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Ignacio Zaragoza

Ignacio Seguín Zaragoza (March 24, 1829September 8, 1862) was a Mexican general best known for his 1862 defeat of invading French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 (the Cinco de Mayo).

Zaragoza was born in the town of Presidio de la Bahía del Espíritu Santo in what what was then the Mexican province of Texas, now the city of Goliad, Texas. Young Ignacio studied in the seminary of Matamoros, then moved to Monterrey.

During Mexico's political unrest of the 1850s Zaragoza joined the army supporting the cause of Mexico's Liberal Party, opposing dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna. He played a part in several important victories which led to the reestablishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico.

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. The French then retreated to Orizaba.

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.

See also: History of Mexico