THE UNITED STATES MARINES
                                  IN NICARAGUA

                        HISTORICAL BRANCH, G-3 DIVISION
                        HEADQUARTERS, U. S. MARINE CORPS
                               WASHINGTON, D. C.

                                 Reprinted 1968

                          The United States Marines

                                 in Nicaragua


                               Bernard C. Nalty

                               Printed:    1958
                               Revised:    1961
                               Reprinted:  1962
                               Reprinted:  1968

                       Historical Branch, G-3 Division
                      Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps
                           Washington, D. C. 20380

                             DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
                            WASHINGTON, D. C. 20380


     This pamphlet is a concise narrative of the role of the U.S. Marines in 
the American interventions in Nicaragua during the period 1910-1933.  The 
chronicle was compiled from official records and appropriate historical works 
and is published to give a further under standing of Marine participation in 
counterinsurgency warfare during the second two decades of the 20th century.

                                R.G. OWENS, JR.
                     Brigadier General, U. S. Marine Corps
                         Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3

Reviewed and approved: 10 June 1968

                          THE UNITED STATES MARINES
                                 IN NICARAGUA

                               TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                           Original    Online
                                                           Page        Page

Map of Nicaragua                                                          7
The United States Marines In Nicaragua                        1           8
Notes                                                        35          42
Map of Northern Departments of Nicaragua                                 47


                                MAP OF NICARAGUA



                                Bernard C. Nalty

                             Early Days of Nicaragua

     Long before the coming of the Leathernecks, Nicaragua had been a prize 
fought for by world powers.  In the year 1687, though all of Central America 
lay under Spanish claims, Great Britain made a treaty with an Indian chieftain 
and designated the man to be King of the Mosquito Protectorate (a strip of 
swamp land stretching along the east coast from Cape Gracias a'Dios to 
Bluefields Lagoon).

     Spanish authority over Central America ended on 1 July 1821, when 
representatives from the provinces of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, 
Salvador, and Costa Rica met at Guatemala City to issue a declaration of 
independence.  Plagued by revolutions throughout South America, Spain did not 
have the resources to challenge the rebels at Guatemala City.  Free from the 
rigors of war, the rebels devoted their entire energies to forming a 
confederation modeled after the federal government of the United States.  
Within two years after the declaration of independence from Spain, a Central 
American Republic was exercising some degree of control over the five states.

     Unfortunately, there were several stumbling blocks in the path toward 
stable government.  Poor roads, exaggerated local pride, and the conflict 
between anticlerical Liberals and the staunchly Catholic Conservatives 
combined to destroy the union.  For a time, the Liberals were able to retain 
power, but by 1839, the republic had disappeared, leaving Nicaragua an 
independent state.<1>

     Nicaragua suffered the same ills which had proved fatal to the Central 
American Republic.  Liberal still battled Conservative, but the hatred of one 
for the other was based on economic factors and civic pride rather than upon 
any religious principles.  Whether a Liberal or a Conservative, the Nicaraguan 
had an abiding distrust of the national government.

     To attribute the continuing strife within Nicaragua to economic 
differences or to the hatred of politicians out of power for those controlling 
the nation would be to ignore the spirit of localismo.  This was a fierce 
civic pride, which magnified economic jealousy and enabled petty leaders to 
raise armies to crush,a rival town or overthrow the national government.  Over 
the years, of course, such rivalry waned until the principal motive for 
rebellion became the hatred of the "outs" for the "ins." Nevertheless, 
localismo was for many decades the main cause of warfare between Conservatives 
and Liberals.<2>  Since compromise was impossible, the rival factions went to 
war, and for years, Nicaragua trembled under the lash of rebellion.

     During these years of turmoil, Nicaragua blossomed forth as a 
strategically important area.  As a result of the victory over Mexico, the 
United States had annexed California and the Southwest.  Since the trek across 
desert and mountains to the Pacific Coast was both long and dangerous and the 
sea journey around Cape Horn was no easier, Nicaragua and the Isthmus of 
Panama became vital to America's transcontinental communications.<3>  American 
diplomats successfully obtained transit rights across the isthmus.<4>  In the 
meantime, gold had been discovered in California, and the increased traffic 
across Central America lured private investors into the area.

     Leader in the development of a Nicaraguan transit route was an American, 
Cornelius Vanderbilt, who already had begun a rail line across the Isthmus of 
Panama.  At first, Vanderbilt and his partners, Joseph L. White and Nathaniel 
J. Wolfe, had hoped to construct an inter-oceanic canal; but when this proved 
impracticable, they organized the Accessory Transit Company to transport 
freight and passengers from Greytown up the San Juan River, across Lake 
Nicaragua, then overland to San Juan del Sur.<5>


     American expansion and the increasing importance of Nicaragua had not 
gone unnoticed in Great Britain.  With a firm foothold north of Bluefields 
Lagoon, it was a simple matter to expand the Mosquito Protectorate.  Once 
Mexico was beaten and the United States was certain to retain California, the 
British, in February 1848, seized the town of San Juan del Norte, renamed it 
Greytown and declared it a free city, made independent by the authority of the 
Mosquito King.  The annexation of Greytown placed the British in control of 
the mouth of the San Jean River.  Commodore Vanderbilt obtained permission to 
establish the Accessory Transit Company from the Nicaraguan government, but 
now his use of the river was subject to the whims of the British Consul at 

     During the 1850's, then, Nicaragua was rocked by two conflicts, the 
shooting war between Liberals and Conservatives and a war of nerves between 
the United States and Britain.  Anglo-American troubles began in 1851, when 
the municipality of Greytown attempted to gain closer control over 
Vanderbilt's company by forcing it to move its stores nearer the heart of the 
city.  The company naturally refused. A mob then rowed out from Greytown, did 
some damage to Vanderbilt's warehouses and offices and trampled on the 
American flag.

     Again in February 1853, the British tried to disrupt the transit service. 
Local company representatives refused to obey an order that they raze their 
new buildings at Puntas Arenas.  Fortunately, an American warship, the CYANE, 
dropped anchor in the harbor; and on 11 March, Orderly Sergeant James Thompson 
landed with a detachment of Marines to guard American property in and near 
Greytown.  This handful of Leathernecks plus the ominous guns of the CYANE 
prevented any repetition of the mob's outrage of two years before.  On 13 
March, the Marines were withdrawn.

     Relations between the British consul at Greytown and officials of the 
transit company remained tense.  On 16 May, the river steamer ROUTH carrying 
Solon Borland, the American Minister to Nicaragua, chugged to a stop off 
Puntas Arenas.  That evening, Borland went ashore to visit the American 
commercial agent in Greytown.  A mob surrounded the agent's house, hurled 
broken bottles and stones at the Minister, and kept him a virtual prisoner for 
some 48 hours.  Once the mob had dispersed, Borland began the long journey to 
Washington, where he reported the details of the outrage to the Secretary of 
State.  Upon learning the facts, the United States immediately demanded the 
punishment of those responsible; but there was no one left at Greytown to 
assume responsibility for the riot.  Every member of the municipal council as 
well as the mayor had either resigned or fled to Jamaica. Since there could be 
no recourse to diplomacy, the problem was handed over to the United States 

     Charged with the task of exacting satisfaction was the captain of the 
CYANE, Commander George H. Hollins.  Commander Hollins faced a difficult 
decision.  He realized that he could extract no apology for the attack on 
Minister Borland. His only alternative was to punish the men responsible, but 
the ringleaders had disappeared.  All he could do was bombard the town, and 
this he tried to do in the most humane manner possible.  Hollins allowed 24 
hours in which to evacuate the town, then commenced firing.  Beginning at 0900 
on 13 July, 177 shells plowed into Greytown.  That afternoon a landing party 
of Marines and seamen completed the destruction of the town and on the 
following day, crossed over to Puntas Arenas to demolish a powder magazine.

     In the meantime, Nicaragua was in the midst of another series of 
rebellions. Conservative victory in the election of 1853 brought the usual 
reaction--a rebellion of the Liberals.  For a time, government troops were 
successful; and Francisco Castellon, defeated Liberal candidate for President, 
was exiled to Honduras.  There he won the support of the Honduran government 

and re-entered the fray.  In spite of this assistance, the Liberals were 
unable to win a conclusive victory, so Castellon began looking further afield 
for reinforcements.

     The Liberal campaign was dragging on when Castellon poured out his 
troubles to a visiting Californian, Byron Cole, who offered an easy solution 
to the problem. Cole contacted his close friend, a diminutive native of 
Tennessee, William Walker. In return for cash and land grants, Walker offered 
to provide 300 "colonists subject to military duty" for service in the Liberal 


     William Walker was no novice at dabbling in revolution.  Earlier in his 
career, he had organized a private army and invaded Lower California.  
Disease, starvation, and the lack of support by the natives combined to defeat 
him; but he escaped to California ready to embark on some new adventure.<6>

    In the summer of 1855, Walker arrived in Nicaragua with the first 
contingent of "colonists."  The fighting that followed was directed almost 
exclusively by the tiny American.  A truce was granted, and in October 1855, a 
new Liberal government took office. Patrico Rivas, a moderate Conservative, 
took office as President, a move designed to appease the opposition, while 
Walker looked out for the Liberal cause as Commander in Chief of the Army.

     In February 1856, Walker forced Rivas to revoke the charter of the 
Accessory Transit Company and turn over its rights to a new concern.  
Cornelius Vanderbilt vowed revenge.

     Walker seemed eager to lead Nicaragua out of the wilderness, an objective 
he could best accomplish as chief executive.  Pride in his adopted country, 
personal ambition, and his own greed caused Walker to bolt the Liberal party, 
accept nomination by the Conservatives, and become the only American to hold 
office as President of Nicaragua.

     Although President Franklin Pierce extended diplomatic recognition to the 
new government, the Walker regime was tottering.  Cornelius Vanderbilt 
employed his ships to run guns and men to the Liberals; and the British, 
concerned over the fate of the Mosquito Protectorate, rendered aid to the 
rebels.  Cruelly adhering to a scorched earth policy, Walker destroyed even 
the city of Granada; but his cause proved hopeless.  The British evacuated 
most of his troops, while Walker himself, on 1 May 1957, gained sanctuary 
aboard the American warship ST. MARY'S.<7>

     Walker's dream died hard.  Late in November 1857, he and a band of his 
followers slipped into Greytown harbor and pitched camp at Puntas Arenas.  
American and British warships converged on the spot to round up the 
freebooters.  On 8 December Lieutenants James Lewis and John O. Payne led a 
force of American Marines ashore at Puntas Arenas.  Together with a battalion 
of seamen, they surrounded Walker's camp, while the warships FULTON, SARATOGA, 
and WABASH trained their guns on the knot of filibusters.  Walker wisely 

     Again in 1858, Walker mounted another expedition, only to be shipwrecked 
in a gale off the coast of Honduras.  In August 1860, however, he returned to 
Central America.  This time, he landed in Honduras in an attempt to secure a 
base from which to invade Nicaragua.  After some initial successes, the steam 
warship HMS ICARUS interfered.  Once he had brought Walker to bay, Captain 
Norvell Salmon of ICARUS accepted the American's surrender and delivered him 
to the Hondurans who ordered him shot.  William Walker was executed on 11 
September 1860.<9>

     The brief, hectic career of William Walker caused the Liberal and 
Conservative elements to unite, for a time at least, against foreign 
intervention.  After his death, the coalition dissolved with the Conservatives 
gaining the upper hand. From 1863 to 1893, they avoided the pitfalls which 
might lead to rebellion.  Two rail lines were built during this era, the first 
from Corinto to Leon and a second from Managua to Granada.  Farmers enjoyed 
greater prosperity, and the educational system was reformed.  The Liberals, of 
course, were not satisfied; but there was no burning issue upon which to base 
a call to arms.<10>

     Relations between Nicaragua and Great Britain also improved once the 
Walker menace had ended.  By the Treaty of Managua, 1860, Great Britain 

recognized Nicaragua's sovereignty over the Mosquito Coast but extracted a 
pledge of self-government for the Indians.  Throughout the 30 years of 
domestic stability, Nicaragua lived up to the terms of the agreement.<11>

     Strange as it may seem, it was the Conservatives, members of the party in 
power, who triggered the revolution which ended this era of peace.  President 
Roberto Sacasa was a Conservative from the city of Leon.  Although he owed his 
success to the aristocrats of Granada, he could not break the ties that bound 
him to his native city.  The manner in which Sacasa continued to reward his 
Liberal friends aroused the wrath of his own party, and the Conservative ranks 
split with the disgruntled element raising the cry of rebellion.  Quick to 
take advantage of the dissension within Conservative ranks was Jose Santos 
Zelaya, a citizen of Managua.  The Liberals sprang to arms and routed their 
political foes.<12>


     A renewal of civil strife in Nicaragua was an invitation for foreign 
intervention.  Early in 1894, a British warship anchored at Bluefields to halt 
alleged infringement upon the treaty rights of the Mosquito Indians.  By the 
year's end, however, Britain forfeited control of the reservation to 

     The United States, also, was forced to intervene to protect American 
property at Bluefields.  On 6 July 1894, Lieutenant Franklin J. Moses led 
ashore a contingent of Marines from the COLOMBIA.  On the last day of the 
month, reinforcements were landed from the MARBLEHEAD.  Both detachments were 
withdrawn on 7 August.

     All in all, the Zelaya administration was among the most turbulent that 
Nicaragua had yet to experience.  In 1896, the Liberals balked when the 
President decided to succeed himself in office; but he was able to enlist 
enough Conservative strength to remain in office.  From 2 to 4 May 1896, when 
fighting near Corinto endangered American holdings, 15 Marines, under 1st 
Sergeant Frederick W. M. Poppe, and 19 seamen stood guard.

     War again broke out in 1898, as Zelaya extended his tenure for still 
another term.  The local United States consular agent requested the USS ALERT, 
at anchor in the harbor of Bluefields, to stand by in case of an attack on the 
city.  On the morning of 7 February, the American flag rose union downward 
over the consulate.  In answer to this distress signal, a force of 14 Marines 
and 19 seamen was landed. On the following day, the government forces agreed 
to guarantee the safety of all foreigners, and the landing party was 

     A similar landing, 16 seamen and Marines and a Colt automatic gun, took 
place at Bluefields on 24 February 1899.  Again, a display of force was enough 
to prevent both rebels and government troops from destroying American 

     The Zelaya administration combined Liberal idealism with graft and 
aggression.  On the credit side, the dictator overhauled the public school 
system and strove ceaselessly to attract foreign industries to Nicaragua.  The 
achievements, unfortunately, were more than outweighed by the fact that he ran 
the government for his own gain.  The president and members of his cabinet 
held a monopoly over the nation's business enterprises.  Without any thought 
for the future, they peddled Nicaragua's national resources to the highest 
bidder.  Goods needed by the national government were paid for in worthless 
scrip, and soon the country was caught in the coils of inflation.

     In the field of international affairs, Zelaya resurrected the dream of a 
Central American republic and set out to bring all five states in the area 
under his sway.  Both the United States and European powers were eager to 
restore peace in Central America, principally because war endangered their 
investments in the region.  Since President Theodore Roosevelt considered 
European intervention as contrary to the Monroe Doctrine, it became the 
responsibility of the United States to assist in maintaining order.  Roosevelt 
extended the good offices of his government, and representatives of the 
Central American states met in Washington in 1907 to negotiate a general 
treaty of peace.  This covenant was signed, but more important, the, five 
republics agreed to submit their future grievances to a Central American Court 
of Justice.<14>

     At the time, it appeared that Roosevelt had won a striking diplomatic 
victory.  Without resorting to force, he had averted the threat of European 
lodgement in an area vital to the security of the United States.  He had 
extracted pledges from each of the Central American republics not to meddle in 
the internal affairs of the others.  Finally, the Central American Court of 

Justice, with member judges from each of the five states, seemed capable of 
keeping the peace.  The only difficulty lay in the fact that Zelaya had no 
intention of keeping his word.

     William Howard Taft succeeded Roosevelt as President of the United 
States.  He inherited the recalcitrant Zelaya, but he also was bequeathed a 
domestic economy rebounding from the depression of 1907.  Since there was a 
great deal of surplus capital available for investment abroad, Taft and 
Philander Knox, his Secretary of State, hoped to employ this money in their 
foreign policy.  The result was known as "Dollar Diplomacy."  Basically, their 
plan was to have United States diplomats encourage foreign states to borrow or 
buy from American banks and manufacturers.  This would relieve the chronic 
financial burdens of friendly nations, raise their standards of living, and, 
by providing markets for American goods, insure continued domestic prosperity.


     While Taft was encouraging Americans to invest aboard, President Zelaya 
was having financial problems of his own.  Graft and inflation again had 
drained Nicaragua's treasury.  The shortage of funds was a source of acute 

     A great many Conservatives were growing weary of Zelaya.  Throughout his 
reign, the dictator had made the Granada aristocrats his whipping boys; now 
the time had come for revenge.  Eager to help the dissatisfied Nicaraguans 
were the foreign businessmen who had seen their holdings sold from under them 
according to the whims of a fickle president.  In the autumn of 1909, the two 
groups joined forces.  Financed by foreign interests, the Conservatives landed 
an army at Bluefields and took the offensive against Zelaya.

     Chosen to lead the Conservative revolt was Juan J Estrada, governor of 
Bluefields Province, an appointee of the Zelaya government.  Estrada's 
defection to Conservative ranks gave the rebels control of almost the entire 
Caribbean coast.<15>

     The United States at first refused to intervene.  Had it not been for 
Zelaya's folly, there might have been no landing by Marines.  Shortly after 
the revolt began, government forces captured two American citizens serving 
with the Conservative army, Zeleya had them shot as traitors.  Secretary of 
State Knox protested at once.  Convinced that the Conservatives represented 
the majority of the Nicaraguan people, the United States severed diplomatic 
relations with the Zelaya government.

     The Nicaraguan dictator had victory within his grasp, for Estrada's 
troops were falling back toward Bluefields.  To remain in the good graces of 
Secretary Knox, at least until the Conservative threat was exterminated, 
Zelaya resigned as president in favor of Dr. Jose Madriz, another Liberal 
politician.  The United States, however, withheld recognition of the Madriz 

                         Early American Intervention

     Determined to crush once and for all the menace of an aggressive 
dictatorship in Central America, Knox and Taft decided to intervene.  Estrada, 
badly beaten, had fallen back upon Bluefields to re-equip his troops and to 
obtain reinforcements.  The government countered by buying a steamship, 
mounting guns on her, and using her to blockade Bluefields.  When the vessel 
moved into position to bombard that city, the United States showed its hand.

     As early as February 1910, Marine units and Navy vessels had begun to 
concentrate in Nicaraguan waters.  On the western coast, a regiment led by 
Colonel James E. Mahoney was aboard the BUFFALO off Corinto; but the area of 
operation shifted rapidly to the opposite coast, and in March, the unit 
returned to Panama.  The task of halting the fighting around Bluefields fell 
to the seamen and Marines of the DUBUQUE and PADUCAH.  On May 19, landing 
parties from both ships went ashore to guard American property and to 
establish what came to be called in later revolutions a "neutral zone." Once 
the situation ashore had been stabilized, the vessels took turns shuttling 
reinforcements to Bluefields.  While one prevented any attempt at bombardment 
or blockade, the other would steam to Panama to load elements of a Marine 
battalion commanded by Major Smedley D. Butler, a hero of the Boxer Rebellion.

     The forces of President Madriz were stopped cold in their tracks.  Their 
converted freighter could not hope to stand up to the guns of American 
cruisers nor could their poorly disciplined army be expected to make any 
headway against Butler's men.  Worse than the military impasse was the fact 
that Estrada had been allowed to take over the Bluefields customs office, thus 

cutting off the government from one of its prime sources of income.  Faced 
with this dilemma, the Liberals fell to quarrelling among themselves, their 
troops began deserting, and the regime crumbled like a castle of sand.  
Estrada marched triumphantly into Managua to try his hand at running the 
country.  Most of the Liberals were pardoned, but Zelaya accepted an offer of 
asylum in Mexico.<17>

    On 4 September 1910, Butler's battalion sailed for Panama, its mission 
accomplished.  Estrada was holding the reins of government, the American 
property in Bluefields was intact; but, for the State Department, the task was 
just beginning.  European creditors were demanding payment on the loans 
negotiated by Zelaya.


Secretary Knox sent Thomas C. Dawson to assist the Nicaraguans in overhauling 
the nation's finances.  Estrada promised to revoke the concessions granted by 
Zelaya and to call a constitutional convention which would draft a more stable 
form of government.

     Secretary Knox moved quickly to negotiate a treaty with Nicaragua.  The 
document was to give American bankers the protection they demanded before 
making any substantial loan to the Estrada government.  The bankers requested, 
and Estrada agreed, that the United States should have control over the 
collection of Nicaraguan customs duties and that the money derived from 
customs should be used to repay the loan.  

     The treaty then went before the Senate of the United States, and while it 
was being debated, two American banking firms made some $15 million available 
to the Estrada government at 5 percent interest.  Then, to the surprise of 
everyone, the Senate rejected Knox's treaty.  The bankers did their best to 
insure that their money would not end up in the pockets of Nicaraguan cabinet 
members.  To handle the stabilization of the country's currency, they set up a 
National Bank of Nicaragua in which they retained a controlling interest.  
These investors also advanced enough money to defray the operating expenses of 
the national government in return for stock in Nicaragua's National Railway.  
Last, they got permission to appoint the collector of customs.

     In spite of the sudden influx of capital and the improved handling of 
revenue, Estrada soon found himself in the usual financial difficulty.  He 
tried too hard to redress the wrongs of his predecessor.  Conservatives, whose 
property had been confiscated by Zelaya, demanded some sort of settlement.  It 
was the payment of these claims which set the government tottering on the 
brink of bankruptcy.

     Another difficulty dogging Estrada was the fact that as a recent convert 
from Liberalism he was not the real leader of the Conservative party.  At the 
head of the "machine" was Emiliano Chamorro, an aristocrat, who kept a close 
watch over the President's actions.  The presence within the official family 
of an unrepentant Liberal, Jose Maria Moncada, and a headstrong Conservative, 
Luis Mena, made it even harder for the President to adopt any consistent 
domestic policy.

     Estrada, nevertheless, might have weathered the storm had it not been for 
the loans.  This issue proved a rallying point for the Liberal opposition who 
claimed that the Conservatives had sold out to the United States.  To have a 
foreigner in charge of Nicaragua's finances was doubly galling, for besides 
halting political graft, it wounded the national pride.  Not only were the 
Liberal politicians aroused, the peasants themselves were angered by this 
affront to their homeland.  The loan, then, marked a change in Nicaraguan 
political life.  Those religious conflicts which had brought about the forming 
of the rival parties had long ago been forgotten.  Civic pride was dying.  
From now on, subservience to the United States would be the major issue, with 
the Liberals being militantly anti-American while the Conservatives depended 
upon the support of the United States to remain in power.

     In the autumn of 1911, the constitutional convention set up by the Dawson 
Agreement had pledged itself to retain Estrada for another term, but it 
suddenly changed its mind and reported out a constitution which would have 
stripped the chief executive of most of his powers.  Estrada immediately 
dissolved the convention; but Luis Mena, in the meantime had pressured the 
National Assembly into electing him president.  Mena promptly was jailed, but 
a band of officers gathered in Managua to release their leader.  Fortunately, 
the American Minister was able to restrain the rebels long enough for Estrada 
to resign.  With the army under his thumb, Mena was in control.  He declined, 
however, to take office until his elected term should begin; so Adolfo Diaz 

succeeded Estrada.<18>

     During the spring and summer of 1912, Nicaragua seemed headed for 
anarchy.  The great issue of the day was the acceptance of the loan and the 
subsequent surrender of control of the nation's customs.  The Liberals were 
violently anti-American, while Mena's followers, most of them Conservatives, 
resented Diaz's negotiations with the United States.  What followed was a 
three-cornered battle, with Diaz trying to maintain the old order, Mena 
struggling to control Diaz, and the Liberals, under Benjamin Zeledon, trying 
to destroy both Conservative factions.  Hostilities began on the last day of 
May, when the Liberals blew up Loma Fort at Managua.  Some 60 people were 
killed in this blast, which was followed in a few days by the destruction of a 
powder magazine in the same city.


     To Diaz, control of his own party seemed more important than suppressing 
the Liberal revolt.  Apparently, he felt that once he had rid himself of Mena, 
the United States would be induced to support him.  On 29 July 1912, he 
replaced Mena with Emiliano Chamorro.  The ousted cabinet member fled to 
Masaya site of a federal arsenal.  There, his son, commander of the army 
barracks at Granada, joined him with troops.  Since Mena was opposed to the 
loan, a great many Liberals flocked to his standard; but his distrust of that 
party and of Benjamin Zeledon, its leader, prevented the forming of a united 

                        A Major American Intervention

     After urging Americans to invest in Nicaragua, the United States 
government could not stand idly by and see their properties destroyed.  The 
American Minister demanded that Diaz guarantee effective protection of 
American citizens and property.  Diaz replied that he was powerless to give 
such an assurance and requested American intervention. <19>

     The first detachment of the American forces that President Diaz had 
requested was a handful of seamen from the USS ANNAPOLIS who arrived at 
Managua from Corinto on 4 August.  Although the presence of a few Bluejackets 
might be sufficient to dampen the ardor of the rebels at Managua, a much 
larger force--probably several battalions of infantry--would be needed to 
protect American interests throughout the country.  Such an expedition would 
need bases of supply; so for this reason, as well as to deny the port to the 
rebels, Bluefields was occupied.  The USS TACOMA landed 19 Marines and twice 
as many seamen there on 17 August.

     The spearhead of the expeditionary force was to be once again Major 
Butler's battalion, consisting of 13 officers and 341 men.  The JUSTIN, 
carrying the battalion and its equipment, arrived at Corinto on 14 August and 
anchored near the Annapolis.  The Marines immediately went ashore.  Thus, 
within two weeks, American forces had gained a foothold on both coasts and 
assembled a fairly powerful infantry unit ready to strike eastward toward 
Managua and the interior.<20>

     The first task confronting Butler was the relief of the Managua legation. 
He decided to bull his way into the city and then, once his position was 
secure, begin the formal palaver which might bring peace.  Three companies of 
Marines and 80 seamen scrambled aboard two trains to begin the 90-mile haul 
from Corinto to the capital.  On the following day, 15 August, Butler and his 
men pulled into Managua.

     With Managua secure from attack for the time being, Butler decided to 
make his peace overtures to General Mena.  The American Minister and the 
Marine major pooled their talents to draw up a message urging Mena to yield 
honorably.  The rebel general was known to be somewhere in the vicinity of 
Masaya with a large number of troops.  First Lieutenant Edward H. Conger, 
Private Carl W. Aviszus, and Private Charles T. Kline volunteered to deliver 
the note.  On 16 August, the trio struck out.  Returning to the legation, 
Conger reported that General Mena, ill with rheumatism, would be only too 
happy to surrender but that he no longer commanded rebel forces.  Benjamin 
Zeledon, formerly Minister of War in the Zelaya cabinet and a die-hard 
Liberal, had succeeded him.<21>

     In the meantime, reinforcements were arriving at Corinto, so Butler 
decided to make contact with them to tell them of these latest developments.  
Commander Warren J. Terhune, Marine Captain Nelson P. Vulte, 10 Marines, and 
40 seamen boarded a train at Managua on 20 August and rattled off toward 
Corinto.  Near Leon, the locomotive came grinding to a halt before a crude 

road block.  Neither Terhune nor Vulte was willing to risk an attack against a 
force of undetermined size in the gathering dusk.  Their decision to pull back 
some three miles and wait for dawn was a wise one.

     The night was quiet.  On the following morning, the seamen removed the 
block, and the train crept forward until it was halted by a rebel patrol.  The 
Nicaraguans held their fire and merely requested that the Americans hold a 
conference with their commander.  Vulte obtained permission to pass 
unchallenged through rebel lines.


     Confident that he had won a diplomatic victory, Vulte returned to the 
train and reported to Commander Terhune.  Outguards slung their rifles and 
scrambled aboard as the locomotive began to gather momentum.  Leon loomed 
ahead as the Americans rolled onward, but suddenly, a mob of armed rebels 
appeared astride the rails and fanned out to surround Terhune's command.  Its 
leaders decided to free the seamen and Marines but hold the train, and the 
Americans began the long trek back to Managua.<22>

     The capture of the train was no laughing matter.  In itself, the failure 
to break through was of little consequence, but the affair added immeasurably 
to the prestige of the rebels.  Butler could have awaited reinforcements 
behind the fortifications at Managua--this was the course of action urged upon 
him by the American Minister; but he was a man impatient by nature.  He 
decided to divide his forces and, with about 190 men, open up the railway from 
Managua to Corinto.

     Butler with Commander Terhune, and Marine Lieutenants Alexander 
Vandegrift, Edward Ostermann, and Richard Tebbs loaded the men on two trains 
and on 25 August started toward the coast.<23>

     Unlike the Terhune expedition, Butler's trains ran into difficulties from 
the outset.  Weakened culverts and torn up rails slowed the progress of the 
column, but there was no serious opposition until the lead train approached a 
trestle on the outskirts of Leon.  A band of rebel irregulars halted the 
Americans.  Made bold by the previous success, the "commandante" shouldered 
his way up to Butler and began a long tirade designed to reduce the major to a 
cowering hulk.  When this approach failed, the rebel drew his revolver; but 
Butler struck like a cat, snatching up the weapon and ceremoniously unloading 
it.  The mob dissolved in a roar of laughter, and the Americans, with the 
chastened commander as their prisoner, rolled on into Leon.

     The citizens of Leon were in as violent a mood as they had been when they 
captured the first train.  Butler's caravan was slowed to a walk as the 
locomotives clanked past the ominous crowds.  A powerful woman threaded her 
way through the mob and ran toward the engine cab where the slender Butler was 
seated.  Reaching up, she began honing her machete on Butler's leggings, all 
the while screaming that she would bury the blade in the major's skull.  
Instead of firing the shot which might have triggered a massacre, he reached 
down and chucked her under the chin.  Forgetting her plans for homicide in her 
embarrassment, she turned and fled.

     The comparatively short trip from Leon to Corinto passed without 
incident.  Butler informed the American Naval officers at Corinto of Zeledon's 
rise and Mena's illness.  All that remained was to return to Managua.  Again, 
the trains were halted by torn-up rails and damaged bridges, but there was no 
armed interference.<24>

     Upon his return to Managua, Major Butler found the situation little 
changed.  Government troops still manned the city's defenses, and the threat 
of an all-out assault by the rebels had vanished.<25>

     Two additional Marine units the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 1st 
Provisional Regiment, arrived at Corinto on September, along with the 
regimental commander, Colonel Joseph H. Pendleton.  Within two days, this 
force had completed its movement by rail to Managua, freeing Butler's 
battalion for operations elsewhere along the railroad right of way.<26>

     The first mission which Pendleton assigned Butler was to clear the 
railway from the capital through Masaya southeast to Granada, and on 15 
September, he entrained with his battalion for Granada.  His was a formidable 
task force.  Three companies with a pair of machine guns and two three-inch 

field pieces were crammed aboard the train.  Two locomotives, separated by box 
cars and placed near the roar of the train, propelled a strange collection of 
rolling-stock, ranging from flat cars for the supporting weapons to a 
passenger coach.  Aside from the groans of the steam engines, there was no 
cause for worry until the train approached La Barranca, a hill near Masaya, 
where government troops were besieging General Zeledon's Liberals.<27>

     Halting the train well out of range of Liberal batteries, Butler 
commandeered a handcar and pumped back to within federal lines, only to learn, 
that instead of a quiet siege, his men had wandered into the midst of a 
pitched battle.  Butler and a Spanish-speaking officer strode forward under a 
flag of truce to talk with Zeledon.


     Butler arranged for a conference between one of Zeledon's officers and 
Colonel Pendleton; but this was not enough, for the rebel commander in chief 
insisted upon talking with the ranking American naval officer as well.

     After several days of conferences between Zeledon and Rear Admiral 
William H. H. Southerland, in the afternoon of 19 September a messenger 
arrived, telling the Marines that Zeledon had agreed to allow the trains to 
pass through his lines.  At 2010, they pushed off into the deepening gloom, 
their rifles ready and with over a dozen machine guns scattered along the 
length of the train.

     Rumbling through Masaya, the train had slowed for a cross street, when a 
man mounted on a horse galloped toward the locomotive.  He swept up to the 
cab, pulled a pistol, and fired at Major Butler.  The bullet struck a Marine 
corporal in the finger.  Butler halted the train to allow a surgeon to 
administer first aid. Immediately, rebel snipers stationed on rooftops opened 
fire.  The Marines began blazing away, many of them dropping from the cars and 
taking cover beside the roadbed.  Butler sent the train hurtling along the 
rails.  A handful of the men firing from beside the train was left behind; but 
Captain Vulte collected them, loaded them on a handcar, and took out after the 
rapidly disappearing boxcars.

     A mile or so beyond Masaya, Vulte caught up to the train.  Butler had 
stopped to take a head count and was seething with rage.  Five of his men had 
been wounded, while three still were missing.  At this moment, four envoys 
arrived with a letter of apology from Zeledon.  Butler demanded that his three 
Marines be returned immediately, or he would attack Masaya in the morning.  
Within the hour, the men were returned, one of them slightly wounded.<28>

     Safely past Zeledon's Liberals, Butler had to contend with General Mena's 
rebels at Granada.  Great sections of track had been ripped up, progress was 
slow, and Butler was in an impatient mood by the time he met Mena's 
delegation.  The village of San Blas, near Granada, had been chosen by Butler 
as the site of the meeting.  Butler threatened to attack Granada unless Mena 
signed a letter of surrender. <29>

     Mena stalled as long as he could.  At 0145 on the morning of 22 
September, Butler rounded up his officers to outline his plan of attack, a 
thrust directly along the tracks into Granada.  Just as the point was starting 
down the rails, Mena's letter of surrender arrived.<30>

     Later that day, Pendleton and a trainload of rations and medicine arrived 
at Granada, and Mena was allowed to go peacefully into exile.  Save for 
Zeledon's bastion on the Barranca-Coyotope hill mass, the entire railroad 
system was free from rebel interference.  With Mena out of the picture, 
Pendleton was able to concentrate against Zeledon.

     On 2 October, the Marines arrived within federal lines.  During the 
following day, Marine artillery joined government cannoneers in shelling 
Liberal positions.  In the evening, Butler was ordered to move his battalion 
into position to attack the southeastern slopes of Coyotope in cooperation 
with federal troops.

     The fight was brief.  At 0515, Butler's men coined the others in storming 
up the slope against a heavy volume of inaccurate fire.  In 40 minutes, the 
battle had ended.  Nine rebels were captured, 27 killed, and the rest put to 
flight. General Zeledon was killed by Liberal soldiers when he attempted to 
desert them.  Seven American seamen and Marines were killed at Coyotope.

     The town of Masaya fell to government troops who enjoyed a carnival of 
killing 41 and looting, but Leon wisely surrendered to an American officer.  

The revolution suppressed, the Marine regiment was withdrawn; but a force of 
Leathernecks remained on duty at the Managua legation.<31>

     What were the results of the American intervention?  First of all, the 
Conservatives retained their precarious hold on the Presidency, but their 
power rested on the presence of a strong Marine detachment at the Managua 
legation.  In addition, American diplomats managed to forestall a split in 
Conservative ranks.  Both Diaz and General Chamorro wanted to be President for 
the 1913-1917 term; but the American Minister managed to convince the general 
to accept appointment as Nicaraguan


Minister to the United States.  Since the Diaz ticket was the only one placed 
before the electorate--a mere three or four thousand citizens were allowed to 
vote--the Conservatives were unanimously elected.<32>

     The most important accomplishment, of course, was the bringing of peace 
to Nicaragua.  Respite from war offered the nation a chance to raise the 
standards of living of its people, and pay its debts--in short to fulfill the 
altruistic purposes of Dollar Diplomacy.  American investments were protected 
by Marines during the revolt, and afterward by the Diaz government.  Last, but 
far from least, the United States had intervened with enough vigor to prove 
once again that no European encroachment in Central America would be 

     Woodrow Wilson, inaugurated President of the United States in March 1913, 
selected William Jennings Bryan as his Secretary of State.  Bryan resurrected 
the Knox treaty, inserted a clause giving the United States the right to 
intervene with armed forces, obtained the signature of General Chamorro, and 
submitted the draft to the United States Senate.  Signed in August 1914, the 
Bryan-Chamorro Treaty languished in the Senate until February 1916.  Not until 
the clause added by Bryan had been removed would the American legislators 
ratify the agreement. Nicaragua quickly ratified.<33>

     Like the intervention of 1912, the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty became a vital 
issue in Nicaraguan politics.  Diaz had survived in power thanks to the work 
of American Marines.  The fact that the United States now had obtained leases 
on the canal route and upon valuable sites for naval bases looked to many 
Nicaraguans as though the United States was taking advantage of Diaz.  The 
financial reforms would work to benefit all Nicaragua; but the fact remained 
that they worked slowly, and the average Nicaraguan could see only that 
foreigners were dictating his nation's fiscal policy.  The Liberals, of 
course, pointed to the Marine detachment at Managua and shouted that Diaz was 
a mere puppet of the United States.  They circulated all sorts of rumors about 
American designs upon the country; and, since few had the means of checking 
their accuracy, the Liberals won a great many converts to anti-Americanism. 

     Nicaragua was preparing for the 1916 presidential election.  By this 
time, the Conservatives finally had split, with Diaz claiming the loyalty of 
his circle of office holders, while the rank and file rallied behind Emiliano 
Chamorro.  Diaz put forward Carlos Cuadras Paso as his candidate, but the 
majority of the Conservatives were for Chamorro.  The third candidate was the 
choice of the Liberals, Julian Irias, formerly an advisor to Zelaya.  The 
nomination of Irias placed the United States in an embarrassing position.  
Since there were more Liberals than Conservatives in the country, an honest 
election would have brought into power a man who had been associated with one 
of the most corrupt and warlike regimes ever to hold power over Nicaragua.  On 
the other hand, if the United States allowed Diaz to supervise the voting, 
Cuadras would win, and the Liberals might unite with a majority of 
Conservatives against him.  The problem lay in preventing the election of 
Irias, a man dedicated to freeing Nicaragua from American control, while 
avoiding a situation which might result in rebellion.  The solution was 
complex.  The Diaz government prevented the exiled Irias from returning to 
campaign, while the United States made it clear to the Liberals that no 
President ever associated with Zelaya would be recognized as lawful ruler.  
Next, Cuadras was persuaded to withdraw; and in October, Chamorro won in a 

     Being President of Nicaragua easily becomes a habit.  Once in power, a 
chief executive seldom stepped down willingly.  Chamorro, however, was an 
exception to this rule.  After four years in the executive mansion, he 
selected an uncle to succeed him.  In 1920, Diego Chamorro stood for election 

on the Conservative ticket, and 90,000 Nicaraguans cast votes in the turbulent 
canvass.  On that number, Diego Chamorro received some 58,000, a safe 

     After the votes had been counted, Emiliano Chamorro agreed to a revision 
of the electoral law, then stood aside as his uncle took the oath of office.  
Harold W. Dodds, an American political scientist, was given the thankless task 
of devising honest electoral machinery for the republic.  His plan, completed 
in 1922, was submitted to the Nicaraguan congress, where it met the bitter 
opposition of the Conservatives.  The Liberals, who felt that an honest 
election would insure their victory, supported the measure.  Not until the 
American Minister had reminded President Chamorro that his nephew had 
virtually promised the passage of such a law did the Conservatives come into 


     The new electoral law was first tested in 1924.  It was the most nearly 
honest election ever held in the republic.  Proof of this lay in the fact that 
a coalition government was placed in office; Conservative Carlos Solarzano 
became President and Liberal Juan Sacasa Vice-President.<37>

     And what of the Marines during this era of electoral reform?  During the 
presidency of Diego Chamorro, the men of the Legation Guard were treated as 
hated symbols of American imperialism.  The most difficult problem facing the 
Marines was the trying task of getting along with the Nicaraguans.  Little had 
been done to ease the lot of the Leathernecks.  Morale officers tried, but 
they had neither the time nor the equipment to organize an all-round athletic 
program.  The most popular form of recreation was drinking, and this sport was 
pursued in the dingy cantinas of the city, where there always were women to 
fight over.  As far as the local police were concerned, a drunken or 
disorderly Marine was fair game.

     The series of clashes between Marines and police came to a head on the 
night of 8 December 1921, when a private shot and killed a policeman.  As a 
result of this incident, a systematic town patrol was begun and every effort 
was made to raise the morale and standards of conduct of the command.<38> 
While these reforms were taking place, the guard was reinforced to head off 
any Liberal-inspired rioting.  Early in January 1922, a group of 30 Marines 
arrived from the USS GALVESTON.  A little later, 52 men arrived from the 
DENVER, while the NITRO contributed 45 Leathernecks.  After a few weeks, the 
majority of the reinforcements were withdrawn.<39>

     The bringing in of reinforcements was justified, for the flames of hate 
were raging throughout Nicaragua.  Diego Chamorro was flayed in the newspapers 
for permitting the Americans to land additional Marines, but the frenzy for 
war soon passed.  Of more lasting importance was the fact that Mexican 
propagandists seized upon the incident to claim a contrast between "the 
benevolence of their nation" and "American barbarity."  For the first time, a 
bond between the Nicaraguan Liberals and the Mexican government began to 

     In May, the long awaited Liberal revolt took place.  Loma fort was 
seized, but the Legation Guard was sufficiently strong to prevent fighting in 
Managua.  Government troops easily suppressed the uprising.<41>  By this time, 
Liberal sentiment was beginning to be swayed by the hope of electoral reform.  
A calm settled over the country, a peace that remained unbroken even when 
President Chamorro died in office.  The Vice President was known to have 
ambitions to succeed himself in office; and the Liberals, relying on the 
American promise of fair elections, pointed out to the United States that this 
would be illegal.  The State Department informed them that no government which 
seized power in defiance of the constitution would be recognized.  Satisfied, 
the Liberals turned their energies to winning the next election.<42>

     From the fevered heights of early 1922, the hatred felt by the Liberals 
toward the Marines gradually cooled, until by election time, the Leathernecks 
were regarded with some esteem.  A few Marines assisted Dr. Dodds in observing 
registration for the 1924 canvass; and when it was proposed that Marines 
supervise the actual electoral count, the Conservatives and not the Liberals 
complained.<43>  The absence of observers at this critical time probably 
accounts for the fact that the Liberals were unable to win the Presidency 
along with the Vice Presidency.

     Upon taking office, President Carlos Solorzano vowed that his 
administration would be the most scrupulously honest in the history of the 
republic.  He praised the efforts of the United States to bolster the 
Nicaraguan economy and stressed the fact that sound fiscal practices would 
insure the continued American cooperation. The notion of peaceful cooperation 

was borne out by the decision to withdraw the Legation Guard from Managua.  
Long before the election, notice had been given that the force would be 
withdrawn on 1 January 1925.  Because his was a coalition government, by 
nature unstable, President Solorzano obtained postponement until 4 August.  
During the interim, the Marines were to train an efficient constabulary to 
maintain order in Nicaragua.  In spite of its alleged eagerness for the 
creation of a national police force, the new government took no action to 
organize the constabulary until shortly before the Marines sailed.<44>


     The departure of the Legation Guard was the product of a slow evolution 
in American foreign policy.  As early as 1913, Woodrow Wilson had hailed the 
emancipation of the Central American states from foreign domination.  He had 
hoped to deal with these nations as equals, but the strategic importance of 
Nicaragua forced him to keep a close eye on the nation's domestic affairs.  
Victory over Germany and the assurance of continued friendship with Great 
Britain ended the danger of European encroachment.  As far as the bankers were 
concerned, investments in Europe became more important than Central American 
holdings.  Finally, the American people were becoming more interested in 
purely domestic issues, such as prohibition, than in the vigorous enforcement 
of the Monroe Doctrine.  Thus, President Calvin Coolidge followed Wilson's 
lead by urging honest elections in Nicaragua rather than the election of a 
government amenable to the United States.  Removal of the Legation Guard 
signalled the beginning of an attempt to deal with Nicaragua as a sovereign 
power through diplomatic channels; but the attempt was soon to fail.

     Approximately three weeks after the last of the Marines had left 
Nicaragua, a group of Liberal cabinet members sat down to a banquet in Managua 
to the sound of popping champagne corks.  A band of Conservatives burst into 
the room, accused them of treason, and had the lot of them thrown into jail.  
The final blow fell on 25 October 1925, when the followers of the 
ultra-Conservative Emiliano Chamorro seized the fortifications on La Loma.  
President Solorzano and Vice President Sacasa prudently left the country.  
Purged of its Liberal members, the Nicaraguan congress was reorganized; and on 
16 January 1926, Chamorro took over as President.<45>

     The United States, Mexico, and the other Central American republics were 
shocked by Chamorro's boldness.  The United States not only refused to 
recognize the revolutionary government but also tried to persuade Chamorro to 
resign.  Thanks to the elaborate controls established over the collection of 
customs by the Americans, these revenues automatically went to the central 
government no matter who was President.  Although his rise to power was 
clearly unconstitutional, the new dictator had carefully preserved the 
financial machinery of the republic.  Thus, he was assured of a steady source 
of revenue.  For the time being at least, he could afford to ignore the 
protests of the United States.

     Although rioting began to sweep Nicaragua, President Chamorro did not 
lose his poise.  He felt that, if worse came to worse, the United States would 
support the Conservatives as it had done before.  In May 1926, the American 
cruiser Cleveland dropped anchor at Bluefields; but no aid to the 
Conservatives was forthcoming, for the seamen and Marines who went ashore were 
interested only in protecting American property.  Another blow to the Chamorro 
government was the fact that the United States accorded the exiled Sacasa all 
the honors due the Vice President of a friendly state.

     Still another threat to Chamorro's peace of mind was the desire of the 
Mexican government to supplant the United States as the protector of all 
Central America.  Since the Liberals were thought to be the party of 
Nicaraguan nationalism, Mexico began providing them with arms and ammunition. 

     In eastern Nicaragua, a Liberal army led by General Jose Moncada was 
forcing the Conservatives back upon Bluefields.  Although both sides had so 
far tried scrupulously to avoid endangering the lives of foreigners, a battle 
at Bluefields was certain to claim many innocent victims.  To insure the 
neutrality of the town, the cruiser GALVESTON anchored there on 27 August 
1926, and landed over a hundred seamen and Marines.<47>

     Conservatives at Bluefields hailed the landing as a deliverance from 
their enemies, but joy turned to disappointment when the Americans refused to 

take sides in the revolution.  Instead of jumping to the defense of the 
Chamorro regime, the Marines marched into camp on the outskirts of town, while 
the seamen set up cots in the local Moravian mission.  First of all, the 
landing force was to prevent the warring armies from fighting in Bluefields, 
and second, it was to prevent rioting within the town.

     In the meantime, the Liberals and Conservatives were at each other's 
throats. For two weeks, the Liberals had hurled massed infantry attacks at the 
Conservative positions atop El Bluff but had accomplished nothing.  When it 
became apparent that the bloody impasse could not be ended, the Americans, on 
24 September, extended the neutral zone across the bay to El Bluff, forcing 
the armies to march off to Rama to resume the war.<48>


     In spite of the failure at El Bluff, Liberal arms were doing quite well. 
Although they had not been able to crush their Conservative adversaries, the 
Liberals had prolonged the war until commerce had become disrupted.  This, of 
course, cut off revenues at their source, so that Chamorro was becoming hard 
pressed to finance his war.  The United States arranged for a 30-day truce 
beginning 1 October and invited both sides to send delegates to a peace 
conference at Corinto. While armed Marines enforced a neutral zone around the 
city, discussions were held from 16 to 24 October aboard the cruiser DENVER.  
The American objective was to find an impartial person to head an interim 
government.  Although Sacasa did not feel that it was safe for him to attend, 
he sent representatives to suggest candidates for the post of provisional 
President.  Unfortunately, neither side trusted the other.  No one man could 
be found acceptable to both parties, and the conference adjourned with nothing 

     On 30 October 1926, the day the truce expired, President Chamorro 
announced his resignation.  The Conservative congress chose Senator Sebastian 
Uriza as his successor, but again the United States withheld diplomatic 
recognition from the new government.  Thoroughly weary of a war that promised 
to be the bloodiest in Nicaragua's history, congress reconvened, reinstated 
the Liberal members expelled by Chamorro, and chose Adolfo Diaz, Chief 
Executive during the intervention of 1912, to serve as President until the 
1928 election.

     The interim government headed by Diaz was constitutional.  Apparently a 
genuine attempt had been made to reconstitute the congress as it had been 
before the Chamorro coup.  Also, Nicaraguan law allowed the senate to elect 
one of its members to the presidency in the event that both the President and 
his Vice President were residing outside the country.  At this time, Solorzano 
was ensconced in California; while Sacasa was protesting from Guatemala that 
he would not survive for long should he return to Managua.  Since the 
government was legitimate, the United States extended almost immediate 

     Although the United States was prompt to recognize the Diaz government, a 
move endorsed by most European powers, Mexico insisted that Sacasa was the 
rightful ruler of Nicaragua even though he was absent from the country.<49>

     Diaz failed to end the revolution.  Neither the promise of a high 
diplomatic post for himself nor the assurance of pay for his troops could 
induce General Moncada to lay down his arms unless ordered to do so by former 
Vice President Sacasa.  To make matters even worse, Sacasa himself arrived in 
Nicaragua early in December to take an active part in the revolt.  With him 
came additional shipments of Mexican arms.  In the meantime, Diaz kept up the 
clamor for further assistance from the United States.<50>

                     Another Major American Intervention

     President Diaz' first appeal for full-scale American intervention reached 
the State Department on 15 November 1926, the day following American 
recognition of the new government.  Although the Liberals, fed by continuing 
shipments of Mexican war materiel, waxed stronger each day, President of the 
United States Calvin Coolidge maintained an icy silence.  Not until a series 
of outrages were committed upon American citizens did his attitude begin to 

     First off, the Liberals, or Constitutionalists as Sacasa called them, 
began imposing annoying taxes on American firms.  The United States lodged the 
customary protest with Diaz and directed its nationals to ignore the Sacasa 
government.  It was, however, rather difficult to ignore the 

Constitutionalists when so many of them had rifles.  American businessmen 
along the eastern coast of Nicaragua were unable to prevent the rebels from 
seizing their supplies and equipment.  Finally late in December, an American 
citizen employed at Puerto Cabezas (Bragman's Bluff), was killed by a band of 
rebels.  To serve as a shield against the lawless bands that followed in the 
wake of the Constitutionalist army, Marines were landed at Rio Grande, 
Bragman's Bluff, and Prinzapolca.  At Managua, British and Italian diplomatic 
representatives informed the American Minister that their subjects were in 
grave danger.


     Total disregard for American lives and property at last hardened 
President Coolidge's heart against the Liberal cause.  The President of the 
United States, on 10 January 1927, informed Congress that he would do 
everything in his power to protect American interests in Nicaragua.  The 
President based his decision upon the time-honored right of a nation to 
protect its nationals residing on foreign soil.  Besides employing military 
force, Coolidge was to authorize the sale to the Diaz government of 3000 Krag 
rifles, 200 Browning machine guns, and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition.<51>

     At the time President Coolidge was addressing Congress, American forces 
already were standing guard over the foreigners living in Managua.  On 6 
January, the Marines and seamen of the GALVESTON's landing party filed ashore 
at Corinto to dash over the railroad into the capital.

     The strength of American forces in Nicaragua increased.  The 2d 
Battalion, 5th Marines, arrived at Bluefields on 10 January.  After 
establishing a neutral zone along the Escondido River, the battalion, less the 
51st Company at Rama, sailed from Bluefields through the Panama Canal to 
Corinto.  On 1 February, at the request of President Diaz, Lieutenant Colonel 
James J. Meade's Marines relieved government troops of responsibility for the 
defense of Managua.

     In spite of the assurance of further American aid, the fortunes of the 
Diaz government were taking a turn for the worse.  Early in February, the 
Liberals captured Chinandega in a bloody house-to-house fight.  Government 
troops regained the town, but not before the heart of Chinandega had been 
burned and blasted to rubble. The Americans rushed food and medical supplies 
to the suffering citizens; and on 19 February, a reinforced Marine rifle 
company, together with landing parties from three cruisers, left Managua to 
post garrison at ruined Chinandega and at undamaged Leon.  There, the seamen 
kept peace in the city, while the Marines manned an outpost on the edge of 
town to guard against the sabotage of a railway bridge.<52>

     Throughout February, the Marine Corps continued to pour men and equipment 
into Nicaragua.  Led by Major Ross E. Rowell, VO-1M landed at Corinto, loaded 
its six DeHavilland aircraft on flatcars, and rumbled off to Managua.  That 
same day, the USS HENDERSON steamed out from Quantico carrying over a thousand 
reinforcements for the 5th Regiment.  Brigadier General Logan Feland arrived 
at Corinto on 7 March to command the 2000 Marines serving in Nicaragua.<53>

     Although he approved of armed intervention, President Coolidge had not 
neglected the art of diplomacy.  Ignoring Diaz' plea for a treaty by which the 
United States would guarantee the peace in Nicaragua, he decided to send his 
own personal representative, Henry L. Stimson, to the troubled nation.

     Stimson's appointment came at a difficult time.  Early in March, an 
American consular official at Matagalpa had been attacked and severely injured 
by unidentified assailants.  Within two days, 150 Marines had established a 
neutral zone around the town.  In the meantime, the Chinese government, 
following the example of Belgium and Italy, formally requested that the United 
States extend protection to its citizens in Nicaragua.  Finally, on 27 March, 
the Constitutionalists fired upon one of Major Rowell's aircraft.

     As Stimson saw it, elections were the crux of the matter.  Only by 
insuring a fair count could the endless series of rebellions be brought to a 
halt.  After arranging for a truce, the American envoy talked with leaders of 
both factions.  Neither the Constitutionalists nor the Diaz government 
objected to American supervision of the 1928 election.  Sacasa insisted that 
Diaz be replaced by a nonpartisan President until after the election.  Since 
it was obvious that no such disinterested party existed, the United States 
remained adamant in its resolve that Diaz continue in office.

     In brief, the Stimson-Diaz plan of reconstruction called for the 
surrender of weapons by both sides, a general amnesty, and restoration of 
confiscated property.  The Liberals would participate in the Diaz cabinet 
until the American-supervised election of 1928.  In the meantime, while a 
Nicaraguan constabulary was being trained, a force of Marines sufficient to 
maintain order would be kept in the country.  The only feature found 
objectionable by Sacasa was the temporary retention of Diaz as President.  To 
break this stalemate, Stimson decided to confer with General Moncada.


     Meeting with Stimson in a neutral zone along the Tipitapa River, the 
Constitutionalist general admitted that his victory over the government forces 
would not restore order to Nicaragua.  Neither party, he went on, could bring 
peace to the nation without American aid.  For this reason, he did not want to 
disrupt the American plan of reconstruction even though he wished to see Diaz 
removed at once from the Presidency.  When Stimson insisted that Diaz remain 
until the election, Moncada yielded.  Later, Sacasa agreed to cooperate, and 
the crisis seemed ended.<54>

     At the time of his departure for the United States, 22 May 1927, Stimson 
realized that many Nicaraguans were not satisfied with the settlement.  The 
ultra-Conservatives felt Diaz had been too soft on their enemies, while some 
die-hard Liberals considered Moncada a traitor.  The great majority, however, 
was overjoyed that the costly war had ended.  As Stimson well realized, a 
major stumbling block on the road to peace was disarmament.  Moncada had 
warned the American that he could not possibly control all of the irregular 
forces enlisted in the Constitutionalist cause.  Together with President Diaz, 
Moncada issued an appeal for additional Marines to disarm the rival armies; 
and between 17 and 22 May, the 11th Regiment, organized at the time as 
infantry, and VO-4M landed at Corinto.<55>

     On the surface, all seemed calm.  By 26 May, the Liberals had turned in 
11,600 rifles, 303 machine guns, and 5,500,000 rounds of ammunition.<56> 
Nevertheless, there were plenty of indications of turbulence to come.  On 16 
May, a band of outlaws, a fragment of the rebel army, raided the village of La 
Paz.  No sooner had the bandits begun their looting than a detachment of 
Marines, led by Captain Richard B. Buchanan, charged along the main street to 
meet them.  In routing the outlaws, Captain Buchanan and Private Marvin A. 
Jackson were killed.  Roving bandits and irrational political loyalty could 
combine to keep Nicaragua in turmoil for years to come.

     Work with a Nicaraguan constabulary was proceeding slowly.  Organization 
of this important force began on 8 May 1927, when President Diaz requested 
that an American officer be assigned to instruct the Guardia Nacional de 
Nicaragua.  Four days later, Colonel Robert Y. Rhea took over as instructor, 
and on 24 May, the first recruit took the oath of enlistment.  There was, 
however, no great rush to the colors.  Coffee picking season discouraged men 
from volunteering as did the ban on political activity by members of the 
Guardia, but the greatest handicap to recruiting was the fact that Nicaraguan 
governments seldom paid their private soldiers.  In the past, it had been the 
custom of officers to keep the money given them to pay their troops.  It took 
a high degree of salesmanship to convince prospective soldiers that the old 
order had indeed passed away.  In spite of these difficulties, the Guardia 
Nacional was able to order its first company into the field on 1 July 1927.  
By the end of the month, the unit was to undergo its baptism of fire at 

     Designed as the police force of the legally constituted government of 
Nicaragua, the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua was entirely distinct from the 
Marine Brigade stationed in the country.  One division of the Guardia, usually 
a company in strength, was to be assigned to each of Nicaragua's political 
departments.  Two or more key towns might be administered as a subdivision; 
and each village of any importance would have its post, a detachment of squad 
or platoon size.  This was an ambitious program that had to be completed 
before the 1928 election.  Colonel Rhea and his successor Colonel Elias R. 
Beadle toiled toward the day when the Guardia would be able to assume 
responsibility for maintaining law and order throughout Nicaragua.<57>

     While the Guardia was being organized, an uneasy peace settled over 
Nicaragua. The Liberal army disintegrated into small bands difficult to locate 
even by aerial reconnaissance.  Sometimes a Marine biplane would circle over 

one of these groups of renegades, report the location, and perhaps return as a 
ground patrol arrived at the scene to disarm the Nicaraguans; but many an 
unemployed trooper drifted north toward the Honduran border still clutching 
his rifle and bandolier.

     Along the northern border of Nicaragua lay the departments of Neuva 
Segovia, Esteli, Jinotega, and Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Caribbean coast.  
Sparsely populated, given over to coffee plantations, a few mines, and small 
farms, these states were the Nicaraguan equivalent of America's Wild West.  In 
time of peace, law was seldom enforced in this area; in time of revolution, 
never.  During the recent war, some of the outlaw bands had been incorporated 
into Moncada's army, while others had carried on business as usual.  In 
addition, some of the "generals" dispatched across


the border by Sacasa proved adept at pillage as they drifted south to join 
Moncada.  Now the fighting had ended, but these men were in no mood to 
surrender their weapons, their only means of livelihood.

     Cabulla, one of the more notorious bandits, erred fatally, when at El 
Viejo, on 26 May, he drew a pistol against Captain William P. Richards, one of 
the best shots in the Marine Corps; but there were others to carry on in his 
stead.  Somoto in Neuva Segovia became the haunt of one Salgado, "an 
illiterate Indian of very average instincts," fat, barefoot, and nearly fifty.  
A onetime laborer on a coffee plantation was Centeno, another bandit 
chieftain, who loyally insisted upon operating near his home town of Yali.  A 
veritable intellectual among the illiterate renegades, Jose Diaz, had wandered 
across the border of Nicaragua.  This cruel, bull-necked bandit seldom 
ventured far to the south.<58>

                         Sandino Appears on the Scene

     Formidable as these were, none of these bandits would be called the most 
feared man in Nicaragua; for that title could be claimed only by Augusto C. 
Sandino. Of medium height, slender, almost frail in appearance, Sandino did 
not look like a practicing criminal.  As a matter of fact, he was not a mere 
outlaw but rather a zealot in the cause of Nicaraguan Liberalism.  A native of 
Nicaragua, he left for Mexico while still a young man.  There, he toiled for a 
time in the oil fields, then joined Pancho Villa's band of rebels.  During his 
stay in Mexico, he imbibed a heady draught of Central American nationalism 
along with the aperitif of social reform.  By the time he left Mexico, he had 
become a fanatic in the cause of Liberalism.  Unfortunately, members of that 
party refused to accept him.

     In May 1926, Sandino raised the flag of rebellion against the Chamorro 
government.  After numerous brushes with government troops, he marched his 
band of 40 men to Puerto Cabezas, where he obtained 40 rifles and a supply of 
ammunition from one of Moncada's satellite generals.  Thus equipped, the band 
marched westward and wrested the town of Jinotega from government troops.  
Shortly before the armistice, Sandino joined Moncada's forces and, on the 
strength of his victory, was welcomed as a brother in arms.

     At the time of Stimson's mission to Nicaragua, Sandino apparently was not 
as vehemently opposed to the United States as he later became.  Like many 
other Liberals, he felt that a fair election, even if supervised by American 
Marines, would automatically insure the victory of his party.  When Stimson 
insisted that Diaz continue in office as interim President until the next 
election, Sandino balked.  Refusing to turn in his weapons as Moncada had 
ordered, he struck out toward the vastness of Neuva Segovia.  He was 
determined to crush the Marines, rally the Liberals behind him, and destroy 
forever Conservative power in Nicaragua.  Moncada branded the rebel as a 
bandit, a name which was adopted by the Marines.

     During the time that Sandino was gathering strength to resist the 
Americans, Marines of the Second Brigade continued to patrol the Nicaraguan 
countryside. Gradually, the Brigade inched its tentacles into bandit territory 
to determine just what course of action Sandino would follow.  In May, after 
Sandino had been served with an ultimatum to surrender, a Marine patrol, led 
by Captain Gilbert D. Hatfield, left Matagalpa to probe the territory of Neuva 

     Hatfield's patrol established a post at Ocotal and settled down to await 
Sandino's next move.  In July, the First Company, Guardia National de 
Nicaragua, arrived at Ocotal to bring the strength of the garrison to 3 Marine 
officers, 2 officers of the Guardia, 38 enlisted Marines, and 48 native 

Nicaraguan guardsmen.  The townspeople, most of them in sympathy with Sandino, 
carefully kept their distance.  Valuables disappeared from sight, as a pall of 
impending doom settled over Ocotal.

     Captain Hatfield read these portents correctly.  On 15 July, he doubled 
the guard and prepared his men for the worst.  The worst was not long in 
coming.  Throughout the evening, Sandino's rebels, by twos and threes, slipped 
quietly into Ocotal.  At 0115, 16 July, a Marine sentry saw something moving 
in the shadowy street and fired the first shot of the engagement.


     The advantage of surprise lost, the rebels attacked at once; but in the 
first few minutes, three headlong rushes were beaten back by the Marines.  The 
rebels fell back to regroup; only the sporadic crack of snipers' bullets broke 
the tense silence of the night.  As the sun soared into the sky, both sides 
again cut loose with every available weapon.  At about 0800, the rebels 
demanded Hatfield's surrender.  His refusal to yield brought no all-out 
assault; instead, firing gradually tapered off until only Sandino's snipers 
remained active.

     Daylight also had brought aircraft.  Two planes circled Ocotal at 
midmorning.  After interpreting the panels laid out by Hatfield, Lieutenant 
Hayne Boyden landed near Ocotal, collared a local peasant, and from him 
learned the seriousness of the situation.  He then climbed back into the plane 
and, after a few quick passes, returned to Managua to get help.  Meanwhile, 
Chief Marine Gunner Michael Wodarczyk had kept strafing the rebels until his 
ammunition was exhausted.

     This aerial foray gave the rebels a taste of what was to come.  At 1435, 
a flight of five DeHavillands, led by Major Ross E. Rowell, appeared over 
Ocotal.  Each plane carried a load of bombs, a tactical innovation unknown to 
Sandino's horde.  Steeling themselves for another strafing attack, the rebels 
were stupified as the fragile biplanes nosed over at an altitude of a thousand 
feet.  Most of the rebels fled from the bombing attack; but a handful 
continued firing from behind a stone wall until outflanked by Hatfield's men.  
The bodies of 56 rebels were recovered.  Approximately twice that number were 
wounded.  Marine losses were surprisingly light considering the initial fury 
of the assault; one dead and five wounded.<59>

     Actually, the attack on the Ocotal garrison did not hit General Feland as 
a complete surprise.  On 2 July, Rear Admiral Julian L. Latimer had ordered 
General Feland to take the offensive against the bandits.  A strong 
patrol--some 225 Marines and Guardias--under Major Oliver Floyd, had been 
given the task of spear-heading the operation.  Because of time lost in 
rounding up enough pack animals and bull-carts, the expedition did not get 
underway until 15 July.  Its destination was the San Albino Mine, which 
Sandino had seized and apparently was operating.

     In spite of the knowledge that Sandino was in control of the greater part 
of Nueva Segovia, the Americans continued to look upon him as just another 
border outlaw and, as a result, underestimated both his strength and the zeal 
of his followers.  This attitude helps explain the fact that during the month 
of July, the 11th Regiment ceased its operations and sailed from Nicaragua for 
the United States.

     Sandino, however, was more than an outlaw.  On 17 July, while at 
Trinidad, Major Floyd learned of the encounter at Ocotal.  Dividing the 
patrol, Floyd sent 50 men off toward Ocotal.  Once the entire group had 
arrived there, the Neuva Segovia expedition would begin a series of patrol 
operations designed to scatter and demoralize the bandits.  Riding boldly into 
the untamed territory, Floyd's men found themselves completely on their own. 
Afraid of both bandits and Americans, fiercely loyal to Sandino, the native 
population melted away to the hills as the column approached.

     Near the town of San Fernando, the Marines ran into an ambush manned by 
about 40 Sandinistas.  One Marine was wounded and 11 rebels were killed.  
Another clash occurred after the expedition had cleared San Fernando, but 
Jicaro was occupied without meeting opposition.  On 1 August, the expedition 
arrived at the mines.  Sandino had vanished.  Intelligence officers of the 5th 
Regiment, however, had learned of a place called El Chipote, a mountain 
fortress which served as Sandino's lair; and Floyd was ordered to discover and 
attack the stronghold.

     Upon reaching San Albino, Floyd-began questioning the villagers.  He may 
have misinterpreted their comments, or they may have been covering for 
Sandino; at any rate, the Major reached the conclusion that El Chipote was 
purely imaginary, a mere symbol of the rebel leader's might.  Nevertheless, 
Marine patrols doggedly scoured the countryside to no avail.  Since the 
approaching rainy season would disrupt line of supply and because his command 
was by no means self-sustaining, Floyd decided to withdraw as soon as 
possible.  On 14 August, the Major posted a garrison under 1st Lieutenant 
George J. O'Shea at Jicaro and left for Ocotal.  After turning the expedition 
over to Captain Victor F. Bleasdale, he departed for Managua, secure in his 
belief that Sandino's power had been crushed.<60>


     In spite of the presence of a garrison at Jicaro, the region was not yet 
pacified.  Not even the most vigilant patrols could turn up any trace of 
Sandino, but there was one brush with the rebels on 18 August near the village 
of Murra.<61>

     A 21-man patrol, under 1st Lieutenant George J. O'Shea, started from 
Jicaro along the trail toward Quilali.  Late in the afternoon of 1 September, 
while still about five miles from Quilali, the patrol spotted riflemen moving 
along the trail. Others were flushed from a house about 1,000 yards distant.  
The Marines camped for the night about two miles from Quilali.  Early the 
following morning, a handful of rebels were spotted prowling the outskirts of 
the camp.  An alert sentry drove them off into the underbrush.  O'Shea's 
approach to the town was cautious. At the edge of Quilali, the Marines fired 
on four natives, each with a rifle, who were leading a pack mule.  Cutting 
loose their supplies, the rebels fled with the animal.  In the abandoned pack 
were supplies destined for Sandino.  A search of the deserted houses disclosed 
copies of Sandino's latest proclamations and a letter to the rebels' leader 
from his quartermaster.

     On 3 September, the patrol returned to Jicaro.  All along the route, farm 
houses lay empty.  There were no men to be found in the region.  All this 
evidence pointed to a massing of rebel strength near Quilali.  O'Shea himself 
was now convinced that Chipote indeed was a fortress.  Although the local 
inhabitants would tell him nothing, the Marine officer guessed that the 
encampment was situated on the flat land between the base of a hill on the 
Murra River and the village of Manchones.  Most certainly, the hill itself 
served as Sandino's redoubt.<62>

     Gradually, the truth was dawning.  The Americans, Marines and diplomats, 
in Nicaragua were coming to realize that Sandino had a great deal of popular 
support in the wild northern provinces.  Even though they persisted in calling 
him a bandit, they recognized that he was a rebel determined to overthrow the 
coalition government.  The initiative lay with Sandino, secure in his 
stronghold at Chipote.  In mid-September he was to strike again.

     Some two hundred rebels, led by Sandino's most trusted lieutenants, 
collected on the outskirts of the village of Telpaneca.  Stationed in the town 
were 20 Marines and 25 soldiers of the Guardia Nacional, under the command of 
1st Lieutenant Herbert S. Keimling.  At 0100 on the morning of 19 September, 
one of Sandino's men tossed a homemade dynamite bomb toward the rear of the 
Marines' quarters.  The blast shook the men from their bunks.  As they were 
scrambling into their clothes, the enemy opened fire.

     Two groups of rebels charged the buildings where the defenders were 
quartered, but they were beaten back.  Both Guardia and Marines had held firm 
in spite of the initial surprise.  The fog began to lift at about 0230, and 
within half an hour the enemy had begun to collect his dead and wounded.  By 
dawn, all was quiet.  During the fight, one Marine had been killed; a second 
died of wounds the same day.  One member of the Guardia was seriously wounded.  
As nearly as Lieutenant Leimling could tell, about 25 of Sandino's troops had 
been killed and twice that number wounded.<63>

     Although Marine infantry and foot soldiers of the Guardia had done most 
of the fighting and dying that summer, Leatherneck aviators were far from 
idle.  Theirs was no easy life.  Maps, inadequate even for ground 
reconnaissance, could easily prove fatal to the pilot of a fragile biplane, 
low on fuel, limping over the hostile mountains.  The same terrain which 
proved a constant worry to aviators was an impossible obstacle to supply 
specialists.  Twisting trails, steep grades, and dense underbrush ideal for 
ambush combined to make life for the quartermaster a prolonged nightmare.  
With garrisons scattered all over Neuva Segovia, patrols constantly on the 

move, and the better trails impassable except to bull carts, a large share of 
the burden of supply, communication, and scouting had to be shouldered by 
Marine aviation.

     Little could be done in the way of carrying bulk supplies during the 
summer of 1927, for the creaking DeHavillands simply were not big enough.  In 
December of that year, the Brigade was lucky enough to obtain a trimotor 
Fokker transport capable of hauling 1,300 pounds of cargo.  By 29 August 1928, 
five of these rugged craft were in service.  Everything from cigarettes to 
mules were delivered by air; in fact, some remote outposts received payrolls 
by airdrop.


     As far as the initial phase of the campaign was concerned. the 
contributions of aviation lay mainly in the fields of combat support, as at 
Ocotal, communications, and scouting.  By displaying cloth panels in a 
pre-arranged manner, a ground detachment could call for supplies, air support, 
medical assistance, or simply inform the pilot that there was no change in the 
situation.  True, it often was difficult to locate a handful of khaki-clad men 
moving along a dusty trail; but all in all, the airplane provided a vital link 
in the system of communication. Less successful was aerial reconnaissance.  
Sandino's men were adept at camouflage. Seldom did they move in large groups, 
and, if at all possible, they marched at night.<64>

     Victims to the cruel Nicaraguan school of warfare were 2d Lieutenant Earl 
A. Thomas and Sergeant Frank E. Dowdell.  While patrolling east of Quilali on 
8 October 1927, their plane and another piloted by Gunner Michael Wodarczyk 
attacked one of Sandino's pack trains.  The rebels fired back with rifles.  
Apparently Thomas' plane was hit, for 15 minutes later, at a point three miles 
west of Quilali and one mile south of the Jicaro River, his craft crashed and 
burst into flames. Wodarczyk swooped low over the wreckage, dropped them a 
map, and notified the garrisons at both Jicaro and Ocotal of their plight.

     At 1220, roughly three hours after the crash, reconnaissance aircraft 
circled the area.  Save for the charred skeleton of the plane, they saw 
nothing.  Trails were deserted; there was not a living thing within miles of 
the wreckage.  Neither Thomas nor Dowdell was seen again.  What was their 
fate?  As nearly as Marine intelligence officers could determine, the pair had 
left the scene of the crash to avoid capture.  Nearby, they had encountered 
two natives and forced them to lead them towards Jicaro.  The guides turned on 
them, and one of the fliers was wounded. Carrying his injured companion, the 
unwounded aviator made his way to a cave. There Sandino's men found them.<65>

     When Gunner Wodarczyk's plane screamed low over Jicaro and dropped its 
urgent message, the greater part of the garrison was absent on a routine 
patrol to Ocotal. Realizing that the fliers were in grave danger, Lieutenant 
O'Shea, the local commander, recalled the column.  O'Shea decided not to wait 
for the return of the Ocotal patrol; and at 1245, little more than an hour 
after he had received the message, he rode out of Jicaro.  With him were Navy 
Surgeon John B. O'Neill, 8 Marines, and 10 members of the Guardia Nacional.

     The following morning, the relief expedition reached a point three miles 
northwest of Quilali and halted to await further instructions from 
reconnaissance planes.  Within a short time, a message came tumbling down 
informing him that the plane lay on Sapotillal Ridge, only three miles distant 
in a straight line to the northwest.  Map distance, however, meant nothing in 
Nicaragua.  O'Shea had to march for three and a quarter hours before reaching 
the base of the ridge.  Slowly the patrol eased its way up the slope.  The 
point had moved about one hundred yards, when the enemy opened fire.  A force 
numbering about two hundred stood between the Marines and their objective.

     Since there was plenty of cover, the officer had decided to advance by 
fire and maneuver; but before he could make his move, a smaller group of 
Sandinistas, located on a rise about one hundred yards to his right rear, 
began blazing away.  Training and discipline paid off, as O'Shea wheeled his 
men about and attacked the smaller force.  Firing as they moved, the Marines 
and Guardia hammered their way out of the trap.

     Definitely on the defensive now, O'Shea struck out along the devious 
trail that led eventually to San Albino.  So far, Lieutenant O'Shea had clung 
tenaciously to the trail; and for good reason, since his compass was lost and 
his native guides had vanished amid the confusion of battle.  Before 
reinforcements could be hurled against him, the lieutenant veered sharply to 
the left and led his men into a steep ravine.  Swallowed up by the 

brush-choked gulch, the patrol slipped undetected through the rebel cordon.  
With the aid of a food-drop on the morning of 10 October, the ill-fated patrol 
arrived at Jicaro later that day.<66>

     The opposition which had greeted O'Shea's column was proof that the 
fortress of Chipote did indeed exist.  Furthermore, the estimate of rebel 
strength was doubled to 400.  Colonel Louis M. Gulick, who had succeeded 
General Feland as Brigade commander, now expected a long and difficult 
campaign.  At Sapotilla, the


enemy had fought bravely; and this one taste of success, even though bought at 
high cost, would whet his appetite for war.  Aided by the terrain--raging 
rivers, narrow trails, rugged mountains, and dense cover--400 determined men 
could tie up an army many times their number.  There was, however, one bright 
spot in an otherwise somber picture, for the Guardia had fought expertly.  If 
enough volunteers could be found, this organization could prove of immense 
value in putting down Sandino's rebellion.<67>

     Although realizing that the two downed airmen were probably beyond help, 
Marine commanders were determined, at least, to learn their fate.  Two 
separate patrols were dispatched to the area.  One, composed of 25 enlisted 
Marines, 3 Guardia officers, and 40 Nicaraguan troops under the command of 1st 
Lieutenant Moses J. Gould; the second group, led by Lieutenant Clarence J. 

     Not until 30 October was Gould able to reach the site of the crash.  The 
machine guns had been removed, but the motor and other metal parts were 
intact. All fabric, of course, had been burned.  The following day, the 
combined patrols passed through Quilali.  On the morning of 1 November, near 
the village of Espino some six miles southeast of Jicaro.  Gould's column 
tangled with a force of about 250 rebels.  Save for one man nicked in the arm 
by fragments from a dynamite bomb, the Marines emerged unscathed from the 
35-minute fire fight.  The Guardia detachment, commanded by 2d Lieutenant 
Robert E. Hogaboom, was not so fortunate for two of its members were killed by 
rifle fire.  The enemy was thought to have lost 60 killed and wounded.<68>

     The Marines, however, were not always on the defensive.  On the morning 
of 10 November, the detachment of Telpaneca learned that Porfirio Sanchez with 
40 rebels was camping near San Juan, only ten miles distant.  A patrol under 
Lieutenant J.H. Satterfield, G.N., located the camp and at 0500, attacked.  
Five rebels were killed at no loss to the attackers.<69>

     In addition to pacifying the outlying provinces, Marines also were called 
upon to supervise the local elections held along the east coast beginning in 
November.  The most interesting result of these contests was the fact that 
local Liberals became fast friends of the Marines.  The reason was obvious.  
Since the election was at least moderately honest, the more numerous Liberals 
could not help but win.  A final tribute to the impartiality and zeal of the 
Marines, who kept order along the coast, came on 6 January 1928, when the 
victorious Liberals, many of them men who had opposed the intervention, 
petitioned President Diaz to place a Marine officer in charge of the 
Bluefields police department.<70>

                     The Grand Offensive Against Sandino

     Success along the coast, unfortunately, did not mean triumph in the 
interior.  Frequent clashes occurred between rebel bands and Marine patrols.  
It had become evident that Sandino had no intention of surrendering until he 
had been driven from Chipote.  D-Day for what was hoped would be the final 
offensive against the rebels was set for 17 December.  In all, some 200 troops 
were earmarked for this expedition which was to be composed of two strong 
combat patrols.<71>

     Preparing for the grand offensive was not a simple task, for Sandino had 
no intention of calling off the war while the Marines concentrated their 
forces at Quilali.  First of all, there was a troublesome rebel column 
drifting around the countryside near Telpaneca.  After marching by the light 
of a bright tropical moon, a Marine-Guardia patrol, led by 2d Lieutenant 
Wilburt S. Brown, located the enemy in a farmhouse near El Portero.  Four of 
the enemy were killed.<72>

     Another source of trouble was the area around Somoto.  On 11 December, in 
a driving rainstorm, eight Marines, led by Corporal George Lukshides, collided 
with a handful of rebels, some of them mounted, on the outskirts of San 
Isabel.  One of the enemy toppled dead from his saddle, and others may have 
been wounded.  The patrol emerged intact from the brief action.<73>


     These minor clashes merely served to emphasize the need to destroy El 
Chipote; but the expedition did not get underway until 19 December, when one 
patrol, under Captain Richard Livingston, cleared Jinotega for Quilali and 
Chipote and another, under Guardia 1st Lieutenant Merton A. Richal, left 
Telpaneca for the same objectives. The location of Sandino's hideout no longer 
was a secret.  O'Shea and Gould had scouted the general area; and on 23 
November, Major Ross E. Rowell had flown over the mountain, led bombing and 
strafing runs, and pinpointed the enemy entrenchments. The preliminaries were 
over; ahead lay a grim fight to the finish.

     Livingston was to join Richal in Quilali.  South of the town, the trail 
winds its way along the lower slopes of a steep, thickly wooded ridge.  On the 
left is the Jicaro River. Livingston had marched to a point on this trail 
about 1,500 yards south of Quilali when, on 30 December, the rebels struck.

     No attempt was made to rush the trapped column, and after 80 minutes of 
heavy firing, they retired.  Two Marine planes then appeared overhead to 
strafe possible routes of enemy withdrawal; but it was too late, for Sandino's 
horde of 200 or more, vanished completely.  The enemy, fighting under superb 
discipline from cunningly concealed positions, had killed five Marines and two 
members of the Guardia.  Twenty-three Leathernecks and two of the Nicaraguan 
contingent were wounded.

     In the meantime, the Richal patrol was fairing no better.  The other 
column, just 22 miles beyond Telpaneca, was ambushed by some 50 bandits.  This 
proved to be mere harassment; for after about 20 minutes, the enemy withdrew.  
One Marine was seriously wounded.  It is unlikely that Sandino's party 
suffered any casualties.

     This brush with the rebels was a taste of the battle that was to come.  
On New Year's Day, 1928, the column was strung out along the San 
Albino-Quilali trail about six miles northwest of the latter town.  The point 
was at the base of the Las Cruces Hill and the rear guard near an unnamed 
rise, when 1st Sergeant Thomas G. Bruce, a 1st Lieutenant of the Guardia, saw 
something move on the slopes of Las Cruces.  Before he could draw his pistols, 
dynamite bombs burst amid the column as machine-gun bullets ricocheted off the 
trail.  Bruce was killed at once.  Demoralized by his death, the point fell 
back in the face of an enemy charge.  Although the Marines' machine gun 
jammed, a Stokes mortar and a 37mm gun were brought to bear on the hillside.  
Richal himself was wounded at this critical instant, but Gunnery Sergeant 
Edward G. Brown was able to organize an attack up Las Cruces.  Pounded by 
mortar shells, their breastworks shattered by the light gun, the rebels fell 
back.  Once the crest was in their hands, the Marines settled downs to wait 

     Help was not long in coming.  First, there was an air strike a few 
moments after the hill had been captured.  The planes strafed the surrounding 
woods, but they alone could not clear a route of advance to Quilali.  That 
task fell to a reinforced rifle platoon, led by 2d Lieutenant A. T. Hunt, 
which had left Quilali earlier in the day to aid Richal in case of ambush.  
Alerted to the state of affairs at Las Cruoes by a reconnaissance plane, Hunt 
pushed on to reach the beleaguered patrol at 1415.

     That night, the Marines on Las Cruces remained in their defensive 
positions. After an early morning air-drop of water and of nails for the 
building of stretchers, they started toward Quilali.  The combined patrols 
reached the town without drawing enemy fire.<74>

     Next, the Sandinistas laid siege to Quilali.  Approximately 30 wounded, 
some of them in desperate need of further medical attention, were in the town.  
There was neither time nor men to organize a relief column.  Worse yet, there 

was no airstrip at Quilali.  It was vital, however, that medicine be flown in 
and casualties evacuated; so 1st Lieutenant Christian F. Schilt volunteered 
for the mission.

     At Quilali, the embattled Marines leveled walls to lengthen the main 
street for a landing field.  Schilt's plane, a Vought O2U-1 "Corsair," had 
been re-equipped with wheels from a DeHavilland aircraft and had no brakes.  
Each time he touched down on the makeshift runway.  Marines ran forward to 
seize hold of the wings and, with their added weight, slow the rolling plane.  
In spite of this mechanical failing, enemy fire, and low-hanging clouds, 
Schilt was able to touch down safely on the rugged roadway.  On 6, 7, and 8 
January 1928, the lieutenant made a total of ten flights into Qualali, 
carrying a total of 1,400 pounds of medicine and supplies.  In all, 18 wounded 
were flown to Ocotal.  Of these, three would certainly have died had they not 
received prompt medical attention.  Lieutenant Schilt was awarded the Medal of 
Honor for these heroic accomplishments.<75>


     The expedition against Chipote was a failure.  By 10 January, Richal's 
and Livingston's patrols were on their way back to San Albino.  Yet, the 
picture was not entirely black; for on 8 January, a patrol operating from 
Telpaneca had overwhelmed still another rebel detachment.  Commanded by a 
Honduran, Alejandro Ferrera, the Sandinistas spotted the 20 Marines and 10 
Guardia as Lieutenant J. H. Satterfield was leading them toward the enemy 
camp.  Fortunately, Satterfield, a veteran of other guerrilla actions, was too 
clever to stumble blindly into a trap. Leaving the trail, he maneuvered to 
force Ferrera's men to disclose their positions. His tactics succeeded, and 
most of the rebels fled under concentrated fire of the maneuver elements The 
rest were driven into the underbrush when Satterfield's base of fire came into 
action.  Because surprise had been lost, no prisoners were taken, but the 
rebels had to abandon some arms and ammunition as well as a large amount of 
food.  Five of the enemy were killed in this encounter.<76>

     The image of Chipote, nevertheless, still haunted the Brigade commander 
Originally, ground forces, with the support of aviation, were to play the 
major role in eliminating Sandino's stronghold.  Now, the drama was recast 
with Marine fliers in the starring role.  Aggressive patrolling was to force 
the enemy to concentrate at the mountain redoubt; when the proper moment 
arrived, planes would try to bomb him into submission.

     On 14 January, while a strong patrol, under Major Archibald Young, was 
moving relentlessly down the trail from San Albino, Major Ross E. Rowell 
launched the blow designed to demolish the crude fortress.

     Several hundred rebels were clustered atop El Chipote when the four-plane 
flight led by Major Rowell appeared overhead.  Two planes pounced upon the 
northern half of the mountain, while the other struck to the south.  This was 
no repetition of the Ocotal "cakewalk," for Sandino had learned at last the 
rudiments of antiaircraft defense.  A hail of rifle and machine-gun fire 
greeted the attackers as Howell's plane whined low over the stronghold.

     Engine trouble forced Rowell to break off the action after he had dropped 
his two bombs and fired only 200 rounds of machine-gun ammunition.  The other 
pilots continued to press home the attack.  In all, 2,800 rounds of 
machine-gun ammunition ripped into the hilltop, while four 50-pound demolition 
and eighteen 17-pound fragmentation bombs burst along Sandino's horde.  Still 
another weapon employed by the Leathernecks was the white phosphorous hand 
grenade.  A dozen of these were tossed over the side by the 

     Major Young's patrol began probing the heights of Chipote on 20 January. 
Although aerial patrols had reported Chipote to be deserted, the ground troops 
did encounter some opposition.  These outposts were quickly overcome, but the 
major chose to move cautiously, a wise decision in the light of past events.  
On 26 January, the patrol had reached the crest.  Although a quantity of 
supplies were captured, Sandino and his main body had escaped.<78>

     Reinforcements in the form of the 11th Marine Regiment began arriving at 
Porinto, on 15 January 1928, and on the following day, Brigadier General Logan 
Feland resumed command of the brigade.  The troublesome border states were 
incorporated into the Northern Area, a special military zone under the command 
of Colonel Robert H. Dunlap.  His task was to locate and destroy the rebel and 
outlaw bands which had been scattered by the attack on Chipote.<79>

     During January, Marine patrols from San Albino continued to comb the area 
around Chipote, but they found no trace of Sandino.  The towns of Yali and San 
Rafael del Norte, both favorite haunts of the rebel leader, were garrisoned 
during the first week of February; but even this did not provoke an attack.

     A pack train guarded by Marines was returning empty from Yali to Esteli 
on the afternoon of 27 February.  One hundred yards west of the tiny village 
of Bromaderos, a dozen bullets cracked over the head of 1st Lieutenant Edward 
F. O'Day, the officer in charge.  The 35 Marines and their mule drivers took 
cover.  Easing to the left of the trail, they worked their way to the crest of 
a small ridge.  From this excellent position, they managed to break up two 
enemy attacks, neither of which was well planned or aggressively executed.


     While O'Day's column was being attacked, a powerful combat patrol was 
moving toward Yali.  Captain William K. MacNulty had 88 Marines under his 
command, a sufficient force to accomplish his mission of suppressing rebel 
activity along the route to Yali.  At dawn of 28 February, reinforcements 
reached the beleaguered O'Day.  Although MacNulty's patrol had suffered no 
casualties, three were killed and ten wounded in the other group.  Two more 
were to die before they could be evacuated.  Enemy losses were placed at 10 
dead and 30 wounded.<80>

     Following the action at Bromaderos, there was a lull in ground 
operations; but Marine aviators continued to press the offensive.  Late in the 
morning of 18 March, two planes were fired upon while circling low over the 
town of Murra on a reconnaissance mission.

     On the following day, a two-plane patrol was fired upon from a house one-
half mile northeast of Murra.  Bombs and machine-gun fire silenced this 
hostile outpost, but as the biplanes swung to the south of the town, they were 
fired upon once more. Two bands of rebels were located, strafed, and bombed; 
but the action was broken off when Captain Francis E. Pierce, an aerial 
observer, was shot through the foot. Certain that the officer was in danger of 
bleeding to death, Gunner Michael Wodarczyk led the flight to Ocotal, where 
Pierce was given medical aid.

     Throughout the afternoon, Marine planes shuttled back and forth over the 
town. At least nine separate rebel groups were bombed or strafed.  On the 
following morning, careful aerial reconnaissance could find no signs of 
hostile activities.  The number killed could not be determined; but as the 
scouting planes banked over the outskirts of Murra, the noise of their motors 
sent a startled flock of vultures soaring skyward.<81>

                            Operations in the East

     Harassed by aerial attack and under unremitting pressure from ground 
patrols, the rebels began drifting eastward from Neuva Segovia.  Major Harold 
H. Utley, who had assumed command of Marine forces along the east coast of 
Nicaragua late in January, had predicted that the enemy would move in his 
direction once Chipote had fallen.

     Upon assuming command over the Eastern Area, Utley had listened 
attentively as 1st Lieutenant Merritt A. Edson unfolded a plan, formulated by 
several junior officers, for crushing Sandino and his faithful followers.  The 
key to the solution of the rebel problem was the Coco River, which meandered 
from the highlands around El Chipote to Cape Gracias a' Dios.  Why not throw 
up a defensive screen across the lower part of the stream and send a strong 
patrol upriver into the heart of rebel country?  Caught in this pincers 
movement, the Sandinistas could either surrender or fall back into Honduras.  
Even if they chose the latter course, they would be unable to meddle in the 
coming election.

     Major Utley was impressed with the idea of a Coco River offensive.  The 
major difficulty, however, was the terrain.  None of the standard maps of 
Nicaragua cast much light on the Coco River basin.  It was obvious to Utley 
that a detailed reconnaissance would be necessary before he could launch his 
attack.  Edson, recently promoted to Captain, was ordered to take five men 
from the Marine detachment, USS DENVER and move upstream to the village of 
Huaspuc.  How far he should move beyond joint was left to Edson's discretion.

     On the morning of 8 March 1928, the patrol chugged westward from Cape 
Gracias in the ZAMBITA, a 16-foot, flat bottomed launch powered by a motor 
salvaged from a Model T Ford.  Edson attempted to force his way beyond 

Huaspuc, but reports that Sandino's agents were drumming up recruits as far 
downstream as Bocay caused him to change his mind.  The patrol returned at 
once to Cape Gracias, arriving there on 26 March.  As a result of this 
reconnaissance, Edson became convinced that a strong force based at Huaspuc 
could deny the lower reaches of the river to the rebels.

     Early in April, Major Utley began establishing a series of small 
garrisons in the Coco watershed near Cape Gracias.  Under Captain John A. 
Tebbs, the Marine detachment of the USS TULSA was sent up the Bambana River to 
reconnoiter the mining district around San Pedro Pis Pis.  Edson himself was 
assigned the task of


blocking the Coco River at Huaspuc.  Before these plans could be carried out, 
the rebels struck.  On 6 April, Utley learned that Marcos Aguerro, driving 
down the river toward Cape Gracias, was at Sansang.  Edson, 2d Lieutenant 
Jesse S. Cook, Jr., and 37 Marines were to move at once to Huaspuc.

     Boarding the ancient cruiser GALVESTON at Puerto Cabezas, the patrol 
reached the mouth of the Coco shortly before noon of the following day.  Most 
of the residents of Cape Gracias were reluctant to help the Americans.  If the 
rebels should slip past the outpost at Huaspuc and seize their city, everyone 
who had helped the Americans would suffer.

     By evening, Edson had his boats, and the patrol was on its way to 
Huaspuc.  On 10 April, an outpost was established at Saclin, and four days 
later the main body reached Huaspuc.  There, he learned of a raid on the gold 
mines at San Pedro Pis Pis; but he was powerless to intervene, since there was 
no trail leading from Huaspuc to the danger area.

     Aerial support of Edson's patrol posed a difficult problem.  Aircraft 
also were needed in the Northern Area, but planes based there were too far 
distant to patrol the Coco basin.  Major Rowell's aviators began operating 
from Puerto Cabezas late in April, and on the 28th, two Corsairs, flown by 
Lieutenants Schilt and Vernon N. Guymon, touched down on a sandbar near the 
village of Sansang.

     Reinforcements, 20 Marines and 1 Navy pharmacist led by 2d Lieutenant 
Milo Carroll, arrived at Huaspuc on 1 May.  Most important of all, Carroll had 
with him a workable radio.  At long last, Edson was able to learn what had 
happened since his band started upriver.  The Tulsa detachment, reinforced by 
members of the 51st Company, had been dispatched inland to protect the mines 
at San Pedro Pis Pis.  Upon learning that a greatly superior rebel force was 
approaching, Captain Tebbs was unable to find a good defensive position and 
led his Marines back to Puerto Cabezas.

     While Tebbs had been attempting to make contact with them, the rebels had 
looted the Neptune and Lone Star Mines at La Luz.  At last, Major Utley knew 
the location of the enemy.  Determined to bottle up and destroy the rebels, he 
ordered Tebbs to defend Puerto Cabezas and sent two combat patrols toward the 
mines.  For Edson, he reserved the task of preventing the raiders from 
escaping across the Honduran border.

     It was noon of 3 May, when he regained radio contact with Puerto Cabezas, 
before Edson learned of his new mission.  He was to move at once up the 
Huaspuc River to its junction with Kuabul Creek and there wait in ambush for 
the retreating bandits.  Leaving outposts at Awasbila and Huaspuc, the 
captain, 31 Marines, and a pharmacist mate started off toward Kuabul on 4 May.

     Early on the morning of 7 May, the Marines arrived at Kuabul.  Leaving a 
handful of men to guard their boats, they pushed along the Musawas Trail to 
Great Falls, where they laid their ambush.  After being informed that two 
amphibians which had just arrived at Puerto Cabezas soon would be on their way 
to contact him, Edson returned to Kuabul to wait for them.  Lacking regular 
signal panels, the Marines spread their undershirts along a sandbar to point 
out the direction from which the enemy was supposed to be approaching.  The 
flight arrived on schedule, but because the thick jungle screened the twisting 
trails from aerial observers, Edson learned nothing from this source.

     The rebels apparently had no intention of moving northward.  Since a 
second Marine patrol, this one led by 1st Lieutenant Donald Tart, was moving 
into position athwart the Coco, Edson was free to strike out in search of 
Aguerro.  Until 20 May, his Marines hacked their way through the jungles 
around Musawas village without making contact with the enemy.

     In the meantime, Major Utley had ordered three additional patrols into 
the interior.  The group led by Captain Herbert Rose was to garrison the San 
Pedro Pis Pis mines and probe to the southwest along the Matagalpa trail.  The 
mission assigned the second, under Captain Wesley W. Walker, was to take over 
the Huaspuc outpost.  Captain Henry D. Linscott, leader of the third, was to 
push westward toward Bocay.


     According to Utley's plan, Captain Walker's patrol was to deliver 
supplies to Edson's group and leave his pack animals there.  This much was 
accomplished on 20 May, but the second phase of the plan proved more difficult 
to execute.  Linscott's column, travelling overland, was to hack its way 
through the jungle to reach Casa Viejas at about the same time.  Such a task, 
difficult even for seasoned troops, was impossible for a band of men fresh 
from the recruit depot, most of whom had enlisted to become field musics.  As 
Captain Linscott's men worked their painful way westward, Captain Edson grew 

     Musawa was a pesthole, and the hard-charging Edson did not relish the 
idea of becoming a part of its garrison; nor did he want the enemy to escape. 
Acting on his own initiative, he pushed his men toward Bocay. It was a rugged 
trek.  On 28 May, the tired veterans were joined by Captain Linscott's equally 
weary recruits. Linecott, now in command of both Edson's DENVER detachment and 
his own 60th Company, pushed grimly toward Bocay.  He was too late.  On 31 
May, just one day before the Marines arrived on the scene, the rebel force had 
passed through Bocay.

     On this first Coco River patrol, no more than four of the enemy were 
wounded.  The operation nevertheless was a tactical success, for Sandino was 
prevented from carrying the war to the east coasts.  Deprived of an 
opportunity to gain recruits and reap a bountiful harvest in booty, the rebel 
general was forced further back into the wilderness.

     Sandino was still alive, still able to weave his magic spell over the 
peasants of Nicaragua.  He had to be broken.  While inspecting the garrison at 
Puerto Cabezas shortly after the return of the first Coco expedition, General 
Logan Feland discussed with Utley and Edson a plan for thrusting upriver to 
disperse the enemy concentration at Poteca.  Although this new stronghold lay 
on the eastern edge of Neuva Segovia, it was protected by impenetrable jungles 
from the Marines of the Northern Area.  The only avenue of approach was along 
the Coco River.  Edson, with 2 other officers, 89 enlisted men, and the 
promise of air support, embarked on the second Coco patrol.

     The patrol was to assemble at Bocay in time to start upstream on 23 July, 
but this schedule proved impossible to meet.  It was 26 July before the 
Marines poled their way westward from Bocay.  Instead of 89 men, Edson had but 
46 Marines with him.  The others, led by Lieutenant Jesse Cook, were to join 
him as soon as transportation became available.

     For the first five days out of Bocay it rained.  The Coco, always a swift
stream, rose 20 feet to become a raging torrent choked with fragments of huts,
logs, and even uprooted trees.  The flood temporarily halted Edson, did 
serious damage to his patrol, and also delayed Cook's move upriver.

     At Mastawas on 4 August, the patrol had its first brush with the enemy.  
Two Sandinistas were seen on the outskirts of the village, but both escaped 
into the jungle, leaving behind a cache of arms and some letters from various 
rebel officers. Again, two days later, the Marines traded shots with a handful 
of rebels on the trail two miles beyond Mastawas.  No Americans were hit; 
however, bloodstains on the underbrush indicated at least one enemy casualty.

     Two OL-8 amphibians roared low over the patrol at noon of that same day, 
to drop mail and 16 sacks of rations.  One of the pilots saw signs of a rebel 
camp about two miles up the Coco River, dropped two bombs, and strafed the 

     Edson pushed cautiously onward with about half his men.  The remainder 
stayed at the drop zone.  Patrols were ordered to hack their way along the 
banks, while the main body followed in boats.  This maneuver served its 

purpose, for the rebel ambush party, was caught completely by surprise when 
the Leathernecks came lunging through the underbrush.  Edson immediately 
landed with the main body and began organizing a skirmish line.  Summoned by a 
messenger from their position near Ililiquas, the second section was ordered 
to move up the right bank, while Edsons was to push along the left.  When 
darkness was approaching, Edson broke contact and ordered his men back to 

     This action of 6 August was costly to both sides.  One Marine was killed 
and 3 wounded.  The Sandinistas lost ten known killed and at least three 
wounded.  Worse still from the rebel point of view was the fact that several 
chieftains had


behaved miserably under fire.  Sandino himself had pulled out his men after 
the bombing attack by Marine OL-8's, and the first rebel to run when the 
Marines hove into sight had been a colonel.

     The second Coco River patrol reached Poteca on 17 August.  There had been 
another fight on 14 August.  This action resulted in sudden death for four 
rebels and the capture of Colonel Abram Rivera, chief of Sandino's 
transportation service.  More important than the taking of the colonel was the 
seizure of a cargo of hats, clothing, and shoes, items desperately needed by 
the rebels.  Edson's men had more than accomplished their mission.  Once again 
the enemy had been deprived of a base of operations.<82>

     During Edson's thrust up the Coco River, the fighting in Neuva Segovia 
continued.  A major engagement occurred at La Flor on 13-14 May, when a 
Marine-Guardia patrol under Captain Robert S. Hunter collided with an 
aggressive band of rebels.  Apparently neither side was expecting an 
encounter.  While pushing through a ravine, Captain Hunter's point met a part 
of the enemy advance guard.  Once this small group had been driven off, the 
Marines again pushed forward; but the rebels had gained time to deploy along 
the trail.

     The enemy opened fire with everything he had. Captain Hunter was 
seriously wounded, and command devolved upon 2d Lieutenant Earl S. Piper.  The 
attackers pulled back before sunset, which enabled the young lieutenant to 
establish a perimeter defense.

     After dawn of 14 May, Lieutenant Piper sent a patrol to reconnoiter the 
positions which the enemy had abandoned.  When it encountered no resistance, 
he concluded correctly that the rebels had divided their force to block the 
trail in either direction from his defensive perimeter.  Concern for his 
wounded left him no alternative but to try to break through to the south 
toward La Flor and Quilali.  Piper's route of withdrawal carried him between 
two hills, Cinco and Ocho; and here the enemy lay in wait.  Forty-five minutes 
of bitter fighting followed.

     The patrol reached La Flor coffee plantation on 15 May, and established a 
strong defensive position.  All in all, Piper's men had come through their 
ordeal in excellent condition.  As soon as reinforcements arrived, they would 
be able to move northward once more; but help was slow in coming.  Not until 
22 May did a column commanded by Major K. M. Rockey arrive at the 

     Momentarily, the Marines had lost the initiative, and the rebels gained a 
tactical success.  This battle, however, did not force the Americans to relax 
the pressure on Sandino.  Caught between the forces in Neuva Segovia and 
Edson's men in the Coco Valley, Sandino was kept continually on the defensive.

     With Sandino temporarily subdued, attention became riveted upon the fast 
approaching Nicaraguan general election.  Prospects for a fair contest had 
never been brighter.  From a military standpoint, the rebels had taken a 
beating.  Although their leader had not lost his old magnetism, the constant 
pressure applied by combat patrols could prevent the rebels from disrupting 
the election.  Holding the Sandinistas in check would not be a simple 

                             The Election of 1928

     Difficult as it might be, military operations well might prove less of a 
problem than policing the polls.  The armed enemy had at least been pushed 
back into the wilderness; but agents of the two political parties were 

everywhere.  In every hamlet were Liberal and Conservative partisans, each in 
favor of a supervised election--provided only that it was the other party that 
was supervised.

     As far as the Liberals were concerned, the man of destiny was Jose Maria 
Moncada.  With Moncada at the head of the ticket, with Sandino more or less 
pacified, and with a majority of voters, the Liberals looked hopefully forward 
to an honest count.


     Head of the Conservative organization was ex-President Emiliano Chamorro 
but he was ineligible for the nomination.  When the nominating convention 
became deadlocked, President Diaz immediately went into conference with 
Chamorro.  After three and one-half hours, they emerged to announce that 
Adolfo Benard and Julio Cardenal would head the Conservative ticket.<85>

    The election law, drafted under the supervision of Brigadier General Frank 
R. McCoy of the U. S. Army, was put to a severe test.  First came the 
registration of voters, which lasted from 23 September until 7 October, and it 
was during this period that the Sandinistas struck.  Pedron Altamirano, one of 
Sandino's henchmen, was given the mission of frightening the Nicaraguans away 
from the polls. He chose a direct approach to the problem and an effective 

     Altamirano arrived at the village of San Marcos, seven miles northeast of 
Jinotega, on 2 October.  He found four electioneers for the Liberal party 
campaigning there.  All four were dead when the rebels rode out of town.  
Drifting from town to town, killing indiscriminately, Altamirano could have 
put an end to registration in northern Nicaragua; but he had not reckoned with 
Captain Norman M. Shaw and his 45th Company.

     Even though his command was scattered throughout the countryside, a few 
men at each place of registration, Shaw managed to throw out patrols strong 
enough to discourage the rebels.  Not only was Shaw able to screen the polling 
places, he even forced Altamirano to withdraw into the wilderness.  There were 
no further raids during the election.<86>

     The only means of insuring an honest electoral count was to have Marines 
on the scene wherever ballots were cast.  In all some 900 Leathernecks and 
bluejackets were needed to prevent flagrant corruption.  Although an Army, 
Navy, or Marine Corps officer was responsible for each of Nicaragua's 13 
departments, an enlisted man was in sole charge of each of the 432 polling 
places.  The principal threats to the election were riots and repeaters.  A 
few armed Americans or Guardia troops at each village where votes were cast 
was sufficient to keep order.  To prevent repeating, each voter dipped his 
finger in red ink to show that he already had dropped his ballot in the box.  
Sandinistas began spreading the rumor that the ink was poisoned, but only a 
few superstitious Indians believed them.

     In spite of Sandino, the election, held on 4 November 1928, was a 
complete success.  About 133,000 votes were cast, almost 50,000 more than in 
1924.  The Liberal candidates, Moncada and Enoc Aguada, amassed a plurality of 
19,000.  At long last, the downtrodden Liberals had won.<87>

     Both parties admitted that the election had been honest.  With the 
election no longer a cause of interparty strife, the contending factions now 
battled over a newly discovered issue.

     The first order of business facing the new government was the 
ratification of an agreement between Carlos Cuadras Pasos of Nicaragua and 
Dana G. Munro of Nacional.  Strange to relate, this organization, although it 
had been existence for over a year, was not officially sanctioned by 
Nicaraguan law.

     Nor were the Conservatives alone in wishing to exert government control 
over the constabulary, for President Moncada himself insisted upon some sort 
of police force manned and officered exclusively by Nicaraguans.  Instead of 
eradicating the Marine-trained organization, Moncada established a category of 
"Voluntarios," troops responsible to Nicaraga's Chief Executiv> Naturally, 
they would be under the tactical control of brigade officers when operating in 
their field, but their existence represented some degree of emancipation from 

restriction imposed by the Americans.

     What plagued the Americans most was the fact that time was running out.  
Marines could not patrol the interior forever; this campaign had to be 
terminated.  Unfortunately, the Marines could not be withdrawn until peace had 
been forced upon Nicaragua, and there could be no peace until a trained native 
constabulary was in the field.  In order to reassume her sovereignty, 
Nicaragua needed a police force; the Marines could not be withdrawn before the 
country was able to enforce its own laws.  In other words, some sort of 
Guardia Nacional had to be whipping into fighting


trim.  The Americans themselves were in no position to argue with Moncada even 
though they feared that his volunteer organization might be turned into a 
plaything for local politicians

     Those Marines assigned to the Guardia Nacional toiled unceasingly with 
their occasionally troublesome charges.  One serious incident, a mutiny at 
Somotillo in January 1928, marred the progress of their work; but 
investigation showed that this uprising was due to a lack of indoctrination 
among the Guardia stationed there.

     All was going well for the Guardia when the election of 1928 rolled 
around.  During these critical weeks, the entire force except for recruits was 
turned out to lend a hand policing the polls.  Here, the nonpolitical 
indoctrination drummed into the guardsmen paid dividends.  General McCoy, a 
man not easily pleased, was moved to commend the organization and its 
officers.  After this interlude, training was resumed; and by the end of 
September 1929, three battalions, a total of 1,846 men, were under arms.

                          Military Operations Resume

     As far as military operations were concerned, the lull ended early in 
January, when a band of about 100 rebels attacked a Guardia patrol led by 1st 
Lieutenant Chester A. Davis, GN.  Near Guancastilla, Neuva Segovia, on 10 
January 1929, Davis, with 2 other officers and 15 enlisted men, managed to 
drive off the ambush party, killing seven of them.  His own losses numbered 
two killed and four wounded.<88>

     Less fortunate was a seven-man mounted patrol led by 1st Lieutenant 
Alexander Galt.  Pausing at the village of San Antonio, the Marines had asked 
a native for directions to Constancia.  When the trail he pointed out came to 
an abrupt end in a coffee plantation, the disgruntled Marines turned around 
and began retracing their way to the village.  They were a weary lot, some 
walking, others riding, none of them with weapons ready.  At midmorning on 21 
January, 30 rebels struck from ambush.  At no cost to himself, the enemy 
killed 3 Marines and captured 2 rifles, 3 pistols, a submachine gun, and 400 
rounds of ammunition.  A relief patrol under 2d Lieutenant Marshall C. Levie 
arrived on the scene too late to avenge the attack.<89>

     Carelessness may have taken the lives of three Marines near San Antonio; 
but it was the vigilance of a veteran Marine officer, 1st Lieutenant Herman H. 
Hanneken, that accounted for a spectacular coup, the capture of Manuel Jiron, 
near San Albino.  Since the Marines had pitched camp on the bank of a small 
stream, Hanneken sent eight of his men to the creek to bathe.  Fully alert to 
the possibility of an ambush, he saw to it that four men remained on guard 
while the other four took their turn in the water.  At 1030, one of the 
sentries spotted a mounted man shambling along the bank. Immediately the 
Marines leaped from the water, grabbed their Springfields, and waited.  Head 
down, half asleep, the notorious rebel wandered blindly into their midst and 
was taken prisoner.<90>

     Although Jiron's capture raised American morale, this incident did not 
lead to the capture of Sandino; for the wily rebel chieftain was on his way to 
Mexico City to raise funds for his army.  In his absence and in spite of the 
loss of Jiron, the rebels continued to wage a guerrilla campaign.  Contacts 
with the enemy were numerous, but seldom were large numbers involved.  Typical 
of rebel hit and run tactics was the ambush on 19 February of a patrol led by 
2d Lieutenant Harold D. Harris.  The Marines had stopped to talk with a 
Nicaraguan civilian living near San Antonio.  The farmer assured Harris that 
not a single rebel lurked in the area, so the patrol pushed on.  Five minutes 
later the enemy struck.

     Surprise gave the attackers an initial advantage, but the Marines and 
Guardia rallied quickly.  The lieutenant himself was wounded, but not before 
his men had built up an effective base of fire.  After 22 minutes,:the enemy 
vanished as quickly as he had come.  In addition to Lieutenant Harris, two 
members of the Guardia were wounded, but the ambush party definitely came out 
second best; for 3 were killed and possibly as many as 17 wounded.<91>


     Sandino's departure for Mexico had deprived the rebels of an 
inspirational leader.  As their zeal waned, the liberators concerned 
themselves more and more with the difficult business of staying alive.  Rather 
than defeat the "Yanquis," they hoped to elude the Marine patrols, steal what 
they needed, and somehow keep the cauldron of revolution boiling.

     Moncada's Voluntarios were taking the field.  For the time being, the 
danger inherent in this system could be forgotten for General Juan Escamilla, 
a militant liberal of the Moncada faction, had proved a trustworthy leader.  
On the last day of February 1929, to the accompaniment of guitars and singing, 
the volunteers moved into the wilderness.  With the 80 Nicaraguans was a 
Marine patrol of 3 officers, 33 enlisted, and a Navy corpsman under the 
command of 1st Lieutenant Hanneken.  During the first phase of this 
expedition, 74 days on the trail, there was one casualty, a Nicaraguan wounded 
in the arm during an encounter with rebels Mar Los Cedros on 27 April.  Phase 
two, which lasted 38 days, also resulted in but a single contact with the 

     Although Moncada's Voluntarios gleefully boasted that they alone could 
save Nicaragua from the rebels, the organization was destined to disappear 
before the end of the year.  Conservative politicians as well as Marine 
officers remained convinced that these volunteers, men intensely loyal to 
President Moncada, would, in the event of his defeat at the polls, become his 
private army.  True, the existence of this force allowed a reduction in Marine 
strength and gave the Nicaraguans themselves a greater role in restoring order 
to their country, but these same goals could be attained by simply increasing 
the strength of the Guardia. Reluctantly, Moncada yielded to the advice of the 
Americans, and in June 1929, further appropriations for the volunteer army 
were withheld.<92>

     In the meantime, the Guardia was having troubles of its own.  Shortly 
after Colonel Douglas C. McDougal assumed command of the Guardia on 11 March 
1929, President Moncada began using the guard itself to consolidate his 
political position.

     The embroilment of the Guardia in politics had immediate repercussions--a 
mutiny.  On the morning of 6 October, at Telpaneca, malcontents faked a bandit 
raid and in the confusion shot and killed Lieutenant Trogler, the commanding 
officer.  Trogler was succeeded by 2d Lieutenant Charles J. Levonski, GN.  For 
a time all went well; but when 2d Lieutenant James C. Rimes arrived at 
Telpaneca with ten replacements, a second mutiny erupted.  On the morning of 
21 October, the two lieutenants were arrested.  That night the entire command 
set out for Honduras.  Fortunately, the two officers managed to escape with 
the aid of some of the replacements.  In fact, all of Rimes men and some 
members of the original garrison made their way back to Guardia outposts.  
Those who escaped to Honduras were jailed for a time, but they were not 
returned to stand trial.<93>

     In spite of its political difficulties, the Guardia was fast developing 
into a splendid military organization.  As more and more Nicaraguans took the 
field, Marine Corps strength was drastically cut.  By 20 August 1929, the last 
elements of the 11th Regiment were on their way to the United States.<94>  Yet 
the pressure on the enemy was not relaxed.  From March, when Colonel McDougal 
took command, until December, the Guardia took part in 22 actions, lost 3 
wounded and 1 killed, while killing 35 rebels, wounding 5, and capturing 
6.<95>  All in all, their work was most impressive.

     Perhaps the greatest achievement of the year was the establishment of a 
road program.  For a year, September 1929 to September 1930, the Guardia 
furnished protection for construction camps as the roads cinched their way 
across the country-aide.  Thanks to this program, an investment of $150,000, 

many men who might have turned bandit or rebel were given a chance to earn 
their way.  To earn 50 cents per day, 125 known Sandinistas lay down their 
rifles to go to work on the project at Yali.<96>

     The year 1930, brought with it an increase in rebel banditry.  Silencio 
in Neuva Segovia was the center of this new outburst, so on 5 February, 
patrols from Condega, Telpaneca, and Quilali were ordered to converge on the 
town.  From 28 February, until 4 March, Marines and guardsmen scoured the 
area, but found no trace of the enemy.  The operation dragged on into March, 
with an increasing number of


minor brushes with rebel bands, but the main body of Sandinistas could not be 
trapped.  The Marines simply did not have the necessary mobility.  Although 
aerial supply helped, they were dependent upon pack trains for heavier items 
of equipment, while the rebels carried as little as they could, relying on the 
countryside to provide them with food.<97>

     Since this ability to live off the land gave the rebels a tremendous 
advantage, the Marines began devising means to deprive the enemy of food.  In 
May, the time honored policy of reconcentration was tested in the area around 
Ocotal.  With the consent of the President of Nicaragua, the local inhabitants 
were ordered to leave their farms and bring their property and cattle to those 
protected by Marine or Guardia detachments.  Anyone found roaming the 
countryside after 1 June would be considered a bandit.  On 8 July, the 
experiment was quietly abandoned.<98>

    A few days after reconcentration was first announced, Sandino returned 
from Mexico once more to take an active part in the fighting.  By 19 June, he 
had gathered a force of about 150 men and fortified a hilltop north of 
Jinotega.  There, Marine aircraft discovered his presence and greeted him with 
a shower of high explosives.  A bomb fragment struck Sandino in the leg and he 
was forced to retire to the wilds of the Coco Valley to recuperate.

     The Marines began thrusting into the rugged mountains lying between the 
Coco and Bocay Rivers.  Between August 1930 and February 1931, three 
expeditions, each made up of several closely coordinated patrols, probed the 

     Typical of the first offensive was the work of a patrol under Captain 
George F. Good, Jr.  Posted on the left flank of the nine-patrol expedition, 
he was to strike southeast from the junction of the Pantasma and Coco Rivers.  
To accomplish this mission, he carved a trail over some of the most rugged 
terrain in all Nicaragua.  Arriving at the base of Pena Blanca mountain, on 20 
August, the patrol scaled the rugged northwest slope, a difficult task but one 
which paid great dividends.  When he reached the summit, he was greeted by the 
placid strumming of guitars.  A rebel camp lay a few hundred yards distant.  
If one of the Guardia had not been spotted by the enemy, the rebel force 
probably would have been wiped out.  As it was, one of them was killed and the 
rest scattered in a ten-minute fire fight.<99>

     Even more successful was Captain Lewis B. Puller, GN.  With 2 other 
officers and 32 men, he attacked a rebel camp at Portreras on 11 September, 
killing three of the enemy.  He also captured a store of weapons and 
ammunition.  For these and other exploits, the indomitable Puller came to be 
dubbed "The Tiger of the Mountains."<100>

     Far from being cowed by the intense patrolling, the rebels gamely fought 
back.  As always, their principal weapon was the ambush.  In fact, the year 
ended with an attack upon a party of telephone linemen repairing a break east 
of Ocotal.  Ten Marines under Sergeant Arthur Palrang were surrounded at a 
point some 12 miles east of the town.  Eight of them were killed; the other 
two, although wounded, managed to escape.<101>

     January 1931 offered promise that the Marines at last would be absolved 
or responsibility for enforcing the peace in Nicaragua.  Early that month, 
Secretary of State Stimson began urging an increase in the tempo of training 
for the Guardia Nacional.  This organization would be able to assume the 
entire burden of maintaining order within two years.  To meet this goal, an 
additional 500 men would be recruited, and the Guardia would be relieved of 
those tasks which could be carried out by local police.  In other words, the 
organization was to throw its entire weight into an offensive against the 
rebels, while local police protected those places not threatened by the 


     When presented with the blunt fact that neither the American people nor 
the Congress would tolerate an indefinite occupation of his nation, Moncada 
agreed to cooperate in strengthening both the Guardia and the police force.  
On 19 February, Stimson proclaimed the determination of the United States to 
withdraw the Marines as soon as the next Nicaraguan Chief Executive was sworn 
into office.  In the meantime, Marine strength would be drastically reduced 
until, by 1 June 1931, only an instructional battalion and the aviation units 
were serving on Nicaraguan soil.


     The Monoada government was far from pleased with the arrangement.  First 
of all, the enlarged Guardia would cost money.  Second, and far more 
frightening, was the fact that the revolution was not ended; nor was there any 
assurance that the Guardia alone could end it.  Many patriotic Nicaraguans 
regretted the move, for they feared that innocent lives would be lost; but 
nothing could be done. Sooner or later, the Leathernecks had to leave.<102>

     No sooner had these diplomatic problems been resolved than the Moncada 
government found itself face to face with another crisis--a natural disaster.  
At 1019 on 31 March 1931, the wooden shacks that comprised most of Managua 
began to tremble.  Within three minutes, they lay in ruins, battered to 
splinters by a dozen earth tremors.  Marines stationed at Managua worked with 
the Guardia in rescuing the injured from wrecked buildings, evacuating 
casualties, and caring for the homeless.  Fortunately, there was water enough 
in the fire reservoirs to enable the Marines to save what remained of Managua 
from the flames.  Drinking water, however, was scarce; and the spectra of 
typhoid loomed in everyone's mind.

     As it had in the fighting, aviation played a stellar role in relief 
operations.  On the morning of the earthquake, Marine pilots took off from the 
Managua flight strip to determine the extent of the shock.  They discovered 
that Managua had borne the brunt of the tremor.  Because of the damage to the 
engineering shops, few planes could be kept in the air; but the command was 
able to provide a campsite for refugees and send rescue parties into the 
shattered town.

     On 1 April, the first plane load of medical supplies touched down on the 
Managua airstrip.  A steady stream of aircraft, most of them carrying food or 
medicines, arrived throughout the day.  In the meantime, the Marines 
themselves were flying the first of 92 relief and evacuation missions.  By 4 
April, they would log 88 hours flying time, carrying 129 passengers and 21,196 
pounds of freight.<103>

     An estimated 2000 Managuans perished in the earthquake and fire.  The 
toll, no doubt, would have been much higher had it not been for the work of 
the Americans.  Checking the fires, restoring order, and caring for the 
injured were the contributions of the Marines, Guardia, and Army Engineers.

     While the world's attention had been riveted upon the tragedy at Managua, 
the rebels had launched another offensive, this one in eastern Nicaragua.  
From a base near Bocay on the Coco River, a band of about 150 rebels led by 
Pedro Blandon began pushing downstream toward the coast.  On 11 April, a 
Marine-Guardia patrol was ambushed near Logtown, and Captain Harlan Pefley, 
commander of the Guardia at Puerto Cabezas, was killed.  Two days later, with 
the aid of Marine aircraft, a second patrol located the enemy and attacked, 
killing Blandon and seven of his men.  Blandon's death did not end the threat 
to eastern Nicapagua, for other rebel columns were drifting into the region.

     Especially nervous about the bandit build up was Secretary of State 
Stimson, who repeatedly urged that the Marines and Guardia concentrate to 
parry the new thrust.  El Gallo was rumored to be the objective of the rebels, 
so a detachment of Guardia was rushed there from Bluefields.  Security of the 
latter town became the temporary responsibility of the Marines of the USS 
SACRAMENTO, who were landed there on 18 April.  Three days later, 18 
Nicaraguan guardsmen were flown from Managua to Puerto Cabezas; and for the 
first time in weeks, Mr. Stimson could rest easy.<104>

     This sudden shuffling of personnel may have discouraged the raiders; at 
any rate, almost a month passed before the enemy made his move.  Pedron 
Altamirano and some 150 men suddenly materialized at the Neptune Mine on 12 
May.  Although ragged-looking, the men were heavily armed and well 

disciplined.  On the 15th, the rebels marched back into the interior taking 
along gold, dynamite, supplies, two new recruits, and one captive.<105>

     Fighting continued in the eastern part of the country well into the 
autumn.  Again, Marine aviators rendered outstanding service in forcing the 
rebels deep into the interior.  On 23 July, they roared down upon a rebel 
encampment at Saclin, killing two of the enemy.  During the attack, one plane 
was hit 16 times by small-arms fire.  The pilot, Staff Sergeant Gordon W. 
Heritage, managed a crash landing; but he had to destroy the plane to prevent 
the enemy from salvaging its


parts.  With his observer Corporal Orville B. Simmons, he struck out for the 
coast.  After struggling 40 miles, fording 5 rivers, and wading through 
trackless swamps, they reached a small village, where they were picked up and 
returned to Puerto Cabezas.

     In November and December, when the rebels began another drive, this one 
in western Nicaragua, Marine pilots provided the eyes which enabled the 
Guardia to spy out enemy concentrations.  Aerial patrols, low-level attacks, 
and the transporting of supplies all contributed to the success of the Guardia 
in scattering the rebels and forcing them to retire northward.<106>


     A single event dominated the Nicaraguan scene throughout 1932.  This was 
the presidential election.  Like the one of 1928, which brought Moncada to 
power, and the local elections of the previous year, the coming political 
campaign would be waged under American supervision.  In charge of the 
Electoral Mission was Clark H. Woodward.  He would be assisted by the Guardia 
and by an Electoral Detachment of Marines and seamen drawn from the 2d Marine 
Brigade, the Special Service Squadron, and the Submarine Base, Coco Solo, 

     As had been anticipated, the approaching election was the signal for 
renewed efforts by Sandino's extremists to overthrow the Moncada regime.  Nor 
was the government itself unwilling to take up the gauntlet.  Indeed, during 
the fighting of November-December 1931, Moncada himself had taken the field to 
direct operations against the rebels.  The last year of the occupation 
promised its share of bitter battles, but most of them would be fought by the 
Guardia and by aviation units. The Brigade itself would be concerned mainly 
with the election.

     Gradually the tempo of warfare increased, with the Guardia performing 
both valiantly and effectively.  April, however, proved a particularly 
ill-starred month for Nicaraguan soldiery.  The month began with a mutiny, the 
eighth in the brief history of the Guardia Nacional.<108>  Early one morning, 
Captain Orrel A. Inman, USMC, had inspected the post at Kisalaya and then left 
by plane for Puerto Cabezas.  Private Pablo P. Salmeron was ordered confined 
to the brig by 2d Lieutenant Carlos Reyes.  Sergeant Sebastian Jimenez sided 
with the malcontent.  The noncommissioned officer turned out his men, issued 
them their weapons, and demanded the commanding officer, Lieutenant Charles J. 
Levonski, turn Reyes over to the mutineers.  Jimenez promised that no harm 
would come to the American provided he allowed the men to kill Reyes.  When 
Levonski refused to betray the young Nicaraguan, he was shot to death.  Reyes 
was wounded; and Jimenez, who turned outlaw, was killed later that month by 
Guardia troops.

     More shocking than mutiny was the blow which fell on 21 April.  While 
returning from Apali to Jalapa, a Guardia patrol under 2d Lieutenant Laurin T. 
Covington, GN, was ambushed as it crossed a small stream.  Four men were 
killed before Covington was able to break contact.  Meanwhile, a relief 
column, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Laurence C. Brunton, had come to 
Covington's assistance.  Once the two patrols had met, all seemed safe; but 
the enemy had moved cross-country to establish still another ambush along the 
road. Covington, Brunton, and Finis L. Whitehead, an officer in the Guardia's 
Medical Corps, were killed when the trap was sprung; and their combined 
patrols were routed.  In that day's fighting, ten Guardia were killed.<109>

     Nor did every battle that month end in defeat for the Guardia.  In the 
wilderness northeast of Ocotal on 26 April, a 45-man Guardia patrol fought a 
fierce three-hour battle with Sandino's men.  The rebel firebrand may have 

been present at the fight; if so, he escaped.  Not so fortunate was his Chief 
Judge, Florencio Silva.  When the haze of battle cleared, Silva lay dead in 
the underbrush.<110>

     Throughout May and June, the Guardia was in almost constant contact with 
the enemy.  A total of 32 actions were fought during this period, the most 
successful a coordinated land-air attack on a rebel force at Neptune Mine.  
This battle accounted for 17 of the 62 Sandinistas killed during these eight 
weeks.  Guardia bullets claimed the lives of two important revolutionaries, 
Ezequiel Zeledon and Sebastain Caceres, the latter Sandino's Chief of 


     So splendid was this record that it offset the effect of still another 
mutiny, the last to occur during the occupation, which broke out at San 
Isidoro on 30 June. A Nicaraguan officer, Lieutenant Gonzales, had a grudge 
against the detachment commander, 2d Lieutenant Edward II. Schmierer, GN.  
Shortly after midnight, Gonzales strode into the American's quarters and shot 
him dead.  Although they refused to participate in the crime, the Guardias 
passively allowed the mutineer and his four followers to ransack the armory 
and escape.<112>

     Typical of the new spirit which had been infused into the Guardia was the 
work of Captain Puller's command, a mobile force operating in Jinotega.  Early 
in September, Puller discovered a trail which seemed to be the route used by 
the rebels in their southward thrusts.  Returning to Jinotega, he organized a 
strong patrol and, on 20 September, he pushed off.

     A volley of rifle fire greeted the column on the morning of 26 September, 
as it was moving northwest from the bank of the Auyabal River.  A quick charge 
sent the attackers scurrying, for this was merely an attempt to harass the 
patrol.  A Lewis machine gun in the skilled hands of Lieutenant William A. Lee 
kept the enemy pinned down while the Guardia worked their way up the slope 
opposite the ambush party.  When they had gained the crest, they were able to 
fire directly into the rebel emplacements.

     Puller's men had penetrated the center of a rebel encampment, killing 16 
of the enemy in the process.  Although as many as 150 Sandinistas may have 
taken part in the action, the Guardia suffered only two killed and three 
wounded.  To obtain medical care for his wounded, Puller immediately started 
back toward Jinotega. Twice the patrol was ambushed, but it suffered no 
further casualties.  Instead, eight rebels were cut down by the gallant 
Guardia.  On 30 September, Puller's band arrived at Jinotega.<113>

     During the time that Puller and the other Marines serving with the 
Guardia were engaged in some of the heaviest fighting of the campaign, the 
officers and men of the Brigade were laying the groundwork for the November 
elections.  Nor was this an easy task, for President Moncada had decided that 
he did not want the help of the Americans.  In fact, Admiral Woodward felt 
certain that the President was toying with the idea of becoming dictator.<114>

     Not even the fruits of victory would unite the Liberal Party.  After 
months of quarreling and a primary election, the party finally settled upon 
Juan B. Sacasa, a well educated idealist, as candidate for President with 
Rudolfo Espinasa as his running-mate.  The Conservatives, apparently still 
hoping for American aid, trotted out Adolfo Diaz, twice the American-supported 
President of Nicaragua, and Emiliano Chamorro.  On 6 November, the 
Conservatives went down to defeat 76,030 to 54,487.<115>

     One of the achievements of Moncada's regime had been the extension of the 
railway system.  He wished to dedicate this new line from Leon to El Sauce 
before he left office, so official ceremonies were slated for 28 December.  
Soon, rumors were afoot that Sandino himself would blast the line to atoms and 
Moncada with it. The mission of guarding both the railroad and the Chief 
Executive fell to Captain Puller, 7 Marines, and 64 Guardias.

     As the trainload of troops neared the terminus of the line, a 
construction camp a few miles south of El Sauce, the chatter of machine guns 
split the air. Juan Umanzor, with over 100 men, had been sacking the camp when 
the train chugged into sight.  The rebels thought that it carried arms for the 
El Sauce garrison and promptly opened fire.  When Puller's men leaped from the 
cars, their weapons blazing, Umanzor's troops were shocked, but they clung to 
their ground.  Not until a flanking movement had failed--the rebels collided 
with a band of Guardia attempting the same maneuver and were cut to 

ribbons--did the enemy retreat.  Thirty Sandinistas were killed in the 
90-minute fight; and two days later, on the 28th as scheduled, Moncada 
formally opened the new rail line.<116>


                           The End of Intervention

     All that remained was the inauguration.  Juan B. Sacasa took the oath, of 
office on 1 January 1933, and at 1700 of the following day, the last units of 
the 5th Regiment sailed aboard the HENDERSON and ANTARES from Corinto.<117>  
The Second Nicaraguan Campaign had ended.

     What had the two major interventions accomplished?  The first, with its 
lightning swift campaign, had forestalled possible European intervention and 
provided the republic with an opportunity to attain financial stability.  
Legitimate American investments, the lives and property of American citizens, 
all were protected.  The Marine regiment had restored order quickly enough, 
but statesmen failed to arrive at a solution for the problems that plagued 

     Less successful from a political point of view was the second 
intervention. True, the Marines had halted a bloody civil war; but they had 
not brought peace to the country, for Sandino's die-hards were never brought 
to task. Worse still, patriotic Latin Americans came to hate the United States 
because of its interference in Nicaraguan affairs.

     Some estimate of this political failure may be gained from a glimpse at 
post-occupation Nicaragua.  The American Marines and seamen killed in action 
during the campaign left behind them two great monuments, the Guardia Nacional 
to maintain order and an electoral law to insure honest elections.  Neither 
survived for long.

     Under the direction of its new leader, Anastasio Somoza, the Guardia 
became the decisive factor in Nicaraguan politics.  In fact, it was the 
Guardia which was given the assignment of murdering Sandino after the rebel 
leader had been given amnesty by the Sacasa government.  From Jefe of the 
Guardia, Somoza became President of Nicaragua in 1936.  For two decades he was 
dictator of the country, naming Presidents, dismissing them at his whim, or 
ruling as Chief Executive himself.  He died 29 September 1956 as a result of 
an assassin's bullet, to be succeeded in office by his son Luis.

     From a military point of view, the Marine Corps did profit from its 
operations in Nicaragua.  Many World War II leaders, officers such as Merritt 
A. Edson, Lewis B. Puller, Evans F. Carlson, Ross E. Rowell, and Christian F. 
Schilt, learned their tactics in the mountains and jungles of Central America.  
More important was the fact that Marine aviators and infantrymen functioned 
smoothly as a unified team.  The Second Nicaraguan Campaign ended with the 
Marine Corps a more effective combat organization than it had been six years 



(1)   Charles E. Chapman, "Republican Hispanic America: A History" (New York: 
The Macmillan Co., 1937), pp. 243-245; Dana G. Munro, "The Five Republics of 
Central America" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1918), pp. 24-26.

(2)   Munro, "op. cit." pp. 72-79; Floyd Cramer, "Our Neighbor Nicaragua" (New 
York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1929), pp. 56-58.

(3)   William O. Scroggs, "Filibusters and Financiers" (New York: The 
Macmillan Co., 1916), pp. 71-72.

(4)   Ruhl J. Bartlett (ed.) "The Record of American Diplomacy" (New York: 
Alfred A.Knopf, 1954), pp. 244, 246-247.

(5)   Scroggs, "op. cit.", pp. 79-80.

(6)   Cramer, "op. cit.", pp. 69-80.

(7)   Scroggs, "op. cit.", pp. 130-158, 270-284; Louis N. Feipel, "The Navy 
and Filibustering in the Fifties", "U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings", v. 44, 
no. 7 (Jul 1918), pp. 1529-1541.

(8)   Feipel, "op. cit.", v. 44, no. 8 (Aug 1918), pp. 1840-1844.

(9)   "Ibid.", v. 44, no. 9 (Sep 1918), pp. 2083-2085.

(10)  Munro, "op. cit.", pp. 86-88.

(11)  Graham H. Stuart "Latin America and the United States" (New York: 
Appleton-Century Co., 1938), PP. 337-33~

(12)  Cramer, "op. cit.", p. 129.

(13)  Harry A. Ellsworth, "180 Landings of United States Marines", a 
mimeographed volume available at the library of the Historical Branch, HQMC, 
pp. 122-124.

(14)  Munro, "op. cit.", pp. 204-214.

(15)  Munro, "op. cit.", pp. 227-232; Cramer, "op. cit.", pp. 138-139.

(16)  U. S. Department of State, "A Brief History of the Relations Between the 
United States and Nicaragua, 1909-1928" (Washington:  Government Printing 
Office, pp. 4-5.

(17)  "Ibid.;" Cramer, "op. cit." p. 140; Charles Lee Lewis, "Famous American 
Marines" (Boston: L. C. Page and Co., 1950), p. 212.

(18)  Munro, "op. cit.", pp. 227-242; Cramer. "op. cit.", pp. 145-146.

(19)  Ellsworth, "op. cit.", p. 127; Munro, "op. cit.", pp. 242-244.

(20)  Ellsworth, "op. cit.", pp. 127-128.

(21)  Nelson P. Vulte, "Diary of the Nicaraguan Expedition, 1912." Typed copy 
in the archives of the Historical Branch, HQMC.

(22)  "Ibid."

(23)  "Ibid."

(24)  Lewis, "op. cit.", pp. 213-215.

(25)  Vulte, "op. cit."

(26)  Lewis, "op. cit.", pp. 190-193.


(27)  Vulte, "op. cit." Lewis, "op. cit.", pp. 213-215.

(28)  Vulte, "op. cit." Lewis, "op. cit.", pp. 213-215.

(29)  Lewis, "op. cit." pp. 215-217.

(30)  Vulte, "op. cit."

(31)  Lewis, "op. cit.", 217; "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, 
1912" (Washington, 1912), p. 13; Pendleton to Butler, 3 Oct 1912 (Subject 
File: Nicaragua, 1912, Historical Branch, HQMC).

(32)  Munro, "op. cit.", p. 245.

(33)  "Ibid.", p. 253.

(34)  "Ibid.", pp. 258-261.

(35)  "Ibid.", pp. 251-252.

(36)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit." pp. 19-22.

(37)  Chapman, "op. cit.", p. 268.

(38)  Letters, Captain M. C. Gregory, USMC, to Commandant, 15th Naval District 
dtd 27 Jan 1922 and Major Wilbur Thing, USMC, to MGC dtd 1 Mar 1922 in 
officer's case file 0983-2-3, THING, Wilbur.  Officer case files are in the 
custody of the Records Branch, HQMC.

(39)  Ellsworth, "op. cit.", p. 128.

(40)  "Samples of Propaganda", January-February 1922 in officer's case file 
983-2-3, THING. Wilbur.

(41)  Ellsworth, "op. cit.", p. 128.

(42)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit.", pp. 22-24.

(43)  "Ibid.", p. 26.

(44)  "Ibid.", pp. 27-28.

(45)  Henry L. Stimson, "American Policy in Nicaragua" (New York: Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1927), app. 22-23.

(46)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit.", pp. 30-32; "New York 
Herald-Tribune", 1 Mar 1927 (clipping in Subject File: Nicaragua 1927, 
Historical Branch, HQMC.

(47)  Ellsworth, "op. cit.", p. 130.

(48)  Dom A. Pagano, "Bluejackets" (Boston: Meador Publishing Company, 1932), 
pp. 26-35.

(49)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit.", pp. 33-37.

(50)  "Ibid.", pp. 37-38, 45.

(51)  "Ibid.", pp. 45-46.

(52)  "Ibid.", pp. 80-84; Clyde H. Metcalf, "A History of the United States 

Marine Corps" (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1939), p. 419.

(53)  John M. Wearmouth, "The Second Intervention in Nicaragua: 1927-1932" 
(Unpublished manuscript in the archives of the Historical Branch, HQMC), pp. 
24-25; Robert Sherrod, "History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II" 
(Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1952), p. 24.


(54)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit.", pp. 45-46, 49-52.

(55)  "Ibid.", pp. 50-54; Stimson, "op. cit.", p. 88; Ellsworth, "op. cit.", 
p. 133.

(56)  U. S. Department of State, "op. cit.", pp. 50-54.

(57)  "Ibid.", pp. 38-39; Major Julian C. Smith, USMC, et. al., "A Review of 
the Organization and Operations of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua", undated 
booklet issued by the United States Marine Corps and available at the library 
of the Historical Branch, HQMC, pp. 9-17.

(58)  Letter of Departmental Election Board, Estili, 6 Nov 1928 in "GN-2 
File."  Unless otherwise noted, files designated GN, R, or B, cited below are 
to be found in the archives of the Historical Branch, HQMC.  GN indicates 
Guardia Nacional; R, regimental; and B, brigade.

(59)  Gilbert D. Hatfield, "A Brief Account of the Battle of Ocotal" (Subject 
File: Nicaragua, 1927, Historical Branch, HQMC); Sherrod, "op. cit.", pp. 

(60)  "Nueva Segovia Expedition" (Subject File: Nicaragua, 1927, Historical  
Branch, HQMC); Wearmouth, "op. cit.", pp. 40-44.

(61)  Bruce to CO, MD, Jicaro, 18 Aug 1927 in ""GN-3 File: Patrol and Contact 

(62)  O'Shea to CO, 5th Regiment, 4 Sep 1927 in "GN-3 File: Patrol and Contact 

(63)  Brigade Commander to MGC, 3 Sep 1927 in "GN-3 File: Patrol and Contact 

(64)  "Annual Report of Aircraft Squadrons, 2d Brigade, USMC", "Marine Corps 
Gazette", v. 13, no. 4 (Dec 1928), pp. 248-265; Charles R. Sanderson, "The 
Supply Service in Western Nicaragua", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 17, no. 1 
(May 1932), pp. 41-42.

(65)  Summary of Intelligence Reports, 20 Jan 1928, in "History of the Guardia 
Nacional, 23 Jan 1927-24 Oct 1929", in archives of the Historical Branch, 

(66)  CO, MD, Jicaro to CO, 5th Regiment, 12 Oct 1927 in "GN-3 File: Patrol 
and Contact Reports."

(67)  Gulick to MGC, 15 Oct 1927, in "Nicaragua: confidential letters to the 
Major General Commandant from the brigade commander", in archives of the 
Historical Branch, HQMC.

(68)  Gould to CO, 5th Regiment, 2 Nov 1927, in "GN-3 File: Patrol and Contact 
Reports"; Smith, et. al., "op. cit.", p. 303.

(69)  Brown to Division Commander, Nueva Segovia, 11 Nov 1927 in "GN-3 File: 
Patrol and Contact Reports".

(70)  "B-2 File: Intelligence Reports", 5 Sep 1927 - 19 Jan 1928, "passim."

(71)  Gulick to MGC, 3 Dec 1927 in "Nicaragua, confidential letters...", "loc. 

(72)  Brown to Brigade Commander, Dec 1927 in "GN-3 File: Patrol and Contact 


(73)  F. D. Harbaugh to Brigade Commander, 12 Dec 1927 in "GN-3 File: Patrol 
and Contact Reports".

(74)  "Combat Operations in Nicaragua", "Marine Corps Gazette",  v. 14, no. 2 
(Jan 1929), pp. 81-89; Hunt to Brigade Command, 4 Jan 1928 in "GN-3 File: 
Patrol and Contact Reports".


(75)  CO, Observation Squadron 7-M to SecNav, 9 Jan 1928 (Biography File: 
SCHILT, Christian Frank., Historical Branch, HQMC).

(76)  Satterfield to CO, GN, 8 Jan 1928 in "GN-3 File:  Patrol and Contact 

(77)  "General Rowell's Report on Chipote" (Biography File: ROWELL, Ross E., 
Historical Branch, HQMC).

(78)  "Combat Operations in Nicaragua", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 14, no. 2 
(Jun 1929), pp. 91-94.

(79)  Metcalf, "op. cit.", pp. 431-432.

(80)  "Combat Operations in Nicaragua", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 14, no. 3 
(Sep 1929), pp. 170-179.

(81)  "Ibid.", pp. 177-179

(82)  Merritt A. Edson, "The Coco River Patrol", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 
20, no. 3 (Aug 1936), p. 18; v. 20, no. 4 (Nov 1936), p. 40; v. 21, no. 1 (Feb 
1937, p. 35; Utley to MGC, 13 May 1928, and Feland to MGC, 28 Apr and 7 May 
1928 in "Nicaragua, Confidential Letters...", "loc. cit."

(83)  Victor F. Bleasdale, "La Flor Engagement", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 
16, no. 4 (Feb 1932), pp. 29-40.

(84)  "B-2 File: Intelligence Reports, 30 Jul 1928".

(85)  "Ibid."

(86)  CG, 2d Brigade to MGC, 2 Feb 1929 in officer's case file 0881-2-3, SHAW, 
Norman M.

(87)  Edwin N. McClellan, "Supervising Nicaraguan Elections", "U. S. Naval 
Institute Proceeds", v. 59, no. 1 (Jan 1933), pp. 37-38; Executive memorandum 
No. 22, American Electoral Commission in Nicaragua (Subject File: Nicaragua, 
Electoral Commission, Historical Branch, HQMC).

(88)  Annual Report of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua in "History of the 
Guardia Nacional, 23Jan 1927 - 24 Oct 1929", in archives of the Historical 
Branch, HQMC.

(89)  "R-2 File: Intelligence Reports", 5th Regt, 13-26 Jan 1929, and 11th 
Regt, Jan - 20 Feb 1929.

(90)  "R-2 File: Intelligence Reports", 5th Regt, 27 Jan - 9 Feb 1929; 
Biography Pile: HANNEKEN, Herman, Historical Branch, HQMC.

(91)  "R-2 File: Intelligence Reports",  5th Regt, 13-26 Jan 1929.

(92)  Edwin C. Godbold, "Nicaragua" (Unpublished manuscript in the archives of 
the Historical Branch, HQMC), pt. 15, pp. 56-59.

(93)  Smith, et. al. "op. cit.", pp. 111-115.

(94)  "History of the Eleventh Regiment, U. S. Marines", "Marine Corps 
Gazette, v. 26, no. 2 (Jun 1942), p. 75. 

(95)  Smith, et. al. "op. cit.", pp. 311-316.

(96)  Godbold, "op. cit.", pt. 15, pp. 60-63.

(97)  Wearmouth, "op. cit.", pp. 118-122.

(98)  Godbold, "op. cit.", pt. 16, pp. 2-3,

(99)  Evans F. Carlson, "The Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua", "Marine Corps 
Gazette, v. 21, no. 3 (Jun 1937), pp. 7-11.


(100)  "Ibid.", p. 11; Smith, et. al. "op. cit.", p. 332.

(101)  Godbold, "op. cit.", pt. 16, pp. 5-6.

(102)  "Ibid.", pt. 16, pp. 8-13.

(103)  Headquarters, Aircraft Squadrons, 2d Brigade, Managua, Nicaragua,  
Weekly Operations Report dtd 4 Apr 1931 (Subject File: Nicaragua -  
earthquake, Historical Branch, HQMC).

(104)  Godbold, "op. cit.", pt. 16, pp. 21-29; Hanna to Secretary of State, 21  
Apr 1931 (Subject File: Nicaragua - earthquake, Historical Branch,  HQMC).

(105)  Godbold, "op. cit.", pt. 16, pp. 32-34.

(106)  U. S. Navy Department, "Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy,  
1931", (Washington, 1931), pp.1160-1162.

(107)  "Ibid.", p. 1163.

(108)  The others took place at Somotillo, 8 Jan 1928; Telpaneca, 6 Oct 1929  
and 21 Oct 1929; Paso Real, Jinotega, 9 Mar 1930; Jicaro, 17 Apr 1930;  
Somoto, 8 Dec 1930; and Managua, 4 Apr 1931.

(109)  Smith, et. al. "op. cit.", p. 377; Carlson, "op. cit.", pp. 14-15.

(110)  Smith, et. al. "op. cit.", p. 379.

(111)  "Ibid.", pp. 379-386.

(112)  "Ibid.", pp. 121-122.

(113)  Carlson, "op. cit.", pp. 16-17.

(114)  Gobold, "op. cit.", pt. 17, pp. 23, 27.

(115)  "Ibid.", pt. 17, pp. 26-30, 49.

(116)  Carlson, "op. cit.", p. 19.

(117)  "Marines Return from Nicaragua", "Marine Corps Gazette", v. 17, no. 4  
(Feb 1933), pp. 23-27.




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