Nicaraguan Civil War (1926–27)
War breaks out
The situation deteriorated into civil war
on the 2 May 1926 when a group of Liberal exiles landed at Bluefields
Soon, the east coast of Nicaragua was ablaze with rebellion. Liberal forces wore red hatbands, while the Conservatives donned blue ones. However, many soldiers carried both colors in case they were wounded and required medical attention from the enemy's side.
The primary commander of the Liberals on this coast was José María Moncada
, who fought to make the exiled Dr. Sacasa president.
Another Liberal general was Anastasio Somoza García
, who led an army in the southwestern part of Nicaragua.
American Marines and sailors
were sent to occupy the country's ports to establish "neutral zones", which would prevent fighting in these areas and push the Liberal rebels inland.
The United States was deeply concerned with matters in Nicaragua, since the left-wing
government of Mexico
was supplying the rebels with arms.
To try to put an end to the conflict, the United States arranged a truce and had Lawrence Dennis
oversee Conservative and Liberal representatives at a meeting aboard the USS Denver
on the 1 October 1926.
Nothing came out of the conference and fighting resumed shortly afterwards. On the 11 November 1926, Chamorro resigned from the presidency, leaving Sebastián Uriza
holding the reins of power. On 14 November Adolfo Díaz
, who was referred to as "our Nicaraguan" by the United States,
became president and was recognized by the U.S.
Dr. Sacasa returned to Nicaragua on the 1 December 1926, arriving at the port of Puerto Cabezas
and proclaiming a rival government, which was only recognized by Mexico.
In January 1927, U.S. president Calvin Coolidge
lifted the arms embargo
on the Nicaraguan government,
allowing his country to legally provide military aid to the Conservatives.
Moncada's forces began marching westwards towards Managua, defeating Conservative forces along the way. Meanwhile, Liberals led by Francisco Parajón
struck at the city of Chinandega
causing one of the most destructive battles of the war
. The battle raged from 6 to 9 February 1927,
and saw 500 Conservative defenders face off against between 600 and 2,000 Liberal attackers, with "hundreds [being] killed on each side."
During the fighting, much of the city was destroyed by fire. The blaze was "probably" caused by Liberal soldiers or "civilian looters", but many blamed two American airmen flying for the Conservative government.
Eventually, the rebels were driven from the city after some bitter house-to-house fighting
With the Liberals advancing on Managua, the United States found itself on the verge of war. It couldn't afford to let a left-wing Mexican-backed regime rise to power in the region. Díaz appealed to American fears of communism
by saying the rebels were Bolshevist
Marine reconnaissance aircraft flying for the Conservatives were already occasionally receiving fire from Liberal forces, although the more "[r]esponsible" rebel officers tried to prevent a clash with the Americans.
Peace of Tipitapa
To put an end to the civil war without using the Marines to actively fight the Liberals, Coolidge sent Henry L. Stimson
to negotiate an end to hostilities. Traveling across the war-scarred Central American nation, Stimson met Moncada at the town of Tipitapa
, which sits along the river of the same name
, on the 4 May 1927.
Here, Moncada agreed to the Peace of Tipitapa
, ending the conflict. The conditions of the peace were that Adolfo Díaz would remain president until a new, American-supervised election in 1928
, both sides would disarm, and a new National Guard
would be established.
Any soldier who turned in a rifle
or machine gun
would be given the equivalent of ten U.S. dollars
In all, the Liberals turned in 31 machine guns and 3,704 rifles, while the Conservatives turned in 308 machine guns and 10,445 rifles.
Augusto César Sandino played a notable role in the civil war as a general on the Liberal side. His first battle saw him and twenty-nine of his followers try to take the town of El Jícaro
, which was held by a force of two hundred Conservatives, on the 2 November 1926. Sandino's men managed to kill "some" of the defenders (while suffering no fatalities), but failed to capture the village.
Later, in early March 1927, he and one hundred men managed to repulse a government attack on their position on Mount Yucapuca in a seven-hour battle. The Conservatives numbered four hundred and were armed with six machine guns.
Sandino scored another victory when he and two hundred followers attacked the city of Jinotega
on the 28 March 1927 and captured it "[a]fter a day of fierce fighting,"
while serving on José María Moncada's right flank. However, Moncada had no love for Sandino and ordered him to take the city of Boaco
, apparently neglecting to warn him about the strong government garrison there. After observing Boaco's defenses for himself, Sandino decided not to attack and to tag along with Moncada instead. Sandino would consider the latter a traitor after he agreed to the Peace of Tipitapa.
Despite an end to the fighting, American Marines would face renegade Liberals, possibly led by Francisco Sequeira
("General Cabulla"), in combat at the Battle of La Paz Centro
on the 16 May 1927. Two Americans were fatally wounded and at least fourteen Nicaraguans perished in the firefight. Augusto César Sandino viewed the peace settlement as treasonous and would fight a guerrilla war
against the Marines and Nicaraguan National Guard until 1933. The first battle of his rebellion
took place at Ocotal
on the 16 July 1927.
- ^ Macaulay 1998, p. 24–25.
- ^ Macaulay 1998, p. 26–28.
- ^ Musicant 1990, p. 293–294.
- ^ Boot 2003, p. 234–235.
Last edited on 3 May 2021, at 21:49
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