Battle of Ambos Nogales 

Battle of Ambos Nogales 

US #1157 was a joint-issue with Mexico honoring its independence from Spain.

On August 27, 1918, US and Mexican forces engaged in the Battle of Ambos Nogales, amid the tensions of the Mexican Revolution, World War I, and the Border War.

Along the border of the US and Mexico, International Street divided Ambos (“Both”) Nogales.  To the north was Nogales, Arizona, and to the south was Nogales, Sonora.  In 1918, residents of both towns generally got along and both benefitted from the smuggling of cigars, liquor, firearms, and cattle.

Up until this time, there was no fence in the town.  People knew they had to cross at one of two specific entry points.  At about 4:00 p.m. August 27, 1918, carpenter Gil Lamadrid crossed back into Mexico.  After he had entered Mexico, a US customs inspector told him to stop so he could inspect the large package he was carrying.  Nearby, Mexican customs agents told him to ignore the order and continue walking into Mexico.  As both sides shouted orders, Lamadrid became confused.

US #4627 was issued for the 100th anniversary of Arizona statehood.

In an effort to keep Lamadrid from moving further into Mexico, a US soldier who was manning the border raised his gun towards the carpenter.  Shortly after, a shot was fired.  It’s suspected it was a warning shot into the air.  Lamadrid didn’t know what was happening however, so he dropped to the ground.  The Mexican customs officers thought he had been shot, so they began firing on the US agents.  The US inspectors drew their guns and returned fire.  Amid the shooting, Lamadrid jumped up and ran down a nearby street.  Meanwhile, Mexican citizens could hear the gunfire from their neighborhood, so they grabbed their guns and joined the Mexican officers at the border.

US #2818 – One Buffalo Soldier was killed and three were wounded in the battle.

The men on the US side of the border grew concerned.  At the time, World War I was raging in Europe.  The Zimmermann Telegram had recently been published, revealing that the Germans had proposed a military alliance with Mexico.  The American authorities didn’t know if World War I had reached the US and decided to call in Buffalo Soldiers for support.  The 10th Cavalry then arrived and crossed the border into Mexico.  They attacked the heights to the east of town while the militia in Arizona fired on the buildings.

Eventually, the mayor of Nogales, Sonora, tied a white cloth to his cane and ran into the street to convince his people to drop their guns.  However, he was struck by a bullet fired from the direction of Arizona, and died a half hour later.  In the wake of his death, the city officials sought to end the fighting, and around 7:45 p.m., raised a large white flag over their customs building.

US #4627 – Fleetwood First Day Cover with Digital Color Postmark

The Americans immediately ordered a ceasefire, though occasional sniper fire would continue on both sides through the night.  The border crossing was closed until late the following day.  Over the course of the fighting, four US soldiers and two civilians were killed, while 28 soldiers and civilians were wounded.  On the Mexican side, about 30 soldiers and 100 civilians were killed, and about 300 wounded.

US #1157 – First Day Cover with both 1960 US and Mexico stamps canceled in the US.  Please note, your cover may include one #1157 or both stamps.

Diplomatic talks and an American investigation into the incident were immediately arranged.  In the end, they decided to establish a two-mile-long border fence down International Street – the first permanent border fence separating the US and Mexico.  The battle holds special significance in Mexico, with its own song “El Corrido de Nogales” and a monument honoring those who participated in the battle.  Additionally, the Mexican Congress bestowed upon Nogales the title of “Heroic City.”

Item #M3520 – Get 100 Mexico stamps for just $15!

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14 responses to "Battle of Ambos Nogales "

14 thoughts on “Battle of Ambos Nogales ”

  1. Times are different today. If there were no fence now we would be overrun
    by millions of Mexican and Central Americans devastating our already
    fragile pandemic economy.

  2. Except for the dead and injured, wouldn’t it be nice if conflicts could be settled like this. Quite a story. Thanks again Mystic!

  3. Who fired that first shot? It could be asked as well for Lexington in 1775.

    Of course, at Nogales, we know it just had to be the “other” guys. Wishful thinking on our part, once again.

    We need to state that most of the problems along the Mexican border have nearly always been caused by the people north of it.

    Pancho Villa was a notable exception, but we did react rather too harshly against his bank robberies.

    Drug smuggling–I note there are no illegal drugs being smuggled southwards. To be honest we know the people to the north of the border are the real problem, not the people to the south.

    Illegal aliens? Again, I note people north of the border are offering the jobs, aren’t they?

    As Abraham Lincoln stated in the House of Representatives relative to the border, the beginning condition of the situation and its true location must first be established before any reaction can be contemplated.

    Regardless who fired the first shot, the man was INSIDE Mexico when the situation started, and the U.S. Customs had NO jurisdiction at all inside Mexico. Think about it–would we have tried to stop the man if he had been in Mexico City? In terms of jurisdiction, the locations of Mexican Nogales and Mexico City could have been switched with zero difference in regards to the U.S. jurisdiction.

    I think a better solution would have been for the U.S. Customs agent to admit he made a mistake, and resolve to do better the next time. Trying to stop a person already inside Mexico was neither legal nor justifiable under international law on his part. The situation, once the man entered Mexico, was an internal problem for Mexico, not an external problem for the United States.

  4. Thank you Mr John T Fox. There was an incident recently where a border patrol agent fired into the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border and killed a young woman trying to cross illegally into the US. She was not Mexican, but Guatemalan. As far I know, no investigation of any kind was undertaken. Perhaps one of the factors may be related to race, and who is superior.

  5. Strange to see where the sympathies apparently lie here. No mention is made about the cartels operating on the US side of the border or firing upon our border patrol from Mexico. I don’t see a lot of drugs being smuggled into Mexico or human trafficking going South. It would be best if we worried about the current border crisis and not who did what 100 years ago.

  6. Two different Governments , Seems like the same story now . Build the wall stop the massive drug traffic . When illegal contraband is killing our young Americans we need to control and stop this madness . Biden seems to be concerned about politics than the safety of USA . How does a president that has been a politician all his life gain such riches ? Build the wall . Remember Biden is spending hard working peoples (like a large beach house in Delaware ) money with his and his sons crooked deals . Next election think about what you are paying for .

  7. At least the hostile situation did not linger. My mother told me some amusing family history that took place 15 years later, in 1933. She was 10 and she and my grandfather rode horseback across the border into Nogales, Sonora (apparently thru the opening in the fence) so he could stop and enjoy some beer in a tavern. He gave her some nickels to play a slot machine and she hit a minor jackpot but was so young and unprepared that other children scooped up most of what came out of the machine. I’m guessing that with prohibition not yet quite ended, my grandfather was enjoying his legal drink across the border.


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