Neville Ranch Raid

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Neville Ranch Raid
Part of the Bandit War, Mexican Revolution
VillistasvstheUnitedStates1915-1920.jpg
Location Presidio County, Texas
Date March 25, 1918
Weapon(s) Small arms
Deaths 2
Suspected perpetrators
Villistas

The Neville Ranch Raid[1] occurred on the night of March 25, 1918 and was the last serious attack on a Texas ranch by Mexican rebels during the Bandit War. Though it is not certain, there was reason to believe that Villistas were responsible for the raid in which two people were murdered. Afterwards, the rebels withdrew to the village of Pilares, Chihuahua under pursuit by a cavalry of American soldiers. A small battle was fought Pilares on the following day, several more people were killed, and the Americans burned the village before they returned to Texas.[2]

Raid[edit]

From the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, raids into Texas by Mexican "bandits" became very common. More often than not, the so-called "bandits" were actually rebels. After the Brite Ranch Raid, on December 25, 1917, the Big Bend region was on high alert. The fact that three people had been murdered on Christmas day infuriated the local population. Villistas from the small border town of Porvenir were thought to be responsible so, on January 27, 1918, Texas Rangers and American soldiers surrounded the village and began searching it. While the soldiers were checking the houses, the Texas Rangers, under Captain Monroe Fox, gathered up fifteen Mexican men and took them to a nearby hill. There the Mexicans were executed and left on the spot. News of the massacre quickly spread throughout the area and, according to some accounts, the attack on Neville Ranch may have been launched in retaliation, being that many of the raiders had lived in Porvenir or had family there.[3][4]

Neville Ranch was owned by Edwin W. Neville and located about six miles up the Rio Grande from Porvenir. It was in an isolated area, there were no neighbors close by and the lower ranch complex, where the attack occurred, had no telephone. Edwin W. Neville lived there with his son, Glenn, and his Mexican servant, Rosa Castillo, with her husband and three children. Following the raid at Brite Ranch, Edwin moved his wife and his two daughters to a home in Van Horn. On March 25, 1918, while on garrison duty at Candelaria, Captain Leonard Matlock, 8th Cavalry, received information from someone regarding an imminent attack on Neville Ranch. Matlock then sent out a patrol, under a Lieutenant Gaines, to warn Edwin that his ranch was in danger. Edwin was not at his ranch though, he was in Van Horn buying supplies. After hearing a report about what was going on, Edwin rode with his son for eight hours back to the ranch to check on it. Sometime later, while discussing rumors in the ranch house, Glenn heard something and went to a window to see outside. There in the darkness he saw "fifty approaching horsemen" who then opened fire with small arms. Apparently, the house provided very little protection from the bullets so the Nevilles retreated to a ditch about 300 yards away. Glenn was shot in the head at this point but he did not die immediately for the raiders had time to come up and finish him off with rifle butts. Rosa was also "shot and her body mutilated" in front of her children while her husband escaped on a pony. When the shooting stopped, the raiders focused on robbing the place of horses, food, clothing, bedding and other supplies. Meanwhile, Edwin was "wandering" through the desert.[5][6]

Aftermath[edit]

Rosa's husband found Lieutenant Gaines and his patrol six miles away from the ranch and told them what had happened. Gaines then followed the man back to the lower Neville Ranch, arriving just after the raiders left, and from there he went to the upper ranch to inform his commander, Colonel George Langhorne, by telephone. Colonel Langhorne responded by dispatching Captain Henry H. Anderson and Troop G, 8th Cavalry, from Everett Ranch, an army camp about thirty-four miles north of Candelaria. At the same time, Troop A, 8th Cavalry, was mobilized in Marfa and sent to Valentine by rail. From there they mounted up and set out for Neville Ranch. By 4:00 pm, on March 26, Captain Anderson had assembled both troops, and a mule train for supplies, at the ranch and he was ready to begin pursuing the raiders. The Americans crossed the Rio Grande into Chihuahua shortly thereafter and quickly found the Mexicans' trail. According to Colonel Langhorne, Anderson and his men followed the Mexicans over rough mountainous country for about seventy miles before the latter "doubled back" and began heading towards Pilares. Unable to escape, the raiders laid an ambush for the cavalrymen near Pilares which turned into a running battle of eleven miles. Langhorne reported that the raiders were reinforced at about that time by people from Pilares and that some Carrancista soldiers may have fought in the battle as well. Langhorne said that after the expedition a Carrancista officer, named Enrique Montova, "boasted he had fought against [the Americans]" and "drove [them] out [of Pilares]" while at the same time "professing to aid [them]."[7][8][9]

When the battle was over, Captain Anderson ordered his men to burn all the buildings in Pilares except a single house. His command captured a "substantial cache of weapons", including German-made Mauser rifles, and they also found evidence at the village linking the inhabitants to the raids on Brite and Neville Ranch. The Americans then returned to Texas, "barely ahead of a larger contingent of Mexican [Carrancista] cavalry." Only one American was killed during the battle at Pilares, Private Carl Alberts. Mexican casualties range from ten to thirty-three killed and another eight wounded. Colonel Langhorne said; "Our soldiers found about 10 dead and found the horses of Nevill[e] and equipment belonging to Nevill[e]'s ranch and the boy that had been killed, and probably they killed a great many more than that. There were 29 in the raid, and the report as we checked it up showed there were about 33 killed. We lost Private Albert of A Troop in that fight."[10][11][12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Cox, Mike (2010). Time of the Rangers: Texas Rangers: From 1900 to the Present. Macmillan. ISBN 0-7653-2525-X. 
  • United States Congress, United States Senate (1920). Investigation of Mexican Affairs: Hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate Sixty-Sixth Congress First Session Pursuant to S. Res. 106. United States Government Printing Office.