March 31, This day during the Mexican Revolution

March 31, 1914 – The Third Battle of Topolobampo was a single ship action during the Mexican Revolution. At the end of March 1914, a Constitutionalist gunboat attempted to break the blockade of Topolobampo, Sinaloa after failing in the First and Second Battles of Topolobampo. Constitutionalist warship, Tampico, was sunk in a battle lasting a few hours by a Huertista gunboat. At 4:32 pm on March 31, 1914, the day after Morelos left, Tampico steamed out of the harbor and attacked Guerrero. At this time, Captain Navio Torres was returning an official call from the United States protected cruiser, USS New Orleans, who was observing the naval campaign off Topolobampo. Tampico’s fire from two 4 inch guns and one 6-pounder failed to hit the target but were not far off. Guerrero returned with six 4 inch guns and quickly New Orleans turned towards the Huertista vessel and got under way immediately; she was too close for safely observing the conflict. The Guerrero took up a position off the channel with her broadside towards Tampico. At around 5:30 pm, Captain Malpica in Tampico reached a position abreast of Shell Point. There she opened fire on the Guerrero again at a range of 9,000 yards. Immediately she was answered by Guerrero’s broadsides; shots managed to hit the officers quarters twice, causing considerable damage. Tampico suffered four more hits to her bow, and one struck underneath the waterline. Five other shots struck Tampico at the waterline, one amidship. Amazingly neither Captain Malpica or any of her sixty other officers and crew sustained injuries. All of the said hits reportedly occurred while Tampico made the first dash towards Guerrero. Despite the damage, the ships continued to fire at this position until 6:00 pm came before turning around. After a few more moments Tampico got underway again and headed straight for the Guerrero, as she had when Captain Malpica mutinied from the squadron. Tampico went right on over the bar and proceeded till grounding below the entrance of the harbor. By 6:15 pm, Tampico managed to free herself of the bar and headed northwest, again straight for the Guerrero and under “wild fire” as USS New Orleans reported. When almost 6:30 pm, because of the approaching darkness, Captain Navio Torres, in the bridge of Guerrero, retreated but continued to fire shots at Tampico. Guerrero was struck three times by the Tampico. One 4 inch armor-piercing shot, entered the starboard side of the berth deck but failed to detonate. Another landed on deck amid ship and also failed to explode. The third and final hit struck a stanchion outside the bridge, this one did explode. Because it struck above the top-side, the crew of Guerrero, scrambling around on top, was hit by shrapnel. None of Guerrero’s crew were killed but at least three were wounded. After seeing Guerrero retreat, Tampico followed suit and came about and headed back into Topolobampo’s harbor, northeast of Shell Point. It was later discovered by Guerrero’s crew that the Tampico had sunk as the result of her battle damage.

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