So why am I suddenly interested in Pancho Villa?
On March 9, 1916, the last time a foreign army invaded the United States, it happened in...Columbus, New Mexico, a question most will not answer correctly and today, we were there. The Battle of Columbus led to much...probably none of it good.
A little history:
Within a day, a full scale military incursion was authorized by President Wilson and Columbus was made into a huge staging area for an entire division of the Army, then more. Exactly a week later, General Pershing sent advance companies into Mexico in the plan of eliminating Villa at best or dispersing his military forces at worst. It ended 11 months later. During the course of the action, The US Forces killed many key Villa allies, including his chief lieutenant being one of three men shot personally by Lt George Patton. The Villanistas counter-attacked Glenn Springs and Boquillas, Texas both now in Big Bend National park (Boquillas is Rio Grande Village and Glenn Springs is a Ghost Town on the west side where there is only a small sign now, and where I got my lesser nighthawk in my big year in 2016). There a small US detachment was destroyed. A month later four, US Troops were killed at San Ygnatio, another birding location.
During the main incursion, the US Army encountered Mexican Regular Army and almost brought the two countries into a full scale war, but despite all of this...Pancho Villa escaped and the US needed to withdraw the troops so we could enter World War I as almost all of our regular troops were in Mexico. The US and not the Mexican Army would put an end to the Villinistas actions on the border as a 1919 Raid on Juarez across from El Paso would cause over a dozen US casualties due to stray bullets that the commander of the US forces immediately retaliated by sending in 1200 troops into Mexico and dispersed Villa's Division of the North so thoroughly that he sued for peace and retired. Many marriages and just three years later, he was assassinated. He was 45.
To be descriptive, the entire deal was IMHO one large waste of money, lives, and time.
We had just left from another famous place, the Chihuahua Mountains where Geronimo periodically hid between various previous incursions by the US Calvary into Mexico chasing him and his band. This was 30 years earlier. Silja and I hiked many of the trails and found hidden springs and saw the wildlife of the beautiful area.
I love these mountains and the twilight of our last day sort of described a lot for this country Extreme Southern New Mexico and SE AZ is changing, and I'm not sure if it is a good thing.
A beautiful sunset before a truly black night. Villa et al tried to destroy much of this area and leave people in fear, after Geronimo previously did and we ended up carting away the natives to captivity in Oklahoma. Now the jobs have pretty much all dried up, much like the towns of Rodeo, Antelope Wells, Animas, and especially Hachita. The railroad pulled out in 1961 as did much of the mining and even the Sky Gypsy scheme of John McAfee a decade ago ended up pretty much yielding nothing short of a really strange story and some serious head scratching (by me). The Sky Gypsy story is too bizarre to repeat here so look it up.
Now we got the new perceived border issues, and it is true that a focus place of illegal crossing was between Hachita and both sides of Columbus (I have first hand visualization of that years ago). I have read some recent musings out of the Big East Coast media saying that nothing has been built of Trump's wall and many people are all smiles and patting themselves on the back thinking what they read is true. Sorry folks, there IS A WALL being built....
The last time I drove this way, I met 67 border patrol cars and two sheriff's deputies, but no private vehicles....this year, that was down to 37 and 1 cop. Last time I was stopped five times while birding by Border Patrol but this time in the RV, nothing, although I wasn't stopping and wasn't out taking pictures, every five miles. There were cement trucks about every three miles, driving 100 miles from a cement plant near El Paso, which is owned by Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, a Mexican company....sigh. How ironic is that?
BTW, I did meet only three civilian cars east of Hachita in 140 miles, besides construction crews.
The last time I drove here I spotted 17 illegals sneaking across the road, this time nadda one.
I hear that illegal traffic has moved to west of Douglas, AZ.
Where are these large helicopters were going or coming from made me wonder. I hope they weren't on border patrol, as they went north in Columbus they are heading away.
We drove through El Paso, I almost went into bronchospasm. We also ignore Juarez (a city of 1.4 million). Here we are, having a fit (rightfully so, to a degree) about global warming and all these fires in California, when one of the largest (yes) cities in America, El Paso has a terrible smog problem that you never hear about. You rarely ever hear about El Paso. It is a metro area larger than Detroit, Minneapolis, or well almost anywhere. It is like it just doesn't exist. Because of the lax rules on emissions right next door in Juarez, yet all of that 'stuff' they produce comes to us, smog included. Ban plastic...it is a better use of our time
Oh well, can't fix it anyhow and we always tend to forget history. We are like fish biting at the shiny bait...
So what did I learn...
1) Villa is still thought of fondly as a man for the the little person, yet in Villa's case, besides all of his brides, it is documented that he raped many ...many women hundreds to thousands, even shooting many that tried to shoot him after the fact. So Villa was a bad man, a very bad man.
2) The Chihuahuas Mtns and valleys are gorgeous
3) Mexican chickadees can be really hard to photograph
4) They are really building the wall, at least near Columbus NM, they are
Drive the desert of southern New Mexico...