A celebration to begin May

This past week was a fun week for me, other than on Monday when I ran my battery down by forgetting to turn out my lights, when I got to the hospital. It was raining a little when I left home but became a downpour during the afternoon. When I got off at 5:00 and went out to my car, I got pretty wet, and then, if possible, I got wetter still while trying to help get it jump-started. Thank goodness for a kind woman who had a daughter in ER and was waiting to see her and get information, as well as one of our auxiliary members who was helping also, I made it home! It continued raining most of the night but since my gauge broke during the ice storm, I don’t have a clue as to how much we had. In one area, I was told there was over six inches! Tuesday was an uneventful day, and Wednesday, I left my house early in the morning to head to Devine and Castroville. It was an awesome visit, and a wonderful luncheon with a friend, Thursday was a busy day also, as was Friday. Saturday, I headed back home and had a really nice trip, a little rain, but not pouring down, traffic not bad…yes, an OK trip for me. Now, it’s time to get back to the grind!
May is a month with more holidays/celebrations than many of our other months. First, we have May Day on May 1. It is not celebrated in our country as much as it is in other countries. In many places, it is celebrated with a show of military arms. In others, it is celebrated with parties, May poles and May baskets.
The second celebration, Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration in much of the world, especially ones with a strong Hispanic culture, and last, but no means least, we will celebrate Mother’s Day on the third Sunday of this month, and to end the month, we will have Memorial Day, which basically begins the summer season of holidays.
In San Antonio, there are sure to be some parties celebrating this day of victory for a small, ill-equipped militia, under the direction of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin in 1862. His small group of about 3500 defeated a much better equipped and trained French troop of over 4500 in the battle of Puebla. This “Batalla de Puebla” came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism.
The following is taken, in part, from an article entitled, “Cinco de Mayo” by Esmeralda Pulido that I found on the Internet
It was on this day in 1862, that the Mexican army, for the first time, defeated the most feared French army of Napoleon III. He had been planning to take unconditional control over Mexico. Napoleon III observed how the Spaniards had controlled the land in colonial times and how they lost it. He had also seen the northern part of Mexico was later of great interest to the United States Emancipation plan. It was through the treaty of Guadalupe Hildago that Mexico lost one half of its territory. The government was split, headed by Zuloaga and another headed by Benito Juarez. Under these conditions, Napoleon III wanted the land even more. He, therefore, sent the Austrian, Ferdinand Maximilian, to take control (under Napoleon IIIs orders) as Emperor of Mexico.
Mexico was not willing to have any more colonizing and ruling from other Empires settling in the land. It was a time to fight back and be respected. All their gold and silver was under the Spanish power when they had first colonized the land.
President Juarez decreed that no man between the ages of 20 and 60 would be excused from taking up arms. He was determined not to lose his people’s land. He made it clear to the citizens that any traitors would be taken prisoner, and have his possessions confiscated by the State. He guaranteed to protect the lives and property of French citizens who lived in Mexico.
The French proclaimed General Almonte as president of the Republic of Mexico. No all of the citizens of Mexico accepted him as President. Those who were loyal to their country still depended on their only president, Benito Juarez.
Juarez sent a warning to Napoleon III, who later denied receiving it. In it, Juarez indicated that the citizens did not want a monarchy and did not want to be controlled by the French Empire. He also warned Napoleon III that if the nation’s sovereignty were attacked, the citizens would resist, and sooner or later freedom and justice would win. Napoleon took all of this as a joke because he did not recall his army back to France, but continued his aggression into Mexico City. On April 12, 1862, President Juarez had no other choice but to make his nation aware of the French invasion. He asked the people to support the Mexican army in the impending battle and to defend their independence. He reminded them that, in war, everyone suffered, but no type of misfortune was greater than the loss of freedom.
General Ignacio Zaragoza was appointed to gather forces at Puebla to defend Mexico City. Zaragoza and Juarez, as well as the French, knew that the only way to Mexico City was through Puebla. If the French were able to gain control of Puebla, Mexico would be in their hands. General Lorencez was put in charge of taking Puebla. IN many instances he was informed that the citizens of Mexico were willing to accept the French in their land and that there was not going to be any combat at all once he reached Puebla. Lorencez had no idea that the inhabitants of Puebla were actually waiting for him.
Puebla had over 80,000 inhabitants and over 150 churches and was surrounded by a chain of five forts. Zaragoza had an army of about 6,000 men who were placed in the forts. The others were held in reserve in the city, where he had erected barricades in most of the streets.
He knew that at this time of the year, showers were to be expected frequently. The rains made the roads almost impossible to use, causing heavy cannons to get stuck on mountain roads. The hail storms would also make life miserable for the soldiers, and if there was an outbreak of disease, such as small pox or tyhoid fever, this would also wreak havoc. The Mexicans knew their territory, which gave them a great advantage, in spite of the fact that they were short on supplies and weapons.
On May3, 1862, Zaragoza arrived at Puebla and discussed with the citizens the possible tactics that the French would use. On May 4, Lorencez arrived at the village of Amozoc, a few miles north of Puebla. He did not know where to attack. Almonte advised him to attack from the west, and added that Puebla had never been taken from the north. Others advised Lorencez to attack from the north. The French army arrived near Puebla at 9:00 a.m., on May 5, 1862. Once there, Lorencez’s army was attacked by a small group of Mexicans. The French took a stand and realized that they were not going to be as welcome as they thought they would be. At 11:00 a.m., the battle of Cinco de Mayo began.
To get into the city of Puebla, the French army had to bring down the Fort of Guadalupe and also Fort Loreto, which was about half a mile away. For hours they kept advancing closer to the fort’s walls and did not seem to be doing any damage. After about an hour and a half of fighting, they had spent nearly half their ammunition, and the French infantry was sent in to capture the fort. They were under strong musket fire from the Mexicans in the fort, and from others sheltered by rising ground halfway between the two forts. The Mexican artillery in Fort Loreto was also turned on them.
Acting on orders from Zaragoza, Porfirio Diaz led a charge against the French infantry in front of the fort. That afternoon a heavy thunderstorm drenched the combatants, obscured visibility and made the ground slippery. Lorencez did not have a chance and he knew it. He was running out of weapons and losing soldiers. To save his army, he knew he had to retreat. At around 7:00 p.m., the French army retreated from Fort Guadalupe to a position at the foot of the hill and waited for a Mexican counter attack. The French erected their tents and spent the light listening to the Mexicans cheering and celebrating their victory by singing Mexican songs and the “Marseillaise”, which to the French was “our Marseillaise”. Lorencez waited for Zaragoza to make the next move, staying for two days in the city of Puebla. But, after seeing that Zaragoza was not coming, Napoleon’s army had to walk through the silent mountains, defeated, with 462 men and eight of their prisoners taken.
President Juarez decided to make the Battle of Puebla a holiday, along with Mexican Independence Day (September 16). The battle came to be known as the “Batalla de Puebla”, in which civilians of the poor Pueblo de Puebla defeated the great French army of Napoleon III.
The following recipe was originally from TABASCO and is for a snack which is similar to a quesadilla, but it is called Sincronizadas, and this seems to mean sandwich!
2 tablespoons TABASCO brand Green Pepper Sauce (divided use)
12 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (divided use)
Thin sliced cooked ham, cut into ½-inch strips
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
½ cup chopped (drained) tomato
¼ cup chopped cilantro.
Place six tortillas on flat surface. Spread about ½-teaspoon of TABASCO® Green Pepper sauce on each.
Equally sprinkle one-cup of the cheese over the tortillas. Layer on the ham strips, avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and remaining cup of cheese.
Spread one side of remaining six tortillas with remaining TABASCO® and place sauce side down on layered tortillas, forming sandwiches (sincronizadas).
On a griddle or in a medium sized skillet, cook sincronizadas, one at a time over medium heat, until tortillas are crisp and lightly browned on each side, and cheese is melted. Remove to a platter, cut into wedges and serve with additional sauce if desired.