Sale 1090 — United States, Possessions and Confederate States Stamps and Postal History
Sale Date — Wednesday-Friday, 17-19 December, 2014
Category — Flight and Air Post Covers
A RARE AND PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED COVER WITH ORIGINAL HISTORICAL LETTER DESCRIBING THE EXPEDITION INTO MEXICO AGAINST PANCHO VILLA.
On March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa and his troops attacked Columbus, New Mexico. By the end, 18 civilians and soldiers from the 13th Cavalry detachment were killed with another 8 wounded. Columbus was left in a blaze, horses and mules stolen, and military arms were taken back to Mexico. On March 15 President Woodrow Wilson ordered Major General John J. Pershing to lead an expedition into Mexico to capture Pancho Villa.
The letter offered here was written on March 21 while Lininger's unit was camped along the Casas Grande River (in Chihuahua). He mentions the likes of Pershing, seeing 400 of Carranza's men, and that Villa is four to six days ahead and they are following his trail by "dead horses, discarded articles, camp fires, etc." His report of the Columbus attack is that Villa had 500 men and 300 returned, 100 died, and he believes the rest deserted, saying "the more I hear about the fight the greater becomes my respect for the American Soldier." Lininger reports that the previous day he saw five airplanes fly and land, with one wrecked and the pilot injured upon landing. These flights were used for reconnaissance purposes and to carry mail to and from the expedition. We have ascertained with reasonable certainty that this letter was flown from the field to Columbus where it was postmarked. Shortly after, on April 12, at the Battle of Parral, Lininger valiantly rescued a fellow solider, under sustained fire, who was dismounted and in danger of being captured. He was ultimately awarded the Distinguished Service Medal despite many believing he should have been awarded the Medal of Honor. He ultimately retired in 1949 with the rank of Brigadier General.
FINE-VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE FIRST-HAND CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE MEXICAN OR "PUNITIVE" EXPEDITION AGAINST PANCHO VILLA. A GROUP WORTHY OF FURTHER STUDY OF THIS WELL-KNOWN MILITARY OPERATION.
The few letters checked by us in this group contain information about political situation, battles fought, conditions endured by soldiers, soldier morale, troop movement and much more. They begin with his outbound train journey toward New Mexico and end with him in El Paso awaiting further instructions. Most letters range from a page to six pages, and those written in the field are datelined about a week prior to their postmark in Columbus. The lack of censorship of these letters makes for a true in-depth account of the incursion.
The American Air Mail Catalogue (AAMC 92) mentions "new planes arrived at a later date and made flights into the field but it is unclear when mail was flown after April 20." Therefore, it is our assumption that many of these letters were flown from the field to Columbus, N. Mex. on planes used for reconnaissance purposes and to carry mail to and from the expedition.
VERY FINE. AN EXTREMELY RARE EARLY UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FLIGHT BY FAMED AVIATRIX KATHERINE STINSON, THE FIRST FEMALE UNITED STATES AIRMAIL PILOT.
Only 60 pieces of mail were carried on this historic flight by Katherine Stinson, America's "sweetheart of the skies". The attractive Stinson sisters and their brother were all pioneer aviators. According to the American Air Mail Catalogue, "this was a special flight by Katherine Stinson, the first woman sworn in as a U.S. air mail pilot. After a 600-mile flight in about 10 hours, Stinson landed at Binghamton N.Y., where her plane nosed over on several take-offs, and an eight-day wait ensued for several replacement propellers and dry ground from which Stinson could complete the flight. Finally, on May 31 Stinson flew from Binghamton to the Garden City N.Y. landing field."