Mexican Revolution Time line  Revolución Mexicana  1910 - 1920





April 20 Hailey's Comet appears, many Mexicans believe is a harbinger of war,pestilence and death.



Sept 27  Porfirio Diaz proclaimed president for his eighth term. Diaz had quickly modernized Mexico at great cost. Diaz was a general who became a hero fighting the French Intervention of 1864-7. He was the top military commander under reformist President Juarez and became president after his death in 1876. To stop the cycle of military revolts he offered pan o palo (bread or the stick). Ambitious political and military leaders were put on the gov payroll with high salaries or faced imprisonment or execution. "A dog with a bone neither bites or barks."

Following the advice of his cientifico (scientist) advisers who believed the Indian and mestizos (who made up 90% of the population) were only good for manual labor and their belief in social Darwinism, this huge class of people was not educated. Believing the Hacienda (large estates) were more efficient than traditional methods, many Indians and campesinos (farmers) lost their farms and became virtual slaves on the large haciendas. Poverty increased and workers wages remained low . Most large companies were foreign owned,paid little or no taxes and paid low wages. Foreign companies exploited Mexico vast oil and mineral wealth that benefited only the Mexican wealthy elite. Decades of injustice only needed a spark to explode.


Francisco Madero, a reformer from a wealthy hacienda family ran against Diaz and was thrown in jail after becoming too popular. Madero was unusual for his period. He didn't drink or smoke, was a vegetarian and practiced a spiritual form of religion. 




Oct 11 Madero, head of antireelection party escapes from imprisonment in San Luis Potosi and flees to Texas. He issues his Plan of San Luis Potosi,declared the election to be illegal and urged a rebellion against Diaz.


Nov 19 Madero enters border into Mexico after Villa captures Chihuahua. Madero and Villa meet for the first time.


Nov 20 Madero calls for an uprising. Pascual Orozoco launches uprising in Chihuahua.





Jan 30  Orozoco attacks federal garrison in Ciudad Juarez.  Garrison relieved by federal troops 3 days later.


Feb 13  Revolutionary Jose Luis Moya occupies Durango


Feb 26 Moya's band captures town of Zacatecas



March 6 Madero  forces attacks federal garrison at Casa Grandes and driven off with 100 out of 800 followers killed. Madero joined by other local leaders, including a 32 year old local bandit Doroteo Arango, better known as Pancho Villa. Villa's men are mostly miners from the north. His men are known as dorados 'golden ones' because of their golden hued uniforms and rode into battle crying Viva Villa ! Viva la Revolucion ! Famous for their cavalry charges,often led by Villa himself.



March 24 Emiliano Zapata takes command of 800 man revolutionary band after leader Pablo Torres is killed by federales. Many Indians lost land to large haciendas during the Diaz years. Zapata and his followers began a revolt against this with the banner  Tierra y Libertad !' ( Land and Liberty.')


March 26 Moya captures Ciudad Lerdo.


April  3,500 under Madero, Orzoco and Villa lay siege to Ciudad Juarez.


May 7 Revolutionary outbreaks throughout Mexico, Diaz offers to resign. Moya killed in heavy fighting at Zacatecas.


May 10 federales in Ciudad Juarez surrenders, Madero and Villa can now supply their forces with modern weapons.


May 13 Orzoco and Villa  demand some federal officers be executed. Madero refuses, soon Orzoco and Villa leave Madero.


May 14 Torreon is taken by revolutionaries. 303 unarmed Chinese massacred.


May 21 Cuernavaca is taken by Zapata, Madero signs Treaty of Ciudad Juárez with Diaz..Díaz agrees to  abdicate his rule and be replaced by Madero.


May 25 Rioting in Mexico City. Diaz resigns and boards German liner Ypiranga. Foreign Minister Francisco Leon de la Barra becomes interim president. Diaz 'Madero has unleashed a tiger; let’s see if he can ride it."' Diaz dies in Paris four years later.


June Earthquake kills 207 in Mexico City, Madero enters city.


June 22 Orozoc's army enters Chihuahua City and makes it their headquarters.


Aug 8 Gen.Victoriano Huerta sent to Cuernavaca with 1,000 federal troops and forces Zapata to demobilize part of his peasant army.


Aug 31 Huerta orders Zapata's arrest, Zapata flees into the countryside


Nov 6 Madero wins presidential election and takes oath of office. Slow to take action on land reform ,insisting the hacienda owners be paid for the land lost and loses liberal support. Also criticised by conservatives as being anti-business. Madero levies tax on oil companies to pay for education, angering American ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. Pascual Orozoco,once an ally of Villa, raises a well equipped army of 6,000 in the north, supported by powerful hacienda landowners. He plans to march on Mexico City. Madero turns to Gen.Victoriano Huerta to deal with Orozoco.


Nov 9 In Texas, revolutionary leader Emilio Vazquez Gomes calls for revolt against Madero


Nov 25 Zapata proclaims Plan of Ayala land reform to take hacienda lands. Hacienda owners pressure Madero to subdue Zapata.


Nov 27 Zapata disavows support for Madero for not giving land to peasants







Feb 15 Gen. Juvencio Robles begins terror campaign against Zapatistas, burning several Zapatista towns


March 3 Orozoco rises against Madero. Orozoco rebels load train with explosives and  rams it into a train full of federal soldiers at Rellano station


April 12 Huerta orders execution of Pancho Villa for Villa then resends order. Huerta defeats Orozoco, forcing him to flee to the US.


April 26 Col. Pedro Leon mutinies in Mexico City. Revolt fails and Leon is executed.



Oct 16 Nephew of Porfiro Diaz, Brig. Gen Felix Diaz, raises conservative revolt against Madero in Veracruz, is arrested






                                                                        General Mondragon

Feb 9 Decena Tragica ' Ten Tragic Days'  (Feb 9-18) Felix Diaz and Gens.Mondragon and Ruiz mutiny against Madero with 2,400 men. 300 killed around presidential palace. Diaz freed.Madero reappoints Huerta as military commander. Huerta order Ruiz and all rebel cadets executed by firing squad.5,000 civilians killed

Feb 11 Artillery duel breaks out with mutineers. 500 civilians killed. Gen.Huerta sees this as a chance to become president.. He despises Madero and has long planned to overthrow him.

Huerta seizes Madero, Vice Pres. Jose Suarez and cabinet.

With support of  US Ambassador Henry Lane, Huerta  and Diaz come to an agreement . Huerta would become temporary president. In the next election, Huerta would see to it that Diaz was elected,while Huerta would remain as the military strong man.New president Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize Huerta's government, Lane recalled.


Feb 22 Madero is murdered. Huerta government claims that bodyguards were forced to shoot Madero and Vice President José María Pino Suárez, during a failed rescue attempt by Madero's supporters. In reality Huerta ordered the murders. Huerta turns Madero's brother Gustavo over to Diaz's men,who murder him.

Huerta's regime harsher and more brutal than Diaz's. Huerta  jails 110 members of Congress. 100 Madero supporters are executed.The press,which had been free under Madero, is again gagged as it was in Diaz's time. Felix Diaz is shipped off to Japan on a diplomatic mission . Huerta is supported by conservatives, the Catholic Church (which lost land and power in the last century)  and the American business community.

All males between 15 and 40 were obliged to serve in the army in areas under Huerta's control and many were gathered at bar,bull fights and walking on the streets. Using these tactics he created a 200,000 none to loyal army.


Feb 24 The Gov. of Coahuila, Venustiano Carranza rebels against Huerta. Soon others launch rebellion. Announces the Plan of Guadalupe, calling for the overthrow of Huerta and the restoration of the Constitution of 1857, limiting church power.


March 9 Villa escapes from prison in El Paso, returns to Mexico and raises army against Huerta.



March 13 Alvaro Obregon from Sonora rises against Huerta and captures Nogales. The army of Obregon was filled with displaced Yaqui Indians . The northern armies of Villa, Obregon and Carranza operated independently and did not trust one another .


March 17 Orozoco becomes brigadier in Huerta's army.


March 26 Venustiano Carranza, a politician and rancher from Coahuila, was forefront in the opposition against Huerta, calling his forces the Constitutionalists, with the secret support of the United States. On March 26, 1913, Carranza issued the Plan de Guadalupe, which was a refusal to recognize Huerta as president and called for a declaration of war between the two factions.


April 15 Obregon defeats Huerta forces along US border.


April 21 Zapata besieges Huerta garrison at Cuautla. Federal train blown up,killing 100 federal troops, federals round up civilians.


May 13 Obregon stops federal advance at Santa Rosa


May 30 Zapata declares war on Huerta. Villa defeats federal force at San Andres


Sept  29 Villa captures Torreon, all federal officers executed,shooting prisoners routine on all sides


Oct 14 Villa fails to defeat federal garrison in Chihuahua City


Nov 15 Villa takes Ciudad Juarez by commandeering a coal train and sneaking into town.. Several hundred executed.


Nov 23 Federal force defeated at Tierra Blanca by Villa close to Ciudad Juarez. Villa becomes provisional governor of the state of Chihuahua.


Dec 8 Villa occupies Chihuahua City



Jan 10 Huerta forces defeated at Ojinaga, end of Huerta resistance in Chihuahua.


March 12 Zapata besieges Cuautla with 5,000 men. City taken, all federal officers executed.


March 22 Second Battle of Torreon. 12,000 under Villa attacks 10,000 strong federal garrison and drives them off with heavy loses


April 5 Villa defeats 12,000 strong Huerta force at San Pedro de las Colomias


April 8 Zapata forces now in control of most of Morelos


April 9 Tampico Affair Carranza's forces were ten miles from the prosperous oil town of Tampico.. There was a considerable concentration of U.S. citizens in the area due to the immense investment of American firms in the local oil industry. Several American warships commanded by Rear Admiral Harry T. Mayo settled in the area with the expectation of protecting American citizens and property. Americans sailors detained by Huerta soldiers and released. American Rear Adm. demands formal apology and the American flag raised ashore with a 21 gun salute. The Mexican commander refuses.


April 14 Wilson orders Atlantic Fleet to Mexico




April 21 800 American seamen and marines land at Veracruz.Snipers open fire on Americans, 4 Americans killed. 400 more Americans are sent ashore.Eventually 3,300 sailors and 2,000 marines land. Sniper fire continues.126 Mexicans and 17 Americans killed.Resentment against Americans grows in Mexico.Arms and supplies from Germany to Huerta cut off.


April 26 Fortress San Juan de Ulua surrenders to Americans. American forces remain most of the year


May 4 Obregon besieges Mazatlan

May 14 The movie The Life of General Vila , starring Villa himself ( now believed to be lost) opens in New York. Villa became a folk hero in the U.S, through such writers as John Reed,sent to Mexico by Metropolitan Magazine.


June 10 Battle of Zacatecas  Toma de Zacatecas (Taking of Zacatecas) One of the bloodiest battles in the Revolution .Pancho Villa's División del Norte(Division of the North) decisively defeated the troops of General Luís Medina Barrón defending the town of Zacatecas. The great victory demoralized Huerta's supporters, leading to his resignation on July 15. Huerta goes into exile in Europe. Enters US to try to reenter Mexico. Kept under house arrest in El Paso till his death in 1916.


June 25 Battle of Orendain Obregon's Army of the Northwest defeats Huerta forces, who lose 2,000 and many supplies. Revolutionaries enter Guadalajara


August 15, Álvaro Obregón signed a number of treaties in Teoloyucan in which the last of Huerta's forces surrendered to him and recognized the Constitutional government.


August 20 Army of Obregon enters Mexico City. Carranza makes a triumphal entry into Mexico City and becomes president.

Sept 14 Zapata breaks with Carranza for not implementing stronger social reforms, begins to distribute land to peasants


Sept 22 Villa refuses to acknowledge Carranza as president. Obregon agrees to go to the field to destroy the army of Villa.


Nov 6 The constitutional Convention of Aguascalientes recognizes Eulalio Guiterrez as interim president. Carranza refuses to accept and is declared a rebel.Guiterrez appoints Villa as military commander to drive Carranza from power.


Nov 12 Zapata declares war on Carranza


Nov 18 Villa and Zapata advance on Carranza, who departs for Veracruz.


Nov 23 last American troops leave Veracruz.



Dec 1 Villa and Zapata meet at Xochimilico in Mexico City. Their combined armies of 50,000 march through city. Some Villiaistas rob churches and rape. Villa himself rapes a Frenchwoman manager at the luxury Hotel Palicio and was reported worldwide. The Zapaista army is mostly orderly.

                                                                  1915 War of the Generals


Jan5 Obregon takes Puebla City with 12,000 troops


Jan 15 Carranista army defeats Villiaista army and takes Guadaljara


Jan 28 Obregon reenters Mexico City, abandoned by Villa and Zapata.


March 10 Obregon departs Mexico City


April 6 Battle of Celya Obregon army of 6,000 cavalry,5,000 infantry has decisive victory over Villa's 20,000 man army.Villa loses 4,000 killed in frontal cavalry attacks on Obregon's trenches ,barbed wire and machine guns. 6.000 taken prisoner. Villia's 19th century tactics do not  fare well against Obregon's 20th century trench warfare methods of currently used in WWI.  


April 16 Obregon occupies Salamanca


June 1 Battle of Trinidad Villas masses 19,500 horsemen and 6,000 cavalry against Obregon's 9,400 cavalry and 14,500 infantry. Obregon loses right arm to shellfire.Hill succeeds him. Villa's forces exhaust forces in repeated assaults.Villa has 8,000 causalities and retreats north,his days as a leader of a large northern army are over.


Carranza now shifts his attention to the south to deal with Zapata in Morelos and dispatches General Pablo Gonzalzez, known as the general who never won a battle . Despite using terror tactics,is unable to defeat Zapata .


Zapatista coin


June 2 Wilson threatens intervention if unrest in Mexico continues.


June 5 Oaxaca declares itself a sovereign state


June 24 Huerta and Orozco are arrested in El Paso trying to enter Mexico.



July 6 Obregon resumes command of the army


August Orozco murdered in El Paso


Oct 19 US,Argentina and other Latin American countries recognize Carranza as president, US cuts off arms supplies to Villa, angering him.


Nov 1 Villa with 6,000 remaining troops attack Agua Priesta and are beaten off. 400 desert Villa.


Nov 18 inconclusive Battle of Hermosillo, Villa losses many of his remaining 5,000 followers. Retreats with only 1,400.




Jan 16 Villa's forces attack train, killing 16 Americans


March 9 Villa enters US and raids town of Columbus, New Mexico with 500 riders. 100 Villistas killed and 18 Americans.


March 15 Pershing enters Mexico 3,000 men to pursue Villa, has 9,000 in late April. Villa wounded trying to overrun Carrancista garrison at Guerrero


July Carranza informs Pershing that further penetration west,south or east will be contested.


June 20 Carrizal Skirmish between Americans and Carrancista garrison 74 Mexicans and 10 Americans killed


May 2 Carrancista Gen. Gonzales attacks Zapatists forces in Morelos, with air support.30,000 man army occupies every major town in the state.


May 15 Felix Diaz joins Oaxaca's separatist movement and is defeated


June Gen. Gonzales overrun main Zapatista headquarters at Tlaltizapan,many civilians executed


July 6 Villa rejoins his followers at San Juan Bautista


Aug 1 Carranza calls out troops to break up strike in Mexico City

Sept 16 Villa infiltrates Chihuahua City at 3 AM. Takes much booty and gives speech,gaining more recruits

Sept Zapata threatens Mexico City, seizes water pumping station and destroys rail lines,then retreats

Nov Zapatistas blow up train,killing 400

Nov 23 Villa defeated outside Chihuahua City and retreats


Dec  Carranza holds constitutional convention at Queretaro. Approved on Feb 17, 1917 It allows freedom of religion, workers allowed to form labor unions,child labor prohibited,equal pay for men and women. The government had the right to redistribute land

Dec Zapatistas regain control of most of Morelos

Dec Villa surprises garrison at Torreon, killing 2 generals and causing a third to commit suicide, departs




Jan 7 Villa raids Santa Rosalia, executing 300 prisoners and Chinese.. Zapata retakes Cuernavaca.


Jan 16 Zimmermann Telegram German offers  Mexico material aid in the reclamation of territory lost during the Mexican-American War and the Gadsden Purchase,Carranza formally declined Zimmermann's proposals on April 14, by which time the U.S. had declared war on Germany.



May 1 Carranza officially becomes president after election



Oct many town in Morelos fall to Carrancistas, Zapatista army weakened by outbreak of Spanish influenza, Zapata flees into mountains with a few followers

April 6 Zapata killed by troops of Carrancista officer who pr
etended to mutiny..Following Zapata's death, the Liberation Army of the South slowly fell apart



June Villa captures Juarez, driven off by US troops



June 1 Obregon announces he will run for president



Carranza's term of office almost over and cannot run again because of declaration of 'no reelection' He throws his support behind Ignacio Bonillas, the ambassador to Mexico,believing he would become his puppet.


March many Obregon supporters arrested, Obregon harassed, flees Mexico City.



April 13 Obregon calls for uprising against Carranza. Supporters, including Villa rally to his side.



May 7 Carranza flees to Veracruz, taking national treasury ( 5 million in gold and silver) and 10,000 followers.A dynamite laded train smashes into the lead train,killing 200. Carranza retreats with 100 followers. Meets guerrilla leader Rodolfo Herrero who professes loyalty, but murders him while he is sleeping.



May 24 Adolfo de la Huerta, Gov. of Sonora is made interim president



July 22 Villa telegraphs Huerta requesting amnesty, Huerta gives a 25,000 acre estate



July 20 Villa and six bodyguards are ambushed while driving, Villa killed



Nov 30 Obregon elected president



Nov 30 De la Huerta Uprising  Huerta accuses Obregon of corruption and calls for overthrow of Obregon. A large part of the federal army follows Huerta.



Jan 24 Battle of Eseranza Huerta forces defeated, Huerta flees Mexico. Minor revolts and mutinies in following years, but large scale fighting is over.

An estimated 2 million are thought to have died as a result of the Revolution.