Saturday, May 8, 2021

Scenario 12: The First Battle of Tijuana, May 8, 1911.


The battle of Tijuana, from the point of view of the Liberal Junta, should never have occurred--or at least, should not have occurred in early May. In late April, a Federal force of Rurales and militia volunteers, led by Iriarte and Núñez, garrisoned El Carrizo, about 80 kilometers south of El Alamo. They may have intended to march north on El Alamo, where the Liberal column previously led by Berthold, threatened Ensenada. However, the Liberals determined it would be better to approach Ensenada from the north than the east, and had been called back to Mexicali by the Junta, anyway, to mass for an attack on Vega at the Colorado River waterworks. Magón was extremely clear in his letter, writing: “Comrades, I beg you to agree on everything with comrade Francisco R. Quijada, who is now the general-in-chief of the Liberal forces of Baja California (...) because the common agreement of all is needed to overthrow despotism (...) Companion Quijada guards the Mexicali garrison; that town is sparsely garrisoned and your help is needed to attack Mayol's forces. The Junta considers that it is urgent to end Mayol. PD: We are informed by the head of the 2nd. Liberal Army Division, C. Pryce, which is heading west (...) maybe you will find him when you go to Mexicali, tell him that the Junta has ordered all the liberal forces to march towards Mexicali (...) Likewise Send a mail to Captain Guerrero, who as we know is on his way to San Quintín, to turn immediately to Mexicali (Bartra and Barrera 200).

The Alamo column’s new commander, Valenzuela, intended to follow this order, but the foriegn volunteers with him refused. They voted out Valenzuela, who returned to Mexicali with some comrades, and elected the IWW member Jack Mosby instead. When Mosby’s column invaded Tecate on May 1, the forces at El Carrizo received word. Iriarte led a small force of Rurales to Tijuana, the next logical target for the Liberals in Tecate. Núñez remained to command the El Carrizo garrison, but sent a scouting force to La Entrada, near Tecate. These scouts returned to El Carrizo after observing the Liberals. Mosby’s force, however, had followed the scouts, and the rebels burst into El Carrizo around 2:30pm, capturing three officers and a mail car, and forcing Núñez and his forces to flee. Soon thereafter, Lerdo González, for whom Núñez had been waiting, arrived with another Federal column and recaptured El Carrizo. In this short skirmish, Mosby was wounded. The Liberals put him in the mail car for transport to Tecate, and then on to the United States to receive treatment in a hospital (Bartra and Barrera 198). This left Sam Wood, another IWW member, as the commander of the Tecate column of the PLM. 

Meanwhile in Mexicali, Pryce had likely already received the orders from the Junta to attack Mayol’s camp near the riverworks. Instead, on May 5th, Pryce’s Foriegn Legion arrived in Tecate and merged with Wood’s column. The following day, the 200 men of the reinforced Foriegn Legion, also called the Second Division of the Liberal Army of Baja, departed Tecate for Tijuana.

When they arrived near Tijuana on the morning of May 8th, around 100 government forces, led by Subprefect Larroque, held the town. Second Lieutenant Miguel Guerrero commanded the 25 Federal soldiers there. Commanders Iriarte and Mendoza were in charge of the groups of Rurales, and Lerdo González commanded the militia and customs guards.

Larroque had prepared to defend the town by building two lines of trenches and breast works between the bull ring and the center of town.

(Tijuana's bullring, in an old postcard).

Set up: 

Tijuana is a small town on the border of the United States. The Río Tijuana runs from the heights south-east of town, through the town diagonally, crossing the border in the north-west of town, turning parallel to the border and emptying into the Pacific ocean south of San Diego. The town sits south of the river, on the west bank. The main stretch of town consists of a strip of shops, saloons, and customs buildings on a broad, dirt road. Just west of the center of town, the bull ring sits in a grassy area. Homes and farms follow the roads from Tijuana into the surrounding area on both sides of the river. The terrain is dry desert, with greenery by the river, and hills to the south.

(Tijuana in an old postcard).


Clear - normal visibility for turns 1-8, and 14-22. Nighttime visibility turns 9-13. 

Supply: 7 rounds of ammo for defenders, 5 rounds for rebels.


PLM Forces:

210 fighters of the Second Division of the Mexican Liberal Army in Baja California (Foriegn Legion)

-Pryce and HQ: 5 officers

-Pryce’s Column: 85 rebels

-Sam Wood’s Column: 60 rebels

-Lieutenant Robert’s Column: 60 rebels

Government forces:  

-HQ: Larroque and 4 officers and runners


-HQ: Iriarte and 4 officers

-Company: 20 officers

Federal Soldiers

-Second Lieutenant Miguel Guerrero and 4 officers/runners

-1 company of 25 soldiers

-2 Machine guns and crew

Customs guards and Militia:

-HQ: Lerdo González and 4 officers/runners

-20 Customs guards

-20 conscripted/recruited civilians


-Defending force should place sandbags, barricades, and other defenses around the town, and trenches and breastworks, in two lines, by the bull ring. The defending player should arrange forces within the defensive perimeter before the start of turn 1. 

-At the start of Turn 1, the attacking player may place 1 column on the table anywhere south or east of Tijuana. The attacking player must roll a 3 or above for each additional column to enter the table, and may attempt this test for each column once each turn.

-Attacking player commences assault for the “Daytime” rounds, from turn 1 through turn 8. After turn 8, night has fallen and the attacking force must consolidate its front lines, leave one column to defend them, and retire the rest of the forces to a camp south or east. (If attacking player has already broken the defensive lines and entered Tijuana, disregard this). The defending player may counterattack, or may reorganize their defenses.

-Sunrise occurs on turn 14, and the attacking player may resume the assault until turn 22. 

Victory Conditions:

The only objective in this scenario is the possession of Tijuana. The Second Division of the Liberal Army in Baja must eliminate or drive off all resistance and occupy the town. Government forces must destroy the Second Division or hold the town for 22 rounds, or until further attacks become impossible. 

Historic notes and Aftermath:

Seeing the PLM’s Foriegn Legion approach, Larroque led an advanced group of 30 soldiers to meet the Magonistas. The two sides exchanged fire, but at 9am, Larroque retreated back to town. Pryce led his forces onto the high ground south of town, a “promontory” on the Río Tijuana. Pryce then called for the soldiers to surrender Tijuana, “offering guarantees on lives and property” (Bartra and Barrera 198). Instead, the soldiers prepare to defend the town. At 1pm, Pryce’s column attacked Tijuana. The townsfolk fled across the border.

Pryce divided his forces into 3 groups, which took turns attacking Tijuana to save ammunition. As they fired sparingly on the town, they also occupied new, advantageous, positions around the area. At nightfall, Larroque still controlled the town, and the fighting quieted.

That night, Second Lieutenant Guerrero and his 25 Federals launched a raid on the Liberal camp. Guerrero snuck through the siege and hooked around south of the heights before attacking, hoping to trick the Liberals into believing it was a reinforcing group from Ensenada. While Guerrero’s push failed to drive off the rebel column or convince them of anything, they did reach the Liberal’s headquarters and managed to inflict considerable casualties, which included the commander Sam Wood and an African American lieutenant, Roberts.

The Foriegn Legion reorganized and attacked Tijuana again at 4:15am on May 9th. Perhaps thinking about the previous-night’s raid, Pryce assigned two groups to guard the southern and eastern approaches. Pryce led the main force of 85 rebels, who charged the town’s defenses. They threw “incendiary bombs” which destroyed the bull ring and some other buildings, forcing the defenders to abandon the outer line of defenses (Bartra and Barrera 201).  Blaisdell writes that, “In this last phase, the fighting became intense. Without authorization, three buildings were burned when the defenders’ stubborn resistance made charges ineffective. The attackers, it was noted, ‘showed no quarter or mercy. They fought like demons, time and again rushing trenches or strongholds in the face of a veritable rain of lead” (Blaisdell 119).  By 9am, the second defensive line fell, and the remaining government forces fell or fled, some to Ensenada and some north to the U.S.. Larroque died fighting on the riverbank, and Second Lieutenant Guerrero, who was injured, sought treatment in the US. The fighting was over by 9:45am. 

Blaisdell calls the first battle of Tijuana “the most bitterly fought” of the Liberal rebellion thus far. The Federal forces were barely half the numbers of the attackers, and while “many were untrained volunteers,” and “there was ammunition for but a day or two of fighting, their only chance of winning lay in a quick seizure of the initiative. Although they failed to do this, they did put up a remarkable fight under extremely adverse conditions” (Blaisdell 118). 

    The San Diego Evening Tribune gave a casualty report on May 10 of 32 killed in action, and another 24 wounded, though this and estimates from the commanders are likely too low. Pryce had the dead buried in a mass grave, and he, himself, offered “an episcopal funeral oration….in which he rejects that his troops are outlaws, due to the fact that some defenders have been burned to death in combat: ‘We do what we have to do (...) war is war (...) but when we are not in combat we do not engage in looting, as the newspapers have said’” (Bartra and Barrera 201). The rebels also captured 100 guns, plus ammunition and supplies (Trejo 92). Next, the commander of the Foriegn legion ordered “the destruction of all alcoholic beverages, except beers and light wines; and he justifies his action by saying that: ‘There are times when it's okay to get drunk, but this is not one of those’” (Bartra and Barrera 201).

The battle was fought in Mexico, but it was observed by many eyes in the United States. Not long after the battle began, curious people from the United States lined the border to try to get a look at the action. US soldiers also lined up on the border. According to Blaisdell, the US commanders were impressed by the Second Division of the Liberal Army, and its commander. “Pryce’s tactics earned him the compliments of Captain F. A. Wilcox, head of a company of American soldiers guarding the border, and General Tasker Bliss” (Blaisdell 118-9). Nonetheless, the day after the battle, Captain Wilcox received orders “to isolate the insurgents by preventing the passage, not only of weapons, but also of people and communiqués. The arrest of any suspect of attempting to join the Magonista ranks is also ordered. Finally, the sentries are prohibited from talking with the insurgents” (Bartra and Barrera 201).

Despite Wilcox’s efforts, many new recruits flocked to Tijuana from north of the border, and even more tourists arrived to get a glimpse of the revolution. The influx of people led to some property destruction and looting, which Pryce blamed on the tourists. Finally, on May 13th, Antonio de Pío Araujo arrived in Tijuana, bringing the Junta’s blessings with him. Reading a statement from the Junta entitled, “Take the Land,” Araujo declared: “Mexicans, now that Díaz's despotism has been destroyed in Baja California (...) I invite you on behalf of the organizing Board to come to Tijuana. I guarantee you security, freedom, justice. Our forces, which are composed of conscious men, are ready to support the above. All families will be helped, the poor will enjoy all kinds of considerations. They will no longer have to pay customs duties when introducing supplies or clothing for their use. In a word, ‘The Liberal Revolution,’ independent of and enemy to the despotisms of Díaz and Madero, brings you the happiness of ‘Land and Freedom,’ for which we’ve yearned for so many years” (Bartra and Barrera 201). Araujo also organized a governing council for Tijuana made up of Mexicans, including himself, Pedro Ramírez Caule, Teodoro Gaitán, and Fernando Palomares.

That night, the famous anarchist and femminist Emma Goldman gave a speech in Los Angeles on behalf of the PLM. IWW members sang labor songs and the event raised $113 for the Junta. The attack on Mayol's forces east of Mexicali, as ordered by the Junta, never occurred.

(The Red Flag of the PLM, with "Tierra y Libertad" in white lettering, flies above the Oficina de Correos in Tijuana, Mexico, after the first battle of Tijuana.) 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Scenario 11: The Liberation of Sinoquipe, Sonora, April 27, 1911.

On April 27, 1911, Florencio Jaramillo led some of his column of over 300 cavalry forces to the town of Sinoquipe, Sonora. A bloody battle ensued, in which over 100 combatants perished, a rarity for the engagements of the Liberal revolution in northern Mexico.

Set up: Sinoquipe is a small town in the Rio Sonora valley, sitting on the West bank of the river. The east bank, adjacent to the town, is covered in farm lands. Trees ring the town of Sinoquipe, and are common, along with scrub, throughout the fairly-green valley. The landscape becomes more arid rising into the mountains on either side of the valley. The river and valley flow north to south. A road follows the river, running just west of the Rio Sonora, from Cananea in the north, passes along the western edge of Sinoquipe, and continues south to Mazocahio, and on to Hermosillo. A second road, running from the center of the town, heads west into the mountains and desert, and onto Altar Municipality. Jaramillo’s column likely approached the town from the south--where they had been active fighting in previous months, or from the western mountains, where they were also recently active. Attacking player may decide on which table edge to appear.


Clear - normal visibility 

Supply: 10 rounds of ammo for defenders, 7 rounds for rebels.

Forces: It is known that the defending force consisted of 86 Federal soldiers, and that Jaramillo’s column had at least 300 riders which included many Yaqui natives and many defecting soldiers, though which units and in what numbers Jaramillo employed in the attack are unknown. 

PLM Forces (up to 300 total):

Jaramillo and headquarters - 5 mounted rebels

Workers’ and peasants’ cavalry - 20 riders

Yaqui Cavalry - 20 riders

Rebellious soldiers’ cavalry - 15 riders.

Workers’ and peasants’ infantry: 

group 1: 30 fighters

group 2: 30 fighters

group 3: 30 fighters

Yaqui Infantry:

group 1: 30 fighters

group 2: 30 fighters

group 3: 30 fighters

Rebellious soldiers’ Infantry: 

group 1: 30 fighters

group 2: 30 fighters

Government forces:

Headquarters:  Municipal president, judge, and other elites , and runners 

Rurales: Garrison of 20


86 soldiers

2 Machine guns and crew

Victory Conditions:

Rebels must capture the politicians and elites, and to raise three (or as many as available) red flags from the town’s central plaça. Government forces must prevent the above from occurring, and defend the town from capture by the rebels.


This battle ended in a major victory for Jaramillo and his Liberal Column. They killed 62 soldiers, losing 39 of their own forces, before capturing and executing the municipal president, the judge, and two high-ranking Rurales, and raising three red flags over the town’s central square. Information for the above scenario came from  (Trejo 79) and (Trejo 90).

Monday, April 26, 2021

Scenario 10: The 3rd Battle of Mexicali, April 8, 1911.

On April 8th, Stanley led 90 rebels out of Mexicali, with supplies. Their destination was El Álamo, where they were to reinforce Berthold and help in the assault on Ensenada. Salinas, who remained in Mexicali with 50 rebels, gave Stanley specific orders not to attack Mayol, to bypass Little’s Ranch, and to cause no other issues on the march to El Álamo. Stanley’s vanguard of 3 insurrectos, however, came under attack by 10 soldiers. The rebels fled back into the Liberal cavalry, who drove off the squad of soldiers. Mayol, in response, sent 100 soldiers to attack the Liberal column. At noon, the 8th Battalion soldiers reached the Magónista lines, and were driven back. At 3pm, Stanley launched a cavalry charge at the Federal position, in which Stanley was gravely wounded. At 6pm, the Federal countered with their own cavalry charge. The rebels, though they caused many casualties, were forced to retreat back toward Mexicali, abandoning 2 supply wagons in the process (Bartra and Barrera 187).

Set up: 


Clear - normal visibility 

Supply: 10 rounds of ammo for defenders, 10 rounds for rebels.

PLM Forces (90 total):

-Stanley and the cavalry - 30 riders

-60 insurrecto infantry

-2 wagons

Government forces:  

Mayol and 400 soldiers of the 8th Battalion

100 Soldaderas

4 Machine guns

Victory Conditions:


“The loss balances are contradictory: the feds recognize 12 dead and 10 injured. The Magonistas recognize a dead man (Stanley) and a wounded man; But porfirista authors go as far as the absurdity of counting 60 rebel dead, while the North American press speaks of 25 losses among dead, wounded and deserters. Now, from the political point of view, the battle was a Magonista triumph, since the rebels kept Mexi- cali and the federals suffered heavy losses against an enemy inferior in numbers and weapons.” (Bartra and Barrera 188).

Stanley, shot in the neck in the failed cavalry charge, died the next day. The Foriegn Legion held elections to replace Stanley, unanimously selecting the Welshman Caryl Rhys Pryce as Commander-in-Chief, López as his second; Le Class, captain; and Dunn, Hopkins, and Smith become lieutenants. Mayol, who claims his orders were to avoid Mexicali, did not even capture the abandoned supply wagons, vacated Little’s Ranch for Las Abejas, where he could defend the Colorado River works. Given his losses and that the army withdrew, the Insurrectos were able to claim the engagement as another victory, leading to yet another wave of recruitments. The Mexicali garrison, standing at 160 volunteers before the battle, swelled to 200 in the week following the engagement.

Scenario 9: Remember El Álamo, Baja, March 27, 1911

On March 27, the rebel detachment from Mexicali, swelling to 200 after the long and hard march through the desert from Tecate, approached the mining colony of El Álamo. They had lost their commander, Simón Berthold, on March 20th, when he became the only casualty of skirmish at Santa Catarina ranch, 20km from El Álamo. Berthold rode with the vanguard as they approached the ranch. Three local Rurales fired on the rebels, smashing Berthold’s femur. When the rest of the column caught up, they captured the ranch. The following morning, the column continued on El Álamo, leaving the severely-wounded Berthold at the ranch with 14 others. The detachment arrived at the mining colony at 4pm.

Set up: El Álamo is a small mining colony in the desert east of the mountains. Arrange tents or other make-shift housing in a rough desert, with scrub and cactus, with hills and ridges rising on all sides except for east. You may use trench terrain pieces or other items to represent the workers’ mining efforts nearby. Set up a supply catch near the camp. Place workers in the mine and camp area.

Defending force may set up all forces within and around the mining colony before the start of round 1. Defending force may fortify the area with sand bags, barricades, trenches, and any other means. 


Clear evening - normal visibility for first 5 turns, nighttime visibility from turn 6 on to the end of the game.

Supply: 10 rounds of ammo for defenders, 5 rounds for rebels.

Forces (this battle will be fought at ½ scale).

PLM Forces: 100 rebels from the Berthold detachment

-Group 1: 25 rebels

-Group 2: 25 rebels

-Group 3: 25 rebels

-Group 4: 25 rebels

Government forces:  50 soldiers of the 8th Battalion of the Federal Army

-Captain and 6 officers.

-MG crew 1: 3 soldiers

-1st platoon: 20 soldiers

-2nd platoon: 20 soldiers


Possession of the colony is the only objective. Federals possess the colony until all soldiers are driven off, killed or arrested.

Victory Conditions: 

Rebels must capture the mining colony from the soldiers before turn 15. No soldiers can remain in the camp.


Berthold’s detachment defeated the guards at El Álamo. The surviving soldiers fled back to Ensenada, but the rebels soon heard that Federal soldiers would march to reclaim the position at midnight. The Liberals quickly loaded up two carts with whatever supplies they could carry, and departed for the Santa Catarina ranch at 11pm. The attack never came, and they returned the following day, bringing Berthold with them. The wounded anarchist received medical care from a sympathetic doctor in the mining colony; Dr. A. L. Foster. 

The taking of El Álamo brought the División del Ejército Liberal en Baja California less than 100km from the Capital of Baja: Ensenada. The citizens there protested and nearly revolted when Governor Colonel Vega marched his troops north to defend the US interests at the Colorado Riverworks near Mexicali, instead of east to eliminate the closest band of revolutionaries.

Scenario 8: The Battle of El Durazno, District of Altar, Sonora, March 24, 1911

March 24, 26 insurrectos held off a force of 120 Federal soldiers in a six hour battle in El Durazno, District of Altar, Sonora. Earlier that day, Pedro Perez led a PLM band across the border to capture various ranches in Northern Sonora. At the end of the battle, the District’s prefect, who commanded the soldiers, called for a retreat.

Set up: El Durazno is a mountainous area with sparse trees. Set up a strong defensive line for the rebels in the middle of the table. Place the defenders on the table before the start of round 1. Defending force may fortify the area with sand bags, barricades, trenches, and any other means. 


Clear - normal visibility 

Supply: 10 rounds of ammo for defenders, 10 rounds for rebels.

PLM Forces:

-Pedro Perez and 25 rebels

Government forces:  120 soldiers of the Federal Army

Prefect and 6 officers.

-MG crew 1: 3 soldiers

-Cavalry squad: 10 horsemen

-1st platoon: 20 soldiers

-2nd platoon: 20 soldiers

-3rd platoon: 20 soldiers

-4th platoon: 20 soldiers

-5th platoon: 20 soldiers

Victory Conditions: 

The Federal army must eliminate or arrest all rebels. The rebels must survive and hold the line. 


At the end of the battle, the District’s prefect, who commanded the soldiers, called for a retreat. This stunning victory for the beleaguered revolutionaries, however, meant little in the long run. The influence of the Liberal Party and the Magón brothers in Sonora was, by this point, being supplanted by Madero and his reformist supporters.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Scenario 7: The Siege of Tecate, March 19, 1911

Luis Rodríguez, who grew up in Tecate, led twenty PLM rebels to liberate his hometown, a small border town founded in 1892, on March 12, 1911. They initially succeeded, driving the local police across the border. However, PLM reinforcements did not arrive in time to hold the town. A large Federal force surrounded Tecate a few days later, and, on March 17th, broke through rebel defenses. Rodriguez and most of the Liberals perished. The Federals took no survivors. Only four rebels escaped, crossing to the USA. 

The PLMistas launched a second attack on March 19, led this time by Leyva. Most of the Federal forces had left the area, heading far south to bypass the rebel positions at Picacho Pass and Mexicali on the way to protect the riverworks of the US company, the Colorado River Land Company, to the east. 80 soldiers remained to defend Tecate.

Set up: Tecate is a small village along the border, in a fertile valley rising above the desert. Around the town are green hills and mountains, the tallest being Kuuchama mountain, or Tecate peak, west/northwest from the town just across the border. The land around the town is also green and fertile, with olive and grape groves and fields of grain. A main road runs through Tecate from Tijuana to the west, to Mexicali to the east. A small stream runs through the town. The plaça sits at the center of Tecate. 


Clear day - normal visibility

Supply: 10 rounds of ammo for defenders, 5 rounds for rebels.

PLM Forces: 150 fighters from the Baja Division of the Liberal Army

-Leyva and Headquarters - 10 rebels

-Group 1: 35 rebels

-Group 2: 35 rebels

-Group 3: 35 rebels

-Group 4: 35 rebels

Government forces:  80 soldiers of the 8th Battalion of the Federal Army

-Captain Justino Mendieta and Headquarters - 4 officers.

-MG crew 1: 3 soldiers

-MG crew 2: 3 soldiers

-Outpost: 10 soldiers

-1st platoon: 20 soldiers

-2nd platoon: 20 soldiers

-3rd platoon: 20 soldiers


Defenders - set up the Federal HQ in a building on the plaça.

-Choose any location outside the town as a strategic “outpost.” Place the outpost garrison there

-Place the machine guns and crews anywhere on the table. 

Attackers - Full force may enter the table on round 1 on the eastern edge. 


Possession of the town is the only objective. Federals possess the town until all soldiers are driven from the town, killed or arrested.

Victory Conditions: 

Every 10 turns represent a day. The game ends after turn 30 (after 3 days), when the revolutionaries have taken the town, or when the PLM forces have no ammo left. 


On March 12th, as the sun rose, 20 insurgents launched an attack on Tecate. Led by IWW member Luis Rodríguez, the rebels ran the police out of town, with most fleeing to the US. Leyva had ordered the raid to open the road west, to Tijuana and Ensenada, and gather horses and supplies for the campaign on the capitol. Salinas led a raiding party on the ranches in the area (Bartra and Barrera 173-174). Leyva and Berthold’s main force of 250 remained behind in Mexicali until midnight on March 14th. They left Stanley and his men to garrison Mexicali and points east. The main force, however, advanced only as far as the PLM camp at Laguna Salada, where they stayed until the 16th. While camped in the desert, on March 15, a letter from Magón came for the commanders. Magón let them know that on March 7th, the 800-strong 8th Battalion of the Federal Army arrived in Ensenada. The Battalion headed for Tecate the day after the Liberals captured the town. With their campaign on Ensenada in motion, Leyva continued the march regardless of the size of the enemy. On the 16th, 250 rebels left Laguna Salada headed west. The following day, however, Berthold split off with a detachment of 60 or 70 to capture the mining town of El Álamo, southeast of Ensenada. Many workers there could join the cause. Leyva and the remaining 150 continued on to Tecate. 

Leyva didn’t arrive at Tecate until sunrise on March 19th. He found the town in the hands of eighty Federal soldiers from the Eight Battalion, led by Captain Justino Mendieta. The 8th Battalion had surrounded Tecate days before, then succeeded in entering the town, killing Rodriguez and many other rebels on the 17th. The four survivors fled across the border. Leyva, showing up too late, commenced a siege that lasted for three days. Mendieta had prepared strong defenses, and held the border crossing firmly, being their route of resupply and, if needed, escape. The rebels could not break through. According to Blaisdell, “Leyva lifted the siege...due to a shortage of ammunition and the need to cover Picacho Pass to prevent Mayol from slipping through while the Liberals were at Tecate. Upon discovering that Mayol had not advanced by way of the Pass, Leyva dropped back to Mexicali. He had suffered a fairly heavy number of casualties and desertions. According to his men, he had ‘retreated at full speed on horseback, leaving his foot soldiers to their fate’” (Blaisdell 78). While Blaisdell writes of “a fairly heavy number of casualties,” Bartra and Barrera write that “(t)he low intensity of the combat could be measured by the fact that no deaths are recorded (Bartra and Barrera 177). These two, more-current authors also write that Leyva retreated not alone, but with the mounted group, (but “leaving those on foot in place”), executing this maneuver based on “the need to obtain more ammunition and on the urgency of meeting Mayol and his 8th battalion, which is possibly already marching on Mexicali.”

Mayol, however, had skipped Picacho pass by going around to the south. En route, the Federals apprehended some Magónista messengers to Berthold’s detachment. Then, they set up camp at Little’s Ranch, asking on April 8th for Government permission to attack Mexicali, mostly to resupply, though the order to attack apparently never came.

One major outcome of this battle was the end of Leyva’s time as commander of the Baja Division of the Liberal Army. The PLM Junta appointed as his replacement Fransisco Vásquez Salinas, who had been in Los Angeles and missed the fighting in Tecate, more than a week later, on March 28. Salinas did not want the job, stalled a bit, but ultimately became General of the PLM forces in Baja.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Scenario 6: Attack on the Hydraulic Works Camp, February 25th

Following the successful defense of Mexicali and the conquest of Los Aldagones, José Cardoza led a force of 50 insurrectos south in an attack on a hydraulic works camp on the Colorado River. The work camp, run by the Colorado River Land Company, used Mexican and Chinese labor to redevelop and harness the flow of the Colorado River into the Gulf of Mexico, to irrigate the farms north of the border and prevent flooding there. 

Set up: In the middle of the desert, place a workers camp with cloth tents in rows, and as many civilian workers as possible, in the center of the table. Place a well-guarded supply cache in the camp. A river, canal, or delta should run through the table at one side of the camp. You may use trench terrain pieces to represent new canal construction. Place markers # 1-4 in the four corners of the table. These will represent the cardinal directions as well as entree markers. Ensure there are a few trucks or wagons in the camp, capable of transporting supplies.


Clear day - normal visibility

PLM Forces:

José Cardoza and 50 Liberals


As many civilian workers as possible

Government forces:

20 Rurales/Company guards.

Government Reinforcements:

Platoons of Rurales and Federals


Before the game, set up the town and the supply cache. Place half of the defenders at the supply cache. The other half should mount random patrols around the camp and surroundings in teams of 2. The full rebel force may enter at the North marker on turn 1. The attackers have 5 turns to capture the camp. After capturing the camp, the rebels have until turn 8 to gather the camp’s workers in a central spot, and deliver an inspiring speech to convince them to join the revolution. Once the workers have been gathered, rebels may roll 1 D6 per round. The resulting number represents the number of workers who join the Liberal Army. These may be armed/replaced with revolutionary soldiers. 

At turn 8, Government forces become the attacker. Roll a 1 D6 per round. Resulting number represents the number of platoons available, which may enter at any marker of the player’s choosing. After round 10, the Government forces receive no more reinforcements.

Rebel Objectives: 

-Capture Camp

-Convince at least 10 workers to join the revolution

-Hold the camp, or escape to the south with more fighters than arrived with, and with at least 2 supply markers.

Government Objectives:

-Defend the camp and supplies

-Keep the workers working

-If camp is lost, retake the camp and recapture any lost workers.

Victory Conditions: 

Rebels: A rebel victory requires the rebels to either defend the camp, or to escape the camp with more fighters than it arrived with, as well as 2 supply markers. A partial victory sees at least 40 rebels escape with at least 1 supply marker.


Lose fewer than 10 workers to the rebels, lose no supplies, and cause at least 20 casualties against the rebels.

A partial victory allows 40 or fewer rebels to escape the engagement. 


The raid was a success for the Magónistas. Cardoza’s group made off with food and other supplies, weapons and ammo, and many new recruits from the workers defecting from the employment of the Colorado River Land Company. The rebels continued south toward the Gulf of California (Bartra and Barrerra 149).