Indian Slaves in the Rocky Mountains

Search Fold3 for your
Native American Records

All through the Rocky Mountains, except in what we have called the northeastern triangle, this system of human slavery extended, and it had obtained such a root that it was very hard to extirpate. In Colorado it was brought to a summary end, so far as white slaveholders were concerned, in 1865, through the efforts of the government. Indian Agent Head, accompanied by Deputy Marshall E. R. Harris, visited all owners of Indian slaves and informed them that they must be released. Says Mr. Head, “I have notified all the people here that in future no more captives are to be purchased or sold, as I shall immediately arrest both parties caught in the transaction. This step, I think, will at once put an end to the most barbarous and inhuman practice which has been in existence with the Mexicans for generations. There are captives who know not their own parents, nor can they speak their mother tongue, and who recognize no one but those who rescued [!] them from their merciless captors.” In New Mexico and Arizona the slaves have not yet been fully emancipated. There were twenty Mexican slaves released from among the Navahos in 1883. In 1866 the number of Indians held as slaves and peons by the whites was estimated officially at two thousand. There are undoubtedly many Indian slaves held among the Mexicans in those Territories now, but the system of peonage, and the fact that they are kept in fear of expressing discontent, makes it difficult to release them. In Northern Mexico there are numbers of Indians, of our tribes, still held in slavery, and the officials of Arizona reservations are continually besieged with appeals to restore to our Indians their captive kindred.

The condition of these slaves was as shocking as proclaimed in the Mormon document quoted above. The female captives were nearly always subjected to indignities, both among the Indians and the whites, and among the latter they were frequently made public prostitutes for the gain of their owners. Among the Indians there was also the constant liability of sacrifice for religious purposes. At the death of any person of prominence it was customary to kill one or more captives, who should serve as slaves to the deceased in the spirit world, as has been recounted herein, in the narrative of the captivity of Olive Oatman. Walker (Wacca), the noted Ute chief, who died in 1855, and was buried on a high mountain about twelve miles southeast of Fillmore, Utah, was accorded full honors of this kind. Four Pi-ede slaves, three children and one woman, were buried in the grave with him. Three of them were killed and thrown into the grave; the other was thrown in alive. Among the Chinooks the burial custom was to bind a slave hand and foot and tie him to the corpse, after which they were deposited together in the place of sepulture; after three days the victim was strangled by another slave. The particulars of the treatment that might be anticipated by captives were known to both races, and, as may be imagined, the whole system tended to make their hatred intense. When people are killed, and out of the way, warfare may to some extent be forgotten, but when relatives and friends are held in slavery, there is a constant pressure to rescue them or be revenged. This was a feeling common to both sides, and in regard to women it was perhaps more strong with the Apaches than with the Mexicans. The Apache women were noted for their chastity. In this respect they were far superior to the Mexicans, and equal, if not superior, to any Indians on the continent. The fate to which their captive wives and daughters was doomed often caused poignant sorrow among them. Of course there was not the same effort made by the whites to restore Indian slaves to their tribes that there was to recover Mexican or American slaves. The “axiom” of Aristotle, that ” Barbarians are designed by nature to be slaves,” is one that has always been adopted by superior races when thrown in contact with inferior ones.

The forcible purchase of the Mexican boys by the Boundary Commission was not forgotten by the Mimbreños, who considered it an invasion of their rights. The relations of the parties were soon further complicated through the killing of an Apache by Jesus Lopez, a Mexican teamster. The Apaches insisted that the Americans should hang this man, who undoubtedly deserved hanging. Mr. Bartlett objected to performing such summary justice, but promised to have the offender tried at Santa Fe. The Indians contended, with much show of reason that he ought to be hung there, where the crime was committed. After a lengthy discussion, in which it was urged that the Apaches had recently killed an American on the road between Janos and the mines, for which they had made no reparation, the matter was arranged by paying the mother of the murdered man thirty dollars, and twenty dollars per month thereafter, being the amount of the murderer’s wages. Three weeks later the Indians began stealing the horses and mules belonging to the Commission. They vehemently denied that they were guilty, at first, but soon a pursuing force overtook one of the bands of thieves, and found it commanded by Delgadito (the Slender), a Mimbreños chief, who had slept in the Commissioner’s camp only two nights before. In the course of a month nearly two hundred horses and mules were taken, and at the end of that period the advancement of the work caused Mr. Bartlett to move on with his almost dismounted command. The Mimbreños considered his departure as a victory for them, and always thought that they drove the Americans away.

During the stay of the Commissioner’s party, a number of miners had settled at the Pino Alto gold mines, northwest of the Santa Rita mines, and these remained there when the copper mines were abandoned. They grew in numbers, and the Mimbreños were unable to dislodge them. After several years Mangas Colorado tried to accomplish this end by deceit. He would approach a miner and tell him in a confidential way of wonderful gold mines to which he would escort him, out of personal friendship, only they two must go alone. No one risked a trip with the kindhearted chief, but after several weeks some of the miners happened to compare notes, and the probable treachery was revealed. The next time Mangas appeared at the mines, he was tied up and soundly whipped. It would have been far more politic to have killed him. He never forgave this injury – the greatest that could be inflicted on an Indian – and he certainly avenged it on a royal scale. For years he was the greatest and most vindictive leader of the Apaches. He united himself by marriage with Cochise (Cheis), the principal chief of the Chiricahuas, and also made a marital alliance with the Navahos that gave him great influence in that tribe. Murders and robberies innumerable were committed under his leadership. He succeeded for a long time in keeping together larger bodies of warriors than had ever been known among the Apaches, and in devastating all the regions through which they roamed.

During all this time the Jicarillas were disturbing the peace on the northern side of the Rio Grande settlements. In October, 1849, they committed the massacre of the White party which attracted widespread attention at the time. Mr. White, with his wife and child, was coming to Santa Fe, where he had formerly been a merchant, in company with a wagon train belonging to Mr. Aubrey. They had passed the country considered dangerous, and the Whites started ahead, accompanied by a German named Lawberger, an unknown American, a Mexican, and a Negro. While camped between Rock Creek and Whetstone branch, a party of Jicarillas approached them and demanded presents. White refused, and drove them out of camp. Presently they returned, and were again refused and ordered out Instead of going they opened fire, killing the Negro and Mexican. The others tried to fly, but were killed, excepting Mrs. White and the child, who were taken prisoners. The dead bodies were laid along the road, but were not scalped or stripped, and the Indians concealed themselves. A party of Mexicans soon came along, and began plundering the wagons. The Indians fired on them, but succeeded only in wounding one boy, who was left for dead. He lay quiet until the Indians went away, and then came to Santa F6 and reported the occurrence. A company of dragoons, with Kit Carson as guide, followed the Indians for three or four days before they found them. They made an attack and killed several, but the Indians murdered Mrs. White and the child before they fled. A severe snowstorm came on, from which both aides suffered severely, and rendered farther pursuit impossible. In 1851 these Indians murdered a party of eleven persons who were carrying the mail. After some further hostilities they entered into a treaty with Agent Calhoun, and went on reservations near Fort Webster and Abiquiu, but the treaty was not ratified. Mr. Meriwether, who succeeded Mr. Calhoun in August, 1853, found the Jicarillas on his hands, with no money to provide for them. He told them he could do nothing for them, and turned them out. As they had made no provision for winter, they proceeded to support themselves by theft. In a few months their depredations became so insufferable that the troops were sent after them. Lieutenant Bell had a successful skirmish with them on March 5th, but on March 30th Lieutenant Davidson’s command of sixty men was attacked by two hundred Jicarillas and Utes, and only nineteen men escaped, most of them wounded. A large force of regular and volunteers was then put in the field, and, on July 30th General Garland reported that the Jicarillas had been subdued and bad sued for peace. There was one band, however, that escaped and took refuge among the Utes; these renegades with their allies destroyed the settlement on the Arkansas, and were punished as recorded in the sketch of the Utes hereafter.

The Mescaleros, to the southeast of the Kio Grande settlements, were the Apaches for whose civilization there seemed the best prospect. They were more devoted to agriculture than the others, and consequently had more to lose by war. They exercised the ancient prerogative of thieving to a limited extent for some years, but in the winter of 1854-55 their depredations became so extensive that they could not be tolerated. Captain Ewell, of the 1st Dragoons, was sent against them with one hundred and eighty men. The Mescaleros met them on the Penasco, on the night of January 17th, and fought them all the next day as they advanced. The troops lost three killed, and the Indians were seen to bear away fifteen dead bodies. The Mescaleros retreated in the direction of the Guadalupe Mountains. On February 23d a party of fifteen warriors attacked a grazing camp of four soldiers; surprising them and pulling their tent down upon them, but the soldiers extricated themselves and drove the Indians off with heavy loss. The Mescaleros then concluded that their mission was not fighting the Americans. They came to Agent Steck at Fort Thorne, and begged for peace. Peace was granted, and a reservation was given them in their own country, between the Pecos River and the Sacramento Mountains. The Mescaleros thereafter behaved quite well until the Texan invasion, early in the civil war, but the Mexicans gained in bloodthirstiness what the Indians had lost. In February, 1858, a militia party from Messila, known as the “Messila Guard,” attacked a peaceful Mescalero camp close by the village of Doña Ana, and pursued the Indians into the houses of the Doña Anans, where they fled for refuge. Eight or nine Indians were killed and one child taken captive. The citizens of Doña Ana denounced this affair as a riotous and wanton outrage, though they seemed to object more to the disturbance of themselves than to the wrong done the Indians. In April these same valienies attacked the Mescalero camp on the reservation near Fort Thorne, killed seven and took several prisoners. The garrison was promptly called to arms, and after a brief chase captured thirty-five of the attacking party, including Juan Ortega, their leader. The military authorities were now thoroughly indignant. The officers at the fort knew that these Indians had been peaceable and well behaved, so that Mexican affidavits of outrages committed by them were not effective; and the prisoners were held, notwithstanding the writs of habeas corpus that were issued for their release. General Grarland also determined to withdraw his troops from Fort Thorne and let the valiant Messilans have their fill of Indian fighting. This called forth a petition from the people, in which assertions of their own valor and prayers for protection are ludicrously blended. General Garland left two companies to protect settlers innocent of outrage, but informed others that they ” have no claims to the protection of the military, and will receive none.”

The eastern Apaches remained at peace until the beginning of the war of the rebellion. They were not making any material progress towards civilization, except in the matter of becoming drunkards. The intercourse laws could not be enforced in New Mexico because there were no “Indian lands.” The Mexicans had treated the Indian title as extinct, and we had taken the Mexican title, in consequence of which our legislators assumed that the Indians, who actually held the country, and had held it from the “time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” had no title whatever. To make this absurdity more serious in its results, none of the treaties made with the Apaches were ratified, and therefore the reservations designated for them did not come within the protection of the intercourse laws. The result was that the most of the property that the Jicarillas and Mescaleros got hold of went for aguardiente. The Western tribes continued their piratical warfare. Several expeditions were sent against them, but none resulted in any permanent advantage or any material punishment to the Indians.

At the opening of the war a Pandora’s box of evils was opened over every square mile of New Mexico and Arizona. Among the officers of the army were many Southerners, and these did not hesitate to return to the South. Some tried to take their soldiers with them, but these attempts were generally unsuccessful. Immediately after came an order withdrawing the troops from the frontier posts. This meant a desertion of nearly all the country, for life in it had only been made possible by the presence of the soldiers. The overland mail company abandoned its line through the two territories (one at that time), thus putting an end to all communication. The Western Apaches seemed to have awakened to new life. They pursued their work of murder and robbery with such daring that no safety was possible. Men were killed and ranches plundered in the midst of well settled districts. The Indians seemed to be everywhere.

This activity was occasioned in the first place by a military blunder. In the spring of 1861 some Apaches stole a cow and a child from the Mexican mistress of an American, and, on complaint of the latter at Fort Buchanan, seventy-five men were sent to demand the property of the Chiricahuas, who were accused of the theft. The party went to Apache Pass and camped, with a white flag flying over the tent of the commander. Under its protection Cochise and five other chiefs came in to talk. They professed absolute ignorance of the theft, and stuck to it, on account of which obduracy orders were given to seize them. Cochise seized a knife, slit the canvas, and escaped, carrying with him three bullets. One chief was knocked down and spitted on a bayonet while attempting to follow. The other four were bound. The Indians at once began hostilities by killing some prisoners. The captive chiefs were hung in retaliation, and the Apaches attacked the troops. The latter were badly whipped, and obliged to return to the fort. The abandonment of the posts by the troops soon after on the order of recall was believed by the Indians to have resulted from their hostilities, and they were satisfied that they need only fight if they desired to rid themselves of the Americans. The Arizona settlements, which were at that time all within the Gadsden Purchase, and chiefly in the Santa Cruz Valley, were made desolate. At first ranches were destroyed one after another, and travellers waylaid and murdered. Having accomplished this work thoroughly, the Apaches began operations against the strongholds of their enemies. The silver mines east of Tubac were held for a few weeks; but it was necessary to arm the peons to accomplish this, and arming them forced the Americans in charge to stand guard constantly, to preserve their lives from their employees. The mines were abandoned as soon as their business affairs could be arranged. Tubac was deserted soon afterwards. Tucson dwindled away to a village of two hundred souls.

What was lacking in the desperate nature of the situation was added by the invasion of the Texans. They occupied all of the southern part of New Mexico, and all of what is now Arizona that was occupied by the whites. On the southeast they occupied Fort Stanton, the only post in the Mescalero country. All the Apache tribes except the Jicarillas were within the region held by them, and the Jicarillas were the only Apaches that remained at peace. It is worth remembering that but for the friendly attitude of the Jicarillas and the Utes, New Mexico must almost certainly have fallen into the hands of the Texans. The Mescaleros, who had been behaving well previously, became involved in a quarrel with the Confederate soldiers, and a fight resulted in which several were killed on both sides. The Mescaleros then began an Ishmaelitish war, sparing no one. The settlements which had grown up on the Rio Bonito were quickly devastated, and the war was carried to the villages of the Rio Grande country. On the southwest Mangas Colorado prevented the settlers from suffering the pangs of ennui. Most of the Mimbres went to war immediately after he was flogged by the miners, and the Chiricahuas and Gileños made common cause with them. On the morning of September 27, 1861, a force of over two hundred warriors attacked the mining village of Pino Alto, but fortunately for the people Captain Martin had arrived the night before with a detachment of the Arizona Guards, a volunteer organization, and after several hours’ hard fighting the Indians were driven off with considerable loss. Soon after one hundred and fifty warriors attacked a large wagon train, one day out from Pino Alto, and besieged it for fourteen hours. The train escaped destruction by the timely arrival of the Arizona Guards, who escorted it to the Mimbres River.

Any long continuance of this state of affairs must have been ruinous to New Mexico; but aid was at hand. The Colorado Volunteers marched down from the North, turned back the Texans, and joined Canby in driving them from the Rio Grande. At the same time General Carleton, with a column of three thousand Californians, was advancing by way of Fort Yuma, driving all hostiles before him, and opening communication through to the coast. The combined forces of Mangas Colorado and Cochise made a desperate resistance to his advance at Apache Pass, in the Chiricahua Mountains, but the Californians were supplied with howitzers and shells, and the Apaches found that their positions, which they had made almost impregnable to direct attack, afforded them no protection from these new missiles of their white foes. They fled with a loss of sixty-six killed; the Californians had two killed and three wounded. Just after this engagement Mangas Colorado was seriously wounded while trying to cut off a messenger that was carrying back news of the fight at the pass. He was taken to the village of Janos, in Northern New Mexico, by his warriors, and put under charge of a physician there, with notice that if he did not recover, everyone in the place would be killed. He recovered. A short time after his recovery, early in 1863, he was captured by Captain Shirland of the California Volunteers, and killed while attempting to escape. It is said that the sentinel stirred him up with a heated bayonet and then shot him. It was time for him to die. He was about seventy years old, and had secured all the revenge to which one man is entitled. His skull is said to ornament the phrenological museum of Prof. O. S. Fowler.

General Carleton arrived at the Rio Grande settlements in September, 1862, and relieved Canby, who went to take a glorious part in the great struggle in the South. Carleton, being rid of white enemies, devoted his attention to the subjugation of the Indians. He first sent Col. Kit Carson, with five companies of New Mexican volunteers, to occupy Fort Stanton, from which he was to operate against the Mescaleros and any Navahos that were in that region. Captain McCleave, with two companies of California Volunteers, was sent into the Mescalero country by way of Dog Cañon (Cañon del Perro), from the southwest. Captain Roberts, with two companies of Californians, was sent into the same region from the south, by way of the Hueco (Wacco) tanks. The orders to each command were: “The men are to be slain whenever and wherever they can be found. The women and children may be taken prisoners, but, of course, they are not to be killed.” Carson took possession of Fort Stanton with no material hindrance. McCleave encountered the Apaches at Dog Cañon, which was one of their greatest strongholds. There were about five hundred of them – over a hundred warriors – and they were completely routed by the Californians. They fled to Fort Stanton and surrendered to Carson, who took them under his protection, rather against the sanguinary instructions of Carleton, and sent live of their chiefs to Santa Fe to treat for peace. General Carleton required them to go on a reservation at the Bosque Redondo, on the Pecos River. The spokesman of the Mescaleros was Gian-nah-tah (Always Ready), known to the Mexicans as Cadéte, or the Volunteer. He was a son of Palanquito, their former head chief, who died soon after they were first treated with, in 1855. Gian-nah-tah said, ” You are stronger than we. We have fought you so long as we had rifles and powder; but your weapons are better than ours. Give us like weapons and turn us loose, we will fight you again; but we are worn out; we have no more heart; we have no provisions, no means to live; your troops are everywhere; our springs and water holes are either occupied or overlooked by your young men. You have driven us from our last and best stronghold, and we have no more heart. Do with us as may seem good to you, but do not forget we are men and braves,”

The Mescaleros were sent to the Bosque Redondo with the promise that if they should remain there peaceably until the war was finished, so that they would not be confused with the hostiles, they should be given a reservation in their own country. At the Bosque they came under charge of Colonel Cremony, formerly with the Boundary Commission, to whose intelligent labor the world is indebted for much of its knowledge of Apache customs. It may be mentioned, by the way, that he collected a valuable vocabulary of the Apache language and forwarded it to the Smithsonian Institution over twenty years ago, but it has not yet been published. The Indians came to the Bosque rapidly; by spring four hundred Mescaleros were on the reservation, and the remainder were reported as having fled into Mexico or joined the Gila tribes. The disposal of the Mescaleros gave some opportunity for proceedings against the Mimbreños. An expedition was sent into their country in January, 1853, which resulted in the defeat and capture of Mangas Colorado, with a loss of twenty of his warriors. Fort West was established in the Pino Alto country, and scouting parties were kept in the field. By the latter part of April, forty of the band had been killed, including a brother and one of the sons of Mangas. The attention of the greater part of the troops was turned to the Navahos during the year 1863 and the early part of the next year. By March, 1864, there were 3600 Navahos and 450 Apaches at the Bosque. By the twentieth of that month 2600 more Navahos were reported captured and on their way. Events were occurring in Arizona, however, that soon carried the seat of active operations to that territory. In 1862 Pauline Weaver, the pioneer prospector of Arizona, discovered the placers on the Colorado near La Paz, and in 1863 he found the district that bears his name, southwest of Prescott, and the remarkable mines of Antelope Peak. In the spring of 1863 a party of prospectors under Captain Walker, an old California mining celebrity, left the Rio Grande settlements and went into the same region. The new mines attracted many people, to whom General Carleton gave all the protection and assistance in his power.

In the summer of 1864, his hands were comparatively free in New Mexico, and the troops were centered on the western Apaches. The extermination policy then received as full and fair a trial as could possibly be given to it. The forces were adequate, for every one joined in the movement. On April 20th General Carleton detailed his plans to Don Ignacio Pesquira. Governor of Sonora, saying, “If your excellency will put a few hundred men into the field on the first day of next June, and keep them in hot pursuit of the Apaches of Sonora, say for sixty or ninety days, we will either exterminate the Indians or so diminish their numbers that they will cease their murdering and robbing propensities and live at peace.” To Don Luis Perrazas, Governor of Chihuahua, a similar request was forwarded. The miners in the new districts of Arizona agreed to keep a force in the field if the government would furnish provisions, and this General Carleton did. The Pimas and Maricopas were furnished with American leaders, and given over two hundred muskets, with ammunition. The governors of Arizona and New Mexico were requested to aid, and did so. To Governor Goodwin, of Arizona, Carleton wrote: “Pray see the Papagos, Pimas, and Maricopas, and have that part of the programme well and effectually executed.

You will be able to secure the efforts of the miners without trouble. Let us work earnestly and hard, and before next Christmas your Apaches are whipped. Unless we do this, you will have a twenty years’ war.” For his own part Carleton located a force of five hundred men on the Gila, north of the Chiricahua Mountains, to operate from that point. Could a plan be more perfect? Here was a combination of the military, citizens, and friendly Indians of two nations against the Apaches. They all went into it heartily, with a sincere hatred of the enemy, and with many old scores to pay off. The of repeated orders were to kill every male Indian capable of bearing arms, and capture the women and children. It is not possible to give here even a synopsis of the fights that occurred. The brief mention of the encounters with Indians in the general orders for the year covers six such pages as these, in fine print. The results of the year’s work, so far as they could be obtained, were officially summed up thus: Indians killed, 363 wounded, 140; soldiers killed, 7 wounded, 25; citizens killed, 18 wounded, 13; recovered from Indians 12,284 sheep, 2742 horses, 35 mules, 31 cattle, and 18 burros; taken by Indians, 4250 sheep, 26 horses, 154 mules, and 32 cattle. The greater part of the damage done was to the Navahos, who, to the number of over two thousand, were sent to the Bosque Rodondo, taking with them most of the sheep that were reported as captured. For the Apaches alone the returns sum up, 216 Indians and 16 whites killed; 146 horses captured by Indians, and 54 recovered; 17 cattle taken by Indians, and 21 taken from them; 3000 sheep taken by Indians, and 175 recovered. The loss to the whites was not fully reported, and the Indians were much damaged in addition to this by the destruction of their crops. Nearly all the Apaches planted to some extent in the sheltered valleys of their wildernesses.

This war was conducted on strictly extermination principles. It is true that removal to the Bosque was named as an alternative, but only thirty western Apaches ever reached the Bosque, from all sources. The troops were constantly stimulated to activity. Failure was the only offence that could be committed, and success was approved, no matter how obtained.

By way of example, the general orders for 1864 contain the following: “January 24th.  A party of thirty Americans and fourteen Pima and Maricopa Indians under Col. King S. Woolsey, aid to the governor of Arizona, attacked a band of Gila Apaches, sixty or seventy miles northeast of the Pima villages, and killed nineteen of them and wounded others. Mr. Cyrus Lennon, of Woolsey’s party, was killed by a wounded Indian.” That does not read badly, but it is not the whole truth. This party started out to hunt for stock supposed to have been stolen by the Indians. They were signaled by a party of Coyotéros and Pinals, who dared them to come and fight. Woolsey sent an interpreter to them to tell them that he did not wish to fight, but to make peace. On his invitation thirty-five of them came into the camp with their arms. The chief, Par-a-muck-a, insolently ordered Woolsey to clear a place for him to sit upon, as he was a great chief. Woolsey calmly folded up a blanket and handed it to him. He then told the Apaches that he would make a treaty with them and give them certificates of good conduct such that no white man would ever molest them, his men were gathered about in preparation for the treaty. Woolsey drew his revolver and gave Par-a-muck-a the Arizona certificate of a “good Indian ” at the first shot. His men signed on the bodies of the others. Only one Indian a lame man who could not run away affixed his signature. He did it with his lance, on the person of Mr. Lennon. This is historically known as “the Pinal treaty,” and the place is appropriately called “Bloody Tanks.”

This occurrence is not mentioned in any spirit of ”mawkish sentimentality,” but merely to show that the extermination policy had a fair trial. These Indians would undoubtedly have murdered their new white friends if they had obtained the opportunity. They are entitled to no compassion on the ground of treachery used against them. The Apache makes war by treachery. His object is to harm his enemy but to escape uninjured, and he thinks that a man who walks up to open danger is a fool. Ho will go into dangerous places himself, but he goes by stealth. He never attacks except by surprise. He is brave, but he has no ambition to die a soldier’s death. Apache glory consists strictly in killing the enemy. A wounded or helpless Apache will fight like a demon to protect his friends, but a sound Apache would never take such risks to bear away a wounded compatriot as a Sioux or Cheyenne warrior would. Of necessity, this warfare had its effects on the Apache the way of making peace seem more endurable, but they were neither exterminated nor conquered. In April, 1865, Inspector general Davis held a parley with Victoria, Acosata, and other chiefs, among Pasquin, Cassari, and Salvador, the sons of Mangas Colorado. The Indians were very destitute, and wanted peace, but they did not wish to leave their country. The iron rule, of removal to the Bosque, staggered them. They agreed to send four chiefs to inspect the reservation and report to the tribe, but none of them came back, as they promised, and the war went on as before.

At the close of the war of the rebellion the United States was divided into five Military Divisions, and these were subdivided in nineteen Departments. New Mexico was put in the Department of the Missouri, commanded by Major general Pope, which was a part of the Military Division of the Mississippi, commanded by General Sherman. Arizona was in the Department of California, commanded by Major general McDowell, which was a part of the Military Division of the Pacific, commanded by Maj. gen. H. W. Halleck. The extermination theory was believed in by General Halleck, so far at least as the Apaches were concerned. He said, “It is useless to negotiate with these Apache Indians. They will observe no treaties, agreements, or truces. With them there is no alternative but active and vigorous war, till they are completely destroyed, or forced to surrender as prisoners of war.” The hostile Apaches were nearly all in Arizona, which was commanded by Brigadier general Mason, and the war there was prosecuted much as before, or, if possible, more bitterly. Both sides were becoming more and more exasperated, and vented their spleen in ways that only served to make matters worse. The Indians were adopting the practice of mutilating the dead, which was formerly contrary to their customs. The whites frequently killed inoffensive Indians on general principles. In 1868 a man named Mitchell causelessly killed Waba Yuma, head chief of the Hualapais, and that tribe, which had been peaceable, went to war. They had been looked upon with the contempt that frontiersmen commonly feel for peaceable Indians, but they proved vicious enemies. General McDowell reported that, “the officers from Prescott say they would prefer fighting five Apaches to one Hualapais.”

In the mean time trouble had come at the Bosque. The question of a permanent reservation at that point became a political one, and everything connected with it passed into the realms of misrepresentation, so that the truth is hard to reach. It is clear, however, that the reservation crops failed, or were destroyed by insects, year after year. It is also clear that the Navahos and Apaches did not get along well together. The Navahos were the stronger in numbers, and appeared to have the ear of the commanding officer. After the Mescaleros had been at the Bosque for two years, the land which they had been cultivating was taken from them and given to the Navahos, while they were assigned to another location. This was done to prevent quarrelling, but to the Mescaleros it appeared an act of favoritism. There could be no harmony between them and the Navahos. They had long been at war, and their customs were totally different. The Mescaleros claimed the fulfillment of General Carleton’s promise that they should have a reservation in their own country; indeed. Agent Labodie testifies that they had looked forward to this all the time, and had used their influence in bringing in their own hostiles solely for that purpose. They were not removed. The Bosque reservation for all Apaches and Navahos had become General Carleton’s pet scheme. On November 3, 1805, the entire tribe of Mescaleros left the Bosque and went to their own country. They went to war because they knew that leaving the reservation would be considered an act of war, and that they must fight or go back. One of their leading men, Ojo Blanco (White Eye[1]), had left several weeks prior to this time with a small party. After several years of desultory warfare, during which the anti-Bosque party had gained their point, and the tribes were returned to their former homes, the Mescaleros were settled on a reservation in their own country.

The military operations of the ’60′s were not devoid of results. New Mexico had a season of comparative quiet, in the better settled parts, and Arizona was yielding to the progress of civilization. The valley of Santa Cruz was again filled with ranche men. Tubac was reoccupied, and Tucson regained its lost population. The raining regions on the Colorado and about Prescott were held by the whites. Yet, in fact, there was merely a change in the seat of war. The Apaches held mountain fastnesses, as yet unknown, from which they sallied forth to raid into the very heart of the settlements. No one dared to travel the roads unarmed, and small parties were not safe when they had arms. Horses were run off in broad day from within half a mile of Prescott. Men who were not vigilant were liable to be killed anywhere. No Apache tribe was subdued. The later years of this period found them at war from the Pecos to the Colorado. The bitterness and want of confidence which had been instilled into the Indians by this system of warfare are results which are not subject to measurement, but it must, in fairness, be admitted that they did follow in some degree. On the whole the policy of extermination in Arizona, coupled with concentration in New Mexico, proved a dismal failure, after a full and fair trial. The army officers began to realize this, and Indians who were willing to make peace were permitted to gather about Fort Goodwin, Camp Grant, and in the White Mountains. This marked the beginning of a new era in Arizona, which will be considered in a subsequent chapter.


   (↵ returns to text)

  1. The Apache words for “white eye” are Pin-dah Lirk-o-yee, and this is the name they use to designate Americans, in their own language. We are “white eyes,” not “pale faces.” to them. They also use the word Americano in common with other tribes who are more or less versed in Spanish.

MLA Source Citation:

Dunn, Jacob Piatt. Massacres of the mountains: a history of the Indian wars of the far West. Harper & brothers, 1886. Web. 20 April 2014. - Last updated on Sep 25th, 2013

Categories: , , ,
Topics: , ,

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.