Thank You México!
Is President Donald J. Trump aware of the shared history of 330- million Americans in the U.S.A. and the 126-million people of the Mexican Republic?
Does he know or care that thousands of Mexicans and recent Mexican citizens fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865) in the Union Army? Or that Mexican soldiers fought and died on Cinco de Mayo in a battle with French forces that profoundly affected the United States.
The U.S. was fighting for its very existence. The war had not gone well since the Southern forces shelled the United States Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.
Eleven months later 4,000 Mexicans fought and miraculously defeated 4,000 French and French-led 2,000 Mexican Monarchist troops at the city of Puebla 100 kilometers east of Mexico City. Puebla sits on the only military route from the port of Vera Cruz to the capital city, Mexico City.
The Puebla invasion route had been used since Hernando Cortez burned his ships in Vera Cruz harbor in 1519 and led 200 Spanish adventurers to the Aztec Empire’s capital. American invaders used the route in 1846 at Vera Cruz in the Mexican American war.
The Mexican victory at Puebla was considered a military miracle. The French had not been defeated in battle since the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo almost 50 years before in 1815. Observers considered the French Army to be Europe’s best in 1862.
Mexicans defeated that French Army at Puebla, Mexico, on the 5th of May, 1862. The victorious Mexicans fought with rifles last used in the Battle of Waterloo, machetes and primitive bows and arrows of irregular Amerindian fighters.
French, British and Spanish troops landed in Mexico in January, 1862, to collect Mexican debts for private European banks. The British and Spaniards negotiated deals quickly then left. The French stayed.
After the first defeat of the French Army since Waterloo, Paris deployed 30,000 new troops. They encircled Puebla in 1863. The siege lasted 60-days before the Mexicans capitulated.
So why should the President of the United States honor Mexicans who defeated the French on the 5th of May, 1862?
Simple, between the 5th of May 1862 and the 4th of July 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s army reversed its losses against Robert E. Lee’s outnumbered, yet successful Confederate rebel troops.
Reason: when General U.S. Grant captured Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last Confederate bastion on the Mississippi River, French-supplied cannon, gunpowder and rifles could not be shipped through Mexico.
If the French had won the battle of the 5th of May 1862, they would have conquered all of Mexico permitting them to provide real supplies for a year before the Battle of Gettysburg. As it was they sent 30,000 rifles to the Confederacy.
Given dozens, hundreds more cannon the French could have shipped through French-occupied Mexico, it is likely that on the 4th of July 1863, General Robert E. Lee would have won the Battle of Gettysburg. With that the United States of America would have been mortally wounded.
Concurrently, Mexican Americans who had been Mexican citizens a dozen years before and anti-slavery Mexicans, flocked to the Union Army in the New Mexico territory. They defeated Confederate invaders at the Battle of Glorieta Pass forcing them back to Texas without supplies, food and barefooted never to return.
Today, those who dislike Mexicans are surprised that U.S. Army records show that 20,000 former Mexican citizens who became U.S. citizens in 1849 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, volunteered for the U.S. Army and fought throughout the Civil War, mostly in the New Mexico Territory.
Additionally, in California, Governor Leland Stanford organized the Union-associated California Native Cavalry, a segregated all-Mexican American horse soldier brigade. He appointed California State Senator Romauldo Pacheco (former Mexican citizen) as its commanding officer. Brigadier General Pacheco was the highest ranking Mexican American (Hispanic) officer of Union land forces. Admiral of the Navy David Farragut, the highest-ever ranked Hispanic American military officer was Pacheco’s Navy equivalent.
When the Confederates surrendered in 1865, Generals U.S. Grant and Phillip Sheridan, Union forces Commander in Texas, ordered captured Confederate cannon, rifles and other military supplies to be gathered on the Rio Grande River and left unguarded at night. Mexican soldiers crossed the river every at night and “stole” the former Confederate weapons with which to fight the French.
Though an “open secret” General Sheridan publicly admitted to the “secret help” with: “(He) later admitted in his memoirs that he had supplied arms to Juárez’s forces…which we left at convenient places on our side of the river to fall into their hands.”
Additionally, General Sheridan encouraged demobilized Union soldiers to cross the Rio Grande to enlist in the Mexican Army. It paid the same as the Union Army, $10-a-month. The Lincoln government also helped anti-Confederate Mexicans harass Confederate forces and cotton trade.
The Mexicans commissioned the “American Legion of Honor” regiment and staffed it with volunteer American Civil War battle-tested officers. They helped defeat residual forces the French left behind when they abandoned Mexico.
Trump stated clearly that “Mexico does not send its best to the United States;” the ones who come are “criminals, rapists and drug smuggler.” That, he claims, is why he insists on a “beautiful wall” to keep out Mexican “criminals, rapists and drug smugglers.”
The Mexican defeat of the French on the 5th of May– Cinco de Mayo, 1862 — and thousands of Mexicans and Mexican Americans that fought for the Union Army during the Civil War helped preserve the United States of America.
President Trump “celebrates” Cinco de Mayo by eating a taco salad. Mexicans deserve more.