General Calleja was an army man famous for his cruelty and his violent – and unorthodox – methods. He was commissioned specifically to counteract the until then victorious insurgent army.
On hearing of the capture of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas and the violent and bloody aftermath of the battle, Calleja was so enraged that, on arriving in Guanajuato, one of the first measures he undertook – as a warning to all those who had supported the rebel movement – was to put the entire population to the sword. This was only prevented by the timely intervention of Friar José María de Jesús Belaunzarán.
Another measure he had his troops implement was, on the discovery of a Spaniard’s body, to seize everyone on the spot and have them taken immediately to be hanged. Initially, the gallows was in the Plaza de la Paz, but so as to carry out the order to the full, he ordered one to be built in every square in the city so that Mexiamora, el Ropero, La Compañía, San Diego, San Francisco, San Roque, El Baratillo, Granaditas and San Fernando each had its own scaffold.
For several days, the streets of Guanajuato were completely deserted. Only the ever-present city watch ventured out.
The victims would be surrounded by pike-wielding soldiers and marched to – for example – the Plaza Mayor to be dispatched on the hastily-erected scaffold in the center of the square.
In one single day, 32 of the townspeople were hanged for no more than having been born here, thanks to the unbounded cruelty of the Bloodthirsty General Calleja, who, to crown his grisly achievements, would eventually take the life of the Father of the Country and leader of the independence movement, Father Miguel Hidalgo.