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Clarence Lininger letters from the California-Mexican border, 1910-1911
03/21/01 T03/15/01 T
Collection Overview


Clarence Lininger letters from the California-Mexican border, 1910-1911
Letters from the California-Mexican border, 1910-1911


Lininger, Clarence., creator


This collection consists of 58 holograph letters, 55 of which were written by Lieut. Clarence Lininger to his wife, Ora, while she was residing at the Presidio in San Francisco, or visiting family back East. Letters from Sept. 15 to Oct. 11, 1910 were mailed from Atascadero; letters from Feb. 4 to March 14, 1911 from Calexico; letters from May 16, 1911 to Oct. 24, 1911 from Yosemite. Two letters (May 28, 1911 and Oct. 24, 1911) were sent by Lininger to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Lininger, in Greenfield, Indiana; another of Oct. 11, 1911 was sent by Ora Lininger to her mother-in-law. There are a few miscellaneous items, including a letter to Clarence Lininger from Maria Tindoe, a Phillipine woman who formerly worked for the Liningers.
These letters document a short period of Lininger's service with the 1st U.S. Cavalry while he was stationed in California. Three times from Sept. 1910 to Oct. 1911 Lininger was sent into the field and wrote almost daily letters documenting his activities to his wife, Ora (most addressed 'Girl dear'). The first group of letters dates from the fall of 1910 when Lininger went on maneuvers with other California and U.S. troops at Atascadero. He describes their training exercises with some humor and recounts arrangements made for a big maneuver and vast expenditure of ammunition in honor of the visiting Governor Gillette. "Of course he wants to see the boys shoot their guns."
The most involving correspondence occurs during February and March of 1911 when Lininger is sent to Calexico during the initial period of the Mexican Revolution. Across the border in Mexicali the insurgents led by Simon Berthold and Jose Maria Leyva are garrisoned in the town while General Vega of the Mexican Federales is marching from Ensenada to oppose them. The U.S. troops are in Calexico to observe and protect American interests during this unstable period on the border. Lininger mentions reviewing the rules of neutrality under which the U.S. troops were operating and asks his wife to send his copy of 'International law'.
Lininger frankly presents his views of some of the major figures active in the Border Region during this time and offers pithy comments on the unfolding events. Feb. 10/11: Lininger and his commanding officer Capt. Babcock meet with Simon Berthold to discuss Berthold's desire to purchase arms in the U.S. "[Berthold] said he was an American born citizen fighting for a principle. He thought he should be allowed to purchase arms and supplies in the U.S. if he wanted. Babcock explains that our orders prevented our allowing this but that he has wired for further instructions and answer might be expected any time." Feb. 12: Lininger goes on a reconnaissance trip and draws a map of Mexicali showing the Mexican positions there. Feb. 14: Gen. Tasker Bliss arrives to survey the situation for the politicians in Washington. "Gen. Bliss and Maj. Winship will be down tomorrow to pry into the situation. The Gen. has kept wires hot but I guess information was coming too slow by that method."
Feb. 16: The two Mexican forces meet and the insurgents win the day at the battle of Mexicali. "You have probably read glowing newspaper accounts of the Battle of Mexicali. ... It was nearly as exciting as a polo game." Feb. 20: Lininger is sent to Holtville to ascertain the relationship between the local I.W.W. group and the Mexican insurgents. "Holtville is the place where the first band of insurrectos was organized in January. The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) has a lodge there and preaches socialism. They are aiding the insurrectos tho I was not able to get any direct evidence."
In response to the developing situation the Taft administration sends additional troops to the border region in early March. Lininger sums up his view of the situation as it stands on March 14 in his last letter from Calexico, "... and I doubt if they have a very clear idea at Dept. Hdqrs. what the mobilization of the army means. They seem to be rather close mouthed in Washington. The insurgents and Mexican officials here are pussled too. I have asked some of the former what they would do if the U.S. decided to move into Mexico and they say they would quit. "What is the use of fighting you fellows?" they say. The Mexican officials say it would mean that the people would rise en masse against the Diaz government and overthrow it. If the American and other interests are in such jeopardy that intervention becomes necessary I don't believe we can give consideration to Diaz, Madero, or the Liberal Party. Yet relations with Diaz have always been so cordial that to save him I believe the U.S. will delay intervention until the last moment to give him every opportunity to restore his government. I don't believe any other troops than the regulars will be needed to pacify Mexico. With the exception of a very few organizations Mexico has no army worthy the name. So much for public questions."
The later correspondence during May-June of 1911 is sent from Yosemite where Lininger is to spend the season in the newly designated national park (the U.S. Army was in charge of the park until the National Park Service was created in 1916). Ora is expected to join him shortly and his letters detail the preparations being made for her arrival.


1910 (issued)


n-us-ca -- n-mx--
Lininger, Clarence -- Correspondence
Soldiers -- California -- Correspondence
United States. -- Army. -- Cavalry, 1st. -- History
Mexican-American Border Region -- History -- 20th century
Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920
United States -- Foreign relations -- Mexico
Yosemite National Park (Calif.) -- History


Finding-aid title, "Lininger"
Clarence Lininger was born on Oct. 26, 1880 in Indiana and attended high school in Wabash. At a young age he determined not to continue the farming life of his family but to pursue a military career instead. His first opportunity came in 1898 during the Spanish-American War and Lininger then joined the Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He remained in the Volunteer Infantry for three years, serving in Cuba during the brief U.S. occupation after the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War, 1899-1901. In the Philippines he was actively engaged in guerrilla combat and earned promotion to Corporal and then First Sergeant. As his service there drew to a close, Lininger had an opportunity to test for acceptance into the United States Army as an officer; he passed and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1901.
Lininger's subsequent military career included the following: service in California on the border with Mexico during the opening of the Mexican Revolution in 1911; a decoration for gallantry during General Pershing's campaign against Pancho Villa in 1916; overseas duty in England, France and Germany during World War I, and various assignments in the United States until his retirement as a Colonel in 1943 after serving as commanding officer at Fort Hamilton, New York. Lininger then continued in the military as a member of the New York National Guard, retiring as a Brigadier General in 1949. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart and many campaign medals.
Clarence Lininger was married in 1907. He and his wife, Ora, raised at least two children, John and Louise. In 1964, Lininger published "The Best war at the time", an account of his early years and his military service in the Philippines. He died in November of 1969 in Nassau, New York.
Clarence Lininger letters from the California-Mexican border, 1910-1911
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.



Physical Description:

1 ms. box (63 items) : ill.






Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.