Perhaps many of you know the reason we celebrate May 5th every year…I had no idea what the big deal was until we visited Goliad, Texas…All I knew was that it was a reason to eat great Mexican food, listen to Mariachi music and drink Margaritas!!!! The town of Goliad has soooo many historic places to visit, and hundreds of ghosts of the past to re-visit…one being General Ignacio Zaragoza.
In 1829, Ignacio Seguín Zaragoza was born outside the walls of the Presidio La Bahia, in what is now Goliad TX. Ignacio Seguín Zaragoza would eventually become a general in the Mexican army. He was born in a small house much like this one…
I took this photo when we were there in March of 2009. We stayed at the Goliad State Park, and the Presidio is a short walk from there…
“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.”
“Zaragoza served as Secretary of War from April through October 1861 in the cabinet of President Benito Juárez.
When the French forces of Napoleon III invaded Mexico, Zaragoza fought them, first engaging the French at Acultzingo on April 28, 1862, where he was forced to withdraw. Zaragoza understood the favorable defensive position outside of the city of Puebla, where with a smaller and more poorly equipped force he beat back repeated French assaults on May 5th.”
“As the French retreated from their final assault, Zaragoza had his cavalry attack them from the right and left while troops concealed along the road pivoted out to flank them badly. By 3 p.m. the daily rains had started, making a slippery quagmire of the battlefield. Lorencez withdrew to distant positions, counting 462 of his men killed against only 83 of the Mexicans. He waited a couple of days for Zaragoza to attack again, but Zaragoza held his ground. Lorencez then completely withdrew to Orizaba.”
“His famous quotation, Las armas nacionales se han cubierto de gloria ("The national arms have been covered with glory"), is used to remember the battle, and comes from the single-line letter he wrote to his superior, President Juárez, informing him of the victory. It is included, along with Zaragoza's likeness, on the current Mexican 500-peso banknote. Ignacio Zaragoza was known for visiting his sick and injured soldiers, and shortly after his famous victory he contracted typhus, of which he died at the age of 33.”
“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 meet 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.”
This plaque is in the plaza next to Presidio La Bahia…Dennis and I have visited this on more than one occasion…
The Zaragoza Plaza is right next to the presidio (make sure you tour that presidio too!) If you ever get a chance, visit Goliad…If you RV, stay at the state park…and…you need at least one week or more to visit all of the historical places in and around Goliad…I now have a very different reason to raise my Margarita glass on May 5th….I toast to a very brave Mexican General, who overcame an almost impossible situation and won the hearts of the Mexican AND American people…Viva el Cinco de Mayo!! VIVA IGNACIO ZARAGOZA!!!!!!