Division del Norte
The División del Norte was an armed faction formed by Madero and initially led by General Jose Gonzales Salas following the call to arms from Francisco Madero at the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 in 1910. After Salas committed suicide following his defeat at the hands of Pascual Orozco
Pascual Orozco
Pascual Orozco Vazquez was a Mexican revolutionary leader who, after the triumph of the Mexican Revolution, rose up against Francisco I...

 at the First Battle of Rellano, the leadership of the division was given to Victoriano Huerta
Victoriano Huerta
José Victoriano Huerta Márquez was a Mexican military officer and president of Mexico. Huerta's supporters were known as Huertistas during the Mexican Revolution...

. After Huerta's overthrow in la Decena trágica and the murder of Madero, Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 assumed the leadership of the division. As a result the Division became closely associated with his name. Villa often led his División del Norte into battle himself.

The División del Norte was in effect a total army rather than a regular division. Villa's troops were assigned military ranks, outfitted with hospital trains and horse ambulance
An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

s (called Servicio sanitario and said to be the first employed in Mexico), used the railroads built during the Díaz administration
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

 to move quickly fom one engagement to the other, and unlike some other revolutionary groups, were well equipped with machine guns and even an artillery unit (captured from the Mexican Federal Army
Huerta's Federal Army
Huerta's Federal Army, also known as the Federales in popular culture, was the force headed by Victoriano Huerta during his 1913–1914 reign as president of Mexico....

 and Rurales
Rurales was the name commonly used to designate the Mexican Guardia Rural : a force of mounted police or gendarmerie that existed between 1861 and 1914...

). Villa attempted to supply a horse to each infantryman, rather than only his cavalry detachments (Los dorados) in order to increase the speed of movement of his army, thus creating an early version of mobile infantry
Mobile infantry
Mobile infantry is one of several military terms usually referring to infantry units equipped with vehicles.Before the development of railroads in the 19th century, infantry armies got to the battlefield by walking, or sometimes by ship...

, or a late version of dragoons. Numerous foreign mercenaries
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 served in the Falange extranjero (foreign legion
Foreign legion
Foreign legion or Foreign Legion is a title which has been used by a small number of military units composed of foreign volunteers.It usually refers to the French Foreign Legion, part of the French Army established in 1831.It can also refer to:...

) of the División, including such notables as Ivor Thord-Gray
Ivor Thord-Gray
Ivor Thord-Gray was a Swedish-born adventurer, ethnologist and linguist.-Biography:Thord Ivar Hallström was born in the Södermalm district in central Stockholm, Sweden as the second son of an elementary school teacher August Hallström and his wife Hilda. His eldest brother was the artist Gunnar...

 and the son of Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...


The División del Norte at its height numbered some 50,000 men. This was the largest revolutionary force ever amassed in the Americas. Pancho Villa's notoriety no doubt played an important part to recruiting such large numbers of men. Despite having such numerical advantage, the División del Norte was defeated at the Battle of Celaya
Battle of Celaya
The Battle of Celaya, which occurred near Celaya, Guanajuato on 13 April 1915, was a battle of the Mexican Revolution.The Conventionist forces under Pancho Villa were badly defeated by forces under the command of Álvaro Obregón, who supported the presidency of Venustiano Carranza. Villa lost...

 on April 1915 by forces of Álvaro Obregón
Álvaro Obregón
General Álvaro Obregón Salido was the President of Mexico from 1920 to 1924. He was assassinated in 1928, shortly after winning election to another presidential term....

. The outcome of the battle came to the favor of Obregón who used defensive tactics from current European battle reports of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The División del Norte with its cavalry charges was no match for well placed barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

, trenches
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

, artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 and machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

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