Federalists was easily repulsed, and as Reyes awaited the coming of the moon to launch his own attack, he hastily dashed off a note to Arista, fourteen leagues away, saying that he had complete confidence in victory and that his spies were out to warn him if the enemy should attempt to flee during the night.
Canales' force had been diminished a few days before when he sent two squadrons of cavalry in pursuit of a marauding band of Comanches; so when he finally arrived upon the scene, about 7 p.m., with the remainder of his force, he only had 280 men in all, supported by three cannon. During the night both sides held their positions. A few shots were exchanged between the pickets. At daybreak, the 25th, the cannonading commenced.
Arista had hoped to surprise Canales at San Fernando, the last portion of the country in that vast area populated by Mexicans. At 7 p.m., March 24, Arista reached the village of Peyotes [Pellotes], seven leagues from Morelos. General Ampudia commanded the Third Brigade under Arista, and Colonel José Stavoli, the Second Brigade, which protected the convoy of supplies conveyed by four hundred mules. Learning of Canales' advance to Morelos and his attack upon Reyes, Arista, known in Mexico as el tigre del Norte, started at an early hour on March 25 to the relief of his subordinate, arriving in the vicinity of Morelos at 10 a.m.
While Arista prepared to attack, the officer guarding Zapata reported that Zapata wished to talk to the commander in chief, believing that Canales would surrender if he (Zapata) sent him a message. Having failed so far to prevent the shedding of blood and the looting of the frontier, Arista seized the opportunity to conclude his mission without the further expenditure of lives and property. He, therefore, agreed to talk to Zapata, who assured him that his signature would cause Canales to surrender. Zapata hastily scribbled a note to Canales and a prisoner was released to carry it, with instructions to inform Canales that Arista
36. Isidro Reyes al General en Gefe D. Mariano Arista, Morelos, Marzo 24 de 1840, a la diez de la noche, in El Ancla, April 24, 1840.
37. Yoakum, History of Texas, II, 289, and Bancroft, History of Texas and the North Mexican States, II, 239, mistakenly gives the date of the battle of Morelos as March 15, and Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas desde la consumación de la independencia hasta el tratado de paz de Guadalupe Hidalgo, II, 218-219, incorrectly reports Zapata's capture as March 15 and Canales' defeat as taking place not long thereafter.