Naval Battle of Campeche

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Naval Battle of Campeche
Part of Texas-Mexican Wars and Yucatan Rebellion
Texan schooner Austin.jpg
The Texan sloop-of-war Austin.
Date April 30–May 16, 1843
Location near Campeche, Mexico
Result Texas and Yucatan tactical victory
Mexican strategic victory
Belligerents
 Republic of Texas
 Republic of Yucatán
 Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Republic of Texas Edwin Ward Moore
Republic of Yucatán James D. Boylan
Mexico Tomas Marin
Strength
1 sloop-of-war
1 brig
2 schooners
5 gunboats[1]
3 steamers
2 brigs
2 schooners[1]
Casualties and losses
7 killed
24 wounded
30 killed
55 wounded

The Naval Battle of Campeche took place on April 30, 1843, and May 16, 1843. The battle featured the most advanced warships of its day, including the Mexican steamer Guadalupe and the equally formidable Moctezuma which engaged a squadron of vessels from the Republic of Yucatan and the Republic of Texas. The latter force consisted of the Texas Navy flagship sloop-of-war Austin, commanded by Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, the brig Wharton, and several schooners and five gunboats from the Republic of Yucatán, commanded by former Texas Navy Captain James D. Boylan. Texas had declared its independence in 1836 but Mexico refused to recognize it. In Yucatán, a similar rebellion had begun and was fought off-and-on from 1836 to 1846. The battle ended in a combined Yucatecan and Texan victory.[2] A scene from this battle is engraved on the cylinder of every Colt 1851 Navy and 1861 Navy revolvers

Background[edit]

Commodore Edwin Ward Moore had been waging a campaign against Mexican interests in the Gulf and disrupting commerce, because it was thought the Mexican army was planning an amphibious assault on Texas in order to recapture the province. Moore could not fully refit and rearm his ships without expending his own funds when he put in at New Orleans. The government of Texas refused him more funds and Sam Houston ordered him back to Texas so the fleet could be sold. The fleet, upon being put up for auction in Galveston, was not sold at that time because the citizens of Galveston rioted, thereby preventing the auction. Moore disregarded Houston's orders, and allied himself with the government of the Republic of Yucatan, which was then in open rebellion against the central Mexican government. Yucatan paid Texas $8,000 a month for the services of the Texas Navy. Moore, now fully funded, sailed to lift the Mexican naval blockcade of the port of Campeche.

Battle[edit]

The brig Wharton depicted on Texan currency.

The battle began on April 30, and involved the Texas-Yucatan force that had been attacking and clearing the Gulf of Mexico of Mexican merchant and fishing boats, against a small Mexican squadron which consisted of sailing ships and a small steamer, the Regenerator. The initial battle lasted a few hours and was a draw, as both sides retired. After rearming, the Texan ships, including the 600 ton flagship Austin, on May 16 encountered a much stronger Mexican squadron, which included the modern 1200 ton ironclad steamships Guadalupe and the Moctezuma, armed with Paixhans guns able to fire exploding shells, commanded by British officers and manned by British and Mexican seamen. After three hours of broadsides, the battle was decisively a Texas victory, with both sides again withdrawing after sustaining considerable damage and casualties. The Texas ships suffered some physical damage, but the Mexican and British sailors suffered many more casualties of both dead and wounded. The battle scene was memorialized by Samuel Colt in an engraving on the cylinder of the famed 1851 and 1861 Colt Navy Revolvers to thank the Texas Navy and Commodore Moore for purchasing his revolvers and carbines and saving him from bankruptcy, [3]

The Mexican steamship Regenerator and its battered attendant squadron rejoined the Guadalupe and the Moctezuma flotilla about May 19, and faced with this enlarged force, the Texas squadron retired to Galveston. They were acclaimed as heroes on their return, even though Texas President Sam Houston had declared Commodore Moore and the ships' captains and crew pirates for sailing against his wishes. However, after demanding a court martial, Commodore Moore was acquitted of all piracy charges. Having fought the much larger and better equipped Mexican squadron to a decisive victory was an achievement for Commodore Moore, the Naval Battle of Campeche becoming the only naval battle in world history in which sailing ships bested steam-powered ships in combat.

Order of Battle[edit]

Texas Navy:

Yucatecan Navy:

Mexican Navy:

  • Guadaloupe, ironclad, 7 Paixhans guns, 1200 ton steamer, flagship
  • Moctezuma, ironclad, 4 Paixhans guns, 1200 ton steamer
  • Regenerator, steamer
  • Yucateco, 12 guns, brig
  • Iman, 7 guns, brig
  • Aguila, 7 guns, schooner
  • Campechano, 3 guns, schooner

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.texasnavy.com/History/Articles/Battle_of_Campeche.pdf
  2. ^ Jordan, Jonathan W., Lone Star Navy: Texas, the Fight for the Gulf of Mexico, and the Shaping of the American West (Potomac Books 2007)
  3. ^ Handbook of Texas

Coordinates: 19°55′N 90°38′W / 19.917°N 90.633°W / 19.917; -90.633