The Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 1862 - On this day in 1862, Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French expeditionary forces at Puebla, Mexico. This event is celebrated annually as El Cinco de Mayo. Along with El Diez y Seis de Septiembre (September 16), on which is commemorated Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's 1810 call for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico, El Cinco de Mayo is one of the Fiestas Patrias, annual celebrations of Mexican national holidays and of the ethnic heritage of Mexican-Americans.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 victory by the Mexican army over France at the Battle of Puebla. The Franco-Mexican War lasted from 1861-1867 because the Mexican President Benito Juárez defaulted on his debts to European governments. France, Britain and Spain shipped off naval forces to Veracruz to claim their debts. Britain and Spain were intent on negotiating, but Napoleon's French army decided to annex Mexican territory instead.

Overly confident that their success would be quick and decisive, the French troops attached Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico, and overwhelmed the Mexican troops who were led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza.

The French were vastly more equipped and trained than the Mexican soldiers, but in the end, Mexican soldiers defeated the French. The war continued for six more years until France finally withdrew after being pressured by the U.S., and the Battle at Puebla even though small, was a major symbolic victory that kept Mexicans focused on fighting for their territory.

Much of the story of Texas lands is told and reflected through the vast Map Collection of the Legacy of Texas Archives. The Collection consists of more than 1,000 lithograph (printed) maps, sketches and documents dating from the early 1800s. Many of these maps and sketches were drawn by early Texas settlers, trailblazing surveyors and enterprising German immigrants who were especially skilled in the drafting arts of the mid- to late-19th century. All Legacy of Texas map reproductions are published from the original historical map using state of the art scanning technology and equipment to capture the craftsmanship and detail that went in to creating these maps. When framed, our historical map reproductions can easily be mistaken as an original.