Page 405. " the strategies of Angeles "
Felipe Ángeles (June 13, 1868 - November 26, 1919)
Public DomainFelipe Ángeles (June 13, 1868 - November 26, 1919) - Credit: Tatehuari

Felipe Ángeles Ramirez was one of the finest military strategists of the Mexican Revolution and one its true tragic heroes.

An early supporter of President Francisco I. Madero, Ángeles was arrested along with Madero in 1913 and exiled, but he soon returned and allied himself first with Venustiano Carranza and then with Pancho Villa in the violent years that followed. It was Ángeles who formulated the rebel grand strategy of a three-prong attack south to Mexico City, as well as masterminding most of the rebel’s military triumphs of 1914 as Villa’s Chief of Artillery.

Despite this, Ángeles was a consistent voice for peace, regularly offering amnesties to defeated soldiers and attending the Aguascalientes conference in 1914, which sought to bring peace to Mexico.

A deeply humanitarian man, Ángeles quit Villa's camp during the summer of 1919 having grown increasingly disillusioned that there was no end in sight to the bitter civil war. He was eventually captured, tried and executed in 1919 by forces loyal to Carranza.

General Felipe Ángeles (c. 1912-1919)
Public DomainGeneral Felipe Ángeles (c. 1912-1919) - Credit: Library of Congress





San Roman y Vera – Fusiliamento De Felipe angeles (The Execution of Felipe Ángeles)

Chavela Vargas – Felipe Ángeles

Page 405. " 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


Los Cuatesones – Gral Francisco Villa

Hermanos Chavarría – Pancho Villa

Pedro Rocha y Lupe Martínez – Rendicion De Pancho Villa

More, Rubi, y Vivo – Corrido Historia y Muerte Del Gral. Francisco Villa

S. Quiroz – La Vaquilla (Corrido de Pancho Villa)

Page 413. " the yellowing daguerreotypes swinging by their clothespegs "

The daguerreotype is an early type of photograph. Unlike modern photographs, the daguerreotype had no negative. Instead, the image was exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver, which had previously been exposed to idonine vapour. In the later use of the process, bromine vapour was employed. The finished daguerreotype was usually housed in a velvet-lined folding case.


Faded by the passage of time, many of these daguerreotypes possess a ghostly, haunting quality, perfectly in keeping with McCarthy's themes of transience and mortality.






Nathaniel Hawthorne (c. 1850–1855)
Public DomainNathaniel Hawthorne (c. 1850–1855) - Credit: Whipple & Black
Harriet Beecher Stowe (c. 1850)
Public DomainHarriet Beecher Stowe (c. 1850) - Credit: Southworth & Hawes
Edgar Allan Poe (1848)
Public DomainEdgar Allan Poe (1848) - Credit: W.S. Hartshorn
Margaret Fuller (1846)
Public DomainMargaret Fuller (1846) - Credit: John Plumbe
Page 419. " I went to Fort Sumner to try and find her grave but I couldnt find it "

The small village of Fort Sumner is located in De Baca County, New Mexico.

Billy the Kid (November 23, 1859 - July 14, 1881)
Public DomainBilly the Kid (November 23, 1859 - July 14, 1881) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Fort Sumner (c. 1861-65)
Public DomainFort Sumner (c. 1861-65) - Credit: Andrew J. Russell (Library of Congress)
Navajo under guard at Fort Sumner (c. 1864)
Public DomainNavajo under guard at Fort Sumner (c. 1864) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It was originally a military fort which had been charged with the internment of nearby Navajo and Mescalero Apache populations from 1863 to 1868. The fort was closed in 1868 and two years later the government sold the buildings to Lucien Maxwell, a prominent New Mexico landowner. Maxwell’s son later befriended Billy the Kid, and it was in his house that the legendary outlaw was killed by Pat Garrett.

Billy the Kid is buried in the old military ceremony in Fort Sumner, the same one where Billy goes looking for his sister’s grave.

Page 421. " it was Ash Wednesday by the calendar and the first folk he saw were Mexicans with sootmarks on their foreheads "
A cross of ashes on a worshipper's forehead on Ash Wednesday
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA cross of ashes on a worshipper's forehead on Ash Wednesday - Credit: Edi Wibowo

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, occurring 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is named after the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a sign of repentance.

Appropriately enough, on the day Billy buries his younger brother, ashes were also used in ancient times as a symbol of sorrow and mourning.

Page 422. " the raw rock ranges of the Organ Mountains "

The rugged Organ Mountains range lies 10 miles east of the city of Las Cruces, in Doña Ana County, New Mexico.


Organ Mountains, New Mexico
Public DomainOrgan Mountains, New Mexico - Credit: Neomexicanus lc
Page 425. " he looked again at the road which lay as before yet more dark and darkening still where it ran on to the east and where there was no sun and no dawn and when he looked again toward the north the light was drawing away faster and that noon in which he’d woke was now become an alien dusk and now an alien dark "
A rare colour photograph of the Trinity test.
Public DomainA rare colour photograph of the Trinity test. - Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

As oblique an ending as McCarthy as written, but taking a rough estimate of the dates in the novel and Billy's location, it seems clear McCarthy is referring to the Trinity Nuclear Test, which took place on July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Following the success of the Trinity test, two atomic bombs were prepared for use against Japan during World War II. The two bombs subsequently dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki, on August 9, killed at least 148,000 people immediately and many more over time. By 1950, the death toll was over 340,000.