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Celaya, Battles of

Celaya, Battles of

Battles of Celaya, the critical encounters in central Mexico between Venustiano Carranza's Constitutionalist forces and Francisco Villa's Division of the North. The two battles of Celaya turned the course of the revolution in favor of the Carrancistas.

The Constitutionalists, commanded by Álvaro Obregón, met the Division of the North at Celaya, Guanajuato, on 6 April 1915. Villa used his predictable but effective tactic of relentless cavalry assaults against Obregón's fortified positions. After Villa's forces exhausted themselves, Obregón attacked Villa's flanks and repulsed the Division of the North, which suffered heavy casualties and captives. Villa attempted a second assault on Celaya on 13 April. Using the same tactics, he again met defeat with many casualties. As in the first encounter, Obregón's casualties were remarkably light.

Obregón's victories of Celaya are attributed to Villa's poor planning, faulty supply lines, ammunition shortages, and inaccurate and inefficient use of artillery; rain and mud, which slowed Villa's assaults; the professionalism of the Constitutionalist forces and the soundness of Obregón's tactics; and division and dissension among Villa's officers.

After defeating Villa at Celaya, Obregón pushed further north. In May 1915 he defeated Villa's rejuvenated and resupplied army at León. A month later, Obregón routed the Division of the North at Aguascalientes. By July 1915 the once invincible Villistas were reduced to small guerrilla bands in northern Mexico. In contrast, Obregón's popularity and power increased within the Constitutionalist movement.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican Revolution .


Charles C. Cumberland, Mexican Revolution: The Constitutionalist Years (1972), pp. 200-201.

Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution. Vol. 2, Counter-Revolution and Reconstruction (1986), pp. 322-325.

John Mason Hart, Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution (1987), p. 311.

Additional Bibliography

Barrón, Luis. Historias de la Revolución Mexicana. México, D.F.: Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004.

Katz, Friedrich. The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

                                   Aaron Paine Mahr

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