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Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz

Ignacio Agramonte

Ignacio Agramonte y Loynáz (1841—1873) was a Cuban revolutionary, who played an important part in the Ten Years' War (1868-1878).

Born in the province of Puerto Príncipe (what is now the province of Camagüey, Cuba) on December 23, 1841, to a wealthy family. He went to Barcelona, Madrid, and Havana to study law. On June 11, 1865 he graduated as a lawyer.

Back in Puerto Principe he was married on August 1868 to the love of his life: Amalia Simoni y Argilagos, whose family had considerably more wealth than his own.

Agramonte was 6'2" tall, with brown, fine hair, and pale skin, but fortified by horsemanship and fencing. He had a fine mustache and not mountainous like it appears in many portraits.

When the insurrection against the Spanish broke out, he played a pivotal role in the uprising of the province of Camagüey which took place on November 4th, 1868. Agramonte himself joined the insurrection a week later, on November 11th, 1868.

His wife followed him in the struggle, but was captured on May 26th 1870 while pregnant with her second child, which was born in the USA and never met his father. At a conference with other leaders who were trying to make amends with Spain, Agramonte made clear his thinking: "Stop at once all the lobbying, the awkward delays, and the humiliating demands: Cuba's only option is to gain its redemption by tearing it from Spain by armed force."

On February 1869, he and Antonio Zambrana were elected secretaries, a title equivalent to minister, to the provincial government. He was subsequently elected a member and one of two secretaries - minister - of the Cuban Congress. He was among the signatories of the act that freed the slaves on the island and was the driving force in the drafting of the first Constitution in Cuban history.

He resigned his position secretarial - ministerial - position within the Congrees after Carlos Manuel de Céspedes was made president in the same year because Agramonte had strong political disagreements with him and knew they could not work together. The Congressional secretaries - ministers - had to work closely with the president.

He went on to become Major General of the Cuban forces for the military district of the province of Camagüey, where he organized the best cavalry troops in the Cuban Army. Showing great vision, in spite of his lack of formal military training, his troops terrified the Spanish Army.

Agramonte capped his impressive list of military achievements when, on October 8th 1871, he led a daring rescue. His commander, Manuel Sanguily, was taken prisoner by more than 120 light cavalry while visiting a farm. Agramonte ordered 35 of his exhausted troops to mount up and track down the Spaniards. He personally led a furious charge, successfully rescuing Sanguily and routing the enemy troop, killing 11 and making 5 prisoners.

Agramonte was killed at the Battle of Jimaguayú on May 11th, 1873, where he was struck on the head by a stray bullet. His body was cremated by the Spanish authorities in Camagüey for fear that his troops would assault the city to recover his body. Henry Reeve - Brigadier General - an American volunteer, and commander of his Cavalry Corps, named him "El Mayor", implying Agramonte was the best of all the Cuban Major Generals. Máximo Gómez succeeded him as Chief Military Commander of the military district of the province of Camagüey.

Agramonte used a Colt revolver, Navy model 1851, worked with ivory and gold. He used several machetes and sabres, and was carrying a sabre taken from a Spanish colonel at the time of his death.

Both the airport and the central park in Camagüey are named after him, and his statue is situated in the central plaza.

On the centenary of his death, Silvio Rodriguez sang in Camaguey for the first time his song "El Mayor", in honor of the fallen hero. The local radio station Radio Cadena Agramonte uses it as its identifying tune.

"El Mayor"

by Silvio Rodriguez 1973

References

  • Agramonte. El Bayardo de la Revolución Cubana. Carlos Márquez Sterling (1899) Introducción de Ignacio Rasco. Miami, Fla. Editorial Cubana, 1995.
  • Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz, (23/12/1841, 11/5/ 1873). Fermín Peraza y Sarausa La Habana . Departamento de Cultura, 1943 Colección: Publicaciones de la Biblioteca Municipal de la Habana.
  • Atlas biográfico Mayor General Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz. Elaborado por la Empresa Occidental de Geodesia y Cartografía. La Habana: Instituto Cubano de Geodesia y Cartografía, 1989





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