Also Know As: El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla, Cinco de Mayo.


Early drawing of Mexican Soldier.

There was a great civil war going on back east and part of the fear with most of those supporting the Lincoln Union was that France might create a stronghold in Mexico to help the south tear the Union apart. A small battle in the state of Puebla actually slowed down the French takeover.

Recent claims have tried to establish that the "celebration" of that victory over the French actually took place among the Mexican, Chilean and other Spanish speaking peoples here in the gold country and specifically Columbia. These claims are based on an article in a Mexican newspaper printed in San Francisco.

¡¡¡VIVA MEJICO!!! ¡VIVA LA INDEPENDANCE! ¡¡Vivan los valientes soldados Mejecanos!! ¡¡Viva el heroico General Zaragoza y sus companeros!! - from La Voz de Mejico, Ano 1, No. 26, May 27, 1862

(More to COME, as this is a work in progress!)

The following quotes come from various newspapers (attributed) and show that most of the celebrating was for the victories of the Union over the South.

1862 May 4 - Yorktown evacuated followed by Union occupation. Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable- 2012

1862 May 5 - In the state of Puebla (southwest of Mexico City), the Mexican army's (4000) unlikely victory over French forces (8000) at the Battle of Puebla under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Segu'n. - El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla

1862 May 5 - Battle of Williamsburg (Virginia). The Northern press portrayed the battle as a victory for the Federal army. McClellan mis-categorized it as a "brilliant victory" over superior forces. However, the defense of Williamsburg was seen by the South as a means of delaying the Federals, which allowed the bulk of the Confederate army to continue its withdrawal toward Richmond. Confederate casualties, including the cavalry skirmishing on May 4, were 1,682. Union casualties were 2,283. - To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign by Stephen W. Sears, 1992

1862 May 8 - Battle of McDowell (Western Virginia). Union casualties were 259 (34 killed, 220 wounded, 5 missing), Confederate 420 (116 killed, 300 wounded, 4 missing), one of the rare cases in the Civil War where the attacker lost fewer men than the defender. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Mechanicsburg, PA: John S.Salmon, 2001

1862 May 9 - General David Hunter issues General Order No. 11 freeing the slaves in the Department of the South. Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable- 2012

1862 May - In an unexpected victory, the Mexican militia under Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the larger, more modern and better equipped French forces at Puebla, southwest of Mexico City. The French cavalry was lured away and slaughtered by Mexican horsemen led by Porfirio Daz, and the infantrymen were beset by adversities almost biblical in nature: a thunderstorm brought deep mud for them to slog through, and machete-wielding locals sent stampeding cattle into their path. - Philadelphia's The Bulletin daily newspaper 1862.

1862 May 10 - CELEBRATION. - When the news of the evacuation of Yorktown reached here by telegraph, every flag in the city was raised, and the firing of guns and small arms was kept up all day and evening. -At Turner, Hurd & Co's Newspaper depot, there was a pretty display of fireworks in honor of the glorious event. Tuolumne Courier May 10, 1862, Page 2 Column 2.

1862 May 21 - In Congress the tidings of Grant's victory (at Shiloh) were received with wild enthusiasm, the dispatch, as usual, being read aloud. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 23, Number 3477, 21 May 1862
The true nature of Grant’s victory at Shiloh took some time to sink in. After the first day, the Confederates were already claiming a victory, and it was the first day’s fighting that most influenced early opinion in the North as well. When the scale of Grant’s victory eventually sank in, his reputation rose to unprecedented levels. Rickard, J (18 July 2006), Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, 6-7 April 1862 ,

1862 June 2 - The French in Mexico. The latest direct accounts of Mexican affairs, dated May 3d, place the French force twelve miles from Puebla, with 15,000 Mexicans ready to give them battle. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 23, Number 3487, 2 June 1862

1862 June 10 - A private letter from an officer on board of a British man-of-war at Acapulco, dated May 20th, says: "The French have been repulsed a second time. On the 7th of May, at La Puebla, they attacked a fortified hill which overlooked the town, and lost 1,000 killed, wounded and prisoners. They attacked with 5,000 men. The Mexicans had from 16,000 to 20,000. This is a correct account, from private information. They are now between La Puebla and Orizaba, It is not improbable that they will have to capitulate before reinforcements come out. La Gloire will not give place to La Justice, and the French are bound to go on. They will soon have 60,000 men at Vera Cruz, it will take them ten years to lick the Mexicans into anything like order, and it would take us fifty. There is one French ship on the coast. She detained a Mexican steamer, the Republic, for ten days, at. Mazatlan, but allowed her to proceed on her way to Acapulco. She threatens to blockade Mazatlan." - Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 23, Number 3494, 10 June 1862

1862 June 10 - With the exception of a letter from Maxatlan, which appears elsewhere, we are without our usual letters and files from the city of Mexico. We learn, through a private source. that the intelligence which had reached Colima from the city of Mexico, confirms the defeat of the French army before Puebla, and their hasty retreat to Orizaba. Their list of casualties is 800 killed and wounded, 100 prisoners, and a regimental standard of colors taken. The British war steamer Mutine, which went ashore at Navidad, near Manzanillo, got off by discharging all her guns, which have since been shipped to Acapulco in small coasting vessels. The Mutine, having lost her keel, will require a very considerable amount of repairs. Daily Alta California, Volume XIV, Number 4497, 10 June 1862

1862 July 17 - The Battle of Cumbres. - The Echo du Pacifique copies from the Patrie, A Paris, a French version of the battle of Cumbres, near Puebla. According to this account the Mexican troops fought bravely, but were bad marksmen. Major-General Zaragoza had a horse killed under him, and Brigadiers Ortaga and Negrete were wounded. The French took two howitzers and drove the enemy out of sight. The day after the battle no Mexicans appeared, and the French confidently expected to enter Puebla without trouble. The fact that they retreated when so near to that city, does not agree very well with the supposition of a victory. Daily Alta California, Volume XIV, Number 4529, 17 July 1862

1862 June 18 - The Siglo of May l6th, published in the City of Mexico, says: The French were yesterday at the Hacienda Aqua de Quereholac, between Acatzingo and San Agustin del Palmar. The headquarters of our army is at Acatzingo and San Agustin del Palmar, and the cavalry, under General Carbajal, is in the vicinity. Other of our forces occupy both sides of the road. Thus, as we believe, the French are surrounded- by our troops and a new battle has to take place. General Mejia has sent from Puebla with extraordinary activity provisions and other necessaries of which our troops were in want. San Agustin del Palmar and Acatzingo are at a distance of fourteen leagues from Puebla, and three or four leagues from the point at which the French arc said to have been, on the l5th of May. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 23, Number 3501, 18 June 1862

1862 July 21 - The Constitutional Congress adjourned on the 30th May, after having elected Jesus G. Ortega to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Daily Alta California, Volume XIV, Number 4533, 21 July 1862

1862 September 8 - General Ignacio Zaragoza dies of typhoid fever, at age of thirty-three

1862 October 7 - Editors Alta; - The death of Zaragoza one of the greatest calamities that could have happened to this country. In the prime of life - only 33 years of age - he died of typhoid fever, in the city of Puebla on the 8th September. Mexico has lost in him her best soldier. He combined all the qualities of a soldier: he was brave and honest, and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of the whole nation. His remains were brought to this city and yesterday the funeral took place; never has there been a funeral in this place where not only such pomp was displayed, but where really the whole nation joined in grief as over the loss of this man. By order of the Government the whole country will mourn for him nine days. Daily Alta California, Volume XIV, Number 4611, 7 October 1862

1863 June 2 - The French Reported to have Captured Puebla. Daily Alta California, Volume 15, Number 4847, 2 June 1863

1863 July 1-3 - The tide of the civil war turns against the South as the Confederates are defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

1863 July - Rejoicings In Carson N.T. (Nevada Territory)
Our city is illuminated with bonfires and fireworks, enlivened with cannon and anvil firing, in honor of recent victories in the East. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 25, Number 3839, 11 July 1863

1863 July 20 - LATER FROM MEXICO.
Appointment or a Triumvirate.
Probable Monarchy.
Daily Alta California, Volume 15, Number 4892, 20 July 1863

1864 An ad in the San Francisco newspaper for the Cinco De Mayo Silver and Gold Mining Company. No. 706 Montgomery street, San Francisco. Daily Alta California, Volume 16, Number 5059, 6 January 1864

1864 April 10 - Maximilian I was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico. He had the backing of Mexican conservatives and Napoleon III, but from the very outset he found himself involved in serious difficulties since the Liberal forces led by President Benito Ju‡rez refused to recognize his rule. There was continuous warfare between his French troops and the Republicans.

1864 August 19 - St. Louis, August 17th. - We have new Orleans dates to the 10th. The news from Mexico is to the effect that Maximilian has provided for the formation of an army for service in Mexico, to be composed of old officers and soldiers of reserves. The newly appointed Governor of Chihuahua is organizing a loyal republican force to act against the new party. The French troops have been driven out of Junta (?). Juarez is still at Monterey. Daily Alta California, Vol 16, No. 5282, 19 Aug 1864

The Secessionists in Paris, who are suffering severely from that sickness which is caused by "hope deferred," are reported to have found comfort in Napoleon's speech at the opening of the French legislative body. Not that the Emperor put forth any promise of recognition or even hinted that his sympathies were with the Confederate cause. The Parisian rebels had notified the world to expect something of that sort; yet not a word was uttered that could be twisted to suit their crooked purposes. The Emperor did not make the slightest allusion to the civil war in America. There were various plausible explanations of this silence, the first and most obvious being the possibility of the Emperor having nothing new to say upon the subject. Just before the speech was delivered, intelligence was received that negotiations for peace were in progress at Fortress Monroe, and no person abroad could venture to anticipate the result. In that uncertain situation the astute ruler of France could not hastily determine what language to use in refering to the contest. But the imaginative rebels, who are unwilling to show their disappointment under any circumstances, and who were doubtless striving to replenish their purses by gambling in the cotton loan, quickly suggested an explanation more flattering to their own prospects.

Napoleon's silence was more eloquent than his choicest words. He was preparing to recognize the independence of Dixie, but it was imprudent to announce his purpose. He was about to strike, but would give no warning rattle. The people of the American Union would wake up some fine morning and find a number of States - now, by the way, under the control of the national arms - recognized by Napoleon as constituting an independent, hostile Power. Although it is not strange that the Secessionists should circulate such preposterous fancies, it is remarkable that any well informed person should give them credence. The Emperor of the French enjoys as much arbitrary power as any ruler in Europe, but not even he could venture upon so grave and momentous a transaction as the recognition of Confederate independence and a consequent war that would so fearfully strain the resources of his empire without preparing the public mind, arousing the war spirit and taking care to set forth in diplomatic notes the pretext for his action. The invasion of Mexico was about as wanton an act of aggression as the history of the century . could furnish; but even in that case, where the country menaced was comparatively helpless and apparently the sure quarry of a despotic falcon, Napoleon was forced to show a decent respect for the forms of international law, to allege that injuries were to be redressed and to seek the cooperation of other Powers; and notwithstanding these precautions, the impatience of the French people under the burdens imposed by this expensive undertaking has been notorious. France knows, and Napoleon also must be aware, that the war in Mexico is a mere guerrilla skirmish compared with the conflict that would result from such an act as the recognition of the right of the Richmond rebels to rule thirteen States of the American Union. What sane person can suppose the Emperor would engage in such an enterprise without condescending to indulge in preliminary negotiation or notifying the body of representatives who are to vote the supplies? Furthermore, if Napoleon contemplated entering upon a gigantic struggle with this republic, all France would echo " the dreadful note of preparation." Army and navy would be iucreased. In all the camps, depots and shipyards would be seen the tokens of the impending storm, as they were on the eve of the war in the Crimea and the last war in Northern Italy. Nothing of the kind is reported by the agents of our National Government in Paris or the wideawake correspondents of the American press.

As Mexico affords a comparatively safe base of operations against the United States, the French army in that country would be reinforced, both for the purpose of hastening the suppression of the Liberals and preparing to invade Texas. But we know that French regiments are going from Mexico to France, and that there is no concentration of Imperial troops on the Rio Grande.

On the Pacific coast there are not enough French troops to subdue and occupy Sinaloa and Sonora. It is not thus that France or Napoleon, who is a soldier as well as a sovereign, prepares for a great war.

The Paris correspondent of the New York Times asserts that Napoleon, instead of making war in behalf of Confederate independence, will endeavor to remove all pretext for our interference in Mexico. This is a possible, though apparently not a probable, solution of present complications. In his recent speech the Emperor represented Mexico to be in a contented and prosperous condition under the sway of Maximilian. May not this be urged as an excuse for withdrawing the French army from that country? If that statement of the condition of Mexico be correct - and certainly Maximilian would not publicly contradict it - why continue to support the new throne with foreign bayonets? But it may be urged that France, besides having a heavy pecuniary interest in Mexico, is bound by treaty to protect Maximilian. The money invested in this Mexican speculation is a trifle compared with the cost of a war between France and the United States, and the payment of the legitimate debt might be secured by negotiation. As for the treaty, Napoleon had no difficulty in finding a loop-hole in the original treaty providing for the intervention. The treaty with Maximilian expressly provides for the gradual withdrawal of the French troops, though France guarantees the independence of the empire. But Jaurez and his friends obstruct the sway of Max, in various portions of the country, and the guarantee of France fails to secure the integrity of his realm. Doubtless the French Emperor would like to see this enterprise prosper, but we are satisfied by the evidence that reaches us from abroad that he does not propose to go to war with the United States with a view to saving the Mexican investment from a republican swamp. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 28, Number 4357, 9 March 1865

1866 September 1 - Paris, August 30th - Noon. The belief grows here that Maximilian will abdicate the crown of Mexico.
The Journal des Debats in an editorial to-day alludes to the honors paid to the American Embassy in Russia, and after making a significant Inquiry as to what is the value of the demonstrations between the United States and Russia, says France has done little to revive the old friendship between herself and the United States. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 31, Number 4814, 1 September 1866

1866 October 29 - Paris. October 26th. The condition of the Empress Carlotta is decided to be hopeless. Maximilian will probably return in an Austrian frigate, which has already been sent from Trieste by the Emperor Francis Joseph. It is said twenty French war steamers will leave for Mexico in November to bring home the entire French force now in that country. Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 32, Number 4863, 29 October 1866

1867 June 19 - Ferdinand Maximilian was captured and executed by a firing squad.(See This page)


1980s The Modelo and Corona Beer Company promotes Cinqo de Mayo to create a Mexican/American Holiday, nation wide, to celebrate "Chicano" history. (Search the web for "How Corona Made Cinco De Mayo An American Holiday").

2007 UCLA paper notes that "The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is important to California because it was invented here," said Hayes- Bautista, who is the director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. "It provides a collective identity for all Latinos, whether they were born here in California or immigrated from Mexico, Central America or South America. It binds them together in an identity - it is as important to Latinos as the Alamo is to Anglo-Texans." Bautista writes, "Far up in the gold country of California in the town of Columbia (California) Mexican miners were so overjoyed at the news that they spontaneously fired off rifles shots and fireworks, sang patriotic songs and made impromptu speeches." (no source yet found)

Benito Juarez, President of Mexico

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