was born outside
the walls of the presidio. Ignacio Seguín Zaragoza
would eventually become a general in the Mexican army.
During the 1850s Zaragoza sided with the liberal forces
favoring the Plan de Ayutla, Mexico's first serious
effort to establish a democratic and constitutional
government. He took part in the battles of Saltillo
and Monterey against the armies of Antonio López de
Santa Anna. On January 21, 1857, while on an important
army assignment in
Luis Potosí, Zaragoza was unable to attend
marriage to Rafaela Padilla in Monterey, so his brother,
Miguel, served as his proxy. Zaragoza and his wife
had four children, three of whom died in infancy.
During the years of the War of the Reform (1857-60),
the struggle between conservative powers and liberal
forces led by Benito Juárez, Zaragoza took part in
a number of military engagements. During Comonfort's
rebellion in 1857 he led forces in defense of the
reformist principles of the constitution. He fought
in the battle of Guadalajara, and in 1860 he participated
in the battle of Calpulalpan, which ended the war.
In April 1861 Juárez appointed Zaragoza minister of
war and navy in the parliamentary ministry. Three
months later Juárez declared a two-year moratorium
on Mexico's European debts, and in December a fleet
of Spanish ships forced the surrender of Veracruz;
soon thereafter the forces of France and England joined
the Spanish. Zaragoza resigned from the ministry to
lead the Army of the East, and in February 1862, a
month after his wife's death in Mexico City, he began
work on the defenses of Puebla.
in 1862 the English and Spanish withdrew; French forces
attacked Puebla 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 from Puebla to Orizaba.
number of French reported killed ranged from 476 to
1,000, although many of the troops were already ill
from their stay in the coastal lowlands. 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,
since the French were planning to aid Confederate forces
in Texas during the Civil War. In addition, the battle
rekindled the spirit of the Mexican people to win and
preserve their independence. In mid-August Zaragoza
went to Mexico City, where he was feted as a hero.
When he returned to his troops in Puebla he became ill
with typhoid fever and died there on September 8, 1862.
A state funeral was held in Mexico City with interment
at the Panteón de San Fernando. On September 11, 1862,
President Juárez issued a decree changing the name of
the city of Puebla de los Angeles to Puebla de Zaragoza
and making Cinco de Mayo a national holiday.
Zaragoza became one of the great national heroes of
Mexico. Songs have been written in his honor, and schools,
plazas, and streets have been named either Zaragoza
or Cinco de Mayo. Each year on May 5, Zaragoza societies
throughout Mexico and in a number of Texas towns, including
La Bahia and Goliad. In the 1960s General Zaragoza State
Historic Site was established near Goliad to commemorate
Zaragoza's birthplace. In 1980 dignitaries from the
United States, Texas, and Mexico participated in the
dedication of a ten-foot bronze statue honoring Zaragoza,
commissioned by Alfredo Toxqui Fernández de Lara, governor
of Puebla, as a gift to the people of Goliad and Texas.
Of The Fort | P.O. Box 57 | Goliad, Texas 77963 | US Hwy 183 (77A)
Telephone: (361) 645-3752
Copyright: 2002 - Friends Of The Fort