The Famous "Battle of the Carboneras"

Leticia’s mother also has a personal narrative relating how her uncle Colonel Antonio Gamboa won the famous “Battle of the Carboneras.” (Carboneras refers to the place of the battle.) This was one of the decisive battles ending the brief French rule by Maximillian, 1864 to 1867. Colonel Gamboa was approaching a sizable French force. He had been ordered to retire in face of this well equipped, well trained body of French troops; but rather, he waited until nightfall, stealthily observing the enemy forces all the while. The French followed their usual custom of clustering their soldiers in circles for the night and stacking their rifles in the middle of each circle, stock down and barrels pointing upward.

After nightfall when all was quiet in the camp, Colonel Gamboa tied a long rope between two horses. Then he stampeded the horses directly through the French encampment. The rope pulled down all the stacks of rifles and scattered them out of reach of the soldiers. Taking advantage of the surprise, General Gamboa and his Mexican forces attacked with swords, machetes and knives, literally hacking to death the startled French soldiers who could not escape.

This famous battle is written up in Mexican history books as a key battle in ending the French occupation and a patriotic example of the valor of the Mexican soldiers.


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