U.S. Campaign Against Pancho Villa

Tenth U.S. Cavalry

On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked sleeping citizens and soldiers in the town of Columbus, New Mexico.  President Woodrow Wilson ordered Brigadier General John J. Pershing, to lead a “Punitive Expedition” of U.S. troops into Mexico in pursuit of Villa and his band. 

Among the troops crossing into Mexico were the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers commanded by Colonel William Brown.  The senior Major in the Regiment was Major Charles Young. The troops were often in the saddle for over seventeen hours a day, riding through rough, irregular terrain in pursuit of Villa.  These saddles were not comfortable for the rider, but were designed to protect the horses back from strain. 

Charles Young was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 10th Cavalry in June of 1916, the second-most senior position in the regiment, and the first time an African American would reach that grade as a “line officer” in the regular army.  Six months later, President Wilson ended the Punitive Expedition and ordered the troops to return to the United States to begin preparations for the war in Europe.

This photograph was taken on the United States / Mexico border, circa 1916. 

2014.8.8, Courtesy of The Library of Congress