Camarón Day Date in the current year: April 30, 2024

Camarón Day Camarón Day is observed on April 30 every year in Mexico, as well as in France by the French Foreign Legion. It commemorates one of the most famous battles of the Second Franco-Mexican War, where a small infantry patrol of the French Foreign Legion refused to surrender to superior enemy forces.

After the Mexican War of Reform, resulting in the victory of the Liberal Party, members of the Conservative Party came up with a plan that was supposed to help them take control of the country. They appealed to the governments of several European countries, hoping that foreign intervention would enable them to overthrow Benito Juarez’s liberal government.

In December 1861, the United Kingdom, France and Spain invaded Mexico under the pretext of financial claims, as Juarez had imposed a moratorium of loan-interest payments to British, French and Spanish creditors. However, Britain and Spain eventually withdrew their forces, while the French started a war with Mexico in May 1862.

In the spring of 1863, the French army commenced the siege of Puebla. On April 29, the 3rd Company of the 1st Battalion of the French Foreign Legion was tasked with guarding a convoy carrying ammunition, guns and money from Veracruz to Puebla. The company consisted of 62 Legionnaires and three Legion officers, with Captain Jean Danjou in command.

In the morning of April 30, the Legionnaires were attacked by Mexican cavalry near Camarón and the La Trinidad Hacienda. Captain Danjou moved his men back west, to the hacienda, where they could better defend themselves. He made the Legionnaires swear they would fight to death rather than surrender, and for over ten hours they withstood the assault of 3,000 Mexican cavalry and infantry, killing 190 Mexicans and injuring over 300.

By evening, only five Legionnaires were left. They desperately mounted a bayonet charge, but were surrounded. Corporal Philippe Main agreed to surrender on condition that Mexicans leave them their weapons and their equipment, and that wounded French lieutenant be taken care of. Ultimately, 40 Legionnaires and 3 Legion officers were killed in the battle, and 19 were captured. Most captives died of wounds, and those who didn’t were exchanged for Mexican prisoners in July 1863.

Camarón Day is celebrated both in Mexico and in France. In Mexico, it is the anniversary of a military victory, while the French regard it as a commemoration of the valor and bravery of the Legionnaires who participated in the battle. Camerone Day (Camerone being the French spelling of Camarón) is one of the most important days for all members of the French Foreign Legion.

In France, Camarón Day is marked with a military parade and a remembrance ceremony in the Legion’s headquarters in Aubagne. During the celebration, Capitan Danjou’s wooden hand is taken from the Legion Museum of Memory in its protective case and carried on parade. To be asked to carry the hand is one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed on a Legionnaire.

In Mexico, Camarón Day is celebrated at the site of the battle near Camarón de Tejeda. A remembrance ceremony and a parade are held the resting place of Mexican and French soldiers who died in the battle. The ceremony is attended by Mexican politicians who deliver speeches, and sometimes also by representatives of the French military and French Foreign Legion veterans. The residents of Camarón de Tejeda also organize a fiesta on the occasion.

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Camarón Day, Battle of Camarón, observances in France, observances in Mexico, French Foreign Legion