Pastry War

Pastry War

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=The Pastry War

date=November 1838 - March 1839
result=French victory


The Pastry War ( _es. Guerra de los pasteles) was an invasion of Mexico by French forces in 1838.


The war arose from the widespread civil disorder that plagued the early years of the Mexican republic. In 1828, President Manuel Gómez Pedraza ejected Lorenzo de Zavala from the office of governor of the state of México. Zavala, supported by Antonio López de Santa Anna, was able to rally most of the garrison in Mexico City (then a part of México state) to his aid. Four days of fighting in Mexico City resulted in Zavala winning and installing a new president, Vicente Guerrero. Due to the fighting in the streets, a great deal of personal property was destroyed. The average citizen had little recourse for damages suffered. They had no consuls, or representatives to speak on their behalf. Foreigners whose property was damaged or destroyed by rioters or bandits were usually unable to obtain compensation from the government, and began to appeal to their own governments for help. Despite the repeated French claims, the French government let the matter subside.


In 1838 a French pastry cook, Monsieur Remontel, claimed his shop in the Tacubaya district of Mexico City had been ruined by looting Mexican officers in 1828. He appealed to France's King Louis-Philippe (1773–1850). Coming to its citizen's aid, France demanded 600,000 pesos in damages. This amount was extremely high when compared to an average workman's daily pay, which was about one peso. In addition to this amount, Mexico had defaulted on millions of dollars worth of loans from France. Diplomat Baron Deffaudis gave Mexico an ultimatum to pay, or the French would demand satisfaction. When the payment was not forthcoming from president Anastasio Bustamante (1780–1853), the king sent a fleet under Rear Admiral Charles Baudin to declare a blockade of all Mexican ports from Yucatán to the Rio Grande, to bombard the Mexican fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, and to seize the port of Veracruz. Virtually the entire Mexican Navy was captured at Veracruz by December 1838. Mexico declared war on France.

With trade cut off, the Mexicans began smuggling imports into Corpus Christi, Texas, and then into Mexico. Fearing that France would blockade Texan ports as well, a battalion of men of the Republic of Texas force began patrolling Corpus Christi Bay to stop Mexican smugglers. One smuggling party abandoned their cargo of about a hundred barrels of flour on the beach at the mouth of the bay, thus giving Flour Bluff its name. The United States, ever watchful of its relations with Mexico, sent the schooner "Woodbury" to help the French in their blockade. Talks between the Kingdom of France and the Texan nation occurred and France agreed not to offend the soil or waters of the Republic of Texas.

The battle celebrated as Cinco de Mayo has occasionally been mistaken as taking place in this war. It did not. It was connected with a later (1862) invasion of Mexico orchestrated by Napoleon III.

anta Anna's role

Meanwhile, acting without explicit government authority, Santa Anna came out of retirement from his hacienda near Xalapa and surveyed Veracruz. He asked the government to use his services, and he was immediately ordered to fight the French by any means necessary. He led Mexican forces against the French and in a skirmish with the rear guard of the French, Santa Anna was wounded in the leg by French grapeshot. His leg had to be amputated. Exploiting his wounds with eloquent propaganda, Santa Anna catapulted back to power.

With the diplomatic intervention of Great Britain, eventually President Bustamante promised to pay the 600,000 pesos and the French forces withdrew on 9 March 1839.


*Nofi, Albert A.; "The Alamo and the Texas War for Independence"; Da Capo Press; ISBN 0-306-80563-4
*Warner, Michael S.; "Consise Encyclopedia of Mexico"; Fitzroy Dearborn.

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