Friday, October 5, 2012

USS Louisiana in the Vera Cruz Expedition, 1914-1915

The Hampton Roads Naval Museum recently received several dozen photographs of the U.S. Navy's 1914 occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico.  Printed on postcard stock paper, the photographs show several different scenes of the expedition, principally from the viewpoint of the locally-based battleship USS Louisiana (BB-19).

While the battleship was picking up new recruits, someone from the ship took the above picture of the former wooden steam frigate Franklin.  The wooden ship served as the Navy's barracks, receiving, and recruiting depot for Norfolk and Portsmouth.

En route to Vera Cruz, Louisiana's Marine detachment conducts battle drills on the fantail.

Officially, the original plan for the operation called for U.S. Navy sailors to simply occupy Vera Cruz's custom house and port facilities in order to enforce an American arms embargo on the Mexican forces fighting each other in the Mexican Revolution.  Louisiana's sailors were not part of this first landing as the ship was still en route to Mexico.

In fact, the cruise south was very easy for Louisiana's sailors.  Here are members of the ship's 7th division with two ship mascots, a goat named Billy and what looks like a turkey.  The ship also had a bull terrier as a mascot.   

The ship's baseball team even took time out to get into their uniforms and take a team picture. 

But when Louisiana arrived along with several other warships from the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, American forces found themselves engaged in street fighting with local militiamen and naval cadets loyal to Mexican president General Victoriano Huerta.  Here, Louisiana's sailors are deployed in the streets with Krag rifles and Colt automatics. 

Louisiana returned to Hampton Roads in August 1914, but the Navy ordered her back to Mexico in early 1915.  At left, the battleship's company hand-fills bags of coal from a barge.   The ship's coal bunker could hold over 2,000 tons of coal.  After the 1915 deployment to Mexico, she returned home and the Navy placed her in reserve status.    

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