Spanish attempts to reconquer Mexico

Spanish reconquest attempts of Mexico
Part of Spanish American wars of independence
Batalla de Pueblo Viejo.jpg
Battle of Pueblo Viejo
LocationMexico (Mexico City, Veracruz, Tamaulipas) and Cuba

Mexican victory

Flag of Mexico (1821-1823).svg First Mexican Empire (1821–23)
Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg Provisional Government (1823–24)
Flag of Mexico (1823-1864, 1867-1893).svg First Mexican Republic (1824–29)
Spain Spanish Empire
Commanders and leaders
Mexico Anastasio Bustamante
Mexico Antonio López de Santa Anna
Mexico David Porter
Spain Isidro Barradas
Spain José María Coppinger
Spain Melitón Pérez del Camino

The attempted Spanish reconquest of Mexico (Spanish: Intentos de Reconquista Española de México) was an effort by the Spanish government to regain possession of its former colony of Mexico, resulting in episodes of war comprised in clashes between the newly born Mexican nation and Spain. The designation mainly covers two periods: the first attempts occurred from 1821 to 1825 and involved the defense of Mexico's territorial waters, while the second period had two stages, including the Mexican expansion plan to take the Spanish-held island of Cuba between 1826 and 1828, and the 1829 expedition of Spanish General Isidro Barradas, which landed on Mexican soil with the object of reconquering Mexican territory. Although the Spanish never regained control of the country they did damage the fledgling Mexican economy.

The newly independent nation of Mexico was in dire straits after eleven years of fighting its War of Independence. There were no clear plans or guidelines established by the revolutionaries, and internal struggles by different factions for control of the government ensued. Mexico suffered a complete lack of funds to administer a country of over 4.5 million km², and faced the threats of emerging internal rebellions and of invasion by Spanish forces from their base in nearby Cuba.


Mexican independence was officially achieved on September 27, 1821, under the Treaty of Córdoba. Spain did not recognize the treaties, arguing that the viceroy Juan O'Donojú had no authority to recognize the independence of any overseas province.[1] This situation was dangerous to the newly acquired independent status of the nation, which had not yet been recognized by any of the European powers that could support it, and the threat of Spanish reconquest was a constant worry to the leaders of the nascent regime. On May 13, 1822 decrees were issued by the government to imprison anyone who conspired against Mexico's independence.[2]

In addition to its other problems, the main port of entry to the country, San Juan de Ulúa, remained under Spanish domination.