Lee Christmas - Central America - Battle of La Ceiba

Battle of La Ceiba

They had better luck the following year, with a reorganized force supplied with US Army surplus Colt Model 1895 machine guns. Bonilla's rebels captured Trujillo and Ironia, and cemented their victory at the Battle of La Ceiba on January 25, 1911. Christmas used his machine guns for fire support of the infantry with interlocking fields of fire, inflicting some six hundred casualties on the government forces.

This is believed to be the first time automatic weapons were so used, and La Ceiba was studied by military professionals in Europe and the Americas. This tactical use of machine guns would become standard practice in the First World War. Bonilla resumed the presidency of Honduras, with Christmas as his military commander, but Bonilla's sudden death in 1913 forced Christmas into exile once more.

For the next ten years, reports surfaced of Christmas being seen throughout Latin America. It may be that Zemurray invoked the threat of an appearance by Christmas to intimidate recalcitrant clients. His presence in the Mexican Revolution as an aide to Emiliano Zapata is impossible to confirm.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Christmas returned to Louisiana and died in New Orleans, one day before the thirteenth anniversary of his victory at La Ceiba. The New York Times article remembering him was titled, "Gen. Lee Christmas, A Dumas Hero In Real Life."

He was widely written about in his lifetime, and is believed to be the inspiration for Richard Harding Davis' novels Captain Macklin and Soldiers of Fortune.

The University of Tennessee has papers donated by Mrs. Marion Samson of Abilene, Texas in 1958. They include correspondence to and from Christmas, and an invitation to his wedding to Ida Culotta at Puerto Cort├ęs, Honduras, in 1914.

Author Lucius Shepard wrote about him in American Monsters: 44 Rats, Blackhats, and Plutocrats, edited by Jack Newfield and Mark Jacobson.

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