Cinco De Mayo
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s difficult victory over the French at the battle of Puebla. Under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Mexicans defeated the French on May 5th, 1862.
But it all really started long before this. Mexico had been through two successive wars: The Mexican–American War (1846–48) and the Reform War (1858–61). By the end of the Reform War in 1861, Mexico was on the verge of bankruptcy.
War with the French
With few othe options, Mexican president Benito Juarez stopped loan payments to France, Britain, and Spain who then sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand payment.
Britain and Spain negotiated and withdrew their forces. France, led by Napoleon III, wanted its money, and decided to invade Mexico. Partly it wanted to establish a French influence in the New World to counter the Americans.
Later in 1861 a 8,000 man French-fleet stormed Veracruz forcing the Mexicans into retreat towards Mexico City. Near Puebla, the smaller Mexican force of 2,000 miraculously crushed the much larger French force. That day was May 5th, 1862.
Things went back-and-forth until June 5th, 1867 when President Juarez finally booted the French out and reclaimed Mexico City.