Second Battle of Tabasco

The Second Battle of Tabasco, also known as the Battle of Villahermosa, was a battle fought in June 1847 during the Mexican–American War as part of the U.S. blockade of Mexican Gulf ports.[1]:339

Second Battle of Tabasco
Part of Mexican–American War

American landing in San Juan Bautista (Villahermosa today) during the Second Battle of Tabasco
DateJune 15–16, 1847
Result American victory
 United States  Mexico
Commanders and leaders
Matthew C. Perry
David D. Porter
Domingo Echagaray
Claro Hidalgo
8 vessels
1,050 U.S. Marines[1]:340
7 field artillery pieces
600+ Soldiers[1]:341
Casualties and losses
6 wounded,
3 missing[1]:342
about 30[1]:342


Commodore Matthew C. Perry, commander of the U.S. Home Squadron had recently captured the port cities of Tuxpan and Carmen.[1]:337, 338 He next decided to move against the city of San Juan Bautista (present day Villahermosa), the capital of the state of Tabasco.[1]:339

Perry had received reports in April that the Mexican commander in Tabasco, Col. Domingo Echagaray, had strengthened the city's defenses and built obstructions in the Tabasco River (present day Grijalva River).[1]:340 Perry assembled the Mosquito Fleet, consisting of the steamboats Scourge, Scorpion, Spitfire, and Vixen, plus the brigs Washington, Stromboli, and Vesuvius, and the merchant schooner Spitfire, off Frontera on 14 June and began moving upstream, towing 40 ship's boats carrying 1,050 men and seven surfboats with a field piece each.[1]:340


At 4:15 PM, near Santa Teresa, 12 miles (19 km) below San Juan Bautista, the fleet ran through an ambush with little difficulty.[1]:340 At 5:45 PM, at an "s" curve in the river known as the "Devil's Bend", Perry encountered Mexican fire from the chaparral, dispersed some cavalry with the Vesuvius, and anchored for the night intending to deal with the obstructions ahead during daylight the next day.[1]:340 At dusk, a lone Mexican shot one of Perry's men on the Vesuvius's forecastle.[1]:341

On 16 June, while investigating the obstructions, one of Perry's lieutenants, William May, was wounded, and Perry decided to lead ashore 1,173 men and ten pieces of artillery.[1]:341 They quickly took Acachapan, when Col. Claro Hidalgo's 600 men fled, abandoning their uneaten breakfasts.[1]:341

In the meantime Lieutenant David D. Porter, on board the Spitfire, managed to remove the piles obstructing the river and move the steamers past by 10 AM.[1]:341 At one point just as Perry was approaching the Mexican defenses, Porter opened fire on them mistaking the Americans for the Mexicans.[1]:341 The mistake was quickly remedied, and Porter kept on moving upriver, soon reaching Fort Iturbide guarding the city from the riverbank.[1]:341 Two ships, Scorpion and Spitfire, ran past the fort and began shelling it from the rear.[1]:341 Porter led 68 men ashore, seized the fort, and raised the American flag.[1]:341 The steamers continued on to capture the town, raising the US flag over the governor's house by 11:50 AM.[1]:341 Perry and the landing force arrived at 3:30 PM.[1]:342


The last Mexican port on the Gulf coast had been captured.[1]:342 Colonel Echagaray withdrew further upstream to Tamulte with 111 soldiers and 115 civilians, but guerrilla bands lingered behind.[1]:342 Perry left a garrison in Tabasco, under the command of Commander Gershom J. Van Brunt, but yellow fever and the constant presence of guerrillas persuaded Perry to withdraw the garrison on 22 July, but maintained the blockade at Frontera, periodically patrolling the river.[1]:342

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, but Perry withheld support, and the movement eventually died off.[1]:342

See also


  1. Bauer, K.J., 1974, The Mexican War, 1846–1848, New York:Macmillan, ISBN 0803261071
  2. Smith, J.H., 1919, The War with Mexico, New York:Macmillan

Further reading

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