Pancho Villa

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

MexBorA succession of revolutions in Mexico since 1910 had thrown that country into a turmoil and caused many attacks by bandits across the international boundary into our border states. Many troops were rushed to strategic points in this area in order to protect American citizens and property. Sometimes revolutionary factions were trying to capture border towns in order to have a port of entry for arms and supplies, and at other times bandits crossed the international line and looted American ranches. Whenever there was an attack upon a border town on the Mexican side, many stray bullets came across the line and occasionally struck citizens on the American side. In order to stop the gun fire from coming into the border towns on our own side of the line, American troops sometimes interfered and drove both Mexican factions away from the border. There were a few deliberate attacks upon the towns on the side of the United States, often for political reasons. The most flagrant attack of this sort was made by the peon leader, Pancho Villa, upon the town of Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916. This attack caused the Punitive Expedition, led by General Pershing, of American troops into Mexico in search of Villa immediately following the raid.

When the Second Cavalry reached Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1912, the Mexican border trouble was at its height, causing a constant patrol of the area near the international line. The regiment remained at this post, except for the second squadron, which was sent southeast from Fort Bliss to protect an area often attacked by Mexican bandits. The troops were stationed as follows: Squadron Headquarters and Troop E at Sierra Blanca, Troop H at Fort Hancock, Troop G at Finlay, and Troop F at Presidio in the Big Bend of the Rio Grande River.

MexBor2General Orders Number 2, Second Cavalry, January 20, 1913, prescribed the coat of arms of the regiment. It consisted of a shield with the words Indian, Mexican, Civil, and Spanish around it, with a horse carrying a rider who was brandishing a sword in the center. Above the shield were crossed sabers and above them was the numeral two, while below them was the date 1836. Below the shield was inscribed Toujours Pret. The colors were orange and azure.

In February, 1913, the third squadron relieved the Twenty-second Infantry on duty along the Rio Grande River in the city of El Paso, Troops I and L taking station at Washington Park, Troop K at the Santa Fe Bridge, and Troop M at Hart’s Mill. In March the first squadron was sent southeast along the border to assist the second squadron, and such places as Clint, Shafter, Terlingua, and Marfa ware added to the long border patrol. The work of the troops consisted of guarding property, patrolling the area for signs of bandits, and an occasional chase after a party of them who had raided a ranch.

The regiment was ordered to change station to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, in November, 1913. But before it left, the situation became so grave along the border that the troops were ordered to cease preparations to leave and march to the city of El Paso for station. The Mexican General Pancho Villa captured the city of Juarez, which is only separated from El Paso by the narrow Rio Grande River. Bullets were flying thick across the boundary and several Americans were hit. The situation became quiet after about two weeks and the regiment returned to Fort Bliss to prepare for departure.

It finally left Fort Bliss by train in three sections December 18, 1913, en route to Galveston, Texas. From there it traveled by boat to New York, and thence to Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, by train, where it arrived December 29.

2 Replies to “Pancho Villa”

  1. The story in my husband’s family has been that his grandfather, James Harbison White, chased Pancho Villa in Mexico & was with the Rough Riders in Cuba. We have a cavalry insignia, crossed swords about 2 1/4″ long, slightly curved, 2 above and E below, with a screw-on back. The only reference I’ve found to 2nd cavalry, company (troop?) E, is yours above, and his name gets me nowhere. Any suggestions on learning his history would be very much appreciated. The time period of the Spanish-American war up to WWI would be about right.


  2. My grandfather was in the Second Cavalry Troop G along the Texas border in 1912. He enlisted in May of that year for a three year commitment but was kicked out for being too young in Sept 1912. His record says “Discharge Without Honor”. His enlistment record said he was 21 when he enlisted but he was only 17 at that time. How I wish I had asked him questions when I had the chance!


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