Friday, May 04, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th, 1862 is the day an army of rag-tag Mexican soldiers defeated Napoleon III’s well-dressed, well-trained, well-fed army in Puebla, Mexico. The French army hadn’t been defeated in 50 years. Napoleon was so sure he would be victorious that he brought Hapsburg Prince Maximilian and his wife, Carolota with him so they could rule Mexico after the battle. But when the dust settled, the Mexicans had humiliated Napoleon. They defeated his army, which was twice the size of the Mexican army. The battle had ramifications for the United States too. The Mexican horsemen kept Napoleon’s army from getting supplies to the rebels who were fighting America’s Civil War, which gave the North the opportunity to build a huge army and eventually win the Civil War. Union General Sheridan gave weapons and ammunition to the Mexicans and even discharged American soldiers from the Union army if they agreed to join the Mexican Army and help rout out the French from Mexico. In a gesture of thanks, thousands of Mexicans crossed into the United States when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and joined the US Army. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That date was September 16, 1810. But Cinco de Mayo is a very important date for both Mexico and the United States. ¡Viva Cinco de Mayo!

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