All About Pancho Villa

Battles, Allies, Enemies and more!

Almost a century after Pancho Villa burst onto the world stage with his bloody entry into the Mexican Revolution, he remains one of the era's most fascinating figures. He fought in many battles, winning most and losing a few. One of his greatest allies eventually ordered his assassination. He had many admirers and many foes, and songs are still sung about him every time a mariachi band puts on their sombreros. Here's where you'll find links to his biography, his battles and more.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa. Photo by Casasola

Born Doroteo Arango, Pancho Villa shot the man who raped his sister and had to flee into the mountains...or so they say. It's difficult to separate the myths and legends from the true story of the great warrior horseman of the Mexican Revolution. Fearless, ruthless and charismatic, Pancho Villa was the most powerful man in Mexico in 1914 but was on the run and hiding in the mountains by 1916. Read about the rise and fall of the "Robin Hood" of the Revolution! More »

Generals Huerta and Tellez
Generals Huerta and Tellez. INAH Mexico

In June of 1914, President Victoriano Huerta of Mexico was watching his hold on the nation slipping away. In the south, Emiliano Zapata and his peasant army were destroying any federal forces foolish enough to show themselves. To the north, Venustiano Carranza, Alvaro Obregon and Pancho Villa were rampaging through towns and cities, crushing federals wherever they found them. Desperate, Huerta ordered 12,000 soldiers to hold the strategic railroad junction at the city of Zacatecas. Villa, ignoring "orders" from Carranza, moved to crush them, personally leading 20,000 soldiers of his vaunted "Division of the North" to attack. The legendary battle that ensued was one of the most decisive of the war. More »

Alvaro Obregon. Photographer Unknown

With Huerta gone, the "Big Four" of Villa, Zapata, Carranza and Obregon began fighting amongst themselves. Obregon and Carranza united against Villa, while Zapata remained holed up in the south. Villa and his men fought bravely, but his brute strength was no match for the superior tactics of Alvaro Obregon. In April of 1915, the two men clashed at the Battle of Celaya, which would prove to be a decisive victory for Obregon and the beginning of the end for Villa. More »

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Rodolfo Fierro, Villa's Fanatical Hatchet Man

Rodolfo Fierro
Rodolfo Fierro. Photo by Casasola
You don't rise to the top of the Mexican Revolution without getting some blood on your hands, and Villa had more than his share. But some jobs were too brutal even for Villa: that's why he had Rodolfo Fierro. At the Battle of Tierra Blanca in 1913, Fierro distinguished himself by riding after a fleeing train full of federal soldiers, leaping onto it, and shooting the conductor to stop it. After that, he was Villa's right-hand man, carrying out executions and leading attacks. Fierro was feared and despised, even by Villa's other men, who watched him drown in quicksand in 1915.
Pancho Villa. Photographer Unknown
Pancho Villa, survivor of dozens of battles, assassination attempts and a massive US manhunt, was gunned down in the street in Chihuahua on July 20, 1923. Most Mexicans suspected a conspiracy...and they were right. The murder of Pancho Villa was approved at the highest levels of the Mexican government and signed off on by one of Villa's former allies. More »