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"We have decided not to fire a bullet
more against Mexicans, our brothers, and to prepare
and organize ourselves to attack the Americans in their dens."
Villa was a man of his word and within weeks
he and his men were active again — this time assaulting
trains carrying Americans. On January 10, 1916 Villa and his men
attacked a Mexican train carrying 15 Americans who were on their
way to work at a mining town. The Americans were dragged
from the train and forced to kneel in the dirt. Each received
a bullet in the back of the head while Villa's men screamed "Viva
Each of the bodies was then stripped of valuables
— including wedding rings — and some bodies were then
horribly mutilated. All were left to rot in the desert.
In the spring of 1916, US Army troops encamped
along our southwest frontier were alerted to rumors of raiders
coming out of the arid wastes of northern Mexico. There were few
roads in that part of Mexico and columns of bandits on horseback
were easy to spot.
In the early hours of March 9th, 1916, Mexican
bandits under the command of this Great Mexican Hero — Senior
Doroteo Aranga — better known as Francisco “Pancho” Villa — came
across the border near Columbus, NM, pillaged the town and wantonly
killed American men, women and unborn children. They then burned
the town to the ground.
With only 350 inhabitants, the Columbus, NM of
1916, lay like a ripe fruit — ready for the taking. Villa
had sent Cipriano Vargas and another bandit to scout the town.
Villa had planned to wipe the town off the map.
The U.S. Army’s 13th Cavalry maintained a small
detachment just to the west of town but it was totally unprepared
for what was to come. The thunder of horsemen could be heard for
miles as the raiders charged the town. Mexican bullets whistled
wildly. The town’s train depot clock was stopped by a Mexican
bullet at 4:11 am.