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A short war with Mexico —- The Battle of Ambos Nogales, 1918

In 1918 tensions along the United States/Mexican border were heating up.  The turmoil of the Mexican revolution, recent raids by the revolutionary Pancho Villa, and sporadic incidents of violence along the border led to heightened security among border agents and the military.  More importantly the United States was at war with Germany, sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight in the trenches of the Great War.  One of the reasons the US had entered World War I was a secret telegram from the German ambassador Arthur Zimmerman to Mexico, offering an alliance if Mexico attacked the United States as well as the recovery of lost territories such as Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  While Mexico rejected the proposal the United States feared that German influence and espionage was rife south of the border. Needless to say a suspicious eye was cast on Mexico by the United States Government.  Border security personnel on both sides were anxious and twitchy, a situation which could only lead to violence. 

On August 27th 1918 a Mexican carpenter named Zerefino Lamadrid passed through the border at Nogales, Arizona/Sonora without having a package he was carrying inspected.  US border guards suspected he was smuggling weapons and ordered him to halt.  However Mexican guards on the other side of the border ordered him to continue.  Confused as to what to do Lamadrid froze as soldiers on both sides shouted contradictory orders.  Finally when an American soldier raised his rifle a gun battle erupted between American and Mexican border guards.  In response to the shooting a garrison of Mexican Federal troops joined the growing firefight while simultaneously reinforcements arrived from the 35th US Infantry and 10th Cavalry (the Buffalo Soldiers).  Essentially a deadly misunderstanding at the border erupted into all out warfare between the United States and Mexico.  Adding to the firefight were hundreds of Mexican civilians who grabbed personal firearms and joined in with the battle.  On the American side civilians also responded by arming themselves, occupying rooftops and firing across the border.  

Under heavy fire, the 10th Cavalry crossed south of the border and led an attack into the town.  Weeks earlier Mexican soldiers had dug a series of trenches on the hilltops overlooking the town of Senora.  Before more Mexican reinforcements could arrive and occupy the hills soldiers of the 10th Cavalry captured the trenches, fortifying the position and setting up machines guns.  In response Mexican soldiers and civilians fortified a number of large buildings and used them to fire back against American targets.

At the height of the battle the Mayor of Sonora, Felix B. Peñaloza, placed a white cloth on his cane and ran through the streets begging people to stop shooting.  Peñaloza was killed when a bullet from the Arizona side of the border struck him.  With the death of Peñaloza city hall officials and the Mexican Consulate worked to end the fighting.  After almost four hours of fighting white flags rose above the Mexican customs house and a ceasefire was ordered on both sides.  Sporadic sniper fire continued for a while, but for the most part hostilities ceased.

In the aftermath of the battle a two miles border fence was erected in Nogales.  An American military investigation into the incident concluded the conflict was caused routine mistreatment of Mexican border crossers and the misconduct of Border security agents.  Incredibly the US government blamed the incident on agitation by German agents, a supposition based on nothing more than rumor, innuendo, and hearsay. The battle left six American servicemen dead as well as two civilian militiamen.  Mexican reports count 15 soldiers, although the exact number of civilian casualties is unknown.

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  6. devilduck reblogged this from peashooter85 and added:
    A short war with Mexico —- The Battle of Ambos Nogales, 1918 In 1918 tensions along the United States/Mexican border...
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  11. andrey-vladimir reblogged this from peashooter85 and added:
    If mexico would had only invaded usa with full capacity. And us been force to send soldier back home to defend. Feels :(
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  15. americanjackal reblogged this from peashooter85 and added:
    Some interesting Arizona history I never heard about.
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