The Gauntlet: My Part in the Fray

1925: A doctor of psychiatry and eleven fishermen were imprisoned in Mérida after their shipwreck off the coast of Mexico. That’s the sum of my friend’s grandfather’s winter break fishing trip that year. When Bill Lorenz told me the story and showed me a copy of his grandfather’s diary I was saddened at his grandfather’s grueling experiences. At the same time, with my Latin American Studies background, I was interested in what the Mexican perspective of the events might be, and Dr. Lorenz’ diary had mentioned a Mexican newspaper article.

In 2005, conducting independent research university a decade behind me I tracked down 9 newspaper articles in the Mérida, Mexico archive. The 1925 Revista de Mérida reporting reflected the suspicion of spying or smuggling the Mexicans held of these US citizens.

One clue to the reason for the Mexican viewpoint would be our different names for the 1846-1848 conflict that included the martyrdom of teenage cadets in Mexico City. The Mexican name is the North American Invasion, we call it the US-Mexican War (formerly the Mexican-American War.) Theirs is apt for we forcibly took the territories of Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and California from our southern neighbor. (See map for details.) In the early 1900s, we sailed and marched into Mexico; Veracruz in 1916, and after Pancho Villa with 10,000 troops (and we never caught him).

Considering the history, should Oscar the fisherman have told Captain Covarrubias of the Coast Guard who picked them up that Lorenz was a Major in the US military? Was that part of the reason they were imprisoned? The shipwrecked crew’s time in jail was bleak, little food or clean water; 11 US citizens paying for the policies of a century.

The journal of Dr. William Lorenz and my newspaper translations were published last week in the book, Gauntlet in the Gulf!

Looking at the map, just how much land once belonged to the Spanish, then Mexico becomes clear. Did you find any surprises? (I only learned last year about Minnesota!)

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Territory Acquisition of the US Map Uploaded by: Hewstep
Rebecca Cuningham

38 thoughts on “The Gauntlet: My Part in the Fray

  1. Most Brits’ knowledge of American history begins and ends with the Pilgrim Fathers, the Boston Tea Party, and a bit about the Civil War. I find your history posts fascinating and revealing. Well done on your recent contribution!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a fascinating story and history. Like you, I’d never really thought about the fact that Minnesota once belonged to Mexico! It’s interesting to take into account the Mexican perspective and how they refer to the US-Mexican War. It reminds me of a 99-year-old acquaintance of mine here in North Carolina who still in 2023 jokingly refers to the US Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.” and another acquaintance of mine in earlier days whose father fought in the Civil War who adamantly drilled into my head that it was The War Between the States because “there was nothin’ civil about it!” The canteen her father carried in the war was prominently displayed in her “parlor.” This woman was born just 15 years after the war and lived to be 105 years old. She was a constant reminder for me that what seems like ancient history is sometimes just a generation away. Perspective…. and how an individual or a nation remembers an event makes all the difference in the world. Great blog post today, Rebecca! Thank for sharing and congratulations upon your contribution to getting this story illuminated for the record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa! As soon as I hit the send button I realized I’d identified Minnesota as having been part of Mexico instead of part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. DUH! Had Mexico on the brain!

      Liked by 1 person

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