Ignacio Zaragoza

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Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín
Ignacio Zaragoza.png
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 600 men that defeated 6,500 invading French forces the elite French legionnaires 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, Zaragoza 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 had sole command over Mexican forces for the first time and battled the French at Acultzingo on April 28, 1862, where he was forced to withdraw in the face of superior forces.

Defense at Puebla[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. He then took the initiative and ordered a general counter attack pushing the French in a general retreat to Orizaba with Zaragoza's men in pursuit.


Shortly after his famous victory, Zaragoza was struck with typhoid fever, of which he died at the age of 33. His army would never have a commander equal to him as they suffered defeats later on. 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. When the French left Mexico in defeat, Zaragoza became a legend as one of the few Mexican generals to have success in battle against the then-greatest army in the world.


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. The quotation was included, along with Zaragoza's likeness, on Mexican 500-peso banknotes from 1995 to 2010 (Series D).[1]

There is a municipality in the Mexican state of Chihuahua that is named after Zaragoza.

There are urban localities named after Zaragoza in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Chihuahua, Puebla, and Tlaxcala.[2]

Most Mexican states have at least one rural locality named after Zaragoza; there are at least 52 rural localities named after Zaragoza as of 2021.[3]

Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza is one of the main avenues of Mexico City, crossing the city from center to the southeast, and at its intersection with Avenida Río Churubusco it becomes Mexican Federal Highway 150D. There is also a subway station on Line 1 of the Mexico City Metro named after Zaragoza.

In the film Cinco de Mayo La Batalla (2013), Zaragoza was portrayed by Kuno Becker.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "500 Mexican Pesos banknote (Series D) - Exchange yours for cash today".
  2. ^ "City Population - Site Search".
  3. ^ "City Population - Site Search".