A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, May 5, 2014

For Cinco de Mayo, a Reminder of the Egyptian Battalion in Maximilian's Mexico

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday more widely celebrated in the United States as an excuse to drink Mexican beer, than it is in Mexico, where it's mostly confined to the state of Puebla. It commemorates a Mexican victory over the French in 1862. The French, however, came back stronger and eventually installed the Emperor Maximilian. And that gives me an excuse to bring up once again the little-known subject of my 2012 post: "A Sudanese-Egyptian Battalion in Maximilian's Mexico."

The Egyptian Battalion Arrives in Paris
The French under Napoleon III had the bright idea that since Mexico is hot and Sudan is hot, Egyptian-officered Sudanese would be ideal there, so they asked Said Pasha, Wali of Egypt, to provide them. France used Algerian troops as translators.

The story is more fully told in my previous post; typhus and yellow fever depleted their numbers, but they reportedly fought well, and were repatriated after Maximilian's fall.

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