An Elegant Solution for a Delicate Problem
On June 8, 1924, Mexican President Alvaro Obregon, who had a rather distinguished military record during the Mexican Revolution, reviewed a joint parade of the U.S. 25th Infantry and the Mexican 64th Cavalry, at Nogales, Mexico.
By honoring Obregon with a formal review, the U.S. was taking an important step in restoring friendly Mexican relations with Mexico, soured by the blundering policies of the Wilson Administration and the megalomaniacal ambitions of Mexican rebel Pancho Villa, who between them had very nearly led to war between the two countries less than a decade earlier.
Needless to note, concern for the possibility of offense ran high. Mexicans were very sensitive about the presence of American troops on their soil, even if only for a review by their own president. And Americans were equally sensitive about the presence of Mexican troops on their soil. In the end a truly solomonic solution was adopted.
Near the railroad station in Nogales, Mexico, just over the border from the U.S., there was a broad, level area that actually straddled the international frontier. So Obregon and his staff stood on Mexican soil, while the 64th Cavalry marched past on the Mexican side of frontier, followed, almost immediately and just a few feet to their right, by the 25th Infantry, just a few inches across the border on American soil.
“A Good General is Always on Duty!”
Lucius Ulpius Marcellus was the Roman governor of Britain from about A.D. 180 to about 184. He had been given the post by the Emperor Commodus (who was even nastier than the character portrayed in the recent film Gladiator), because not only were the barbarians conducting irksome raids across the frontier from Caledonia (i.e., Scotland), but apparently also because the local Roman garrison was restless. In fact, the legions in Britain had actually attempted a coup when word came that Commodus had succeeded his father, Marcus Aurelius.
Ulpius Marcellus was a fine commander. He seems to have campaigned against the Caledonians A.D. 184 and seems to have put them in their place rather nicely. By then, of course, he had already tamed his legions. The historian Dio Cassius records that although “haughty and arrogant,” he was also “incorruptible” and “temperate and frugal, always living like a soldier in the matter of his food as well as in everything else when he was at war.”
The good general had a novel technique for keeping his men alert after dark. Before retiring each evening Ulpius Marcellus would prepare as many as a dozen sets of orders for various officers. He would then have an aide distribute these at various times during the night, creating the illusion that the general – who did keep long hours – was always awake.