Second Battle of Tabasco
|Second Battle of Tabasco|
|Part of Mexican-American War|
American landing in San Juan Bautista (Villahermosa today) during the Second Battle of Tabasco.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Matthew C. Perry
David D. Porter
4 artillery pieces
unknown naval forces
1 shore battery
|Casualties and losses|
|~30 killed or wounded,
2 forts damaged,
1 shore battery damaged
Commodore Matthew C. Perry, commander of the U.S. Home Squadron had recently captured the port cities of Tuxpan and Carmen. He next decided to move against the city of San Juan Bautista (present day Villahermosa), the capital of the state of Tabasco.
Perry had received reports that the Mexican commander in Tabasco was strengthening the city's defenses and building obstructions in the Tabasco River (present day Grijalva River). Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet in June and began moving towards the Grijalva towing 47 boats carrying 1,173 strong landing force.
The fleet moved slowly up the river and was initially picked at by Mexican snipers along the riverbank. On June 15, 12 miles (19 km) below San Juan Bautista, the fleet ran through an ambush with little difficulty. Again at an "s" curve in the river known as the "Devil's Bend", Perry encountered Mexican fire from a river fortification known as the Colmena redoubt. The heavy naval guns quickly dispersed the Mexican force, but the fleet, blocked by river obstructions, anchored in the bend. While investigating the obstructions, one of Perry's lieutenants was fired upon and wounded. It was then decided to land the troops at Devil's Bend and march against the city over land.
On June 16, Perry opened a brief bombardment of the shore before leading the landing party and 4 artillery pieces ashore, leaving Lieutenant David D. Porter in command of the vessels. The overland route bypassed the Colmena redoubt, and before long they encountered a stronger defensive fortification known as Fort Acachapan manned by 600 troops under the command of Colonel Claro Hidalgo. Perry unlimbered his artillery and shelled the position then ordered a charge. With his sword in had, Perry personally led the charge which drove the Mexicans back so quickly that breakfasts were left uneaten.
In the meantime Lieutenant Porter had managed to destroy the river obstructions and move up the river. At one point just as Perry was approaching the Mexican defenses, Porter opened fire on them mistaking the Americans for the Mexicans. The mistake was quickly remedied, and Porter kept on moving upriver, soon reaching Fort Iturbide guarding the city from the riverbank. Two ships ran past the fort and began shelling it from the rear. Porter led 60 sailors ashore and seized the fort, raising the U.S. flag over the works. Perry and the landing force arrived and took control of the city around 2 p.m.
The last Mexican port on the Gulf coast had been captured. Colonel Echagaray withdrew further upstream, but guerrilla bands lingered behind. Perry left a garrison in Tabasco, but yellow fever and the constant presence of guerrillas persuaded Perry to withdraw the garrison but maintain the blockade of the city. In the aftermath of the U.S. victory, a movement in the states of Tabasco and Chiapas arose which sought to break the two states from Mexico and join with Guatemala. Perry gave no support for the proposal, remaining neutral, and the movement eventually died off.
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- Bauer, K. Jack (1974). The Mexican-American War 1846-1848. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
- "Roll of Honor - U.S. Casualties of Naval Actions in the War with Mexico". Descendants of Mexican War Veterans. 2002. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- "A Continent Divided: The U.S.-Mexico War". The Center for Greater Southwestern Studies, The University of Texas Arlington.