Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla

Reenactment of Battle of Puebla near Mexico City, Mexico.
Reenactment of Battle of Puebla near Mexico City, Mexico. | Source
Map offering location of the Battle of Puebla.
Map offering location of the Battle of Puebla. | Source

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5 along the Mexican-American border and in many regions of the United States where there is a significant Mexican population. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Mexican Independence Day is September 16.

I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know this because my husband of several decades is of Mexican descent born here in Texas. He is a third generation Texan. Both my husband’s parents and one of his grandmother’s were born in Texas, but that is no excuse for not knowing about the history of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla that took place at a small village in Mexico in 1862. The French invaded Mexico with a well armed and well trained group of soldiers that numbered 6,500. The Mexican defenders of the country were a poorly trained group that numbered 4,500 and were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Although this was a little known battle, it was important for the morale of the people who were badly in need of unity during this period of invasion and chaotic unrest.

Battle of Puebla

The economy of Mexico had been damaged after the Mexican-American war that took place between 1846 and 1848, as well as the Mexican Civil War that took place in 1858. The victory at the Battle of Puebla gave the Mexican people the courage to continue their fight. Although they eventually lost the war to the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was a cousin of Napoleon III of France. Maximilian managed to rule for three years before being overthrown when the American government offered assistance to the Mexican rebellion. He was executed at the end of the war. His shirt with the bullet holes is kept on display at a museum at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City.

Today the Mexican Cinco de Mayo celebration takes place in the State of Puebla where it is a large festival. In the regional areas of the United States it has become a cultural celebration of Mexican food, dance, and music. It is common to see cars flying the Mexican flag during the week before and after Cinco de Mayo.

Michelle Obama celebrating with school children
Michelle Obama celebrating with school children
Cinco de Mayo celebration in 1914
Cinco de Mayo celebration in 1914
Archduke Maximilian of Austria shirt
Archduke Maximilian of Austria shirt

Peñón de los Baños is a rocky outcrop that was in the past an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco located close to Mexico City’s international airport. A reenactment of the Battle of Puebla has taken place here since the 1930s. The battle actually took place at Puebla which is about 100 km east of Mexico City.

People have celebrated the victory since a few years after the Battle of Puebla took place in 1862. Generally, the celebrations have been local in Mexico and not nearly as large as those that gained popularity in the United States. Mexican celebrations are more authentic than those widely observed in the US.

Mexican American Influence

Mexican immigrants to the United States are a part of the earliest history of America and continue to be part of the most recent history. Descendants of these early immigrants make up a significant portion of the American population and will continue to be a part of the social and cultural make up of the states.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 1848

The war between the United States and Mexico ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which was signed on February 2, 1848. Nicholas P. Trist negotiated for the United States. This treaty confirmedU.S. claims to Texas and set its boundary at the Rio Grande. Mexico also agreed to cede to the United States California and New Mexico (which at the time included California, Nevada, Utah, parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming) in exchange for $15 million and assumption by the United States of claims against Mexico by U.S. citizens up to $3.25 million.

Author's Note

My husband and children are of Mexican American heritage. My husband's grandfather legally entered the United States at Laredo, Texas in 1911. He has many descendants. As a student of genealogy it was interesting to learn that the brother of my own great-great grandfather whose name was Mackie Rone fought and was wounded at the Battle of Mexico City during the war with Mexico in 1847. He lived to be taken back to Tennessee where he applied to the government for a pension due to his war injury.

Puebla, Mexico

show route and directions
A markerPuebla, Mexico -
Puebla, Mexico
[get directions]

B markerMexico City, Mexico -
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
[get directions]

A reenactment of Battle of Puebla takes place near Mexico city every year.

Cinco de Mayo

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Comments 19 comments

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Great read, thanks. I always enjoy learning something new and this was a very interesting lesson! Another history to ponder on when the anniversary comes around next week.

Love and peace


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

We always attend a local celebration this day. Great history!

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Smireles, Wonderful informative colorful hub on Cinco de Mayo! Thank you for sharing, Peace & Blessings!!

Joshua Kell profile image

Joshua Kell 6 years ago from Arizona

Hi Smireles. I also have believed for as far back as I can remember, that Cinco de Mayo, was Mexican independence day. Thanks for steering me straight. Great hub, thanks again!

Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you, SteveoMc for reading and the heads up about the Amazon Ads. I am moving them now.

SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

Nice info....I would have sworn it was their independence day. Oh well now I am armed for a good trivia battle. TKS

Oh, BTW, Your Amazon ads are at the bottom after the comment box, I saw them only by chance.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Very nice. I knew. I forgot. Thanks for the refresher course! Well done. I liked the pictures too!

Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

Time to break out the margaritas....Good hub!

Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks for coming by and I hope you have a very happy and fun birthday!

CASE1WORKER profile image


its my birthday on the 5th of May so i have something else to talk about and why not celebrate

vrajavala profile image

vrajavala 6 years ago from Port St. Lucie

those are very beautiful pictures you have.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Pamela99, sagebrush_mama, and sheila b., I appreciate you reading and your kind words. I was surprised when I read up on the history of cinco de mayo!

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

You set me right about this holiday, and I'm glad to know the history. Loved the pictures, too.

sagebrush_mama profile image

sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

I love the photos you used! Very interesting and informative! Good job!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Smirles, Thank you for the well written history lesson as I didn't know much of that information. I loved the beautiful photos also Excellent hub!

Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas Author

Princessa, Ann, and Tom, I thank you for reading and for your kind words. This one was fun to do.

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


Very good lesson on Mexican history. I love history of differing people!!!!!!!!!

Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Enjoyed reading this smireles and what beautiful pictures! You did an amazing job! Thanks for teaching us!

Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France

Lovely photos full of colour and life. Thanks for the history trip onto the meaning of the 5 de Mayo.

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