|Battle of Zacatecas|
|Part of the Mexican Revolution|
|Villistas (followers of Pancho Villa)||Mexico|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Pancho Villa||General Luís Medina Barrón|
|over 20,000 (estimate)||7,000-15,000 (most likely 12,000)|
|Casualties and losses|
|1,000 (estimate)||6,000-7,000 (estimate)|
- This article is about the 1914 battle. For other battles of similar name, see Battle of Zacatecas.
The Battle of Zacatecas, also known as the Toma de Zacatecas (Taking of Zacatecas), was the bloodiest battle in the campaign to overthrow Mexican President Victoriano Huerta. On June 23, 1914, Pancho Villa's División del Norte (Division of the North) decisively defeated the troops of General Luis Medina Barrón defending the town of Zacatecas. The great victory demoralized Huerta's supporters, leading to his resignation on July 15.
Zacatecas, a silver mining town of 30,000, possessed a strategic military asset, a railroad junction that had to be captured in order to advance from the north on the capital, Mexico City. Realizing this, Huerta sent one of his better officers, General Medina Barrón, with reinforcements for the federal troops already defending the town. Estimates of the size of his total force range from 7000 to 15,000, but it is likely he had 12,000 men.
Venustiano Carranza, the leader of the rebellion, was jealous of Villa's popularity and did not want to give Villa a chance to precede him into Mexico City, so he ordered him to attack Saltillo next after his hard-fought victory at Torreón. Carranza chose General Panfilo Natera instead for the assault on Zacatecas. Medina Barrón easily repulsed his attack. Without authorization, Villa decided to try his luck with his División del Norte of over 20,000 men.
Zacatecas was ringed by high hills. Medina Barrón placed many of his best troops on two of them, La Bufa and El Grillo, with artillery in support. Smaller hills, such as Loreto and el Sierpe, were also fortified.
Villa let Felipe Ángeles plan the attack. It was decided to take advantage of their greater numbers and superior artillery and storm the town from all sides, with the artillery concentrating on La Bufa and El Grillo. The bombardment started at 10 a.m., July 23, 1914. El Grillo was taken around 1 p.m. Resistance on La Bufa was stronger, in part because Medina Barrón was there, but his soldiers became disheartened by the fall of El Grillo, and La Bufa suffered the same fate late in the afternoon.
Medina Barrón and his men retreated into the town. Panic set in, as all knew well that Villa's men would show no mercy. The general ordered a retreat to the neighboring town of Guadalupe, on the road to the city of Aguascalientes, from which reinforcements were expected. However, they were horrified to find 7,000 fresh troops blocking their way. The federals were slaughtered.
In total, an estimated 6000-7000 defenders were killed, many of the rest were wounded, and only Medina Barrón and a few hundred men reached the safety of Aguascalientes. About 700 of Villa's men were killed and 1500 wounded. Civilian casualties are unknown.
- Katz, Friedrich (1998). The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3046-6. http://books.google.ca/books?id=XAIcq6AJ3OwC&pg=RA1-PA348&lpg=RA1-PA348&dq=Battle+of+Zacatecas&source=bl&ots=m6whrecExN&sig=MMv-jcow6b7AJKX4jSvCecItfD4&hl=en&ei=6kRmSr-GJJD8tAOpvM3yDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9. p. 348
- "Reports Rout of Rebels" (PDF). New York Times. June 16, 1914. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9901E6DE143AE633A25755C1A9609C946596D6CF. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- "The Independent". Archive.org. http://archive.org/stream/independen79v80newy#page/n14/mode/1up. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
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