brother of EDSN Sgt. Major Maximiliano
Vallecillo, interrogated by
Marines & Guardia
This brief account of an interview with
Emilio Vallecillo, GN, brother of Sandinista
Sergeant Major Maximiliano
Vallecillo, highlights the fratricidal
nature of the struggle between the Marines &
Guardia and the Sandinista rebels. In this case,
the country's political divisions had reached
all the way down to the level of the individual
family, with two brothers on the opposite sides
of a widening political divide. The report also
offers insights into the declining material
circumstances of the rebel forces by late 1928
with the Liberal José
elected as president in November, many
Nicaraguans and others saw Sandino's cause as
not only hopeless but pointless
also includes an element of wishful thinking.
detail of map by Major K. E. Rockey, San Albino,
Oct 1928; click on image for full view)
Six months later, Sandino would depart
Las Segovias to seek Mexico's help with the
sputtering rebellion. The report sheds
important light on the estrangement between
Sandino and Manuel Maria Girón Ruano, one of his
top generals. Two months later (in
February 1929), Girón would leave Sandino's camp
alone, be captured by a group of Marines and
"volunteers," be tried in a kangaroo court in
the bush, and executed (see Girón's
exceptionally rich & detailed statement before
TOP 100, doc 27).
The ancillary reports included below describe
Maximiliano Vallecillo's capture and the
physical landscape of the Murra district, and show the Marines' growing
familiarity with their "theatre of operations" and dogged determination to "corner" and "bag"
the "bandits," among other things. The statement by Maximilano,
referenced in this document, has not been found.
17 December, 1928
... 9. Miscellaneous:
In the last report there was included a
statement made by Maximiliano Vallecillo, the
former sergeant-major of Sandino's captured by
Captain Holmes in October. Below is the
substance of an interview with the brother on 8
December: "Have just been down and checked
up on Emilio Vallecillo, the brother of
Maximiliano Vallecillo. Reference B-2 Report,
12-3-28, p. 6, par. 9(a). There is such a man.
Was at Leon in Guardia up to 6 mos. ago, now at
Chinandega in Guardia. The only purpose this bit
of information serves is to confirm
Maximiliano's truthfulness. His account in the
B-2 Report is in the main true and checked with
information in hands of Captain Edson in regard
to military maneuvers, dispositions, etc.
"I talked with [Maximiliano] Vallecillo on
several occasions at Murra in October. He
impressed me as being desirous of telling the
truth. However too much reliance can be placed
in what begins as hearsay. He was glad to be
captured, said that bandit morale was crumpling,
and that Jiron was on the staff, Sandino
distrusted him (Jiron) and keeps him "vigilado"
(watched closely, i.e., virtually a prisoner).
"The Edson contact at Ililihuas on Aug. 7
resulted in such a terrible thrashing to Jiron,
32 dead, that I don't believe Sandino will risk
another major contact unless cornered, the
latter being a condition unlikely and difficult
to bring about. Being forced to move about all
the time to avoid Marine patrols is making an
ass out of him and his jefes in the eyes of
"This with loss of shelter, clothes, ammunition,
and food is hastening the demoralization of his
forces. The destruction of every bandit shelter
possible, even old ones, is of value for these
locations are known by all bandits and are used
again and again by bandit bands as they pass to
and fro. Some of them are quite elaborately
fixed up with fireplaces, bunks, skin blankets,
On Maximiliano Vallecillo, see also
Lt. Holmes, Report of Capture of Maximiliano
Vallecillo, 14 Oct 1928
Rockey, Description and Map of Murra Area, no
date, ca. 10 Oct 1928
San Albino - 1600/
We have made hasty copy. Quilali has already
been ordered to send patrol to Rempujon. Please
have planes drop Holmes word of this. K. E.
Map: Kenyon's Northern Nueva Segovia.
From: CO, 52nd Company. Oakland. Oct. 14,
To: Major Rockey, San Albino
Dear Major: I picked up three prisoners,
Maximiliano Vallecillo, Rafael Silva, and
Concepcion Alvarado, about half a mile south of
here yesterday. The first named man had papers
which identify him as a "sergeant major" of
Sandino's . The second had a .38 Colt revolver
and ten cartridges. By much questioning and some
scaring we've boiled down the following: Sandino
himself was in a place called Chupon on Oct.
12th. As well as we can establish it, Chupon is
at a point one inch in prolongation of Cr. de
Oro: 1 inch above source. Sandino on Oct. 12th
had begun to establish three outposts: [Simon]
Gonazlez and 25 or 30 men at San Gregorio; Gens.
Montoya and Juan J. Colindres and Col. Manuel
Barahona with the same number at intersection of
trail N.E. San Pedro de Colindres, and trail
N.E. from Tamis along W band of Rio Tamis; Cols.
Montoya (there are two of the same name) and
Ferdinando Quintero on the Tamis-Congojas trail
where this trail leaves the ridge bordering the
E. fork of the Rio Tamis. The men in each
position are the same in number. Sandino has
relieved Jiron from troop command and carries
him on his staff with two or three officers and
as many mozos [workers], away from troops. I am
marching at 0645 Monday, 15th, by a trail not
shown on map to the center ambush position,
thence to the Eastern position. If I find
nothing in either I may wait one day for Edson.
I shall then return via Tuma to meet Hall and
Humphrey in Murra. I am sending Hall from San
Gregorio to Santa Rosa-Groteras-Las Flores-El
Palacio-Tamis-San Pedro-Murra. Humphrey to cover
trails in San Pedro de Colindres and patrol
thence according to information he may get.
Request that you send patrol if practicable,
from San Albino or Quilali to close possible
exit through Rempujon. We shall make rendezvous
in Murra on Thursday, 18th, if practicable.
Please inform Area Commander of these plans. In
general, dope seems good. Sandino has one Lewis
alleged to be taken from a plane, three B.A.R.'s
[Browning Automatic Rifles], one Thompson.
Plenty of ammunition for these -- 25 to 70
rounds per soldier. Has 5 bombardiers each with
only the bombs (dynamite) he can carry. Total
strength outside of Guardias Civicas, 80.
Click on image for full view
[ From Rockey, San Albino ]
The patrol from Jalapa to Mina Americana via Los
Encinos can make their objective in one day
easily. Jenkins with a patrol last March made
Murra from Jalapa in one day (about 9 hours) and
returned the following day.
La Paz can be reached in one day (10-11 hours)
from San Albino.
The Murra River forms a steep canyon. There are
two bull cart trails into Murra, one from Pie de
la Cuesta and Carmen which enters along a creek
bed from the west and one that winds over the
hilltops southwest of Murra and enters in plain
view of San Pedro. It winds down the face of the
canyon, affords no cover and should be avoided.
A short cut leaves this bull cart trail on the
heights a few miles from Murra and affords an
approach with better cover and with good
observation. However, in view of the extreme
heights around the town the enemy can very
easily observe any patrol going into Murra from
any direction in the daytime.
From Murra north the trail runs up on the west
bank of the canyon and comes into full view from
the ridge above Plantel long before one reaches
that place. Concealment along this trail is
practically impossible. From Plantel to X on the
attached sketch, every foot of the trail was
ambushed for north-going troops last January.
The terrain is part forest and part large ferns
which afford excellent ambush positions. La Paz
and Oakland lie in a hollow about 200 feet below
the trail, which is on the crest of the
knife-like ridge above them. A ridge spurs out
to the east and the trail drops steeply down as
it enters the valley between La Paz and Oakland.
Any group that failed to put a sentry at I on
the trail fork just south of it would be very
If a force at San Pedro moved out after a Marine
patrol arrived in Murra, they would have the
Murra River bed trail open to the south. They
could move along the Murra to Monchones and then
towards Remangon or via Santa Ana and Sapotillal
into the San Juan area.
If Sandino is at San Pedro, which seems likely,
his best outpost system is: (1) Flores, -- from
which he can see the Tamis River bed, and the
approach from Division de Aguas and Rempujon,
(2) the peak above Alexander's burned house -B-
from which he can see every approach into Murra
except along the river bed from the south, (3)
Sacramento,- from which he can observe the south
trails (one on each side of the river) and (4)
the crest just north of Plantel, from which he
can see all trails into Plantel.
If Edson strikes first from the Tamis Valley,
the San Albino patrol will prevent Sandino's
going west and will drive him north, probably,
into Holmes while the American detail will
prevent his using that trail to get around
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - -
[ text accompanying map: ]
"A" can be reached by
dawn, leaving San Albino or Jicaro in the
evening after dark. ++ looks straight across the
canyon at San Pedro and might be concealed and
still prevent any use of the river-bed trail in
either direction. Rempujon is the Palacios sugar
mill on the ridge north of Chipote. Can be
reached via Monchones from Quilali or San
Albino. Navas says the advance is at La Paz.
Line of withdrawal would appear to be south. Any
patrol from Encinos will have difficulty getting
past X without being seen. La Paz & Oakland are
backed on the east by steep hills. Retreat could
be east across these or directly south down the
valley to Corona-San Pedro trail. Plantel cannot
be approached from any direction without
visibility at 600-800 yards. The trail southeast
from San Pedro goes to Rempujon then
Chipote-Division de Aguas, etc., and gives easy
access to Rempujon and Wiwili. &f Rempujon were
ambushed. And a heavy Browning outpost secretly
established at A, a column from Los Encinos,
might drive a bagful out of San Pedro.
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