy as they rode to obey their commanding officer. General Paez, who was in command of the Venezuelans, sent a corps of men to repel the thirty-eight cavalrymen. Neither Lopez nor his men faltered, for they must live up to their traditions. Lopez ordered them to dismount and engage the advancing enemy on foot, using lances and carbines in the attack.
Morillo soon discovered what was in progress and sent reinforcements, and Lopez's men held their position until aid reached them. When this war was over and freedom had been won an extraordinary thing happened. The patriot government invited this young man, who had fought against them, to enter their service with the same rank which he had held in the Spanish army. This he declined, and when evacuation took place he retired with the Spanish army to Cuba, in Lopez married a very charming Cuban, adopted Cuba as his native land, and gave up his position in the army.
Perhaps the cruelty of the Spanish government in Cuba may have awakened him to the nature of the organization which he was serving. He was at heart a man who loved freedom, who was impatient of unjust restraint, who loved his fellow men and could not bear to see them suffer injustice. Spain was afraid that her officers might be led away by the spirit of democracy which was creating such havoc in her possessions in America.
When absolutism was again restored in Spain, and the constitution of was for the second time overthrown, she required her officers in Cuba publicly to adjure liberalism, and to take an oath to stand by the Spanish rule in the colony. This Lopez could not bring himself to do, and so he remained in retirement. Affairs in Spain underwent a change, for King Ferdinand died and immediately a contest for the control of the government was on between his widow, Maria Cristina, as regent for her infant daughter, Isabel, and Don Carlos, who was the brother of the deceased king, and who declared that under the Salic law the crown belonged to him.
War between the two factions seemed imminent, and the Spanish people were war weary, when the Queen regent conceived a brilliant plan. She felt sure that the will of the people was with her, since she represented the liberal party as against Don Carlos who was at the head of the absolutists and whose accession of power would mean new oppressions. Maria Cristina therefore issued a proclamation calling on the people, if they loved their country and wished to save her from civil war, to join in disarming the absolutists. This movement was well organized and a day was set for the disarmament to take place all over the kingdom.
It seems almost incredible, but it was successful, and from one end of Spain to the other there were over six hundred thousand stacks of arms taken from the Carlists by the people of the liberal party.
By Lord Macaulay
Now while this action was being planned and executed, Lopez happened to be in Spain. He had gone to the court at Madrid with his wife to endeavor to have restitution made to her of large sums of money which the government of Cuba had unjustly taken from her family. Unfortunately there are no records which disclose whether his diplomacy was great enough to persuade Spain to return any money which had once gotten into her coffers. However, Lopez had grown to understand Cuban affairs by this time well enough to know that if the liberals were successful it might mean the reestablishment of the constitution of , and the dawn of better days for Cuba; but on the other hand, should the Carlists triumph, Cuba was bound to be more fiercely ground beneath the heel of tyranny and oppressions.
Lopez loved his adopted country, and so he at once took command of a body of liberals who were being hard pressed by a company of the national guard, part of which had sided with Don Carlos. He rallied the little band, filled them with new courage and enthusiasm, and all day he worked with them, sometimes in company with other men and often alone, driving before him companies of Carlists, forcing them to go to the guardhouse of the liberals and surrender their weapons.
When news of this conduct reached royal ears, Lopez was made first aide-de-camp to General Valdez, who was commander in chief of the liberal forces, that same Valdez who was destined later to become Captain-General of Cuba. A strong friendship sprang up between the two men, a bond which was never broken, and which Lopez respected so much that he later deferred action against the Spanish government in Cuba until after Valdez had relinquished the office of Captain-General.
Indeed, it was through the influence of Lopez at the court of Spain that Valdez became Captain-General. Valdez had many reasons for being grateful to Lopez, for during the war which followed between the forces of the queen and those of Carlos, at one crisis—a surprise attack when the troops were about to flee—Lopez placed himself in command and led them to victory. On another occasion Valdez, who had his headquarters in the little village of Durango, had dispatched the main portion of his army against the forces of the enemy, retaining with him only a few picked men.
Suddenly he found himself almost surrounded by the Carlists, who had seized the hills by which the village was enclosed. It was necessary that someone carry news of the situation to the main army and obtain relief.
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Lopez, who was then a colonel, signified his willingness to undertake the task, and indeed claimed that it was his right as first aide-de-camp to command the rescuing party which he intended to bring back with him. Valdez was loath to let him go, for he felt that success was problematic, and that the expedition meant almost certain death for his friend. But there was no alternative, and so at last he consented.
Lopez set forth on horseback with one servant attending him. When they approached the enemy, they signalled that they were deserters, with valuable information to impart. They were allowed to approach without being fired on, and when they came abreast of the opposing forces, they set spurs to their horses, ran the gauntlet of a shower of bullets, and escaped unhurt, bearing the news of Valdez's perilous position to his main army.
So great was Lopez's valor and fearlessness, and so high a reputation had he for honor and fair dealing, that he was respected by the Carlists as well as by his own party. At the end of this struggle he was accorded the rank of General in the Spanish army, and was loaded with honors, having the crosses of Isabella Catolica and St.
Hermengilda bestowed upon him, and being appointed commander in chief of the National Guard of Spain. He stood high in the regard of the Queen Regent, but he grew to know her as she was, a cold, selfish plotter, and when she was finally expelled from the regency Lopez regarded it as a cause for rejoicing, even though his own career might be expected to suffer.
But the regard in which he was held was too great for this to come to pass, and after the insurrection which deposed Maria Cristina he was offered and accepted the post of Governor of Madrid. Lopez also served Spain as a senator from the city of Seville.
He was present in the Cortes when the Cuban delegates who were elected during the conflict of wills between General Lorenzo and Captain-General Tacon, and who escaped to Spain and attempted to claim their seats in the Cortes, were rejected. Perhaps more than anything else in his career, Lopez's service as senator opened his eyes to the vile condition of Spanish politics, and the methods which were used in ruling the colonies.
He was always on the side of the oppressed, he hated injustice, and so, then and there, the love of liberty which had always been a part of his character took concrete form in a resolve to be the liberator of Cuba. When Valdez set forth to take over the command in Cuba, he had earnestly requested that Lopez be allowed to accompany him, but on the plea that there was important work for him to do in Spain, Lopez was not allowed to depart.
It may be that in spite of the fight which he had made to maintain the unity of the Spanish kingdom, the astute and crafty Spanish statesmen suspected his loyalty, for it was reported that during Tacon's administration in Cuba, Lopez had entered into a conspiracy to obtain freedom for the island, and had publicly toasted "free Cuba" at a banquet. This seems more like a story which might have been born of Tacon's mean jealousy and fear for his own power, and nurtured by his vivid imagination when he sought to harm an enemy.
It does not seem credible that Lopez, who had not yet openly thrown in his fortunes with the liberals in Cuba, would have been so foolish as to expose himself to the vengeance of a Captain-General who he had good reason to know would let nothing stand in his way when he sought to tear a rival in court favor from a high place. Be this as it may, the story was current in Spain, and while it seems not to have harmed Lopez's popularity with the people or with the court, it did prevent his accompanying Valdez to Cuba at this time. Lopez's ability to make friends, however, a little later stood him in good stead.
He had won the liking and indeed the warm affection of Espartero, the leader at this time of the liberal party in Spain, and the influence of Espartero finally made it possible for Lopez to return to Havana, in Now rumors that a revolution was imminent began to be generally circulated. When Valdez relinquished the Captain-Generalship, and O'Donnell began his infamous rule, Lopez felt himself released from all obligations to the government.
Every particle of Spanish sympathy had long since been purged from his heart, and his honors from such a source had become irksome. He had refrained from actively plotting against Spain while Valdez was ruling over Cuba, his friendship for Valdez making him unwilling to embarrass him. This curb removed, Lopez gladly relinquished his offices and retired to his own estates. He was not nearly so successful as a business man as he was as a soldier, and the business enterprises which he undertook proved to be failures. But he took over the management of some copper mines and these were used as bases for the organization of the attempt to free Cuba which was now beginning to take form and shape in his mind.
He mingled with the people quietly and endeavored, successfully, to win their esteem and liking. The district in which the mines were located was settled mainly by men who were always in the saddle. Now Lopez was a fine horseman. There were no deeds of horsemanship which they might perform which he could not duplicate or improve upon. He thus soon won a popular following, and this curiously enough without attracting the particular attention of the Captain-General or his spies, and became a hero to the men among whom he dwelt.
They were all indebted to him for deeds of kindness, for no man in difficulties ever appealed to Lopez's purse in vain. Thus he acquired an influence which made him confident that should he speak the word the countryside would rally with him under the banner of revolt against Spain. Now Lopez was not particularly interested in the emancipation of the slaves.
He thought that they were necessary for the successful cultivation of the island, and he could not successfully visualize a free black population. He felt that a Cuba unbound by any ties to any other nation meant free blacks.