Cinco de Mayo is more than just a day of drinking Coronas and margaritas. The fifth of May is a national Mexican holiday that commemorates the overthrow of the Mexican monarchy.
Most popular in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Mexican-Americans remember that on the morning of May 5, 1862, 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated the French army of 8,000 at the Battle of Puebla.
Five months earlier, the French, English and Spanish ventured to Mexico to collect Mexican debts from the Mexican president, Benito Juarez. While the English and Spanish collected their money and left, the French decided to stay under the command of Emperor Napoleon III.
Napoleon appointed Prince Maximilian to rule over the new Mexican empire. Napoleon was confident in his efforts because not only had the French army been undefeated in 50 years, but also the United States was wrapped up in its own Civil War at the time.
The French army took off to attack Mexico City where the Mexicans waited for them, led by the Texas-born General Zaragosa. The cavalry, arguably the best in the world, was under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz.
Zaragosa ordered Diaz to take his men out to the French flanks. In response, the French sent their cavalry to chase Diaz and his troops who in turn defeated them, leaving many Frenchmen either killed or wounded.
The remaining French soldiers went on to attack the Mexicans soldiers and were ultimately defeated.
This victory stopped Napoleon III from supplying another year’s worth of confederate rebels. This time allowed the United States to build up the greatest army anyone had ever seen. The American army beat the Confederates at Gettysburg 14 months later ending the Civil War.
Keep the history in mind this Cinco de Mayo as you enjoy your Mexican drink of choice. The celebration is in memory of the liberty and freedom for which was fought.