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Archive for March 29th, 2008

veracruz.jpg

Other than perhaps a blockade, the siege seems like the most boring of all military maneuvers.  It’s very effective, of course, and it means a low number of casualties for the siege-er.  But it’s slow and dull – unless you happen to be the one being sieged, I guess.

Needing to establish a base in order to more easily move inland, Major General Winfield Scott, commander of southern forces in the War with Mexico, decided that a siege on the city of Veracruz wouold be the most effective route.  His men, especially his main subordinate, General William J. Worth, were not happy.  They wanted action – a full assault of the city – not standing around.  But the city had three forts manned by more than 4,500 men, and Scott knew that wearing out the city and forts through artillery was the best way to proceed.

In the country’s first large-scale amphibious assault, Scott led 12,000 men ashore in one day.  They established a trench line about 8 miles long to surround the city, and after a delay of several days (partly due to fights between Scott and the naval forces offshore as to the navy’s role), the barrage began on March 22, 1847.

Scott showed patience in choosing the siege over the more riskier assault, and his patience resulted in a loss of only 13 men under his command.  After pressure was applied by the local consuls of England, France and Prussia and a few days of negotiations, the commander of Veracruz’s forces surrendered on March 29th.

Recommended reading: So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848

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