Here's the historical scoop on Columbus:
In the early morning of March 9, 1916, troops of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa crossed the border and attacked. Maybe they did it to steal horses and small arms from the US cavalry. Another account said Villa attacked in retribution for US support of revolutionary (and later Mexican president) Venustiano Carranza. Or, the attack could have been revenge for a Columbus general store owner allegedly selling Villa poor quality ammunition. No one knows for sure, but 18 US citizens -- 8 military and 10 civilians -- were killed. So were 90 "Villistas," as Villa's troops were called.
The visitor centers' film about the raid included interviews with people who remembered the raid, saw people shot, saw a hotel and other buildings burn, and who were hidden by their parents until the marauders left. I had it in my head that only a few dozen settlers lived in Columbus at the time but about 400 people were there, including a Calvary regiment.
After the attack, General John J. Pershing lead a “Punitive Expedition” that chased Pancho Villa in Mexico for nearly a year. Villa was never caught. But although the troops didn't know it at the time the expedition prepared them -- and Pershing -- for World War I, which broke out soon after.
In much more recent Columbus news, I read that the now-former mayor of Columbus, a former police chief and others were pleaded guilty in 2011 to smuggling guns into Mexico. Wow.
|Bev doing an inadvertent Jane Fonda in an early-day tank used in General Pershing's "Punitive Expedition." Behind me is he Pancho Villa State Park Visitors' Center.|
|Columbus, NM was the home of the first US Army airbase, established to support Pershing's expedition. Here Jim looks at a display about the biplanes used.|
|A side door at the Patio Cafe in Columbus, NM...|
|...and a sign at the cafe. But the restaurant was charming and the food and service great.|