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[Mexican War Service of the United States Navy]


Attack on Tuxpan

The movement of the squadron under the active and energetic direction of Commodore Perry, continued its operations; and Tuxpan was to be the next point of attack on the Mexican Coast. It will be remembered that it was off the bar of Tuxpan that the unfortunate Truxton struck -- was wrecked, abandoned, and finally burned by the active officers of the Princeton, whose Commander gave a graphic description of the upsetting of the boats in the surf in their attempts to fire the Truxton, and the successful conflagration which scattered her ashes on the wide billows aroused by the Northers. Her guns had been secured by the Mexicans, and other materiel was saved from the wreck. The Navy envied the town of Tuxpan the possession of these trophies or relics of the gallant brig; and Tuxpan itself was now almost the only port of any consequence on the Mexican Coast unoccupied by the Americans, after having surrendered to our naval forces.

Commodore Perry's dispatch to the Secretary of the Navy, narrates the operation of the forces of the squadron, at Tuxpan, with sufficient detail of their action and success.


United States Flag Ship Mississippi
At sea, off Vera Cruz, April 24, 1847.

Sir: Tuxpan being the only fortified place of importance, situated on the Gulf Coast, not in our possession, and conceiving it to be a point of honor as well as duty to reclaim the guns taken by the enemy from the wreck of the Truxton, and mounted with others for the defense of the river and town, I determined on attacking it, and left Sacrificios in this ship for that purpose on the 12th instant, having in tow the steamers Spitfire, Vixen and Scourge, and the gunboats Bonito, Petrel, and Reefer, with a detachment of three hundred officers, seamen, and Marines from the Ohio, distributed in this and the smaller vessels.

On the following day we arrived at Lobos, the appointed place of rendezvous. The Raritan, with a detachment of one hundred and eighty officers, seamen and Marines, from the Potomac, added to her own complement. In the Albany, John Adams, and Germantown, with the bomb-vessels Vesuvius, Aetna, and Hecla, had been previously dispatched for Lobos, where they arrived in good time, and were subsequently joined by the Decatur.

On the 15th all the vessels left Lobos for the anchorage, under Tuxpan reef, but were separated by eighty Norther during the night. Having again concentrated on the morning of the 17th, the whole of that date was employed in lightening the small vessels, in sounding and buoying the channel of the bar, and in other preparations for ascending to river.

The following morning (the 18th) the bar was safely crossed by the steamers and gunboats, with about thirty barges filled with detachments from the different vessels at anchor outside, having with them four pieces of artillery.

After crossing the bar I waisted my flag on-board to Spitfire, and immediately lead up the river to be attack; the steamers having the gunboats and barges in tow, until we got into the range of the fire of the enemy, when I ordered them to cast off: the gunboats to follow up the river under sail, and the detachments in the barges to land with the artillery and storm the forts and town. These orders were executed with extraordinary rapidity, while the flotilla continued its course up the river, and driving by its well directed fire, the enemy from his defenses.

The dispositions of the enemy for defense were judicious; they consisted of two forts on the right, and one on the left bank of the river, with positions well selected for commanding the reaches of the stream. They had seen seven guns mounted, and attachments of infantry firing from the forts and a thick chaparral along the margin of the left bank.

General Cos, chief of the windward military division of the Mexican Army, was in command, and had with him, as is believed from the evidence of his order book, about 650 rank and file.

But if the dispositions for defense were judicious, the defense itself was feeble; though, had it been more obstinate, the results would have been the same, for I cannot exaggerate the intrepidity of our officers and men, or say too much of this spirit that animated them.

The Truxton's guns were brought off, and the others destroyed; the forts were also destroyed.

Our loss in the attack had been small -- fourteen killed and wounded. The enclosed papers will furnish all necessary details.

The Albany and Reefer have been left to watch Tuxpan; the Hecla is ordered to blockade Soto de la Marina; the Aetna to occupy the river Tabasco; and the Vesuvius and Porpoise the port of Laguna, while the Germantown is scouring the coast north of Lobos.

I am, Sir, with great respect, your most obedience servant,

M. C. Perry
Commanding Home Squadron

The Hon. John Y. Brown
Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

Tuxpan, April 19, 1847.

Sir: I have honor to report that, on the 18th inst., the forces under my command were landed from the steamers and gunboats under the fire of the enemy's forts, for the purpose of executing your orders, to take them by assault. The men, headed by their several officers, proceeded with ardor and zeal to the accompaniment of the duty. The works, however, before the seamen could reach them, were successively abandoned; the defenders offering no very serious resistance. The guns on the Fort of the right bank were immediately spiked or disabled, and the ammunition destroyed. The boats then crossed to the left bank, and drove the enemy from the fort "Hospital", pursuing them through the town to the chaparral, in which they disbursed.

Where, notwithstanding the strength of position, resistance was so feeble, and of so desultory a character, little opportunity was presented for the exhibition of individual gallantry; and where all did so well their duty, it would be difficult and invidious to particularize.

Very respectfully, your obedience servant,

Samuel L. Breese, Captain.

Commodore M. C. Perry,
Commanding Home Squadron, Gulf of Mexico.

The expedition against Tuxpan consisted of the following force -- all under the command of Commodore Matthew C. Perry:

The steamer Spitfire, Commander J. Tatnall.
The steamer Vixen, Commander J. R. Sands.
The schooner Bonito, Lieut. Com. T. G. Benham.
The schooner Petrel, Lieut. Com. T. D. Shaw.
The steamer Scourge, Lieut. S. Lockwood.
The schooner Reefer, Lieut. Com. Thos. Turner.


Among the wounded in his expedition were Commander Tatnall of the Spitfire, Flag Lieutenant James L. Parker, aide to the Commodore; Lieutenant Whittle, of the ship Ohio, and Lieut. Hartense, of the brig Hecla.

After the assault on Tuxpan, and the return of the forces to their usual anchorage, the Saint Mary's prepared to leave the squadron for home, bearing some of the trophies of the war.  The St. Mary's had long been in the Gulf, and had done much service. Originally intended for the crews of the Mediterranean, like the Cumberland, her destination was changed to the Gulf, to meet the exigencies which the critical affairs between the Republic of Mexico and the United States created. To this ship the lamented Morris was originally attached. Right glad, I doubt not, was in this ship's fine company of officers, to be relieved from a station, on which they had been so long and constantly employed. Commander Sands, late of this steamer Vixen, also returned in the St. Mary's, having in charge the trophies of the war, afforded by this ship to the United States.


The Broad Pennant.  A Cruise in the United States Flag Ship of the Gulf Squadron, During the Mexican Difficulties Together With Sketches of the Mexican War. Rev. Fitch W. Taylor, A. M., USN.    Leavitt, Tron & Co., New York.  1848.



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