Pancho Villa (5 June 1878-20 July 1923), a Mexican Revolutionary commander of the Constitutionalist Army’s “Division of the North,” was wreaking havoc against the Mexican Government. Villa is credited with decisive military victories in Mexica, leading to the ousting of Victoriano Huerta from the Presidency in July 1914. Villa’s Army however, upon engaging the Mexican military forces of General Álvaro Obregón, was defeated in the 1915 Battle of Celaya. Villa’s army then collapsed as a significant military Force.
Villa subsequently led a raid against the U.S.–Mexican border town of Columbus New Mexico in 1916. Francisco “Pancho” Villa was wanted “dead or alive” by American troops after Villa’s army of bandits murdered 16 Americans in a raid on Columbus, New Mexico on March 10, 1916. Known at first as a “Robin Hood” in Mexico, the American press later portrayed Villa as a brutal villain “thirsting for blood” as war raged along the Mexican border.
On March 15, 1916, Pershing led an expedition into Mexico to capture Pancho Villa. This expedition was ill-equipped and hampered by a lack of supplies due to the breakdown of the Quartermaster Corps. Although there had been talk of war on the border for years, no steps had been taken to provide for the handling of supplies for an expedition. Despite this and other hindrances, such as the lack of aid from the former Mexican government, and their refusal to allow American troops to transport troops and supplies over their railroads, Pershing organized and commanded the Mexican Punitive Expedition, a combined armed force of 10,000 men that penetrated 350 miles into Mexico.
They routed Villa’s revolutionaries, but failed to capture him.
At the end of the Mexican Revolution, after his army had dwindled, Villa negotiated an amnesty with the Mexican government and retired his military pursuits in 1920, only to be assassinated in an ambush three years later in 1923.