First Battle of Topolobampo
On 22 February 1914,
off Guaymas, Mexico
a mutiny began at about 8:00 pm when the Mexican Navy gunboat Tampico
was refitting for a cruise. Half of the officers and crew were still enjoying shore leave when Executive OfficerLieutenant Hilario Rodríguez Malpica
and three other officers began to rally the remaining crew aboard Tampico
. The mob of sailors
then headed for their captain, whom they arrested with violence. Malpica, who had assumed command of the mutineers, informed Captain Manuel Azueta
that he intended to sail Tampico
to join the Constitutionalists. (There are various stories about why Lieutenant Malpica resorted to mutiny, however none are known to be true). Tampico
started and intended to head westward.
Just then the Huerista gunboat Guerrero
, under Captain Navio Torres
, was spotted in front of Tampico
. Malpica steamed Tampico
straight for Guerrero
, hoping to ram and sink her. Unfortunately for Tampico
, her steering gear malfunctioned and she was forced to turn around and head for Topolobampo in Sinaloa
The mutineers transferred Tampico'
s former captain to a merchant vessel, SS Herrerias
, which took him to Mazatlán
, which was still in federal hands at the time. Tampico
made it to Topolobampo, which became her home port throughout the subsequent naval campaign. Because Tampico
was short half of her crew, twenty-five Sinaloan insurgents were ordered to her to become sailors.
After being humiliated by allowing Tampico
to escape and join the rebellion, Captain Navio Torres with Guerrero
and another gunboat, Morelos
, headed for Topolobampo where they suspected to find the Tampico
arrived on 2 March, where she anchored outside the bar and waited for Morelos
which would arrive the following day. Tampico
was not in sight however; apparently she was conducting a mission against federal Mexican forces elsewhere. So the two gunboats waited in Topolobampo Bay
until the next morning; on 4 March, they sighted Tampico
as she entered the channel. Guerrero
was immediately ordered underway; Morelos
followed along Guerrero
Just seconds after lifting anchor, Guerrero
opened fire from around 9,000 yards (8,200 m) with her main gun battery
. A running battle ensued; Tampico
did not stop to fire until after passing Shell Point
; once on the other side, she opened fire with her two 4-inch (102 mm) guns and one 6-pounder (3 kg) gun at Guerrero
had one other 6-pounder gun on board but only the one would be used in the battle. Upon receiving fire, Captain Torres, ordered his ship to maneuver into position for a broadside
attack with his six 4-inch guns; Guerrero
fired but none of her shots hit their target. At this time Morelos
was about 800 yards (730 m) off Guerrero'
s portside when she opened fire. A gunnery duel continued for sometime; ultimately no hits were made by either side who were firing at each other from a range of 8,000 to 9,000 yards (7,300 to 8,200 m) away.
had a better armament than Tampico
s guns were in much better condition which gave her a farther range than that of Tampico
. This would become a major factor in the coming battles which gave the federals a distinct advantage over the Constitutionalist gunboat. Eventually Tampico
made for the protection of Topolobampo's port; she entered past the bar and the fighting ended. The gunboat Guerrero
again anchored outside the bar, to initiate a naval blockade
left for Guaymas for coal and provisions; she would return a few days later.
Throughout the engagement, none of the rounds fired hit their targets. Tampico
, according to report, fired far more accurately than the other two gunboats. Of her rounds, one was spotted 50 yards (46 m) short of Guerrero
, another 50 yards over, and one more, just off Guerrero'
s portside. Guerrero
fired about twenty rounds that morning, Morelos
about seven and Tampico
fired fourteen. On 13 March, Tampico
would test the federal blockade during another bloodless sea battle known as the Second Battle of Topolobampo
Last edited on 26 June 2019, at 10:20
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