The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 570
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
weight of broadside, and their guns had twice the range of the
Texas armament. Thus the Texans would have to take heavy
caliber fire from the Mexicans until they were able to get close
enough for their own guns to reach the Mexican ships. The Mex-
ican steamships were not dependent upon wind and could ma-
neuver in any direction at will. Commodore Moore was the only
really experienced officer in his navy. Only one of his officers had
held a rank higher than a Texas midshipman four years earlier.
Several of the officers of the Mexican ships and scores of the
sailors were from the British Navy.12 These ships were well
handled, though yellow fever weakened their crews.
On May 1, 1843, Moore's two vessels broke the blockade of
the city of Campeche, Yucatan. For two weeks the commodore
tried every possible means to bring about a decisive battle with
the superior Mexican fleet. His ships dared the Mexican naval
force to fight; he went into shoal waters to attack; he maneuvered
in close quarters with the enemy, always boring close in when
the wind would permit, only to have the steamers paddle upwind
where he could not pursue."'
On May 16, 1843, Moore met the Mexican fleet in a day-long
engagement that kept his sweating, fever-ridden, scurvy-weakened
crew in action twenty hours.?4 The Mexican steamers were so
badly cut up that, although Moore was not able either to sink
or to capture them (which would have impressed Texas), the
vessels were too badly damaged to fight and fled fifteen miles down
the coast of Mexico to escape the aggressive little Texas sailing
vessels chasing them. Against overwhelming odds, Commodore
Moore had insured the safety of the Republic of Texas. The Mex-
ican steamers were sent to New York for repairs, and the proposed
expedition was delayed long enough for the United States and
Texas representatives to meet on the annexation question.
The battle of Campeche was the only known engagement in
history in which sailing vessels defeated steamships, and the first
one in which exploding shells were used between ships. It was
12William S. Murphy to the Earl of Aberdeen, August g9, 1842 (MSS., Foreign
Office, Public Record Office, London), Texas (75), XVIII, 145.
xaAlexandria (Virginia) Gazette, May 24, 1843.
14For full accounts, see Moore, To the People of Texas; James Morgan to Samuel
Swartwout, May 27, 1843 (MS., Morgan Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/702/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.