They were outmanned and outgunned, but the Mexican troops made up for the lack of numbers and firepower with grit and determination. An expensive civil war had left Mexico in debt to Britain, Spain and France. But shortly after the war ended, Mexico was forced to suspend repayments in order to rebuild their infrastructure. This didn’t make their benefactors happy and now the French were coming to either collect or take over.
After suffering heavy casualties, the Mexican Commander General, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, withdrew his army to Puebla. The small town was still heavily fortified, having survived the civil war, and Zaragoza’s troops immediately began additional preparations, digging trenches to connect the two hill-top forts sitting just north. When the French force of 8,000 infantry and cavalry arrived on the fifth of May, 1862, they assumed their victory would be swift. The inferior Mexican garrison of only 4,000 men now had no way to retreat.
But when a show of arms failed to intimidate the Mexican troops, the French attacked. They foolishly expended most of their ammunition in an initial, ill-timed advance and quickly ran out. They were surprised by the strong showing put forth by the Mexican army, who spilled out of the forts and fought hand-to-hand on the hillside between them. After three infantry advances the French retreated, having lost more than five times as many men as their underestimated foes. Today, El Dia de la Batalia de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla) is known simply as Cinco de Mayo, and serves as a reminder of the power of determination and teamwork against overwhelming odds.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose hope when faced with a foe who seems to have everything working in their favor. The competition can seem too organized, prepared and well-funded. But history is full of stories illustrating the power of the underdog. Those who most desire to win the day often find that their own creativity and ability to pull together are all they need.
Who’s your biggest competition?
What advantages do they have over you?
How can your team overcome the competition despite their apparent advantage?