Monday, June 2, 2014

Ships captured by Horse Marines by Ciara Gold

I was actually writing a totally different topic when I stumbled across an article about the Horse Marines in Texas and wow, what an interesting tale. But first, ever wondered about the Marine Corps Anthem and the line " the shores of Tripoli"? During the Barbary Wars in 1805, Lt. Presley O'Bannon led seven marines across the deserts of North Africa on camels. Their mission was to attack the Tripolitan city of Derna.

Capture of Monterey [sic]. Depiction of the Battle of Monterrey
(September 21-23, 1846) in the Mexican-American War.
Hand-colored lithograph; original size of painted area from
So, having Horse Marines in Texas in 1836 wasn't a new concept.

Afraid the Mexican Army might send troops ashore, General Thomas J. Rusk enlisted the help of volunteer rangers to patrol the coast. On May 29, 1836 group of soldiers led by Maj. Isaac Watts Burton guided by these rangers patrolled the mouth of the Guadalupe and Mission Bay. On June 2, after learning of a suspicious vessel in Copano Bay, Burton set up a trap to ambush the unsuspecting enemy. "Two or three rangers made signals of distress. The vessel hoisted both American signals and Texan colors, but these were not answered; they then hoisted Mexican signals, which the men answered as distressed Mexicans. The captain and four sailors, who came in a boat to their assistance, were immediately seized, and sixteen of the rangers took their places in the boat and rowed out to the vessel, the schooner Watchman, loaded with provisions for the Mexican armies. The crew, mistaking the rangers for their comrades, permitted them to come aboard without resistance. One account states that Col. Juan Davis Bradburn, a passenger aboard the vessel, perceived the situation, jumped into a small boat, and rowed away safely." ~ Texas Handbook Online.

While the confiscated boat lay in the harbor, two more hapless vessels came into view, each bearing supplies for the Mexican Army. Once again, the rangers managed to overtake the vessels with cunning strategy and without a struggle.

"The three prizes were first taken to Velasco and then sent to Galveston, where the cargoes were condemned, but the vessels, being American owned, were eventually returned to their owners. Col. Edward J. Wilson of Lexington, Kentucky, wrote of the capture of three Mexican vessels by a troop on horses and said that he supposed they would be called 'Horse Marines.'" ~ Texas Handbook Online.

There are other stories of Horse Marines worth checking out as well, but since this first occurred today 178 years ago, I thought this one most appropriate. Besides, who can resist a ranger who saves the day.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Very interesting article, Ciara. I'd never heard of the "horse Marines" and I thought I knew a lot of Texas history. Thanks.

Ciara Gold said...

Thanks Caroline, I'd never heard of them either. Gotta love finding those rare tidbits and sharing.