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Pancho Villa

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Pancho Villa’s Raids into the United States There is a day in U.S. History that is sometimes forgotten. On this day, five hundred Mexican guerillas crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and induced anarchy upon a small New Mexico town. The day is March 9, 1916. On this day, former friend to the United States, Pancho Villa raided the United States and killed seventeen Americans. Doroteo Arango, also known as, Pancho Villa was born on June, 5 1878, in Rio Grande, Mexico. Villa was made the man of the house at a young as after the death of his father. His life of rebellion and crime started at a young age as he was arrested and imprisoned for killing a man who was harassing his younger sister (Bio.com). Soon after his conviction he escaped prison and began his life as an outlaw. As years went on and Mexico’s government was torn by corruption, Villa teamed up with Francisco Madreo and started a Mexican revolutionary throughout the northern part of Mexico (Bio.com). As one of Madreo’s most skilled and talented fighter he was appointed Colonel (Bio.com). In 1911, Villa leads his troops to victory in the Battle of Cuidad Juarez and Madreo becomes Mexico’s new president (Emerson Kent.com). In the following year Villa disobeys direct orders from Madreo and gets sentenced to life in prison (Bio.com). Once again Villa escaped out of prison, only this time he flees to El Paso, Texas (Emerson Kent.com). This is when Pancho Villa became a friend to the United States due to his war efforts to promote an honest type of government. While Pancho Villa resided in El, Paso Texas, he had such great speaking abilities that he convinced many Americans he was going to set Mexico’s government in the right direction. He gain much popularity with the people in Mexico that he often got a large donation by the people which he would then deposit in an El Paso Bank. In 1915 Venustiano Carranza and Villa battled each for power until Carranza drove Villa out of Mexico once again (History.com). Hoping that U.S. President Wilson would step in and demote Carranza, Villa did nothing but wait. Rather than demoting Carranza, Wilson supported the new president and this provoked Villa so greatly that in 1916, Villa ordered an execution of sixteen United States citizens in northern Mexico (Joe Griffith). Hoping that the involvement of the U.S. government would discredit President Carranza with the Mexican people, Villa encouraged more support as he told his followers he was going to send the United States a message (History.com). All of his actions led up to what was about to happen on March 9, 1916. For the next year, Villa and his followers made several raids into U.S. soil. The “Los Dorados” raided the states of New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona, striking fear into the hearts of all American citizens (Joe Griffith). Disturbed by these raids, President Wilson gave a direct order to the War Department to protect the boarders (Joe Griffith). General Pershing and his 8th infantry set up blockades to prevent any further raids by Villa (Joe Griffith). General Pershing was to guard the border from Arizona to El, Paso Texas (Joe Griffith). This strategic military move gave peace to the Americans and set a message to the citizens in those areas that all was fine. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Infuriated by the blockade instilled on the borders Villa took his revolution to a more sinister place. Since he could not strike fear into the American citizens in the U.S. he decided to kill Americans that were in northern Mexico. On January 11, 1916, Villa and his Bandits hijacked a train that had seventeen Texas businessmen on it (Joe Griffith). Determined to show his anger he ordered his men to execute them in cold blood (Joe Griffith). One man survived and crawled back to Texas where a speed train left immediately to collect the bodies (Joe Griffith). The fear and anger he wanted the United States to feel, well he got that indeed as President Wilson put Texas under strict military watch (Joe Griffith). Surprisingly President Wilson still did not intervene with Mexico’s government. Early in the morning on March 6, 1916, Villa and five hundred of his troops unknowingly crossed into Columbus, New Mexico. As the 13th U.S. Cavalry slept Villa induced anarchy at Camp Furlong (Joe Griffith). The Cavalry was caught off guard as the guns and ammunition were locked away in storage (Joe Griffith). Finally, after some time the Cavalry recovered and gun fire was exchanged for quite some time. Villa and his troops retreated after sever were killed. During the retreat though, they made a stop in town and cause more panic as they robbed stores, killed and raped people, shot continuously at houses, and burnt down many shops (Joe Griffith). Though this was a huge moral victory for Pancho Villa, in reality it was all a show. For as much havoc Villa showed, only twenty-four people were killed. Fourteen were of military status and ten were regular civilians (Joe Griffith). As for the terror Villa put on the town, that’s all it was as he rode out with less than a hundred dollars and a few items from the store (Joe Griffith). The losses Villa had suffered were of a greater amount than he had gained. He lost close to one hundred men, as up to thirty-two Cavalry members chased Villa and killed the one who could not keep up (Joe Griffith). This was, however, enough to provoke President Wilson to respond to Villa. President Wilson responded to this attack very quickly. He ordered 15,000 militia men to guard the border, as 4,800 men crossed the border to find Pancho Villa (Joe Griffith). The troops were led by General Pershing, who was accompanied by General Patton. This was the first military extravaganza to involve motorized vehicles of any sort (History.com). General Pershing was giving specific orders by President Wilson to only attack Villa’s men and not President Carranza’s men, as President Wilson already reassured President Carranza that would not happen (Joe Griffith). Villa had a ten day head start and distributed his men throughout the mountains making the U.S. Army spilt up into two major units (Joe Griffith). They chased Villa into his homelands where not only were the people on his side, the terrain was as well. The people would offer no help to the Americans as they chased their hero. On June 21, 1916, the search for Villa went from bad to worse. The Mexican government was starting to grow weary of the search for Villa and they attacked the 10th Cavalry to send a message that they wanted the Americans out (History.com). This attack left ten soldiers wounded, twenty-four captured, and twelve dead (Histroy.com). The attack left thirty Mexican soldiers dead (History.com). In the month of January, American troops pulled out of Mexico due to World War I and the Mexican government attacking them. Pancho Villa was never caught and tried for his devastating actions at Columbus, New Mexico. Pancho Villa continued to campaign his guerilla type of warfare in the streets of Mexico until 1920 when Adolfo de la Huerta gained the presidential power. Huerta pardoned Villa of all his crimes against Mexico (History.com). Villa did not get away untouched though. In 1923, Villa was assassinated by a gain of rifle men who felt Villa had disgraced the Mexican nation by all of his antics (Emerson Kent.com). Villa was able to kill one of the men in his final blaze of glory. Depending on one’s heritage and place of birth, Pancho Villa will either be remembered as invincible, a legend, and a hero, or he will live as an evil villain who got what he deserved. Either way it is without a doubt that Pancho Villa will be a man that is always remembered in one way or another. In his life time Pancho Villa killed hundreds of people, both Mexican and American, stole from American towns, raped women, and miraculously escaped jail twice. Out of all the heinous crimes Pancho Villa committed during his lifetime, the raid he executed on the small town of Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916 is one that will live on in history for quite some time. That day is sometimes forgotten in American history, but Columbus, New Mexico will never forget that awful day.

Works Cited
Griffith, Joe. In Pursuit of Pancho Villa 1916-1917. 14 April 2010 .
I used this website for specific dates and general information.
Kent, Emerson. Pancho Villa 1878-1923 (Francisco Villa). Emerson Kent.com. 14 April 2010 .
I used website for a timeline of Pancho Villa’s life and general information.
"Pancho Villa." 2010. Biography.com. 14 April 2010, 08:16 .
I used this website for a background check and general information.
“Pancho Villa raids U.S.” 2010. The History Channel website. 14 April 2010, 8:37 .
I used this website for background on Pancho Villa and general information.

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