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Narciso Lopez

LOPEZ, Narciso, Spanish-American soldier, born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1799 ; died in Havana, Cuba, 1 September, 1851. He belonged to a rich family of merchants, and at the beginning of the war for independence in the colony took the popular side, but soon afterward entered the Spanish army, and at the close of the war was rewarded with the rank of colonel, although he was only twenty-one years old. The royal army having evacuated Venezuela, Lopez went to Cuba and afterward to Spain, where he served in the first Carlist war, and was called "the first lancer in the army." In 1836 he was made brigadier, and in 1839 major-general and appointed governor of Valencia. In 1841 General Valdes was appointed governor-general of Cuba, and took with him Lopez, who was intrusted with several important posts ; but when, in 1843, General O'Donnell went to Cuba to succeed Valdes, Lopez was deprived of all his commands, and in consequence retired to private life, where he engaged in commercial pursuits and undertook the management of copper-mines. In 1848 the revolutionary party in the island won him to their cause, and he took part in a conspiracy against the government, on the discovery of which he fled in 1849 to New York. There he organized a military expedition for the invasion of Cuba, which was frustrated by proclamation of President Taylor in August, 1849. In the following year he organized another expedition, and landed in the town of Cardenas, 19 May, 1850, at the head of about 600 men. He took possession of the town, but was compelled to evacuate it after a few hours, and returned to New Orleans to prepare a new expedition, with which he landed, 12 August, 1851, near Bahia Honda, on the northern coast of the island, west of Havana. He left 130 men, under Colonel Crittenden, at the landing-place, and with 323 followers marched on Las Pozas. He was attacked on the following day by a body of 500 Spanish troops, which were afterward re-enforced by 800 under the command of General Enna, and completely routed them with great loss, General Enna being killed; but on the 16th, dreading a fresh attack, he retreated to the interior. The country population did not answer to Lopez's appeal for a general rising, and after several skirmishes his followers scattered through the mountains. They were attacked by the Spaniards, and Lopez, having fallen into the hands of the enemy, was brought to Havana, tried for high treason, and executed by the garrote, while many of his soldiers were condemned to hard labor. Some days before Colonel Crittenden was captured at sea while trying to reach New Orleans, and was shot at Havana, together with fifty of his companions. Lopez was the leader of the party in Cuba that favored annexation to the United States.

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