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October 26, 2007

Mexican Navy in 1839

171. [MEXICAN NAVY]. MEXICO (Republic). SECRETARÍA INTERINO (Manuel del Bulnes). Escalafón de los Señores Gefes y Oficiales del Cuerpo de Guerra de la Armada Nacional cerrado hasta fin de Agosto de 1839. México: Imprenta del Águila, dirigida por José Ximeno, calle de Medinas, núm. 6, 1840. [16] pp. 8vo, original printed self wrappers within ornamental typographic borders and engraved navy and military vignettes. Except for small worm hole at upper right just touching the page borders, a very fine copy of a charming imprint with two cuts of naval vessels.

            First edition. Not in Sutro, Palau, etc. RLIN reports no copies, and OCLC shows only a microform at Yale. This pamphlet lists the Mexican naval officers who were in service during this phase of the Texas War, when Mexico was still threatening to re-invade Texas. The work enumerates them from the commander José de Mozo down through those just beginning to rise in the officer ranks, their various ranks over the years, and the number of years each has been in service. These were the naval officers who opposed the second Texas Navy, consisting of just six warships which put to sea in mid-1839, supported the Yucatan rebels, and secured the Texas coast. The pamphlet lists twenty frigate captains, giving some idea of the major vessels available to oppose the Texans, assuming each captain had an actual ship. According to Diccionario Porrúa (“Marina Mexicana”), at this time the navy consisted of at least two ships of forty guns and four ships of twenty guns, in addition to support vessels and other ships whose names have been forgotten.

            One of the frigate captains listed is Francisco de Paula López, who is remembered in Texas naval history as the commander of the Mexican fleet who fought the second Texas Navy under Edwin Ward Moore off Campeche in May, 1843. That battle was the first between wooden and ironclad vessels, and Paula López was the first naval officer to command such a ship in battle. Despite the superiority of the British-built ironclad Guadalupe, the battle was a draw with high Mexican casualties, and López was court martialed for his failure.

            Any contemporary material concerning the Mexican navy during the Texas Revolution is quite rare. No copy of this ephemeral work has appeared at auction in thirty years. ($300-600)

Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $352.50

Auction 21 Abstracts

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