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A Mexican Event

From the autobiographical notes of Captain Charles Albertson with memories of his career in the New York City Police Department and his travels and adventures during his retirement beginning in 1905.


In October 1914, on my way from my northern home to Orlando, I came from Jacksonville to Sanford by the Clyde Line boat up the St. Johns River. It was a beautiful moon light night. Sitting near me on deck was a man who was a West Point graduate who had spent three years in the employ of the Federal Government surveying and mapping the St. Johns River. We remained on deck until two a.m. in conversation, much of which was relative to Mexico where he had been with Carranza and Villa as Chief of their artillery for several years. When the two separated and became bitter enemies, he remained the friend of Villa and fought Carranza for some time. [The last sentence was part of the handwritten text but not part of the typed version.]

When we separated on the train at Orlando, he going further South on the train, I invited him to call upon me should he come to Orlando later, but never expected to see him again. About two months later he visited me at my home near Orlando. He was wonderfully changed. His hair which was slightly grey at the temples when I saw him last, was white. He looked ten years older. He remained for lunch and later while sitting on the porch he made a long statement which I was very anxious to hear.

When we separated he continued on to Tampa, then to Havana where he secured passage on a sailing vessel to Mexico on his way to Villa’s camp having purchased a mule and equipment after landing. He obtained the best information possible relative to his objective, and on the second day was captured by Carranza’s pickets and taken before him. He was very angry, accused him of being a spy and said he would have him shot. He was kept in close confinement for several days and taken each day before Carranza who appeared to enjoy his predicament. Each time he was taken from where he was confined, he was given a chance to attempt to escape which he knew was intentional, for they wanted an excuse for killing him. The last time he was before Carranza, he defied him and dared him to cause him to be shot saying, “You know I am an American citizen, and you owe me six thousand dollars back pay.” Soon after dark this day, Carranza’s chief of staff came to his prison and informed him that he was to be shot at sunrise. He escorted him some distance from camp, where his mule and equipment was waiting. After much trouble, he got back to the Gulf thence back to Havana and to the good old U.S.A. He was a nephew of the most prominent Southern Virginia writer. His last word was, “I shall never go back to Mexico.”

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