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Image taken on mountains of Cerro de La

Bufa in Zacatecas, Mexico.

As word of the utter annihilation


of one of the largest federal armies
in the field spread, common sol-
diers deserted and officers began
to switch sides, hoping to stay alive"

Cerro de La Bufa
Article By: Christopher Minster

T he Battle of Zacatecas was one of the key engagements of


the Mexican Revolution. After he had removed Francisco
Maderofrom power and ordered his execution, General Victori-
located city of Zacatecas. The old mining town was home to a
railway junction which, if captured, could allow the rebels to use
doomed Natera's attack, and Medina Barrn was confident that
the same strategy would work against Villa. There was also a line
of defense between the two hills. The federal forces awaiting Villa
not see the approaching shock forces, and it fell around 1 p.m. La
Bufa did not fall so easily: the fact that General Medina Barrn
himself led the soldiers there no doubt stiffened their resistance.
the railway to bring their forces to Mexico City.
ano Huerta had seized the presidency. His grasp on power was Meanwhile, the rebels were quarreling amongst themselves. were veterans of previous campaigns as well as some northerners Still, once El Grillo had fallen, the morale of the federal troops
weak, however, because the rest of the major players Pancho Venustiano Carranza, self-proclaimed First Chief of the Revo- loyal to Pascual Orozco, who had fought alongside Villa against plummeted. They had thought their position in Zacatecas to be
Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Alvaro Obregn and Venustiano Carran- lution, was resentful of Villa's success and popularity. When the the forces of Porfirio Daz in the early days of the Revolution. unassailable and their easy victory against Natera had reinforced
za were allied against him. Huerta commanded the relatively route to Zacatecas was open, Carranza ordered Villa instead to Smaller hills, including Loreto and el Sierpe, were also fortified. that impression.
well-trained and equipped federal army, however, and if he could Coahuila, which he quickly subdued. Meanwhile, Carranza sent Villa moved the Division of the North, which had more than Late in the afternoon, La Bufa also fell and Medina Barrn
isolate his enemies he could crush them one by one. General Panfilo Natera to take Zacatecas. Natera failed misera- 20,000 soldiers, up to the outskirts of Zacatecas. retreated his surviving troops into the city. When La Bufa was
In June of 1914 he sent a massive force to hold the town of bly, and Carranza was caught in a bind. Villa had Felipe Angeles, his best general and one of the superior taken, the federal forces cracked. Knowing that Villa would
Zacatecas from the relentless advance of Pancho Villa and his The only force capable of taking Zacatecas was Villa's famed Di- tacticians in Mexican history, with him for the battle. They definitely execute all officers, and probably most enlisted men
legendary Division of the North, which was probably the most vision of the North, but Carranza was reluctant to give Villa an- conferred and decided to set up Villa's artillery to shell the as well, the federals panicked. Officers ripped off their uniforms
formidable army of those arrayed against him. Villa's decisive other victory as well as control over the route into Mexico City. hills as a prelude to the attack. The Division of the North had even as they tried to fight off Villa's infantry, who had entered
victory at Zacatecas devastated the federal army and marked the Carranza stalled, and eventually Villa decided to take the city acquired formidable artillery from dealers in the United States. the city.
beginning of the end for Huerta. anyway: he was sick of taking orders from Carranza at any rate. For this battle, Villa decided, he would leave his famous cavalry Combat in the streets was fierce and brutal, and the blistering
President Huerta was fighting rebels on several fronts, the most The Federal Army was dug in at Zacatecas. Estimates of the size in reserve. After two days of skirmishing, Villa's artillerymen heat made it all the worse. A federal colonel detonated the
serious of which was the north, where Pancho Villa's Division of of the federal force range from 7,000 to 15,000, but most place it began bombarding the El Bufo Sierpe, Loreto and El Grillo arsenal, killing himself along with dozens of rebel soldiers and
the North was routing federal forces wherever they found them. at around 12,000. There are two hills overlooking Zacatecas: El hills at about 10 a.m. on June 23, 1914. Villa and Angeles sent destroying a city block. This infuriated the Villista forces on the
Huerta ordered General Lus Medina Barrn, one of his better Bufo and El Grillo and Medina Barrn had placed many of his elite infantry to capture La Bufa and El Grillo. On El Grillo, the two hills, who began raining gunfire down into the town. Survi-
tacticians, to reinforce the federal forces at the strategically best men on them. The withering fire from these two hills had artillery was battering the hill so badly that the defenders could vors reported hills flowing with blood and piles of corpses.
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