- 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
Francisco R. Serrano and Massacre of Huitzilac
The geometry of the relationship between Francisco R. Serrano and Ivor Thord-Gray is interesting, touching on birth and death and marked throughout by distrust. They first met December 1913 in Hermosillo, when Colonel Serrano, serving as Obregón’s Chief of Staff, received the “Gringo” seeking a commission in the Revolutionary Army.
Thord-Gray describes Serrano as “courteous enough, but gave me the impression that Americans were not particularly wanted, and I soon found him a gringo hater.”
Thord-Gray got around Serrano, hit it off with Obregón, and received his commission from Carranza, not in the Cavalry as requested, but as First Captain of artillery and battery commander.
An number of weeks later, Thord-Gray convinced General Lucio Blanco to petition Obregon for his transfer to the Cavalry, but he found that “..the stumbling block had been Colonel Serrano, who did not wish to give Lucio Blanco any assistance”
A few months later, General Lucio Blanco asked Thord-Gray to become his chief-of-staff, and recommended him for promotion to Major, although he regretted that “...my promotion .. was held up at Obregon’s headquarters by Colonel Serrano, for the papers had not yet reached Obregón..”
Blanco warned Thord-Gray “Serrano hates all Americans which includes you, because he thinks you are an American agent sent to spy on us. Look out and never go out alone at night.”
The situation for Thord-Gray became even more perilous after the United States seized the port of Vera Cruz, killing a couple of hundred Mexican cadets in the process.
Incidentally, Thord-Gray, when deployed on a mission to screen General Blanco’s flank, ended up going through Serrano’s natal village of Choix, Sinaloa, where his Indian scouts “..did not seem to like the local enthusiasm for our cause and advised caution. There was something in the wind which these scouts did not care for.” As it turned out, their suspicions were justified! But that's a story for another time.
By August 1914, as Carranza’s forces approached Mexico City, Blanco remarked to Thord-Gray: “Serrano is now more than ever the power behind the throne, and he likes me about as much as he likes you; we must not lower our guard”
By this time, Carranza and Villa had split, and Serrano used Thord-Gray’s earlier service under Villa to cast suspicions. But in September 1914, as Thord-Gray prepared to leave the Revolutionary Army, bound for the trenches of what would become known as the First World War, Serrano appeared to have a change of heart, approving a private railcar for Thord-Gray from Mexico City to Vera Cruz. As Thord-Gray contemplated this strange turn of events, General Blanco told him that he had ordered the transportation himself, and that Serrano had approved it, adding
“You can hardly refuse the car now.”
I’ll leave it up to you to discover what Serrano had in mind, and how it came about the Thord-Gray lived to tell about it.
Francisco R. Serrano is most famous for being one of the cadavers carried away from the massacre of Huitzilac, October 3, 1927. His crime, like so many other revolutionaries, was being on the wrong side; in this case, in his opposition to the re-election of Obregón. Considering that Serrano is generally credited as the author of the assassination of Venustiano Carranza on May 21, 1920 in Tlaxcalantongo, it is ironic that the motive for Carranza's murder was his opposition to Obregón.
When Obregón was informed of the elimination of Serrano, his former chief of staff, he is reported as saying -- Well gentlemen, "a esa rebellion se la llevo a la chingada”, or roughly translated, “so much for those bastards.”
Incidentally, Ivor Thord-Gray passed through Huitzilac on his mission to Zapata.
A good account of the massacre of Huitzilac is from Ramón Eduardo Ruiz’ “Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People".