Saturday, July 08, 2006

Machismo vs Overlapping Fields of Fire

The War Nerd, Gary Brecher, writes about one of the most decisive battles in 20th century history:

Celaya, the decisive battle of the Mexican Revolution, has its own flavor too, with all the gory comedy of the First Bull Run mixed up with the anti-fun, hard lessons of WW I trench warfare. Best of all, it's about a confrontation between the ultimate macho cavalry leader, our old friend Pancho Villa, and one of the most underrated generals in history, a cool-headed, very un-Mexican dude named Alvaro Obregon. It's the ultimate clash of brawn vs. brain, charisma vs. machine guns. Three guesses who won.

One thing which I found fascinating was the size of Pancho Villa's army. We (and by "we" I mean me) have this idea of Mexican bandits being in bands of maybe a dozen men or so. I thought that somebody like Villa, whom the US Army invaded Mexico to get (that's another American war that ended in defeat, by the way -- I'm just sayin'), might have had a couple of hundred followers.

Boy was I wrong.

In the battle of Celaya, Villa first fielded an army of 12,000 men. After getting beaten, losing a good quarter of his army, just days later he was able to field 30,000 men. "Bandit" does not even begin to describe Pancho Villa.

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