Ninety years ago, on April 21, 1914, the Navy and Marines seized the Mexican port of Veracruz on President Wilson's orders.
John Christian Barber, a young (my guess is his early 20s) Englishman, was traveling through Mexico in the Spring of 1914, and was present in Veracruz during the attack.
Here is his first hand account from his unpublished diary (I've put this here as a pdf file since, at nine pages, it's long for a post).
The Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz was overthrown in 1911. His successor, the reformer Francisco Madero, was overthrown in a coup and murdered by one of his generals, Victoriano Huerta, in 1913. Madero's murder led to a renewal of the civil war that had overthrown Diaz.
Pancho Villa figured in the 1910-1911 revolution that had overthrown Diaz. With the murder of Madero he allied himself with the Constitutionalist opposition to Huerta, led by state governor Venustiano Carranza, The Constitutionalist armies forced Huerta's resignation in July 1914.
In the U.S., President Wilson was hostile to the Huerta regime and favored the Constitutionalists. Tampico was a city on the coast of Mexico to the north of Veracruz and under federal control. On April 9, a small U.S. Navy shore party accidentally entered a restricted area in Tampico. They were arrested by Federal troops but released almost immediately. The Wilson administration, which was not sympathetic to Huerta, made an issue of the arrest.
Shortly after, Wilson learned that a shipment of arms, destined for Huerta, was to be unloaded at Veracruz. He ordered the navy and marines to seize Veracruz and prevent the transshipment. The port was taken on April 21 and 22.
Here is a more detailed version of the story of the attack on Veracruz.
Jack Barber was traveling in Mexico in the Spring of 1914. He spent a very agreeable March visiting his uncle, William Gleadell, and Gleadell's family in Merida, Yucatan. At the end of March, he and the Gleadells left the heat of Merida, and traveled through the city of Veracruz to the family's home at Jalapa, the capital of the state of Veracruz. Barber was caught in Veracruz when the city was attacked and occupied by the U.S. Navy and Marines on April 21.
The selections from Barber's diary in this post cover April and May, 1914. Barber arrives in the port of Veracruz, is caught in the city fighting, sails to Galveston on a refugee ship, and ultimately arrives in Philadelphia during preparations for a service for two Philadelphia sailors killed in Veracruz.
In August 1914, at the start of World War I, Barber joined the Liverpool Scottish regiment. He was killed in action at Hooge, Flanders, in 1915.
Revised 4-21-04, 4-22-04, 5-7-05; 11-27-05; 11-10-07