The German gunboat Panther vs. the Haitian gunboat Crete a Pierot


Haiti suffered from unstable politics and frequent coups and revolts during this period. A small group of German businessmen were sometimes in the midst of the turmoil, trying to gain advantage with one overthrow or another.

The Haitian ship, the Crete a Pierot (or Crete a Pierrot), had stopped a German freighter (the 'Markomannia')for contraband destined for one of two rivals for control of Haiti. (The Germans were supporting the faction of Alexis or 'the Nord party' and Admiral Killick, commanding the Crete a Pierot and another gunboat the Toussaint L'overture, supported Firmin). This of course provided an excuse for the German navy to flex its muscles. The gunboat Panther confronted the Crete a Pierot at Gonaives, Haiti. On paper the Crete a Pierot was a superior ship, but it was trapped in port by the arrival of the Panther. Admiral Killick ordered his crew off and then destroyed his own ship to prevent its capture, and perhaps in an attempt to take the Panther down with him.

The Germans were very pushy in 1902--when a combined English-German fleet went to Venezuela to pressure that country into honoring its debts to European businesses, the Germans took an opportunity to sink or capture Venezuelan gunboats there as well. (And almost provoked the USA into taking action )

The gunboat Panther would be heard from again in another more famous but equally pointless imperialistic adventure--it was the ship that sailed to Morocco to try and prevent the division of that country by France and Spain. France did not back down, and since England and Italy were also in on the original deal it was Germany that got humiliated by this incident. The Panther obviously caused a lot of trouble considering its minimal fighting power.

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