- August 1914
- Bullets, Bottles and Gardenias
- Gringo Rebel
- A Fine Fellow
- Timeline of Revolution
- Battle of Tierra Blanca
- Gray Automobile Affair
- Gringo Rebel
- Gun Running
- John Reed
- Lifelong Friends
- Massacre of Huitzilac
- Nordenskjold Lives!
- Pancho Villa
- Soldier Under 13 Flags
- The Devil's Dictionary
- Villa's Swedish Gunner
- Yaquis capture Acaponeta
- ¡Vamanos Con Pancho Villa!
- Centennial Edition
- Veracruz Expedition
Thord-Gray, Juan Mérigo and the Gray Automobile Affair
Thord-Gray said of Mérigo
“He became a general .. but ended up with a very unsavory reputation.”
This cryptic comment most likely refers to the infamous “gray automobile affair”, as reported here, from the U.S. Congressional record of the sixty-sixth Congress “Hearings on H.J. Res 124 -- For Investigation of Mexican Situation”:
“..soon after the Carranza forces under Pablo Gonzalez occupied the capital finally, it began visiting private houses, the officers in it claiming right to search … Jewels, etc,. were removed; sometimes two such robberies a day … At the end of 1917 it was still going on, and the actress Maria Conesa one night wore the jewels stolen the night previous, the owner being in the audience, and recognizing them. That pointed so directly to General Juan Mérigo that he was arrested,”
In Chapter XI of “Gringo Rebel”, Thord-Gray’s makes and oblique account of the same affair, but instead of fingering Mérigo, he only refers to “some senior officials”:
“There were, nevertheless, persistent rumors that some senior officers had obtained large sums from the well-to-do in the shape of protection money and in a kind of blackmail system of—pay or we confiscate everything. Other rumors mentioned mysterious visits in the middle of the night by masked men at the home of the wealthy. These visitors carried legal search-warrants, entered private homes and took with them everything of value. People did not report or even mention these night-raiders, as they thought it the work of some Secret Police and were afraid of reprisals. We believed it was the work of gangsters assisted by one or two officers of high rank, as there was evidently no doubt that some of these night raids did take place.“
Pablo Piccato does finger General Mérigo in the case in his interesting book "City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900–1931" So if you were ever wondering who Thord-Gray was referring to, in the Preface of “Gringo Rebel”, when he wrote that “..it wouldn’t be cricket..”, well, this is one of those cases.
However fat Juan Mérigo grew on the revolution, he started out lean. Charles Harris, in his book "The Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution: The Bloodiest Decade, 1910-1920" reports that Mérigo was arrested by the Texas Rangers for running guns before Madero was murdered, and was among the first who joined with Carranza, along with Lucio Blanco and Francisco Serrano, when Madero and Suarez were murdered, at a time when defying Huerta was a very dangerous thing to do.
Thord-Gray, not disguising his contempt, described meeting his new superior officer:
“..short, about 5’3”, not fat, but had a well-fed look, a pouch that his well fitting khaki uniform was trying unsuccessfully to hide. He was not a bad looking man but vain, and reeked to high heaven with perfume. A cigar, lighted or not, was constantly in his mouth, and with this he strutted most successfully, swinging his English type riding crop.“
Was Thord-Gray being unfair?
Alan Knight, in his book “The Mexican Revolution, Volume 2: Counter-revolution and Reconstruction”, describes General Juan Mérigo in 1919, as
“particularly sensitive to slights to his and his army’s honor … [on the streets of Mexico City] ..attacked the editor of ABC [Jose Vascoselos], striking him over the head with a rubber truncheon.”
And what was Vasconcelos’ offence? He wrote that the revolution had simply served “to enrich a new impressive class of crooks with the rank of General.”
“O, what authority and show of truth Can cunning sin cover itself withal!” – Cladio, Much ado about nothing.