Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha Neb.) June 28, 1896, Page 6 ( Reading this account of Dn. Santiago Vidaurri’s murder was upsetting and painful to read, but necessary.)
IN MAXIMILIAN’S TIME – A Notable Military Execution Recall by Marriage
The marriage at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, New York, of Señorita Prudencia Vidaurri Milmo, a Mexican heiress, to Prince Albert Radziwill of Russia recalls a stirring incident connected with the feverish times following the brief and mournful empire of the unfortunate. Maximilian. The story is told in the New Orleans Times by an American gentleman distinguished alike in military and diplomatic circles, who had resided in Mexico for some time prior to the abdication of Maximilian, and it is in effect as follows:
The father of the now Princess Radziwill was Patrick Milmo an Irish gentleman, who first went to Mexico in the ’50s as the Matamoras representative of the New Orleans house of Peter and Thomas Hale. After having been some time in Mexico, Milmo married the daughter of Don Santiago Vidaurri an influential citizen of northern Mexico and governor of the states of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila. Milmo established a house of his own in Monterey, and being a man of indomitable pertinacity of purpose, coupled with sound judgment and excellent business capacity; he accumulated in the course of a short time a fortune amounting to nearly $20,000,000.
In the meantime Maximilian, leaving the quiet life of the beautiful chateau near Trieste for the royal vicissitudes which ended in his execution, had landed at Veracruz and undertaken the duties of empire against the opposition of Juarez and his followers.
Sig. Vidaurri, aligning himself with the conservative party, was driven from Nuevo Leon by Juarez and his party, and went to Mexico, where he became one of the Imperial council. When Maximilian left the City of Mexico and went to Orizaba to avoid meeting General Castelnau, whom Napoleon had dispatched on the mission of reconciling the emperor to the necessity of abdication, Vidaurri accompanied him. Maximilian and his followers were waited on in Orizaba by a large deputation of representative Mexicans who begged them to return to Mexico, assuring the emperor that a majority of the Mexican people were in sympathy with his cause.
The American gentleman who recalls the present reminiscence begged Vidaurri to leave the country and go to Havana, but the Mexican replied that it was only a few minutes before he had heard the emperor say it was not like one of the house of Hapsburg to quail when danger threatened, and Vidaurri would stand by him to the last, though he had little faith in his success.
About a year after the events above related the American was in Mexico City shortly after its capture by General Diaz, who had issued an order that all enemies of the republic should present themselves within a given time, and that failure to obey its mandate should be punishable with death. Early one morning, as the American was strolling to the restaurant for his morning cup of coffee, he learned of the capture of General Vidaurri, who had been hiding in the city. The American was well acquainted with General Diaz and repaired at once to the College of Mines, where the general had his headquarters, with the idea of interceding in behalf of his friend.
General Diaz was still in bed, but the American’s intimacy enabled him to reach the general’s bed chamber, where he pleaded for Vidaurri’s life. He found Diaz, as always, the sympathetic, big-hearted man, but the stern, resolute soldier. “I have no authority in the matter,” said the general; “the orders have gone forth; they must be obeyed. I am honest in assuring you of my regret and my sympathy, but at 4 o’clock this afternoon your friend must be shot.”
There seemed no method of avoiding the fate which impended, but the American’s mettle had been touched, and he swore to do everything in his power. The president was at the moment somewhere between north Mexico and the capital. Telegraphs were few and far between, and there was no way of reaching the only human authority on earth that could save Vidaurri.
In this extremity the American repaired to the prison and found his old friend in the chapel, already preparing for death. “Let us put aside all considerations for myself,” said Vidaurri, when the American had, with a candor befitting the occasion, laid all the facts before him. “I have a son hiding somewhere in the country. Is there any way of finding his hiding place?”
“I can go to him at once,” replied the American. “Then go at once,” said the Mexican,” deliver him up at once to the guard in order that he may be a prisoner before he knows the fate of his father.”
The American then returned to General Diaz, taking with him General Pedro Hinojoso, who was a friend of General Diaz and both again tried to find some means of saving Vidaurri. General Diaz issued an order giving twenty-four hours more for all Imperialists who had not already been captured to present themselves to the authorities. Upon this authorization the American proceeded to the hiding place of Vidaurri’s son and placing him in a carriage drove him to the prison. Even then, when the son was under the same roof as his father, the American could not summon up the courage to tell him of the bereavement that was in store for him.
Returning to the chapel, the America spent a long time with the condemned gentleman. The only will General Vidaurri made was scribbled on a card held on the American’s knee, and that afternoon at (?) o’clock, a regiment of soldiers appeared in the hallway outside of the chapel, and the death march began.
The place of execution was a little grassy plot in front of the old church of Santo Domingo, Vidaurri appeared on the scene accompanied by two priests, and found the American awaiting him. Permission was granted the American to hold conservation with the condemned, and he stepped forward and spoke to him. General Vidaurri was over six feet in height, and though nearly 60 years of age, he stood there waiting to be shot, with an eye as keen and a frame erect as a young buck of 25. His strong manly face showed no trace of emotion, and his last words were spoken without a tremor. He begged the American to assure Signor Milmo and his son of his love, bade his friend goodbye, turned to the priest and received his last benediction, and then, in a firm voice, said, “I am ready,”. The corporal of the guard turned General Vidaurri’s face to the wall, as is the custom with all prisoners executed for treason, and then stepped back prepared to give the word. Just before the order was given General Vidaurri looked over his shoulder and said to the American: “Until we meet!”
The next moment the order “Fire!” was given, and Vidaurri fell to the ground, his body riddled with bullets. The American buried the body of his friend with all proper ceremonies, and shortly after left for the states.
Of the figures in this tragedy of life, General Diaz is now the president of Mexico, General Pedro Hinojoso his secretary of war, the American an honored member of semi-diplomatic circles, the son a well known resident of this country environing Monterey, and the granddaughter Princess Radziwill of Russia.
Another special Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Benjie Castrillo, Thank you!