The Chargé in Mexico (Summerlin) to the Secretary of State

No. 2441

Sir: With reference to previous Embassy despatches giving extracts from President Carranza’s message42 read at the opening of the Mexican Congress on the first instant, I have the honor to submit, as being of possible interest to the Department, the following translation of that portion of the message43 which narrated the incidents connected with the Villa attack on Ciudad Juarez on June 15, 1919, and the subsequent crossing of the border by American forces in pursuit of the Villa forces.

The Executive ordered the formation of two columns of infantry to reenforce the border town (Ciudad Juarez), one of which was to march to Piedras Negras and from there through Texas to Ciudad [Page 564] Juarez, and the other from Nogales, Sonora, also across American territory; but the Government of the White House did not grant the necessary permission and the town was protected by its garrison only, some thirteen hundred men of the three arms. On the fourteenth of June at midnight the enemy numbering one thousand attacked Ciudad Juarez and, after a hard fight, the loyal forces had to withdraw to Fort Hidalgo to reorganize. At 4 A.M. of the following day, General Gonzalez (Commander of the Mexican Federal Forces) made a counter attack with magnificent results, driving the enemy from his positions, killing eighty, among them a “general” who was completely identified, and taking thirty-eight prisoners. The commander mentioned awaited a second attack by the enemy, and 12:15 P.M. of the same day the Villistas made a new assault on the town and the Government forces again withdrew to Fort Hidalgo. The enemy took possession of the center of the town.

At 8:30 P.M., General Gonzalez reported that, after an energetic fight, the enemy had been driven from the town and that the victory of the Government forces was complete. The losses were eighty-seven dead, three wounded and forty-five prisoners. Our troops lost twenty-three wounded and seven dead, among the first being Colonel Gonzalo Escobar. On withdrawing from the town of Juarez, the enemy intentionally fired towards El Paso, doubtlessly with the intention of provoking an international conflict. This nefarious purpose was accomplished, because the American forces of General J. B. Erwin entered our territory in pursuit of the bandits. General Gonzalez prudently withdrew his forces to Fort Hidalgo in order to inform higher authority of the passage of American forces and to await orders, but not without previously sending a note to the American commander that he evacuate the national territory. The United States General had a conference with General Gonzalez at which it was agreed that the foreign troops should leave our territory within twenty minutes, and by 11:30 of the same day45 our territory was free of them. For merit in this action, Colonel J. Gonzalo Escobar was promoted to the next higher grade.

I have [etc.]

George T. Summerlin
  1. For extracts from section of message dealing with foreign relations, see pp. 531 ff.
  2. From the section dealing with the War and Navy Department.
  3. June 16, 11.30 p.m.