Second French intervention in Mexico

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Second French intervention in Mexico
Mexican War Montage.jpg
Clockwise from left: French assault during the Second Battle of Puebla; French cavalry seize the Republican flag during the Battle of San Pablo del Monte; The Execution of Emperor Maximilian by Édouard Manet
Date8 December 1861 – 21 June 1867
(5 years, 6 months, 1 week and 6 days)
Location
Result

Mexican Republican victory

Belligerents
Mexican Republic
Supported by
 United States[1] (1865–1867)
France
Second Mexican Empire
Supported by
Spain (1861–1862)
 United Kingdom (1861–1862)
 Austria[2]
 Belgium
Egypt (with Sudanese slave soldiers)[3]
Confederate exiles
Polish exiles[4]
United Principalities[5][6]
Commanders and leaders

Benito Juárez
Manuel Doblado
Porfirio Díaz
Ignacio Zaragoza
Jesús González Ortega
Carlos Salazar Ruiz Executed
José María Arteaga Executed
Luis Ghilardi Executed

José María Chávez Executed

Second French Empire Napoleon III
Francois Achille Bazaine
Second French Empire Charles de Lorencez
Second French Empire Élie Frédéric Forey
Second French Empire Georges Charles Cloué
Second French Empire Auguste Henri Brincourt
Maximilian I Executed
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte
Tomás Mejía  Executed
Miguel Miramón  Executed
Edward Emil Langberg
Manuel Lozada
Refugio Tánori
José Almada

Ramón Méndez
Strength
70,000
Supported by
3,000
38,493[7]
20,285[7]
Supported by
6,344[8][9]
700
7,859
1,462
424[7]
2,000[1]
472[4]
1 officer[10][11]
Casualties and losses
31,962 killed
8,304 wounded
33,281 captured
11,000 executed[12]

14,000 killed[12]

Details
  • France: 6,654 dead[8]
    inc. 5,000 from disease[8]
  • Mexican Empire: 5,671 dead
  • Belgium: 573 dead
  • Austria: 455 Austrians dead
    inc. 199 from disease[4]
    177 Hungarians dead[2]
  • Egypt: 126 dead[13]
    inc. 46 from disease[14]

The Second French Intervention in Mexico (Spanish: Segunda intervención francesa en México), 1861–1867;[15] was an invasion of Mexico, launched in late 1861, by the Second French Empire (1852–1870), aiming to establish in Mexico a regime favorable to French interests.

On 31 October 1861, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain agreed to the Convention of London, a joint effort to ensure that debt repayments from Mexico would be forthcoming. On 8 December 1861, the three navies disembarked their troops at the port city of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico. When the British and the Spanish discovered that France had an ulterior motive and unilaterally planned to seize Mexico, they peacefully negotiated an agreement with Mexico to settle the debt issues. Simultaneously, Britain and Spain withdrew from the military coalition agreed to in London, and recalled their forces from Mexico. The subsequent French invasion took Mexico City and created the Second Mexican Empire (1861–1867), a client state of the French Empire. Many nations acknowledged the political legitimacy of the newly created nation state.[16]

In Mexican politics, the French intervention allowed active political reaction against the liberal policies of social and socio-economic reform of president Benito Juárez (1858–1872), thus the Mexican Catholic Church, upper-class conservatives, much of the Mexican nobility, and some Native American communities welcomed and collaborated with the French empire's installation of Maximilian von Habsburg as Emperor of Mexico.[17] In European politics, the French intervention in Mexico reconciled the Second French Empire and the Austrian Empire, whom the French had defeated in the Franco-Austrian War of 1859. French imperial expansion into Mexico counterbalanced the geopolitical power of the Protestant Christian United States, by developing a powerful Catholic empire in Latin America, and the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the Mexican north-west. After much guerrilla warfare that continued after the Capture of Mexico City in 1863, the French Empire withdrew from Mexico and abandoned the Austrian emperor of Mexico; subsequently, the Mexicans executed Emperor Maximilian I, on 19 June 1867, and restored the Mexican Republic.[17]

Background[edit]

The French intervention in Mexico, initially supported by the United Kingdom and Spain, was a consequence of Mexican President Benito Juárez's imposition of a two-year moratorium of loan-interest payments from July 1861 to French, British, and Spanish creditors. To extend the influence of Imperial France, Napoleon III instigated the intervention in Mexico by claiming that the military adventure was a foreign policy commitment to free trade. The establishment of a European-derived monarchy in Mexico would ensure European access to Mexican resources, particularly French access to Mexican silver. To realize his ambitions without interference from other European nations, Napoleon III of France entered into a coalition with the United Kingdom and Spain.

The Tripartite Expedition[edit]

On December 14, 1861 a Spanish Fleet sailed into and took possession of the port of Veracruz. The city was occupied on the 17.[18] French and English forces arrived on January 7, 1862. On January 10th a manifesto was issued by Spanish General Juan Prim disavowing rumors that the allies had come to conquer or to impose a new government. It was emphasized that the three powers merely wanted to open negotiations regarding their claims of damages.[19]

On January 14, 1862, a bill of claims was presented to the government in Mexico City. Foreign Minister Manuel Doblado invited the commissioners to travel to Orizaba with two thousand of their own troops for a conference while requesting that the rest of the tripartite forces disembark from Veracruz.[20] The proposal to disembark most of the troops was rejected, but negotiations then resulted in an agreement, ratified on January 23, to move the forces inland and hold a conference at Orizaba. The agreement also officially recognized the government of Juarez along with Mexican sovereignty.[21]

The French invasion begins[edit]

On April 9th, 1862, agreements at Orizaba between the allies broke down, as France made it increasingly clear that it intended to invade Mexico and interfere in its government in violation of previous treaties. The Spanish and British informed the Mexican government that they now intended to exit the country, and an arrangement was made with the British government to settle its claims.[22] Minister Doblado on April 11th made it known to the French government that its intentions would lead to war. The Spanish and British left by April 22nd. 1862.

Certain Mexican officers had been sympathetic to the French since the beginning of the intervention. On April 16, 1862 the French issued a proclamation inviting Mexicans to join them in establishing a new government. On April 17, 1862 Mexican general Juan Almonte, who had been a foreign minister of the conservative government during the Reform War, and who was brought back to Mexico by the French, released his own manifesto, assuring the Mexican people of benevolent French intentions.[23]

The French defeated a small Mexican force at Escamela, and then captured Orizaba. Mexican Generals Porfirio Diaz and Ignacio Zaragoza retreated to El Ingenio, and then headed towards Puebla.[24]

Almonte now attempted to consolidate the Mexican pro-French movement. The town of Orizaba joined him and so did the port of Veracruz and Isla del Carmen. Colonel Gonzales, Manuel Castellanos, Desiderio Samaniego, Padre Miranda, and Haro Tamariz, and General Taboada arrived in Orizaba to support Almonte.[25] On April 28th, 1862, French forces headed towards Puebla.

On May 5, Mexican forces commanded by Ignacio Zaragoza and Porfirio Diaz repulsed the French at the Battle of Puebla while the latter were trying to ascend the hill towards the fortified positions of the city. The French retreated to Orizaba to await reinforcements.[26]

Mexican Generals Florentino Lopez, Leonardo Marquez, and Juan Vicario sought to join the French, and Mexican republican forces suffered defeats at Barranca Seca and Cerro del Borrego in the vicinity of Orizaba.[27]

Establishment of the Empire[edit]

French reinforcements arrive[edit]

Siege of Puebla

In July, reinforcements consisting of 30,000 men were sent out from France under the command of General Forey who was also given a set of instructions by Napoleon III laying out France's occupation policy. The instructions directed Forey to work with Mexican supporters in the pursuit of both military and political goals. A new government was to be set up, friendly to French interests, and the geopolitical aim of preventing the United States from becoming too powerful on the American continent was also emphasized.[28] Forey reached Orizaba on October 24, 1862, and began planning another siege of Puebla, the defense of which had now passed on to Jesús González Ortega after General Zaragoza had died of Typhoid fever on September 8th.


On January 10th, 1863, a French squadron bombarded the Mexican Pacific port of Acapulco and on February 3rd, Forey finally set out for Puebla. Ortega had mean while been building up the town's fortifications, and on March 10th he put the town under martial law. The French arrived on the March 16 and began the siege.

On May 8th, at Battle of San Lorenzo, Bazaine and Marquez defeated Ignacio Comonfort who intended to provide reinforcements to Puebla. Having run out of ammunition and food, Ortega held a council of war, and it was agreed to surrender on May 17, after destroying the remaining armament. All of the officers were taken prisoner and were intended to be transported to France though Ortega and Porfirio Diaz would escape before being sent out of the country.[29]

Fall of Mexico City[edit]

Upon hearing of the fall of Puebla, President Juarez prepared to evacuate the capital and move the government to San Luis Potosi. Congress closed its session on May 31 after granting Juarez emergency powers. The French entered the capital on June 10.

French Troops Enter Mexico City

On June 16 the French government nominated 35 Mexican citizens to constitute a Junta Superior de Gobierno who were then tasked with electing a triumvirate that was to serve as the executive of the new government. The three elected were Juan Almonte, Archbishop Labastida, and Jose Mariano Salas. The Junta was also to choose 215 Mexican citizens who together with the Junta Superior were to constitute an Assembly of Notables that was to decide upon the form of government. On the 11th of July, the Assembly published its resolutions, that Mexico was to be a constitutional monarchy and that Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg was to be invited to accept the Mexican throne. The executive was then officially changed into the Regency of the Mexican Empire.[30]

Republican guerilla forces maintained a presence surrounding the capital and were repeatedly defeated. Cuernavaca was captured by the imperialists on July 29th, 1863. Republican guerilla commanders Catarino Fragoso, León Ugalde, and others continued to wage warfare against any town occupied by the French.[31]

Imperialist successes in the central provinces[edit]

Franco-Mexican forces captured Pachuca and Tulancingo in July to serve as bases for expanding operations. Imperialist Juan Chávez under the command of General Mejia defeated the liberal Tomas O'Horan on the road to Guanajuato, and imperialist colonel José Antonio Rodríguez captured San Juan de los Llanos in Puebla.[32] The port of Tampico was captured by French vessels on August 11. French control of the nation still centered on Veracruz and Mexico City but was gradually expanding. By October, advanced forces were spreading across the center of the nation from Jalisco to San Luis Potosi to Oaxaca.[33]

In August, the imperialist General Tomas Mejia captured the town of Actopan, Hidalgo in the state of Mexico in September, and more imperialist victories in that state followed.[34] The imperalist Gavito, managed to disperse republican guerillas in Cuayuca, and the imperialist Jesús María Visoso managed to defeat Republican guerillas at Puebla.[35]

Franco-Mexican forces under Leonardo Marquez and de Berthier entered Morelia unopposed on November 30th, after Republican forces had evacuated the city. After reinforcements arrived the Republian forces led by José López Uraga attempted to recapture Morelia, only to be defeated by Marquez.[36]

General Tomas Mejia captured Querétaro on November 17, while Republican forces there retreated to Guanajuato. Imperialist forces pursued them and the latter city was taken on December 9.[37]

On December 22, the Republican government evacuated the city of San Luis Potosí and intended to relocate north to the state of Coahuila. Imperialist forces lead by General Mejia captured the city on December 25, only to face an assault by Republican forces on the 27 which was ultimately defeated.[38]

Imperialist advances[edit]

Bazaine welcomed to Guadalajara

French general Bazaine occupied the city of Guadalajara on January 5, 1864. The liberal generals Uraga and Ortega remained in the vicinity but carried out no attacks. After French assaults led by General Abel Douay, Ortega retreated towards Fresnillo, and Uraga westward.[39]

Mexican General Felipe Navarrete of Yucatan proclaimed his support of the Empire, and invaded the state capital of Merida with the support of French forces, capturing it on January 22.[40]

Douay, with General Castagny headed north, succeeding in capturing Aguascalientes and Zacatecas by February 7, 1864.[41] Castagny was left in charge of Zacatecas, while Douay went to the relief of Colonel Garnier at Guadalajara. On February 16, Castagny won a victory at Colotlán in which he took eighty prisoners and Republican General Luis Ghilardi was executed.[42] Republican General and governor of Aguascalientes José Chávez was also executed after being captured in Jerez.[43]

Imperialists struggled to hold on to the southern state of Chiapas. The nearby state capital of Tabasco, San Juan Bautista was recaptured by the Republicans on February 27. The success inspired a republican incursion into Veracruz, succeeding in capturing Minatitlán on March 28.[44]

On March 19th, the western Mexican commander Manuel Lozada, at the head of the Indian troops of the Tepic district sided with the imperialists.[45]

Douay headed south, pursuing the Republican guerilla chiefs Simón Gutiérrez and Antonio Rojas, routing the former, and destroying two factories for arms and powder near Cocula. In March Douay entered Colima.[46]

Republican General Ortega and several guerilla bands were driven back into the Sierra Hermosa after Manuel Doblado was repulsed by Tomás Mejí in the former's attempted assault on Monterrey. Doblado fled the nation for the United States and died a year later.[47] Mejia was subsequently granted the cross of the Legion of Honour by Napoleon III.

The Republican General Porfirio Diaz, with three thousand troops managed to defeat the imperialists commander Marcos Toledo at the silver mining town of Taxco on October 26, 1864. Diaz then besieged the brigade of Juan Vicario in the town of Iguala until imperialist reinforcements forced him to abandon the siege. Diaz headed south to Oaxaca and managed to increase his troops to eight thousand.[48]

The Imperialists now controlled the central states of the nation, containing its major cities, two thirds of the population, rich mines and agricultural lands, and the main centers of manufacturing and trade. The Republicans still controlled the sparsely populated frontier states of the north, where President Juarez still led his government-in-exile in the city of Monterrey. These northern states granted them the considerable revenue coming into the Pacific ports of Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Guaymas. Arms also flowed in from the American states California and Texas along with mercenaries.[49]

The republicans also still held southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Chiapas where troops led by Porfirio Diaz maintained a formidable hold.[50]

The Northern Campaign[edit]

Soldiers of the Imperial Mexican Army

The Imperialists now focused on capturing the rest of the north, with troops under General Mejia campaigning along the northern Gulf Coast, and being supported by Charles Dupin's anti-guerilla corps at Tampico, and Aymard's brigade at San Luis Potosi. Castagny supported the rear, and the entire operation was headquartered at Queretaro.

In the Pacific Coast, a naval squadron under de Kergrist was ready to cooperate with Douay's troops in Jalisco and sweep north towards Sinaloa.[51] They were aided by quarrels within the Republican military leadership that resulted in General Uraga being demoted and subsequently joining the Imperialists.[52] On September 26, the Imperialists captured the port of Bagdad and now controlled every major port in the Gulf. The commander of troops at Bagdad, Juan Cortina then defected to the Imperialists.[53]

Santiago Vidaurri, the governor of Nuevo León and Coahuila had broken with Juarez, as early as March, 1864 over the administration and finances of his state, and had even held a referendum on joining the Empire.[54] Republican troops drove him into Texas, but troops loyal to Viduarri remained active in the region. As Republican forces in the north were diverted by Imperial advances. Vidaurrist troops captured Monterrey on August 15, 1864 with President Juarez barely escaping, and pursued as far as Parras in a bullet-riddled carriage.[55] The triumphant Vidaurri then headed towards the capital where he was made a councilor of Maximilian. By the end of the year the imperialists controlled Nuevo Leon and the greater part of Coahuila to the banks of the Rio Grande.

Southern Pacific Campaign[edit]

On October 28, 1864 imperialist Generals Leonardo Marquez and Douay attacked the army of Republican General Arteaga in the ravine of Atenquique, routing them. A few days later, the Republicans, Simón Gutiérrez and Antonio Rojas were defeated near the American border by the Imperialist Carlos Rivas[disambiguation needed], with French reinforcements. Marquez proceeded to occupy Colima and by November 18, 1864 Marquez had captured the port of Manzanillo.[56]

On November 12, 1864, a French squadron under De Kergrist, arrived at Mazatlan, and demanded a surrender under the threat of bombardment. At the same time, the imperialist Manuel Lozada besieged the town on land leading to a successful capture.[57]

The imperialist Juan Vicario was repulsed at Chilapa de Álvarez, while on the way to replace the French garrison in the southern, Pacific port of Acapulco, and subsequently the port had to be evacuated and left to the Republicans in December. French vessels succeeded in recapturing Acapulco on September 11, 1864.[58]

The Imperialists however hoped to soon begin operations to dislodge Porfirio Diaz from his stronghold in the south, and began to survey the land and build roads.[59] Towards the end of 1864, General Courtois d'Hurbal entered Oaxaca by way of Yanuitlan and other columns followed from Orizaba and Mexico City. Diaz was based in Oaxaca City with three thousand regulars, three thousand troops in the mountains, and had converted the city into a fortified camp.[60]

Commander in Chief of the French Forces, Bazaine decided to lead the siege of Oaxaca City in person and by the end of January 1865, the besieging forces numbered seven thousand men. The use of artillery began on February 4, and an assault was ordered for the 9th. The amassing of forces inspired a panic in Diaz' men and not willing to engage in a hopeless last stand, he surrendered, and was later sent to Puebla to be imprisoned, where he would escape seven months later and raise armies in the southern state of Guerrero.[61] Back in France, Forey, the former commander in chief of French forces in Mexico criticized Bazaine for not immediately executing Diaz.[62] The former Republican General Uraga sent a letter to Diaz hoping to win him over to the imperialist cause, arguing that guerrilla warfare was devastating the nation and assuring Diaz that the independence of Mexico was secure under Maximilian, but Diaz rejected the offer.[63]

The French colonel Mangin remained at Oaxaca and rearranged the civilian government. Imperialist forces would continue to face sporadic conflict with Republican forces led by General Luis Pérez Figueroa.[64]

Michoacan continued to be a Republican stronghold, serving as a base of operations for Nicolás Régules, es:Manuel García Pueblita, Carlos Salazar Ruiz, and Vicente Riva Palacio, with the latter being named governor by Arteaga who held supreme command of the regional forces. On January 31st, the republican commander Nicolás Romero was defeated at Apatzingán by Colonel Poiter with a loss of 200 men.[65] On May 19, Salazar with four hundred men defeated a Franco-Mexican force of seven hundred at Los Reyes.[66] Arteaga occupied Tacámbaro, and León Ugalde and Fermín Valdés captured Zitácuaro. Regulas ventured out into Guanajuato where he was checked and instead hastened back to Michoacan where he captured Tacambaro on April 11, where the imperialists lost a significant number of Belgian mercenaries. The town however was soon taken back. Regules once again ventured out, this time towards Morelia but was checked at Huaniqueo by Potier.[67]

In Jalisco, Douay's operations resulted in Republican guerilla commander Antonio Rojas being killed on January 28, 1865 at Potrerillos.[68] Franco-Mexican operations led by Douay and Manuel Lozada resulted in the defection of the commander of the Republican Central Forces Miguel María de Echegaray, along with General Rómulo Valle[69]

In January 1865, Castagny was sent with three thousand men to Mazatlán to follow up on the Imperialist victory there from the previous November. Fierce warfare ensued with the Republican General Ramón Corona and Lozada was sent to aid Castagny resulting in an Imperialist victory at El Rosario in April, 1865. Corona fled to the north but returned in September to win a victory for the Republicans, at Mazatlán[70]

The Sonoran Campaign[edit]

The success at Mazatlan now allowed the imperialists to turn their attention towards the northwest coast, and Castagny hoped to capture the port of Guaymas. A French squadron landed several hundred men under Colonel Garnier on March 29th. Garnier sent troops by sea to Álamos and managed to gain support among the Yaqui, Mayo, and Opata. Chief Refugio Tánori arrived at Guaymas with reinforcements allowing the imperialists to win the Battle of Álamos on September 24, and then march into Hermosillo.[71]

Downfall[edit]

The end of the U.S. Civil War in April, 1865 marked a turning point in the French intervention. Republican commanders were hopeful that surplus arms and Union troops would soon aid them.[72] Maximilian received a message from the liberal government, hopeful that the U.S. would now aid the Republicans, and that he should leave the country while he still could. President Juarez was now confident of his ultimate victory, writing that "the United States will never permit him to consolidate his power, and his sacrifices and victories will have counted for nothing."[73]

The struggle for the North[edit]

Republicans organized forces in the north with General Miguel Negrete gathering two thousand troops and in early April, capturing Saltillo, and Monterey, which had been abandoned by the imperialists.[74] Negrete advanced towards Matamoros and was joined by American volunteers, and general Juan Cortina who had previously defected to the Imperialists, yet now defected back to the Republicans. They succeeded in capturing all of the towns along the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras downstream.[75] They got as far as Matamoros upon which they retreated after being faced with General Tomás Mejia and his French reinforcements.

Republican Colonel Pedro José Méndez captured Ciudad Victoria on April 23d, the culmination of a campaign that had begun in January. He subsequently captured Ciudad Tula on June 4, and cut off communications from the imperialist held Tampico[76]

Bazaine dispatched generals Auguste Henri Brincourt and Baron Neigre towards the Mapimi border in order to go after Negrete. Meanwhile Colonel Pierre Joseph Jeanningros headed up from San Luis Potosi in order to rendezvous with imperialist forces at Saltillo. Negrete engaged with Jeanningros in a skirmish on May 31st, and retreated. His forces were disbanded in the course of being pursued by the imperialists.[77]

A concentration of American troops and vessels in Texas along the Rio Bravo, led to a surge of imperialist troops along the frontier which only caused guerrilla warfare to flare up in the southern states. A few imperial prefects resigned, unable to govern or defend their respective departments without enough troops.[78]

In August, 1865 as French troops were concentrated in the north under Bazaine. Sinaloa was left under the care of one regiment under Colonel Cotteret based in Guaymas, while the surrounding areas were entrusted to Indian allies. Republican General Antonio Rosales was killed in August in an attempt to retake Álamos.[79] but General Corona nonetheless pressed upon the imperialists and succeeded in driving French troops throughout Sinaloa back to Mazatlán[80]

After the defeat of Negrete, Brincourt had then proceeded towards Chihuahua with two thousand five hundred men. He entered Chihuahua City, then serving as the provisional capital of the Mexican Republic, on August 15, reorganized the administration, was able to drive President Juarez out, and also provided encouragement to the various Indian allies of the Empire in the region.[81] Out of fear that a border skirmish would occur with American forces, Bazaine ordered Brincourt to return to Durango within three weeks of reaching Chihuahua. Brincourt believed that leaving a garrison of a thousand men in Chihuahua was enough to pacify the region, but Bazaine repeated his orders, and Brincourt left on October 29.[82]

On October 1, the Republican government arranged a loan in New York for thirty million dollars. American volunteers were joining the Republicans, and Juarez now taking refuge at El Paso del Norte expressed confidence that American pressure could play a decisive role in influencing French withdrawal.[83]

On October 2, 1865, the imperial government passed the so called “Black Decree” which declared that anyone caught engaging in guerrilla warfare against the Empire would be court-martialed and executed within twenty four hours. Less severe penalties were prescribed for aiding guerillas and exceptions were made for those who were forced into service or were involved circumstantially.[84]

On October 13th,[85] Imperialist Colonel Ramón Méndez won a victory over the Republicans at Amatlán, and captured the generals Arteaga and Salazar, the latter who ranked as the commander in chief of the republican army of the center. Méndez took advantage of the recently passed Black Decree to execute both of them.[86]

Mariano Escobedo attempted to take Matamoros on October 25. The imperialist commander Tomas Mejia hesitated to take the offensive due to the presence of nearby U.S. troops and their sympathy for the Republicans, until French reinforcements arrived and scattered Escobedo's forces on November 8.[87]

After having stayed El Paso del Norte, Juarez was subsequently able then to return to Chihuahua City on November 20.[88] Maximilian however had convinced Bazaine to retain Chihuahua and an expedition of five hundred troops then towards the city led by Jean-Baptiste Billot. Juarez was forced to evacuate yet again on December 9th, and fled to the American border.[89]

Escobedo then fell back on Monterrey succeeding in capturing the city, but a remnant of imperial forces remained in the citadel and held out until General Pierre Joseph Jeanningros arrived with reinforcements on November 25, after which the imperialists recaptured Monterrey.[90]

General Tomas Mejia and French naval commander Georges Charles Cloué protested to the United States regarding the aid in material, supplies, hospital care and troops being lent to the Republicans but the commandant at Clarksville, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, replied that such troops could no longer be considered as belonging to the United States military. In January 1866, American troops raided Bagdad, a blatant violation of neutrality which resulted in the federal government removing the commandant and disciplining those involved in the raid.[91] The sack of Bagdad would leave the French cautious, and prevent them from active campaigning near the border, instead focusing on consolidating their hold a few strong positions, maintaining communications with French held ports.[92]

Napoleon officially announces the French withdrawal[edit]

At the opening of the French chambers in January 1866, Napoleon III announced that he would withdraw French troops from Mexico. In reply to a French request for neutrality, the American secretary of state William H. Seward replied that French withdrawal should be unconditional, and Napoleon assured the American government that the withdrawal would no longer be deferred, laying out a plan to reduce the troops in phases starting on November 1866 and ending one year later on November 1867. Seward then requested that French reinforcements to Mexico should now cease, and that Austria should stop recruiting volunteers for the Mexican expedition. The French and Austrian governments subsequently complied.[93]

Further northern retreats[edit]

Billot retired on January 31 from Chihuahua, leaving the city in charge of Indian allies, but it fell to Republican troops in March. Maximilian commanded Bazaine to retake Chihuahua in May, and a new expedition was prepared, but new withdrawal instructions from France caused the expedition to be abandoned.[94]

Durango was evacuated by November, and Castagny withdrew to Leon leading to a loss of the former province to the Republicans. Juarez moved his government south to Durango on December 26, 1866.[95]

In the northwest provinces of Sonora and Sinaloa the French were mostly confined to Guaymas and Mazatlan, though the imperial General Edward Langberg held positions in the interior with the aid of the Opata natives. Álamos was captured by the Republican general Martinez with forces from Sinaloa, and dealt out retributions to the Mayo and Yaqui tribes that had allied themselves with the Empire. He then took back Hermosillo on May 4 only to lose it to the Imperialists the day after.[96] The French withdrew from Guaymas in September, and around the same time Langberg was killed in a battle that led the Republicans to take the town of Ures.[97]

Sonora now fell to the Republicans and hundreds of refugees fled to the United States or tried to retreat with the French. Imperialist commanders Refugio Tánori and Almada were overtaken and shot with their families by the Republicans.[98]

Southern defeats[edit]

Battle de Miahuatlán (October 3, 1866)

In July, 1865 Arteaga had advanced towards Tacámbaro with three thousand men where he was routed by Lieutenant Colonel Van der Smissen with less than one thousand troops.[99]

In Michoacan Regules were repeatedly repulsed to the point that his forces dissolved in April, 1866. In May however, he resumed operations and made it into the Toluca region, finding allies around Zitacuaro and Guerrero. Acapulco was held on to by the imperialist General Montenegro, but his troops were greatly weakened by fever and desertion.[100]

After Porfirio Diaz escaped he fled to Oaxaca and hoped to form a new army. The imperialist prefect Prieto had held on to Tehuantepec since mid-1865, and hoped to turn it into a base for operations. Diaz encroached upon this territory in the Spring of 1866, notably at Jamiltepec and Putla, upon which he sought to cut off communications between Oaxaca and Puebla. Diaz took Teotitlan in August, 1866, before he was repulsed by Austro-Mexican forces. In early October, Diaz routed the imperialist general Oronoz, who barely escaped and retreated into Oaxaca City, after which Diaz began a siege. The siege was lifted for a few days to face Austro-Mexican reinforcements, which Diaz defeated, and then captured Oaxaca City on November 1st, 1866. From there he completed the capture of Oaxaca and advanced into Puebla.[101]

Defeats in the northern Gulf Coast[edit]

In the northeast, Republican forces were led by Mendez who blocked the route to Tampico, Mariano Escobedo who was based north of Linares, and Gonzales Herrera and Trevino who were based around Parras. After a Republican assault on Parras, the imperialist commander Briant came up from Saltillo, reinstalled the imperialist prefect Campos, on February 20th. He then set out to attack the liberals at Santa Isabel where due to underestimating their forces was routed and captured. The Republicans did not immediately take Parrs, but the French withdrawal allowed them to take the town on June, 1866.[102]

At Charco Escondido, Mejia was struggling against Republicans whose forces were being swelled by American soldiers. He was given reinforcements by General Jeanningros in April. Another train of reinforcements led by General Olvera left Matamors where they were surrounded and defeated by Republican troops led by Mariano Escobedo near Camargo. Olvera nonetheless managed to retreat to and hold Matamoros, but the Imperialist General Tuce who had arrived with reinforcements from Monterey was obliged to retreat. Mejia was left with 500 men, and ultimately retreated on June 23d with all his men to Veracruz.[103]

In November 1866, Matamoros fell to the Republicans with the aid of American troops.[104] On November 9th, the imperialist Generals Marquez and Miramon returned from Europe to aid in the war effort.[105] By the end of November, the French withdrawal had resulted in the Republicans taking back the North and West of the country.[106]

On November 13, 1866 the French completed their evacuation of Mazatlan. After having aided the evacuation the former imperialist General Lozada retired from the conflict and proclaimed his neutrality.[107]

The Republican commander Mendez who had raided communications between San Luis Potosi and the gulf was killed during an imperialist raid near Tampico. Nonetheless, due to the French withdrawal, the Republican General Aureliano Rivera captured Tampico in May. The French held on to the port but surrendered in July and in August they surrendered Tuxpan. Veracruz was now the only gulf port left under imperialist control.[108]

Monterey was evacuated by the Imperialists on July 25, 1865, and Saltillo on August 4.[109]

Douay evacuated Matehuala on October 28th, then being the northernmost imperialist post. Troops were left in San Luis Potosi under Mejia, yet the small prospect of victory induced them to retreat on Christmas Eve to San Felipe in Guanajuato.[110] Castagny reached Guanajuato around the same time, with French forces from Durango and Zacatecas the latter having been evacuated in November.[111]

Central provinces become vulnerable[edit]

Veracruz and the roads leading to them had been harassed by Republicans ever since the beginning of 1866, and the beginning of the French withdrawal. There was an Imperialist victory at Papaloapan River, but by August, Tlacotalpan and Alvarado were surrendered to the Republicans. A republican revolt led by Ignacio Alatorre had been crushed in Papantla and Misantla, but with Republican successes further north, Alatorre rose up again, capturing Jalapa in November. Pachuca was captured by the republicans in November, and Perote fell in January, 1867.[112]

The capital itself became vulnerable in late 1866. Cuautitlán was raided in October, and Chalco and Tlalpan were left exposed to Republican incursions in December, while raiders harassed the stream of soldiers and refugees heading towards Vera Cruz. The Imperialist commander Ortiz de la Peña had retreated to Cuernavaca after a defeat in Ixtla, and Regules and Riva Palacio moved ahead to occupy the Lerma Valley.[113]

Guadalajara was abandoned by the French on December 12, 1866 and imperial forces were left under General Gutierrez. The imperialists evacuated the city on December 19, and headed for Guanajuato. The former imperial commander Lozada meanwhile declared the neutrality of the department of Nayarit.[114]

Final French evacuations[edit]

On December 19, 1866 Napoleon III made it known that all troops would now be withdrawn, ahead of the previously laid out schedule.[115]

In late December, the French evacuated Guanjuato, rendezvousing in Queretaro with retreating troops from San Luis Potosi, and then heading towards the port of Vera Cruz. An imperialist garrison under Tomas Mejia however remained at Guanajuato, were able to hold a position and keep republican troops at bay.[116]

Bazaine evacuated the capital on February 5, 1867. Vera Cruz was left in charge of the imperial general Perez Gomez. Vera Cruz was a hub of activity with more than thirty vessels, including transports, mail steamers, and squadron ships in the harbor to help the evacuation. Bazaine and the last of the French troops embarked for Toulon on March 12.[117]

Republican triumph, execution of Maximilian[edit]

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, Édouard Manet 1868. Gen. Tomás Mejía, left, Maximiian, center, Gen. Miguel Miramón, right It is one of five versions of his renderings of the event.

The Republicans occupied the rest of the states of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato in January. The French evacuated the capital on 5 February.

On 13 February 1867, Maximilian withdrew to Querétaro. The Republicans began a siege of the city on 9 March, and Mexico City on 12 April. An imperial sortie from Querétaro failed on 27 April. Despite firm resistance by the defenders, the siege was bound to end with a Republican victory.

On 11 May, Maximilian resolved to try to escape through the enemy lines. He was intercepted on 15 May. Following a court-martial, he was sentenced to death. Many of the crowned heads of Europe and other prominent figures (including liberals Victor Hugo and Giuseppe Garibaldi) sent telegrams and letters to Mexico pleading for Maximilian's life to be spared, but Juárez refused to commute the sentence. He believed he had to send a strong message that Mexico would not tolerate any government imposed by foreign powers.

Maximilian was executed on 19 June (along with his generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía) on the Cerro de las Campanas, a hill on the outskirts of Querétaro, by forces loyal to President Benito Juárez, who had kept the federal government functioning during the French intervention. Mexico City surrendered the day after Maximilian was executed.

The republic was restored, and President Juárez was returned to power in the national capital. He made few changes in policy, given that the progressive Maximilian had upheld most of Juárez's liberal reforms.

After the victory, the Conservative party was so thoroughly discredited by its alliance with the invading French troops that it effectively became defunct. The Liberal party was almost unchallenged as a political force during the first years of the "restored republic". In 1871, however, Juárez was re-elected to yet another term as president in spite of a constitutional prohibition of re-elections. The French intervention ended with the Republican-led government being more stable and both internal and external forces were now kept at bay.

Porfirio Díaz (a Liberal general and a hero of the French war, but increasingly conservative in outlook), one of the losing candidates, launched a rebellion against the president. Supported by conservative factions within the Liberal party, the attempted revolt (the so-called Plan de la Noria) was already at the point of defeat when Juárez died in office on 19 July 1872, making it a moot point. Díaz ran against interim president Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, lost the election, and retired to his hacienda in Oaxaca. Four years later, in 1876, when Lerdo ran for re-election, Díaz launched a second, successful revolt (the Plan de Tuxtepec) and captured the presidency. He held it through eight terms until 1911 now known as the Porfiriato. After many decades of civil wars, Mexico had finally exhausted itself and the general Porfirio Diaz had forced peace through his regime with no big rebellions or coups occurring.

France's adventure in Mexico had improved relations with Austria through Maximilian but produced no result as France had alienated itself in the international community. During 1866, Prussia went to war with France's indirect ally Austria, which was promptly defeated while French troops were still in Mexico unable to affect the situation in Europe. As for Napoleon's empire, it would later collapse in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war.

U.S. diplomacy and involvement[edit]

As early as 1859, U.S. and Mexican efforts to ratify the McLane-Ocampo Treaty had failed in the bitterly divided U.S. Senate, where tensions were high between the North and the South over slavery issues. Such a treaty would have allowed U.S. construction in Mexico and protection from European forces in exchange for a payment of $4 million to the heavily indebted government of Benito Juárez. On 3 December 1860, President James Buchanan had delivered a speech stating his displeasure at being unable to secure Mexico from European interference:

European governments would have been deprived of all pretext to interfere in the territorial and domestic concerns of Mexico. We should have thus been relieved from the obligation of resisting, even by force, should this become necessary, any attempt of these governments to deprive our neighboring Republic of portions of her territory, a duty from which we could not shrink without abandoning the traditional and established policy of the American people.[118]

United States policy did not change during the French occupation as it had to use its resources for the American Civil War, which lasted 1861 to 1865. President Abraham Lincoln expressed his sympathy to Latin American republics against any European attempt to establish a monarchy. Shortly after the establishment of the Imperial government in April 1864, United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, while maintaining U.S. neutrality, expressed U.S. discomfort at the imposition of a monarchy in Mexico: "Nor can the United States deny that their own safety and destiny to which they aspire are intimately dependent on the continuance of free republican institutions throughout America."[119]

On 4 April 1864, Congress passed a joint resolution:

Resolved, &c., That the Congress of the United States are unwilling, by silence, to leave the nations of the world under the impression that they are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now transpiring in the Republic of Mexico; and they therefore think fit to declare that it does not accord with the policy of the United States to acknowledge a monarchical government, erected on the ruins of any republican government in America, under the auspices of any European power.[120]

Near the end of the American Civil War, representatives at the 1865 Hampton Roads Conference briefly discussed a proposal for a north–south reconciliation by a joint action against the French in Mexico. In 1865, through the selling of Mexican bonds by Mexican agents in the United States, the Juarez Administration raised between $16-million and $18-million dollars for the purchase of American war material.[121] Between 1865 and 1868, General Herman Sturm acted as an agent to deliver guns and ammunition to the Mexican Republic led by Juarez.[122] In 1866 General Philip Sheridan was in charge of transferring additional supplies and weapons to the Liberal army, including some 30,000 rifles directly from the Baton Rouge Arsenal in Louisiana.[123]

By 1867, Seward shifted American policy from thinly veiled sympathy to the republican government of Juárez to open threat of war to induce a French withdrawal. Seward had invoked the Monroe Doctrine and later stated in 1868, "The Monroe Doctrine, which eight years ago was merely a theory, is now an irreversible fact."[124]

Divisions and disembarkation of allied troops[edit]

French expeditionary force, 31 December 1862[edit]

Campaign uniform of a French Foreign legionary during the Mexican campaign

At its peak in 1863, the French expeditionary force counted 38,493 men[7] : 740  (which represented 16.25% of the French army).[125] 6,654[8] : 231  French died, including 4,830 from disease.[8]: 231  Among these losses, 1,918 of the deaths were from the regiment of the French Foreign Legion.[126]: 267 

Victory of Jiquilpan, won by Colonel Clinchant, 2nd Zouaves
French chasseurs d'Afrique taking the standard of the Durango lancers

Général de Division Forey

1ère Division d'Infanterie (GdD Bazaine)[edit]

  • 1ère Brigade (GdB de Castagny)
  • 2e Brigade (GdB ?)
    • 20e Bataillon de Chasseurs
    • 3ème Régiment de Zouaves
    • 95e Régiment d'Infanterie légère
    • Bataillon de Tirailleurs algériens
  • 2x Marine artillery batteries

2e Division d'Infanterie (GdB Douay – acting)[edit]

  • 1ère Brigade (Col Hellier – acting)
    • 1er Bataillon de Chasseurs
    • 2e Régiment de Zouaves
    • 99e Régiment d'Infanterie légère
  • 2e Brigade (GdB Berthier)
    • 7e Bataillon de Chasseurs
    • 51e Régiment de Ligne
    • 62e Régiment de Ligne
  • 2x Army artillery batteries

Brigade de Cavallerie (GdB de Mirandol)[edit]

Naval Brigade[edit]

Units not yet arrived:

Belgian Voluntary Troops 1864–65[edit]

Belgian Legion in Mexico
Costumes of officers and soldiers of the Belgian regiment: bodyguards of the Empress Charlotte.

This corps was officially designated as the "Belgian Volunteers", but generally known as the "Belgian Legion".[129]

16 October 1864[edit]

  • 1st Grenadier Company
    • 4 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 125 grenadiers, 6 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 2nd Grenadier Company "Bataillon de l'Impératrice"
    • 4 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 122 grenadiers, 4 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 1st voltigeur Company
    • 4 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 122 voltigeurs, 4 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 2nd voltigeur Company
    • 4 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 121 voltigeurs, 4 musicians, 1 canteener

14 November 1864[edit]

  • 3rd Grenadier Company
    • 4 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 68 grenadiers, 6 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 4th Grenadier Company
    • 4 Officers, 15 Non-commissioned officers, 67 grenadiers, 6 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 3rd voltigeur Company
    • 3 Officers, 16 Non-commissioned officers, 61 voltigeurs, 3 musicians, 1 canteener
  • 4th voltigeur Company
    • 3 Officers, 15 Non-commissioned officers, 69 voltigeurs, 4 musicians, 1 canteener

16 December 1864[edit]

  • 5th Grenadier Company
  • 6th Grenadier Company
  • 5th voltigeur Company
  • 6th voltigeur Company
    Defense of the Belgian battalion in the Battle of Tacámbaro.
    • 362 volunteers

27 January 1865[edit]

    • 189 volunteers

15 April 1866[edit]

  • 1st Mounted Company
    • 70–80 horsemen (formed from Regiment "Impératrice Charlotte")

16 July 1866[edit]

  • 2nd Mounted Company
    • 70–80 horsemen (formed from Regiment "Roi des Belges")[130]

Austrian Voluntary Corps December 1864[edit]

Austrian Voluntary Corps

While officially designated as the Austrian Voluntary Corps, this foreign contingent included Hungarian, Polish and other volunteers from the Danube Monarchy.[131]

  • 159 officers
  • 403 infantry and jägers (Austrian)
  • 366 hussars (Hungarian)
  • 16 uhlans (Polish)
  • 67 bombardiers (mixed)
  • 30 pioneers (mixed)
  • several doctors

[2]

Egyptian Auxiliary Corps January 1863[edit]

This unit was commonly designated as the "Egyptian Battalion". It consisted of 453 men (including troops recruited from the Sudan), who were placed under the command of French commandant Mangin of the 3rd Zouave Regiment. Operating effectively in the Veracruz region, the Corps suffered 126 casualties until being withdrawn to Egypt in May 1867.[132]

Maximilian protested the loss of the Egyptian Corps, ostensibly to suppress a rebellion in the Sudan, because they were "extremely helpful in the hot lands".[133]

  • A battalion commander
  • A captain
  • A lieutenant
  • 8 sergeants
  • 15 corporals
  • 359 soldiers
  • 39 recruits

Spanish Expeditionary Force January 1862[edit]

  • 5373 infantry (two brigades)
  • 26 pieces of artillery,
  • 490 bombardiers
  • 208 engineers
  • 100 administrators
  • 173 cavalry

[8]: 103 

Captain Yarka, Romanian volunteer (1863)[edit]

At least one Romanian, an officer, served with the French forces. Captain Yarka of the Romanian Army served with the 3rd Regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique as a volunteer, keeping the same rank. In April 1863, Yarka engaged a Republican ("Juariste") Colonel in one-on-one combat, killing him. Yarka himself was wounded. In contemporary French sources, he is referred to as Wallachian ("Valaque").[134][135]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c Péter Torbágyi (2008). Magyar kivándorlás Latin-Amerikába az első világháború előtt (PDF) (in Hungarian). Szeged, Hungary: University of Szeged. p. 42. ISBN 978-963-482-937-9. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  3. ^ Richard Leroy Hill (1995). A Black corps d'élite: an Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history. East Lansing, United States: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 9780870133398.
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  6. ^ Le moniteur de l'armée: 1863
  7. ^ a b c d Gustave Niox (1874). Expédition du Mexique, 1861-1867; récit politique & militaire (in French). Paris, France: J. Dumaine. ASIN B004IL4IB4. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Jean-Charles Chenu (1877). "Expédition du Mexique" [Mexican expedition]. Aperçu sur les expéditions de Chine, Cochinchine, Syrie et Mexique : Suivi d'une étude sur la fièvre jaune par le Dr Fuzier [Overview of the expeditions in China, Cochinchina, Syria and Mexico: A Follow-up study on the yellow fever by Dr. Fuzier] (in French). Paris, France: Masson. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
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