VERA CRUZ, April 22, 1914 (UP) -- The American forces are in complete control of Vera Cruz. At noon to-day, after hot fighting through the streets, the city was beginning to assume a peaceful aspect.
Scores of prisoners were being marched to the water-front. They were distributed on the different U.S. battleships swinging at anchor in the harbor. The big ships were blackened by powder fired in the first engagement in which the ships have been called to play a part.
It is impossible at this time to make an accurate estimate of the number of Mexicans killed to-day. Many fell before the rifles and machine guns on the marines.
The mortality on the Mexicans side may reach between 100 and 200.
This afternoon about 300 citizens of Vera Cruz had been arrested by the American forces. A careful house to house search was made by the marines for "snipers" after the real fighting ceased, and all suspects were immediately ordered to be marched to the water front. Practically all of the arrests were made in the central portion of town where the marines and blue jackets met the most serious resistance.
In Washington, the White House at 1:20 this afternoon issued the following announcement:
"Dispatch received from Consul Canada at 1:10 p.m., announced that the American forces are now in entire possession of the city; that apparently no fatalities among Americans and foreign noncombatants and that firing has ceased, except for occasional picket shots."
Several marines were wounded to-day during the worst of the street fighting. Many Mexicans were killed, but at the hour this dispatch was filed, an accurate estimate of the number on either side was not possible.
The American marines who captured the city hall of Vera Cruz stationed a guard in the barracks of the federal troops and were holding the entire city.
The bombardment of the city by the American ships started at 8 a.m. to-day. Within a half hour the center of the city, which Colonel Neville and Captain Rush hesitated to invade yesterday, because of danger to Americans in the Hotel Delincias, had been taken.
The German steamer Ypiranga docked early to-day and the American marines immediately took possession of the 15,000,000 rounds of ammunition and 250 field guns consigned to Huerta. The cargo of the Ypiranga was unloaded at the customs house, which is held by the Americans.
The marines and blue jackets advanced through the streets, using machine guns and rifles in dislodging sharpshooters, and sweeping the thoroughfares of small squads of peons who resisted the advance.
The Mexicans are retiring rapidly before the steady advance of the marines. Shells from the fleet have wrecked many adobe houses. The bombardment was exceedingly heavy for considerable time.
The Chester and Prairie shelled the town with their five-inch guns. Under cover of their fire 3,000 marines from the entire fleet stormed toward the center of the city. Constant fire from rifles and machine guns was kept up as they advanced.
The fleet turned its guns on the naval academy and the arsenal, as the marines advanced. Solid shot was poured in and the walls of both buildings were soon demolished. A shack occupied by money changers was wrecked and burned.
Non-combatants were safe in the depot throughout the fighting. They fairly fought for places of vantage where they might witness the advance of the marines.
When the city hall was seized it was discovered that most of the officials had apparently fled. There being no officials to preserve order, it was evident that there was no other course for Admiral Fletcher to pursue, but to fight his own way into the possession of the city and assume control.
While the fighting was in progress the Mayor of Vera Cruz turned up and visited Consul Canada under a flag of true. Nothing was accomplished in the conference which they held however, and the marines began a house to house search for "snipers."
The American forces were resisted mainly by an unorganized rabble of citizens of the lower class. Few of the upper class were in evidence during the fight.
The rattle of rifles and the deafening booming of the guns of the warships swept and shook the entire city. Intense excitement prevailed and the peons ran bewildered and terror stricken before the advance of the marines. The men moved forward in perfect order until the word was given to break into small squads, and hunt out the "snipers". Then came a chase over housetops and into private residences to drive out the sharpshooters.
As the marines moved on the Arenada Independencia, Mexicans in the second story of the naval academy, 200 yards away, fired upon them. Two marines were wounded, bout not seriously.