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Courtesy National Museum of History, Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City.
Through courage he [Tomas Marin) defeated the Texas Navy. Metal celebrating the Mexican "victory" at the Battle of
Campeche, 16 May 1843
the east, enabling the Texans to bear down
the Mexican steamers. Yet some three miles
the enemy, Austin and Wharton were sudbecalmed.
The Mexicans moved in, firing
their 68- and 42-pounders while the Texans'
smaller 24's and 18's could not reply. For more
than two hours shell explosions hurled fragments
into the sails and among the Texas gunners. Then,
Moore detected a small puff of wind, trimmed his
sails to it, and maneuvered between the startled
steamers before they could withdraw. For three
hours he forced Moctezuma and Guadalupe down
the coast, taking 14 hits and suffering 3 killed and
22 wounded in his crew of 150. But his flagship's
guns blasted the Mexicans steadily, inflicting a terrible
toll. According to the reports of spies and
deserters, Guadalupe had 47 killed and about 100
wounded, and lost the use of one of her paddles
during the battle. Moctezuma suffered some 40
casualties, including her captain.
In all, Austin fired 530 rounds, almost exhausting
her magazine, before the Mexicans paddled up
wind and broke off the action.
These two engagements marked the first time
exploding shells had been used in action at sea
and the only known instances in which sailing
ships defeated steamers.
Wharton (which had been unable to close to
take part in the battle) and Austin returned to
Campeche. The latter, badly cut in her rigging,
also had a hole below the waterline on the starboard
side and had taken three feet of water in
the magazine. Although both navies required repairing
and neither had enough ammunition for a
renewed, sustained encounter, the Texans gamely
continued to sortie in the days that followed. The
Mexicans were forced to remain far enough at sea
for Texan supply ships reach Campeche. Thus, the
city was able to withstand the assault of the Mexican
Then, on 26 May, word reached Campeche that
President Houston had declared Moore's cruise
illegal. He castigated the Commodore as a pirate,
murderer, mutineer, and embezzler. Stunned by
Houston's assertions, Moore sent what he hoped was
proof that his actions were justified and awaited
further instructions. Although a new supply of
powder arrived on 16 June, he received no further
word from Texas. A week later the Mexican squadron
broke off the seige of Campeche and withdrew.
Against large odds, Moore had won the test of
strength. Yucatan was not reconquered; and Texas
was spared the invasion that surely would have followed
had Mexico won the battle of Campeche.
Later, the United States and Great Britain secured
a truce between Texas and Mexico which endured
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U.S. Navy Department. Naval History Division. Texas Navy, book, January 1, 1968; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2419/m1/23/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .