|Earlier American intervention in Mexico had not resulted in stability; instead there was continued civil war. By the end of 1915, stability seemed to be at hand, and the United States had fully recognized the government of Venustiano Carranza.
General "Pancho" Villa did not accept the status quo, and thus schemed to involve the United States in a war with Mexico. On January 10, he stopped a train in Northern Mexico, and seized 17 young American engineers, killing 16 of them on the spot. Two months later he sent raiders into New Mexico, killing 19 Americans and burning down the town of Columbus.
The United States sent a force, under the command of General Pershing, to pursue Villa. They were under orders not to become involved with regular Mexican Army troops.
Pershing's force numbered 6,000 men and penetrated as far as 350 miles into Mexico. The Mexican government, which had at first approved the American actions under the assumption that the military force would be small, demanded American withdrawal. A number of incidents almost precipitated a war, but the growing threat of American involvement in the European war convinced President Wilson to withdraw the American troops.