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Utopia and bloodshed in revolutionary Tijuana

Socialists, anarchists, hobos, chicken thieves, outlaws

“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich" (Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos)
“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich" (Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos)

A few decades ago, during the era when my friend Henry and I devoted many hours to exploring Tijuana, we found a saloon that I later learned was around the corner and up a block from where the old customs house used to stand, the site where the insurectos of 1911 overpowered Mexican federal soldiers and claimed the town in the name of the Partido Liberal of the Mexican revolution.

"Mexico’s revolutionary spark is the beginning of the purifying fire that from one moment to another will envelop every country in the world.”

Henry and I also lost many paychecks at Agua Caliente without a clue that the racetrack’s builders had scraped away the hill upon which federal troops had taken their revenge. I never realized that the motel where I once recovered from tequila sat on the edge of a battleground. I hadn’t heard of Caryl Pryce, Jack Mosby, or the brothers Flores Magon, though in 1911 any San Diegan would have known their names well. Dictator Porfirio Diaz was in power in Mexico City, and large sections of the country were in revolt, Porfirio Diaz was known around the world as the “Strong Man of Mexico,” the stern, wise parent of his people. A genius. Incomparable. He had turned Mexico from a primitive state hardly worth exploiting to a land of opportunity where capitalists from any nation could strike it richer.

"If from the start we had called ourselves anarchists, only a few would have listened to us..."

By 1910 Diaz had been president for 34 years, surrounded by a cabinet of cronies and financial wizards, Mexican and foreign, who ran the country by the axiom, “What’s good for business is good for the nation.” The business of the Diaz regime was business. He and his treasury secretary, Don Jose Yves Limantour, ruled over what journalists called la paz porfiriana, Porfirio’s Peace.

"The Mexican people had been sensitized to this issue by history..."

Diaz had risen to power in a country desperate for peace. Since 1810 one coup or revolution had followed another. Diaz responded to these threats with edicts such as, “Catch them in the act, kill them on the spot.”

In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , B. Traven wrote of such Diaz-era justice for two train robbers. A federal captain notices the mestizos with bulges in the pockets of their shabby trousers. He grabs one by the neck, reaches into the man’s pocket, and discovers gold coins. After a little questioning, when the mestizos realize they’ve given themselves away, they admit to the robbery, then accompany the feds to a nearby cemetery. Soldiers borrow and present a shovel each to the mestizos, who placidly dig their own graves, then lie down in them to measure the fit. After a couple of cigarettes, they tell the captain they’re ready to stand in front of the holes so they’ll fall in the right place. In the Mexican heat, people learn to conserve energy.

Diaz had rid the army of gentleman soldiers educated and influential enough to orchestrate rebellion. In their place, he recruited — often by conscription — a peasant army whose loyalty he bought with beans and tortillas, which civilians couldn’t always get so easily.

The government wore an intellectual cloak of pragmatism. Science and realism were in vogue. Capitalism was practical, based upon the truth of human nature. Society was structured on Darwinian principles of survival of the fittest. Indians, about three-fourths of the Mexican population, were considered genetically inferior, degenerate, apathetic, irresponsible, lazy, treacherous, superstitious.

The wealth of Mexico was held by 3 percent of the citizens; money and resources were constantly tunneled into the U.S. The middle class of educated people, some of whom had prospered during the Juarez revolution, were excluded from their “rightful” share because most of the worthy jobs for intellectuals and managers went to gringos. Even peasant tradesmen and artisans had been dislocated — weavers replaced by mills, shoemakers relegated to making sandals. Mexican industrial laborers, considered inferior to foreigners, were paid less for the same job. While in other nations industry had enlarged the middle class, here the merchants and craftsmen lost ground as their clientele grew steadily poorer.

Every locale had its jefe politico who oversaw the courts and insured the immunity of big shots and norteamericanos. Even the poorest gringo could be found innocent. If he was punished, his countrymen might feel insecure in Mexico and take their money elsewhere. Foreign investment in railroads, mining, petroleum, and other heavy industry was catapulting Mexico into a golden age. Rich Mexicans vacationed with old-country aristocrats, intermarried with French and Spanish nobility, conducted business over lunches prepared by Parisian chefs, mostly because of foreign investors, who in turn received tax concessions, subsidies, all the cheap labor they could use, and suspension of constitutional provisions that reserved subsoil rights for Mexicans.

Among the most vocal of the anti-Diaz partisans was Ricardo Flores Magon, born in Oaxaca in 1873. His father had fought with Benito Juarez to rid Mexico of the Emperor Maximilian and had gained enough property to afford his boys an education in Mexico City. There, as a law student in the 1890s, Ricardo found his vocations — political agitation and journalism.

In 1900 in Mexico City, he joined both the revolutionary Liberal Party and the staff of his brother ” Jesus’s weekly journal, La Regeneracion, “The Independent Newspaper of Combat.” In this and other » periodicals, under his own name and pseudonyms, > Ricardo fervently attacked the Diaz government. For o his activities, he was jailed repeatedly until 1904, | when he fled to Laredo, Texas, hoping to continue 5 his work more freely from exile. Soon his younger S brother Enrique and others joined him, declaring themselves an “organizing junta of the Liberal Party.”

The junta’s manifesto advocated one-term presidency, assurance of civil liberties, restraints on the Catholic Church, universal education, return of Mexican land to the Mexican people, redistribution of rich landlords’ property, confiscation of the property of Diaz and his leading supporters, abolition of child labor, and a guaranteed minimum wage.

Regeneracion was smuggled into Mexico and distributed to mills, factories, smelters, railroads, and mines. It preached the doctrine that people didn’t need government, that Mexico could return to the Indian communal ways that had reigned before the conquest. With the government overthrown and the land shared by all, there would surely be greater peace and justice than a tyrant like Diaz could offer. Regeneradon helped inspire and direct workers’ strikes and revolts, especially along the border and in towns where the International Workers of the World, the radical socialist “Wobblies,” were already influential.

In response, Diaz’s agents crossed the border, hunting the agitators, at least once plotting to assassinate Flores Magon. After years of threats and harassment by U.S. officials bribed by the Diaz government, Flores Magon fled to Canada in 1906 with a $20,000 bounty on his head. From there he returned to San Francisco, then Los Angeles, Sacramento, and finally back to Los Angeles in 1907, where he landed in jail, charged with violating U.S. neutrality laws that prohibited the use of the U.S. as a base for armed revolt against another nation.

The following year, Ricardo and two comrades were transferred to the Arizona Territory for trial and finally released in 1910. They boarded a train for Los Angeles, then a city of 319,000, where they had many sympathetic ears. The growing labor movement had attracted people from all ethnic groups, and the largest minority was Mexican-American, most of them recent immigrants. On August 10, at the railroad station, a welcoming party of 300 laborers cheered their arrival. For the moment, Los Angeles would be Flores Magon’s base of operations.


An election was scheduled in Mexico for 1910, and the people speculated about who would be positioned to succeed Diaz after his death or retirement. In an interview with the aging dictator two years earlier, American journalist James Creelman had dared to ask if he had made provision for a successor. Diaz slyly boasted that he had given Mexico democracy and would welcome a challenge in the upcoming election.

Because of publicity about the Creelman interview, the Mexican establishment believed the world was watching to see if Don Porfirio would make good on his boast. So they put on a show in preparation for the elections — countrywide rallies and speaking tours, as if a vote for any opposition candidate would actually be counted. In fact the only real question was, who would Diaz choose as a running mate and likely successor? He chose the incumbent, Ramon Corral, who had made his fortune in the slave trade in the tropics and prostitution in Mexico City. Corral was already dying of syphilis and was so universally hated that even the president’s inner circle referred to the ticket as “Diaz and Death.”

To the astonishment of Mexican citizens and foreign observers, Francisco Madero, son of a powerful family close to Secretary Limantour and to allies north of the border, declared himself a candidate and gained a large and vigorous following. So did Alvaro Obregon, a small-time rancher from Sonora, and Emiliano Zapata, a peasant from Morelos.

But Madero was not the only disenchanted big shot. American and European capitalists, including the Pierces, Harrimans, and Guggenheims, were jealous of certain properties and mineral rights recently granted to others. Noting this discontent, several of Diaz’s circle, including Limantour himself, aspired to the presidency, though they could only offer feeble challenges to the hand that fed them.

But when the votes were counted by Diaz’s jefes politicos, the presidential aspirants caught the express out of town or made for a hideout. Even Limantour ran to Paris.

Diaz placed an embargo on all Madero family property. They could buy or sell nothing. The Madero clan officially appealed to their friend Limantour, while the boldest and most disenchanted among them began organizing a revolution and issued the Plan of San Luis Potosi, calling for insurrection to begin on November 20. Though the followers of Magon and Madero (the Magonistas and Maderistas) had agreed to cooperate in the ouster of Diaz, they agreed on little else. Madero, who had long believed it was his destiny to govern Mexico, sought effective suffrage, strict laws against reelection, and socioeconomic reform through legislation. In the climate of the times, Madero was a liberal, while Flores Magon’s Partido Liberal Mexicano was something else. In 1908 he had written:

If from the start we had called ourselves anarchists, only a few would have listened to us.... We must give land to the people during the course of the revolution.... We must also give them possession of the factories, mines etc.... In order not to have everybody against us, we will continue

to call ourselves liberals during the course of the revolution, and will in reality continue propagating anarchy and executing anarchistic acts. We must take away from the landed gentry and give to the people....

There will be some landowners, observing what is happening to others, who will not reject negotiations, and thus there will be no immediate pretext to attack them or to take away their property. In this case, the laborers can be encouraged to demand “impossibilities,” with the result that the bosses will be obliged to shut down...the workmen will have consummated expropriation, and the anarchistic character of the junta will remain veiled.... Only the anarchists will know that we are anarchists, and we will advise them not to call themselves such in order not to frighten imbeciles who are accustomed to hear the anarchists spoken of unfavorably. Rather than imbeciles, they are merely ignorant.

We should not be unjust.... People will see the excellence of work being done in common compared with the work done individually, and thus will desire to work the land communally, while the junta then will not face the hateful job of giving a piece of land to everyone who asks for it.


With the election of October 4, 1910, Porfirio Diaz began his eighth term as president. Securely returned to office, he forgave Limantour and urged him to return to Mexico. But Limantour had already heard that guerrilla bands were raiding towns, villages, and haciendas in the north. Before the year ended, police in the Plaza of the Constitution had machine-gunned crowds that were outside the presidential palace yelling, “Down with Diaz! Diaz resign! Death to Corral!”

Rather than return directly to Mexico, Limantour made a swing through the U.S., visited the exiled Madero family, and carried from them to Diaz a promise that rebellion would cease when Diaz and his advisors resigned.

In early December of 1910, Flores Magon sent a band of his followers from Los Angeles to the Imperial Valley to prepare for armed revolt. John Kenneth Turner, a socialist who had written the widely read Barbarous Mexico, a critique of the Diaz regime, bought a supply of arms and ammunition and shipped it from L.A. to Mexicali.

Flores Magon had decided to strike against Baja, establish a base, and enlist an army before launching a major offensive against the mainland, joining the Liberal Party bands, who would meanwhile capture towns in Sonora and Chihuahua.

On January 27, 1911, Magonista leaders Jose Maria Leyva and Simon Berthold crossed the border, picked up some followers, and continued to Laguna Salada, about 20 miles south of Mexicali, where they met a 12-man force organized by Camilo Jimenez, a Tarahumara Indian who led indigenous troops. Before dawn on January 29, thirty Magonistas attacked Mexicali, which was so weakly garrisoned by government troops that the soldiers fled, handing over the town of about 700. The only casualty was the town jailer, who was killed trying to stop the release of several Magonista prisoners.

From headquarters at 519 1/2 East Fourth Street in Los Angeles, Ricardo Flores Magon appealed to radicals everywhere for support of the insurgents of the PLM, the Partido Liberal de Mexico. He couldn’t issue a direct call for volunteers, however, without blatandy violating the neutrality laws. Author Jack London helped forge a link between American radicals when he prepared a manifesto for a rally in support of the PLM, held at the Labor Temple in Los Angeles. London wrote:

Dear, Brave Comrades of the Mexican Revolution: We Socialists, anarchists, hobos, chicken thieves, outlaws and undesirable citizens of the U.S. are with you heart and soul. You will notice that we are not respectable. Neither are you. No revolutionary can possibly be respectable in these days of the reign of property. All the names you are being called, we have been called. And when graft and greed get up and begin to call names, honest men, brave men, patriotic men and martyrs can expect nothing else than to be called chicken thieves and outlaws.

So be it. But I for one wish there were more chicken thieves and outlaws of the sort that formed the gallant band that took Mexicali.

General Berthold sent out a declaration. “We are not a mob. We are fighting for principles,” acting as part of a nationwide movement aimed at freeing Mexico from the Diaz tyranny to make it “a land for the poor people who have heretofore been treated like so many cattle.” He reminded the public that all Mexicali saloons had been closed, that women and children would be well treated, and that American citizens would be accorded respect. “We are rioting without riot, bloodshed or debauchery.”

Americans were to rest assured of the integrity of their Mexican properties and to trust that, contrary to rumor, the canal system running through the Mexicali-Imperial Valley would not be dynamited. And he promised that as soon as the Mexicali soldiers were joined by a rebel group from Ensenada, the joint force would depart for action into Sonora.

The original band of insurgents consisted of Mexicans from the valley, aided by a scouting force of Cocopah Indians, some members of the International Workers of the World who had been assisted across the border by their local chapter in Holtville, and a few soldiers of fortune. But over the next few weeks, articles in Regeneration and the IWW newspapers sparked the imaginations of adventurers. Recruitment of gringos was wildly successful, compared to the recruitment of Mexicans, too many of whom were suspicious this PLM gang might be American opportunists, popularly known as “filibusters,” plotting to steal land from Mexico, as Diaz’s propagandists loudly proclaimed.

The Mexican people had been sensitized to this issue by history and by the fact that the Diaz regime had sold great tracts of northern Baja to American capitalists like E.H. Harriman of the Southern Pacific Railroad; John D. Spreckels, builder of the Hotel del Coronado, who ran San Diego’s rail transit and water systems and owned the Union and Tribune; and General H.G. Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. For at least a century, the U.S. had been trying to annex the Baja peninsula. Mexicans viewed any American with a fat wallet as a potential filibustero.

The Mexicali insurgents awaited federal troops, who would most likely come from Ensenada, Baja’s capital, where the jefe politico, Colonel Celso Vega, ran both the civil and military authorities. His force numbered about 100 soldiers.

When news of the capture of Mexicali arrived, Vega gathered his troops — a few Mexican regulars, many impressed “volunteers,” and some Indian scouts — proceeded north to Tecate, and camped there while drilling reinforcements who had arrived from the small garrison in Tijuana. During this pause in their march, Vega sent federal soldiers to scout the rebels. But heavy rains fell, volunteers became deserters, and Vega became so ill that for several days his men carried him around on a litter.

On February 8, a band of Vega’s men routed liberals from their station at Picacho Pass in the Cocopah Mountains, on the road between Mexicali and Tecate. But when the feds encountered Leyva and the Magonistas near Mexicali, Leyva’s men dropped Colonel Vega with a bullet in his neck, and the battle turned to a rout. The federal troops retreated all the way to Ensenada, carrying their wounded commander.

On February 11, forces loyal to Magon captured Guadalupe, a village southeast of Juarez, in Chihuahua. Three days later, Francisco Madero crossed the border, claiming leadership of all revolutionary forces in Chihuahua and preparing to attack Zaragosa in neighboring Coahuila state. When Madero requested that the Magonistas join him and then seized a convoy the liberals had sent, only one of the Magonista leaders willingly joined Madero, but two others resisted. Madero chased them across the border and denounced the PLM as radical and untrustworthy.

Flores Magon contended that Madero had falsely claimed his party and the PLM were in close accord and thereby tricked many of the PLM to join the Madero efforts. He denounced Madero for issuing a circular in which he represented himself as the provisional president of Mexico and Flores Magon the provisional vice president. He branded Madero as a traitor to the cause of liberty.


Enter Dick Ferris, an actor and promoter of automobile and airplane races along the West Coast. After losing a bid for the job of lieutenant governor of California in the primary of 1910, he became the manager of a carnival in Balboa Park intended to generate interest in the upcoming Panama-California Exposition. Ferris had promised to “dream up some live publicity stunts.” The capture of Mexicali must have looked like a gift from heaven.

Ferris had aligned himself with a group of businessmen who were supposedly ready to offer to purchase Baja from the beleaguered Diaz regime. Ferris, after spreading the rumor that J.P. Morgan and other multimillionaires were part of the group, approached the Mexican consul in San Francisco with the plan. The new state would be called the Republic of Diaz. Eventually, Ferris admitted, the new republic would be sold to the United States at a neat profit. Reporters delighted with Ferris’s brazen proposal gave him and the exposition a mountain of publicity.


In Mexicali, as the gringo contingent increased and eventually became the majority among the rebel troops, racial tension festered. Besides the Mexicans, American whites, and several American blacks, there were English, Australians, Boers, Russians, French, and Germans. Fistfights and brawls led to shootings. W.E. Clark, an Ohio Wobbly, was badly wounded by a Yaqui Indian. In retaliation Wild Bill Hatfield shot a Mexican in the face. Neither the Yaqui nor Hatfield was court-martialed.

Another Wobbly, Stanley Williams, secured from Magonista commander Leyva permission to form an auxiliary force of primarily non-Mexicans. On the night of February 21, Williams and his gang captured a freight train and roared east into Algodones, guns blazing at the handful of Mexican customs officers. Emboldened by his victory and unsatisfied with Leyva’s reaction to the unauthorized attack, Williams agitated for removal of Leyva from command. A mutiny was only averted when Berthold’s men cornered the Williams gang and expelled their leader, sending him over the border, and disarmed all but the most loyal soldiers.

The Mexican war department ordered a force of 500 to Baja. Believing they would march in from the east, Leyva and Berthold chose to push westward. On March 16, at Laguna Salada, the Berthold-Leyva forces split up. Berthold, with 60 to 70 Americans and Mexicans, moved southwest toward El Alamo, while Leyva continued up the mountains toward Tecate. There he discovered that the federal troops under Colonel Mayol had landed in Ensenada. Most of the contingent were crossing the mountains by a route some miles south of Leyva’s position, but some had taken the border road, encircled Tecate, and were proceeding to wipe out the Magonista band that had secured the position after Vega’s retreat. Though his force had the feds outnumbered, after two days, supplies and ammunition depleted, Leyva lifted the siege and returned to Mexicali. According to his men, the general had “retreated at full speed on horseback, leaving his foot soldiers to their fate.” Consequently relieved of his command, unwanted in Baja but wanted by the law across the border, Leyva drifted eastward to join Madero.

Supplies for the insurectos were increasingly rare because President Taft had ordered 20,000 troops to the border. The neutrality laws prevented legal shipments of arms or food for the rebel troops, and the U.S. Army presence made smuggling a risky occupation.

The Mexicali troops under Stanley Williams had begun requisitioning horses, mules, wagons, food, and any available ammunition from local ranches, giving Williams what he needed to attack Mayol’s army head-on. His reckless assault caught Mayol by surprise. The feds suffered before their machine guns gave Williams

and a couple dozen others their death wounds and chased the Magonistas back to Mexicali.

To the surprise of all observers, instead of securing Mexicali, Mayol marched his army south. General Bliss, commander of the U.S. border army, explained:

It appears probable that Colonel Mayol was the officer to whom the Mexican government, on the repeated insistence of our government, gave the order to protect our flood control construction work on the Colorado River delta. At the time that order was given, there were no insurgents worth speaking of at Mexicali or any other point.... Colonel Mayol reiterated the statement that his orders were to go to the Colorado River dam and that he had no orders to attack Mexicali. I waited for a week in Calexico, hoping that something would eventually beat a little common sense into Mayol’s head and that he would get busy with the insurecto band in Mexicali.

In my opinion, any increased disorder in Lower California will be due to the gross military incompetence of the Mexican federal commander there.

Mexican officials consistently urged the U.S. to jail the junta. After all, the neutrality law was intended “to prevent the use of the soil of the United States as a base” from which to launch “military expeditions or enterprises” against friendly neighbors. The U.S. state department replied that it had little or no concrete evidence that the PLM was involved in that kind of activity. Instead, the U.S. maintained surveillance, restricting the movements of the PLM, and guarded the border against the smuggling of arms and supplies.

On Sunday, March 12, Miss Flora Russell of Los Angeles crossed the border at Tijuana on horseback, carrying a blue silk flag bearing a rising sun and the scales of justice. She rode the several miles to Agua Caliente before planting her flag and declaring, “Lower California, I claim you in the name of equal suffrage and of model government, which I hereby christen as the future ‘Republic of Diaz.’... May the Great Ruler of all things nourish the little plant typified in this flag that I raise over this troubled land, and in His goodness bring to fruition the hopes and dreams of my sex for fullest liberty, symbolized in the scales of equality and justice.”

In an interview, Miss Russell later admitted to collaboration with the showman Dick Ferris.


During March and April, disputes continued to arise in Chihuahua over rebel leadership, with Madero still pronouncing himself in charge of all rebel forces and disarming those Magonistas who disagreed. And word came to the junta that Limantour had met with the Maderos loyalists and was trying to effect a settlement between them and Diaz. Flores Magon responded with an editorial that appeared to suggest that norteamericanos were in cahoots with Madero and the presidente. “The vampires of finance, the boa constrictors of Wall Street open their maws to engulf Mexico. Libertarians of the world, save the Mexican Revolution. Our problem is yours.” Madero, he wrote, was no friend of the poor, but a representative of the rich bourgeoisie, whose desire was to replace Diaz capitalists with capitalists of his own choosing and to safeguard the wealth of his own oversized family. Madero was hardly a true revolutionary. He was an “idol of the idiots.”

In Mexicali the insurectos held an election and voted in a new leader, Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce, a Welshman in his mid-30s. Pryce had served in the British legion in South Africa and India and fought in the Boer War. While serving in British Columbia as a mounted policeman, he had read John Kenneth Turner’s Barbarous Mexico and decided to seek out the liberal junta in Los Angeles. He had arrived in Mexico in time to participate in the first battle for Mexicali.

Pryce’s military experience and dignified manner might have served the Magonistas well, but he wasn’t Mexican. Charges of filibustering multiplied. To counteract this, the junta sent their longtime supporter, General Francisco Vasquez Salinas, to collaborate with Pryce, establishing a dual command. They were to attack Mayol’s force at the lower California water works. A letter from Flores Magon also instructed Pryce on dealings with local ranchers, from whom Pryce had been appropriating supplies:

Mr. Thomas Daly, superintendent of the Cudahy ranch, was here. He came to request the junta’s protection so that he may then bring in machinery, equipment for horses and mules, and people, with which to accelerate his agricultural operations. We informed him that if he were amicable with you, that is, if he were disposed to serve you, he had nothing to fear. We did this in order later to obtain a good sum of money from him with which to prosecute the campaign under better conditions. As soon as Mayol is destroyed we shall request a money loan and we are sure that he will loan money on seeing that the Liberal Party dominates the region.

Likewise we have some projects with the Imperial Valley ranchers for the same object, but the complete annihilation of Mayol is necessary first.

After parting with Leyva on March 15, Berthold had taken his force southwest. They were a various band of Mexicans, Indians and Wobblies, about 100 men. Outside El Alamo, which lay on the road between Tecate and Ensenada, Berthold suffered a wound in the thigh from a federal scout’s rifle. Still, his men captured the town, while the feds ran to Ensenada.

El Alamo was a mining village, its population largely American and English miners and shopkeepers from whom the rebels constantly appropriated supplies, earning themselves a reputation as “desperate characters...as tough a bunch of cutthroats as ever gathered together.” The rebels had a special fondness for the dynamite used in mine operations and set about fashioning bombs to be used in future warfare.

While Berthold’s wound festered, a party of 30 Mexicans led by Juan Guerrero slipped away and threatened to raid the tiny port of San Quintin, but the captain of an English destroyer anchored in the harbor landed his crew to protect the town.

Through all this, Ensenada’s jefe politico, Colonel Vega, inexplicably sulked. Besides his troubles with the rebels and his petulance over the lack of support he’d gotten from Mexico City, he was feuding with the American consul, George B. Schmucker, a refined young Easterner who had grown ever more nervous. Shocked by exaggerated charges of the rebels’ mistreatment of Americans in Baja, he had castigated Colonel Vega.

Vega could find no peace. From El Alamo, Berthold placed telephone calls to the colonel demanding surrender, lest Berthold’s troops lay waste to Ensenada. Vega dared him to try it. The threats ceased when Berthold contracted gangrene. The general died on April 13. Within the week, the Mexicans had chosen as their leader Colonel Jos6 Valenzuela. The foreigners chose Jack R. Mosby, who claimed to have been a gunrunner in the Cuban revolt against Spain and fought with the Boers against Great Britain and in the Panamanian revolt against Colombia.

On April 20, Mosby’s troops marched north to unite with Pryce’s, as though to follow the junta’s command to move against Mayol at the Colorado River. But Pryce had other plans. Though Flores Magon wrote, “There is no time for delay, comrades. Fly toward Mexicali.” Pryce reasoned that the capture of Tijuana, the closest Baja town to a major city, might stimulate recruitment, and from there they could march on Ensenada. Control of the Mexicali-Tijuana-Ensenada triangle by the liberals would mean control of northern Baja. Mayol would then find his army cut off from any Diaz supplies or reinforcements, wedged between the rebels in Sonora and the liberals.

Tijuana was isolated from the rest of Mexico. The telegraph to Ensenada ran through San Diego. A horse-drawn stage ran twice weekly to Tecate. The residents were largely Anglo and Mexican merchants who catered to tourists, many of whom rode to the border on weekend trolley excursions.

In response to rumors of an impending attack, most of Tijuana’s civilian population fled across the border, some taking up residence in the Little Landers colony, which would later become the town of San Ysidro.

On May 8, 1911, after a march across the mountains during which Jack Mosby suffered a bullet wound and was carried to a San Diego hospital, a force of 220 Magonistas approached Tijuana. The federal troops numbered about .110, many of them untrained volunteers. In 1911 Tijuana was a village of 700 or so, the center of which lay between two hills in what is now Colonia Morelos.


Recently my old friend Henry and I explored Tijuana once again. We bypassed the saloons, drove out Avenida Revolution to the intersection of Calle Fundadores, then parked and climbed Calle Brazil, past Tany’s Novedades y Ropa, through a neighborhood of little stucco houses and modest apartments, past the Iglesia de la Merced. We gazed down a steep cobblestone road at Avenida Gonzales Bocanegra, on ground where the federal defenders of Tijuana probably ran toward the cover of brush and arroyos from the bullets of the wild, fierce rebels.

Calle Brazil overlooks the Tower of Tijuana. Inside the tower is a sports hall of fame. Between the photos of shortstops, soccer goalies and body-builders hang the portraits of commanders Fryce, Leyva, Berthold, and Mosby and their proud troops of patriots and adventurers.

Early in the morning of May 9, 1911, Pryce appealed to Tijuana Subprefect Jose Maria Larroque that surrender would save both lives and property. Larroque declined, and Pryce prepared to attack. Maneuvering into positions surrounding the town, the liberals conserved their scarce ammunition by firing sparingly. After nightfall a band of feds who had sneaked out of Tijuana through the liberal lines attacked from the south, masquerading as a relief force from Ensenada. They reached liberal headquarters and shot down two officers, then were driven back.

Pryce divided his men into three groups. Two of them stood guard against feds who might approach from the south and east. The third group, 80 of the most fierce rebels, attacked the town at dawn. They burned buildings, rushed trenches against showers of bullets. By 10:00 a.m. the defenders were fleeing across the border or south to Ensenada, and the rebels had taken the aduana, the customhouse in the shade of eucalyptus that now fill the back yard of a downtown low-rent apartment in an alley off Avenida Madero.

Sr. Luiz Tames Leon, a chemist and historian, showed Henry and me the place. While we walked back toward a parking lot, I asked Sr. Tames what he thought of Ricardo Flores Magon.

He smiled contemplatively. “He was a little crazy.”

Thirty-two killed, 24 wounded Amid the ruins and burning buildings, Pryce read a brief Episcopalian burial service and ordered all bodies, liberal and federal, Mexican and foreign, buried in a common grave.

Over the soldiers’ vigorous objections, Pryce ordered all liquor destroyed. “There is a time when it is all right to get drunk,” he said, “but this is not the time.” And through reporters, he assured San Diegans that his men were decent. “When we have fighting to do, we do it, and when we are through fighting we don’t go around raising hell as the papers have stated. Of course war is war, and we must live by what we can find or take.”

San Diegans hustled to the border town with cameras and big sacks in which to carry home loot. They were greeted by an international army, some uniformed in khaki, others outfitted like cowboys or tramps. Alongside Spanish-American War and Boer War veterans were young fellows who claimed to be college students. So many of the soldiers evaded queries about their names or backgrounds, people called them the army of Smiths. There were characters like one called Dynamite Bill and a black giant who served as Pryce’s orderly and bodyguard. A strange crowd to be calling themselves Mexican revolutionaries.

The day before Tijuana fell, Juan Guerrero’s PLM band of 30 Indians who had split off from Berthold’s troops in El Alamo had captured the little port of San Quintal. Ensenada was all that stood between the liberals and control of northern Baja.

Back in Chihuahua, as though to one-up the PLM, Madero’s troops attacked Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, only hours after the Magonistas besieged Tijuana. The battle for Juarez was a longer, bloodier struggle, and therefore gained more space in the newspapers, even in San Diego.

The San Diego Union and Tribune were owned by conservative John D. Spreckels. The smaller daily, the Sun, was the property of Edward Wyliss Scripps, who described himself as thinking like “a left labor galoot.”

Since Madero had issued his Plan of San Luis Potosi, the newspapers had viewed Mexico from opposing angles. On November 22,1910, the Union declared that the revolution had been “nipped in the bud,” while the Sun reported that “Madero had a good chance of winning.” During February 1911, the Union editorialized that stable government in Mexico was a concern of the United States, and implied that we should come to the rescue of Diaz. The Sun retaliated by suggesting that our government let Guggenheim, et al. defend their interests themselves. The Union warned, “The worst calamity that could befall Mexico would be the overthrow of the Diaz government.” The Sun portrayed Diaz soldiers as drunken brutes who herded women as if they were cattle and exterminated their opponents, while Maderistas were considerate and did not loot or pillage. When Diaz offered $40 million to purchase land to distribute to the landless, the Sun headline read, “Diaz Sop to Rebels”; the Union’s headline, “Measure Provides Land Reform in Mexico.”

After the first battle for Tijuana, the Union called the rebels a band of American filibusterers ostensibly taking part in the revolt against Diaz. “In other words, the so-called revolution in Lower California is simply another effort by daredevil citizens of the United States to wrest that territory from Mexico.” But the Sun contended, “They are moved by the spirit of adventure, but that’s not all. They have read Barbarous Mexico…; their eyes are alight with the fire of revolution; they believe that something of value to humanity will come of the struggle that is rocking the whole of Mexico today.”


On May 9, while the battle for Tijuana was being fought, the famous socialist agitator Emma Goldman arrived in San Diego and gave an impassioned speech urging radicals to cross the border and join the struggle. Prominent socialists such as John Kenneth Turner, E.E. Kirk, and Kasper Bauer raised money intended for the occupying forces and lobbied to keep the U.S. from interfering with the Magonista victories. The IWW sent Joe Hill and Frank Little to inspect the occupying army, and the Wobbly newspaper, The Industrial Worker, ran accounts of the scene. A Wobbly soldier was quoted as saying, “[W]e have got a utopia down here. We do not work and we do not get pulled in for vagrancy either. We drill about a half hour daily so that we will be able to plug the Feds full of holes when they have recovered enough to show up again.” With Magon’s approval, the IWW offered volunteers a dollar a day and 160 acres of Mexican farmland. San Diego boys ran off to Tijuana to join the revolution, as did escapees from the city jail and U.S. Army deserters. The newspapers charged the Army with harboring California desperadoes like Marshall Brooks, a cattle rustler from Campo; “Mojave Red,” a murderer; Sam Baron, train robber; and James Dunham, who had axe-murdered his wife and several in-laws.

The fact that only about 20 percent of the Magonistas who occupied Tijuana were Mexican didn’t seem to bother Flores Magon. “In the ranks of Liberals are men who are not of our nationality but are our ideological brothers.... They sacrifice themselves to destroy the chains of our slavery.”

But cynics called the Magonistas profiteers and backed up their claims with quotes such as one published in Sunset magazine. “Captain Leclare said, ‘We are fighting for Tierra y Libertad. That means Land and Liberty.’... A man beside him quipped, ‘Mostly land....’ ” The Sun proclaimed, “If Lower California should wake up some morning to find the Stars and Stripes floating over it, San Diego would suddenly become more than ever a City of Destiny.”

Pro-Diaz newspapers asserted that the expedition had been underwritten by norteamericano capitalists such as General H.G. Otis and his son Harry Chandler. Between them, they owned 832,000 acres of the Imperial Valley.

The Mexican consul in Los Angeles published rumors that the Magonistas intended to establish an independent Baja republic. Others spread phony reports that the U.S. Army had helped the Magonistas capture Tijuana. In San Diego, Dr. Horacio Lopez, Carlos Mendoza, and Mexican Consul J. Diaz Prieto founded Defenders of National Integrity to distribute anti-Magonista propaganda and raise volunteers and money to win back Tijuana.

An open letter to Ricardo Flores Magon appeared in a Los Angeles newspaper. “You are fomenting a revolution which does not benefit any social class of my country.... You are letting Americans participate in the affair without remembering that all the individuals of that race feel contempt for us. They call us greasers, cholos,...dirty Mexicans, etc....”

If the junta could have sent Mexicans to swell the ranks of the occupying army, the charges of international profiteering might have appeared unfounded. But neither La Regeneration nor the junta’s orators who spoke regularly at the placita in Los Angeles issued recruitment pleas. Of the 33,000 Mexican-born immigrants in Southern California, surely they could’ve enlisted a few hundred. Maybe Flores Magon wouldn’t risk another race riot like they’d seen in Mexicali. Or he might have been looking toward an invasion of the mainland and didn’t want to squander his efforts on the Baja wasteland. The Wobblies could hold that territory. Or he could have grown disgusted with the Tijuana gang, who seemed intent upon proving the filibustero charges against themselves with stunts such as opening the town to looting by tourists for a charge of $1 a head. Pay a buck, steal all you can carry. Five days after the capture of the town, 1000 people crossed the border in a single day.

After consulting with promoter and entrepreneur Dick Ferris, who had visited Tijuana and offered his support to the rebels, Pryce had opened the town to gambling and began charging admission to cross the border. Some of the proceeds he sent north to the junta with the hope they would supply him with at least a piece of heavy artillery. But the junta wasn’t coming through.

On May 17, Pryce and his adjutant Hopkins were driven into San Diego for a meeting with John Kenneth Turner to discuss whether the liberals should disband and withdraw or stand their ground. That evening Pryce was wined and dined and introduced to prominent San Diegans, accompanied by Dick Ferris’s attractive and vivacious wife, Florence. The next morning, he and Hopkins were arrested.

General Bliss had ordered their detention based on instructions from the U.S. War Department that he should take into custody all prominent rebels found on the U.S. side of the line.

Dick Ferris provided Pryce and Hopkins with an attorney, who requested and won a writ of habeas corpus. Bliss consulted with the War Department and received a message that prompted him to release not only Pryce and Hopkins, but all other Magonista prisoners, including Jack Mosby, who had been seized while recuperating from his chest wound.

The junta outlined a program by which Tijuana was to be governed — a four-hour workday, appropriation of foreign-owned lands, total individual freedom and social equality. In an appeal called “Take the Land,” Flores Magon explained that northern Baja was rich in resources and invited readers to immediately head south to colonize. In the new colony, every person would be free to pursue his or her goals and to maintain privacy and individualism; it was assumed, though, that all would wish to seek common goals since, in the past, people had labored long hours on the land for meager wages, while communal effort would cut work time to about four hours a day.

Residents who had fled Tijuana were urged to return. They would be guaranteed “Security, Liberty and Justice.” Families would be helped, the poor given special consideration. There would be no customs levied on the exchange of provisions or clothing over the border. The junta ordered Spreckels to pay laborers on the San Diego & Arizona railway line— which dipped south into Mexico to avoid the most rugged mountains — $1.50 an hour and to guarantee a maximum eight-hour day. When the liberals gained complete control, rich foreigners’ lands would be appropriated on behalf of Baja’s Indians. And as liberal fortunes prospered, these goals would be realized in all of Mexico.


While Flores Magon dreamed of utopia, Diaz, having ordered Mayol to attack the border towns, addressed U.S. President Taft, “I write you to instruct your people not to come onto our battlefield. Every time we have a battle, your people run excursion trains to the border. This causes embarrassment and interferes with the discipline of our troops as your girls make catcalls to my men. Your people are buying the loot of Tijuana from Madero’s rebels and they are saying it is priced too high. There are many other things we could complain of but if these rules are observed we can fight out this war in peace.” Obviously, Diaz knew his days as dictator were numbered, and a few days later, he gave up. May 25, 1911, under headlines announcing Diaz’s resignation, the Sun used as a subtitle, “No Cheers for Dictator as He Quits Office.” The Union reported, “Reading of Brief Tragic Letter of Aged President Strikes Awe into Listeners.”

As Diaz and his entourage made for the port of Vera Cruz, Francisco Madero headed south from the U.S. border on a slow train, shaking hands at every whistle stop. He suggested that Ferris should present to Madero the deal he had earlier offered to Diaz, to purchase Baja outright, backed by American millionaires. Ferris admitted to James that he had no real backers.

Nevertheless, Ferris paid a visit to Tijuana and gave an oration. “You have got to haul down this red flag. While that might be the symbol of the Liberal Party, so called, in Mexico, it means anarchy in America, and you have got that out in sight of every American who passes this border. You have got to cut out your socialism, your anarchism, and every other ism you have got into, and form a new government if you hope to do anything right.” Should they do so, Ferris appealed, they could gain American sympathy and money and even get “the better class of Mexicans” to join them.

Following his speech, Ferris returned to San Diego, and James delivered a speech of his own, urging the men to stay on. After the assemblage, an election was held for president of the new republic. James nominated Ferris and reported later that the soldiers had unanimously elected the actor as president, whereupon James rushed to San Diego. In Ferris’s version, James entered his office and said, “Come to Tijuana right now. They have elected you president, and they want you to put in force the new government.”

Ferris said, “I am very busy. Besides, you have gone off half-cocked.”

But James persisted until Ferris agreed, as a first step, to give the rebels a new flag. After James’s departure, Ferris contacted the press and, implying that he was seriously considering the offer, announced that the new state would be called the Republic of Madero and that in compensation for the new state’s independence, he would provide a bond for $15 million.

But the Wobblies would have none of Ferris’s capitalism or his denouncement of their flag. After Mosby, barely recovered from his chest wound, gave a speech urging their cohesiveness in this time of confusion, backers of the junta organized a tribunal and court-martialed James and Ferris in absentia. On June 3, an election was held, and Mosby became the new general.

Mosby’s first act was to issue a position statement:

Dick Ferris has absolutely nothing to do with the revolutionary movement and his presence in Tijuana is not wanted. The fight is not being waged in the interest of Dick Ferris and the American capitalists, but solely in the interests of the working class.

Lower California will not be separated from the rest of Mexico, but the revolution will be carried on in all the states of Mexico until the Mexican people are freed from the present military despotism and slavery, peonage abolished and the lands returned to the people, which have been stolen from them by Mexican and foreign capitalists.

But James hadn’t yet given up.

In L.A. he told Ferris, “The men are getting desperate down there. They do not understand why you do not come back and talk to them.”

If he played another act, Ferris might have needed to choose between a noose in the U.S. and a firing squad in Mexico. So he replied, “Look here, James, I cannot...violate the neutrality laws.... So far I have not done so. I have not engaged a man, nor have I sent anything over there, nor have I contributed, and I do not propose to lay myself liable.” And on June 4, Ferris composed his resignation letter, addressed to the Soldiers and Citizens of the Republic of Lower California:

I keenly and sincerely appreciate the great honor you have conferred upon me in electing me.... I am detained here on business of the greatest importance.

I hope that each and every one of you will allow nothing but the highest patriotic motives to lead in your future military and governmental actions: that you will forget the different classes that originally constituted your ranks and henceforth become a unit in ideas, hopes, actions, and ambitions. Let your sober second thoughts prevail.... It affords me great pleasure to present to you the new flag of the Republic. The red stripes represent the blood that has been spilled for countless ages in the cause of liberty; the white stripes the purity of your motives, the blue fold the staunchness of your purpose, and the white star in a dual capacity represents not only the new Republic in the firmament of nations, but like the famous Star of Bethlehem, your constant guide to victory.

The next day, James sped into Tijuana in a chauffeur-driven limousine, the Ferris flag attached to the grille. Mosbys men were waiting and fell on him before he could step out of the limo. They ripped off the flag and burned it in the street, and, after a dispute about whether they should execute him immediately, chased him across the border under a sentence of instantaneous death should he return.

The new government of Mexico, under interim president de la Barra, who had been Diaz’s foreign secretary, called upon the Magonistas to join them, though Mag6n had labeled Madero an opportunist, a slave holder, a tool of the capitalist class. A few days after Mosby’s election in Tijuana, Madero sent a peace commission to meet with the junta. The commission included Jose Maria Leyva and Flores Magon’s brother Jesus. After a long meeting, Ricardo and Enrique rejected Madero’s offer. The next day, Madero’s agents gave the U.S. authorities information they used to arrest key junta leaders.


U.S. Consul Schmucker in Ensenada had been acting strangely. His nerves were raw from charges of neglect of besieged Americans in El Alamo and disputes with the volatile Governor Vega. All through May, his messages to Washington had grown increasingly mystifying.

“May 1.... Governor and the highest officials believe that American capitalists are responsible for the insurrection.

“May 1. Confidential. Church of Rome in Mexico probably bitterly pro-revolutionary, threatened attack on Ensenada probably for effect in order to encourage military intervention. Mexican church women are not concerned.

“May 7. Confidential. I am morally certain that head of institution mentioned in my May l...is primarily responsible for disturbances in Mexico, Portugal, Spain, France and Morocco. Capitalists in America and socialists of Europe and America undoubtedly mere tools. Representatives of capitalists and insurrectionists here believe me in sympathy with them.

“May 12.... In Lower California conspirators had planned to hire a new force to exterminate original insurgents. Residents preparing to depart for the United States excepting the Americans and others in confidence of conspirators. Please order...my transfer to unimportant post.”

On May 23 he assisted Governor Vega in writing Foreign Secretary de la Barra that foreign interests, particularly the Mexican Company of Terrain and Colonization, the Colorado River Land Company, and the Cudahy interests, had been helping the rebels from the beginning and that American annexation was imminent.

“May 26.... To comprehend political and social conditions at present moment, study and apply latter part of the Book of Revelation, Holy Bible.... I have a plan that will result in bettering civilization everywhere and preventing my own assassination. Answer.”

Later that day the emergency deputy consul wired Washington that Schmucker had suffered a complete mental breakdown. Washington instructed the deputy to provide an attendant and send the consul home at once. On the journey, he attempted suicide by shoving his head into a bucket of water.


In Los Angeles between June 14 and 16, Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon, Librado Rivera, Anselmo Figueroa, Richard Ferris, and Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce were arrested. Pryce was to be held without bail until extradition proceedings could decide if he would be sent to stand trial in Mexico on charges of murder and arson stemming from the first battle of Tijuana.

Mayol had been ordered west His march, which bypassed Mexicali, got no resistance from the liberal army of the Imperial desert. They were more concerned with finding shade and their next meal. Yet Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler had written to General Otis that the rebels had threatened to blow up the main canal works unless paid a large sum of money. Otis, while visiting Washington to lobby for increased funds for flood control, personally telephoned President Taft to lodge his complaint against the rebels.

Informed of these developments, Madero was hoping that they would pressure the Magonistas at least to negotiate. His policy worked in Mexicali. On June 16, the Mexicali liberals surrendered to Madero’s representatives Carlos Bernstein and General Leyva. Each rebel was given a severance allowance of $10. The Americans ate their first full meal in days at a Chinese restaurant in Calexico, then were shown to the railroad tracks and ordered to scatter by the time they reached El Centro.

Mosby had tamed the Tijuana rebels and rowdy tourists by abolishing gambling, establishing prohibition, and chasing off the most apolitical soldiers of fortune. Still, the Sun reported, “There was fighting at Tijuana last night among the rebels.... Mexican soldiers quarreled with the Americans.... The quarrel terminated in bullets.” And the rebels had no bullets to waste. Once again, the junta had let them down, though Flores Magon and the rebels all knew about Madero’s deal with the U.S. government. Any day, federal troops might come from the east on the railroad, and the rebels would be caught between them and Vega’s new army of recruits and volunteers sent on a steamer by San Diego’s Defenders of the National Integrity.

When Washington granted Madero the right to transport soldiers by train along the border through the U.S., Mosby responded with a letter to J.D. Spreckels, “If you have made any arrangements for the consummation of these plans, we hereby advise you to issue an order of nullification, else we shall take such steps as are consistent with our self-preservation to abrogate your system in this territory.” Mosby sent copies to the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads. Officials of a 11 the railroads agreed that “abrogate your system” meant blow it up.

Spreckels wired a senator, who informed the War Department of Spreckels’s contention that Mosby’s threat was practically a threat against the United States government, and, consequently, General Bliss should take action to protect the rail lines. When queried by the War Department, Bliss replied that the threat was likely a bluff, yet his staff requested five large cruisers, a fleet of auxiliary vessels, a strong detachment of marines, and two regiments of infantry to protect the citizenry and the 25 miles of railroad under construction “from the terrible brigand Mosby and his band of 150 or 200 desperadoes.”

The “terrible brigand” had sent an emissary to the junta, asking them to agree to give up Tijuana on the best terms possible. But no word had come from Flores Mag6n when General Leyva and Consul J. Diaz Prieto arrived as a Maderista negotiating team. Mosby demanded that his men each receive a $100 bonus, besides the $1 a day and 160 acres of land that had been promised liberal fighters.

“Ten dollars a day,” Leyva countered. “No more.”

Mosby’s men were spoiling for a fight, angered by the presence of Leyva, who had ditched them and run to Madero and now had returned as the enemy. When fighting broke out between some Tijuana insurectos and members of Leyva’s party, the negotiations died.

Already, Governor Vega’s army was marching north, 560 men strong. On June 22, the defenders of Tijuana —155 foreign Wobblies and adventurers, 75 Mexicans and Indians — set out on horseback and a commandeered five-car work train to meet the federals.

Near Agua Caliente, on the hill that used to rise where thoroughbreds now train and race, a fierce battle lasted three hours before the Mexicans scattered into the countryside and foreigners threw down their arms and made for the border.


As you wait in line to cross from Tijuana to San Ysidro, look up to the east. There, the border is a corrugated metal fence, and the hill on the U.S. side upon which tourists once sat watching the battles of Tijuana, is still brown dirt, brushless so the pollos will find no place to hide. On the Mexican side is a cluster of small factories from which vendors get the big pots they sell down below. Across the dirt road from the factories, against the border fence is a small railroad depot, the end of the line. Three poor men sleep together on its sidewalk. A tiny pariah dog hops around them on three legs.

A few yards away, on June 22, 1911, the U.S. Army lay in wait and took into custody Jack Mosby and his beaten followers. Outlaws and some of the deserters from the U.S. military disappeared. At least 30 rebels died. The count was unreliable because Vega wouldn’t allow the Red Cross onto his battlefield. The press charged him with disposing of the wounded Magonistas.

On June 23, the Sun declared that “the Liberal army, with its generals, Berthold, Leyva, Williams, Pryce, and Mosby, has gone down in history with the band of William Walker, that terrorized the peninsula 50 years ago.”

Yet the PLM staggered on, staging guerrilla action here and there, whipped into action by the pen of Ricardo Flores Magon. After the smoke cleared, he was named a hero of the revolution. Some Mexican rebels, perhaps the Zapatistas of last year’s Chiapas uprisings, still read his words,

— “Law is a farce, a chain to tie down the poor.... Law is a prostitute who lends herself to those who have money and turns her back on those who do not.”

—“I do not doubt that someday my poor skin will serve...as a footrest, because with money anything is possible...but the idea is immortal. Man is worth nothing; the idea is everything.”

—“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich, Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos.

— “Mexico’s revolutionary spark is the beginning of the purifying fire that from one moment to another will envelop every country in the world.”

Jack Mosby was sentenced to prison for desertion from the U.S. Marines. On the way to confinement, he was shot and killed “trying to escape.”

Dick and Florence Ferris wrote and acted in a farcical play called The Man from Mexico, staged up and down the West Coast until Florence sued for divorce, whereupon Dick withdrew from the public eye for several years. During the 1920s he helped organize Los Angeles’s Yellow Cab service, promoted transcontinental air races, and leased beachfront property south of Tijuana to develop a resort, which never prospered.

Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce talked his way out of extradition and spent the next two years as a cowboy actor in Hollywood. In 1914 he joined the Canadian army and marched off to distinguish himself as a Canadian and British officer in the First World War.

November 21,1922, Ricardo Flores Magon was found dead on the floor of his cell in Leavenworth penitentiary. No one looked closely enough to discover if the cause was suicide, murder, or a broken spirit.

Ken Kuhlken's novels, set in San Diego during World War II and featuring private eye Tom Hickey, are The Loud Adios, The Venus Deal, and The Angel Gang.

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“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich" (Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos)
“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich" (Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos)

A few decades ago, during the era when my friend Henry and I devoted many hours to exploring Tijuana, we found a saloon that I later learned was around the corner and up a block from where the old customs house used to stand, the site where the insurectos of 1911 overpowered Mexican federal soldiers and claimed the town in the name of the Partido Liberal of the Mexican revolution.

"Mexico’s revolutionary spark is the beginning of the purifying fire that from one moment to another will envelop every country in the world.”

Henry and I also lost many paychecks at Agua Caliente without a clue that the racetrack’s builders had scraped away the hill upon which federal troops had taken their revenge. I never realized that the motel where I once recovered from tequila sat on the edge of a battleground. I hadn’t heard of Caryl Pryce, Jack Mosby, or the brothers Flores Magon, though in 1911 any San Diegan would have known their names well. Dictator Porfirio Diaz was in power in Mexico City, and large sections of the country were in revolt, Porfirio Diaz was known around the world as the “Strong Man of Mexico,” the stern, wise parent of his people. A genius. Incomparable. He had turned Mexico from a primitive state hardly worth exploiting to a land of opportunity where capitalists from any nation could strike it richer.

"If from the start we had called ourselves anarchists, only a few would have listened to us..."

By 1910 Diaz had been president for 34 years, surrounded by a cabinet of cronies and financial wizards, Mexican and foreign, who ran the country by the axiom, “What’s good for business is good for the nation.” The business of the Diaz regime was business. He and his treasury secretary, Don Jose Yves Limantour, ruled over what journalists called la paz porfiriana, Porfirio’s Peace.

"The Mexican people had been sensitized to this issue by history..."

Diaz had risen to power in a country desperate for peace. Since 1810 one coup or revolution had followed another. Diaz responded to these threats with edicts such as, “Catch them in the act, kill them on the spot.”

In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , B. Traven wrote of such Diaz-era justice for two train robbers. A federal captain notices the mestizos with bulges in the pockets of their shabby trousers. He grabs one by the neck, reaches into the man’s pocket, and discovers gold coins. After a little questioning, when the mestizos realize they’ve given themselves away, they admit to the robbery, then accompany the feds to a nearby cemetery. Soldiers borrow and present a shovel each to the mestizos, who placidly dig their own graves, then lie down in them to measure the fit. After a couple of cigarettes, they tell the captain they’re ready to stand in front of the holes so they’ll fall in the right place. In the Mexican heat, people learn to conserve energy.

Diaz had rid the army of gentleman soldiers educated and influential enough to orchestrate rebellion. In their place, he recruited — often by conscription — a peasant army whose loyalty he bought with beans and tortillas, which civilians couldn’t always get so easily.

The government wore an intellectual cloak of pragmatism. Science and realism were in vogue. Capitalism was practical, based upon the truth of human nature. Society was structured on Darwinian principles of survival of the fittest. Indians, about three-fourths of the Mexican population, were considered genetically inferior, degenerate, apathetic, irresponsible, lazy, treacherous, superstitious.

The wealth of Mexico was held by 3 percent of the citizens; money and resources were constantly tunneled into the U.S. The middle class of educated people, some of whom had prospered during the Juarez revolution, were excluded from their “rightful” share because most of the worthy jobs for intellectuals and managers went to gringos. Even peasant tradesmen and artisans had been dislocated — weavers replaced by mills, shoemakers relegated to making sandals. Mexican industrial laborers, considered inferior to foreigners, were paid less for the same job. While in other nations industry had enlarged the middle class, here the merchants and craftsmen lost ground as their clientele grew steadily poorer.

Every locale had its jefe politico who oversaw the courts and insured the immunity of big shots and norteamericanos. Even the poorest gringo could be found innocent. If he was punished, his countrymen might feel insecure in Mexico and take their money elsewhere. Foreign investment in railroads, mining, petroleum, and other heavy industry was catapulting Mexico into a golden age. Rich Mexicans vacationed with old-country aristocrats, intermarried with French and Spanish nobility, conducted business over lunches prepared by Parisian chefs, mostly because of foreign investors, who in turn received tax concessions, subsidies, all the cheap labor they could use, and suspension of constitutional provisions that reserved subsoil rights for Mexicans.

Among the most vocal of the anti-Diaz partisans was Ricardo Flores Magon, born in Oaxaca in 1873. His father had fought with Benito Juarez to rid Mexico of the Emperor Maximilian and had gained enough property to afford his boys an education in Mexico City. There, as a law student in the 1890s, Ricardo found his vocations — political agitation and journalism.

In 1900 in Mexico City, he joined both the revolutionary Liberal Party and the staff of his brother ” Jesus’s weekly journal, La Regeneracion, “The Independent Newspaper of Combat.” In this and other » periodicals, under his own name and pseudonyms, > Ricardo fervently attacked the Diaz government. For o his activities, he was jailed repeatedly until 1904, | when he fled to Laredo, Texas, hoping to continue 5 his work more freely from exile. Soon his younger S brother Enrique and others joined him, declaring themselves an “organizing junta of the Liberal Party.”

The junta’s manifesto advocated one-term presidency, assurance of civil liberties, restraints on the Catholic Church, universal education, return of Mexican land to the Mexican people, redistribution of rich landlords’ property, confiscation of the property of Diaz and his leading supporters, abolition of child labor, and a guaranteed minimum wage.

Regeneracion was smuggled into Mexico and distributed to mills, factories, smelters, railroads, and mines. It preached the doctrine that people didn’t need government, that Mexico could return to the Indian communal ways that had reigned before the conquest. With the government overthrown and the land shared by all, there would surely be greater peace and justice than a tyrant like Diaz could offer. Regeneradon helped inspire and direct workers’ strikes and revolts, especially along the border and in towns where the International Workers of the World, the radical socialist “Wobblies,” were already influential.

In response, Diaz’s agents crossed the border, hunting the agitators, at least once plotting to assassinate Flores Magon. After years of threats and harassment by U.S. officials bribed by the Diaz government, Flores Magon fled to Canada in 1906 with a $20,000 bounty on his head. From there he returned to San Francisco, then Los Angeles, Sacramento, and finally back to Los Angeles in 1907, where he landed in jail, charged with violating U.S. neutrality laws that prohibited the use of the U.S. as a base for armed revolt against another nation.

The following year, Ricardo and two comrades were transferred to the Arizona Territory for trial and finally released in 1910. They boarded a train for Los Angeles, then a city of 319,000, where they had many sympathetic ears. The growing labor movement had attracted people from all ethnic groups, and the largest minority was Mexican-American, most of them recent immigrants. On August 10, at the railroad station, a welcoming party of 300 laborers cheered their arrival. For the moment, Los Angeles would be Flores Magon’s base of operations.


An election was scheduled in Mexico for 1910, and the people speculated about who would be positioned to succeed Diaz after his death or retirement. In an interview with the aging dictator two years earlier, American journalist James Creelman had dared to ask if he had made provision for a successor. Diaz slyly boasted that he had given Mexico democracy and would welcome a challenge in the upcoming election.

Because of publicity about the Creelman interview, the Mexican establishment believed the world was watching to see if Don Porfirio would make good on his boast. So they put on a show in preparation for the elections — countrywide rallies and speaking tours, as if a vote for any opposition candidate would actually be counted. In fact the only real question was, who would Diaz choose as a running mate and likely successor? He chose the incumbent, Ramon Corral, who had made his fortune in the slave trade in the tropics and prostitution in Mexico City. Corral was already dying of syphilis and was so universally hated that even the president’s inner circle referred to the ticket as “Diaz and Death.”

To the astonishment of Mexican citizens and foreign observers, Francisco Madero, son of a powerful family close to Secretary Limantour and to allies north of the border, declared himself a candidate and gained a large and vigorous following. So did Alvaro Obregon, a small-time rancher from Sonora, and Emiliano Zapata, a peasant from Morelos.

But Madero was not the only disenchanted big shot. American and European capitalists, including the Pierces, Harrimans, and Guggenheims, were jealous of certain properties and mineral rights recently granted to others. Noting this discontent, several of Diaz’s circle, including Limantour himself, aspired to the presidency, though they could only offer feeble challenges to the hand that fed them.

But when the votes were counted by Diaz’s jefes politicos, the presidential aspirants caught the express out of town or made for a hideout. Even Limantour ran to Paris.

Diaz placed an embargo on all Madero family property. They could buy or sell nothing. The Madero clan officially appealed to their friend Limantour, while the boldest and most disenchanted among them began organizing a revolution and issued the Plan of San Luis Potosi, calling for insurrection to begin on November 20. Though the followers of Magon and Madero (the Magonistas and Maderistas) had agreed to cooperate in the ouster of Diaz, they agreed on little else. Madero, who had long believed it was his destiny to govern Mexico, sought effective suffrage, strict laws against reelection, and socioeconomic reform through legislation. In the climate of the times, Madero was a liberal, while Flores Magon’s Partido Liberal Mexicano was something else. In 1908 he had written:

If from the start we had called ourselves anarchists, only a few would have listened to us.... We must give land to the people during the course of the revolution.... We must also give them possession of the factories, mines etc.... In order not to have everybody against us, we will continue

to call ourselves liberals during the course of the revolution, and will in reality continue propagating anarchy and executing anarchistic acts. We must take away from the landed gentry and give to the people....

There will be some landowners, observing what is happening to others, who will not reject negotiations, and thus there will be no immediate pretext to attack them or to take away their property. In this case, the laborers can be encouraged to demand “impossibilities,” with the result that the bosses will be obliged to shut down...the workmen will have consummated expropriation, and the anarchistic character of the junta will remain veiled.... Only the anarchists will know that we are anarchists, and we will advise them not to call themselves such in order not to frighten imbeciles who are accustomed to hear the anarchists spoken of unfavorably. Rather than imbeciles, they are merely ignorant.

We should not be unjust.... People will see the excellence of work being done in common compared with the work done individually, and thus will desire to work the land communally, while the junta then will not face the hateful job of giving a piece of land to everyone who asks for it.


With the election of October 4, 1910, Porfirio Diaz began his eighth term as president. Securely returned to office, he forgave Limantour and urged him to return to Mexico. But Limantour had already heard that guerrilla bands were raiding towns, villages, and haciendas in the north. Before the year ended, police in the Plaza of the Constitution had machine-gunned crowds that were outside the presidential palace yelling, “Down with Diaz! Diaz resign! Death to Corral!”

Rather than return directly to Mexico, Limantour made a swing through the U.S., visited the exiled Madero family, and carried from them to Diaz a promise that rebellion would cease when Diaz and his advisors resigned.

In early December of 1910, Flores Magon sent a band of his followers from Los Angeles to the Imperial Valley to prepare for armed revolt. John Kenneth Turner, a socialist who had written the widely read Barbarous Mexico, a critique of the Diaz regime, bought a supply of arms and ammunition and shipped it from L.A. to Mexicali.

Flores Magon had decided to strike against Baja, establish a base, and enlist an army before launching a major offensive against the mainland, joining the Liberal Party bands, who would meanwhile capture towns in Sonora and Chihuahua.

On January 27, 1911, Magonista leaders Jose Maria Leyva and Simon Berthold crossed the border, picked up some followers, and continued to Laguna Salada, about 20 miles south of Mexicali, where they met a 12-man force organized by Camilo Jimenez, a Tarahumara Indian who led indigenous troops. Before dawn on January 29, thirty Magonistas attacked Mexicali, which was so weakly garrisoned by government troops that the soldiers fled, handing over the town of about 700. The only casualty was the town jailer, who was killed trying to stop the release of several Magonista prisoners.

From headquarters at 519 1/2 East Fourth Street in Los Angeles, Ricardo Flores Magon appealed to radicals everywhere for support of the insurgents of the PLM, the Partido Liberal de Mexico. He couldn’t issue a direct call for volunteers, however, without blatandy violating the neutrality laws. Author Jack London helped forge a link between American radicals when he prepared a manifesto for a rally in support of the PLM, held at the Labor Temple in Los Angeles. London wrote:

Dear, Brave Comrades of the Mexican Revolution: We Socialists, anarchists, hobos, chicken thieves, outlaws and undesirable citizens of the U.S. are with you heart and soul. You will notice that we are not respectable. Neither are you. No revolutionary can possibly be respectable in these days of the reign of property. All the names you are being called, we have been called. And when graft and greed get up and begin to call names, honest men, brave men, patriotic men and martyrs can expect nothing else than to be called chicken thieves and outlaws.

So be it. But I for one wish there were more chicken thieves and outlaws of the sort that formed the gallant band that took Mexicali.

General Berthold sent out a declaration. “We are not a mob. We are fighting for principles,” acting as part of a nationwide movement aimed at freeing Mexico from the Diaz tyranny to make it “a land for the poor people who have heretofore been treated like so many cattle.” He reminded the public that all Mexicali saloons had been closed, that women and children would be well treated, and that American citizens would be accorded respect. “We are rioting without riot, bloodshed or debauchery.”

Americans were to rest assured of the integrity of their Mexican properties and to trust that, contrary to rumor, the canal system running through the Mexicali-Imperial Valley would not be dynamited. And he promised that as soon as the Mexicali soldiers were joined by a rebel group from Ensenada, the joint force would depart for action into Sonora.

The original band of insurgents consisted of Mexicans from the valley, aided by a scouting force of Cocopah Indians, some members of the International Workers of the World who had been assisted across the border by their local chapter in Holtville, and a few soldiers of fortune. But over the next few weeks, articles in Regeneration and the IWW newspapers sparked the imaginations of adventurers. Recruitment of gringos was wildly successful, compared to the recruitment of Mexicans, too many of whom were suspicious this PLM gang might be American opportunists, popularly known as “filibusters,” plotting to steal land from Mexico, as Diaz’s propagandists loudly proclaimed.

The Mexican people had been sensitized to this issue by history and by the fact that the Diaz regime had sold great tracts of northern Baja to American capitalists like E.H. Harriman of the Southern Pacific Railroad; John D. Spreckels, builder of the Hotel del Coronado, who ran San Diego’s rail transit and water systems and owned the Union and Tribune; and General H.G. Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. For at least a century, the U.S. had been trying to annex the Baja peninsula. Mexicans viewed any American with a fat wallet as a potential filibustero.

The Mexicali insurgents awaited federal troops, who would most likely come from Ensenada, Baja’s capital, where the jefe politico, Colonel Celso Vega, ran both the civil and military authorities. His force numbered about 100 soldiers.

When news of the capture of Mexicali arrived, Vega gathered his troops — a few Mexican regulars, many impressed “volunteers,” and some Indian scouts — proceeded north to Tecate, and camped there while drilling reinforcements who had arrived from the small garrison in Tijuana. During this pause in their march, Vega sent federal soldiers to scout the rebels. But heavy rains fell, volunteers became deserters, and Vega became so ill that for several days his men carried him around on a litter.

On February 8, a band of Vega’s men routed liberals from their station at Picacho Pass in the Cocopah Mountains, on the road between Mexicali and Tecate. But when the feds encountered Leyva and the Magonistas near Mexicali, Leyva’s men dropped Colonel Vega with a bullet in his neck, and the battle turned to a rout. The federal troops retreated all the way to Ensenada, carrying their wounded commander.

On February 11, forces loyal to Magon captured Guadalupe, a village southeast of Juarez, in Chihuahua. Three days later, Francisco Madero crossed the border, claiming leadership of all revolutionary forces in Chihuahua and preparing to attack Zaragosa in neighboring Coahuila state. When Madero requested that the Magonistas join him and then seized a convoy the liberals had sent, only one of the Magonista leaders willingly joined Madero, but two others resisted. Madero chased them across the border and denounced the PLM as radical and untrustworthy.

Flores Magon contended that Madero had falsely claimed his party and the PLM were in close accord and thereby tricked many of the PLM to join the Madero efforts. He denounced Madero for issuing a circular in which he represented himself as the provisional president of Mexico and Flores Magon the provisional vice president. He branded Madero as a traitor to the cause of liberty.


Enter Dick Ferris, an actor and promoter of automobile and airplane races along the West Coast. After losing a bid for the job of lieutenant governor of California in the primary of 1910, he became the manager of a carnival in Balboa Park intended to generate interest in the upcoming Panama-California Exposition. Ferris had promised to “dream up some live publicity stunts.” The capture of Mexicali must have looked like a gift from heaven.

Ferris had aligned himself with a group of businessmen who were supposedly ready to offer to purchase Baja from the beleaguered Diaz regime. Ferris, after spreading the rumor that J.P. Morgan and other multimillionaires were part of the group, approached the Mexican consul in San Francisco with the plan. The new state would be called the Republic of Diaz. Eventually, Ferris admitted, the new republic would be sold to the United States at a neat profit. Reporters delighted with Ferris’s brazen proposal gave him and the exposition a mountain of publicity.


In Mexicali, as the gringo contingent increased and eventually became the majority among the rebel troops, racial tension festered. Besides the Mexicans, American whites, and several American blacks, there were English, Australians, Boers, Russians, French, and Germans. Fistfights and brawls led to shootings. W.E. Clark, an Ohio Wobbly, was badly wounded by a Yaqui Indian. In retaliation Wild Bill Hatfield shot a Mexican in the face. Neither the Yaqui nor Hatfield was court-martialed.

Another Wobbly, Stanley Williams, secured from Magonista commander Leyva permission to form an auxiliary force of primarily non-Mexicans. On the night of February 21, Williams and his gang captured a freight train and roared east into Algodones, guns blazing at the handful of Mexican customs officers. Emboldened by his victory and unsatisfied with Leyva’s reaction to the unauthorized attack, Williams agitated for removal of Leyva from command. A mutiny was only averted when Berthold’s men cornered the Williams gang and expelled their leader, sending him over the border, and disarmed all but the most loyal soldiers.

The Mexican war department ordered a force of 500 to Baja. Believing they would march in from the east, Leyva and Berthold chose to push westward. On March 16, at Laguna Salada, the Berthold-Leyva forces split up. Berthold, with 60 to 70 Americans and Mexicans, moved southwest toward El Alamo, while Leyva continued up the mountains toward Tecate. There he discovered that the federal troops under Colonel Mayol had landed in Ensenada. Most of the contingent were crossing the mountains by a route some miles south of Leyva’s position, but some had taken the border road, encircled Tecate, and were proceeding to wipe out the Magonista band that had secured the position after Vega’s retreat. Though his force had the feds outnumbered, after two days, supplies and ammunition depleted, Leyva lifted the siege and returned to Mexicali. According to his men, the general had “retreated at full speed on horseback, leaving his foot soldiers to their fate.” Consequently relieved of his command, unwanted in Baja but wanted by the law across the border, Leyva drifted eastward to join Madero.

Supplies for the insurectos were increasingly rare because President Taft had ordered 20,000 troops to the border. The neutrality laws prevented legal shipments of arms or food for the rebel troops, and the U.S. Army presence made smuggling a risky occupation.

The Mexicali troops under Stanley Williams had begun requisitioning horses, mules, wagons, food, and any available ammunition from local ranches, giving Williams what he needed to attack Mayol’s army head-on. His reckless assault caught Mayol by surprise. The feds suffered before their machine guns gave Williams

and a couple dozen others their death wounds and chased the Magonistas back to Mexicali.

To the surprise of all observers, instead of securing Mexicali, Mayol marched his army south. General Bliss, commander of the U.S. border army, explained:

It appears probable that Colonel Mayol was the officer to whom the Mexican government, on the repeated insistence of our government, gave the order to protect our flood control construction work on the Colorado River delta. At the time that order was given, there were no insurgents worth speaking of at Mexicali or any other point.... Colonel Mayol reiterated the statement that his orders were to go to the Colorado River dam and that he had no orders to attack Mexicali. I waited for a week in Calexico, hoping that something would eventually beat a little common sense into Mayol’s head and that he would get busy with the insurecto band in Mexicali.

In my opinion, any increased disorder in Lower California will be due to the gross military incompetence of the Mexican federal commander there.

Mexican officials consistently urged the U.S. to jail the junta. After all, the neutrality law was intended “to prevent the use of the soil of the United States as a base” from which to launch “military expeditions or enterprises” against friendly neighbors. The U.S. state department replied that it had little or no concrete evidence that the PLM was involved in that kind of activity. Instead, the U.S. maintained surveillance, restricting the movements of the PLM, and guarded the border against the smuggling of arms and supplies.

On Sunday, March 12, Miss Flora Russell of Los Angeles crossed the border at Tijuana on horseback, carrying a blue silk flag bearing a rising sun and the scales of justice. She rode the several miles to Agua Caliente before planting her flag and declaring, “Lower California, I claim you in the name of equal suffrage and of model government, which I hereby christen as the future ‘Republic of Diaz.’... May the Great Ruler of all things nourish the little plant typified in this flag that I raise over this troubled land, and in His goodness bring to fruition the hopes and dreams of my sex for fullest liberty, symbolized in the scales of equality and justice.”

In an interview, Miss Russell later admitted to collaboration with the showman Dick Ferris.


During March and April, disputes continued to arise in Chihuahua over rebel leadership, with Madero still pronouncing himself in charge of all rebel forces and disarming those Magonistas who disagreed. And word came to the junta that Limantour had met with the Maderos loyalists and was trying to effect a settlement between them and Diaz. Flores Magon responded with an editorial that appeared to suggest that norteamericanos were in cahoots with Madero and the presidente. “The vampires of finance, the boa constrictors of Wall Street open their maws to engulf Mexico. Libertarians of the world, save the Mexican Revolution. Our problem is yours.” Madero, he wrote, was no friend of the poor, but a representative of the rich bourgeoisie, whose desire was to replace Diaz capitalists with capitalists of his own choosing and to safeguard the wealth of his own oversized family. Madero was hardly a true revolutionary. He was an “idol of the idiots.”

In Mexicali the insurectos held an election and voted in a new leader, Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce, a Welshman in his mid-30s. Pryce had served in the British legion in South Africa and India and fought in the Boer War. While serving in British Columbia as a mounted policeman, he had read John Kenneth Turner’s Barbarous Mexico and decided to seek out the liberal junta in Los Angeles. He had arrived in Mexico in time to participate in the first battle for Mexicali.

Pryce’s military experience and dignified manner might have served the Magonistas well, but he wasn’t Mexican. Charges of filibustering multiplied. To counteract this, the junta sent their longtime supporter, General Francisco Vasquez Salinas, to collaborate with Pryce, establishing a dual command. They were to attack Mayol’s force at the lower California water works. A letter from Flores Magon also instructed Pryce on dealings with local ranchers, from whom Pryce had been appropriating supplies:

Mr. Thomas Daly, superintendent of the Cudahy ranch, was here. He came to request the junta’s protection so that he may then bring in machinery, equipment for horses and mules, and people, with which to accelerate his agricultural operations. We informed him that if he were amicable with you, that is, if he were disposed to serve you, he had nothing to fear. We did this in order later to obtain a good sum of money from him with which to prosecute the campaign under better conditions. As soon as Mayol is destroyed we shall request a money loan and we are sure that he will loan money on seeing that the Liberal Party dominates the region.

Likewise we have some projects with the Imperial Valley ranchers for the same object, but the complete annihilation of Mayol is necessary first.

After parting with Leyva on March 15, Berthold had taken his force southwest. They were a various band of Mexicans, Indians and Wobblies, about 100 men. Outside El Alamo, which lay on the road between Tecate and Ensenada, Berthold suffered a wound in the thigh from a federal scout’s rifle. Still, his men captured the town, while the feds ran to Ensenada.

El Alamo was a mining village, its population largely American and English miners and shopkeepers from whom the rebels constantly appropriated supplies, earning themselves a reputation as “desperate characters...as tough a bunch of cutthroats as ever gathered together.” The rebels had a special fondness for the dynamite used in mine operations and set about fashioning bombs to be used in future warfare.

While Berthold’s wound festered, a party of 30 Mexicans led by Juan Guerrero slipped away and threatened to raid the tiny port of San Quintin, but the captain of an English destroyer anchored in the harbor landed his crew to protect the town.

Through all this, Ensenada’s jefe politico, Colonel Vega, inexplicably sulked. Besides his troubles with the rebels and his petulance over the lack of support he’d gotten from Mexico City, he was feuding with the American consul, George B. Schmucker, a refined young Easterner who had grown ever more nervous. Shocked by exaggerated charges of the rebels’ mistreatment of Americans in Baja, he had castigated Colonel Vega.

Vega could find no peace. From El Alamo, Berthold placed telephone calls to the colonel demanding surrender, lest Berthold’s troops lay waste to Ensenada. Vega dared him to try it. The threats ceased when Berthold contracted gangrene. The general died on April 13. Within the week, the Mexicans had chosen as their leader Colonel Jos6 Valenzuela. The foreigners chose Jack R. Mosby, who claimed to have been a gunrunner in the Cuban revolt against Spain and fought with the Boers against Great Britain and in the Panamanian revolt against Colombia.

On April 20, Mosby’s troops marched north to unite with Pryce’s, as though to follow the junta’s command to move against Mayol at the Colorado River. But Pryce had other plans. Though Flores Magon wrote, “There is no time for delay, comrades. Fly toward Mexicali.” Pryce reasoned that the capture of Tijuana, the closest Baja town to a major city, might stimulate recruitment, and from there they could march on Ensenada. Control of the Mexicali-Tijuana-Ensenada triangle by the liberals would mean control of northern Baja. Mayol would then find his army cut off from any Diaz supplies or reinforcements, wedged between the rebels in Sonora and the liberals.

Tijuana was isolated from the rest of Mexico. The telegraph to Ensenada ran through San Diego. A horse-drawn stage ran twice weekly to Tecate. The residents were largely Anglo and Mexican merchants who catered to tourists, many of whom rode to the border on weekend trolley excursions.

In response to rumors of an impending attack, most of Tijuana’s civilian population fled across the border, some taking up residence in the Little Landers colony, which would later become the town of San Ysidro.

On May 8, 1911, after a march across the mountains during which Jack Mosby suffered a bullet wound and was carried to a San Diego hospital, a force of 220 Magonistas approached Tijuana. The federal troops numbered about .110, many of them untrained volunteers. In 1911 Tijuana was a village of 700 or so, the center of which lay between two hills in what is now Colonia Morelos.


Recently my old friend Henry and I explored Tijuana once again. We bypassed the saloons, drove out Avenida Revolution to the intersection of Calle Fundadores, then parked and climbed Calle Brazil, past Tany’s Novedades y Ropa, through a neighborhood of little stucco houses and modest apartments, past the Iglesia de la Merced. We gazed down a steep cobblestone road at Avenida Gonzales Bocanegra, on ground where the federal defenders of Tijuana probably ran toward the cover of brush and arroyos from the bullets of the wild, fierce rebels.

Calle Brazil overlooks the Tower of Tijuana. Inside the tower is a sports hall of fame. Between the photos of shortstops, soccer goalies and body-builders hang the portraits of commanders Fryce, Leyva, Berthold, and Mosby and their proud troops of patriots and adventurers.

Early in the morning of May 9, 1911, Pryce appealed to Tijuana Subprefect Jose Maria Larroque that surrender would save both lives and property. Larroque declined, and Pryce prepared to attack. Maneuvering into positions surrounding the town, the liberals conserved their scarce ammunition by firing sparingly. After nightfall a band of feds who had sneaked out of Tijuana through the liberal lines attacked from the south, masquerading as a relief force from Ensenada. They reached liberal headquarters and shot down two officers, then were driven back.

Pryce divided his men into three groups. Two of them stood guard against feds who might approach from the south and east. The third group, 80 of the most fierce rebels, attacked the town at dawn. They burned buildings, rushed trenches against showers of bullets. By 10:00 a.m. the defenders were fleeing across the border or south to Ensenada, and the rebels had taken the aduana, the customhouse in the shade of eucalyptus that now fill the back yard of a downtown low-rent apartment in an alley off Avenida Madero.

Sr. Luiz Tames Leon, a chemist and historian, showed Henry and me the place. While we walked back toward a parking lot, I asked Sr. Tames what he thought of Ricardo Flores Magon.

He smiled contemplatively. “He was a little crazy.”

Thirty-two killed, 24 wounded Amid the ruins and burning buildings, Pryce read a brief Episcopalian burial service and ordered all bodies, liberal and federal, Mexican and foreign, buried in a common grave.

Over the soldiers’ vigorous objections, Pryce ordered all liquor destroyed. “There is a time when it is all right to get drunk,” he said, “but this is not the time.” And through reporters, he assured San Diegans that his men were decent. “When we have fighting to do, we do it, and when we are through fighting we don’t go around raising hell as the papers have stated. Of course war is war, and we must live by what we can find or take.”

San Diegans hustled to the border town with cameras and big sacks in which to carry home loot. They were greeted by an international army, some uniformed in khaki, others outfitted like cowboys or tramps. Alongside Spanish-American War and Boer War veterans were young fellows who claimed to be college students. So many of the soldiers evaded queries about their names or backgrounds, people called them the army of Smiths. There were characters like one called Dynamite Bill and a black giant who served as Pryce’s orderly and bodyguard. A strange crowd to be calling themselves Mexican revolutionaries.

The day before Tijuana fell, Juan Guerrero’s PLM band of 30 Indians who had split off from Berthold’s troops in El Alamo had captured the little port of San Quintal. Ensenada was all that stood between the liberals and control of northern Baja.

Back in Chihuahua, as though to one-up the PLM, Madero’s troops attacked Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, only hours after the Magonistas besieged Tijuana. The battle for Juarez was a longer, bloodier struggle, and therefore gained more space in the newspapers, even in San Diego.

The San Diego Union and Tribune were owned by conservative John D. Spreckels. The smaller daily, the Sun, was the property of Edward Wyliss Scripps, who described himself as thinking like “a left labor galoot.”

Since Madero had issued his Plan of San Luis Potosi, the newspapers had viewed Mexico from opposing angles. On November 22,1910, the Union declared that the revolution had been “nipped in the bud,” while the Sun reported that “Madero had a good chance of winning.” During February 1911, the Union editorialized that stable government in Mexico was a concern of the United States, and implied that we should come to the rescue of Diaz. The Sun retaliated by suggesting that our government let Guggenheim, et al. defend their interests themselves. The Union warned, “The worst calamity that could befall Mexico would be the overthrow of the Diaz government.” The Sun portrayed Diaz soldiers as drunken brutes who herded women as if they were cattle and exterminated their opponents, while Maderistas were considerate and did not loot or pillage. When Diaz offered $40 million to purchase land to distribute to the landless, the Sun headline read, “Diaz Sop to Rebels”; the Union’s headline, “Measure Provides Land Reform in Mexico.”

After the first battle for Tijuana, the Union called the rebels a band of American filibusterers ostensibly taking part in the revolt against Diaz. “In other words, the so-called revolution in Lower California is simply another effort by daredevil citizens of the United States to wrest that territory from Mexico.” But the Sun contended, “They are moved by the spirit of adventure, but that’s not all. They have read Barbarous Mexico…; their eyes are alight with the fire of revolution; they believe that something of value to humanity will come of the struggle that is rocking the whole of Mexico today.”


On May 9, while the battle for Tijuana was being fought, the famous socialist agitator Emma Goldman arrived in San Diego and gave an impassioned speech urging radicals to cross the border and join the struggle. Prominent socialists such as John Kenneth Turner, E.E. Kirk, and Kasper Bauer raised money intended for the occupying forces and lobbied to keep the U.S. from interfering with the Magonista victories. The IWW sent Joe Hill and Frank Little to inspect the occupying army, and the Wobbly newspaper, The Industrial Worker, ran accounts of the scene. A Wobbly soldier was quoted as saying, “[W]e have got a utopia down here. We do not work and we do not get pulled in for vagrancy either. We drill about a half hour daily so that we will be able to plug the Feds full of holes when they have recovered enough to show up again.” With Magon’s approval, the IWW offered volunteers a dollar a day and 160 acres of Mexican farmland. San Diego boys ran off to Tijuana to join the revolution, as did escapees from the city jail and U.S. Army deserters. The newspapers charged the Army with harboring California desperadoes like Marshall Brooks, a cattle rustler from Campo; “Mojave Red,” a murderer; Sam Baron, train robber; and James Dunham, who had axe-murdered his wife and several in-laws.

The fact that only about 20 percent of the Magonistas who occupied Tijuana were Mexican didn’t seem to bother Flores Magon. “In the ranks of Liberals are men who are not of our nationality but are our ideological brothers.... They sacrifice themselves to destroy the chains of our slavery.”

But cynics called the Magonistas profiteers and backed up their claims with quotes such as one published in Sunset magazine. “Captain Leclare said, ‘We are fighting for Tierra y Libertad. That means Land and Liberty.’... A man beside him quipped, ‘Mostly land....’ ” The Sun proclaimed, “If Lower California should wake up some morning to find the Stars and Stripes floating over it, San Diego would suddenly become more than ever a City of Destiny.”

Pro-Diaz newspapers asserted that the expedition had been underwritten by norteamericano capitalists such as General H.G. Otis and his son Harry Chandler. Between them, they owned 832,000 acres of the Imperial Valley.

The Mexican consul in Los Angeles published rumors that the Magonistas intended to establish an independent Baja republic. Others spread phony reports that the U.S. Army had helped the Magonistas capture Tijuana. In San Diego, Dr. Horacio Lopez, Carlos Mendoza, and Mexican Consul J. Diaz Prieto founded Defenders of National Integrity to distribute anti-Magonista propaganda and raise volunteers and money to win back Tijuana.

An open letter to Ricardo Flores Magon appeared in a Los Angeles newspaper. “You are fomenting a revolution which does not benefit any social class of my country.... You are letting Americans participate in the affair without remembering that all the individuals of that race feel contempt for us. They call us greasers, cholos,...dirty Mexicans, etc....”

If the junta could have sent Mexicans to swell the ranks of the occupying army, the charges of international profiteering might have appeared unfounded. But neither La Regeneration nor the junta’s orators who spoke regularly at the placita in Los Angeles issued recruitment pleas. Of the 33,000 Mexican-born immigrants in Southern California, surely they could’ve enlisted a few hundred. Maybe Flores Magon wouldn’t risk another race riot like they’d seen in Mexicali. Or he might have been looking toward an invasion of the mainland and didn’t want to squander his efforts on the Baja wasteland. The Wobblies could hold that territory. Or he could have grown disgusted with the Tijuana gang, who seemed intent upon proving the filibustero charges against themselves with stunts such as opening the town to looting by tourists for a charge of $1 a head. Pay a buck, steal all you can carry. Five days after the capture of the town, 1000 people crossed the border in a single day.

After consulting with promoter and entrepreneur Dick Ferris, who had visited Tijuana and offered his support to the rebels, Pryce had opened the town to gambling and began charging admission to cross the border. Some of the proceeds he sent north to the junta with the hope they would supply him with at least a piece of heavy artillery. But the junta wasn’t coming through.

On May 17, Pryce and his adjutant Hopkins were driven into San Diego for a meeting with John Kenneth Turner to discuss whether the liberals should disband and withdraw or stand their ground. That evening Pryce was wined and dined and introduced to prominent San Diegans, accompanied by Dick Ferris’s attractive and vivacious wife, Florence. The next morning, he and Hopkins were arrested.

General Bliss had ordered their detention based on instructions from the U.S. War Department that he should take into custody all prominent rebels found on the U.S. side of the line.

Dick Ferris provided Pryce and Hopkins with an attorney, who requested and won a writ of habeas corpus. Bliss consulted with the War Department and received a message that prompted him to release not only Pryce and Hopkins, but all other Magonista prisoners, including Jack Mosby, who had been seized while recuperating from his chest wound.

The junta outlined a program by which Tijuana was to be governed — a four-hour workday, appropriation of foreign-owned lands, total individual freedom and social equality. In an appeal called “Take the Land,” Flores Magon explained that northern Baja was rich in resources and invited readers to immediately head south to colonize. In the new colony, every person would be free to pursue his or her goals and to maintain privacy and individualism; it was assumed, though, that all would wish to seek common goals since, in the past, people had labored long hours on the land for meager wages, while communal effort would cut work time to about four hours a day.

Residents who had fled Tijuana were urged to return. They would be guaranteed “Security, Liberty and Justice.” Families would be helped, the poor given special consideration. There would be no customs levied on the exchange of provisions or clothing over the border. The junta ordered Spreckels to pay laborers on the San Diego & Arizona railway line— which dipped south into Mexico to avoid the most rugged mountains — $1.50 an hour and to guarantee a maximum eight-hour day. When the liberals gained complete control, rich foreigners’ lands would be appropriated on behalf of Baja’s Indians. And as liberal fortunes prospered, these goals would be realized in all of Mexico.


While Flores Magon dreamed of utopia, Diaz, having ordered Mayol to attack the border towns, addressed U.S. President Taft, “I write you to instruct your people not to come onto our battlefield. Every time we have a battle, your people run excursion trains to the border. This causes embarrassment and interferes with the discipline of our troops as your girls make catcalls to my men. Your people are buying the loot of Tijuana from Madero’s rebels and they are saying it is priced too high. There are many other things we could complain of but if these rules are observed we can fight out this war in peace.” Obviously, Diaz knew his days as dictator were numbered, and a few days later, he gave up. May 25, 1911, under headlines announcing Diaz’s resignation, the Sun used as a subtitle, “No Cheers for Dictator as He Quits Office.” The Union reported, “Reading of Brief Tragic Letter of Aged President Strikes Awe into Listeners.”

As Diaz and his entourage made for the port of Vera Cruz, Francisco Madero headed south from the U.S. border on a slow train, shaking hands at every whistle stop. He suggested that Ferris should present to Madero the deal he had earlier offered to Diaz, to purchase Baja outright, backed by American millionaires. Ferris admitted to James that he had no real backers.

Nevertheless, Ferris paid a visit to Tijuana and gave an oration. “You have got to haul down this red flag. While that might be the symbol of the Liberal Party, so called, in Mexico, it means anarchy in America, and you have got that out in sight of every American who passes this border. You have got to cut out your socialism, your anarchism, and every other ism you have got into, and form a new government if you hope to do anything right.” Should they do so, Ferris appealed, they could gain American sympathy and money and even get “the better class of Mexicans” to join them.

Following his speech, Ferris returned to San Diego, and James delivered a speech of his own, urging the men to stay on. After the assemblage, an election was held for president of the new republic. James nominated Ferris and reported later that the soldiers had unanimously elected the actor as president, whereupon James rushed to San Diego. In Ferris’s version, James entered his office and said, “Come to Tijuana right now. They have elected you president, and they want you to put in force the new government.”

Ferris said, “I am very busy. Besides, you have gone off half-cocked.”

But James persisted until Ferris agreed, as a first step, to give the rebels a new flag. After James’s departure, Ferris contacted the press and, implying that he was seriously considering the offer, announced that the new state would be called the Republic of Madero and that in compensation for the new state’s independence, he would provide a bond for $15 million.

But the Wobblies would have none of Ferris’s capitalism or his denouncement of their flag. After Mosby, barely recovered from his chest wound, gave a speech urging their cohesiveness in this time of confusion, backers of the junta organized a tribunal and court-martialed James and Ferris in absentia. On June 3, an election was held, and Mosby became the new general.

Mosby’s first act was to issue a position statement:

Dick Ferris has absolutely nothing to do with the revolutionary movement and his presence in Tijuana is not wanted. The fight is not being waged in the interest of Dick Ferris and the American capitalists, but solely in the interests of the working class.

Lower California will not be separated from the rest of Mexico, but the revolution will be carried on in all the states of Mexico until the Mexican people are freed from the present military despotism and slavery, peonage abolished and the lands returned to the people, which have been stolen from them by Mexican and foreign capitalists.

But James hadn’t yet given up.

In L.A. he told Ferris, “The men are getting desperate down there. They do not understand why you do not come back and talk to them.”

If he played another act, Ferris might have needed to choose between a noose in the U.S. and a firing squad in Mexico. So he replied, “Look here, James, I cannot...violate the neutrality laws.... So far I have not done so. I have not engaged a man, nor have I sent anything over there, nor have I contributed, and I do not propose to lay myself liable.” And on June 4, Ferris composed his resignation letter, addressed to the Soldiers and Citizens of the Republic of Lower California:

I keenly and sincerely appreciate the great honor you have conferred upon me in electing me.... I am detained here on business of the greatest importance.

I hope that each and every one of you will allow nothing but the highest patriotic motives to lead in your future military and governmental actions: that you will forget the different classes that originally constituted your ranks and henceforth become a unit in ideas, hopes, actions, and ambitions. Let your sober second thoughts prevail.... It affords me great pleasure to present to you the new flag of the Republic. The red stripes represent the blood that has been spilled for countless ages in the cause of liberty; the white stripes the purity of your motives, the blue fold the staunchness of your purpose, and the white star in a dual capacity represents not only the new Republic in the firmament of nations, but like the famous Star of Bethlehem, your constant guide to victory.

The next day, James sped into Tijuana in a chauffeur-driven limousine, the Ferris flag attached to the grille. Mosbys men were waiting and fell on him before he could step out of the limo. They ripped off the flag and burned it in the street, and, after a dispute about whether they should execute him immediately, chased him across the border under a sentence of instantaneous death should he return.

The new government of Mexico, under interim president de la Barra, who had been Diaz’s foreign secretary, called upon the Magonistas to join them, though Mag6n had labeled Madero an opportunist, a slave holder, a tool of the capitalist class. A few days after Mosby’s election in Tijuana, Madero sent a peace commission to meet with the junta. The commission included Jose Maria Leyva and Flores Magon’s brother Jesus. After a long meeting, Ricardo and Enrique rejected Madero’s offer. The next day, Madero’s agents gave the U.S. authorities information they used to arrest key junta leaders.


U.S. Consul Schmucker in Ensenada had been acting strangely. His nerves were raw from charges of neglect of besieged Americans in El Alamo and disputes with the volatile Governor Vega. All through May, his messages to Washington had grown increasingly mystifying.

“May 1.... Governor and the highest officials believe that American capitalists are responsible for the insurrection.

“May 1. Confidential. Church of Rome in Mexico probably bitterly pro-revolutionary, threatened attack on Ensenada probably for effect in order to encourage military intervention. Mexican church women are not concerned.

“May 7. Confidential. I am morally certain that head of institution mentioned in my May l...is primarily responsible for disturbances in Mexico, Portugal, Spain, France and Morocco. Capitalists in America and socialists of Europe and America undoubtedly mere tools. Representatives of capitalists and insurrectionists here believe me in sympathy with them.

“May 12.... In Lower California conspirators had planned to hire a new force to exterminate original insurgents. Residents preparing to depart for the United States excepting the Americans and others in confidence of conspirators. Please order...my transfer to unimportant post.”

On May 23 he assisted Governor Vega in writing Foreign Secretary de la Barra that foreign interests, particularly the Mexican Company of Terrain and Colonization, the Colorado River Land Company, and the Cudahy interests, had been helping the rebels from the beginning and that American annexation was imminent.

“May 26.... To comprehend political and social conditions at present moment, study and apply latter part of the Book of Revelation, Holy Bible.... I have a plan that will result in bettering civilization everywhere and preventing my own assassination. Answer.”

Later that day the emergency deputy consul wired Washington that Schmucker had suffered a complete mental breakdown. Washington instructed the deputy to provide an attendant and send the consul home at once. On the journey, he attempted suicide by shoving his head into a bucket of water.


In Los Angeles between June 14 and 16, Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon, Librado Rivera, Anselmo Figueroa, Richard Ferris, and Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce were arrested. Pryce was to be held without bail until extradition proceedings could decide if he would be sent to stand trial in Mexico on charges of murder and arson stemming from the first battle of Tijuana.

Mayol had been ordered west His march, which bypassed Mexicali, got no resistance from the liberal army of the Imperial desert. They were more concerned with finding shade and their next meal. Yet Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler had written to General Otis that the rebels had threatened to blow up the main canal works unless paid a large sum of money. Otis, while visiting Washington to lobby for increased funds for flood control, personally telephoned President Taft to lodge his complaint against the rebels.

Informed of these developments, Madero was hoping that they would pressure the Magonistas at least to negotiate. His policy worked in Mexicali. On June 16, the Mexicali liberals surrendered to Madero’s representatives Carlos Bernstein and General Leyva. Each rebel was given a severance allowance of $10. The Americans ate their first full meal in days at a Chinese restaurant in Calexico, then were shown to the railroad tracks and ordered to scatter by the time they reached El Centro.

Mosby had tamed the Tijuana rebels and rowdy tourists by abolishing gambling, establishing prohibition, and chasing off the most apolitical soldiers of fortune. Still, the Sun reported, “There was fighting at Tijuana last night among the rebels.... Mexican soldiers quarreled with the Americans.... The quarrel terminated in bullets.” And the rebels had no bullets to waste. Once again, the junta had let them down, though Flores Magon and the rebels all knew about Madero’s deal with the U.S. government. Any day, federal troops might come from the east on the railroad, and the rebels would be caught between them and Vega’s new army of recruits and volunteers sent on a steamer by San Diego’s Defenders of the National Integrity.

When Washington granted Madero the right to transport soldiers by train along the border through the U.S., Mosby responded with a letter to J.D. Spreckels, “If you have made any arrangements for the consummation of these plans, we hereby advise you to issue an order of nullification, else we shall take such steps as are consistent with our self-preservation to abrogate your system in this territory.” Mosby sent copies to the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads. Officials of a 11 the railroads agreed that “abrogate your system” meant blow it up.

Spreckels wired a senator, who informed the War Department of Spreckels’s contention that Mosby’s threat was practically a threat against the United States government, and, consequently, General Bliss should take action to protect the rail lines. When queried by the War Department, Bliss replied that the threat was likely a bluff, yet his staff requested five large cruisers, a fleet of auxiliary vessels, a strong detachment of marines, and two regiments of infantry to protect the citizenry and the 25 miles of railroad under construction “from the terrible brigand Mosby and his band of 150 or 200 desperadoes.”

The “terrible brigand” had sent an emissary to the junta, asking them to agree to give up Tijuana on the best terms possible. But no word had come from Flores Mag6n when General Leyva and Consul J. Diaz Prieto arrived as a Maderista negotiating team. Mosby demanded that his men each receive a $100 bonus, besides the $1 a day and 160 acres of land that had been promised liberal fighters.

“Ten dollars a day,” Leyva countered. “No more.”

Mosby’s men were spoiling for a fight, angered by the presence of Leyva, who had ditched them and run to Madero and now had returned as the enemy. When fighting broke out between some Tijuana insurectos and members of Leyva’s party, the negotiations died.

Already, Governor Vega’s army was marching north, 560 men strong. On June 22, the defenders of Tijuana —155 foreign Wobblies and adventurers, 75 Mexicans and Indians — set out on horseback and a commandeered five-car work train to meet the federals.

Near Agua Caliente, on the hill that used to rise where thoroughbreds now train and race, a fierce battle lasted three hours before the Mexicans scattered into the countryside and foreigners threw down their arms and made for the border.


As you wait in line to cross from Tijuana to San Ysidro, look up to the east. There, the border is a corrugated metal fence, and the hill on the U.S. side upon which tourists once sat watching the battles of Tijuana, is still brown dirt, brushless so the pollos will find no place to hide. On the Mexican side is a cluster of small factories from which vendors get the big pots they sell down below. Across the dirt road from the factories, against the border fence is a small railroad depot, the end of the line. Three poor men sleep together on its sidewalk. A tiny pariah dog hops around them on three legs.

A few yards away, on June 22, 1911, the U.S. Army lay in wait and took into custody Jack Mosby and his beaten followers. Outlaws and some of the deserters from the U.S. military disappeared. At least 30 rebels died. The count was unreliable because Vega wouldn’t allow the Red Cross onto his battlefield. The press charged him with disposing of the wounded Magonistas.

On June 23, the Sun declared that “the Liberal army, with its generals, Berthold, Leyva, Williams, Pryce, and Mosby, has gone down in history with the band of William Walker, that terrorized the peninsula 50 years ago.”

Yet the PLM staggered on, staging guerrilla action here and there, whipped into action by the pen of Ricardo Flores Magon. After the smoke cleared, he was named a hero of the revolution. Some Mexican rebels, perhaps the Zapatistas of last year’s Chiapas uprisings, still read his words,

— “Law is a farce, a chain to tie down the poor.... Law is a prostitute who lends herself to those who have money and turns her back on those who do not.”

—“I do not doubt that someday my poor skin will serve...as a footrest, because with money anything is possible...but the idea is immortal. Man is worth nothing; the idea is everything.”

—“Death to Authority, Death to the Rich, Muerto al govierno, Muerto a los ricos.

— “Mexico’s revolutionary spark is the beginning of the purifying fire that from one moment to another will envelop every country in the world.”

Jack Mosby was sentenced to prison for desertion from the U.S. Marines. On the way to confinement, he was shot and killed “trying to escape.”

Dick and Florence Ferris wrote and acted in a farcical play called The Man from Mexico, staged up and down the West Coast until Florence sued for divorce, whereupon Dick withdrew from the public eye for several years. During the 1920s he helped organize Los Angeles’s Yellow Cab service, promoted transcontinental air races, and leased beachfront property south of Tijuana to develop a resort, which never prospered.

Caryl Ap Rhys Pryce talked his way out of extradition and spent the next two years as a cowboy actor in Hollywood. In 1914 he joined the Canadian army and marched off to distinguish himself as a Canadian and British officer in the First World War.

November 21,1922, Ricardo Flores Magon was found dead on the floor of his cell in Leavenworth penitentiary. No one looked closely enough to discover if the cause was suicide, murder, or a broken spirit.

Ken Kuhlken's novels, set in San Diego during World War II and featuring private eye Tom Hickey, are The Loud Adios, The Venus Deal, and The Angel Gang.

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