Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sad Saga of Maximo Castillo


I have to say I have very much enjoyed researching Mexican Bandits and the Revolution of 1910. It is a particularly hard topic to get your hands around, as the players and alliances were changing on an almost constant basis. It is hard to know who the good guys were, and who the bad guys were, but it was pretty clear that there was no shortage of innocent victims, which brings us to today's picture of Maximo Castillo. Castillo was one of Pancho Villa's men in the north. In looking at the picture, I am not sure I like Castillo's outfit. To me, it is almost like he is trying to hard, with the feather in his sombrero, and the over-the-top beard. Perhaps he is trying to make up for other Bandit shortcomings by his dress and appearance.

Anyway, Castillo was one of the Bandit leaders under Pancho Villa. Somewhere along the way Pancho and Castillo had a falling out, and Castillo's band broke away from Villa. Villa was not only the military leader in the north, he was also more or less the de facto government of the north. One of the many things Pancho Villa was responsible for was the northern railroads. Shortly after Castillo's band separated from Villa, there was a tragic train accident. The event occurred in northern Mexico in the Cumbres Tunnel near Juarez. A freight train entered the tunnel, and was dynamited in the middle of the tunnel. The train was left in the tunnel, and the following day a passenger train entered the tunnel at full speed, not knowing that the other train wreckage was in the middle of the tunnel. The passenger train crashed into the disabled freight train, and caught on fire and exploded. All 55 on board were killed, including ten Americans. Immediately, Pancho Villa issued a press release stating that Maximo Castillo and his band of Renegade Bandits had planned and executed the operation to destroy the train. Villa stated that he would hunt down, and then publicly hang Castillo and his men. Villa indicated that he would be sending VIP invitations to American dignitaries to come and watch the hanging. Tempers were immediately flared in northern Mexico, as most people at least knew someone killed on the train. So, Castillo was a marked man. Upon learning of Villas accusations, Castillo and his men made a run for the border. They were able to reach the border and cross over into the United States. Upon safely reaching the United States, Castillo and his men were captured by US army officials and placed in detention of Fort Bliss.


Castllo is the Bandit on the left, shown behind barbed wire.


Above, Castillo is pictured with his American Guards. Castillo looks none to happy in the photograph, but I notice that he is enjoying a fine cigar.

So, once Castillo is captured he vehemently proclaims his innocence. He said that Pancho Villa had blown up his own train to turn the population against Castillo, and to give Villa a pretense to hunt down and kill Castillo as punishment for crossing him, and to serve as an example to other bandits who might think about challenging Villa.

OK, now remember that the whole purpose of the revolution was to unseat Diaz. The revolution was successful, and Madero was installed as president. Very quickly the bandits became unhappy with Madero, and the revolution continued, but this time with the goal to kill Madero. Madero's palace was over run, and Huerta installed himself as president. Very quickly Villa and Huerta had a falling out, and Villa once again was part of a revolution to oust Huerta. It was at this period of time that the Cumbres Tunnel train disaster occurred. 

This caused great confusion in the US as to what should be done with Castillo. Castillo had broken no laws in the US, so could not be tried in the United States. The US government did not recognize the legitimacy of the Huerta government, so they could not turn Castillo over to Huerta. While the US had under-the-table relations with Villa, he was a Bandit, and simply turning Castillo over the Villa would be a death sentence without even a semblance of a fair trial. So the US did not know what to do with Castillo.

Interestingly enough, I spent the day researching this yesterday, and was unable to find any information on how this was resolved, and what happened to Huerta. The trail just ran completely cold.

So, we are left to speculate on who really blew up the train. As for me, I feel that it was likely Pancho Villa. I would think that Castillo would have been seeking to keep a lower profile after crossing Villa. My bet would be that Pancho Villa did it to give him an excuse to seek vengeance on Castillo. If any readers have any information on how this ended, I would love to hear it.

Domestic Update:

In my continuing quest to become a Gentleman Farmer, I am pleased to announce that I completed fabrication of my new lettuce growing system. The system will be able to grow 350 heads of lettuce at a time, year round. I now have the  seeds planted and am waiting on them to sprout. I will keep you posted on how this new system works out.


38 comments:

  1. Wow! You keep up expanding like this and you will have to take on hired hands.

    Very merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  2. I agree with you, it sounds like a set up by Villa.
    I wonder why no one noticed that a train was missing and setting in the middle of that tunnel. There should have been some one that noticed a missing train and went to find out where it was.

    My guess on Casillo's fate, he was released and took up ranching in Montana under a assumed name

    No more clues as what Handsome Jack is up to with that heavy machinery?

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  3. Roger,
    Things have been quite out behind Chickie Town. I think Handsome gave the crew the Christmas break. Perhaps he wants to limit construction activity while I am home.
    PJM

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  4. By the way sorry I was late this morning. I had to go in and open up the lobby area to the office.
    The new manager took off for Christmas vacation early.
    About 8600 minutes left.

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  5. That is one smart bird. Kepps you away from the hired hands so you can't ask questions.

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  6. Roger,
    What will you be doing in retirement? Buying chickens and starting a garden I hope.
    PJM

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  7. To start with I am going to do a little traveling. Visit all my kids and grandkids. I have some grandkids I haven't seen in over 10 years.
    I have kids in Fla. to Washington State.
    I have nieces in California. that I haven't seen in over 20 years.

    In my travels I my even go through Texas, and check out a certain teacher and his boss Handsome Jack.

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  8. OK after your travels, buy chickens and plant a garden.
    PJM

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  9. Well, my son has a place just out of town in Whitehall, Mt. I think I will buy the chickens, and have him raise them. I use to do a lot of gradening, but when I was the site mgr. of a 248 unit mobile home park, I didn't have the time or the space to keep it up' So I have been away from it for 21 years now.
    My son already has a hugh garden, so if I feel the need to do more gradening I can go visit him for awhile.
    He wants to expand his living area, and I have the knowledge to do those things, so I may spend more than a little while at his place.
    Being 67 I'm not as fast as I use to be, so I will have some place to go to raise chickens and garden, and not have to be with full tiem

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  10. PJM, Merry Christmas to you and your family...

    Merry Christmas Roger...

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  11. Thanks Karen, and same back to you.
    PJM

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  12. Merry Christmas to you and your family and all the members of Chickie Town and your 350 heads o lettuce

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  13. 350 heads of lettuce, that's a LOT of salad.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Mr. PJM, and to everyone else. Happy Holidays!

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  14. Joe,
    Best Christmas wishes to you and yours as well. Hope you will keep visiting and commenting next year!
    PJM

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  15. Mr. PJM,
    Sure will. Thank you kindly for all the time and work you put into this, we do appreciate it!
    Joe

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  16. thank you for the info it is very interesting. its nice to actually learn something on the web. have a very merry christmas and ill be back next week thanks again. Todd from N.C.

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  17. "Lettuce" Gotcha!
    wink wink.

    Merry Christmas.

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  18. Todd, best wishes to you as well, and glad to see another NC reader.

    Scott, you get nothing but a lump of coal. I will post pictures of the LETTUCE as it grows. Sheesh.
    PJM

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  19. I for one am relieved that there will be no picture embargo due to some yahoo who ticks the thumbs down button.

    Thank you for the domestic update! Mrs. PJM will undoubtedly become even more popular this year with her co-workers.

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  20. Just realised I might not be able to check on my favourite history blog tomorrow so I'd better wish you a Merry Christmas now! Hope your holidays are wonderful and full of the Christmas spirit, PJM.

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  21. I find the whole saga of the Mexican Revolution to be sad, so much bloodshed and in the end, I am not sure the Mexican peasants were ever better off.
    350! Heads of Lettuce. You & Mrs. PJM will bring back the local town outdoor market on your own!!!

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  22. Astrocrabbpuff,
    Thank you for the Christmas wishes, and thank you for all your wonderful comments on the blog this year. Hope you will tune in again next year.
    PJM

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  23. M. in Wyoming,
    Merry Christmas to you, and you can come back and watch the Saga unfold as Mrs. PJM tries to unload all that lettuce in her underground black market in lettuce at work. Will she be found out? Will she lose her job? Will PJM let her come home if she has not sold her quota. Should be an interesting year.
    PJM

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  24. PJM and family,

    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

    There seems to be a lot of things happining at the same time at the ranch/farm. Working while growing wondeful food stuffs with chickens and peacocks bounding about, some with secret missions, and probably a number of other projects we are anxious to hear about. You lead a good and fun life that we should all emulate.

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  25. I hope you will continue to keep us abreast of the happenings there and continue to teach us some fery interesting aspects of history.

    Al

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  26. Karen in Ca.
    Thank you for your Merry Christmas and the same to you.

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  27. Al,
    Merry Christmas to you also, and hope you will start leaving more comments next year.
    PJM

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  28. What a remarkably good blog. You've won me as a follower (though that isn't that big a victory... I'm easy)! This is a very clever idea for a blog and I like the popular history approach. Way to go!

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  29. That beard was completely gangster...but that may have been the point. And congrats on your lettuce growing thing.

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  30. According to the Spanish version of Wikipedia, he fled to Cuba where he died in 1919. I have no idea when and how he left the US .

    Jay

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  31. Merry Christmas to you and your family...

    Nice art!

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  32. Castillo was released in El Paso in 1917:http://books.google.com/books?id=rmI9AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA87&dq=Maximo+Castillo&hl=en&ei=MaYeTcu4FpSssAOW0aGwAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=Maximo%20Castillo&f=false

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  33. he's my great great grandather...

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  34. Castillo never was allied to Pancho Villa. He tried with others such as Orozco but they were too soft for him. Castillo was very extreme. Described as to the left of Pancho Villa by Friederich Katz. He was for total revolution and attacked the Mormons constantly, he had no respect for any foreignesrs as opposed to Pancho Villa who for the most part never bothered the Americans until USA turned away from him. Pancho Villa attacked and decimated Castillo's men because Villa wanted to keep in good standing with the USA. Blaming Pancho Villa for the train massacre (La Cumbre) makes no sense if analyzed carefully.

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  35. My grandfather served in the US Army and was in charge of the squad that captured Castillo. They treated Castillo so respectfully that Castillo wrote my grandfather a letter thanking him for the way they treated him.

    Michael

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  36. Re: Castillo's fate. Spanish-language wikipedia says he was exiled to Cuba and died there in 1919. "Se exilió a Cuba donde murió en 1919."

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