Vintage photo of cadets from the Naval Academy in Veracruz, 1914.
Flag Captured During 1914 U.S. Intervention to be Returned to Mexico
Some months back, a loyal U.S. reader and his wife (whom wish to remain anonymous) contacted El antiQuario Magazines offices seeking advise. They own what is believed to be the Mexican flag captured from the Naval Academy by U.S. Marines during the 1914 Veracruz Intervention. Their desire is to repatriate the flag as a gesture of appreciation to the people of Mexico for the hospitality they have received as frequent visitors to this country during the past three decades.
Their dilemma, however, arose from who exactly should receive the flag. They are adamant that it should go to the people, not into a private collection. As we began researching the possibilities, the story of what really happened on April 21-22, 1914 between US troops and Mexican civilian soldiers began to unfold. We believe that in order to understand the importance of this American couples gesture, one must first understand the history behind the incident.
We would like to extend special thanks to Almirante Armando Sánchez Moreno, Sub Secretario de la Secretaria de Marina Armada de México; Ing. Alberto Arvide Redondo, Presidente de la Asociación de la Heroica Escuela Naval Militart; Ing. Omar de la Rocha and Ing. Joel Castelú Baturoni, members of the Socio Cadete de la Asociacion de la Heroica Escuela Naval Militar Brigada Guadalajara; and Almirante Marco Antonio Peyrot González, Secrerario de Marina Armada de México (Secretary of the Marine Armed Forces of Mexico) for their help in verifying the flags provenance, and their assistance with suggesting an appropriate new home for the flag. Our respects also go to this American couple for their desire to promote continued good-will between the people of the United States and Mexico. Plans for the repatriation ceremony in Mexico City are currently in the works.
Several years ago, a military antiques dealer who knew of my interest in Mexico offered me a Mexican flag that had been captured during the Intervention of 1914. What follows is the information I have been able to dig up on the provenance of the flag. The Intervention has not been well covered by US historians, as far as I can tell. When the opportunity came up to buy the flag, my wife and I purchased it with the intention of repatriating it to repay, in a small way, the many kindnesses shown to us by the Mexican people over the past thirty-some years.
The flag was originally bought from a veterans legion post in New Jersey that was closing and selling off things they had. It came with two recently framed associated pieces. The first is hand lettered on a white board and reads: Mexican Flag, Captured by the U.S.S. New Jerseys Battalion at Vera Cruz, Mexico, April 22, 1914.
The second has three items in the same frame: at the top a printed form acknowledging that Chief Boatswain John Davis served as a member of the landing force at Vera Cruz. The middle item is a photograph of naval and marine units on the docks at Veracruz. The bottom item is a small brass plaque that reads: Mexican Flag Captured by the USS New Jersey (BB16) Battalion During the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, April 22, 1914.
I cannot conclusively state that this is the flag that flew over the Naval Academy. I can show that it was a flag taken by the troops that first occupied the Academy and the nearby Artillery Barracks. As they were the first troops on the scene, I assume they got first choice of the trophies and for the seamen that would clearly be the Naval Academy Flag.
From my recollection, Woodrow Wilson did not care for Huerta and was looking for an excuse to embarrass his government. (The previous US Ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson, had been recalled and booted out of the job by the US Congress after his apparent connivance in the coup detat and murder of Madero. At one time, I owned HLWs unpublished memoirs. They now reside at the University of Texas.) Villa welcomed the seizure of Veracruz because he thought it would help bring down Huerta. Carranza denounced the invasion. Huerta thought it was the best thing that could happen because he hoped it might unify the Mexican people behind his government in resistance to the invader. Obregon, while opposing the invasion, refused the offer of a Federal commander to join forces and attack the Americans.
We are extremely pleased that you want to share the flags story with your readers and perhaps one of them will suggest the perfect home for the flag. We had considered either the Naval Academy or Chapultepec. The new state museum of Veracruz was also suggested.
Mr. & Mrs. XX