Who was the Mexican leader during Cinco de Mayo?

Holidays & Special Events

By Kristy Tolley

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, also known as the Battle of Puebla Day, is a holiday celebrated on May 5th in Mexico and the United States. It commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Mexican army was able to repel the French army and prevent them from taking over Mexico.

The French Invasion of Mexico

In the early 1860s, Mexico was in a state of political and financial instability. This provided an opportunity for European powers to intervene in Mexican affairs. France, under the leadership of Napoleon III, wanted to establish a French-controlled empire in Mexico. With the support of conservative Mexican elites, the French invaded Mexico in 1861 and quickly took control of much of the country, including Mexico City.

The Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5th, 1862, was a decisive moment in the French invasion of Mexico. The French army, led by General Charles de Lorencez, was advancing towards the city of Puebla, where the Mexican army was stationed. The Mexican army, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, was vastly outnumbered and outgunned. However, they were able to use the terrain to their advantage and launch a successful defense against the French forces.

The Mexican Commander-in-Chief

General Ignacio Zaragoza was a Mexican general who played a crucial role in the Battle of Puebla. He was born in 1829 in the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico. He came from a family of soldiers and was educated in military schools.

Early Life and Military Career

Zaragoza began his military career in 1848, fighting against American forces in the Mexican-American War. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a respected military leader. He fought in several battles, including the Battle of La Carbonera and the Battle of Tabasco.

Leading the Mexican Army in Puebla

In February 1862, Zaragoza was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the Mexican army in Puebla. He had a difficult task ahead of him, as the French army was advancing towards the city with a much larger and better-equipped force. Zaragoza quickly began to organize his troops and fortify the city’s defenses.

Victory at the Battle of Puebla

On May 5th, 1862, the French army attacked the city of Puebla. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Mexican army was able to repel the French forces and achieve a decisive victory. Zaragoza’s leadership and strategic planning were instrumental in the Mexican army’s success.

Aftermath of the Battle

The victory at the Battle of Puebla was an important moment in Mexican history. It boosted the morale of the Mexican people and inspired them to continue the fight against the French invasion. However, the French were not deterred by their defeat and continued their campaign to establish a French-controlled empire in Mexico.

Legacy of General Zaragoza

General Ignacio Zaragoza died just months after the Battle of Puebla, in September 1862. However, his legacy lives on as a hero of the Mexican people. He is remembered as a skilled military leader who helped defend Mexico against foreign invasion.

Conclusion: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. It is a day to remember the bravery and sacrifice of the Mexican soldiers who fought and won at the Battle of Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza is an important figure in this history, and his legacy is celebrated every year on May 5th.

References and Further Reading

  • "Cinco de Mayo." History. Accessed May 3rd, 2021. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo-1
  • "Ignacio Zaragoza." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed May 3rd, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ignacio-Zaragoza
  • "The French Intervention in Mexico." History. Accessed May 3rd, 2021. https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/french-intervention
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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