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And then, in 1850, as the Maya were considering the fate of their struggle, a “talking cross” appeared near a cenote at Noh Cah Santa Cruz Balam Nah Kampolkolché or Chan Santa Cruz (today Felipe Carrillo Puerto). The cross conveyed a divine message that the Maya used to reorganize and revitalize their campaign. The Cult of the Talking Cross helped the Maya return to their cause and Chan Santa Cruz became the political, military, and religious capital of the rebels. The town fell to the Yucatecan army several times but the Maya always regained control.

The Maya were victorious in attacks across the peninsula including in Tekax in 1857, Bacalar in 1858, Chan Santa Cruz in 1860, and in the 6-week siege of Tihosuco in 1866 during which the church was seriously damaged.

By 1895, military activity decreased significantly as the Maya found themselves facing problems of leadership, hunger, illness, and lacking arms long supplied by their British allies to the south. On the other side, the Yucatecan army received reinforcements from the Mexican dictator General Porfirio Díaz, preparing for the final counter offensive against the Maya.

On May 4, 1901, General Ignacio Bravo took Chan Santa Cruz, finding the town already abandoned and marking the official end of the Caste War. However, the Mayas still mounted sporadic armed confrontations with the government forces well into the 20th century.

By 1847, the plans for a rebellion by the Maya against the Yucatecans were formed. The government’s execution in July of one of the Maya leaders, Manuel Antonio Ay, batab of Chichimilá, set the plans in motion. Four days after Ay’s execution, Maya forces under the command of Cecilio Chí and Jacinto Pat attacked the town of Tepich.  It was July 30th. What followed was a vigorous movement of indigenous forces that advanced on two fronts: one, led by Cecilio Chí, advanced on Valladolid to seize the region between the coast and Mérida; the other, led by Jacinto Pat, took a turn toward Ichmul, Peto, Tzucacab, Tekax, Ticul, and regions of Campeche. A total of 40,000 men joined the insurrection at its inception.

Yucatan had seceded from Mexico in 1840 and briefly attempted to survive independently. But when the Maya began their rebellion in 1847 (in the second year of the Mexican-American War), this independence proved a weakness for the Yucatecan government and landowners who could not call on national allies for help. A few months after the conflict began, the Yucatecan government signed the Treaty of Tzucacab with Jacinto Pat. The treaty, however, was rejected by Cecilio Chí and hostility between the Maya leaders grew.

By May of 1848 the Maya forces had moved across the peninsula, stopping just 24 kilometers from Mérida and 8 kilometers from Campeche. But the arrival of the rains and the beginning of the maize planting season caused the insurgents to abandon their positions and return home. Since the Caste War, and all the previous rebellions, sought to keep alive the traditional Maya way of life, the milpa system and its associated rituals and social bonds remained important even with victory so close.

With the return of the Maya to their fields, the Yucatecan army began a counter offensive that regained territory, forcing the remaining Maya to retreat to the eastern part of the Yucatan. Not all the Maya could agree on strategy and their loyalties were divided. In June of 1849, Cecilio Chi was assassinated. Later, in September of that same year, Jacinto Pat was killed by his lieutenant and religious leader, Venancio Puc.