One of the most exciting commemorations, aside from the Cry for Independence, is reenactment of the Entrance of the Insurgents. This event consists of recreating the entry of the Insurgent army to the town of San Miguel el Grande, now San Miguel de Allende. It took place on September 16, 1810 after the army had passed through Atotonilco.
The recreation of the event, which has been downsized this year, took place at 6pm on Sept 16. Men dressed in traditional clothes, armed with machetes, sticks, torches, and farming implements, were on horseback. They proceeded along Avenida Independencia, go up Insurgentes, Hernández Macías, and Canal, and ended up at the Jardín Principal to reenact San Miguel being taken over. Among the many slogans they shout are, “Viva Mexico” (Long live Mexico), “Muera el mal gobierno” (Death to the bad government), and “Libertad” (Liberty).
When the Spaniards who were living in San Miguel found out about the advance of the Insurgents, they took refuge in the Royal House—today the Municipal Presidency. They demanded that General Narciso María Loreto de la Canal, head of the Queen’s Dragoons, safeguard them.
When Ignacio Allende entered San Miguel he went to the Royal House and asked De la Canal to hand over the main plaza. He promised to respect the lives of the Spaniards. Because De la Canal knew of Allende’s honesty, he handed over the Spaniards. They were taken to the Colegio de San Francisco de Sales, today the University of León, located next to the Oratorio church.
The historian Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach wrote that when the crowd following Hidalgo entered the town, “The mob gathered and, by force of blows, opened the doors of Don Francisco de Landeta’s store, today La Coronela, and looted it.” They did the same to Pedro de Lámbarri’s store, today the San Agustin churros restaurant in front of the San Francisco church. “Allende”, says Jiménez Codinach, “dissolved the crowd with the threat of shackles. Shortly after 10pm, everything was quiet.”
Thus, it is the peaceful takeover of San Miguel el Grande that is represented every Sept 16 at 6pm. Oral history states that after the start of the struggle for independence, many of the Spaniards who lived in the area abandoned their houses, land, and farms. After this, San Miguel turned into a ghost town.