In April 1915, Villa had suffered his hitherto most devastating defeats in the two battles at Celaya. In another engagement in the first week of June, at the battle of León, Obregón again won decisively against Villa’s Division of the North. Observers noted admiringly that Obregón had studied German techniques in the battles raging in France. The German influence in the Mexican general’s techniques came into the open through a Hearst reporter embedded with the Carranzistas. He handed a report from Captain Juan Rosales, a Carranzista living in El Paso, to the Bureau of Investigations: 

General Obregón had his arm shot off early in the fifth, and then Krum [sic] Heller took charge. He had five German officers with him. None of them went into the field, but as every Mexican officer had been instructed by Obregón to obey Heller, he and his Germans sat in a little tent away from the firing line and made maps. On several occasions they rode out to hills and looked at everything through their field glasses. Then they would return to their tent. I was attached to Col. Heller’s staff. Late that night Col. Heller sent for every Carranzista officer. Some of them regarded them as foolish and threatened to disobey, but Heller again produced an order signed by General Obregón commanding every Carranzista officer to obey him (Heller) [.] That settled the matter and the fight soon began. It did not last long. Villa was whipped and then retreated. Heller gave more instructions and our army advanced. Villas [sic] was whipped again and retreated. Heller again followed him and whipped him again. This was the end if Villa’s army.
Obregon after the Battle of Leon in 1915

Obregon after the Battle of Leon in 1915

Villa went on to fight another day. However, after a series of devastating defeats at the hand of Obregon and with the help of the American government, Villa disbanded the Division of the North in December 1915 and headed into the Sierra Madres. Villa died at the hands of assassins in 1923, likely under orders from then President Obregon.  Obregon himself was assassinated in 1928. However, his arm lived on as a relic of the Mexican Revolution until 1989. The New York Times reported on the cremation of the infamous arm:

After nearly 75 years, one of the most grisly relics of the Mexican Revolution has finally been laid to rest. But the interment of what remained of the right arm of General Alvaro Obregon is not likely to erase the talismanic qualities Mexicans have long associated with both the limb and the man. Obregon, a hero of the Mexican Revolution who went on to become a president feared and admired for his ruthlessness, lost the arm at the elbow during a battle on June 3, 1915. For the last 54 years, the limb had been on display in a jar of formaldehyde at a large pink and black marble monument here, surrounded by inscriptions praising the general as a ‘military genius’ and a ‘paladin of the institutions’ that prevail in Mexico today.
The rest of Obregon’s body was buried in his home state of Sonora after he was assassinated on July 17, 1928, shortly after being elected to a second term of office that many historians believe he intended to use to establish a dictatorship. In recent years, alarm over the advancing decay of the limb has given rise to a debate on whether to make his body whole again by removing the arm from its pedestal just beneath a giant statue of the general.
’It’s really depressing to see it, and something needs to be done,’ Abel Cervantes, a former director of the Alvaro Obregon Civic Association, said this summer.
The novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez suggested that ‘they should just replace it with another arm,’ implying that the limb’s mystical aura and historical symbolism mattered more than its physical preservation.
The whole matter originally was to have been settled this summer, with a ceremonial cremation of the arm on the anniversary of Obregon’s assassination attended by troops and government luminaries. But those plans were canceled after some of the general’s descendants objected...In his memoirs, the general wrote that the pain he suffered when the grenade exploded near him as he directed his troops ‘was so prolonged and agonizing’ that ‘I pulled a pistol from my belt and fired into my left temple hoping to consummate the job that the shrapnel had not finished.’
As legend has it, an adjutant wrested the pistol from his intact left hand, and the general’s date with destiny was postponed for 13 years. The arm was preserved during that time by the doctor who amputated it.

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