The Battle of Anton Lizardo
was a naval engagement of the Reform War
The Reform War in Mexico is one of the episodes of the long struggle between Liberal and Conservative forces that dominated the country’s history in the 19th century. The Liberals wanted a federalist government, limiting traditional Catholic Church and military influence in the country...
which took place off Anton Lizardo, Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...
in 1860. A Mexican Navy
The Mexican Navy is the naval branch of the Mexican military responsible for conducting naval operations. Its stated mission is "to use the naval force of the federation for the exterior defense, and to help with internal order". The Navy consists of about 56,000 men and women plus reserves, over...
officer named Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...
Tomas M. Marin mutinied
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...
from the Mexican fleet and escaped to Havana, Cuba. There he formed a squadron of armed vessels to attack merchant ships and blockade Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...
. The Mexican Government declared Marin a pirate and permitted foreign navies to attack his ships so United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
accepted the challenge, as they had several vessels patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...
After the mutiny and passage to Havana, where Cuban military forces there granted him safety, Marin began purchasing small steamships to convert for war. Marin's sympathies were in line with the conservative rebels under President General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....
Miguel Gregorio de la Luz Atenógenes Miramón y Tarelo was a Mexican conservative general. He served as unconstitutional interim conservative president of Mexico .Miramón was born in Mexico City into a family of French heritage...
who at that time were fighting the liberal government forces of Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...
. Tomas Marin hoped to acquire ships, recruit sailors and then sail them back to Veracruz to begin operating in the region. He was also to transport 4,000 muskets and artillery shells to resupply the conservative army. Many of the men under Marin were sailors he had mutinied with, others were recruited Cubans. In mid February, by the time the mutineers and Cubans left for the Mexican coast, four steamers were acquired and armed. Rear Admiral Marin's expedition included his flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...
renamed General Miramon
, the screw sloop Marquis of Havana
The CSS McRae was a Confederate gunboat that saw service during the American Civil War. Displacing around 680 tons, she was armed with one 9-inch smoothbore and six 32-pound smoothbore cannon....
or Marquis de la Havana
, the Democracy
, the Union
and the Messic
. General Miramon
and Marquis of Havana
were armed with one howitzer each. They did not all leave Cuba at the same time, so they were directed by Rear Admiral Marin to rendezvous with him off Anton Lizardo, where they would then sail to Sacrificios.
and Marquis of Havana
arrived off Anton Lizardo north of the San Juan d'Ulloa fortress on March 6, 1860 where a United States Navy frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...
was operating. The Mexican garrison of the fortress signaled Marin's ships to identify themselves, but the two steamers did nothing. It was then realized that the vessels were from the expedition so immediately the soldiers began strengthening their position. They also warned the nearby American ship. USS Savannah
The second USS Savannah was a frigate in the United States Navy. She was named after the city of Savannah, Georgia.Savannah was begun in 1820 at the New York Navy Yard, but she remained on the stocks until 5 May 1842, when she was launched...
signaled the rebel ships but once again no response was made. Her commander then sent for and issued orders to USS Saratoga
USS Saratoga, a sloop-of-war, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Battle of Saratoga of the American Revolutionary War. Her keel was laid down in the summer of 1841 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard...
to arrest Rear Admiral Marin, with the help of two chartered steamers. Only Saratoga
was armed, the chartered steamers Wave
did not have guns but carried United States Navy sailors and United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...
had a complement of eighty officers, crew members and soldiers. USS Saratoga
was commanded by Commodore Thomas Turner
Thomas Turner may refer to:*Thomas Turner , U.S. Congressman from Kentucky, 1877–1881*Thomas Turner , Anglican dean*Thomas Turner , 18th century English diarist...
of the Home Squadron
The Home Squadron was part of the United States Navy in the mid-19th century. Organized as early as 1838, ships were assigned to protect coastal commerce, aid ships in distress, suppress piracy and the slave trade, make coastal surveys, and train ships to relieve others on distant stations...
and was manned on average by 200 officers and men. She was armed with four 8-inch (200mm) guns and eighteen 32-pounders. USS Savannah
did not engage and never left anchorage, as she was apparently too slow to chase the rebel steamers. Mexican troops in the fortress were too far out of range and did not participate either.
and the steamers left their patrol at 8:30 at night on March 6. When they reached Anton Lizardo and the two anchored rebel ships it was almost midnight. The Mexican sailors sighted the American sloop-of-war
In the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, a sloop-of-war was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. As the rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above, this meant that the term sloop-of-war actually encompassed all the unrated combat vessels including the...
and immediately began to flee towards Sacraficios. The Americans closed range to within hailing distance and ordered the rebels to stop, these orders were ignored so Saratoga
fired a warning shot. When this was also ignored, Saratoga
fired four more warning shots. This time General Miramon
replied by firing her howitzer into the pilot-house of Indianola
. Not expecting resistance, the Americans were surprised but soon returned fire. Indianola
then closed in to board General Miramon
while her crew and the soldiers fired their muskets. In an attempt to avoid friendly fire, Commodore Turner directed his men to change targets from Rear Admiral Marin's ship to the Marquis of Havana
dueled with the Marquis of Havana
for a moment and at least one shell hit the rebel ship, the shot blew a hole through the hull of the wooden steamer, apparently above the waterline. Marquis of Havana
then surrendered by raising her colors, which in fact was a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
flag, probably from Cuba. USS Saratoga
captured her while Indianola
chased General Miramon
. Seeing that commander Marin was near escape, Saratoga
joined in and quickly advanced with her big sails. Saratoga
came alongside the General Miramon
and Turner's crew boarded the vessel the hard way, without grappling hooks and not by means of launches. Marin's men fought off the first attempt at capture, so Saratoga
tried again. At this point Marin was steaming through shallow waters and ran aground on a shoal. Saratoga
drew close again, but the Mexicans chose not to resist any longer.
Thirty wounded men were aboard the General Miramon
when she was taken. An unknown number of rebels were taken prisoner, the wounded were quickly removed to the Saratoga
and received medical attention. In addition to about 4,000 rifles captured, Commodore Turner's men took over 1,000 artillery shells off the Mexican vessels. The shells were much needed by conservative forces who had already failed one siege of Veracruz due to a lack of ammunition for their cannon. The battle played an important role in ending the Reform War with a liberal victory. Due to the loss of supplies, the conservatives under General Miramon failed to take Veracruz from the liberals for a second time. Soon after Miramon surrendered his army which ended the conventional phase of the war and started the guerilla phase. The two United States steamers anchored for the night right at the wreck of General Miramon
and both tried to free her of the shoal at 5:00 am. The salvage of Captain Marin's flagship failed, so the ships set sail for Veracruz. One American sailor was killed in the battle, and another three men were wounded. Both Saratoga
were slightly damaged. Tomas M. Marin, his mutineers and their Cuban allies were handed over to the Mexican authorities at Veracruz. Marquis of Havana
eventually ended up in Confederate States
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...
The Confederate States Navy was the naval branch of the Confederate States armed forces established by an act of the Confederate Congress on February 21, 1861. It was responsible for Confederate naval operations during the American Civil War...
service during the American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...
and was renamed CSS McRae
. Commodore Turner later served with distinction during the Battle of Charleston Harbor and was awarded the rank of admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...