Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today -100: June 22, 1916: The Battle of Carrizal


The 10th Cavalry (a negro unit) are attacked at Carrizal, Chihuahua, where they mistakenly thought they might find Pancho Villa, by Carrancista troops. Or at least that’s the American version. They lose the engagement, with 16 dead and 24 captured, though there are more Mexican casualties, including Gen. Félix Gómez. The first Pres. Wilson hears of this is literally hearing newsies yell “Extry!” and buying a newspaper.

There are several conflicting stories about how the fighting started. In one, the Mexicans ambushed the Americans under a flag of truce. In another, Gen. Gómez sent out a captain with a message ordering the Americans not to enter the town, but after hearing the message, they shot at the captain instead, injuring him and killing a private. I believe there’s a proverb about this sort of behaviour. A variant is that as the Mexican couriers approached, the Americans deployed in a skirmish line, making Gómez believe that they planned to attack, so he ordered his men to open fire.

Behind the scenes, Gen. Pershing is so pissed that he asks permission to seize the city of Chihuahua and the railroads, but Wilson tells him no. Hey, Wilson really did “keep us out of war.” Although he also took us to the brink of it. (Note that the 1916 Democratic election slogan is “He kept us out of war,” not as it is often misquoted “He kept us out of the war.” The slogan covers both Mexico and Europe).

Companies are being urged to continue the pay of employees who are off with the national guards, and many are, making up the difference between militia pay and regular wages or even paying full wages. But pacifist Henry Ford says no, and will treat any such workers as having quit. (Ford will deny this.)

The mayor of El Paso, Texas has Pancho Villa’s wife (as well as her sister, her sister’s 5-year-old child, and the child’s nanny) seized and deported to Mexico. Didn’t know mayors could do that.


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