Photo: Battle of Puebla
The Battle of Puebla on May 5,1862, when Mexican troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza stopped French troops en route to Mexico City, may not seem as important to Americans but it is.
In order to understand its importance one must fully understand the impacts of the Civil War on the American psyche.
As the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in 1861, it was obvious that events were escalating towards War. While few believed that the South would be successful, the Union lost the first battle. This trend continued and had a detrimental effect on the support for the North.
As the conflict evolved from a few weeks to a year, many questioned the future of the War.
Mexico, who had followed the events intently since the Confederacy had expanded to Arizona and the C olorado River, was fearful of its proximity to a nation that would protect the right of slavery and white supremacy.
While no other countries recognized the legitimacy of the Confederacy, France’s Napoleon had been friendly with the South. With his eyes set on Mexico, he posed a major threat to the Union if he had allied with the Confederates.
French troops, who had landed in Mexico, had the intention of deposing President Juárez, but first they had to pass through the small town of Puebla. Under Zaragoza’s leadership, the Mexican army was resilient and defeated the French.
With news of the Mexican troops’ success making it’s way to San Francisco, Americans were inspired by the story.
Americans had interpreted the events in Puebla as an army of freedom and democracy defeating an army of slavery and elitism. This news had an electrifying effect and gave a surge of support for the North in the Civil War.
The full interview with UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista can be seen here: