Hollow Empire: The French Intervention in Mexico (1862-67)
By Timothy Neeno, M.A.
Beginning in 1862, while the United States was paralyzed by Civil War, the
French under Napoleon III tried to create an empire in Mexico under a puppet
ruler, the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Over the next five years of war some
300,000 Mexicans died, and French ambitions were dealt a bruising blow. How had
this conflict come about, and how did a weakened, divided nation defeat one of
the most powerful empires in the world?
Born in Strife - Mexico 1821 to 1858
From 1521, when an army of conquistadors under Hernán Cortéz marched into the
Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, until 1821, Mexico was under the harsh rule of
Spain. For three hundred years the Spaniards kept tight control of Mexico,
limiting her trade to Spain alone and preventing any attempts at self
government. After years of unrest and rebellion, the Spanish left Mexico,
leaving a land in turmoil. Between 1821 and 1848 Mexico was in a near constant
state of upheaval, in which she lost half her national territory to the
expanding United States. In the long period of strife before and after
independence, three groups grew in wealth, power and influence: the army, rich
landowners, and the Church. The Catholic Church alone controlled nearly one
half the taxable land in Mexico, while the owners of the great haciendas
reduced many ostensibly free smallholders to debt peonage. At the same time the
central government declined in authority and prestige. Of a population of nine
million people, some five million were Native Americans, with little or nor
rights, and three million others were mestizos, people of mixed European and
Native American blood, leaving a ruling class of one million European descended
Gradually, a movement for liberal democratic reforms grew. In 1857, after the
fall of the dictator Santa Anna, the rising Liberal party won control of the
government and passed a reform constitution that undercut the power of the
privileged elite, proclaimed freedom of speech and of the press, and
confiscated Church lands. This provoked a bloody reaction.
The War of the Reform 1858-60
In January, 1858, the military attempted a coup, seizing control of the
capital. But the Liberals refused to give up, and for three years Mexico had
two governments, a Liberal one under Benito Juárez (1806-72), a full blooded
Zapotec Indian, in Veracruz, and a Conservative government in Mexico City under
General Miguel Miramón. The Conservatives had experienced generals, but the
Liberals had more popular support and control of the customs revenue of
Veracruz, which made up a major part of the government's income.
Gradually the Liberals got the upper hand, with some support from the US. For
example, in March of 1860, the US Navy blocked an attempt by ships from Spanish
Cuba to help the Conservatives capture Veracruz. In January of 1861, after
fighting that took 70,000 Mexican lives, Benito Juárez marched into Mexico City
and assumed control of the government.
To be fair to Juárez, he and the Liberals attempted to meet Mexico's
international obligations. But the resources simply did not exist. Worse,
Conservative diehards were still holding out in the mountains to the west of
Mexico City and in the highlands around San Luis Potosí. The conservative land
owners in the Yucatan did not recognize Juárez's authority. And Juárez had to
keep in line powerful Liberal state governors. The War of the Reform had
weakened the power of the central government even further, and the Liberal
government was in fact a loose coalition, where many of the power brokers were
state governors who had been political rivals of Juarez.
Pressed to the wall, on June 26, 1861, Juárez declared a moratorium on foreign
debt payments. This was the spark that would ignite the war with France.
In 1861, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, and namesake of his famous uncle,
was riding high. Becoming President of France after the Revolution of 1848, he
had seized absolute power and made himself emperor. In the 1850s French troops
were victorious against the Russians in the Crimea. They had beaten the
Austrians in the War of Italian Unification. The French were on the march in
Algeria and West Africa, and jockeying for power in China and Vietnam. French
capital was instrumental in constructing a canal across the Suez to link Europe
with the East.
Since the 1840s Napoleon III had been interested in building an Isthmian Canal
across Mexico or Central America. Such a canal would give France control of the
burgeoning trade with the East and confer enormous strategic advantages. Mexico
also produced nearly a third of the world's output of silver. Control of Mexico
would check the rising power of the United States and open the door to
expansion into the troubled lands of Central America. Now Mexico's default gave
Napoleon III the excuse he needed to gain a foothold in the New World.
Mexico's default also played into the hands of Conservative èmigrés, who sought
a means of regaining power in Mexico and countering American support for
Juárez. They found a ready friend at the French court in Eugenia de Montijo, a
devout Spanish Catholic and now Empress Eugénie of France. Furthermore, in the
last frantic days of Conservative rule in Mexico, General Miramón had procured
a loan for 750,000 francs from Jean Baptiste Jecker, a Swiss banker in Mexico.
This loan was secured by Mexican state bonds worth 75 million francs, and
mineral rights in Sonora and Baja California. Juárez had repudiated the loan as
usurious and fraudulent, but Jecker had won the ear of Auguste de Morny,
bastard half brother and confidante of Napoleon III, who established a French
syndicate to buy the bond claims from Jecker.
The Allied Intervention
Since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, US policy had been to oppose the
extension of European power over the newly independent nations of Latin
America. Latin America's continuing independence in this period was in fact
more due to British influence, but the US could not be blithely ignored. That
was until November of 1860, with the election of Abraham Lincoln. With the
resulting secession of the South and the proclamation of the Confederate States
of America, the US government was paralyzed. In April of 1861 open civil war
began at Fort Sumter, and now Mexico had no effective support from Washington.
In October of 1861, Britain, France and Spain signed the Convention of London,
agreeing to occupy the port of Veracruz to force the Mexican government to
honor its international obligations. The majority of the debts, 69 million
pesos, was owed to Great Britain. The French had only some 3 million pesos in
claims, but the Jecker claims gave the French another 15 million pesos. All
three powers agreed not to pursue territorial claims, but in fact Napoleon III
already had a plan in mind.
Maximilian, Archduke of Austria and popular younger brother of Franz Josef, the
Hapsburg emperor of Austria, was unemployed and ambitious. If Napoleon could
line up Maximilian to become emperor of Mexico it would heal the breach with
Catholic Austria lingering from French support of Italian unification in 1859,
and provide France with a prop against the rising might of Prussia. It would
give the French a pliable ally in Mexico. But Napoleon III could not move too
openly at first.
On December 14, 1861, 6,000 Spanish troops landed in Veracruz, followed on
January 2 by 800 British marines. Six days later 2000 French marines and 600
zouaves from the French Armeé d'Afrique came ashore. Very soon the allies found
themselves in trouble. While control of Veracruz gave them a grip on the
economic windpipe of Mexico, it was not a healthy place to be. The Tierra
Caliente was low lying coastal jungle and swamp, teeming with malaria,
mosquitoes and scourged by the dreaded vomito negro, better known as yellow
fever. Veracruz itself swarmed with black zopilotes, vultures, which formed the
only sanitation service in the city. Within weeks General Prim, the Spanish
commander, alone sent home some 800 sick men to hospitals in Cuba. Juárez
wisely played a waiting game, offering to negotiate and letting the vomito take
In mid February the allies consented to a compromise with the Juaristas,
agreeing to negotiate the debt issue in exchange for being allowed to march to
Orizaba, some 200 miles inland, and 2,800 feet above sea level, out of yellow
fever country. This should have been the end of the matter. But now the French
showed their true colors. They landed 3000 reinforcements in Veracruz under
Brigadier General Ferdinand Latrille, Count de Lorencez. On April 11 the
British and Spanish jointly began to leave to re-embark, realizing French
intentions and not wanting to be part of a French scheme to take over the whole
country. That same day the French declared a state of hostilities to exist with
Mexico. Five days later, at Córdoba, Lorencez issued a proclamation announcing
France's intention to 'pacify' Mexico, and began rallying Conservative support
for a counter-revolution.
Cinco de Mayo
On April 27, 1862 Lorencez began advancing on Mexico City, some 200 miles from
Orizaba, along the same route taken by Hernán Cortéz in 1519 and by the
Americans in the Mexican War. Mexico City is situated in the Valley of Mexico,
which at 7,300 feet above sea level, is centered in the midst of a high plateau
that forms the rugged heart of Mexico. The key to access to the central plateau
from Veracruz is the city of Puebla, standing astride the road to Mexico City
at some 5,000 feet above sea level. On May 5th, 1862 Brigadier General Lorencez
began deploying some 7,000 French troops for what he thought would be an easy
assault on the city. But Puebla was held by some 4,000 Mexican troops under the
able leadership of Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza. Overconfident, the French launched a
frontal attack across a muddy field, straight into the waiting Mexican guns.
The attack failed, with Zaragoza's subordinate, Porfirio Díaz, counter punching
the French left. At the end of the day some 500 French troops lay dead or
wounded, and Lorencez sullenly retreated back to Orizaba.
If Puebla was not a brilliant tactical triumph, it was a timely victory for the
Juaristas. The Cinco de Mayo gave the Mexican people a much needed shot of
national pride, and delayed the French march on Mexico City by a full year. The
ensuing breathing space gave the Liberals time to consolidate their control of
the country. In the same time period as well, the Union began to gain the upper
hand in the American Civil War. Napoleon III's scheme could only succeed if the
US was distracted by the continued rebellion of the South. If and when the
Union won, the French position in Mexico would quickly become untenable.
But now the pride and prestige of France, and of Napoleon III, was at stake.
Under its new commander, Gen. Èlie Frédéric Forey, the French army in Mexico
rose to 28,000 men. Of particular concern to Forey was his dangerously long and
exposed supply line from Veracruz. The French needed to secure this route,
especially through the lethal Tierra Caliente along the coast. Rather than risk
Frenchmen in the country of malaria and the vomito, Forey foisted the task of
guarding the supply line to the Régiment Étranger, better known later as the
French Foreign Legion, mercenaries recruited in the service of France, and a
battalion of Sudanese infantry on loan from the Khedive of Egypt. Here we
already see the essential weakness of the French position. The key to
Napoleon's plan was speed. If the war lasted too long, or became too expensive,
either in French francs or in French lives, the whole scheme would collapse.
Therefore the Juaristas never needed to defeat the French in the field, they
merely had to outlast them.
The French army was professional, well disciplined, and was overall master of
the battlefield. In February of 1863 the French advanced again. Aided by the
Conservative Gen. Márquez, who cut up a Liberal force at San Lorenzo in early
March, the French swept forward and put Puebla under siege on March 16th. The
Liberals put all their eggs in one basket, garrisoning Puebla with their main
army. This made Puebla harder to take, and given French tactical superiority it
probably made sense, but if Puebla did fall their army would be forfeit.
In this period occurred an incident that would bring glory to the annals of the
French Foreign Legion, but would underscore the basic problems the French faced
in Mexico. As the French advanced into Mexico their supply line became more and
more vulnerable to disruption by Liberal guerillas. One mule train working its
way up from Veracruz carried $3 million in gold to the pay the French army
besieging Puebla. This attracted the attention of the Liberal command, which
sent a force of cavalry and militia to intercept it. The French Foreign Legion
tasked a company of 62 men under Capt. Danjou to go out to meet the convoy. On
April 30, 1863, at the hacienda of Camarón, fifty miles southwest of Veracruz,
some 2,000 Juaristas pounced on Danjou's force. The Legionaries fought back
with desperate courage. Only five men were still standing when they finally
surrendered. To this day the French Foreign Legion celebrates the anniversary
of Camerone. But courage cannot cover up the fact the French drastically
underestimated their opponents strength, intelligence connections, and
On April 17, after a bitter two month siege, the Mexican army in Puebla
surrendered. Twenty six generals and 16,500 men went into the bag. Despite the
courage of the Mexican defense, it was staggering blow to the Liberal cause. On
May 31, 1863 Juárez withdrew with the government to San Luis Potosí, 400 miles
to the northwest. One week later the French marched into Mexico City. Gen.
Forey then ordered the selection of thirty five 'notables', nearly all
Conservatives, to form a Junta Superior de Gobierno. These then selected a
three man regency council which wasted no time in proclaiming Mexico an empire,
and offered the throne to the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, exactly as
Over the next six months, the French, under their aggressive new commander,
Marshal François Achille Bazaine, gradually secured control over much of the
country. By the end of 1863, Juárez had been forced to retreat from San Luis
Potos¡ to Saltillo, some four hundred miles still further north. Meanwhile the
French and the Mexican exiles were able to woo the somewhat uncertain
Maximilian to assume the throne. On March 12, 1864 Maximilian signed the Treaty
of Miramar with the French, accepting the title of Emperor of Mexico. In
exchange for French military support, Maximilian agreed that Mexico would
assume 270 million francs in debts, claims and obligations, thus tripling
Mexico's outstanding debt and mortgaging her future for years to come.
As the Republicans were pushed into the bare, sparsely populated north, Juárez
had to deal with growing defections to the Imperial cause. The Liberal state
governors were powers in their own right, and Juárez needed all his diplomatic
skills to keep them in line. Most dangerous was Gov. Vidaurri of the two
northeastern states of Coahuila and Nuevo León. With access to the Texas
border, Vidaurri was raking in a fortune in customs revenue channeling foreign
trade into the blockaded Confederacy. He conveniently kept this revenue for
himself, parlaying himself into a virtually independent warlord. In February of
1864 Juárez tried to move his capital to Monterrey, the capital of Vidaurri's
mini-empire, and Vidaurri balked. Juarez still had 7,000 men, enough of an army
toforce Vidaurri to flee into Texas and ultimately defect to the Imperial
cause, but the weakness of Juárez's position was clear.
By the spring of 1864 the French controlled perhaps one seventh of the total
land area of Mexico, with some 3 million people. But only maybe one Mexican in
twenty was truly an Imperial supporter. Worse, the French, even with 38,000
men, and some 1,800 Conservative Mexican auxiliaries, could not garrison every
village. Whenever the French left, the Juaristas returned.
All this was lost on Maximilian. To be fair, Napoleon III had deliberately
ordered Gen. Forey, upon his return to Paris, not to make contact with
Maximilian, but the Archduke did nothing to ascertain the reality of the
situation for himself. While he and his wife, Charlotte, daughter of Leopold I
of Belgium, made the long sea voyage from Trieste to Veracruz, Maximilian
busied himself with his crowning intellectual achievement - a six hundred page
manual of court etiquette for his new kingdom. Court etiquette! He and
Charlotte's entourage had to be ceaselessly guarded en route to Mexico City,
the roads were infested with bandits and Juarista guerillas. He arrived in his
new capital to find the National Palace crumbling and infested with lice and
assorted vermin. The Emperor Maximilian, and Charlotte, now known to her
subjects as Carlota, spent their first night in the palace sleeping on a
It must be stated that Maximilian did try to be a decent, enlightened ruler.
One reason Franz Josef wanted Maximilian out Austria was that Maximilian was
seen as a Liberal. He adopted Mexican dress, and made a point of celebrating
the anniversary of the Grito de Dolores, the Mexican Declaration of
Independence. He ordered law codes revised and attempted to remove corrupt
judges. He refused to revoke Liberal measures confiscating Church lands, and
refused a French demand for a 'lease' on the silver mines of Sonora. He even
attempted to abolish debt peonage on the great haciendas. But this said,
Maximilian had no aptitude or experience in government. The French army, under
Marshal Bazaine, ran the war effort, and the great hacendados ran their
estates, and the overall economy.
As long as the French army was victorious, things seemed to go well. By the
autumn of 1864 the French had reached the Texas border along the Gulf of
Mexico. This gave them control of the trade going into the Confederacy, and the
customs revenue. In February of 1865 Bazaine forced the surrender of a
Republican army of 8,000 men in the stronghold of Oaxaca, south of Mexico City.
Juárez had to seek refuge in the remote and barren northern state of Chihuahua,
just over from Arizona. But for all this, cracks were starting to appear in
Napoleon III's grande penseé.
The Republicans Resurgent
Several basic problems undermined the French position. Napoleon III's scheme of
turning Mexico into a source of revenue undermined any chance of the Mexican
Empire becoming a viable state in its own right. If the French really wanted
Maximilian to succeed they should have cancelled Mexico's debts, not increased
them, and created a true Mexican army and administration. The first they never
did, and they did not get around to creating a real Mexican Imperial army until
it was much too late. The Austrian Emperor kicked in a corps of 6,000
volunteers to help his brother hold his throne, and Leopold I of Belgium
chipped in another 1,200 men in for the sake of his daughter Carlota. But it
was no substitute for a real Mexican army. Worse, for all Marshal Bazaine's
experience fighting in Algeria, he never created a coordinated intelligence
force and political arm to counter Juárez's' efficient underground network. The
corrupt coterie of Conservative politicians that made up Maximilian's
government were almost as divided as the Juaristas at their worst. In any case
they never had a real mass popular following in most of the country.
Logistics also began to work against the French. If Juárez had been forced into
the barren deserts of Chihuahua, distance and the hostile terrain shielded him.
Just getting an army into the rugged wild northwest corner of Mexico would be a
formidable achievement for the French, let alone bringing Juárez's mobile
columns to battle on their home ground.
The international situation was also shifting. At home, a growing faction of
opposition legislators denounced Napoleon III, and his policies, which were
keeping a tenth of the French army tied down to no real return. Across the
Rhine, the able Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had built the kingdom of Prussia
into an efficient war machine, and had vowed to forge a new German Reich from
blood and iron. Neither the French nor Maximilian's brother Franz Josef could
spare any more men.
Worse still for the French and Maximilian, the Confederacy was collapsing. As
early as July of 1863, before the French had been in Mexico City a month, the
Union victory at Gettysburg had put the South permanently on the defensive. In
that same month Ulysses S. Grant had captured Vicksburg, the last Southern
outpost on the Mississippi. This cut the Confederacy in two. Maximilian's
relations with the Confederacy had always been mixed, as the Mexicans were well
aware that the Southern states had always been the most vocal advocates of
American expansion into Mexico. Also, if Maximilian or the French recognized
the Confederacy openly, it would drive the Union to side openly with Juárez. On
April 8, 1865 Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and one by one the other Southern
armies began to give up. By the end of May the rebel cause in Texas was
finished. Edmund Kirby Smith, the last rebel commander of the Confederate
Trans-Mississippi West, surrendered to the Union at Galveston on June.
Immediately the fall of the Confederacy changed the strategic situation in
Mexico. If the Rebels had been benevolent neutrals, the Union was decidedly
unfriendly to the Mexican Empire. As the last rebels surrendered, Grant rushed
three Union corps, some fifty thousand men, under a tough cavalry commander,
Gen. Philip Sheridan, to Texas. This Army of Observation was more than enough
to trounce any French army Bazaine was likely to bring within striking distance
of the Rio Grande. Sheridan was also quick to 'condemn' US arms and supplies,
and left them out in the desert for the Juaristas to 'find'. Juárez soon had
40,000 American rifles to re-equip his army. Perhaps as many as 3,000
discharged Union army veterans, including many African Americans, found their
way into Juárez's growing host. However, Juárez was careful to resist a number
of schemes that involved bringing an American led force into Mexico. Mexicans,
whatever their political stripe, were always wary of American intentions in
Overall, Bazaine went over to a defensive posture in the autumn of 1865.
Although the US was quickly demobilizing its army in the wake of the Civil War,
he could not discount the possibility of an open American invasion. He also
pulled the French troops back from the Rio Grande so as not to give Sheridan an
excuse for an incursion. Here we see another problem the French faced. Whenever
the French army approached the US border, desertion rates skyrocketed. One
French Foreign Legion battalion moving along the Rio Grande lost 93 men to
desertion in a single day. From the spring of 1866 on desertions would
outnumber combat casualties for the French army in Mexico, even when situated
away from the border.
Despite all this, the French came close to winning. In August of 1865 Juárez
and the remnants of his government were at El Paso del Norte, today Ciudad
Juárez, just across from El Paso, Texas. But the French and the Imperials could
not finish Juarez off. Despite desertions and betrayals, Juárez was somehow
able to keep an army in the field. Maximilian was not devoid of notable
achievements in this period however. The wine bill alone for the Palace of
Chapultepec in Mexico City came to 100,000 pesos in 1865.
A sure sign that the Imperials were losing was Gen. Bazaine's 'Black Decree' of
October 3, 1865. Under this order, signed by Emperor Maximilian, any men found
in 'armed bands' were liable to summary execution. It outraged public opinion
across Mexico. Within a month the US had formally re-opened diplomatic
relations with the Republican regime. By the end of 1865 the Mexican adventure
was costing France 60 million francs annually. That winter Leopold I of Belgium
died. His successor, the hard headed and ruthless Leopold II, immediately
stopped recruiting to keep the Belgian Legion in Mexico maintained. He would
henceforth seek easier pickings for Belgium in the African Congo. On January
22, 1866, Napoleon III announced to the Corps Législatif that he would begin a
gradual pull out of Mexico. That spring, when Franz Josef assembled a new force
of 4,000 men to go to Mexico, a threatening cable from US Secretary of State
William H. Seward, was enough to get the Austrians to disband it.
One by one, Maximilian's supporters, at home and abroad, were deserting him. In
July of 1866, Prussian troops shattered the Imperial Austrian Army at
Königgratz (present day Sadowa in the Czech Republic), in the Seven Weeks War.
It was said in the streets of Paris that France had been defeated as well as
Austria. Napoleon III now needed every man he could spare along the Rhine
On June 14, 1866 two battalions of Imperial Mexican troops went over to the
Juaristas in a battle near Matamoros on the Texas border, leaving 300 Austrians
to be slaughtered. The Republicans then took Matamoros itself, then Tampico and
Acapulco. As each port fell into Republican hands it meant more customs revenue
for the Juárez government, and an equivalent loss for the Imperial treasury. In
a last desperate bid, the intelligent Carlota went to Europe to plead her case
directly with Napoleon III and the Pope. She was ignored. The strain broke her.
She died, alone and forgotten in seclusion in 1927, still clutching a rag doll,
which she spoke to as Maximilian.
Now the Juaristas began to close in on all sides. On February 5 the French
pulled out of Mexico City. Five days later Maximilian and his last army left
for Querétaro, almost 300 miles northwest of Mexico City. It was Maximilian's
last big mistake. Although Querétaro was in pro-Imperial territory, it was
further away from his last escape route via Veracruz. Querétaro is also at the
bottom of a valley, surrounded by hills. It was the stage for the last act.
Three separate Republican columns closed in on Querétaro. Even in victory the
Republicans were still very much a coalition of interests. But it was too late
for Maximilian to exploit Republican mistakes. By March he was surrounded by
some 30,000 Juaristas, who cut the aqueduct supplying Querétaro with fresh
water and moved to besiege it. Maximilian's lieutenant, Gen. Márquez, got out
with 1,200 cavalry. He went to Mexico City to try to rally what was left of
Maximilian's forces there, but was defeated while marching toward Puebla,
noticeably, in the opposite direction of Querétaro from Mexico City.
Márquez eventually slipped out of the country with one million dollars on him.
Maximilian was not so lucky. On May 15, 1867, just over two months after the
last French troops left Veracruz, an enterprising subordinate let Republican
shock troops in through the Imperial lines. Maximilian was captured at the
Cerro de las Campanas, the Hill of the Bells, just outside of Querétaro. Barely
four months earlier, Imperial cavalry had nearly captured Juárez in a daring
raid on his headquarters. When Juárez returned, he found death warrants, signed
by Maximilian, for him and his subordinates. In any case, Juárez had issued a
sweeping pardon at the end of the War of the Reform, and his enemies had
regrouped. He would not let them do so again, especially when Maximilian, even
unwittingly, could still be used as a symbol for opponents of the Republic to
rally around. On June 13, 1867, Maximilian died before a Republican firing
squad at Querétaro. Six days later Mexico City surrendered to the Republicans.
Results and Lessons Learned
It is one thing to conquer a nation; it is another to hold it. It is one thing
to capture fortresses and defeat enemy armies in the field. It is another to
build a working government and win the people over after a civil war. A puppet
ruler too weak to hurt you, cannot help you either. Finally, war is a test of
wills. Juárez was able to hold together support and keep fighting. Napoleon III
never did rally national support for his scheme, and finally found the contest
With a peak strength of 38,000 men, the French suffered nearly 7,000 dead,
5,000 of them from disease. Of these losses, 1,918 of the deaths were from one
unit, the Régiment Étranger, testimony to the importance of the role the French
Foreign Legion played in the campaign. Nearly 32,000 Mexicans died fighting to
drive out the French, or perished before Imperial firing squads, this as
opposed to just 5,600 men who fell in the Imperial cause. Some 300,000 Mexicans
total died in this struggle, which could better be called a continuation of the
War of the Reform.
Out of this blood, Mexico revived, with a new sense of national pride, and with
republican institutions firmly established. Benito Juárez, who gave new meaning
to the phrase 'fighting in the last ditch', died, a hero of his country, in
1872. As for Mexico, it would take another bloody revolution, this time in the
20th century, to abolish peonage, and many years after that to become a true
democracy. But if the history of the Mexican people since the defeat of the
French has seen many failures and disappointments, it has been their history.
The decisions made that have shaped their lives in the 20th century have not
been made in Paris, or Vienna, but by their own leaders. The men who fell at
Puebla have a monument: a free Mexico, and their descendants are free men.
Hamnett, Brian: Juárez , (1994), Longman, London.
Ridley, Jasper: Maximilian and Juárez , (1992), Ticknor & Fields,
A good work delineating the complex American relationship with Mexico in this
Hanna, Alfred Jackson & Kathryn Abbey Hanna:
Napoleon III and Mexico:
American Triumph Over Monarchy
, (1971) University of North California
Press, Chapel Hill, NC.
And finally, an excellent study of the French Foreign Legion's heroic defense
of Camerone can be found in:
The French Foreign Legion: A Complete History of the Legendary
, (1991) Harper Collins, NY.
For a complete list of works used in this article, please contact the author
Written by Timothy Neeno. If you have questions or comments on this
article, please contact Timothy Neeno at: email@example.com.
About the author:
Timothy Neeno is originally from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with a Masters
in US History from the University of Wisconsin in 1990. Since then he has gone
into teaching. He and his wife have worked and taught in Bolivia, Taiwan,
Kuwait, Brazil and the Navajo Reservation and have traveled in Europe, Asia and
the Middle East. Since 2002 they have settled in the Phoenix area. He currently
teaches history at the University of Phoenix.
* Views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent those of MilitaryHistoryOnline.com.