Feast Day of St. Catherine of the Wheel 1987: Jacek Lazar condemned

1919: Felipe Angeles

November 26th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1919, Mexican hero General Felipe Angeles was shot at dawn in Chihuahua, hours after a military tribunal condemned him for rebellion.

Angeles, a humane and cosmopolitan socialist, had tacked a unique course through the dangerous Mexican Revolution. The career artillerist’s military counsel was a high card in the hands of the revolutionaries, and helped to make the coruscating career of Pancho Villa. Crucially, Angeles advised Villa to seize the mines of Zacatecas, dealing a mortal blow to the putschist Huerta government by throttling its currency at the source.

But that brilliant maneuver countermanded an order of the Revolution’s moderate political face, Venustiano Carranza, and both personality conflicts and support for more radically redistributionist measures soon sundered the Villa factions’ alliance with Carranza.

Angeles hitched his destiny to Pancho Villa and is historically recalled as the “angelic” opposite number to the famed guerrilla’s other top military henchman, the murderous Roberto Fierro. The three lend themselves almost implausibly to allegorical literature — “the decisive biographical proof of Villa’s duality … found in the two men closest to him, equidistant and extreme extensions of his nature.” (Enrique Krauze)

Angeles aimed, perhaps, at a statesmanship that might have remembered him the father of his country.

‘It was the recurrent dream of the impotent revolutionary intellectual: to play Plato to some powerful but pliant popular caudillo.’ This may well be an accurate analysis of Angeles, who probably had ambitions to be president of Mexico, with Villa as the power behind the throne but based in Chihuahua, allowing Angeles free rein to implement radical reforms in the capital

… Angeles probably saw Villa as a tabula rasa on which he could imprint his ideology. The problem was that Villa had no taste for abstract thought; as [John] Reed remarked ironically: ‘You had to be a philosopher to explain anything to Villa.’

To the grief of both, Villa neglected Angeles’ expertise when the Villists faced Carranzo at arms. Against advice, Villa abandoned Mexico City, failed to attack when the constitutionalists were tenuous, then spurned guerrilla operations for a frontal assault into the teeth of a foe with numerical superiority and lethal tactical advances culled from the slaughterhouse of World War I.

All was postscript after the Battle of Celaya — Villa maintaining for a few years as a bandit force and famously raiding New Mexico while his strategist drifted into exile in Texas before returning to Mexico on a quixotic peacemaking mission that led him instead to a show trial.

Angeles’ end came with the all the dignity of his romantic age. Before his judges — before all the world — he gave “full and clear expositions of his history and his ideas about everything from politics to ontology. It was clear that he knew this was his end, and he seems to have written a kind of intellectual memoir in the protracted answers … he was not defeated morally so much as physically.”

Angeles himself arranged particulars of his own execution with the Carranza men detailed to shoot him. He enjoys posthumous esteem commensurate with his qualities in life:

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Guerrillas,History,Martyrs,Mexico,Notable Participants,Power,Revolutionaries,Shot,Soldiers,Treason,Wartime Executions

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10 thoughts on “1919: Felipe Angeles”

  1. Mayra angeles says:

    I’m not quite sure where I fall in the lineage of the general, but my father was named after him because he looks sooo much like him. Same nose, ears and mouth. My fathers name is Felipe Angeles.

  2. logan smith says:

    my wife’s grandmother was married to his oldest son

  3. My dad admired Felipe Angeles and often quoted some of the things he said. His cousin, Col Lino Maturino fought in the Mexican Revolution with Villa as well. Did your wife ever hear the statements made by Felipe Angeles regarding the curse of the Pope while the soldiers were asked to bombard the stronghold of the Catholic churches and convents? The statement of resistance from his commanding officers had to do with the curse it would
    befall on them. As to wit Felipe responded, “Point the cannon to the Pope and shoot the Pope.” Their response was, “My General, the cannon fire can’t reach him.” ” Like wise, neither would the curse of the Pope in Rome.”

  4. My mother, Ms Maria Hernandez de Roman, instilled in me the love and respect for Revolutionary Heroes Gen. Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Gen. Felipe Angeles. She knew Lic. Victor Esprieto, one of the judges who pronounced the death sentence upon Gen. Felipe Angeles. My mother also mentioned that Lic. Esprieto eventually regretted his decision.

    Michael Roman, Esq.
    Chicago, Il.

  5. Gustavo Chico says:

    mi Gral. Felipe angeles, heroe de la revolucion mexicana. Un ejemplo a seguir, como persona como militar como mexicano.

  6. Paul Michaud says:

    I am married to General Philipe Angeles’s Granddaughter
    Her name is Clarita Angeles Michaud and Lives in
    Dixfield,Maine

    1. logan says:

      please contact us had no idea he had more family 918 384 9616

      1. logan smith says:

        not sure if right family

  7. Julio Olguin says:

    Felipe Angeles was a great person, leader and a key general in the Mexican War. Im proud to this day and would like to say this great leader is in fact my Great Uncle. Hopefully some of he intelligence along with his bravery flows thorough my blood. Con mucho respecto mi General….

  8. ezarate says:

    a fine military officer, academy graduate, example of the quality of well educated Mexican men, muchos huevos and a lot of brains, he shall live for ever

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