Header image
Top 100  ?  doc 70
Statement of Mr. W. Pfaeffle on Pedr?n raid on Javal? Mine, Chontales  (july 1931)
 
T O P     1 0 0     D O C S

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

47

48

49

50

51

52

53

54

55

56

57

58

59

60

61

62

63

64

65

66

67

68

69

70

71

72

73

74

75

76

77

78

79

80

81

82

83

84

85

86

87

88

89

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

99

100

Statement of Mr. W. Pfaeffle on Pedr?n raid on Javal? Mine, Chontales, July 1931

Critical introduction forthcoming.

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF Mr. W. PFAEFFLE, FORMERLY MANAGER OF THE JAVALI MINE, CHONTALES, IN CONNECTION WITH HIS HAVING BEEN TAKEN PRISONER BY ALTAMIRANO AND GROUP OF BANDITS ON JULY 18, 1931.

At 9 o?clock on Friday night, July 17, I advised Juigalpa by wire that all information indicated that bandit groups were headed towards Santo Domingo. Two patrols were immediately gotten ready, one for La Libertad and one for Santo Domingo. Nothing happened that night, although bandits were reported at Camp No. 1 of the mine property, two hours ride from the mine.

Best Replica Watches www.tswatchesltd.com
Nothing was visible during Saturday, July 18. At 9.00 a.m., July 18, airplanes made inspection of Santo Domingo and adjacent vicinity and departed. According to information from the bandits, after the airplanes had passed, they crawled out of the bush and occupied all prominent points, completely surrounding the mining camp and the village of Santo Domingo, being in position at 11.00 a.m. Several people, in passing to and fro, who happened to discover the bandits, were held prisoners to prevent them from giving the alarm.

At 5.30 p.m., July 18, when I came from work to my house which is at the top of the ditch line and in a prominent position, I was wondering why the guardia patrol had not arrived in view of telegraphic advice from Juigalpa. As I looked out of the window to the west, I saw a patrol of mounted men traveling on the road that connects La Libertad and Santo Domingo at a distance of 800 yards. As it was somewhat hazy and drizzling, I could not distinguish them very well and took it for granted that it was the guardia. A few moments after that one of my family called my attention to having observed a red flag. As I wished to make sure whether it was so or not, I again went to the window and convinced myself that they bandits. At the same instant there was another patrol of bandits in front of me before I could get away. They approached from the rear. They pulled their pistols and challenged me to give myself up, taking for granted I was an American. I could have jumped out of the window that faces the ditch line, but decided to give myself up in order to save my family, consisting of a wife, three daughters, a son, a son-in-law and two grandchildren, who were living with me at the mine, from being butchered. As I stepped out into the yard, two pistols were pushed at my face and I raised my arms. The man in command of the patrol ordered me bound with a rope and after one arm was bound the same officer made a rush for my watch. The men continued to place a rope on my other arm. The officer and some of the others then rushed into the house, took my pistol and belt from the bedroom and asked my wife where we had the money, which was given up without resistance. They then commenced searching the house for everything in the line of men?s clothing, towels, valuables, etc. They came out of the house loaded with jewelry and all sorts of other articles. The [p. 4] man in charge then mounted his horse and drove away with one man leading me, leaving my whole family expecting that I would never return alive. At the same time as I was made prisoner and in the same place, my 17 year old son was made a prisoner together with the master mechanic, employed by the mine, who had rushed over to my house to advise me of the situation but who had been caught in the trap himself.

We were led off and after traveling about 200 yards one of the bandits exchanged hats, taking my good Stetson hat for his old one. Another one took my leather puttees and a third one exchanged his shoes for mine. I was then turned over to an infantryman so that the mounted patrol could continue on other work. We were led off again, in an almost opposite direction from the first one, up on a hill to one of their outposts, about 800 yards farther on. While on this part of the journey, I heard an exchange of about 60 to 80 shots, mostly pistol, between the mine and the village (a little to the north of it), which later proved to be a contact of the four guardias with the mounted bandit patrol that had turned me over to the other band, resulting in the death of the bandit leader of the patrol group, Cleto Lopez of Tierra Azul, who, incidentally was the man who had made me prisoner. The guardia patrol of four men was in charge of Corporal Castillo.

Arriving finally at the bandit outpost at a point called El Manzano, a sector of the mine, I was held there for further orders. This outpost was commanded by a man called Colonel Hernandez. There again my shoes were exchanged for a more inferior pair, the sentry in charge of me protesting that I was a prisoner and no one could molest me but I gave up the shoes. During this waiting period night was approaching and the rain continued. I felt like I was sitting on a bed of fire because in my shirt pocket I had a telegram from the guardia officer at Juigalpa giving me an outline of the guardia dispositions to be made for our property protection. Realizing that sooner or later I would be searched and that the telegram would be a positive and immediate death sentence I tried to think of all kinds of ways in which to dispose of the paper. I did not dare to place it in my shoes for fear that the shoes would again be exchanged. At last I decided to crumple the paper and hold it in my palm. Then feigning a pain in my back, I squatted and mashed the paper under my shoe sole, burying it in the mud as well as I could; there being mostly rock where I was located the burying of the paper in the ground was not an easy task. However, I got rid of it and not any too soon because within the next five minutes I was taken to another outpost, some 250 yards farther south. At that outpost one of the bandits observed my wedding ring and insisted on having it. This ring had not been removed from my finger for the last twenty years and consequently was hard to remove. The bandit, observing the difficulty I was having in attempting to remove the ring, threatened to cut off the finger, but I finally succeeded in getting the ring, skin and all.

[p. 5]

I was then led off again, this time returning to my house. The new party insisted on getting the same money, jewelry and other things that had already been taken from us and continued repeated threats of death, head cutting and the usual savage means of torture. My family had taken refuge in the house of a neighbor. The man insisted that my wife, who handled all the money affairs in my home, be found. She was located and forced to cut across trails up to her knees in mud. They brought her to the house and forced her to pass me on the porch and enter a room. The man, commanding this patrol, shouted to me in a gruff voice to say to my wife what I had to say. My wife fainted, believing it was the last time she would see me. I saved the situation by telling her the man wanted the money she had, insisting that $500.00 would be a fair price. She told him there wasn?t any more and that everything had been taken by another group. Very much disappointed and angry, they said they would settle the account farther on, making her believe I would be killed. Her pleas, screams, tears and protests were of no avail. Finally I was led off again, this time to Santo Domingo, which is about 1000 yards from the mine. Before entering the village we came to another outpost between the cemetery and the village. As we approached this outpost several of the bandits ran out, flashing their machetes, demonstrating their joy over at last having a Yankee or ?macho? to behead, making such remarks as ?Oh let me have him?, ?Give him to me? and ?I love the Yankees?. Each one wished to have the job of beheading me. The man in charge of me waved them aside saying that he had strict orders to deliver me to Headquarters, where we at last arrived and I was brought before the man in charge of the expedition, Pedron Altamirano. Headquarters was at the store of one Wenceslo Lao Celedon, a merchant, where Pedron and his staff were sitting at court.

The rope was taken from my arms and I was put under a fire of questions and cross questions about my nationality, business etc. Pedron asked me about the financial opportunities he might have at the mine for enriching his purse. I told him there was no money to speak of. That the bullion, six or eight thousand dollars worth on hand in the form of precipitate that after being melted into bullion, had no commercial value and was then worth about $250.00 and would be more of a burden to him than an asset. He accepted my declaration. In the meantime, a young chap, ranking as a captain with the bandits, recognized me as his former chief at one of the other mines, thus ratifying my declarations about myself, thus speeding the proceedings which ended in my being declared a free man by Pedron himself. He made me wait for a certain hour he had set to have read to the people two messages from Sandino. These messages were given to me to inspect. To the best of my recollection one was dated May 26 and one between the 20th and 30th of May. The object of reading these letters to the people was to arouse them to join the movement, deploring the deaths of Blandon and Ortez, and demonstrated their hatred for the North Americans, [p. 6] Coolidge, Hoover, Kellogg and Stimson were named as the responsible parties in the north and Chamorro, Diaz and Moncada in Nicaragua.

I was finally escorted to my house by 4 mounted men, arriving there at 2.00 a.m., July 19.

There appeared to be between 250 and 300 men in the group. All are armed with rifles and pistols and each man had either a machete or a dagger. They have nine machine guns, Thompsons and light Browning guns.

None of the men are uniformed. Aside from Pedron and small percentage belonging to the Indian type, most of the men appear to be intelligent. Many are from the mining profession, my being one of them helped me out.

The women were not abused. They were forced to give up all jewelry but otherwise not touched. One man tried to abuse a woman in a house but was discovered by his officer who forced the man from the house at the point of a pistol. Liquor was plentiful and the bandits were trying to drink all of it. They were effectively headed off by their own officers who went from house to house, throwing all liquor into the streets and breaking the bottles.

One of my carpenters working at the mine was made prisoner the same time as I. He was charged with being an ex-guardia. I tried to speak for him but one of the bandits advised me to mind my own business if I didn?t wish to share the man?s fate. The following morning it was reported to me that the man?s head had been cut off at 6.00 a.m. by the ugliest ?nigger? I had ever seen. This headsman is a mixture of African and Mesquite. He took the man to an outpost behind a church accompanied by a man playing an accordion. The headsman executed a war dance around the victim to the tunes of weird music, letting his machete come down grazing the man?s face, cutting and scratching him severely so often. As the music became wilder he suddenly struck the man behind the ear, felling him. He then, with one blow, severed the head from the body.

Upon abandoning the town, Irias, Chief of Staff for Altamirano, broadcast in the streets that he was leaving an example in the town, guilty or not guilty, saying ?pick him up and bury him?. While they were trailing the edge of town after abandoning it about 7.00 a.m., a guardia patrol could be seen coming in from La Libertad.

Altamirano told me to inform the miner owner, Angel Caligaris, who was on the property in hiding with his family and who had been able to during the procedure involving my capture, not to have any fear and to return to his home. That his men had orders not to touch any of the mine property, that he would like to see a contribution from him and that he would be over in the morning to have a chat with him. That he is especially interested that the mine continue [p. 7] to operate. That some time later he will return for another visit and if he should find guardias there he would dynamite the whole plant and burn down the last house.

During my stay there, Pedron took quite a fancy to me. He discussed his tactics. Said he would not attack any village or town defended by guardias as he did not wish to sacrifice any of his men. This conflicts with his statement that he will dynamite the mine. I firmly believe Pedron is saturated with his mission and faithfully believes he is doing right and that he is absolutely loyal to Sandino. His troops may share that to a certain degree but my belief is that their animal instinct for loot and murder is more the attraction than anything else. Their hardships are severe.

In looting stores, their preference is as follows: Men?s clothing and shoes; liquor; perfumes; face powders; dress goods which they give away. Provisions and canned goods were practically untouched.

The route used in entering the village and mine as well as the route they used in abandoning the town have been pointed out on the map.

          /s/  Wilhelm Pfaeffle

M31.07.23

Transcribed by Pleet Initiative-funded Lebanon Valley College student-researcher Nicholas J. Quadrini.

Ancillary Document

PC31.07.23.  Combat Report of GN Cabo Santos Castillo V., No. 1253, with endorsement (no author identifiable)

GUARDIA NACIONAL DE NICARAGUA
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF CHONTALES

Juigalpa, 23 July 1931.

From: Department Commander.
To: The Jefe Director.

Subject: Commendation.

1. I take great pleasure in reporting to you a very gratifying series of incidents affecting the conduct of the Guardia Nacional during the occupation of Santo Domingo and Javali Mines on the 18th and 19th instants. I quote for your information on the first detailed report received from Cabo Santos Castillo, V., No. 1253, Guardia Nacional:

?Santo Domingo, 10 a.m., 23 July 1931.
Department Commander:
The bandits came into this town at 5.30 p.m. on the afternoon of the 18th; came in from the side of El Javali, at a place called Alegre. Raso Felipe Chavarris was at El Javali and he saw when they were coming in and he immediately left for the town of Santo Domingo, where I was, without knowing what was happening. As soon as Raso Felipe Chavarris gave me the report that they were coming in I ordered my companions to go with me to a hill which is located on the east side of the town and about 300 yards from the town. On that hill we had a contact with bandit cavalry. After a quarter of an hour of combat I saw that we were surrounded on that hill and I shouted out loud as if to another patrol ?Attack their rear guard? and then we attacked them with more force with revolvers and they broke ranks and we forced through. Then I went into the mountains trying to locate a clear way to La Libertad. I came to the road in the morning and met First Sergeant Mondragon with a small patrol and gave him the news. (Note: First Sergeant was in command of a section of Lieutenant Bell?s patrol, having been ordered the night before by me to proceed to Javali in charge as Lieutenant Bell reported a sprained ankle). Then we hurried our steps towards Javali because we were told that the bandits were drunk and when we got to the town they had gone already. I got information that in the contact we had with them we killed an aid to Pedron. There were several other wounded. The group was made of 250 bandits and they carry about 15 machine guns, rifles and revolvers. CASTILLO, Cabo, G.N.  [p. 2]

2. From the statements of witnesses to the bandit occupation of Santo Domingo I learn that the above report of Cabo Castillo is a very modest account of the actions of his patrol of four guardias, and yet is concise and accurate.

3. Further information received indicates that the timely arrival of First Sergeant Alejandro Mondragon, No. 1544 and Cabo Castillo, with their small patrol at the Javali mines prevented extreme vandalism at that place as the bandits had received information of arrival of a guardia patrol and were evacuating.

4. Further on the afternoon of the 20th a small patrol under Cabo Castillo, in pursuit upon a small group of bandits, killed two, captured two and the following articles: Three large red and black flags, eight hat bands, forty eight cal. .30 rifle cartridges, forty-four cal. .32 short pistol cartridges, papers which were stolen from the municipal offices and a bandit propaganda book entitled ?Las Banqueros y la Intervencion en Nicaragua?. (Note: see my telegram 17520 July) Nine pairs pants, shoes, shirts and womens dress goods.

5. Eyewitnesses report that Castillo?s patrol in their first contact killed a Jefe on a large white horse who at first was thought to have been Pedron. Both Pedron and Irias were later seen in Santo Domingo however. Whoever it may have been the bandits immediately dug a grave and buried him.

6. I cannot too strongly emphasize to you the unfaltering courage of the two small patrols above mentioned and the military tact displayed by their non-commissioned officer leaders. Castillo conducted an orderly withdrawal from Santo Domingo with four other guardia after having given the extreme possible in resistance. The combined patrols of Mondragon and Castillo (about 15 men) returned to Santo Domingo in face of large odds to meet what they might encounter. I recommend to you that Cabo Castillo be promoted to the grade of Sergeant and that he and First Sergeant Mondragon, together with the members of their patrols be commended for especial bravery in action.

M31.07.23

Transcribed by Pleet Initiative-funded Lebanon Valley College student-researcher Nicholas J. Quadrini.


T O P     1 0 0     D O C S      ?      H O M E P A G E     L I S T 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

47

48

49

50

51

52

53

54

55

56

57

58

59

60

61

62

63

64

65

66

67

68

69

70

71

72

73

74

75

76

77

78

79

80

81

82

83

84

85

86

87

88

89

90

91

92

93

94

95

96

97

98

99

100

top of page