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General Emiliano Calles of the U.S.M.

The Hundred Day War was fought between the Republic of France and the United States of Mexico from 22 June to 3 October 1914. The French invasion of the U.S.M. was defeated by several armed forces including the famed defense of Chapultepec under General Emiliano Calles.


After the French Revolution in 1880, starting the Bloody Eighties, France suffered from civil war between the monarchists and revolutionaries. As a result of this instability, Francophobia became quite common around the world, especially in the United States of Mexico. In 1882, Chief of State Benito Hermión repudiated Mexico's debt owed to France. Hermión argued that the debt was to the Kingdom of France, not the Republic. This began a new era of Franco-Mexican relations, from friendship to enmity.

In 1909, France, after 14 years of instability was taken over by Marshal Henri Fanchon. Fanchon, an expansionist, attempted to resume ties with its former colonies. Fanchon was rebuffed by Quebec, barred from entering the Santos Colony, controlled by the Brazilian Empire and responded to a request for assistance by Ghana. Fanchon was a militarist who wanted a war to prove French military superiority and began to purposely clash with the U.S.M., which he believed had been weakened by Hermión's ouster in 1901.

800px-Ocupación estadounidense de Veracruz

French ships landing in Tampico in June 1914.

Fanchon began to lay the groundwork for a war with Mexico, intervening in South America, a traditional Mexican zone of influence, and making inflammatory accusations. In Mexico, newly elected President Victoriano Consalus promised peace, but guaranteed that Mexico would not shrink from war. On 1 April 1914, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with France. 15 days later French troops began to arrive in Argentina to assist the government in putting down "Mexican-backed" guerillas. On 2 June 1914, French ships embarked from Martinique. On 12 June, riots instigated by French agents erupted in Tampico, leading Fanchon to send the French fleet into Tampico, causing the Hundred Day War.

The War: 22 June - 3 October 1914[]

In the first week of fighting, French marines managed to occupy Tampico, while a second force landed at the Kinkaid Canal and secured a second beachead. Meanwhile, a French fleet steamed towards Vera Cruz, but was defeated in the Battle of Campeche Bay. By the end of the second week, a combined Mexican-Guatemalan force had forced the French at the Kinkaid Canal into nearby mountains, leaving Tampico as the only successful beachhead. Additional troops of the French Expeditionary Force under the command of General Jacques Beauchamp landed on 15 July. Beauchamp, under orders from Fanchon, led the F.E.F. on the march to Mexico City. The Mexican army had been prepared for the advance, but fell back steadily in the face of French assaults. As the F.E.F. advanced through the state of Durango it liberated thousands of Negro slaves, many of whom joined in the attack on Mexico City.

On 13 August Consalus replaced the aging General Vincent Collins with General Emiliano Calles, commander of the Durango district, and at 40 the youngest general in the Mexican army and its only Mexicano general. Calles, leading fresh recruits to the front, met the F.E.F. at Chapultepec along the Tampico Road. The Battle of Chapultepec would prove the deciding point in the war; General Beauchamp was killed in the battle, and the next day his successor, General Pierre Bordagary surrendered unconditionally, ending the drive to Mexico City. Afterwards the Mexican troops liberated Tampico from the French by 29 September. Four days later Fanchon sued for peace.


The Hundred Day War was formally ended by the Treaty of Caracas, in which the U.S.M. was granted an indemnity of $200 million, with an additional $200 million set aside to pay the claims of Mexican nationals. France also ceded control of the Caribbean islands of Martinique and St. Thomas to the U.S.M.

When the French troops withdrew from Tampico, they left behind some 8,000 Negro slaves who had run away to join them on their march on Mexico City. President Consalus ordered the slaves arrested and tried for treason. The Chapultepec treason trials provoked international outrage, especially within the C.N.A. Governor Howard Washburne of Southern Vandalia called for the abolition of slavery in Mexico, and formed the Friends of Black Mexico to further that aim. In the U.S.M., the treason trials tore Mexican society apart, and led to General Calles' election as President in 1920.


Sobel's sources for the Hundred Day War are Emiliano Calles' Wars to Come (Mexico City, 1918); Alexander Flinders' The Road to War: The Fanchon Proposals (London, 1934); Edward McGraw's The Hundred Day War: An Analysis and History (Melbourne, 1950); Field Marshal Sir Wesley Gabor's Emiliano Calles and the Art of War (London, 1955); Harold Walker's The Boil: Free Slaves in the Hundred Day War (New York, 1955); and Phillip Daley's The Hundred Day War (New York, 1966).