Battle of Guaymas Facts
- Date — October 19–20, 1847.
- Location — Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.
- Combatants — United States of America and Mexico.
- American Commander — Elie A. E. LaVallette.
- Mexican Commander — Antonio Campuzano.
- Winner — The United States won the Battle of Guaymas.
Battle of Guaymas Significance
The Battle of Guaymas was important to the outcome of the Mexican-American War because U.S. forces were able to take control of Guaymas, an important port town on the Gulf of California.
Battle of Guaymas History
At the start of the Mexican-American War, U.S. forces were working to take control of Alta California. Naval forces were under the command of Commodore Robert F. Stockton and were supporting ground forces under the command of Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny.
Blockade of Guayamas
Captain Samuel F. Du Pont and the sloop Cyane reached Guaymas on October 6, 1846. He requested the surrender of ships in the port, but Colonel Antonio Campuzano, the Mexican commander, refused, and the port remained under blockade by the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Squadron.
Changes in U.S. Naval Command
Mexican forces in Alta California were defeated by January 1847. However, the U.S. Navy’s operations in the Gulf of California continued. On March 2, Commodore James Biddle took over from Stockton as the Pacific Squadron commander, and on July 19, he was succeeded by Commodore W. Branford Shubrick.
On October 17, 1847, Commodore Shubrick carried out an amphibious operation at Guaymas. This operation was led by Captain Elie A. E. LaVallette aboard the frigate Congress. He was accompanied by Commander John B. Montgomery on the sloop Portsmouth and the former Chilean ship, Argo, which had been captured by the Portsmouth earlier in the war. The three ships reached Guaymas on October 17.
On October 18, Lavallette demanded the town’s surrender, but Colonel Campuzano, who commanded around 400 troops, refused. Lavallette responded by placing a 32-pound gun from the Congress on Isle Almagre, which controlled the harbor.
LaVallette sent an official request for Campuzano to surrender. This request was also declined. LaVallette informed Campuzano that he would start bombarding the city, but he granted a two-hour delay for the evacuation of women and children. Campuzano requested five hours, which LaVallette agreed to.
As the two-hour period elapsed, it was nearly dark, and LaVallette decided to postpone the bombardment until the next morning. Overnight, Campuzano relocated his garrison to safety at Bocachicacampo, roughly four miles up the coast.
On the morning of October 20, the American ships bombarded Guaymas for an hour, resulting in significant damage to the town, which surrendered.
Afterward, U.S. Marines disembarked and occupied the town. The next day, they dismantled Mexican fortifications and gathered weapons and ammunition from the residents.
Fighting continued after October, as Mexican forces fought to regain permanent control of the town.
On November 8, the sloop Dale, under the command of Commander Thomas O. Selfridge, arrived at Guaymas to reinforce Lavallette and help secure the town. LaVallette left Selfridge in charge, however, Campuzano’s men eventually retook control of the town. By November 16–17, approximately 350 Mexican troops occupied Guayamas.
On November 17, Selfridge sent an expedition consisting of 50 sailors and 17 marines, armed with a single 6-pounder boat gun, to engage the Mexicans in Guaymas. However, the Americans were pinned down by heavy fire from the Mexican forces until the Dale came to their aid, providing fire support and forcing the Mexican troops to retreat from the town.
Decimation of Guaymas
From November 1847 to April 1848, landing parties from the Dale continued to engage Mexican forces in the vicinity of Guaymas, leaving the town decimated by the end of the war.