Battles of the War
The Capture of Vera Cruz
The vitally important Mexican port and stronghold of Vera Cruz fell to American forces on March 28, 1847, after a two-week siege. General Winfield Scott, with the assistance of Commodore David E. Conner’s Home Squadron, landed an army of 10,000 men at Collado Beach to the south of Vera Cruz on March 9. Covered by the guns of Conner’s ships, the U.S. troops moved north to invest the defenses of the city, eventually bottling up 3,000 Mexican troops under General Juan Morales behind its defenses. They also isolated another 1,000 troops inside the nearly impregnable walls of harbor fort San Juan de Ulúa.
Scott finished his lines by March 12, severing ties between Vera Cruz and the rest of Mexico. Engineers then created approach trenches while Commodore Conner sent ashore a half-dozen heavy guns and crews. On March 21, with his most of his guns and earthworks in place, Scott requested that non-combatants be allowed to leave the city. General Morales refused. The next day the combined guns of the army and fleet began to pummel Vera Cruz and San Juan de Ulúa, joined by the naval battery ashore on March 24. The American shelling caused little damage to Fort San Juan de Ulúa, but the three-day bombardment had breached the city walls, smothered counter-battery fire, and collapsed buildings inside Vera Cruz.
Unwilling to take credit for the disaster, General Morales turned over command of the garrison to General Juan Landero, who surrendered his army, fort, and city on March 28. From that point forward until the end of the U.S.-Mexican War, Vera Cruz served as a vital supply base for Scott’s invasion of Mexico and became crucial to U.S. victory.