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"The Liberation of Mexicali - war-game scenario" Topic

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Makhno191818 Jan 2021 6:42 p.m. PST

hi all,
110 years ago this month, the Magonistas captured Mexicalo, beginning a fairly unknown and much misunderstood insurectionary movement in the Mexican Revolution.
I'm writing some scenarios for myself for some solo games, following this campaign. It's simple, most battles are relatively small scale (especially this one below), and i figured there may be other people bored and on lock down this winter.

Scenario 1: The Liberation of Mexicali, January 29, 1911.


Set up:

Mexicali, a town of 500 inhabitants, was a hardly a decade old. Porfirio Diaz sold a massive tract at the land junction between Baja and Sonora to the Colorado River Land Company, who were building a canal through the area as part of an irrigation and dike-building project to benefit agriculture in California's Imperial Valley. In Calexico, on the US side of the border, many of the businessmen and other wealthy Americans associated with the company built their homes and offices. The town's subservient twin, Mexicali, then, was a village of tiny houses and shacks, warehouses and not much else: a colony of workers.

Arrange the town of Mexicali along a strip representing the border between the US and Mexico. The canal as it existed then, called the Alamo Canal, ran south of Mexicali. Train tracks crossed the border on the east edge of town. Place a building representing the customs house in a prominent, central position in the middle of town close to the border, and a line of trees and empty desert space on either side between the towns. Two other buildings serving as objectives must include the jail and the police chief's house.

(for photos of some of these locations, go to blog)



Night time – clear weather.

PLM Forces:

Commanders Leyva and Berthold plus 22 Mexican and Indigenous Cocopah revolutionaries, divided into three groups:

Group 1: Berthold and 6 insurgents- Attack objective A: The Customs House

Group 2: Leyva and five insurgents – Attack objective B: The House of the Police Chief

Group 3: Jiménez and 6 insurgents – Attack objective C: The Jail House.

Government forces:

Commanders: Chief of Police, 20 officers/Rurales, distributed as such:

-2 guards at the custom house

-Jailer Jose Villanova at jail with 10 other officers

-2 officers patrolling streets

-5 officers off duty in random homes.

Victory Conditions: PLM must capture all 3 objectives. If all three are not captured, the town is lost and the government wins.

Aftermath: If Rebel forces capture Mexicali, they maintain control of their sixty rifles, a few pistols, and several thousand rounds of ammunition. They also capture $385 USD dollars, and 9 new recruits.

Historic Note:

The PLMistas took Mexicali easily before dawn on January 29. Berthold's force quickly conquered the customs house, arresting the two sleeping officers there. The second group detained the police chief in his home, and the third took the jail and 10 officers, and freed the prisoners. Only Jailer Jose Villanova attempted to resist, and he was killed as soon as he cocked his weapon. Two custom officers bought their release from the rebels for $385 USD, and crossed the border. The Magonistas freed seven of the arrested officers, who fled their country in nothing but their underwear. Nine of the prisoners liberated from the jail joined the Magonista force. Immediately, new recruits began coming from both sides of the border. Within two days, there were sixty revolutionaries under arms. Many of these were from the area's Indigenous Cocapah people, and other local peasants and farm workers, visited months before the insurrection by the PLM agents Pedro Caule, José Cardoza, Fernando Palomárez, and Camilo Jiménez, themselves Indians of the region. Most other recruits were Industrial Workers of the World members, who had been gathering in Holtville for that purpose. Three weeks later, the force swelled to 120.

(Aftermath and some sourced on the blog)

Porthos19 Jan 2021 2:06 a.m. PST

Marvellous ! Thank you, Makhno !

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 6:07 a.m. PST

Thanks for posting.

Major Mike19 Jan 2021 6:52 a.m. PST

How interesting, my mother grew up in Calexico.

Makhno191822 Jan 2021 5:44 a.m. PST

that's really interesting Major Mike. were your grandparents from the area? Curious if there were any family stories about this episode. Calexico would have been the main port of entry for dozens of American and European volunteers for the next few months, and that was certainly a colorful and eccentric lot. The IWW office in Holtville would have been where they gathered before crossing the border.

Major Mike23 Jan 2021 10:07 a.m. PST

My mother moved there in the very late 1930's/very early 40's before the US entered WW2. My grandfather had been in the Navy. He got out and joined the Border Patrol, collected my mother and uncle from the orphanage they had been dumped in by their mother (who ran off) and moved to Calexico where he was posted. Never had heard about this, I expect my Grandfather might have, but he is long gone now.

Makhno191824 Jan 2021 5:51 a.m. PST

Sorry to hear that Major Mike, but thanks for sharing. The Magonistas efforts were largely misinterpreted, forgotten or purposely covered up. Hardly anything is remembered beyond the disastrous involvement of US volunteers, who ignored the orders of their commanders, leading to the discrediting of the whole movement as "fillibusterers". Even more forgotten are the dozens of battles won by Liberal forces outside of Tijuana, as these forces were made up of Mexicans and Indigenous people. The town Madero crossed the border into in Chihuahua, for example, had recently been liberated by Magonistas. Anyway, I plan to continue doing this research and writing scenarios for the battles, and I can keep posting them to this forum of folks are interested.

Makhno191828 Jan 2021 8:00 p.m. PST

wanted to mention I updated the scenario itself on my blog link
after coming upon a better and more recent source:

La Revolución Magonista (Cronologia narrativa). Armando Bartra and Jacinto Barrera. 2018. link

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