General Mariano Arista
Mariano Arista was a soldier and patriot in Mexico’s formative years. Born in the north-central city of San Luis Potosí in 1802, he began his military career in service to Spain, but backed Mexican independence in 1821. He quickly rose through the ranks of the national army, rising to brigadier general by 1831. Arista tended to support Centralist causes until political reversals forced him into exile in the United States.
When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna declared himself dictator in 1835, Arista returned to Mexico and served this government and subsequent presidents in a variety of military bureaus and boards, eventually becoming commandant general of the state of Tamaulipas. Arista fought the French at Vera Cruz in 1839, but was captured. He retired from public life shortly thereafter.
President Mariano Paredea y Arillaga recalled Arista in 1846, with orders to take the Mexican Army of the North and oppose the American advance through Texas. General Arista lost a series of hard-fought battle against U.S. General Zachary Taylor in April and May, opening the U.S.-Mexican War but leaving his army in a shambles, a defeat that ended his active field command.
After the U.S.-Mexican War, Arista returned to public life as a tireless advocate of military reforms, gaining him publicity and appointment by the national congress to the presidency in 1851. His efforts to instill morale and discipline in the army led to an officers revolt in 1853 and his removal from office. Arista, crushed by this betrayal, left for Europe and died in 1855.