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PC27.12.15   brown

INVENTORY OF PC-DOCS, THRU 1927

24.02.18 BOURKE
24,03,24 BIRNBAUMER
27.05.19 CHAPPELL
27.06.07 SWANSON
27.06.22 RICHAL
27.07.16 HATFIELD
27.07.20 HATFIELD
27.07.28 HATFIELD
27.08.12 FLOYD
27.08.18 BRUCE
27.09.04 O'SHEA
27.09.05 MCQUADE
27.09.08 CHAPPELL
27.09.20 KENYON
27.09.22 PEARD
27.10.12 O'SHEA
27.10.18 SATTERFIELD
27.11.02 CHAPPELL
27.11.02 GOULD
27.11.06 PEARD
27.11.07 BELLINGER
27.11.10 KEIMLING
27.11.11 BROWN
27.11.12 HARBAUGH
27.11.13 CRUM
27.11.14 DARNELL
27.11.19 WELLS
27.11.20 BELLINGER
27.11.26 KEIMLING
27.12.06 PEARD
27.12.07 BROWN
27.12.11 BROWN
27.12.11 KEIMLING
27.12.11 HARBAUGH
27.12.15 BROWN
27.12.17 CRONMILLER
27.12.18 MARTIN
27.12.19 WELLS
27.12.31 GOULD

27.12.15.   Brown, Engagement with Bandits at Portal

P C - D O C S :      P A T R O L   &   C O M B A T    R E P O R T S
thru 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 +

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U.S. MARINES and GUARDIA NACIONAL DETACHMENT.
TELPANECA, NICARAGUA. 15 December 1927.

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Brigade Commander
Subject: Engagement with bandits at Portal, 14 December 1927.

   1.    The presence of a large enemy reten in Portal was known for some time. This group was reported as occupying two rances [ranches] about 1,000 yards apart; 30 of them at the ranch QUIBUTO under the command of Thomas Melgara [Tomás Melgara], about the sane number at a smaller ranch under one Meliso Sanchez [Melecio Sánzhez]. The distance to this place is well over four leagues over most difficult mountain trails and it was impossible to reach them in a night march. In addition, these people expected us to attack them at dawn as we have been in the habit of doing, and made it a practice to stand by at an hour before dawn each day. As long as the bandits stayed on the other side of PERICON, I was disposed to leave them alone. Sanchez, did move in this side of PERICON once, and was attacked by Lt. Satterfield, GN, on November 10, 1927. Over half his force was killed, wounded, or deserted him and after that the reten stayed out of our ranch.
 
   2.    On Sunday, December 11, however, I learned that Antonio Galeano had joined Sanchez with another 25 men and that he was bragging that more reinforcements were coming from Sandino with the purpose of attacking TELPANECA. I decided that we would have to attack him before the enemy got any stronger.
 
   3.    All day on Tuesday, December 13, men left TELPANECA in ones and two so as to attract no attention from bandit sympathizers here. These were assembled in a thicket near our aviation field. At 1445, I joined them with 2 guides and took the patrol, 20 marines, out toward PERICON. We continued until night fell, avoiding all houses near the trail and open places on the trail where we were in danger of observation by cutting trails thru the underbursh. We arrived a little after 1800 at PERICON, which has been deserted for some time, and hid in the church until midnight. I am confident that no one knew were in the area at that time.
 
   4.    When the moon arose at midnight, the patrol went on to PORTAL. Then, within 1,000 yards of the enemy position, Pvt. Bush accidently fired his piece. Nevertheless, we continued on, hoping that the bandits had attached no significance to it.
 
   5.    The bandit position was on a steep knoll to the right of the trail. The trail crossed one knoll about 100 yards on our side of the position, dipped into a shallow hollow past their position and crossed another knoll less than a 100 yards beyond it. On the side from which we approached and on the side facing the trail, their house was hidden by a fringe of trees; on the opposite side the terrain was bare. Back of the house the ground fell away sharply into a deep wooded ravine.
 
   6.    We arrived in front of the position at about 0145. I left Pvt. Handzlik with half the patrol covering the bandit position from the first knoll, and went forward crawling with the remainder of the patrol with the intention of getting part of them on the other knoll while I worked up the path to the house with two bombers. The signal to fire was to be when I threw in a hand grenade or discharged my pistol. [ p. 2 ]
 
   7.    As it happened the enemy were alert awaiting us, having been warned by the shot. I was just abreast of the house when they opened fire on us. The detail on the hill behind me immediately opened fire over the heads of us in the hollow. Under cover of this fire I went up the path to the house with 5 men, to within about 25 yards of the house. From there I threw a hand grenade into the yard. It was a poor throw as the grenade lit beside a blank wall of the house and harmed no one. The bandits however, ceased firing and ran back into the ravine in back of the house. I yelled to Handzlik to cease firing and it ceased immediately. I then rushed the house and threw 2 grenades into the ravine while Pvt Krummel raked it with automatic rifle fire. Several yells rewarded our efforts but no fire was returned.
 
   8.    A search of the house revealed several machettes and a few dynamite bombs. Pursuit was impossible at night even if I desired to do so, and we set out almost immediately for TELPANECA. I was afraid of an ambush on the trail by MELGARA or even the route group if I wasted any time. However, the guide knew an old unused trail thru the mountains and we thur [thus] avoided any probability of ambush. The patrol reached TELPANECA at 0800, December 14th. The patrol suffered no casualties. Scouts sent into the enemy area the 14th reported 1 bandit killed and 3 wounded. I consider this information reliable. Melgara withdrew with his gang to San Juan. Sanchez and Galeano went to San Andres on this side of the Rio Coco about 5 leagues from here. The concentration is therefore broken up for the moment.
 
   9.    This was the hardest trail I have made from here considering darkness, distance and bad trails. Nevertheless I was very well satisfied with the conduct of the patrol in general. The accidental discharge was very regretable but might have possibly happened to anyone. Part of the patrol, including Pvt. Bush had never been on patrol before.
 
- - - - - - - /s/ WILBERT S. BROWN - - - - - - - - - -

127/212/1

Summary & Notes:

   Another exceptionally detailed report from Lt. Brown.
   Rapid evolution of tactics on both sides:  Marines-GN try a new approach to surprise assault, only to botch the carefully prepared effort by accidental weapon discharge by unseasoned Marine marching through moonlit forest.
   Brown's sophisticated understanding of the local political geography; his toleration of rebel activity in some areas but not in others.

   6 months into the invasion, Marines have a pretty solid grasp of the lay of the land.

P C - D O C S :      P A T R O L   &   C O M B A T    R E P O R T S
thru 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 +

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