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Texas native Zaragoza repels French army on Cinco De Mayo

May
05
1862

On this day in 1862, Texas native Ignacio Seguín Zaragoza led a Mexican army in its resounding defeat of a French invasion. Zaragoza was born on March 24, 1829, at Bahía del Espíritu Santo in the state of Coahuila and Texas, near present Goliad, Texas. With Mexico's defeat in the Texas Revolution, his father moved the family from Goliad to Matamoros. Zaragoza eventually entered the Mexican army and served in many campaigns. When the French invaded Mexico in 1862 he was entrusted with the defense of Puebla. French forces attacked the town in a battle that lasted the entire day of May 5, 1862, the now-famed Cinco de Mayo. Zaragoza's well-armed, well-trained men forced the withdrawal of the French troops. The number of French reported killed ranged from 476 to 1,000. Mexican losses were reported to be approximately eighty-six. Although the French captured Mexico City the next summer, the costly delay at Puebla is believed to have shortened the French intervention in Mexico and changed its outcome. Zaragoza became a national hero, but died from typhoid fever the following September. Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican national holiday, is celebrated in Texas and the Southwest as well.

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