Born in Ipioca, Alagoas. He entered the Escola Militar, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1861, completing the Artillery course. In 1865, already 1st Lieutenant, serving in the garrison of Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul, he was assigned to command troops in the Paraguayan War (1865-1870).
In 1883, he was appointed Inspector of Military Establishments in the provinces of Pernambuco, Alagoas, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. In the same year, he took command of Armas do Amazonas and the following year he was appointed president and commander of Armas de Mato Grosso. In June 1889, he was distinguished with the appointment of Assistant General of the Army (which today corresponds to Chief of Staff). Promoted to lieutenant general of the Army in 1889, he was invited, in April 1890, to assume the War Office of the Provisional Government. With the promulgation of the Constitution of the Republic, on February 24, 1891, the election for the presidential and vice-presidency candidates was scheduled for the 25th. Deodoro da Fonseca and Floriano Peixoto, president and vice president, respectively, emerged victorious. With Deodoro's resignation, Marechal Floriano assumed power in November 1891.