Chasing Pancho Villa by R.L. Tecklenburg

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Chasing Pancho Villa is a story of mystery, romance and adventure.

In the fall of 1917, Harrison James arrives in New Mexico to investigate the mysterious death of his brother. There he meets the beautiful Maria Washington, notorious gunrunner and revolutionary. Their romance sizzles while his list of suspects grows.

James is soon engulfed in subterfuge and drawn into a seamy underworld of gunrunning and sedition. To unravel the mystery of his brother's death, he must outshoot bandits and outwit the Army.

Traveling deep into Mexico to arm the popular revolutionary and folk hero Pancho Villa, When James and Washington are betrayed by enemy agents, they must fight their way back to the Rio Grande where,armed with new information on his brother's death, James risks all to unmask his killer.

Excerpt: Northern Mexico, 0830 hours, July 23, 1916

“Rápido! Rápido, muchachos,” General Villa urged in a low voice. “Los invasores vienen.” He sat astride his favorite horse, Siete Leguas, with the morning sun at his back.

A lone rider on a great dark stallion navigated expertly through the column of armed men to move up beside the General. The rider greeted him with a simple nod and he reciprocated, also without speaking. With a weapon strapped tightly to her narrow waist, sombrero pulled low over her eyes, the tall, slim figure, sitting ramrod straight in the saddle, made an unforgettable impression on the war-weary soldiers.

The woman—considered very beautiful by both friend and foe—was dressed in a riding habit that reflected her eclectic tastes and free spirit—a low cut cotton blouse tight against her bosom, dark wool jacket and denim jeans with U.S. Cavalry boots reaching almost to her knees. Like Villa, she rode comfortably in a Mexican saddle.

Maria Washington watched carefully without expression while Villa’s men deployed along the rocks. Although just an observer here, still her dark eyes burned with the passion of a revolutionary.

To Villa’s peasant soldiers, the young woman mounted on the great stallion seemed fearless and invulnerable. Believing that only good fortune would come from her presence, they smiled, touching the stallion gently on its flank or hind quarter as they walked by.

“Today, the Americans will pay for their arrogance, señorita,” the General finally said in English. “And you will see how you have aided our great cause.”

“Good,” the woman replied, still watching his soldiers take their positions. She was not concerned for her own life, but she knew it would take more than new rifles to stop the American invasion.

Pancho Villa was doing what he knew best. Powerful enemies had pursued him for more than 20 years, since he was 16. Yet he always managed to slip away, proving himself to be a very capable field commander. That had surprised everyone but him.

He understood clearly that this was his chance to hurt the Americans but he had to be quick—hit them and escape. Silently he pointed and one of his soldiers, dressed in home-spun cotton and sandals, wearing a sombrero hanging from his neck and carrying an American Springfield rifle, quietly crawled up the rock embankment. He grasped a bandolier of .30 caliber rounds in his right hand.

Villa consciously masked the adrenalin surging through his body as he carefully supervised the placement of his soldiers, each one a hand-picked sharpshooter. They were deep in Chihuahua Province, and no one knew more about warring here than he. The terrain was rocky, dusty, and bleak.

Perfecto, he thought.

Villa looked to the woman and smiled—one side of his mouth turned up slightly, cracking the leathery, sun-baked skin—as he prepared his ambush for the great General Pershing. Dressed like his men, he sat stiff-legged and straight, comfortable in the saddle. A dark, bushy mustache on the well-creased and weathered face hung over his upper lip, concealing a mouthful of stained teeth.

“Los carretones, muchachos,” he called, his dark brown eyes intently studying each man’s position. Hidden beneath severely lined and half-closed lids, his eyes flashed when he spoke.

He had about 100 men with him, all that remained of the force of 500 who had crossed the border to attack Columbus, New Mexico back in March. But armed now with the American Springfield rifles he had received from the woman only days earlier, he knew he could inflict damage on General Pershing’s army.

They had been riding for days under cover of darkness to avoid the Americans’ aeroplanes that sometimes accompanied their troop movements, searching for him and his men. Villa had received complete information on General Pershing’s line of march, enabling him to elude the Americans and remain undiscovered. He had received that information from the many patriots who remained along the border to watch the enemy.

Villa had chosen this place, west of Torreón in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, for his ambush. The horses were hidden in a narrow, tree-shrouded ravine that led deep into the mountains. The American supply trucks had to travel long distances through country that belonged to him, and the Americans always had to protect those routes.

I, Doroteo Arango, son of Agustin Arango, will again demonstrate just how vulnerable their army is in my land—the land of my father, and of his father before him, Villa thought.

Villa planned to strike hard at their trucks, destroying transport and creating havoc. Then, he would retreat once again into secure mountain lairs where his army was safe. Confronted with a force of 10,000 American soldiers moving south from the Rio Grande and Carranza’s army surging into Chihuahua from Mexico City, he had no choice but to hit and run. As usual, the Sierra Madres were his escape when heavily outnumbered by his enemies.

The deployment of his men was complete.

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