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Viva México! Cinco De Mayo, the Battle of Puebla and its Importance to the United States

The Battle of Puebla

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I just wanted to wish all my readers a happy Cinco de Mayo. This holiday, which is not a Federal holiday in Mexico, and has nothing to due with Mexican Independence Day is very important to both Mexico and the United States. It celebrates the defeat of a French Army by Mexican forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th 1862.

Mexico had already been independent for nearly forty years when this took place. The French had led an intervention in Mexico, and members of the conservative Mexican aristocracy asked Archduke Maximilian of Austria to be the emperor of a new Imperial Mexico, and he agreed, but instead of glory found death.

Before Maximilian took over, the French first had to conquer the Mexican Republic, something that most Mexicans rather liked. At Puebla the French commander, General Charles Latrille de Lorencez underestimated the Mexican will to resist and ordered an attack on the city which was repulsed with heavy casualties. The French made an uphill frontal attack on well motivated and dug in Mexican regulars, back up by whatever militia troops and volunteers could be found. The French discovered what Americans would learn in the Civil War and Europeans would learn in the First World War: frontal charges against dug in troops were often suicidal. After several failed assaults, the Mexican Commander, General Ignacio Zaragoza unleashed his cavalry on the French flanks persuading the French Commander to withdraw.

The battle did not end the war in Mexico, but it helped inspired Mexicans opposed to Maximilian and the Empire to continue the struggle, in which they eventually prevailed. But, in a broader sense, more important to Americans it prevented French Emperor Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon faulted his father for the sale of French colonial lands to the United States during the Louisiana Purchase, and hoped to use the chaos of the American Civil War to regain some or all of that territory. As such he was willing to help the Confederacy in order to negate the power of a unified United States.

Had the Mexicans not been victorious at Puebla and captured Mexican City in May of 1862 there was a strong possibility that Napoleon would have recognized the Confederacy and quite possibly convinced the English to do the same. At the time General McClellan was withdrawing from his abortive Peninsular Campaign, and resistance to the war in the North was growing. However, the defeat at Puebla, coupled with the Union capture of New Orleans, followed by the Union defeat of Lee’s invasion of Maryland at Antietam in September, and the announcement of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and by exceptional Union diplomacy nipped Napoleon’s plans in the bud.

Since people around the world expected the French to have an easy time of it the victory was stunning, and it inspired the Mexican people to fight on. Now the war went on for some time. Eventually, the French succeeded in capturing Mexico City on May 17th 1863 and installed Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico upon his arrival in Veracruz on May 21st 1864.

Emperor Maximilian

Although the French had had succeeded in installing Maximillian, the war was not over. President Benito Juarez and his Mexican Republic troops continued to resist and in 1865, aided by weapons, arms and money from the United States which now that its Civil War was over, was able to help Mexico, the Mexican Republican Forces issued a series of defeats on French Forces. Emperor Napoleon III of France, who had conjured up this mess now decided that the price of supporting Emperor Maximilian was too high, and belatedly chose better relations with the United States over the hapless Maximilian and his Mexican forces.

President Benito Juarez

The French withdrew, but Emperor Max chose to fight on. He was captured by Republican forces and was tried, and sentenced to death. At his execution he paid the firing squad in gold not to shoot him in the head so his mother could see his face. The remnants of his government surrendered in Mexico City on June 20th 1867, the day after his execution.

Despite Cinco de Mayo not being an official Mexican holiday, we Americans and people in a number of other countries do celebrate it, ostensibly as a day to remember Mexican heritage, but more often as an excuse to party, eat Mexican food, and drink lots of beer, margaritas, and tequila shots. It is not the Mexican Independence Day, but a day when their outmatched forces defeated a superior French Army, and in the process helped the Union defeat the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Today, while waiting for COVID 19 test results we spent Cinco de Mayo at our home. I ate Mexican take out we picket up yesterday, having bought more than we would need for one meal, and drinking some Modelo Especial Beer. 

Have a great day, and viva la Mexico!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under beer, civil war, History, Immigration and immigrants, Military, national security, Political Commentary

Padre Steve’s Road Trip

David Thomas rips a 3 run home run in the bottom of the 4th inning

Well friends, countrymen and baseball fans Padre Steve was able to take in one last ball game in Mudville aka Stockton California before flying back tomorrow to the home of the Navy and site of the first landing by English Colonists in the New World, Norfolk and Virginia Beach Virginia.  While I look forward to coming home and being with my wife Judy, the Abbess of the Abbey Normal, I shall miss the lack of humidity here in the “Big Valley” aka the Central Valley of California.

The weather has heated up to the kind of weather that I remember growing up with, 100 degrees plus but low humidity which if you ask me makes all the difference in the world. Even though I have adapted to the mugginess of the East Coast and Mid Atlantic region I am always amazed when I can sit comfortably through a day game with temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s without much effort other than adding copious amounts of 50 weight Banana Boat sun screen to my fragile Northern European genetically engineered skin.

Grant Green gets tied up and struck out while Jermaine Mitchell attempts to run, Mitchell was thrown out at second base

Today I attended the second game of the Stockton Ports series against the Bakersfield Blaze with my old high school classmate and US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, retired Tony Melendez. It was great to see the game with Tony sharing what was happening in our lives and talking baseball while enjoying Tecate beer and an Alpine Hot Dog.  The game was interesting because it was an 1105 AM start, early by my books but with the heat of the Central Valley not a bad idea as the temperatures only get hotter until about 5 PM when they begin to cool down.  The game was the first Ports game ever televised on the Major League Baseball Network and Comcast Sports Hometown.

Lance Sewell got the Win for the Ports

In preparation for the game I wore my Norfolk Tides road jersey and the orange and black hat which has been worn interchangeably at home and on the road this season.  Additionally I made pilgrimage to Wally World to get some poster board and black and orange Sharpies to make a double sided sign with one side saying “Padre Steve’s Road Trip….Go Tides!” and the other “Steve Loves Judy” only with a heart in it.  I think that I got on TV at the 7th inning stretch so if anyone saw it let me know. Since I was the only person in the park with a sign I figured that I should get on at least once.

Paul Smythe got his 11th save for the Ports

The game was much more of a hitters show today than the pitcher’s duel of the preceding night and was error free.  The Ports had 8 runs on 9 hits with no errors leaving 3 men on base. The Blaze, the affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the California League had 6 runs on 10 hits and no errors leaving 8 runners stranded.  Lance Sewell (2-0 3.12 ERA) pitching 2.1 innings of perfect relief got the win for the Ports and Paul Smyth, (3-2 1.80 ERA) got his 11th save of the campaign.  Kennil Gomez (2-6 6.24 ERA) got the loss for the Blaze.

The Blaze led early scoring 2 in the 2nd inning and 1 in the 3rd inning but the Ports scored 4 in the 4th to take the lead. The Blaze would take the lead again in the 6th inning but surrendered it in the 7th when Ports shortstop Grant Green pounded a two run shot while Jeremy Barfield added a solo blast in the 8th inning.

The hitting was driven by the long ball with each team having three apiece the difference that the Blaze homers were single shots with no runners on base and two of the Ports homers came with men on base, one a three run homer by David Thomas with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Shipmates: Master Chief Tony Melendez USN Retired and Padre Steve also classmates from Edison High School Class of 1978

After the game I met Pat Filiponne the President and General Manager of the Ports through Tony. Pat knows the Tides Owner Ken Young and General Manager Dave Rosenfield and is also the owner and President of the Del Marva Shorebirds in the Orioles organization.  I was able to take in a light dinner at Arroyo’s Café, a Stockton fixture and tradition for many years and enjoyed some really excellent California Mexican Food.  It was interesting to listen to the men at the bar talking about the state of the city, state and country.  If they are any barometer there is a lot of discontent in the country and anger at politicians of all stripes as well as the corporations they feel they are in cahoots with.

Tomorrow I head home the road trip to help my mother and brother following the death of my father and to honor his memory.  When I get back I still have some leave and the Tides who won in Charlotte this evening defeating the Knights by a score of 12 to 3 will return home to Harbor Park on Thursday to play three at home against their southern division rival Knights and I expect to be there.  So see you there.

Peace,

Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Batlimore Orioles, beer, norfolk tides