|Pancho Villa Expedition|
|Part of the Mexican Revolution, Border War|
Cartoon by Clifford Berryman reflects American attitudes about the expedition
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
President of the United States
World War I
The Pancho Villa Expedition—now known officially in the United States as the Mexican Expedition,but originally referred to as the "Punitive Expedition, U.S. Army" —was an unsuccessful military operation conducted by the United States Army against the paramilitary forces of Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa from March 14, 1916, to February 7, 1917, during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920.
A military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state, or a non-state actor, in response to a developing situation. These actions are designed as a military plan to resolve the situation in the state or actor's favor. Operations may be of a combat or non-combat nature and may be referred to by a code name for the purpose of national security. Military operations are often known for their more generally accepted common usage names than their actual operational objectives.
The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.
A revolutionary is a person who either participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.
The expedition was launched in retaliation for Villa's attack on the town of Columbus, New Mexico, and was the most remembered event of the Border War. The declared objective of the expedition by the Wilson administration was the capture of Villa.Despite successfully locating and defeating the main body of Villa's command, responsible for the raid on Columbus, U.S. forces were unable to achieve Wilson's stated main objective of preventing Villa's escape.
The Battle of Columbus, March 9, 1916, began as a raid conducted by Pancho Villa's Division of the North on the small United States border town of Columbus, New Mexico, located 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the border. The raid escalated into a full-scale battle between Villistas and the United States Army. Villa himself led the assault, only to be driven back into Mexico by elements of the 13th Cavalry Regiment stationed at the town. The attack angered Americans and President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Punitive Expedition in which the US Army invaded Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to capture General Villa.
Columbus is a village in Luna County, New Mexico, United States, about 3 miles north of the Mexican border. It is considered a place of historical interest, as the scene of the attack in 1916 by Mexican revolutionary leader Francisco "Pancho" Villa that caused America to send 10,000 troops there in the punitive Mexican Expedition. The population was 1,664 at the 2010 census.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States into World War I in 1917, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."
The active search for Villa ended after a month in the field when troops sent by Venustiano Carranza, the head of the Constitutionalist faction of the revolution and now the head of the Mexican government, resisted the U.S. incursion. The Constitutionalist forces used arms at the town of Parral to resist passage of a U.S. Army column. The U.S. mission was changed to prevent further attacks on it by Mexican troops and to plan for war in the eventuality it broke out.When war was averted diplomatically, the expedition remained in Mexico until February 1917 to encourage Carranza's government to pursue Villa and prevent further raids across the border.
Venustiano Carranza de la Garza was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, whose victorious northern revolutionary Constitutionalist Army defeated the counter-revolutionary regime of Victoriano Huerta and then defeated fellow revolutionaries after Huerta's ouster. He secured power in Mexico, serving as head of state from 1915–1917. With the promulgation of a new revolutionary Mexican Constitution of 1917, he was elected president, serving from 1917 to 1920.
Trouble between the United States and Pancho Villa had been growing since October 1915, when the United States government officially recognized Villa's rival and former ally Venustiano Carranza as head of the government of Mexico. The U.S. also provided rail transportation through the United States, from Eagle Pass, Texas to Douglas, Arizona, for the movement of more than 5,000 Carrancista forces to fight Villa at the Battle of Agua Prieta; Villa's seasoned División del Norte was smashed.Feeling betrayed, Villa began attacking U.S. nationals and their property in northern Mexico. On November 26, 1915, Villa sent a force to attack the city of Nogales and in the course of the ensuing battle, engaged with American forces before withdrawing.
The Second Battle of Agua Prieta, 1 November 1915, was fought between the forces of Pancho Villa and those of the future President of Mexico, Plutarco Elías Calles, a supporter of Venustiano Carranza, at Agua Prieta, Sonora, as part of the Mexican Revolution. Villa's attack on the town was repulsed by Calles. The battle helped to establish Carranza's control over Mexico and directly led to his becoming, with United States recognition, president. Villa believed that Calles had received tactical and strategic support from the United States since the town is located across the border from Douglas, Arizona and launched his raid on Columbus, New Mexico partly as a reprisal.
Heroica Nogales, more commonly known as Nogales, is a city and the county seat of the Municipality of Nogales. It is located on the northern border of the Mexican state of Sonora. The city is abutted on its north by the city of Nogales, Arizona, across the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Second Battle of Nogales was a three-sided military engagement of the Mexican Revolution, fought in November 1915 at the border towns of Nogales, Sonora, and Nogales, Arizona. On the morning of November 26, rebel forces of Pancho Villa, who occupied Nogales, Sonora, began firing on United States Army soldiers in Nogales, Arizona. The Americans responded with counter fire for over two hours before a force of Carrancistas arrived to attack the Villistas. Later that day, the Constitutionalistas accidentally opened fire on American soldiers and another short skirmish was fought. The battle resulted in the deaths of several Mexicans and was the first significant engagement fought between Villistas and the United States military.
On January 11, 1916, sixteen American employees of the American Smelting and Refining Company were removed from a train near Santa Isabel, Chihuahua, and summarily stripped and executed. Brigadier General John J. Pershing, commanding the district headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas, received information that Villa with a new force was on the border and about to make an attack that would force the United States to intervene, embarrassing the Carranza government.Raids were so commonplace, however, that the rumor was not seen as credible.
Santa Isabel is a small town in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It serves as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of Santa Isabel.
General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing was a senior United States Army officer. His most famous post was when he served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, 1917–18.
Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in New Mexico and Texas, with its headquarters in El Paso, Texas. Named in honor of LTC William Bliss (1815-1853), a mathematical genius who was the son-in-law of President Zachary Taylor, Ft. Bliss has an area of about 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2); it is the largest installation in FORSCOM and second-largest in the Army overall. The portion of the post located in El Paso County, Texas, is a census-designated place with a population of 8,591 as of the time of the 2010 census. Fort Bliss provides the largest contiguous tract of restricted airspace in the Continental United States, used for missile and artillery training and testing, and at 992,000 acres boasts the largest maneuver area. The garrison's land area is accounted at 1.12 million acres, ranging to the boundaries of the Lincoln National Forest and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
But at about 4:00 am on March 9, 1916, Villa's troops attacked Columbus, New Mexico, and Camp Furlong, the U.S. Army post there, where four troops (about 240 soldiers) of the 13th Cavalry Regiment had been stationed since September 1912. Ten civilians and eight soldiers were killed in the attack, and two civilians and six soldiers wounded.The raiders burned the town, stole horses and mules, and seized machine guns, ammunition and merchandise, before fleeing back to Mexico.
The Village of Columbus and Camp Furlong is a National Historic Landmark District commemorating the 1916 raid by Pancho Villa on the town of Columbus, New Mexico, and the American military response to that raid, the "Punitive Expedition" led by General John J. Pershing. The raid and its response, set during World War I, the Mexican Revolution, and an accompanying low-level Border War, played a significant role in diplomacy and military preparedness for eventual American entry in the World War. The district encompasses buildings which survived the raid, and military facilities used in the American response. The landmark designation was made in 1975.
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine for the purpose of suppressive fire. Not all fully automatic firearms are machine guns. Submachine guns, rifles, assault rifles, battle rifles, shotguns, pistols or cannons may be capable of fully automatic fire, but are not designed for sustained fire. As a class of military rapid-fire guns, machine guns are fully automatic weapons designed to be used as support weapons and generally used when attached to a mount or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod. Many machine guns also use belt feeding and open bolt operation, features not normally found on rifles.
However, Villa's soldiers had suffered considerable losses, with at least sixty-seven dead and dozens more wounded. Many of the casualties were inflicted when the machine gun troop of the 13th Cavalry led by 2nd Lt. John P. Lucas set up its Hotchkiss M1909 Benét–Mercié machine guns under fire along the north boundary of Camp Furlong, firing over 5,000 rounds apiece using the glow of burning buildings to illuminate targets.About thirteen of Villa's wounded later died of their wounds, and five wounded Villistas taken prisoner by the Americans were tried and hanged for murder. Local lore in Columbus holds that the attack may have been caused by a merchant in Columbus who supplied Villa with arms and ammunition. Villa is said to have paid several thousand dollars in cash for the weapons, but the merchant refused to deliver them unless he was paid in gold, giving "cause" for the raid.
The next day, acting on the recommendations of the commanders of his cavalry regiments, Southern Department commanding general Frederick Funston recommended an immediate pursuit in force into Mexico. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson concurred, designating Pershing to command the force and releasing a statement to the press:
An adequate force will be sent at once in pursuit of Villa with the single object of capturing him and putting a stop to his forays. This can and will be done in entirely friendly aid to the constituted authorities in Mexico and with scrupulous respect for the sovereignty of that Republic.
Pershing assembled an expeditionary force consisting primarily of cavalry and horse artillery, the cavalry units armed with M1909 machine guns, M1903 Springfield rifles, and M1911 semi-automatic pistols. On March 15, 1916,organized into a provisional division of three brigades (four regiments of cavalry, two of infantry, and 6,600 men), the expedition crossed the border into Mexico to search for Villa, marching in two columns from Columbus and Culberson's Ranch.
The 2nd Provisional Cavalry Brigade reached Colonia Dublán after dark on March 17, where Pershing established the main base of operations for the campaign. The 1st Aero Squadron, included in the expedition for liaison duties and aerial reconnaissance on the orders of United States Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, departed San Antonio, Texas, on March 13 by rail with eight Curtiss JN3 airplanes and flew the first aerial reconnaissance of the area from Columbus on March 16, the day after it arrived. The entire squadron flew to the advanced camp at Colonia Dublán on March 19–20, losing two aircraft in the process.
Pershing immediately sent the 7th Cavalry (seven troops in two squadrons) south just after midnight on March 18 to begin the pursuit, followed by the 10th Cavalry moving by rail two days later.From March 20 to March 30, as the 11th Cavalry arrived in Columbus by train from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and then forced marched into Mexico, Pershing dispatched four additional "flying columns" through the mountainous territory into the gaps between the original three columns. Persistent winter weather through early April, particularly bitterly cold nights at high altitude, made both pursuit and logistics more difficult. An additional regiment of cavalry and two of infantry were added to the expedition in late April, bringing its total size to 4,800 men. Ultimately more than 10,000 men—virtually every available unit of the Regular Army and additional National Guard troops—were committed to the expedition either in Mexico or its supporting units at Columbus.
Because of disputes with the Carranza administration over the use of the Mexico North Western Railway to supply Pershing's troops, the United States Army employed trucks to convoy supplies to the encampment where the Signal Corps also set up wireless telegraph service from the border to Pershing's headquarters. This was the first use of truck convoys in a U. S. military operation and provided useful experience for World War I.During this phase of the campaign Pershing maintained a small mobile headquarters of 30 men using a Dodge touring car for personal transportation, to keep abreast of the moving columns and control their movements, employing aircraft of the 1st Aero Squadron as messengers. His headquarters advanced as far as the 1st Aero Squadron's field at Satevó, southeast of Chihuahua City, before falling back at the end of April.
Villa had a six-day head start on the pursuit, all but ensuring that his forces would successfully break up into smaller bands and he would be able to hide in the trackless mountains. Nevertheless, he was nearly caught by the forced marches of the pursuing cavalry columns when he recklessly paused in his retreat to attack a Carrancista garrison. The Battle of Guerrero was fought on March 29, 1916, after a 55-mile night march through the snowy Sierra Madre by Colonel George A. Dodd and 370 men of the 7th Cavalry. 360 Villistas had remained in Guerrero celebrating the victory won over the Carrancista garrisonand 160 more were in the next valley in nearby San Ysidro.
Dodd's force was unexpected by the Villistas, who hastily dispersed when the U.S. troops appeared on the steep eastern bluffs overlooking the town. Dodd immediately attacked, sending one squadron west around the town to block escape routes and advancing with the other. A planned charge was thwarted when the fatigued horses were unable to attain the proper gait.During a five-hour pursuit of fleeing Villista elements, over 75 of Villa's men were killed or wounded and he was forced to retreat into the mountains. Only five of the Americans were hurt, none of them fatally. The battle is considered the single most successful engagement of the expedition and possibly the closest Pershing's men came to capturing Villa.
After advancing from Namiquipa on March 24 to San Diego del Monte,the 10th Cavalry became isolated from Pershing's headquarters by a fierce snow storm on March 31. A squadron of the 10th marched toward Guerrero after receiving reports of the action there and at midday April 1 a meeting engagement resulted with one of the retreating Villista groups, 150 strong, under Francisco Beltran at a ranch near Agua Caliente. Breaking up into even smaller groups and retreating over a wooded ridge, some of the Villistas attempted to defend themselves behind a stone wall, resulting in what was purported to be the first mounted cavalry charge by U.S. troops since 1898, led by Major Charles Young. The pursuit lasted until darkness and the Buffalo Soldiers killed at least two Villistas left on the field and routed the remainder, without loss. The action also was the first time the U.S. Army used plunging fire by machine guns to support an attack.
The columns pushed deeper into Mexico, increasing tensions between the United States and the Carranza government. On April 12, 1916, Major Frank Tompkins and Troops K and M, 13th Cavalry, numbering 128 men, were attacked by an estimated 500 Mexican troops as they were leaving the town of Parral, 513 miles into Mexico and almost to the state of Durango, following violent protests by the civilian populace.Tompkins had been personally ordered to avoid a straight-up engagement with de facto government troops to prevent war between the countries and so used a rear guard to keep the Carrancistas at a distance during a retreat to his starting point, the fortified village of Santa Cruz de Villegas. Two Americans were killed in the skirmishing, one was missing from the rear guard, and another six were wounded, while the Carrancistas lost between fourteen and seventy men, according to conflicting accounts.
The battle marked a turning point in the campaign. Military opposition by Carranza forced a halt in further pursuit while diplomatic conversations took place by both nations to avoid war. Only four days earlier, on April 8, Army Chief of Staff General Hugh L. Scott had expressed to Secretary of War Baker that Pershing had virtually accomplished his mission and that it was "not dignified for the United States to be hunting one man in a foreign country". Baker concurred and so advised Wilson, but following the fight at Parral the administration refused to withdraw the expedition, not wanting to be seen as caving in to Mexican pressure during an election year.Instead, on April 21 Pershing ordered the four columns that had converged near Parral to withdraw to San Antonio de Los Arenales. A week later he assigned the cavalry regiments, including the newly arrived 5th Cavalry, to five districts created in central Chihuahua in which to patrol and seek out the smaller bands.
While executing the withdrawal order, Dodd and a portion of the 7th Cavalry fought an engagement on April 22 with about 200 Villistas under Candelaro Cervantes at the small village of Tomochic. As the Americans entered the village, the Mexicans opened fire from the surrounding hills. Dodd first sent patrols out to engage the Villistas' rear guard, to the east of Tomochic, and after these were "scattered", located the main body on a plain to the north and brought it into action. Skirmishing continued, but after dark the Villistas retreated and the Americans moved into Tomochic. The 7th Cavalry lost two men killed and four wounded, while Dodd reported his men had killed at least thirty Villistas.
The five districts that Pershing established west of the Mexican Central Railway on April 29, 1916, were:
The next significant engagement took place on May 5. A small Carrancista garrison at the silver mining town of Cusihuiriachic was attacked by Villa's forces on May 4, prompting the garrison commander to request help from U.S. forces at nearby San Antonio. Six troops of the 11th Cavalry,its machine gun platoon, and a detachment of Apache Scouts under 1st Lt. James A. Shannon, totaling 14 officers and 319 men, began a night march under Major Robert L. Howze. Arriving at Cusihuirischic, Howze found that 140 Villistas under Julio Acosta had pulled back into the mountains to the west to a ranch at Ojos Azules, and that the garrison commander had received orders not to cooperate with the Americans. Howze was delayed three hours in finding a guide and by the time he located the ranch and was deploying to attack, day had broken. When Acosta's guards and Howze's advance guard exchanged fire, Howze with Troop A immediately ordered a charge with pistols through the hacienda. Unable to deploy on line, the charge was made in column of fours and closed with the fleeing elements of Villistas. The other troops deployed to either side of the hacienda attempting to block escape and were supported by plunging fire from the machine gun troop. Friedrich Katz called the action the "greatest victory that the Punitive Expedition would achieve." Without a single casualty, the Americans killed forty-four Villistas and wounded many more. The survivors, including Acosta, were dispersed.
Also on May 5, several hundred Mexican raiders, under a Villista officer, attacked the geographically isolated towns of Glenn Springs and Boquillas in the Big Bend region of Texas. At Glenn Springs the Mexicans overwhelmed a squad of just nine 14th Cavalry troopers guarding the town, set fire to it, then rode on to Boquillas where they killed a boy, looted the town and took two captives. Local commanders pursued the Mexicans 100 miles into the state of Coahuila to free the captives and regain the stolen property. On May 12, Major George T. Langhorne and two troops of the 8th Cavalry from Fort Bliss, Texas, reinforced by Colonel Frederick Sibley and Troops H and K of the 14th Cavalry from Fort Clark, rescued the captives at El Pino without a fight. Three days later a small detachment of cavalry encountered the raiders at Castillon, killing five of the Villistas and wounding two; the Americans had no casualties. The cavalry force returned to the United States May 21 after ten days in Mexico.
On May 14, 2nd Lt. George S. Patton raided the San Miguelito Ranch, near Rubio, Chihuahua. Patton, a Pershing aide and a future World War II general, was out looking to buy some corn from the Mexicans when he came across the ranch of Julio Cárdenas, an important leader in the Villista military organization. With fifteen men and three Dodge touring cars, Patton led America's first motorised military action, in which Cárdenas and two other men were shot dead. The young lieutenant then had the three Mexicans strapped to the hood of the cars and driven back to General Pershing's headquarters. Patton is said to have carved three notches into the twin Colt Peacemakers he carried, representing the men he killed that day. General Pershing nicknamed him the "Bandito".
The Villistas launched an attack of their own on May 25. This time a small force of ten men from the 7th Cavalry were out looking for stray cattle and correcting maps when they were ambushed by twenty rebels just south of Cruces. One American corporal was killed and two other men were wounded, though they killed two of the "bandit leaders" and drove off the rest.
On June 2, Shannon and twenty Apache scouts fought a small skirmish with some of Candelaro Cervantes' men who had stolen a few horses from the 5th Cavalry. Shannon and the Apaches found the rebels' trail, which was a week old by then, and followed it for some time until finally catching up with the Mexicans near Las Varas Pass, about forty miles south of Namiquipa. Using the cover of darkness, Shannon and his scouts attacked the Villistas' hideout, killing one of them and wounding another without losses to themselves. The Villista who died was thought to be the leader as he carried a sword during the fight.
Another skirmish was fought on June 9, north of Pershing's headquarters and the city of Chihuahua. Twenty men from the 13th Cavalry encountered an equally small force of Villistas and chased them through Santa Clara Canyon. Three of the Mexicans were killed and the rest escaped. There were no American casualties.
On May 9, at a face-to-face meeting in El Paso, Texas, Carranza's Secretary of War and Navy, General Álvaro Obregón, threatened to send a massive force against the expedition's supply lines and forcibly drive it out of Mexico. Funston reacted by ordering Pershing to withdraw all his troops from San Antonio de Los Arenales to Colonia Dublán.Although the order was rescinded on the evening of May 11 when no evidence of Carrancista troop movements was found, the southernmost supply depots had been closed and materiel sent north that could not easily be turned around. Pershing was ordered to halt in place at Namiquipa, making tactical dispositions of his forces there and on El Valle to the north. The movements began a gradual withdrawal of the expedition to Dublán. On May 19 units of the 10th and 11th Cavalry returned to the base to guard the supply lines with Columbus and conduct reconnaissance in the absence of the temporarily grounded 1st Aero Squadron. As the threat of war with the de facto government increased, the northward movement continued. Pershing's headquarters left Namiquipa on June 21, setting up again in Dublán, after which the advanced supply depot at Namiquipa closed June 23. June 29 found the expedition concentrated on the main base and a forward camp at El Valle 60 miles to the south.
The last and most costly engagement of the Mexican Expedition was fought on June 21 when 3 officers and 87 men of Troops C and K of the 10th Cavalry, sent separately to scout Carrancista dispositions reported along the Mexican Central Railway, combined into a single column and encountered a blocking force of 300 soldiers. They were soundly defeated at the Battle of Carrizal, with Captain Charles T. Boyd, 1st Lt. Henry R. Adair, and ten enlisted men killed,ten wounded and another 24 (23 soldiers and 1 civilian guide) taken prisoner. The remainder, including the sole surviving officer, Capt. Lewis S. Morey, were rescued four days later by a relief squadron of the 11th Cavalry. The Mexicans did not do much better; they reported the loss of 24 men killed and 43 wounded, including their commander, General Félix Uresti Gómez, while Pershing listed 42 Carrancistas killed and 51 wounded. When General Pershing learned of the battle he was furious and asked for permission to attack the Carrancista garrison of Chihuahua City. President Wilson refused, knowing that it would certainly start a war.
The action at Parral in April had made the destruction of Villa and his troops secondary to the objective of preventing further attacks on U.S. forces by Carrancistas.The battle at Carrizal brought the countries to the brink of war and forced both governments to make immediate overt gestures clearly showing their intent to avoid it. Although the United States deployed 100,000 troops on the border, by July 4 the major crisis had passed. The Punitive Expedition, U.S. Army remained at Colonia Dublán indefinitely as a fixed-base operation to be a negative incentive to the Carranza government to take seriously its obligation to catch Villa. The Carranza government proved unequal to the task but nevertheless U.S. operations inside Mexico virtually ceased over the next six months.
A Joint High Commission for negotiations with the Carranza government was agreed upon in July, and the first of 52 sessions met on September 6 in New London, Connecticut.Although the commission reached accord on all issues, the negotiations failed to result in a formal agreement for withdrawal of U.S. forces signed by the Mexican government. Despite this, Pershing was ordered on January 18, 1917 to prepare the expedition for return to the United States, which was executed between January 28 and February 5. While the expedition made a dozen successful contacts with Villista groups in the first two months of the campaign, killing many of his important subordinates and 169 of his men, all of whom had participated in the attack on Columbus, it failed in its other major objective of capturing Villa. However, between the date of the American withdrawal and Villa's retirement in 1920, Villa's troops did not again successfully raid the United States.
Between June 1915 and June 1916 raiders from Mexico attacked people on American soil 38 times, resulting in the deaths of 26 soldiers and 11 civilians.Reacting to the Glenn Springs raid, the Army transferred three regiments of regulars to the border and also called up state militia units from Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico on May 8. On June 15, 1916, another attempted raid by Mexican border-crossers, this at San Ygnacio, Texas, 30 miles downstream from Laredo, was repulsed by soldiers with casualties to both sides. As a result, using powers granted by passage of the National Defense Act of 1916, which established the United States National Guard, Wilson on June 18 fully mobilized Guard units from the remainder of the states and the District of Columbia for duty on the border. More than 140,000 National Guard troops were called up, but only two regiments, the 1st New Mexico Infantry and the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, were assigned to the Mexican Expedition, and those to guard the base at Columbus. Historian Clarence C. Clendenen asserts that although no Guard units officially crossed into Mexico at any time, soldiers from the two regiments at Columbus did enter Mexico to perform various tasks.
Wide differences in proficiency existed between various guard units in training, leadership and equipment, so that for the most part units came to the border with only basic drilling as experience.Units were initially assigned as static guards for railroad bridges and border crossing points, but as training made them more proficient, they were assigned an increasing responsibility for the patrolling the border that resulted in encounters with smugglers and bandits who still posed an occasional threat. Records of the Utah National Guard indicate that it participated in three skirmishes after it arrived at Camp Stephen J. Little on the Arizona border in July 1916. The final action of the three, occurring January 26, 1917, resulted in an all-day border skirmish between Utah cavalrymen and Mexicans in which the guardsmen were reinforced and ten Mexicans were killed or wounded. While incapable of conducting organized combat operations with other units, the border security mission proved a training environment for the officers and men of the National Guard, who were again inducted into federal service after the United States declared war on the German Empire in April 1917. Many National Guard leaders in both World Wars traced their first federal service to the Mexican Expedition. In their history of the call-up, Charles Harris and Louis Sadler reveal its significance:
Between June 1916 and April 1917 the guard received intensive field training. Units from different states were sometimes grouped into large provisional units. Not only did the men become more proficient, but many officers gained invaluable experience commanding large formations. At the same time the guard was receiving badly needed equipment and supplies. The great call-up transformed the national guard into a much more effective fighting force, for it was as close as the United States came to the large-scale military maneuvers in which European armies traditionally engaged.
After U.S. forces were withdrawn in January 1917, Pershing publicly claimed the expedition to be a success, which in light of the public declarations by President Wilson was clearly not the case since Villa eluded capture by the U.S. Army. Pershing complained privately to his family that Wilson had imposed too many restrictions, which made it impossible for him to fulfill that portion of his mission.In the sting of the moment, having been compelled to withdraw out of political considerations and before much larger events in Europe put the episode behind him, he admitted to having been "outwitted and out-bluffed at every turn" and wrote that "Having dashed into Mexico with the intention of eating the Mexicans raw, we turned back at the first repulse and are now sneaking home under cover, like a whipped curr with its tail between its legs." During the three months of active operations, American forces killed or captured 292 Villistas and captured 605 rifles, 5 pistols, 14 machine guns, and 139 horses and mules from the Villistas. Most of the horses and mules were returned to local residents and the pistols kept as souvenirs.
Pershing was permitted to bring into New Mexico 527 Chinese refugees who had assisted him during the expedition, despite the ban on Chinese immigration at that time under the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese refugees, known as "Pershing's Chinese", were allowed to remain in the U.S. if they worked under the supervision of the military as cooks and servants on bases. In 1921, Congress passed Public Resolution 29, which allowed them to remain in the country permanently under the conditions of the 1892 Geary Act. Most of them settled in San Antonio, Texas.
Soldiers who took part in the Villa campaign were awarded the Mexican Service Medal.
The chase after Villa was a small military episode, but it had important long-term implications. It enabled Carranza to mobilize popular anger, strengthen his political position, and permanently escalate anti-American sentiment in Mexico.On the American side, it made Pershing a national figure and, when Funston died of a heart attack shortly after the expedition returned to the United States, an obvious choice to lead the American forces in France in 1917. It gave the American army some needed experience in dealing with training, logistics, and command using national guardsmen. It gave the American public a way to work out its frustrations over the European stalemate and it showed that the United States was willing to defend its borders while keeping that demonstration on a small scale.
United States Army:
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Timeline of the Mexican Revolution
Francisco "Pancho" Villa was a Mexican revolutionary general and one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution.
The Battle of Carrizal occurred on the June 21, 1916. It was a major skirmish between United States Army troops of General John J. Pershing's Punitive Expedition and Carrancista troops fought at the town of Carrizal in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Julio Cárdenas was a captain in Pancho Villa's Villista military organization. He was second-in-command to Villa and the head of his personal bodyguard. The Battle of Columbus, New Mexico, in which 18 Americans were killed, sparked the campaign, led by General John J. Pershing, to eradicate Villa's organization.
Mexico was a neutral country in World War I, which lasted from 1914 to 1918. The war broke out in Europe in August 1914 as the Mexican Revolution was in the midst of full-scale civil war between factions that had helped oust General Victoriano Huerta from the presidency earlier that year. The Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza under the generalship of Alvaro Obregón defeated the army of Pancho Villa in the Battle of Celaya in April 1915.
General Jacinto Blas Treviño González was a Mexican military officer, noteworthy for his participation in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1921.
The Border War, or the Border Campaign, refers to the military engagements which took place in the Mexico–United States border region of North America during the Mexican Revolution. The Bandit War in Texas was part of the Border War. From the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, the United States Army was stationed in force along the border and on several occasions fought with Mexican rebels or federals. The height of the conflict came in 1916 when revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked the American border town of Columbus, New Mexico. In response, the United States Army, under the direction of General John J. Pershing, launched an expedition into northern Mexico, to find and capture Villa. Though the operation was successful in finding and engaging the Villista rebels, and in killing Villa's two top lieutenants, the revolutionary himself escaped and the American army returned to the United States in January 1917. Conflict at the border continued, however, and the United States launched several additional, though smaller operations into Mexican territory until after the American victory in the Battle of Ambos Nogales, leading to the establishment of a permanent border wall. Conflict was not only subject to Villistas and Americans; Maderistas, Carrancistas, Constitutionalistas and Germans also engaged in battle with American forces during this period.
The Battle of Parral, on April 12, 1916, was the first battle between soldiers of Venustiano Carranza, known as Carrancistas, and the United States military during the Mexican Expedition. When a small force of American cavalry was leaving the city of Parral, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, a superior force of Carrancista soldiers attacked which resulted in a bloody running engagement. Using a strategy of organized withdrawal, the Americans were able to repulse the Mexican attacks and safely escape to the fortified village of Santa Cruz de Villegas.
The Battle of Guerrero, or the Battle of San Geronimo, in March 1916, was the first military engagement between the rebels of Pancho Villa and the United States during the Mexican Expedition. After a long ride, elements of the American 7th Cavalry Regiment encountered a large force of Villistas at the town of Guerrero in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. In what has been called the "last true cavalry charge," the Americans assaulted the town and routed the defenders, inflicting over seventy-five casualties on the Mexicans with the loss of only five men wounded.
Brigadier General George Allan Dodd was an officer in the United States Army. He was known for his victory over the Villistas in 1916 at the Battle of Guerrero, Mexico, during the Pancho Villa Expedition.
Colonel Frank Tompkins was an officer in the United States Army. Tompkins served in numerous conflicts including the Spanish–American War in Cuba, the Philippine–American War, the Mexican Border War, and World War I. Recommended by General John J. Pershing for the Medal of Honor, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership during the 1916 Battle of Columbus, New Mexico.
The raid on Glenn Springs occurred on the night of May 5–6, 1916, when Mexican Villistas and Carrancistas attacked the towns of Boquillas and Glenn Springs, Texas. In Glenn Springs, the raiders burned several buildings and fought a three-hour battle with a small force of American soldiers who were stationed there. At the same time, a second party of rebels robbed a general store and a silver mine in Boquillas. Four Americans were killed and the rebels took two hostages to Coahuila. In response to the attack, the United States Army launched a short punitive expedition into Mexico, fought with the rebels, and rescued the captives.
The Third Battle of Ciudad Juarez, or simply the Battle of Juarez, was the final major battle involving the rebels of Francisco "Pancho" Villa. It began on June 15, 1919, when Villa attempted to capture the border city of Ciudad Juarez from the Mexican Army. During the engagement the Villistas provoked an intervention by the United States Army protecting the neighboring city of El Paso, Texas. The Americans routed the Villistas in what became the second largest battle of the Mexican Revolution involving the US, and the last battle of the Border War. With the American army closing in, the Villistas had no choice but to retreat. Pancho Villa then attacked Durango but lost again, so he retired to his home at Parral, Chihuahua in 1920, with a full pardon from the Carrancista government.
The Raid onSan Ygnacio refers to a battle fought on June 15, 1916 between the United States Army and Mexican raiders near the border town of San Ygnacio, Texas. Three different Mexican factions were known to have launched raids into Texas at the time but most of the evidence suggests that either Seditionists or Carrancistas were responsible for the incursion. Four American soldiers were killed during the battle, along with at least six of the raiders, and the resulting American punitive expedition further strained the already hostile relationship between the Mexican and United States governments.
Columbus Municipal Airport is an abandoned airport in New Mexico. Its origins date to 1916 when it was used by the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps as a military airfield during the Pancho Villa Expedition. It was apparently closed and abandoned in the late 1970s. Today, efforts are being made to restore it to a general aviation airport.
With the end of World War I in 1918, the Air Service, United States Army was largely demobilized. During the demobilization period of 1919, the Regular Army and its air arm answered a call to defend the southern border against raids from Mexico, and to halt smuggling of illegal aliens and narcotics into the United States and weapons from the United States into Mexico.
Félix Uresti Gómez was a Mexican revolutionary holding the rank of General and leading Mexican forces at Carrizal, Chihuahua on June 21, 1916.
1916-1917," North Dakota History 71, nos. 1 & 2 (2004): 50-64.
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