The Houston Post reported on Aug. 21, 1915 that U.S. Army officers in automobiles, infantrymen on foot and cavalry were chasing a group of Carrancista soldiers that had crossed the Rio Grande River with intentions of joining up with supporters of the Plan of San Diego near Falfurrias in Brooks County, Texas. The Corpus Christi Caller & Daily Herald headlined
“Bandits Gathering Near Falfurrias.”
The Corpus Christi newspaper reported that lawmen protecting a public road had run into four armed Mexicans, which to the newspaper was “proof that something was going on.” A shootout ensued resulting in “one Mexican shot through head.”
The Mexican, the newspaper pointed out, was expected to die. He was carrying a 30-30 rifle and 105 rounds of ammunition. Three others were said to have escaped with Sheriff James T. Maupin in hot pursuit. A detachment of troops from Company M, 26th Infantry was sent from Brownsville to Falfurrias.
On Aug. 30, the Post, reported the three others were captured but two were killed “trying to escape.” A third man made good his escape. They left behind two high-powered rifles and 220 rounds of ammunition.
The incident was one of many that resulted from the Plan of San Diego, uncovered in January 1915. A vivid description of the Plan will be discussed at The Heritage Museum at Falfurrias on March 26 by Alfredo E. Cardenas author of the recently published historical novel “Balo’s War, A Novel About the Plan of San Diego”.
Cardenas will discuss his book at 10:30 a.m. at the museum located at 415 N. St. Mary’s in Falfurrias. The book will be available for purchase for $15, including sales tax, and the author will be available to sign it.
While most of the fighting took place in the Rio Grande Valley, towns like Falfurrias were also affected by the Plan, which called for inciting a revolution in the American southwest. It is not an event found in history books, but has been extensively studied by scholars. Balo’s War takes a fresh look at the event to bring to life the conditions that existed in South Texas that gave rise to the Plan of San Diego.
“I chose to tell the story in a historical fiction book, because it afforded me more latitude to delve into the motives of those who were involved with the plan and those who contributed to conditions that gave rise to such an idea,” Cardenas said.
Balo’s War uses a variety of characters, real and imagined, to tell the story of a people who went from being Spaniard to Mexican to American in a short span of 30 years. They struggled to hold on to their land, their language, their culture and their history—against insurmountable odds. At times this struggle resorted to violence.
In the summer and fall of 1915, guerrilla-like attacks were launched against trains, public works projects and United States Army troops throughout the Rio Grande Valley. In retaliation, Texas Rangers, local law enforcement and citizen militias summarily executed hundreds of innocent Mexican Americans accused of being bandits without the benefit of jury trial. Hundreds of people lost their lives and the economic development of the Valley was shattered.
Historian Ben Johnson, one of the scholars who has written a nonfiction book about the Plan of San Diego entitled “Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans Into Americans”, said of Balo’s War, “The main characters and plot work well to tell the story of the uprising and where it fits into the larger history of South Texas and the border.” John Knaggs, author of “The Bugles are Silent, A Novel of the Texas Revolution” said Cardenas’ book is “A fascinating story about events that influenced the development of South Texas.”