"the tactics of Villa"
Francisco 'Pancho' Villa (June 5, 1878 – July 23, 1923)
Public DomainFrancisco 'Pancho' Villa (June 5, 1878 – July 23, 1923) - Credit: Bain News Service

For many, the name most associated with the Mexican Revolution is that of Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa - former bandit turned revolutionary leader.

His División del Norte was, at one time, the strongest army in Mexico and he was instrumental in the downfall of both Porfirio Díaz and Victoriano Huerta.

He knew the power of winning hearts and minds, employing tactics such as propaganda and the expropriation of hacienda land for distribution among the peasants who worshipped him as a folk hero. Whenever he was short of funds he would rob trains, or simply print his own money. His generalship was noted for the speed of movement of his forces by railroad, use of cavalry and artillery attacks, as well as the recruitment of enlisted soldiers of defeated enemy units.  Many of Villa's tactics and strategies were adopted by later 20th century revolutionaries.

After the alliance of Venustiano Carranza and Álvaro Obregón  finally defeated him, Villa signed a peace treaty in 1920 and went into retirement. Three years later he was assassinated, although who ordered his death remains a mystery to this day.


General Francisco 'Pancho' Villa, possibly taken at the time of the Battle of Ojinga, Chihuahua (January 1914)
Public DomainGeneral Francisco 'Pancho' Villa, possibly taken at the time of the Battle of Ojinga, Chihuahua (January 1914) - Credit: Bain News Service


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