Posted by: Ed Darrell | May 5, 2010

The story of Cinco de Mayo

(Mostly borrowed, with permission, from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub)

You thought Cinco de Mayo was Independence Day for Mexico?

No, it’s not.

History.com has a nice explanation, with a nice little video.

Perhaps the U.S. should celebrate the day, too, at least in those states who were not in the old Confederacy. On May 5, 1862, Mexicans under the command of 33 year old Commander General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín stopped the quick advance of superior French forces trying to invade Mexico to take it over, at the Battle of Puebla. While France did eventually defeat Mexican forces (after getting 30,000 men in reinforcements), the spirit of May 5 inspired Mexicans to continue to fight for freedom. And ultimately, Mexican forces overpowered and captured the French forces and Emperor Maximilian, who was executed.

Thus ended a great hope for the Confederacy, that French-supported Mexican Army would lend aid to the Confederates in their struggle to secede from the Union.

It is one of the great what-ifs of history: What if France had kept Mexico, and what if French-led Mexican forces backed up the Confederate Army?

One thing is rather sure: Had that happened, and had the Confederacy been successful, we wouldn’t be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Texas today.

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Battle of Puebla, Wikimedia (artist?)

Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

_____________________________________

Update: Mr. DeBerry sent a note informing me that the hero of the Battle of Puebla was from Texas — so the Mexican hero was a Texan, too.  If you wrote that in a fictional story, no one would think it believable.  Real history is often stranger than fiction — and way cooler.

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Responses

  1. This is very interesting and educational!

  2. I celebrated cinco de mayo with my grandmother…


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