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"Scenario 5: Raid on Los Algodones, February 21, 1911" Topic

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Makhno191821 Feb 2021 12:05 p.m. PST

Scenario 5: Raid on Los Algodones, February 21, 1911

see full blog post here:

In its first action, the 60 or so volunteers of the newly-formed Forieng Legion of the Liberal Army stole a train and drove east into the station of Los Algodones. Los Algodones is the northernmost town in all of Mexico, pressed up against the corner between California to the north, and across the Colorado River to the east, Arizona. The train line runs into town from the south and west, following the Alamo Canal from Mexicali.

Set up:
Arrange the town as described above, with the border to the north and to the west, marked by canals or rivers. Train tracks come from the southwest and enter a train station in the town. Place in the town a Rurales' barracks, and a customs house. Place a marker for supplies in the custom house.

Clear night – low visibility

PLM Forces:
"General" William Stanley and 60 soldiers of the PLM Foregin Legion

Government forces:
Chief Cecilo Garza and 40 Rurales

Rebel Objectives:
-Eliminate the Rurales at the Barracks
-Capture the Customs house
-Secure the town of all enemies.

Government Objectives:
-Defend the Customs house
-Drive the Magónistas out of Los Algodones.

Victory Conditions:
Rebels: Successful raid on the Customs House (stealing all supplies and burning the building) before withdrawal will count as a partial victory for the PLM. Full victory requires the completion of all objectives.
Rurales: Victory requires protecting the customs house and defeating the rebels. Partial victory if game ends with town in Government possession, but customs house raided.

After this battle, the PLM possessed another town and border crossing, as well as a train, cash, weapons and ammo, and other provisions. Three weeks later, the Mexican government discontinued use of the Inter-California train line in Mexico.

Historic note:
Soon after the influx of recruits from the United States arrived in Mexicali, racial and national tensions appeared within the ranks of the internationalist rebels. The northern volunteers, displaying both impatience and, perhaps, a racist superiority complex common then and now among United States citizens, questioned the seemingly-timid leadership of Leyva. Very quickly, the impetus of a "Foreign Legion" appeared, pushed on by some boisterously-confident leaders of the IWW forces, and the eagerness of the war-dog veterans of the Spanish-American, Boer, and other recent wars. The International volunteers began ignoring and disobeying the wishes of the Junta, acting instead on their own orders. That this undisciplined behavior immediately resulted in victories of growing importance masked the danger to the revolution posed by factions acting outside of strategic command. With Magón himself absent from the field, and with Práxedis Guerrero dead so early in the rising, the weakness of leadership and disunity among the nationalities led to disorganization. A gap opened up in their ranks, a gap which would be exploited by the enemies of the revolution not far down the road.

In the meanwhile, after it became clear that Leyva didn't intend to follow up the defense of Mexicali with a counterattack, an IWW member named William Stanley, or Stanley Williams (depending on who was asking), began to campaign to replace the commander. Having performed admirably on February 15th, the "Canadian Mestizo with indian blood," Williams, who was likely a deserter from the US Army and "a veteran of the Spanish American War, was gaining popularity as a field leader. He had helped in planning from the Holtville IWW local the initial actions, but hadn't joined in Mexicali until a week afterward" (Bartra and Barrerra 149).

The racial tensions boiled over into actual violence. An Indigenous revolutionary, a Yaqui, shot the Ohioan Wobblie W.E. Clark, who survived. In an apparent act of vengeance, Wild Bill Hatfield--who claimed to be of the famous feuding family--murdered a Mexican comrade. There were no court marshals, dismissals, or punishments of any kind for these offenses.

Instead, Leyva gave in to Williams's constant harassment, and agreed to let the Wobbly form a separate force under his own command. Thus, the Foreign Legion of the Liberal Army was formed. Leyva likely regretted this as soon as he agreed to it, as Williams immediately set off on his own with 60 rebels, mostly from the United States, to capture Los Algodones. As the sun set on February 21st, Williams and his men burst into Packard Station and captured the Inter-California train. They steamed east into Los Algodones, where they stormed the barracks of the Rurales, killing the Rurales Chief, Cecilo Garza, and the Chief of Customs, Tomás Beléndez in the gunfight. The surviving Rurales all fled across the border into Andrade. The Foreign Legion, in its first independent action, captured weapons and ammo, as well as provisions and the cash from the Customs house, which they burnt down along with the homes of the customs inspectors. The rebels secured the town and made off with the spoils and their train without losing a single fighter (Zazueta). Three weeks after the raid, the Mexican Federal Government forbade travel on the Mexican end of the train line.

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