Tampico Affair

Tampico Affair

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Tampico Affair
date=April 9, 1914
place= Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico
result=U.S. occupation of Veracruz
combatant1=United States
strength1=9 sailors
strength2=Approx. 10 soldiers
The Tampico Affair started off as a minor incident involving U.S. sailors and Mexican land forces loyal to General Victoriano Huerta during the "guerra de las facciones" phase of the Mexican Revolution. The misunderstanding occurred on April 9, 1914, but would fully transpire into the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the occupation of the port city of Veracruz for over six months.

In midst of the Mexican Revolution, "de facto" head of state Victoriano Huerta struggled to hold his power and territory intact from the challenges of Emiliano Zapata in the south and the fast advance of the opposition Constitutionalists of Venustiano Carranza in the north. By March 26, 1914, Carranza's forces were ten miles (15 km) from the prosperous oil town of Tampico, Tamaulipas. There was a considerable concentration of U.S. citizens in the area due to the immense investment of American firms in the local oil industry. Several American warships commanded by Rear Admiral Henry T. Mayo settled in the area with the expectation of protecting American citizens and property.

As Tampico was laid siege by Constitutionalist forces, relations between U.S. forces and Huerta's federal garrison remained amicable. The American flagship, USS "Dolphin", reduced to a modest gunboat due to the operational demands of a shallow entrance to the harbour, presented a 21-gun salute to the Mexican flag three times on April 2, 1914 to pay tribute to the celebrated capture of Puebla in 1867.

The incident

The U.S. Navy frequently used boats to deliver messages and ferry fleeing civilians, leading to a depletion of fuel supplies. The commander of the USS "Dolphin" arranged for a pickup of oil from a warehouse on April 9 near a tense defensive position at Iturbide Bridge. The defenders of the bridge anticipated an attack based on the two consecutive days of skirmishes that had immediately preceded. Nine U.S. sailors on a whaleboat flying the U.S. flag were dispatched to the warehouse along a canal. Based on the sailors' account, seven of them moved the cans of fuel to the boat while two remained on the vessel. Mexican federal soldiers were alerted to the activity and confronted the American sailors. Neither side was able to speak the other's language, which left the sailors immobile in the face of commands from the soldiers. The soldiers raised rifles against the sailors including the sailors still on the boat, and ushered the men a short distance to the Mexican regimental headquarters.

Resulting issues

The commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Henry T. Mayo, demanded a formal apology from Huerta's government. The commander in the Tampico area complied with this and gave a written apology; however, he did not follow the demands that Mexico raise the United States flag on its soil and provide a 21-gun salute. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for permission for an armed invasion of the area. Although this request was granted two days later, the United States occupation of Veracruz had begun.

Eventually, the United States turned to the "ABC" countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile to help mediate the dispute.

ee also

*United States involvement in the Mexican Revolution

External links

* [http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/tampico.htm Wilson "exasperated by... the latest in a line of Mexican incidents"]
* [http://www.multied.com/documents/Tampico.html Wilson's address to Congress] (20 April 1914)

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