Part 1 of 2…
The Director of the Navy Department Library recently visited El Museo Histórico Naval de la Ciudad de México which is located on the fourth floor of the Palacio Postal in Mexico City. Here are just a few of his pictures. Check back tomorrow for additional photos.
Diorama depicting a fleet of Méxica (Aztec) canoes attacking some of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés’ thirteen brigantines in a naval battle on Lago (Lake) de Texcoco in the Valley of México during the siege of the Aztec island capital of Tenochtitlan in 1521. The brigantines were constructed under the direction of Martín López, a master shipbuilder. Each vessel was armed with a single cannon, and had a detachment of 25 Spanish soldiers on board. After fierce fighting the Spanish were able to successfully blockade Tenochtitlan and subject the city to starvation during the conquest of the island. Photograph by Glenn E. Helm.
Model of the coastal fortress of San Felipe Bacalar in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo in the east of the Yucatán Peninsula. Spanish conquistadors led by Gaspar Pacheco founded the town of Salamanca de Bacalar on the site of a Mayan city in 1545; the fortress was completed in 1729. The town and fortress were conquered by Mayan Indians in 1848 during the Caste War of Yucatán (1847–1901), and not reoccupied by the Méxican military until 1902. The name Bacalar derives from the original Mayan name b'ak halal, which meant "surrounded by reeds.” Model of the Spanish colonial coastal fortress of Fuerte Sisal located on the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula in the state of Yucatán, México. The port of Sisal was founded in 1811, and was the chief port in the Yucatán during the Henequen boom which paralleled the presidency of Porfirio Díaz (1876-1910). Henequen is a type of agave plant whose leaves yielded a fiber used in the manufacture of high quality rope, and yarn used to make burlap bags. The port eventually declined and is now a small fishing village. Although Henequen was used by the Mayan Indians, Mexican-born naval engineer José María Lanz first recognized its potential for manufacturing rope for the Spanish Navy in 1783. Henequen production was extremely profitable and contributed to millions of Mayan Indians becoming debt-bound workers on Henequen haciendas (plantations) where they were unable to pay off loans, essentially making them into slaves until the Méxican Revolution overthrew the system. Photograph by Glenn E. Helm.
Model of coastal Fortaleza (fortress) de San Carlos de Perote in the Méxican state of Veracruz. The fortress was constructed during 1770-1776 to store treasure including silver prior to its shipment to Spain. It was the site of México’s first military academy which was founded in 1823. During the Texas War of Independence it was used to hold Texan survivors captured from the Santa Fe Expedition of 1841, the company led by Nicholas Mosby Dawson in 1842, and the Mier Expedition which met a tragic fate in December 1842. The revolutionary leader and first president of Mexico, Guadalupe Victoria (José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix), died and is buried in the town of Perote. During the later part of World War II the fortress-prison was used to intern German and Italian nationals. Photograph by Glenn E. Helm
Coastal fortress of San Juan de Ulúa overlooking the port of Veracruz, México. Construction started on the fort in 1565. A force of English privateers commanded by Sir John Hawkins accompanied by Francis Drake was defeated here in 1569 during the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa, with Hawkins and Drake barely escaping the Spanish fleet. Drake and Hawkins later held command positions during the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Photograph by Glenn E. Helm.
Part 2: Uniforms