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The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914 Author(s): Michael C. Meyer Source: The Americas, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jan., 1971), pp. 293-306 Published by: Academy of American Franciscan History Stable URL: Accessed: 03/09/2010 15:44 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]. Academy of American Franciscan History is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Americas.

The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914

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Page 1: The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914

The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914Author(s): Michael C. MeyerSource: The Americas, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jan., 1971), pp. 293-306Published by: Academy of American Franciscan HistoryStable URL: 03/09/2010 15:44

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected].

Academy of American Franciscan History is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend accessto The Americas.

Page 2: The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914


THE Mexican Revolution was almost two and a half years old when General Victoriano Huerta captured the presidential chair. The chaotic period between November, 1910 and February, 1913

witnessed an ever-increasing militarization of the country which just a few years earlier had prided itself as the most stable republic and lucra- tive investment field in Latin America. When the military campaigns of the anti-Diaz movement began to assume serious proportions early in 1911, the government in Mexico City set out to increase at once the size and efficiency of the federal army and the rurales. Although Diaz' efforts were for naught, the preparations themselves augured ominously for the immediate future. When the rebel general Pascual Orozco cap- tured Ciudad Juirez in May of 1911, the die was cast. A small but effective revolutionary army, adept at guerrilla warfare, had humbled a professional fighting force schooled in the nineteenth-century German tradition.

With the Madero presidency the tempo of the military campaigns against the duly constituted government actually intensified as five different rebellions broke out against the new regime. Madero's federal army, accepted almost intact from the Diaz dictatorship, now counted on the support of a number of revolutionary contingents and fared some- what better. Three of the anti-Madero movements, those of Bernardo Reyes, Francisco Visquez G6mez and Felix Diaz were crushed com- pletely while the remaining two, the Orozquista and Zapatista insurrec- tions, were held at bay. When Madero finally succumbed to a sixth rebellion breaking out within the ranks of his federal army, the twenty- eight months of constant warfare had already exacted a higher toll than most contemporary analysts were ready to admit.

Victoriano Huerta, with conservative and moderate backing, was no more able to effect a national rapprochement than his predecessor had been. Before the regime celebrated its first month in office, Venustiano Carranza had proclaimed himself in open revolt from Coahuila, Alvaro Obreg6n had called together an army in Sonora, Pancho Villa pro- nounced from Chihuahua, and the increasingly obdurate Emiliano Zapata had vowed that his state of Morelos would never accept the usurpation. Because Victoriano Huerta believed that the pacification of the country- side was his number one priority, Mexico, a country not at all remark- able for its placid and quiescent past, was prepared for civil war on an unprecedented scale.


Page 3: The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914


At the outbreak of the Constitutionalist revolution in the north and the Zapatista rebellion in the south, Secretary of War Manuel Mon-

drag6n claimed that the federal army, regulars and irregulars, numbered 61,000.' The figure is inflated; a much more accurate count would total closer to 45,000 or 50,000 men as Mexican field commanders were notorious for padding their rolls and not reporting deaths and defections to the Ministry of War.2 In this way unscrupulous officers were able to pocket the salaries of nonexistent soldiers and sell extra uniforms and

supplies to the highest bidder. Because the Ministry of War was making plans to conduct major campaigns on three fronts in the north and one in the south, as well as maintain strong contingency forces throughout the Republic, Secretary Mondrag6n announced that he hoped to increase the size of the army to 80,000 by the end of April. Recruitment efforts met with scant success, however, and in late April President Huerta decreed an increase in the daily pay of the Mexican soldier from one

peso to one peso, fifty centavos.' Even with this new inducement few recruits were attracted and the desired goal of 80,000 was not reached.

The contemplated military struggle also stimulated a major program of army reorganization. Although the responsibility for the reorganiza- tion rested properly with the Secretary of War, Huerta, much more at home with military matters than anything else, assumed the responsi- bility himself. After three weeks of work the President announced the results of his efforts. The Mexican army was divided into ten new divisions, each under the command of a general officer. The four most critical new units were the Yaqui Division (Torin, Sonora) under the command of General Jos6 Maria Mier, the Division of the North (Chi- huahua City) under General Antonio Rabago, the Brazos Division

(Monterrey) under the command of General Emiliano Lojero, and the Division of the Federal District (Mexico City) under General Aureliano Blanquet.' Huerta envisioned that the new organization would yield greater military efficiency in his struggle against the enemy.

1 El Pais, March 10, 1913.

2Captain William Burnside, the United States military attachi in Mexico City, estimated in June that the federal army had only 20,000 to 25,000 troops. This estimate appears to be quite low as does the State Department estimate of 28,000 made in April. See National Archives, War Department and General and Special Staff, Military Intelli- gence Division, File 5761, Reports of Captain Burnside, 1912-1913, Report of June 10, 1913. Hereafter cited as Burnside Reports with appropriate information. See also Records of the Department of State Relating to the Internal Affairs of Mexico, 1910- 1929, Memorandum of Fred Morris Dearing, April 16, 1913, 812.00/8070. Hereafter cited as RDS with appropriate information.

S El Palsr, April 22, 1913. 4 The other six divisions were the Peninsular Division (Merida) under General Trucy

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On April 1, 1913 Huerta appeared before a joint session of Congress to present his first formal national policy address. Because of a long standing physical impairment to his eyes, he made only a few intro- ductory remarks himself and then had an aide read the presidential speech. Trying to elicit some support from the United States, he pur- posefully minimized the importance of the Constitutionalist Revolution.

The relations with the states of the Republic for the most part are cordial because those governors who were not sympathetic with the provisional government resigned their posts. . . . One must take note, however, of the lamentable exception in the states of Coahuila and Sonora whose public officials are displaying themselves in open rebel- lion .... It is certain that the government will be able to re-establish its full authority over all sections of those states....

But other parts of the presidential address impugned the calculated statement of optimism. The president announced as a fait accompli his program for reorganization of the armed forces, and in an emotional outburst after the speech had been read he proclaimed: "I guarantee to the Republic with my own life, that the chief executive of the union, seconded by the other powers which constitute the government, will re-establish peace, cost

,what it may." "

Pacification, however, proved much more elusive on the field of battle than on the podium in front of Congress. By the end of March Alvaro Obreg6n had scored two impressive victories in Sonora. The border city of Nogales had fallen to his Constitutionalist troops on March 14, and Cananea was captured a week and a half later. By the end of the month rebel troop strength approached 8,000, while the government forces in the northwest could count only one-fourth that number.' In the middle of April Obreg6n captured his second border city, Naco, while his fellow officer, Benjamin Hill was taking the town of Alamos.8

Aubert; the Division of the East (Puebla) under General Samuel Garcia Cuellar; the Division of the South (Iguala) under General Juan A. Hernindez; the Central Division (Le6n) under General R6mulo Cuellar; the Division of the West (Guadalajara) under General Joaquin Tellez; and the Division of Nazas (Torre6n) under General Ignacio Bravo. El Pais, March 22, 1913.

5 Mexico, Congreso, Diario de los Debates de la Cdmara de Diputados de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, XXVI Legislatura (Mexico: Imprenta de la Cimara de Diputados, 1922), Apr. 1, 1913.

6 Ibid. 7 Great Britain, Public Records Office, Foreign Affairs Records, Embassy and Con-

sular Files, William Fearon, Acting British Vice Consul, Guaymas, to Francis Stronge, March 30, 1913, F. 0. 115/1738, folios 330-332. Hereafter cited as F. O. with appropriate information.

8 Archivo de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores de M6xico, Revoluci6n Mexicana

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The rebel movement in Chihuahua followed a similar pattern. By the time Pancho Villa assumed command in the middle of March, Manuel Chao, Tomis Urbina, Rosalio Hernindez and Toribio Ortega were up in arms against the new regime. During the month of April Villa scored a series of victories over government troops at Camargo, Hidalgo del Parral, and Ciudad Guerrero, and a month later was threatening the large and well-equipped federal garrison of General Salvador Mercado in Chihuahua City, the state capital.

Only in Carranza's home state of Coahuila was the federal army able to hold its own. On March 7 General Trucy Aubert forced the First Chief of the Constitutionalists to retreat from the Hacienda de Anhelo. Two weeks later Carranza was more decisively defeated when he lost 400 men in an attack on Saltillo." The patterns in the spring continued into the summer. The federal government was able to stall the Con- stitutionalists in northeast Mexico, but the rebel movement continued to grow in the northwest and northcentral.

The campaigns of the spring constituted little more than sparring. The entire psychology of the war changed in May when Venustiano Carranza in a singularly intemperate moment announced that a decree proclaimed fifty-one years earlier by Benito Juairez, providing, among other things, for summary execution of captured enemy soldiers, was again in effect.10 Although individual Constitutionalist commanders were given discretionary powers in implementation, the First Chief's desires were made amply clear. The decree was applicable not only to enemy soldiers but also " to all those who, in an official or unofficial manner, have recognized or helped, or who in the future recognize or help the so-called government of General Victoriano Huerta. . . ." The decree was extremely significant, for it presaged that the rebels in the north planned to give no quarter-nor did they expect any. Huerta's response was to begin implementing his " peace-cost what it may" philosophy. He intended to defeat the Constitutionalists and

Durante los Afios de 1910 a 1920, Informaciones Diversas de la Repuiblica y de las Oficinas de MAxico en el Exterior, De la Cueva, Consul Naco to Sec. de Relaciones Exteriores, April 15, 1913, L-E 771, Leg. 1. Hereafter cited as AREM with appropriate information.

o Archivo Hist6rico de la Defensa Nacional, General H. Casso L6pez to Sec. de Guerra, March 24, 1913, Exp. XI/481.5/26. Hereafter cited as AHDN with appropriate information.

10 The Ley Juirez of January 25, 1862 had been decreed at the time of the Veracruz intervention by French, English and Spanish troops.

1 "Arturo M. Elias, Consular Inspector, San Antonio to Sec. de Relaciones Exteriores, May 20, 1913, transmitting text of Decree of May 14, AREM, L-E 786.

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pacify the country, even if in doing so he would find it necessary to convert Mexico into one of the most completely militarist states in the world.

In the summer and fall of 1913 the Mexico under federal control was gradually converted into one huge military base. Factories, shops and stores not related to the war effort were forbidden by law to keep open on Sundays so that the civilian employees could be given military instruction.12 The railroads carried military personnel and hardware almost to the complete exclusion of civilian traffic and freight. Even necessary food staples and other daily necessities had to be transported into the cities by other means. The railroad stations in Mexico City were simply military embarkation posts.18 New equipment for rifling and boring gunbarrels was installed at the National Arms Factory, a new furnace for forging large artillery pieces was ordered for the National Artillery Workshops and a modern sulphuric acid plant was constructed at the National Powder Factory.14 Scarcely a week passed without some military parade or show of the latest equipment obtained from Europe. The President seldom missed the opportunity to participate personally in military ceremonies and took the occasions to sport his favorite dress uniform, replete with ribbons and medals draped from his neck and covering the left side of his jacket. The commanders of local barracks in the Mexico City area never knew when the President might leave his desk and stop by unannounced for an immediate tour of inspection.

Not even the para-military Mexico City police force satisfied Huerta's cravings for absolutist military organization; it was transformed into a regular army regiment comprised of two battalions and placed under the command of a regular army infantry officer.'5 A few months later the mounted police of the federal district went the same way as they were attached to a cavalry regiment.16

Militarization of the provinces never penetrated as deep, but the military presence still was abundantly clear. The population of a village

12 Alfonso Taracena, La Verdadera Revolucidn Mexicana: Segunda Etapa (1913 a 1914) M6xico: Editorial Jus, 1960), p. 63.

13 Alfredo Arag6n, El Desarme del Ejercito Federal por la Revolucidn de 1913 (Paris: n. p., 1915), p. 56.

14 Decree 446, Ministry of War and Marine, August 14, 1913, F. 0. 115/1741, folios 203-207.

15 Archivo General de la Naci6n, Ramo de la Secretaria de Gobernaci6n, Samuel Garcia Cuellar to Sec. de Estado y del Despacho de Gobernaci6n, April 1, 1913, Policia, Gobierno del Distrito, 1912-1913. Hereafter cited as AGN/RSG with appropriate information.

16 Diario de los Debates, September 16, 1913.

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could double or triple over night as a large unit moved in. Because there was little or no advance notice, a week's stay could deplete stores of food, supplies and other basic necessities, thus aggravating the more obvious obscenities of war. When the troops pulled out villages were often on the verge of starvation. The receipts which a local merchant

might receive as a commander emptied his store were scarcely worth the paper they were printed on. Complaints flooded the offices of state officials but the military governors of the states, handpicked by Huerta and given almost omnipotent powers, were seldom sympathetic.

The presidential office in Mexico City issued thousands of orders and counter-orders. Military decorations, including the hitherto coveted Cross of Military Merit, were passed out in wholesale lot to Huerta's cronies, and new military awards were created to compensate favorites or to win over those of doubtful loyalty. Considering himself more

competent in military matters than either his Secretary of War or his General Staff, Huerta did his own work, down to the most minute details of projected military organization. The President's office formu- lated military policy, devised strategic blueprints, and even participated in tactical decisions of small units. When the staff from the Ministry of Defense presented military proposals for congressional approval they invariably prefaced their presentations by pausing to indicate that the

plan had been passed down to them by the President."

Time after time Huerta decreed increases in troop strength. By October, 1913 he had authorized 150,000 troops.'8 Three and a half months later he raised the figure to 200,000,19 and shortly thereafter to 250,000, or approximately twelve times the number that were available to Porfirio Diaz when the Revolution broke out in November of 1910. Actual troop strength never came close to approximating authorized levels, although the President utilized every imaginable means to replace casualties and desertions and simultaneously to augment the size of his

fighting force. He attempted small pay raises, but they invariably failed to attract large numbers.20 Each state was assigned a specific quota,

17 Ibid., April 30, 1913; Ibid., May 13, 1913; Huerta to Aureliano Blanquet, August 14, 1913, F. 0. 115/1741, folios 203-207.

18 M6xico, Diario Oficial (Mexico: Imprenta del Gobierno Federal, 1913), October 27, 1913; Memorandum of Colonel Gage, January 23, 1914, F. 0. 115/1789, folio 15.

19 Lionel Carden to Edward Grey, February 6, 1914, F. 0. 115/1789, folio 90. 20 In July, 1913 the daily pay (in Mexican currency) for the lower ranks was as

follows: privates, $1.50; corporals, $1.75; second sergeants, $2.00; and first sergeants, $2.25. Although uniforms and equipment were provided by the government, sub- sistence was not. See Summary of Military Events, July 8th to 15th, Burnside Reports, July 15, 1913.

Page 8: The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914


apportioned on the basis of current population estimates. The military governors were not in the least scrupulous about how they attempted to meet their requirements, but they always seemed to come up short.

The most notorious recruitment technique was the leva, a system of forced conscription which was directed exclusively at the indigent and illiterate masses. The leva had been used and abused many times in the past but never as exclusively as during the summer and fall of 1913. In early summer Huerta confided to Henry Lane Wilson, the United States Ambassador, that recruitment was proceeding at the level of 800 soldiers per day."' Almost all of these were obtained through the leva, as voluntary enlistment was almost unheard of in 1913. Although Huerta's figure might have been inflated by a touch of presidential braggadocio, it is certain that during the summer and fall of 1913 tens of thousands of illiterate men were picked up off the streets in the slum barrios of the large cities, rounded up from the surrounding countryside, inducted into the army and sent out into the field without being allowed first to return to their houses. Such was the fear of being picked up that many streets in the capital became quickly deserted after dark.22 On at least several occasions over a thousand men were dragooned in a single day.23 The crowds coming out of a bullfight, a movie, or a cantina closing its doors for the night were favorite tragets for the recruiters. Wives and families learned to accept the leva stoically be- cause they had no choice, but employers who were robbed of their labor force from one day to the next complained to the government vocifer- ously.24 Criminals in jail on minor offenses were held just long enough to be sent out with the next cuerda. When criticized for throwing prisoners into the ranks, the government responded weakly that it had adopted no such general policy-determinations were made on the merits of each case.25

21 Henry Lane Wilson, Diplomatic Episodes in Mexico, Belgium and Chile (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1927), p. 302.

22 Francisco Ramirez Plancarte, La Ciudad de Mexico Durante la Revoluci6n Consti- tucionalista (2nd. ed.; Mexico: Ediciones Botas, 1941), p. 52.

28 John Lind to William Jennings Bryan, November 15, 1913, RDS 812.00/9568; Jorge Vera Estafiol, Historia de la Revolucidn Mexicana (M6xico: Editorial Porriia, S.A., 1957), p. 351.

24 W. D. Howe, Director, International Banking Corporation to Sec. de Gobernaci6n, November 13, 1913, AGN/RSG, Asuntos Varios, Diversas Secretarias, Gobierno del Distrito ... 1913-1914.

25General Comandante Militar de M6xico to Sec. de Gobernaci6n, May 8, 1914, AGN/RSG, Asuntos Varios, Diversas Secretarias, Gobierno del Distrito, May 8, 1914; Sec. de Gobernaci6n to Gobernador, Distrito Federal, May 30, 1914, Ibid.

Page 9: The Militarization of Mexico, 1913-1914


To meet the growing demand for officers, Huerta authorized young cadets from the Tlalpam Military Academy to be given full officer

standing and be assigned to regular units before their training was com-

pleted. Regimental commanders were also given discretionary powers to appoint cadets from within their ranks.26 When these methods proved unequal to the steadily growing demand, the National Preparatory School in Mexico City was converted into a new military academy." The Colegio Militar was reorganized completely and separated into three distinct schools: the Escuela Militar Preparatoria to train junior officers; the Escuela Militar Profesional for more advanced training; and the Escuela Superior de Guerra to provide officers for the General Staff."2 The National Naval Academy was ordered to admit more cadets and did so promptly. But the officer corps was still not filled and Huerta began passing out military emoluments-even generalships- to friends and supporters with no military experience whatsoever."'2 Military organization charts specifically indicated the required time in rank for promotions, but Huerta had his congress amend the regula- tions to permit rapid promotions as a reward for distinguished service or simply " para mejorar el servicio de campafia."

so But more often than not, the promotions were won not on the battlefield, but rather through the intercession of influential friends in the nation's capital. Changes of rank occurred so rapidly that Ministry of War personnel could not

keep the records up to date. In the three-month period between June and September, 1913 the number of generalships in the Mexican army rose from 128 to 182 and other high ranking officers from 888 to 1,081.1'

The civil war and resultant militarization of Mexico in 1913-1914

quite naturally found the Huerta government directing a greater pro- portion of national revenues into the military establishment. The year that the Revolution broke out, Porfirio Diaz, relying on military founda- tions to sustain his regime, earmarked 21 million pesos for support of the armed forces. The domestic situation had so deteriorated by 1913- 1914 that Huerta found it necessary to double that substantial amount and projected a figure of 43.7 million pesos into the military budget. While it is true that the total national budget grew by some 39 million

pesos from 1910 to 1913-1914, the percentage of the total devoted to

26 Summary of Military Events, July 8th to 15th, Burnside Reports, July 15, 1913. 27 Diario Oficial, September 4, 1913. 28 Diario de los Debates, September 16, 1913. 29 Manuel Calero, Un Decenio de Politica Mexicana (New York: n. p., 1920), p. 139. 30 Diario de los Debates, September 13, 1913. S1 Ibid.

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the armed forces increased from about one-fifth to almost one-third.32 Not even that really sufficed, and by the late summer of 1913 many troops were being paid irregularly and some not at all.

The effects of Huerta's recruitment and promotion policies, coupled with his financial difficulties, were disastrous. The quality of his fighting force declined steadily. The lack of training spelled no esprit de corps, no discipline, and high desertion rates. On several occasions in the fall of 1913 entire units of recruits turned themselves over to the enemy without even engaging in battle. The soldiers of Huerta's federal army had no more notion of what they were fighting for than did the mass of revolutionaries so graphically stereotyped by Mariano Azuela's Demetrio Macias.

The untrained troops expended ammunition at such fantastic rates that the acquisition of arms and ammunition became a high priority for the government by September and October. Although the capacity of the Faibrica Nacional de Armas was increased from 30,000 7 m/m shells in 1910 33 to 73,000 by September, 1913,3" and although this production was supplemented by a number of tiny factories which dotted the land- scape of the Central Valley, demand consistently outran supply. A single division could easily expend more ammunition in several hours than the country could produce in a month." At one critical juncture Huerta went so far as to confiscate all firearms and ammunition from the nation's pawnbrokers," but this was a stopgap measure with only a temporizing effect. Arms and ammunition had to be obtained from the outside world. The most logical source for these military supplies, the United States, refused to sell as the arms embargo enacted the previous March during the Orozquista rebellion against Madero remained on the books. Huerta exhibited considerable initiative in obtaining arms else- where. He dispatched purchasing agents to England and France," dupli- cate orders for twenty million rifle ball cartridges were placed in Ger- many at the Waffen und Munitions Fabriken and at the National Arms

32James W. Wilkie, The Mexican Revolution: Federal Expenditure and Social Change Since 1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 22, 293.

33 Vera Estafiol, Historia de la Revolucidn, p. 51, n. 3.

34 Diario de los Debates, September 16, 1913. 35 Defeats of the federal army at rebel hands invariably found tens of thousands of

rounds, hundreds of small arms and even artillery pieces being lost or turned over to the enemy. See for example, Memorandum of Colonel Gage, January 23, 1914, F. O. 115/1789, folio 16; Carothers to Bryan, July 5, 1914, RDS 812.00/12473.

36 Stronge to Grey, July 26, 1913, F. O. 115/1741, folio 64. 37 De Lama to Sec. de Relaciones Exteriores, March 18, 1914, AREM, L-E 783, Leg. 1.

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Factory in Liege, Belgium.38 The government obtained 40,000 used rifles in Spain and placed an order for 70,000 new ones from the Mitsui

Company in Tokyo, one of the largest ordnance manufacturers in the world at this time.39 By October some of the rifles had been delivered but orders for 145 million rounds of ammunition were still outstanding.40

To supplement these varied sources Huerta also decided to dispatch teams of smugglers to the United States to circumvent the embargo restrictions and establish a more or less regular flow from the north. These agents worked effectively in the southwest, the Gulf coast states, and even on the eastern seaboard. Their most daring venture occurred in New York and Connecticut where they purchased almost sixteen thousand cases of arms and ammunition for a price of $607,500."4 These were the arms that, after a circuitous world voyage, arrived in Veracruz aboard the S. S. Ypiranga the following April and precipitated the United States intervention in that Gulf port.42

As varied as the sources were, the demand still could not be met.4' As the munitions situation continued to deteriorate the Inspector General of the Army, at Huerta's insistence, ordered that troops be sent into battle with a bandoleer of 50 cartridges, rather than with the 100 that were carried previously.44 The results were scarcely salutary. Desertion rates increased with the frightened troops turning over their rifles and full bandoleers to the enemy.

The rapid militarization of the country resulted in a series of ancillary problems as well. Corruption in the officer ranks reached new heights. Payrolls were padded by the time-honored method of keeping dead

38 Departamento de Artilleria to Sec. de Relaciones Exteriores, October 7, 1913, AREM, M-E 759, Leg. 9.

39 Arms, Ammunition and Equipment, Mexican Army, September 13, 1913, Burnside Reports; Thomas Summons, Consul General, Yokohama, Japan to William Jennings Bryan, November 10, 1913, RDS 812.00/9845; Guthery, Minister Tokyo to Bryan, December 1, 1913, RDS 812.00/10129.

40 Summary of Military Events, October 16 to October 22, 1913, Burnside Reports, October 22, 1913.

41 Report of Secret Agent Scully, December 17, 1913, RDS 812.00/10284. 42 The activities of the smugglers, especially their negotiations for the huge cargo

carried by the Ypiranga is examined in Michael C. Meyer, " The Arms of the Ypiranga," Hispanic American Historical Review, L (August, 1970), 543-556.

4 F. Aruz Romo to Comandante Jefe de Esta Inspecci6n, June 3, 1914, AGN/RSG, 40 Cuerpo, Armamento y Municiones.

44 Inspector General to Comandante del 40 Cuerpo Rural, April 21, 1914, AGN/RSG, 1913; Rafael Serrano to Coronel Inspector de los Cuerpos Rurales, November 3, 1913, AGN/RSG, 40 Cuerpo, Armamento y Municiones.

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soldiers on the lists; with good reason it has been suggested that to many a company commander soldiers were worth more dead than alive. Looting and pillage following the capture of a town or city became the order of the day. The officers in charge invariably received more than their fair share. Entire shipments of military supplies were sold out- right to the highest bidder with the booty going into the pockets of those in command. On a number of occasions military equipment, including badly needed ammunition, was sold to agents of the enemy. The widely used colloquialism for colonel was busca, a term connoting thievery and graft.4" Military justice on the campaign trail was, by common consent, scandalously corrupt.

The professional officer corps, of course, harbored deep resentment against the civilians who became generals overnight. Whenever the opportunity presented itself they would inform an interested bystander that they had won their rank during the epoca porfirista. The new gentleman officers often ignored direct orders from the Ministry of War or, at best, carried them out in a perfunctory manner. While Huerta was grossly displeased with their performance, he dared not remove them once in the field for fear that they would offer their services, and those of their men, to the Constitutionalists. But the professional officer corps did not always fail to profit from the examples of their new col- leagues. Many of the older senior officers trafficked in illicit military equipment and ignored orders as well. A few were called on the carpet but the large majority went merrily on their way. As one United States observer noted, one of the most hopeless features of the military situa- tion was that the officers had every incentive to prolong it, certainly not to end it.4'

Not all of Huerta's military build-up went into the regular army. The President saw tremendous potential in the rurales, and not long after coming to office he decided to move them temporarily from the juris- diction of the Secretaria de Gobernaci6n to the control of the Ministry of Wtar. ' In July he authorized 10,000 new slots, and realizing that other recruitment efforts had fallen conspiculously short of spectacular, he tried to propagandize them as an elite corps. The recruit could enlist for a relatively short period of time (six months), his daily pay

45The Santamaria Diccionario General le Americanismos defines busca "en M6jico ... provecho por lo general ilicito, que se saca de algin empleo o cargo, principalmente de caracter piblico."

4" Memoranda on Affairs in Mexico Prepared by William B. Hale, July 9, 1913, RDS 812.00/8203.

47Report of Captain W. A. Burnside, May 21, 1913, RDS 812.00/7275.

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would be $2.05, considerably higher than a regular army recruit, and when he left the service he would take his horse and all of his equip- ment, except his arms and ammunition, with him.48 The newly organized corps of rurales would be made up of four squadrons of one hundred men each. The ultimate goal was twenty corps, or a total of 8,000 men.4" The other 2,000 would be used to fill-in undermanned corps throughout the country.

At approximately the same time, new auxiliary forces, attached to the rurales were organized in outlying areas threatened by the rebels. The decree providing for the establishment of the auxiliaries stipulated that they were to be recruited from among the rural laboring force on an hacienda and would be provided with arms and ammunition by the federal government. The new troops would not wear uniforms, but

simply an identification badge. Minimum size of the new contingents was set at 50 men, but if a single hacendado could not deliver that number, he was encouraged to band together with his neighbors to form a unit of 50 men. Finally, in time of emergency, the auxiliaries were to work in concert with the nearest detachment of rurales.Y?

Generally, the augmentation and reorganization of the rurales pro- ceeded with greater dispatch than did the plans to increase the size and

efficiency of the regular army, but in neither case were the desired

goals reached. In the spring of 1914 when Huerta's army was at its

largest, it totaled less than 80,000 men,51 but in the last analysis the increases which were effected did more harm than good. It was a grossly inefficient federal army which Huerta sent against the northern rebels in the fall and winter of 1913-1914. The army was not in the least suited to the exigencies of guerrilla warfare. It still moved in large, cumbersome units, almost without exception along the railroad lines which were easy prey to small teams of saboteurs. Early in 1914 Huerta decided to protect the railroads by the construction of fortified block- houses at intervals of two kilometers and by throwing up barbed wire fences on both side of the track. The plan was never fully implemented

48 Secretaria de Estado y del Despacho de Gobernaci6n to Inspector General de los

Cuerpos Rurales, July 9, 1913, AGN/RSG, Gobernadores de Estados, Asuntos Varios.

49 Diario de los Debates, September 16, 1913. 50 Secretaria de Estado y del Despacho de Gobernaci6n, Decree of July 7, 1913,

AGN/RSG, Decretos, 1913.

51 The most detailed breakdown of the federal army in the spring of 1914 is contained in a report by the British Military Attache. He indicates federal troop strength in each state, territory and the federal district but cautions that the total of 82,250 is a little high. See M. F. Gage to Spring Rice, March 20, 1914, F. 0. 115/1791, folios 233-237.

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as it would have required tens of thousands of men to guard the main track and all the important spur lines.

It would seem that the commanders of a professional army defeated by an untrained and haphazardly armed group of guerrillas only two years before would have subjected themselves, their tactics and their strategy to some rigorous self-analysis in 1913 and 1914. But the old ways died hard. Successful rebel generals now fighting with the federal army, such as Pascual Orozco, were not given the opportunity to infuse the decrepit federal fighting force with the life blood of new ideas. They were used ineffectively, generally in a line capacity, and more often than not found themselves at loggerheads with the professional com- mand hierarchy.52

The winter months of 1913-1914 were bad ones for Huerta's army. The Constitutionalists cleverly avoided open battle except in those rare cases when superior manpower and firepower gave reasonable assurance of success. For the most part they were content with harassing tactics, cutting the railroad, ambush and sabotage, and an occasional swipe at a federally controlled population center along the Mexican railroad net." Whenever they had to buy time they knew that a single well- placed dynamite charge on a railroad trestle could tie down a federal contingent for several weeks. In hundreds of small skirmishes they whittled away at the federal army, gradually reducing its ability and desire to fight. Emboldened by the inability of the federals to contain the forces of the revolution, the rebel leadership launched a major offen- sive in the spring. When Pancho Villa with over 8,000 men captured Torre6n in early April and Pablo Gonzailez took Monterrey a few weeks later, Huerta's ultimate defeat was virtually assured. If any doubt remained, it was clarified when President Woodrow Wilson abandoned his diplomatic campaign against Huerta in favor of direct military inter- vention at the port of Veracruz.5' Huerta held out for a few more

52 The rivalry between federal regulars and irregulars is exemplified by the disastrous schism between General Pascual Orozco and General Salvador Mercado in the Chihuahua garrison in the winter of 1913-1914. I have discussed this situation in my Mexican Rebel: Pascual Orozco and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1915 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967), pp. 105-110.

53 Edwin Lieuwen, Mexican Militarism: The Political Rise and Fall of the Revolu- tionary Army (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968), pp. 22-23; Robert Quirk, The Mexican Revolution, 1914-1915: The Convention of Aguascalientes (New York: The Citadel Press, 1963), pp. 13-14.

4 The best work on the adventure at Veracruz is Robert E. Quirk, An Affair of Honor: Woodrow Wilson and the Occupation of Veracruz (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964). Some additional information can be gleaned from Jack Sweetman, The

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months, but in July, with all of his sources of strength dissipated, he turned Mexico over to his enemies and embarked for a period of rest and recuperation in Spain.

When the Constitutionalist army marched into the nation's capital in July, 1914, the First Chief certainly was aware that his alliance with Pancho Villa was so tenuous as to portend immediate difficulties. What he could not have realized, however, was that the civil strife and blood- shed would envelop the country for the next six years. Three govern- ments had fallen to military pressure in three years and with each collapse militarism had become more deeply engrained in the Mexican political psyche. As his own administration would amply demonstrate, Carranza had learned few lessons from Huerta's experience. He did, it is true, disband the old federal army (regulars and rurales), but simply replaced it with one of his own choosing. Huerta had been overthrown, he believed, not because he had militarized the country carelessly, but because he had not militarized the country sufficiently. Within three years Carranza would earmark a whopping 72% of the national budget for support of his new military! But not even this was enough to enable him to serve out his entire term and die a natural death.

Huerta's militarization policy in 1913-1914 had failed to take note of the obvious. A new style of combat had rendered conventional nine- teenth-century warfare obsolete. But more significantly, national priori- ties were too exclusively focused on combatting a symptom rather than the disease. Peace, cost what it may, was no longer palatable to a young, reform minded generation of Mexicans. They would not admit that the country should be financially drained to support the personal ambitions of a dictator such as Huerta; but more to the point, not even Carranza's sophisticated rhetoric could convince them that constitutional legitimacy alone warranted lavish military expenditures designed, in the last analysis, to expose the bowels of fellow Mexicans. But the anti-militarist clique was still very small in 1914 and two and a half decades would have to pass before they had their day.


University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

Landing at Veracruz, 1914 (Annapolis: U. S. Naval Institute, 1968). The Mexican position is chronicled passionately in Justino N. Palomares, La Invasidn Yanqui en 1914 (Mexico: n. p., 1940).