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This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9

1820  Congress passed the Land Act.The act prohibited the purchase of the public domain on credit, reduced the size of the minimum purchase size to 80 acres, required a down payment of $100.00, a substantial amount, but reduced the per acreage price to $1.25/acre.  The act was designed to help stop speculation in public land and assist small purchasers.

1849  William Alford Richards was born in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. He served as the 4th Governor of Wyoming from 1895-1899.Richards has been discussed a bit here elsewhere, but is noted for having come to Wyoming as a surveyor, and staying on as a homesteader.

1888  Natrona, Convere and Sheridan Counties created by the Territorial Legislature. They were created by an act of Territorial Legislature which overroad a veto by the Territorial Governor.  Attribution:  On This Day.

1904  A sheep raid near Laramie results in the destruction of sheep camps and the death of 300 sheep.  The early 20th Century in Wyoming was marked by a sheep war that went on for nearly a decade in which cattle interests resorted to violence in an effort to keep mostly nomadic sheep operations out of the state.  Attacks on sheep camps became common during this period.

1912  Cornerstone of Bishop Randall Hospital laid in Lander.

1916  Pancho Villa raided Columbus New Mexico, an event which would spark the Punitive Expedition and the Federalization of the National Guard.  To varying degrees, the National Guard would remain Federalized from this point through 1919, although technically all members of the Federalized Guard were conscripted during World War One due to a legal opinion of the U.S.  Attorney General to the effect that the Federalized Guard could not be sent overseas, a view that was a surprise at the time, and which has been completely rejected since that time.

 Villa leading his forces prior to his 1915 defeat at Celaya
0100: Forces under Francisco "Pancho" Villa cross the border near Palomas, Chihuahua to advance on the small town of Columbus New Mexico, which they intend to raid in retaliation for Woodrow Wilson's actions in allowing Carranza's forces to be transported by rail across Texas to be used against Villa's forces in northern Mexico.  
Most are on foot.  Columbus is 2.5 miles to the north of the Mexican border town, where Villistas had been located and recuperating after a recent defeat at the hands of Carranza's forces.
Villa, who may or may not have accompanied his troops that day, commanded approximately 500 men.  His force of horsemen was in disarray after being defeated at the  Battle of Celaya in April of the prior year, from which it had still not recovered.  Villa had gone in that battle with 22,000 men, 8,000 of which were killed, and another 8,000 of which were captured in the battle.  His forces at Palomas, while dangerous, were a shadow of his prior Division del Norte.
Villa believed that nearby Columbus was garrisoned with about 30 US soldiers.  This intelligence was erroneous and US forces in the region were alerted to the possibility of trouble occurring.
1929  Greybull was flooded by the Big Horn River.  Attribution:  Wyoming State Historical Society.

 Col Herbert J. Slocum, U.S. 13th Cavalry.  Slocum was in command of the 13th Cavalry Regiment at Columbus New Mexico, or more accurately Camp Furlong which was next to Columbus.
0415:  Villistas enter Columbus New Mexico from the west and southeast crying "¡Viva Villa! ¡Viva México!"

They expected to encounter an American garrison of only 30 men, as noted above, based upon their scouting and intelligence.  However, Columbus had a garrison of over 300 men, to Villa's force of approximately 500 men.  The US forces were from the U.S. 13th Cavalry who occupied adjacent Camp Furlong.  Moreover, U.S. troops were equipped in a modern fashion, complete with the Benet Mercie light machine gun which had been adopted for cavalry use.

The raid on Columbus New Mexico, 1916
 Maj General John P. Lucas during World War Two.  Lucas, as a lieutenant, would react heroically to the Villista attack.
0415-0445 to 0730.  A pitched battle between Villistas against cavalrymen of the 13th U.S. Cavalry ensues. While caught by surprise, the US forces had some inkling that Villistas may have been on the move prior to the raid and reacted very quickly.  Local Columbus New Mexico residents also took part in the battle, defending their homes.  While the battle started in darkness, the fact that a hotel caught fire soon aided US. forces in being able to pick out Villista targets.
The early minutes of the action featured a heroic reaction by Lt. John P. Lucas who fought his way alone from his tent to the guard shack in spite of lacking shoes and shirt.  Lucas who commanded a machinegun troop, organized a single machinegun in defense until the remainder of his unit could come up.  He then organized them and worked to repel the Villistas.  Lucas made a career of the Army and died after World War Two at age 59 while still serving in the Army. 
0730  A Villista bugler sounds retreat.  Villistas begin the process of withdrawing to Mexico with their wounded. 
The following telegram arrived in Washington, DC:
Columbus attacked this morning, 4:30 o’clock. Citizens murdered. Repulsed about 6 o’clock. Town partly burned. They have retreated to the west. Unable to say how many were killed. Department of Justice informed that between 400 and 500 Villa troops attacked Columbus, New Mexico about 4:30. Villa probably in charge. Three American soldiers killed and several injured; also killed four civilians and wounded four. Several of the attacking party killed and wounded by our forces. Attacking party also burned depot and principal buildings in Columbus. United States soldiers now pursuing attacking parties across the line into Mexico. No prisoners reported taken alive
The Raid on Columbus New Mexico, 1916
0730-balance of the day:  Troopers of the U.S. 13th Cavalry pursue retreating Villistas into Mexico.  Major Frank Tompkins, sought permission against the rules of engagement, to cross the border and was granted the same by Slocum.   His troops advanced past Palomas and fifteen miles into Mexico, where their pursuit is arrested by the Villista defense. As he had only a portion of the Camp Furlong garrison he was badly outnumbered in the pursuit but nonetheless engaged the Villista rear guard four times, inflicting heavy casualties on them.  When his advance was finally checked, he withdrew into the United States.
The raid leaves part of Columbus in ruins and will launch the United States into a punitive expedition into Mexico against Villa's forces, and which would nearly lead to war with Mexico.  Woodrow Wilson filled the vacant position of Secretary of War that very day.

Most towns and cities in 1916 were served by a morning and an evening newspaper, or a paper that published a morning and evening edition.  Therefore, most Americans would have started learning of the Villista raid around 5:00 p.m. or so as the evening newspapers were delivered or started being offered for sale.

Here's the evening edition of the Casper Daily Press, a paper that was in circulation in Casper Wyoming in 1916 and which is the predecessor of one of the current papers.

1917   The Wyoming Tribune for March 9, 1917: State Troops Mustered Out

Wyoming's citizen soldiers were citizens again. . . although not for long.

And the Marines had landed. . . in Cuba.
The Cheyenne State Leader for March 9, 1917: Guardsmen Keep Thier Overcoats

Wyoming National Guardsmen being released from service were relieved to learn they'd be able to keep their overcoats.  A rumor had floated that they were to be taken and burned.  Not so, said the Army, they'd keep them.

In March, in Wyoming, that was really good news.

The Marines had landed in Cuba.  Out of Mexico and into Cuba?

The false story about Germany broadcasting the Zimmerman note to Mexico by radio was being floated.  That never happened, but the British were circulating the story as cover for how they had learned of the message.  Zimmerman himself was reported to have provided funds for an anti British rebellion in India.

The Graf Zeppelin passed away, as did the American Ambassador to Japan.

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