Doroteo Aranga learned to hate aristocratic Dons, who worked he and many other Mexicans like slaves, Doroteo Aranga also known as Pancho villa hated aristocratic because he made them work like animals all day long with little to eat. Even more so, he hated ignorance within the Mexican people that allowed such injustices. At the young age of fifteen, Aranga came home to find his mother trying to prevent the rape of his sister. Aranga shot the man and fled to the Sierra Madre for the next fifteen years, marking him as a fugitive for the first time.
It was then that he changed his name from Doroteo Aranga to Francisco “Pancho” Villa, a man he greatly admired.
Upon the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1911 against the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz, Villa offered his services to the rebel leader Francisco I. Madero. During Madero’s administration, he served under the Mexican general Victoriano Huerta, who sentenced him to death for insubordination.
With his victories attracting attention in the United States, Villa escaped to the United States. President Woodrow Wilson’s military advisor, General Scott, argued that the U.S. should support Pancho Villa, because he would become “the George Washington of Mexico.” In August of 1914, General Pershing met Villa for the first time in El Paso, Texas and was impressed with his cooperative composure; Pancho Villa then came to the conclusion that the U.S. would acknowledge him as Mexico’s leader.
Following the assassination of Madero and the assumption of power by Huerta in 1913, he returned to join the opposition under the revolutionary Venustiano Carranza. Using “hit and run” tactics, he gained control of northern Mexico, including Mexico City. As a result, his powerful fighting force became “La Division Del Norte.” The two men soon became enemies, however, and when Carranza seized power in 1914, Villa led the rebellion against him.
By April of 1915, Villa had set out to destroy Carranzista forces in the Battle of Celaya. The battle was said to be fought with sheer hatred in mind rather than military strategy, resulting in amass loss of the Division del Norte. In October of 1915, after much worry about foreign investments, in the midst of struggles for power, the U.S. recognized Carranza as President of Mexico. When Pancho Villa learned of this he felt betrayed by President Wilson and assumed Carranza had signed a dangerous pact with the U.S., putting Mexico in United States’ hands. As a result, this set the stage for a confrontation between the U.S. and Pancho Villa. Hence, the United States put an embargo on Villa, not allowing him to purchase guns, ammunition, equipment, etc., in American border towns. His transactions were, thus, made illegal, which automatically doubles his price. Considering his shortages, troops through harsh terrain to Aagua Prieta. Villa assumed it would be poorly protected and by capturing it, he would create a buffer zone with the U.S. to transport arms in his campaigning efforts. Too his surprise, Agua Prieta was heavily protected, because Wilson had allowed Carranza to transport 5000 Mexican troops to American soil, which had arrived before Villa. The trains of soldiers forced Villa’s tired horseback troops into retreat. The U.S. was delighted when Carranza declared Villa done for good. Consequently, Carranza invited old U.S. investors (from before the Revolution) to invest again.
On March 9th 1916, Villa crossed the border with about 600 men and attacked Columbus, NM killing 17 American citizens and destroying part of the town. Because of the growing discrimination towards Latinos, the bodies of Mexicans were gathered and burned as a sanitary precaution against “Mexican diseases.” A punitive expedition, costing the U.S. about twenty-five million dollars, dispatched and about 150,000 troops to be mobilized in efforts to capture Pancho Villa, who was now known as a bandit in U.S. territory and a hero to many in Mexico. The Tenth Cavalry, which was made up of African-Americans and headed by Anglo-American officers, were labeled the “Buffalo Soldiers” because they were tough men who would punish the Mexicans. This was first time the United States used heavily armored vehicles and airplanes, which in turn served as a practice run before W.W.II. General John Joseph “Blackjack” Pershing had already earned a respectable name in the U.S. with his service in the Apache campaign, Therefore, he was assigned to head the Punitive Expedition, an attractive assignment. His mission objective, as he understood it, was to bring Villa in dead or alive.
On March 16th, the New York Times reported, “When Word Was Given, All Were After Villa.” The expedition included new machinery, which the American people were not familiar with yet. Tanks weighing up to four tons, along with the production of trucks and planes, were the reason for the deaths of many American soldiers who did not know how to operate them. None-the-less, Pershing ordered many pilots to board and land as he wished. Villa’s troops did not have uniforms, so wherever American troops traveled, they paralleled the route. Hence, their survival was based on their familiarity with the land. Towards the end of March, Pershing established his headquarters 125 miles south of Chihuahua. Pershing realized how strong Pancho Villa’s countrymen supported him and his raids, when he was met with dramatic hostility and resentment. In actuality it is ostensibly logical to believe that the hostility was due to fear of foreign powers on their territory. Most of the blood spills were amongst townspeople and Carranzista troops, because Pershing’s troops never caught sight of Villa.
On the second day of April of 1916, Pershing received word of what was supposed to be Villa’s hiding place. Major Hank Tomkins, commander of the thirteenth cavalry was ordered to Parral, which is about 410 miles south of the U.S. border. This was the deepest penetration of U.S. troops into Mexico to look for Villa.
The townspeople responded by saying that the Americans were invading them and Mexican families. When two tired American soldiers decided to bathe in a public fountain of the humble and conservative, town, the children began to throw stones at them. As the chaos grew into an uproar, the Mexican people began to retaliate and shots fired. Carranzista troops trying to stay away to avail battle, were not too far off and joined the retaliation. The American troops retreated sixteen miles way in a small village. With the death of a few Americans, Pershing was outraged and decided to counterstroke. In support, the American people demanded a full-scale invasion of Mexico. Within two months, more than 150,000 troops were on active duty from Texas to California; this was the largest military duty since World War I. After many weeks, Mexico began to pressure Carranza more decisively against the Punitive Expedition. Carranza, claiming Pancho Villa was no longer a dangerous threat, formally demanded the retreat of American troops. Wilson refused, which lead to a full-scale war between Mexico and the United States.
On the morning of June 18th, 1916, the commander of the tenth cavalry arrived in a small town named Carrizal, saying they would have to pass through the town to reach their ordered destination. Carranza refused, proclaiming his uncertainty of the peoples reactions to such an event. The commander of the American troops refused to go around and began to march on through, firing at those who refuted. To the surprise of many Americans, the captain was killed along with about eighty men of the tenth cavalry, claiming fourteen Americans killed and twenty-four taken prisoners. As a result, Wilson prepared a letter to Congress demanding a full-scale war and an ultimatum was sent to Carranza, demanding the release of all American prisoners, which Mexico had already threatened to kill. Within days, all prisoners were released and all international bridges were seized. Although Carranza was finished, Pancho Villa was not ready to throw in the towel. Thus, he prepared for a series of attacks to come. General Pershing reported to Wilson of Villa’s repeated violence, but Villa continued, capturing many towns held by Carranzista forces. On January 1917, Pancho Villa gathered his forces to capture Toreon. In the end, hundreds of his men were dead and his defeat was seized upon by Wilson as a convenient way out of the problems in Mexico.
The U.S. would then prepare to withdraw, declaring the Punitive Expedition a success, although they failed to ever capture Villa. After the overthrow of Carranza in 1920, Villa formed a truce with the new government by laying down his arms in exchange for land and amnesty. He then retired to a ranch near Parral, Chihuahua, where he was assassinated by political enemies in 1923.
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