Saturday 23 June 2012

Stealing from the Yankees (Mexico 1916)

Stealing from the Yankees!

This is a fictional scenario inspired by watching too many spaghetti westerns.

On March 9th 1916 Pancho Villa attacked the town of Columbus, New Mexico, resulting in the deaths of over twenty US citizens. President Wilson ordered General Pershing to pursue Villa across the border into Mexico. Wilson pressured the Mexican President Venustiano Carranza into accepting this state of affairs but, by the end of 1916 the Carranza government forces were increasingly blocking and frustrating the American attempts to find Villa and his followers. Government soldiers often took pot-shots at US cavalry patrols, though no formal engagements took place.

Though not as bad as it had been during the early years of revolution, Mexican Generals and local governors were sometimes little more than bandits themselves using their soldiers and police (Rurales) to impose their will and rob those under their rule.

General Pedro Ramirez Diaz is the commander of the border district of Chihuahua State south of the Rio Bravo. The Americans have a major supply depot at the village of San Domingo using a spur line off the main El Paso - Juarez rail line to bring in the supplies from the north. The General, a greedy and ambitious man sees huge profit in raiding the depot, both in the arms and equipment stored there, but also in the eyes of the local people as a hero of Mexico driving out the Yankee invader.

Obviously the General has no wish to start a war between Mexico and the US, but a quick raid to secure as much arms, ammunition and supplies. Whether the raid is a success or not the General will blame the attack on the Villistas.

For this scenario I decided to use all the Mexican and US forces I had available –

3 - Platoons of militia (poor quality infantry)
1 – Platoon female militia (poor firing, regular morale)
1 - Platoon Federal mounted infantry (poor firing, regular morale)
2 – Platoons of Federal infantry (poor firing, regular morale)
3 – Platoons of Colorados (regular)
1 - Platoon Colorados mounted infantry (regular)

US defenders (all regular)
1 mounted platoon 10th Cavalry (coloured)
1 foot platoon 10th cavalry (coloured)
B Company 6th Infantry with –
HQ platoon
2 – Rifle platoons
1 Machine gun Platoon 6th Infantry (2 – LMGs)
Cannon Platoon 6th infantry (Vickers-Maxim 2.95” + crew)

The game started before dawn allowing the Mexican force to advance on the US pickets. Mexican troops get penalties to firing based on my historic reading of the period.

US disposition
One platoon from 6th Infantry was on picket, one platoon from 10th was out on patrol and would return on D6+4 turns upon the alarm being sounded. Other elements of the garrison are asleep off duty and take 1D6 turns to stand-to once the alarm has been raised.

San Domingo from the Mexican side
Along the rail-line
Close-up of the village and rail-head
Colorados cavalry (mostly Warrior Miniature with Raventhorpe heads)
Federal mounted infantry (Raventhrope)
Federal infantry (Raventhorpe)
Militia (Raventhorpe, Irregular, and converted chicas)

The early game turns saw the Mexican advancing on a broad front, Federals on the left, Colerados on the right and the militia in the centre. The Mexican commander (me) sent all his cavalry and mounted infantry on a long end-run sweeping around the hill to the left ro attack the village from the rail-line. The US players - Alex (11) and Chris (8) had picketed the hill with half a platoon, whilst the other half guarded the village along with a LMG section. It took several turns of movement for the pickets to spot the advancing Mexicans, by which time the cavalry was almost around the hill and the various foot troopers had almost reached the base. Duce roles revealed the platoon from 10th Cav. would arrive back at the village in 8 turns, whilst the garrison would be up and about in 4 turns.

the Mexicans are attacking!

The pickets withdraw from the hill
2nd platoon 6th infantry deploy around thier billet.
Thankfully the US players (after a gentle hint) had emplaced their MG team covering the wide-open right flank, this really shocked the Federal mounted infantry who quickly dismounted and went to ground, this was as far as they got and eventually took casualties and their morale colapsed and they ran away!
LMG team pins the mounted infantry, but the Colorados can be seen sweeping wider in the background!
2nd platoon 10th Cav. deploy in support of the 6th infantry LMG

Things were touch and go for a while, the best Mexican troops, Colorados regulars fought a protracted battle with 2nd platoon 6th infantry, eventually numbers told along with support from the only group of militia which actually reached the village. Most of the militia and the federals became bottled up around the rail-yard and were slowly cut down, until their morale failed unit by unit and theybroke and fled.
Federal troops fleeing from the railyard
2nd platoon 10th Cav. with the LMGs stopping the final charge through the railyard

1st platoon 10th cavalry arrive!
And catch the Colorados cavalry in the flank with a brilliantly effective charge!

The high point for the Mexicans, Colorados and militia loot the US camp

The Mexicans gave up and begin to withdraw, 1st platoon 10th Cav. gallope to the rescue

A great game, could have gone either way at one point. A bit of luck to one side and the whole result could have changed, the restrictions on the Mexican morale and firing seemed to even out the huge disparity in forces.

All US forces by Tumbling Dice.


  1. My grandfather would have been there with Pershing.

  2. Amazing, what unit was he with?

    I originally planned the Yanks as a "third force" to add something to the Mexican project, but researching the 1916 expedition was fascinating, a number of "firsts" in US military history.