An Aztec Squadron Surprises the Huaxtecs, 1454 CE

The Aztecs frequently employed a ruse, pretending to retreat in order to draw an enemy into an area especially prepared for ambush. When Motecuhzoma I faced a particularly fearsome army of Huaxtecs during his invasion of northern Veracruz, he ordered 2,000 troops to dig holes and conceal themselves under straw. The regular army then executed a successful feint at their center and began to disengage in retreat. The eager Huaxtecs followed in hot pursuit. Once they had passed into  their midst, the secret army then literally rose from the ground and slaughtered the terrified enemy. Such war by deception; it was only executed successfully with careful planning, effective signaling, and perfect unit maneuvering.

The Huaxtecs spoke a language closely related to that of the Maya in Central America but linguists still debate when they actually established themselves on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. The Aztecs described them as frightening in their appearance with heads purposefully elongated or flattened, having had their skulls bound as infants. Some had their teeth filled to points and many sported intricate tattoos. Many shunned the maxtlatl or breech clout, and they were accused of being lascivious drunkards.

According to one legend Tezcatilpoca seduced the daughter of the King of Tollan by posing as a Huaxtec chili seller, the “chili” in mind referring to the Huaxtec’s member.

(Adam Hook and Johl Pohl for Osprey)