Franciso Morazon’s fortune changed in a single day, and with that, the future of Honduras and the Republic of Central America. Perhaps the greatest and most far-sighted leader of the short-lived Republic, Morazán rose to prominence on November 11, 1827. It was Thursday morning, and the sun rose upon Trinity Valley, near Ojojona, in the heart of the south-central region of Honduras which would soon bear his name.
The year was 1827, and it began in national consternation. Dictatorial decrees announced by Federal President Manuel José Arce were felt throughout Central America and were leading to the overthrow of the government of Honduras. To that end, General Justin Milla was given command of the 2nd battalion of Federal troops and crossed the border into Honduras.
On January 19, 1827 lieutenant general Milla invaded the village of “Los Llanos” of Santa Rosa, which he took with little resistance. On April 4, 1827 General Milla attacked the capital city of Comayagua, where Francisco Morazán was leading some of the defenders. Milla relentlessly assaulted the Honduran troops with heavy fire, was soon victorious, and set fire to the capital. On May 9, the President of Honduras was taken prisoner. On May 10, the government capitulated.
In the summer of that same year, Morazán was captured and imprisoned in Ojojona for 23 days until he escaped. He was a young man and only recently experienced as a captain, under orders, in battle. Having been in battles won and battles loss, he learned how men moved and how men fought. His active mind utilized those 23 days to survey the valley, creekbeds, commanding hilltops and routes of approach in that region. Having escaped prison, he knew his enemy’s desire would bring him to Morazán; and he would be ready.
He traveled to nearby leaders of the resistance, and, in evidence of their faith in this young man, they he entrusted an additional 135 fighters and arms to Morazán.
General Justo Milla by this time was hunting the rebels throughout the territory. Having heard that Morazán was in southern Honduras, Milla rapidly closed in, moving his troops to Tegucigalpa where he established his headquarters, and sought for battle. Morazán, knowing Milla’s movements, moved northward to Sabanagrande, 25 miles south of Milla’s army in Tegucigalpa, with his old haunt, Ojono and the valley of the Trinity, between them, just 3 miles north.
On the eve of the inevitable battle, Morazan drew up a battle strategy and presented it to his commander, General Diaz. So impressed was the General with the plan that, he not only adopted it, but he entrusted command of the battle to Francisco Morazan. Francisco was determined that he would not fail.
The plan divided their troops into three assault teams of 150 men each, with three smaller teams held in reserve. The first team would be led by colonel Diaz, would face Milla’s full army in the streets. The second, under General Morazán, would circle unseen northeastward around the hill caraengo to meet the flank of the enemy. The third, under colonel Pacheco, would crawl up the creekbed in concealment until they reached a path, known to Morazán, that led across to the Valley of the Trinity. There they would descend upon the enemy’s rear. The plan was well received by all. Command in hand, Morazán issued the final orders. Wednesday night, under cover of darkness, they moved into position, and waited for the day.
Thursday morning at dawn the enemy, marching southward, began its descent into the fateful valley, precisely along Morazán’s anticipated route. At 9am Milla’s army of 1000 was confronted by Diaz’s army of 150 in the streets below them.
We might imagine the confidence of Milla and his men, as they descended into the valley of the trinity to the town below to confront their enemy once again. By this time, they had many victories behind them. And we might imagine the disdain Milla felt as he looked upon the small force arrayed in the streets below him.
As he approached he would discern his opposition was only about an eighth of his size. He might have let out a laugh and joked a little with his officers. But too, he may have wondered for a moment why they didn’t flee. But pehaps by this time he had given up wondering anymore why these people would continue to resist him. But Diaz didn’t flee, nor did he fire, but waited, for so were his orders, and his confidence was elsewhere. He relied not upon size of his army, but the passion of his cause, and the plan and strategy of their leader.
At last, General Milla gave the orders to fire, and the battle began. He would be confident, and perhaps relocate to a position to give him a good view of the battle as it unfolded as he expected. With the first gunshots ringing in the air, he might have been surprised, or at least, impressed, by the valiance of the defense. Why didn’t they disperse? Why didn’t they run? But the first sound of gunshot, terrifying to any man in battle, was nevertheless a welcomed sound to Diaz’s men; for it was the strategic signal, a signal given by none other then the enemy, for Morazán’s troops to commence their final maneuvers to address their enemy’s right flank.
With those first shots singing in the morning air, we might imagine Morazan’s words to his 150 crouched beyond the hill, just within sight of their enemy’s unguarded flank. “Gentlemen. This is Your moment. This is Our battle. We have a Plan. Our brothers are relying upon us. Our wives and children our relying upon us. Our country and our commonwealth is relying upon us. The future is Yours! To the Battle!” Following Morazán’s valiant lead, and driven by his determination, the 150 devoured the final yards along their appointed path and assaulted the flank of the enemy.
The flank was unguarded, and Morazán’s 150 were upon their enemy before they knew it. Gunshots rang out at that deadly range; and the enemy fell. Milla would be startled hearing unexpected battle on his left flank. Who were these defenders? What was inspiring their defense? Could they not see they were outnumbered? Don’t they know who we are? Wheeling to his left, it’s possible that his arrogance would support his initial confidence; but he’d curse the necessity of redistributing his troops in the midst of the battle to meet this surprise on his flank, and his army would question his leadership.
Diaz in the streets below would first see the smoke ascending from new gunfire on the right flank of his enemy; and he’d know his brothers had engaged the battle. Next he’d hear the new gunshots from afar, and notice the enemy before him, looking round about in fear. Then he’d observe the rippling disarray in their formations as Milla barked out new orders and Milla’s troops realigned to face the new threat. Diaz moved his 150 confidently up the street, pressing the battle into the valley of the trinity.
The fighting was furious. Milla was rushing to and fro, redirecting his troops, and barking orders to his surprised host. Morazán’s 150 violently pressed their advantage upon the collapsing flank; and Diaz relentlessly pressed the front line of battle up into the valley.
And just as Milla’s army was finding its hasty defensive positions in this unexpected two front war, suddenly, gunshots erupted to their rear. Pacheco’s 150 arrived on the scene.
We can imagine the scene before Pacheco as his men completed their path to the valley. The enemy was below them, his brethren beyond them and to the left of them, and his enemy was fully engaged in that two front battle and completely unprotected in their rear. With a mighty shout and 150 guns blazing they descended into that valley, the Valley of the Trinity.
For five hours that battle raged. For five hours Milla’s army defended their precarious positions with dwindling numbers. For five hours, Morazan, Pacheo and Diaz pressed their victorious strategy, until the enemy broke, and died, in that valley of death.
By 3:00 that afternoon, it was over. Milla and few of his officers survived and fled the scene of battle, leaving behind troves of munitions, supplies and official documents. Justin Milla was completely defeated. Morazán’s plan succeeded beyond conception, achieving the destruction of the enemy, and the restoration of respect for the State of Honduras and the victory of the Patriots against tyranny.
General Morazán went on to Tegucigalpa and took it on November 12th. On the 26th of the same month, he reached the capital Comayagua, made a triumphal entrance, and was proclaimed the head of State of Honduras.