A Brief History of Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla of 1862, in which Mexican soldiers surprisingly defeated French forces trying to occupy the country. "Outnumbered, ill-equipped, and ragged, but highly spirited and courageous," the underdog Mexicans drove back the French on May 5, 1862, according to a U.S. House resolution about the day. The following year, however, Napoleon III sent troops to Mexico City, where they won an easy victory. Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was installed as emperor, a title he held until his execution in 1867.