Saturday 18 March 2023

The Hills outside Zacatecas

The Hills outside Zacatecas

June 23rd 1914

Villa`s Division del Norte is pressing south, against the forces of President Huerta. The next major objective is the town of Zacatecas with it vital rail junction is held by Federal troops under the command of General Luis Medina Barron.

Blocking the way to the town are a number of small hills which the Federals have tried to fortify against Villa`s advance. Villa needs to clear these hills to allow access to the town.

 Federal Defenders

Right Hill

Federal company


1 37mm Hotchkiss auto cannon

Left Hill

Federal company

1 75mm field gun

Both hills have some entrenchments, wire, etc


2 cavalry troops from Zacatecas on turn 15


Villa`s forces

Yaqui scouts

3 foot companies

1 mounted company

2 x 75mm guns


1 x Hotchkiss revolving cannon


Scenario deployment

The hills sit on opposite sides of the valley and cannot support one-another, Villa has a simple plan using 2 companies supported by guns to attack the hill on his left by direct assault, the third company is to pin the other hill`s defenders in place whilst Villa`s cavalry charge up the valley and effectively cut off both hills from support from Zacatecas before swinging in behind the right hand hill hopefully catching them cold, at the same time Villa`s Yaqui have been moving around to the right (off table) and attack the hopefully open flank of the hill also.

 Historically Zacatecas was a particularly brutal battle. Half of the 12,000 man garrison was killed during the battle and its aftermath. All the Federal officers are executed along with many of their men. The victory for the Revolutionaries opened the road to Mexico City!

My table

Federal field hospital
Just for fun

The Game

Turn 1 & 2 Villa`s artillery open the battle firing on visible Federal positions on the front of the left hand hill

On turn 2 the Federal `75 spots and targets one of Villa`s guns and knocks it out with an excellent long shot!

The Federal 37mm auto cannon also fired but missed in doing so it is spotted and fired on in return by Villa`s Hotchkiss revolving cannon which is smack on target!

 Turn 3 sees a general advance by Villa`s troops, his remaining `75 changes target against the Federal `75 (miss) the Federals also miss in return! The Hotchkiss revolving cannon targets federal positions on the right hill causing a few casualties.

 Turn 4 Villa`s infantry are now within rifle range of the forward federal positions on the left and take a few casualties. The Federal `75 misses but then takes a direct hit and is destroyed!

On the right The Federal machine gun also claims a few casualties! The Hotchkiss revolving cannon jams!!

Turn 5 With the Federal `75 gone, Villa`s `75 returns to firing upon the forward Federal infantry positions. Those Federals exchange fire with the closing Villaista infantry, both sides lose men.

On the left To counter the Federal machine gun, Villa`s men set-up their Colt “Digger”, The Hotchkiss team successfully gets their weapon working again.

In the centre Villa`s cavalry turn towards the right hill, their movement has already taken them past the first line of defence.

 Turn 6 Great shooting (lucky dice) clear most of the forward Federal defenders on the left

On the left both machine guns fire at one another to little effect!

In the centre Villa`s lead cavalry unit moves to totally outflank the right hand hill whilst the second troop charges straight at it.

Turn 7 on the left the `75 changes targets against defenders further up the hill, Villa`s infantry are now over running the first position.

The remaining defenders are running

As their path is blocked by barbed wire Dynamiters are called forward to blow it!

In the centre the first troop dismounts to engage the Federals

On the right the machine gun duel continues, lucky dice favour the Villaistas and the Federal gun is silenced.

 Turn 8 The wire is blown Villa`s troops surge forward on the left supported by their `75

They still face Federal entrenchments on the upper hill

In the centre the rest of Villa`s cavalry swing in towards the right hand hill

On the right with the machine gun silenced dynamiters close to blow the wire

The Hotchkiss continues to target Federal lines

 Turn 9 on the left the Federals put up a stiff fight, but their positions are being plastered by the `75

On the right Villa`s cavalry are now fighting within the old hacienda, both sides take heavy casualties in hand to hand fighting.

An amazing long shot from the Hotchkiss hits ruined farm building with the Federal standard!

 Turns 10 & 11 see Villa`s troops over run both hills, the Federals simply couldn`t inflict enough casualties. An attempt by both hill commanders to bring up troops not directly engaged to plug the gaps came too late in both cases.

Federals on the left hill holding the line

Villa`s infantry climbing the left hill

Villa`s Yaqui arrived on turn 11, but by then it was all over anyway

On the right the Federals put up quite a fight, but they were doomed

Most of one platoon isolated on the far left decided it was prudent to just run away

As there was still 3 turns before the Federal cavalry could arrive I decided they would not just commit suicide by trying to attack a much larger force and so would withdraw back to Zacatecas, so I ended the game there. 

Usually I don`t have units fight to the death on my tabletops, but considering the historic slaughter of this battle I basically ingnored all morale checks on the Federal side.