Is Pancho Villa’s “Punitive Expedition” the same as the “Mexican Expedition?”
The 1916-1917 action was originally called the “Punitive Expedition,” but today it is officially known as the “Mexican Expedition.” It’s also been called the “Pancho Villa Expedition.”
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. Punitive is considered a condescending term. With the passage of time, folks thought it more diplomatic to rename it the “Mexican Expedition.”
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.