1915: Wenseslao Moguel, “El Fusilado”, survives the firing squad

Add comment March 18th, 2018 Headsman

On this date in 1915, Wenseslao Moguel, a soldier of Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution, was captured and immediately stood in front of a firing squad.

Miraculously, Moguel survived their volley, and even survived the coup de grace shot to the head afterwards delivered by the squad’s commander.

Although badly disfigured, he managed to crawl away from the execution grounds and went on to live a full life with the nickname El Fusilado (“the executed one”). He died around 1975.


In 1937, Wenseslao Moguel appeared on the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! radio program.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Executions Survived,History,Lucky to be Alive,Mexico,No Formal Charge,Not Executed,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions

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1916: Three in the Mexican Revolution

Add comment March 8th, 2011 Headsman

On an uncertain date — approximated only to “about the time of the Columbus affair,” which was Pancho Villa‘s famous (and otherwise unrelated) raid on Columbus, N.M. March 8-9, 1916 — a triple execution took place in Juarez, Mexico.

The who, why, and wherefore appear to be completely lost. Only the image remains:

These images were captured by C. Tucker Barrett, a lawyer and amateur photographer serving with the U.S. Army’s 16th Infantry Regiment then stationed right across the border from Juarez, in El Paso, Texas. (This regiment would be detailed for a punitive expedition into Mexico, which Barrett also photographed.)

The Mexican Revolution may be ancient history, but Juarez and extrajudicial executions are still very much in the news.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Known But To God,Mature Content,Mexico,Public Executions,Shot,Uncertain Dates,Wartime Executions

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1913: Antonio Echazarreta, defending Matamoros

3 comments June 4th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1913, constitutionalist troops in the Mexican Revolution consolidating control over the border town of Matamoros shot a 23-year-old colonel who helped lead the city’s volunteer resistance.

Garrisoned by fewer than 50 regular soldiers, Matamoros put up only brief resistance to Gen. Lucio Blanco‘s June 3-4 attack, many of its government officials and wealthy denizens bolting over the Rio Grande to adjacent Brownsville, Texas.*

But some of the young guns in town had an overdeveloped sense of heroic machismo and sold their lives dearly to postpone the inevitable.

Groups of young Matamoros men, some of them fourteen and fifteen years old, volunteered for service under irregular huertista officers. They fought stubbornly until early in the morning of June 4. A number of them were captured and executed by Blanco’s men. (Source.)

Echazarreta’s leadership of these ill-fated guerrillas saw him up against the wall this day, but also saw him into the revolution folk song about the city’s conquest, “Corrido de la toma de Matamoros”. Nor was the revolution yet finished with Matamoros, or its martial prowess.

In 1915, as the rival revolutionary factions openly broke with one another, carrancistas loyal to President (and Villa rival) Venustiano Carranza inflicted a signal defeat on Villa at Matamoros that began Villa’s march into political and literal wilderness. It’s commemorated in yet another revolutionary corrido, here sung by Jose Suarez (via the U.S. Library of Congress):

[audio:Corrido_villesta_de_la_toma_de_Matamoros.mp3]

* An interesting photo album covering this battle is available here.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Guerrillas,History,Mexico,No Formal Charge,Power,Public Executions,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions

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1919: Felipe Angeles

11 comments 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:

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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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