Solemn Funeral for Santa Anna’s Leg Lost in the Pastry War

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

221. [LÓPEZ DE SANTA-ANNA, ANTONIO]. [Text begins] El Secretario de Estado y del despacho de la Guerra y Maritima y el Vice-Presidente de la Junta Cívica suplican á V. se sirva acompañar desde la Alameda hasta el Cementario de Santa Paula.... [Mexico, 1842]. Dated in type, Mexico, September 24, 1842. Broadside with conjugate blank (27.2 x 20.7 cm), printed on green wove paper. Creased where formerly folded, lightly wrinkled, left margin uneven and chipped, rust stain in upper left blank margin. Overall a fine copy of a rare survival.

     First edition. Not in standard sources. This is an invitation, dated September 27, 1842, to accompany Santa-Anna’s leg, lost at Veracruz on December 5, 1838, in the Pastry War, from the Alameda to its final resting place in Santa Paula cemetery. The leg was to be deposited in a memorial. As part of the ceremony, a prayer began the procession at 11:00 a.m. and at the monument an orator praised Santa-Anna. The burial took place on Santa-Anna’s orders. Despite Church opposition, the ceremony was held amid grand pomp, concluding with an oration by Ignacio Sierra y Rosa.

     Shannon Baker in Heroes and Hero Cults in Latin America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006), pp. 67-70:

Both the wealthy and poor watched a marvelous procession from Alameda to the Santa Paula Cemetery for the service. Shaded by veils that customarily hung above the streets for civic religious processions, government and army officials lead the parade, demonstrating their respect for Santa-Anna’s sacrifice. Behind these representatives sergeants carried the honored leg on a platform. The limb had been preserved in an adorned crystal urn within a box; the actual spectacle of the gruesome appendage would have made the funeral seem ridiculous, and perhaps offensive, to some. Two regiments of infantry and a squadron of cavalry solemnly followed the pallbearers and an artillery detachment formed the rear of the distinguished line, which reinforced the military’s respect for its leader’s sacrifice....

Arriving at Santo Paula, the group, which included Santa Anna, assembled around the imposing monument that Minister of War Antonio María Esnaurrizar had ordered constructed to honor the leg. The column to house the leg bore an inscription that Santa Anna himself had composed, in which he professed that he had lost his limb fighting for his home and country, and that he now offered it as a testament of his love for Mexico. Consular insignias of Rome embossed the base of the column. On top of the cannon that formed part of the structure perched a statue of an eagle with a snake in its mouth, the national symbol of Mexico. Above the entire structure waived a Mexican flag.

The remainder of the ceremony took place at the monument. Esnaurrizar placed the box containing the limb in the statue; then Ignacio Sierra y Rosso, Santa Anna’s close friend and political ally, delivered an ardent eulogy, praising the president’s glorious contributions to Mexico.... The funeral concluded when the Minister of War presented the urn’s key to Santa Anna.

Festivities extended into the afternoon and evening.... Santa Anna returned to the Santa Paula Cemetery later in the day accompanied by troops and functionaries, who again paid homage at the monument. While the president watched, government officials and soldiers showed their respect to the memorial as they would pay homage to a king. That evening some Mexicans gathered at the Plaza Mayor to watch fireworks, and others proceeded to celebrations at the opera.

     The burial drew satirical opposition from the cemetery’s dead, who did not want to be ruled by a leg. It also attracted protesters who praised the leg. Several years later, mobs opposed to the dictator destroyed the monument, removed the leg, and kicked it around the streets.

     Santa-Anna had little better luck keeping his replacement cork leg. During the Mexican-American War, it was captured by U.S. troops at Cerro Gordo and taken to Illinois, where it remains in a museum, despite repeated Mexican requests to have it returned.


Sold. Hammer: $600.00; Price Realized: $735.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

DSRB Home | e-mail: