Norman Walker testimony at Senate hearing

During the year 1920, the United States Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations inquired into recent events along our border with México. Although the committee was chaired by Henry Cabot Lodge and included such other well-known senators as William E. Borah, Hiram Johnson, and soon-to-be president Warren G. Harding, most of the investigation was conducted by a subcommittee consisting of senators Marcus A. Smith of Arizona and Albert B. Fall of New Mexico.

This subcommittee interviewed numerous participants in the preceding ten years' events, both civilians and military men. The transcripts of the hearings fill several volumes, and are available from Google Books. I was especially interested in pages 1821 through 1826, which contain the testimony of uncle Norman M. Walker. During the course of Senator Fall's questions and Norman's responses, they mention most of the principal personalities and battles of the Mexican revolution:



El Paso, Tex.

The subcommittee met pursuant to the call of the chairman, at 10.30 o'clock a. m., in the Sheldon Hotel, room 30, El Paso, Tex., Senator A. B. Fall, presiding.

Present: Senators A. B. Fall and Marcus A. Smith, and Dan M. Jackson, Esq., clerk of the subcommittee.


(The witness was sworn by Dan M. Jackson, Esq., secretary of the subcommittee, duly authorized thereto.)

Senator FALL. Where do you live, Mr. Walker?

Mr. WALKER. In El Paso.

Senator FALL. How long have you lived here!

Mr. WALKER. It will be 13 years the 1st of April.

Senator FALL. Were you here at the outbreak of the revolution known as the Madero revolution in Mexico?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. What were you doing at the time?

Mr. WALKER. I was then a reporter on the El Paso Herald.

Senator FALL. As a reporter, I presume you were interested in watching the fight and in the distance engaged in it?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir; I was assigned to the Mexico business most of the time, and I devoted most all of my time to it.

Senator FALL. Do you remember what occurred in the city of El Paso about the firing of shots that interfered with the peace of the city?

Mr. WALKER. At what time, Senator?

SENATOR FALL. At the time of the Madero revolution.

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir; they were fighting two days and two nights and part of three days.

Senator FALL. That was what date?

Mr. WALKER. The 8th, 9th, and 10th day of May, 1911, the fight started about 9 o'clock and continued until about the same time on the morning of the 10th.

Senator FALL. I am not going to ask you what occurred in reference to the details of the fight, what occurred on the other side, but I would like to ask you if any parties were killed or wounded in this city from the firing?

Mr. WALKER. The Herald at that time printed a list. I will state offhand - I have not refreshed my memory - but there were 18 killed and wounded during those 3 days of fighting.

Senator FALL. Were the military forces of the United States here at that time)

Mr. WALKER. Only a small number compared to the number that has been here since then; as I recollect, the Fourth Cavalry was here, and a part of an Infantry regiment, I don't remember the number.

Senator FALL. They took no military steps to prevent firing on this side?

Mr. WALKER. No; simply patrolled the bridges to keep them from coming over, and patrollecl the border.

Senator FALL. What became of the civilian population of the city of Juarez, Mexico, at that time?

Mr. WALKER. The civilians came over in great numbers and continued to come. The next morning, I remember, they were coming over during the fight at that time.

Senator FALL. When was the next fight at Juarez, if you know?

Mr. WALKER. There was a sort of an attack in 1912 by a force that was known then as the Red Flaggers, and afterwards joined with Orozco, or Orozco joined with them: there were only a few shots fired, one morning early, and the town capitulated without any resistance.

Senator FALL. What became of the civilian population at that time?

Mr. WALKER. Great numbers of them came over to this city at that time. The so-called Orozco revolution, or the Red Flaggers, were down the railroad and threatened to come in several times before they ever did; it was in command that time of a medical officer - I forget his name - educated in an American - St. Louis - medical school.

Senator FALL. You can not at present recollect his name?

Mr. WALKER. I can not recall his name; he was supposed to be in command; they advanced on Juarez and there were a few shots fired, and then the civilians came over to this side.

Senator FALL. Prior to the date of May 8. 9. and 10, had there been any attempt to attack in the neighborhood of Juarez?

Mr. WALKER. There had been several threats about it; nothing done. The rebels were up in the hills during the winter - I don't recollect the exact time, but some time during the winter of 1910 - and they staid there in the hills outside of Juarez for some time; the town was threatened several times, but the actual attack did not occur until May 8.

Senator FALL. When the rebels came in, do you remember the occasion of what is known as the Battle of Bauche?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. That was prior?

Mr. WALKER. I won't say whether it occurred before or after; but it started on a Sunday. There was a battle of Bauche when there was a real battle - when those troops were coming up from Casas Grandes for the relief of Juarez. The troops were under the command of Gen. Rabago, and were riding on a train to Juarez, and were attacked on the train at Bauche. During the day - Sunday - many El Paso people went down.

Senator FALL. During these different pretended or actual attacks where did the attacking forces procure their water, if you know?

Mr. WALKER. There was water at Flores Ranch, and they also came down to the river at the smelter ford, and that is as much as I know. I know that they had, comparatively speaking, always had plenty of water; they came down to the river quite often.

Senator FALL. The people of El Paso, were they able to see them when they came in?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir. I know I saw a number of them personally, both from this side and, of course, I went over.

Senator FALL. Let's go back. When did the next attack occur on Juarez, causing the population or any portion of it to come over to this side, if you know?

Mr. WALKER. There was a mutiny, as I recollect it; there was a sort of mutiny there in Juarez preceding this. To get at it chronologically, there was some unrest in the garrison at Chihuahua; they revolted on the Juarez garrison and that resulted, as I recall it, in the mutiny in Juarez, and they looted the stores and shot up the place; that was at the time Orozco definitely announced his revolution. That must have been prior to the taking of Juarez by the Orozco revolutionists, so called; and then the next - this is the only incident, or only particular situation on this border that I am not perfectly familiar with, but we have the files of our papers and they show that Villa took the town in November; I think November 17, 1913.

Senator FALL. Pancho Villa?

Mr. WALKER. Pancho Villa; yes, sir.

Senator FALL. He made an armed attack on the town?

Mr. WALKER. He made an attack on the town and captured it according to the newspapers; I was not here at that time.

Senator FALL. Do you know what became of any portion of the population of Juarez at that time?

Mr. WALKER. As I read about it and know, they came to this side. I know the military commander did; in fact, the commander of the Juarez garrison is in town now; I saw him on the street yesterday; Gen. Francisco Castro.

Senator FALL. Who, if anyone, took the town away from Villa?

Mr. WALKER. Villa abandoned it. After Villa was defeated at the battle of Celaya later, he was more or less driven north to Juarez and came into Juarez, and then from Juarez his troops percolated into the Casas Grandes country and he more or less abandoned Juarez, leaving comparatively small forces there, and through arrangement with Andres Garcia made with them they joined the Carranza forces.

Senator FALL. What became of it later?

Mr. WALKER. Juarez?

Senator FALL. Yes, sir.

Mr. WALKER. It continued in the hands of Carranza, excepting, I think - continued in the hands of Carranza since then.

Senator FALL. Do you know anything about the battle of Tierra Blanca?

Mr. WALKER. Yes; I know of the battle, but I was not here. Following the taking of Juarez in November, 1913, I was not here.

Senator FALL. Salazar and others came up from the South and Villa went out to the town and place known as Tierra Blanca?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. That battle did not injure the lives of anyone here?

Mr. WALKER. As far as I read of it and know, it did not.

Senator FALL. Now, there has been various occasions upon which rumors of an attack upon Juarez have been made, but there were none actually made during these years - following these rumors what has been the action of the people of Juarez generally.

Mr. WALKER. Well, these rumors circulated in Juarez would cause a natural unrest and they would, a good many of them, come to the American side of the river.

Senator FALL. What would become of the banking paraphernalia and money?

Mr. WALKER. I personally know of one instance and have heard of others where they brought the money to the American side and deposited it in an American bank for safekeeping.

Senator FALL. Since the turning over, or the capitulation by Villa forces, there has been no direct attacks on Juarez until recently?

Mr. WALKER. No; as I recall offhand, no direct attack: many threatened attacks. Troops would come within a radius of a hundred miles of Juarez, but there has been no direct attack on Juarez until June 14, 1919.

Senator FALL. Very often raiders, or those opposed to the then occupants of Juarez, would come into the town of Guadalupe, or other places below?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. In this last battle between Villa and Angeles forces on one hand and Carranza forces upon the other, of course, there were shots fired into this town and people injured? We have an account of that.

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. Do you remember the occasion Villa was reported in 1915 below Juarez, coming this way with a large number of troops to attack Juarez and also to attack El Paso?

Mr. WALKER. Yes. sir: I recall the incident; that was probably the most alarming one El Paso ever experienced; that is the only time I sent my family out of Sunset Heights;1 they hung a lantern on the corner of mv house, which they said they wanted to shoot by, and I did not think it was safe and I sent them out to East El Paso. The report was that Villa was down at Samalayuca with a trainload of artillery to be used in the attack on Juarez and El Paso, and our forces had practically no artillery here at that time.

Senator FALL. From time to time, then, during the last nine years there has been actual firing endangering the lives of the people in El Paso, and rumors of attacks upon Juarez and exodus of citizens of Juarez to this side, and preparation upon this side against attack?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir; repeatedly.

Senator FALL. So there have been such conditions existing in Juarez and along the border near El Paso as to keep the people of the city of El Paso subject to almost continuous rumors of a more or less alarming character?

Mr. WALKER. I would hardly say continuous, but at intervals there were.

Senator FALL. It has been necessary to keep the United States forces here to guard the city of El Paso and suburbs of El Paso and the boundary line?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. And that condition still exists?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. In your capacity as reporter, were you at the border town of Ojinaga at any time during the attack made upon that town?

Mr. WALKER. I was at Presidio in November, 1917; Ojinaga is almost directly across. Not across as Juarez is from El Paso, but Ojinaga is up the stream, I should say, about 4 miles distance from Presidio, but right near the border.

Senator FALL. What occurred there at that time?

Mr. WALKER. Villa, with 800 men, came in about this time, came in from what is called La Mula Pass on the morning of November 17, 1917, and attacked the town just before daylight of that morning; the fight lasted about an hour, started about 4 o'clock and lasted until a little after five, when the firing stopped until six. Villa was driven back out through the operation of machine guns by American Army deserters of the Eighth Cavalry. He staid out along the river bank all day and in the evening attacked about six and captured the town. In fact, the entire military garrison capitulated and came to the American side, and surrendered to Col. Langhorne's forces immediately after they crossed, about 8 o'clock.

Senator FALL. Do you remember something of a similar character about that time in Ojinaga when the garrison were driven out and came over to this side and surrendered?

Mr. WALKER. Yes; twice before, once I know being there in June of the same year, the same thing practically happened; I don't know that the force came across to the American side, but they abandoned the town to the civilian population and they immediately evacuated it. Villa took Juarez in November, 1913, and early in January, 1914, he took his forces and attacked Ojinaga, held by the Huerta federals under command of Gen. Salvador Mercado, who had marched from Chihuahua to Ojinaga and was making a last stand at Ojinaga with Orozco and some others who had joined his forces and Villa attacked there and that was the battle that lasted something like four or five days and ended on Saturday night, and the Huerta federals crossed to the American side to Marfa, I mean at Presidio, and they were brought to Marfa overland and from there to Fort Bliss where they were interned in camp, something like 3,000 of them.

Senator FALL. Of course, you remember the attack on Columbus?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. Just west of El Paso?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. In 1916? Have you been at Nogales, Ariz., during any fight?

Mr. WALKER. Yes; I was at Nogales on August 17, 1918; that is just a little over a year ago, at the time the Carranza officers in Nogales and the officers of the Tenth Cavalry clashed there, starting with an effort on the part of the Mexican civilians to run the border there. They had quite a skirmish in which a captain in command of the Tenth Cavalry was killed. A few days later, I counted forty-two fresh graves in the Nogales, Sonora, cemetery on the Sunday following. It was generally supposed there were 200 killed. Now, Nogales, Sonora, is backed by a series of very steep hills and I was told by Col. Herman that his troops drove the Mexicans back over the hills and killed a number of them that were not buried. I think the civilian population was largely buried in the cemetery.

Senator FALL. Do you remember the different occasions in which Agua Prieta and Naco, on the Mexican side, have been attacked?

Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.

Senator FALL. Do you recollect whether on these occasions the American population on this side were injured?

Mr. WALKER. Yes; I recollect offhand twice that the people of Douglas were subjected to a fire and several killed or wounded; I don't remember the exact number, I was not entirely familiar with it On the occasion of several attacks the revolutionists came in and attacked Agua Prieta and another time Villa attacked Agua Prieta, or tried to defend it, and also the town of Naco, Ariz., was attacked - was subjected to fire.


1 Norman and family were living at 1128 E. California Ave., which appears to be slightly east of the Sunset Heights area, when the 1920 census was taken, just a few days before this testimony.
This page was last updated 7 Aug 2013.