Cinco De Mayo, an important day in Mexican history, has been celebrated in the United States even since the 1860s. It might seem a strange thing to celebrate a battle that happened over 150 years ago in a town 750 miles from the nearest Mexican-American border. But through reflection, we can see that this day was a major victory which influenced not just Mexico, but was a small victory for the United States as well.
The battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5th, 1862, happened during the French intervention in Mexico; an intervention which came from Mexico’s debt to France. This battle ended in a victory for the Mexican army against the occupying French soldiers near the small city of Puebla. This battle, although it did not win the war, was significant to the Mexican people, because of the French army’s sheer power over the army of Puebla. 8,000 French soldiers fought against 4,000 Mexican soldiers and suffered 462 casualties, whereas the Mexican army suffered only 83.
This victory rang throughout Mexico and provided morale that fueled the soldiers for the battles to come. When news traveled back to the American southwest, which had a large demographic of Mexican and Mexican-American gold miners, many families rejoiced at the victory of their homeland and were proud that Mexico would remain Mexico. Not only did the victory awaken a deeply-embedded nationalism for Mexicans in the United States, but the United States itself might have felt a wave of relief that France would not have influence on Mexican-American relations as this would almost certainly have affected the outcome of the American Civil War that was going on during that time.
The battle of Puebla may not have been the battle which ended the war, but there is no doubt that it was a determining battle for the future of Mexico. If the soldiers of the city of Puebla had not fought so tirelessly all those years ago, the future might have looked a bit different even for us here in the states. So for that, we would like to say thank you!