Ignacio Zaragoza

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Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín
Ignacio Zaragoza.png
General Ignacio Zaragoza
Secretary of War and Navy
In office
13 April 1861 – 22 December 1861
PresidentBenito Juárez
Preceded byJesús González Ortega
Succeeded byPedro Hinojosa
Personal details
Born(1829-03-24)March 24, 1829
Presidio La Bahía, Coahuila y Tejas, Mexican Republic
(now Goliad, Texas, U.S.)
DiedSeptember 8, 1862(1862-09-08) (aged 33)
Puebla, Mexico
Resting placePanteón de San Fernando
Mexico City [1]
Military service
Allegiance Mexico
Branch/serviceMexican Army
Years of service1853-1862
Secretary of War

Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín (Spanish pronunciation: [iɣˈnasjo saɾaˈɣosa]; March 24, 1829 – September 8, 1862) was a Mexican general and politician. He led the Mexican army that defeated invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (mostly celebrated in the United States as Cinco de Mayo).


House where General Zaragoza was born in Bahía del Espíritu Santo in what is now Goliad, Texas.

Early life[edit]

Zaragoza was born in the early Mexican Texas village of Bahía del Espíritu Santo (now Goliad, Texas, in the United States) in what was then the Mexican state of Coahuila y Texas. He was the son of Miguel G. Zaragoza and María de Jesús Seguín, who was a niece of Erasmo Seguín and cousin of Juan Seguín. The Zaragoza family moved to Matamoros, Mexico, in 1834, and then to Monterrey, Mexico, in 1844, where young Ignacio entered a seminary, unable to enlist as a cadet during the Mexican American War.

Military and political career[edit]

During the political unrest of the 1850s, Zaragoza joined the army supporting the cause of the Liberal Party, in opposition to dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, and later the conservatives including the church. Zaragoza rose to command an army of volunteers that in 1855 defeated Santa Anna and led to the re-establishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico. On 22 December, 1860, the general played a crucial role in the battle of Calpulalpan which effectively ended the reform war.

Zaragoza served as Secretary of War from April through October 1861, in the cabinet of Benito Juárez. He resigned in order to lead the Army of the East (Ejército de Oriente) against the Europeans, in particular the French, who were using the Mexican external debt as a pretext under the Treaty of London concluded earlier that year to invade Mexico.

When the forces of Napoleon III invaded in the French intervention in Mexico, Zaragoza's forces fought them at Acultzingo on April 28, 1862, where he was forced to withdraw.

The General's Finest Moment[edit]

Zaragoza fell back to the favorable defensive forts outside of the city of Puebla, and with his ragtag army, beat back repeated French assaults upon the Mexican positions at Fort Loreto and Fort Guadalupe. He held firm ordering several counter attacks and held the gates to the capital. The French were forced to retreat to Orizaba.

Shortly after his famous victory, Zaragoza was struck with typhoid fever, of which he died at the age of 33. He was buried in San Fernando Cemetery in Mexico City. He was later exhumed and transferred to Puebla, while his former tomb became a monument.


His famous quotation, Las armas nacionales se han cubierto de gloria ("The national arms have been covered with glory"), is used to remember the battle, and comes from the single-line letter he wrote to his superior, President Juárez, informing him of the victory. It was included, along with Zaragoza's likeness, on Mexican 500-peso banknotes from 1995 to 2010 (Series D).

In Mexico City, Zaragoza is honored with an avenue named after him in addition to a Metro station named for him on Line 1. In the film Cinco de Mayo La Batalla (2013), Zaragoza was portrayed by Kuno Becker.

See also[edit]