Battle of Acapulco

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1st Battle of Acapulco
Part of the Second French intervention in Mexico
Expédition du Mexique. — Entrée de la division française dans la rade d'Acapulco, le 10 Janiver 1863. — D'après un croquis de M. H. H., aspirant de marine.jpg
Entry of the French division in the Bay of Acapulco, January 10, 1863.
DateJanuary 10–12, 1863[1]:54–55
Location
Result French victory, city evacuation, three forts rendered unoperational
Belligerents
Mexico Mexican Republicans France French Empire  United States
Commanders and leaders
Diego Álvarez Benítez
Juan Álvarez[1]:54–55
Luis Ghilardi[2]:125
Captain Eugène Mathurin Marie Le Bris Durumain[3]:1060[4]:101
Rear Admiral Adolphe Charles Émile Bouët[4]:101[5]
John Augustus Sutter, Jr.[1]:54–55
Units involved
Southern Army French naval division of the Pacific ocean Pacific Squadron
Strength
~dozen garrison[6] 4 men-o-wars
100 marines[6]
Warship Saranac[1]:54–55
Casualties and losses
12–13 dead[6] possibly none possibly none
Americans remained neutral. According to the accounts Don Juan Sutter raised the American flag onto a boat and sailed to the French flagship Pallas across the cannon fire, he convinced Admiral Bouet to stop the shelling of civilian houses.[1]:54–55

The Battle of Acapulco were a series of battles during the Second French intervention in Mexico. Acapulco was a key port of the Pacific trade routes and thus changed hands several times in the course of the Franco-Mexican war. In this period the population of the city had decreased from 6000 to 2000.[7]

First battle[edit]

Juan Álvarez Commander-in-chief of Acapulco
Map of the bombardment of Acapulco.

Juan Álvarez and a group of Indian guerrillas were still in control of Guerrero as well as Acapulco, which were not reached by the French army in the early stages of the intervention. On the morning of January 8, 1863, a French war steamer the Diamant, anchored into the Acapulco port. Captain Le Bris asked for General Diego Álvarez, son of Juan Álvarez, and made several demands: that the Diamant be allowed to take on coal and water, that the General officially denounce the anti-French statements of the Italian-born Mexican officer Luis Ghilardi published in a local newspaper last year, which resulted in the repelling of the French warship La Bayonnaise, the removal of Ghilardi from his position and that all fort defenses be dismantled on sight.[1]:54–55[4]:100–102 On the following day an apology was sent back but the first two demands were declined, and the city began its preparations against the expected attack. At ¾9 am on the 10th a squadron under Rear-Admiral Bouët, consisting of the Diamant, the war steamer Pallas, and two corvettes the Bayonnaise and the Galathée,[4]:87 approached the bay and was immediately opened fire at the forts; the forts returned the fire and after one hour of constant barrage the artillery of Fort Guerrero was eliminated. Ten minutes later Fort Iturbide was silenced and at ten in the morning Fort Galeana had the same fate. Fort Álvarez still actively exchanged shots with the fleet, though the Mexican firing range was half of those of the French. During the bombardment a number of French shells also ripped into the town, until an American envoy objected to it and thus it was ceased.[1]:54–55[4]:102–104

One of the Acapulco Forts that survived the bombardment.

The next day at 6 o'clock the siege of Fort Álvarez continued to the afternoon when the ships withdrawn from its range,[4]:103–104 their fire was returned effectively from one of the forts by Luis Ghilardi [a] and his company. Some of the bigger caliber guns did significant damage to the flagship Pallas, which almost sank in the clash;[6][8] the bombardment of Acapulco by the French Pacific fleet lasted for one more day and shortly thereafter a squadron of one hundred sailors marched into Acapulco on January 16 and fired bullets into the town for three days, which was deserted at that time except for the local garrison that lost some men in the skirmishes. Finally the French spiked some of the fort guns, throwing a number into the sea and returned to the ships and left the bay[6] to Siguantanejo, where they assessed the condition of Pallas and came to the conclusion that it was hit by about 15–16 shells in the hull and moved to Mazatlán dockyard for repair.[8]

Second battle[edit]

2nd Battle of Acapulco
Part of the Second French intervention in Mexico
DateJune 3, 1864
Location
Result French victory, city surrender
Belligerents
Mexico Mexican Republicans France French Empire Flag of the United States (1865–1867).svg United States[9]:120
Commanders and leaders
Rafael Solís[2]:162 Adolphe Charles Émile Bouët[9]:120 Charles Henry Bell[9]:209
Units involved
Southern Army Algerian Riflemen Battalion, French naval division of the Pacific ocean Pacific Squadron
Strength
581 men[2]:162 860 men
5 vessels[10]
Warship Saginaw[9]:120
Casualties and losses
581 POWs[2]:162 possibly none possibly none
Americans remained neutral. US Navy only observed the blockade and defended its trade interests but also protected the city from looting during the interregnum.[9]:120
USS Saginaw guarding the port from looters

The second battle of Acapulco was preceded by a three-month blockade implemented by French naval division of the Pacific Ocean and ordered by the French Consul of San Francisco in March 1864;[11] the city surrendered on June 3, and the French troops entered the town without resistance.[10] The French captured three smaller boats and relieved the siege allowing American ships to dock in the harbor unless they unload passengers or goods. Admiral Bouët sent for a garrison of Algerian Riflemen Battalion of 474 men from Vera Cruz in May and they took the city on June 3–4, they pursued the retreating republicans to Puebla Nuevo where they clashed a smaller force of 200 soldiers,[10] killing 50 of them and capturing four cannons. The Algerian Battalion had four men injured,[12]:376–377 they pushed forward along the road to Los Cajones, where they were stopped by the Liberals and lost their commander in the fight. They fled back to Acapulco where they strengthened the forts with guns and assigned a warship to guard the port.[10]

First evacuation[edit]

USS Saranac providing shelter for endangered citizens

The city was beleaguered from the start cutting all provision to relieve the garrison of 250 of the famine. In June 1864 General Juan Vicario attempted to break through the siege by 3000 Mexicans of Álvarez to the city but were seriously defeated and gave up that last effort. Álvarez fired bullets onto Acapulco as a sign of superiority[13] The French Admiral issued an order to evacuate Acapulco that was due to come into effect on December 11, 1864. Three French vessels were in port ready to sail for Mazatlán, with about 200 refugees, who feared possible revenge from the Mexican forces. A representative group of foreign residents met with General Álvarez who assured them of protection of person and property. Despite such assurance, the lack of confidence in the Mexican regulars led to a mass emigration of this group; the USS Saranac was in port as well as the steamship Golden Age to monitor events.[14] The evacuation was carried out by Captain Thomas Louis Le Normant de Kergrist, while Commodore Poor representing the American Navy offered 20 men to guard those inhabitants of the city who feared their safety.[15]

Third battle[edit]

3rd Battle of Acapulco
Part of the Second French intervention in Mexico
DateSeptember 11, 1865[2]:192
Location
Result Imperial victory, city surrender
Belligerents
Mexico Mexican Republicans Mexico Mexican Empire
France French Empire
Commanders and leaders
Diego Álvarez Benítez[16] General Apolonio Montenegro[1]:58[2]:192
Units involved
Southern Army Manzanillo detachment, French Navy
Strength
4000 (Sacramento Daily Union est.)[16]
1500 (New York Times est.)[17]
(withdrawn)
400 soldiers,[2]:192 two French vessels[18]

The success obtained by the Liberals in the state of Michoacán in the first half of 1865 had given several anti-imperialist party leaders the idea to push the center of resistance closer to Mexico and thus to trigger and benefit more of the local uprisings in the region. Even the high clergy devoted supporters of the Empire agreed on the restoration Santa Anna. French intelligence tracked the outlines of the planned movement; Santa Anna was to land on the coast from Vera Cruz or on the Pacific; the guerrillas in Michoacán, the Guerrero state Indians led by Álvarez, and the possibly available corps of Porfirio Díaz stationed in the State of Oaxaca could have easily launched a general insurrection, which could have led to the dethronement of Maximilian. Santa Anna was working on this plan with passion never seen before, he chose one of his nephews to be his agent in Mexico. He declared that he would devote all his fortune of 20 million francs to the "holy war", he purchased 4000 carbines, 4000 pistols, and a dozen cannons from the United States and also hired an American frigate to sail to St. Thomas with him on board. Under these circumstances it was vital for the Imperialists to reoccupy Acapulco. Two of the ships of their squadron, Victoire and Lucifer, in Manzanillo took four hundred Mexican troops under the command of General Apolonio Montenegro, and on September 11, landed without opposition at Acapulco; the city was almost entirely abandoned by its inhabitants. Marshall sent scouts to Guerrero, and opened a secure road between Rio Mescala and Cuernavaca. Although no permanent presence of French troops was established in the area south of Mexico as the nearest Mexican Imperialist brigade of la Peña (former brigade "Vicario") was only in the vicinity of the valley of Rio Mescala.[12]:511–512[18][b]

Second evacuation[edit]

Immediately after the third occupation, General Álvarez cut off all communication with the mainland and prevented any supplies or reinforcements from reaching the city.[19] Colonel Montenegro, the commander of Acapulco, had been ordered to hold himself in readiness to evacuate Acapulco right after the completion of the evacuation of Mazatlán, which it was supposed would take place about October 15, 1866, his orders were to begin the evacuation 24-hours after receiving the notice and to destroy all stores and supplies that could not be carried on board.[20] However French troops requested a delay from the Republicans in February 1867,[21] while the commanding Imperialist General issued an emergency tax of $20,000 exclusively on the American citizens of the port to fund the costs of the evacuation and his own emigration and permanently left Acapulco along with his last 200 men[22] on the 19th to San Blas aboard the steamship Victoire.[23]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h John Augustus Sutter (1943). Allan R. Ottley (ed.). The Sutter Family and the Origins of Gold-Rush Sacramento. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806134932. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hubert Howe Bancroft; William Nemos; Thomas Savage; Joseph Joshua Peatfield (1888). History of Mexico Vol VI. (1861–1887). San Francisco: The History company. ISBN 9781147416466. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  3. ^ Ministère de la marine et des colonies (1841). Annales maritimes et coloniales [Maritime and colonial history] (in French). 76. Paris, France: Imprimerie Royale. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Papers relative to Mexican affairs : Communicated to the Senate June 16, 1864. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1865. ISBN 9781425556730. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  5. ^ "Recent Deaths". Boston Evening Transcript. LX (18339). April 20, 1887. p. 1. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Mexico" (png). Wellington Independent. XVIII (1869). May 16, 1863. p. 5. Retrieved June 26, 2012 – via Papers Past.
  7. ^ "The heat - a storm - Acapulco" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 16 (5303). September 9, 1864. Retrieved June 27, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.[not in citation given]
  8. ^ a b "The Acapulco bombardment" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 15 (4814). April 30, 1863. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  9. ^ a b c d e Robert Erwin Johnson (1980). Thence Round Cape Horn. Annapolis, Maryland: Kingsport Press. ISBN 9780405130403. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d "By Telegraph to the Union: Mexican News—Claim of Salvage on the Golden Age and Cargo—Arrival" (pdf). Sacramento Daily Union. 27 (4143). July 1, 1864. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  11. ^ "Blockade of Acapulco and Manzanillo" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 16 (5126). March 13, 1864. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  12. ^ a b Gustave Niox (1874). Expédition du Mexique, 1861-1867; récit politique & militaire [Mexican Expedition, 1861-1867, military & political narrative] (in French). Paris, France: J. Dumain. ASIN B004IL4IB4. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  13. ^ "Capture of Mazatlan by the French" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 16 (5383). November 29, 1864. Retrieved July 5, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  14. ^ "Highly Important from Mexico – Evacuation of Acapulco by the French" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 16 (5403). December 19, 1864. Retrieved June 26, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  15. ^ "Americans at Acapulco" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 16 (5405). December 21, 1864. Retrieved June 27, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  16. ^ a b "News of the morning" (pdf). Sacramento Daily Union. 30 (4528). September 26, 1865. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  17. ^ Raymond, Henry Jarvis, ed. (September 29, 1865). "Gen. Alvarez Retires His Small Force are Badly Equipped Most of the Citizens Follow Him". The New York Times. New York: The Times. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  18. ^ a b "The French at Acapulco" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 17 (5681). September 25, 1865 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  19. ^ "News of the morning" (pdf). Sacramento Daily Union. 30 (4544). October 14, 1865. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  20. ^ "Progress of the evacuation in Mexico" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 18 (6073). October 27, 1866. Retrieved June 27, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  21. ^ Juan Álvarez (March 15, 1867). Raymond, Henry Jarvis (ed.). "Gen. Marquez Assumes Command of the Imperial Forces in the City of Mexico. Abandonment of Acapulco by the French--Letter to the Mexican Minister" (pdf). The New York Times. New York: The Times. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  22. ^ "Letter from Acapulco" (pdf). The Daily Alta California. 19 (7038). January 1, 1867. Retrieved July 25, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  23. ^ "By telegraph to the Union" (pdf). Sacramento Daily Union. 32 (4973). March 7, 1867. Retrieved July 25, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  24. ^ "News of the morning" (pdf). Sacramento Daily Union. 24 (3697). January 27, 1863. Retrieved June 28, 2012 – via California Digital Newspaper Collection.
  25. ^ a b c d Eugene Mark Moreno (2011). World at War: Mexican Identities, Insurgents, and the French Occupation, 1862–1867 (PDF) (phd). Pullman, Washington: Washington State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2012.