Riding with Pancho Villa
The American Point of View
When Pancho Villa's forces began to raid border communities and military installations in the US, President Woodrow Wilson authorized
General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing to take a "Punitive Expedition" of 4,800 men into Mexico to pursue the raiders. The ultimate
raid which forced the US hand was the attack on Columbus, New Mexico, which resulted in the deaths of 18 citizens and soldiers and
the ransacking and burning of the town. A raid in May, 1916, on Glenn Springs in the Big Bend resulted in the death of one citizen
and the wounding of three soldiers. Other raids exacerbated the problem. The expedition lasted from March 14, 1916 to
February 7, 1917.
Not allowed to use Mexican railways to carry men and materials, Pershing used a massive truck brigade
to aid in support, and also used aircraft for surveillance. This expedition used the latest technology available, even using
wireless telegraph for field communications. Many see the "Punitive Expedition" as a training ground for US involvement in World
Although Pershing publicly called the Expedition a success, privately he complained that Wilson had put too
many restrictions on him and he could not achieve his goal of capturing Villa. His soldiers did put pressure on Villa and the
The following WC Horne Company postcards also were eagerly collected by Sanderson residents. In some scrapbooks
the photos were trimmed into smaller vignettes. They are presented as scanned from the documents.
Burning captured Villa contraband
General Pershing at his Casas Grande, Mexico, headquarters, reading wireless telegraphed orders. (Public domain photo)
Major General Frederick Funston (R) was another player in the hunt for Pancho Villa. He had a splendid service record, serving
in Cuba, the Philippines and as commander of the Presidio of San Francisco, prior to and during the earthquake of 1906. Survivors
universally hailed him as a hero for his efforts to protect the city and put down rampant looting and anarchy, including stopping
the huge fire that threatened to completely destroy the city.
Later he successfully negotiated the end of the Spanish American
Woodrow Wilson favored him as the head of the American Expeditionary Force, going into WWI, but he died suddenly in February,
1917, at the age of 51.
6th and 16th Infantry, going to the States, between Corralitos Rancho and Ojo Federico, Jan 29th, 1917. When they could
no longer achieve their goal of capturing Pancho Villa, the troops were ordered back to the US. (Public domain photo)
All text and photos on this site copyright Terrell County Memorial Museum, 2010-2012, except where attribution is given.