CHAPTER XIII. TROUBLES WITH THE INDIANS (Continued).
Another difficulty arose between the Commissioner and the Apaches upon the killing of an Apache by one of Bartlett's men, the Apaches contending with forcible logic and conclusive oratory, that the murderer should, then and there, be executed in their presence. Of this occurrence, Commissioner Bartlett gives the following account:‘‘
About one o'clock word was brought to me, that an Indian had been shot by Jesus Lopez, the Mexican teamster to whom I have before alluded. I at once ran to my door, and saw the greatest consternation in the place. The Indians, of which there were many about us at the time, were screaming and running in all directions, as though fearful of a general rising and massacre of their people. Our own party, too, were in great alarm, and every man ran for his arms, not knowing but that the Indians, who had so often been treacherously dealt with by the whites, might at once attack us, to be revenged for the loss of their companion. Mangus Colorado, Dalgadito and Coletto Amarillo, who were in our camp, seized their arms, and, mounting animals, retreated to a small hill a few
It appeared on examination, that Gordon, a cook, was the only person who witnessed the affair. He states that there was some dispute between Jesus and the Indian, about a whip, belonging to the latter, and which the former wished to buy. Jesus had the whip under his arm, and on failing to agree about it, the Indian attempted to pull it from him. The Mexican, becoming enraged, first picked up a stone, and then seized his rifle. He levelled it at the Indian, when scarcely beyond the reach of the
The wounded man was taken to the hospital where he was attended by the surgeons of the Commission and the escort, and the best possible care taken of him. His wife and mother were in constant attendance, and his friends had access to him at all times. The chiefs were in daily, and expressed their satisfaction with my course. The poor man lingered for a month when he died. I ordered a coffin made for him, and intended having him decently buried; but
The Indians now waited upon us in considerable numbers, accompanied by their chiefs, and demanded that the prisoner should be at once delivered into their hands. I told them that as the offense was committed in our territory, the man must be punished according to our laws. Most of the chiefs were assembled on this occasion, and presented a strange and picturesque appearance, as they were distributed about my quarters in various attitudes. Some standing, others sitting on benches, while the larger number adopted the common Indian position of sitting on their haunches with their knees drawn up before them, clasped by their hands. Had there been room to lie down, that posture would have been preferred. They came professedly as advocates of the woman's cause, and would listen to nothing but the unconditional delivery of the murderer, preferring their demand with considerable eloquence. Three or four would start upon the same point together, and he who could talk the fastest would be allowed to go on with the subject. As in the former controversy with these people, the arguments between the chiefs and myself were taken down. I began by addressing them through Mr. John C. Cremony, the interpreter of the Commission, as follows:‘‘
I am here, as I have told you, in command of the party engaged in making the dividing line between the United States the country of the Americans, and Mexico. I have explained this to you fully before, which you now understand. Beyond this, I have no powers. The great chief of the American people lives far, very far, towards the rising sun. From him I received my orders, and those orders I must obey. I cannot interfere in punishing any man, whether an Indian, a Mexican or an American. There is another great chief who lives at Santa Fe. He is the governor of all New Mexico. This great chief administers the laws of the Americans. He holds a court wherein all persons charged with crimes are judged. He alone can inflict punishment when a man has been found guilty. To this great chief, this governor, I will send the murderer of our Apache brother. He will try him, and, if found guilty, will have him punished according to American laws. Such is all I can do. Such is the disposition I will make of this man. It is all that I have a right to do.’’
Commissioner,—I will propose another plan to the chiefs and captains of the Apaches. This plan is to keep the murderer in chains, as you now see him, to make him work, and to give all he earns to the wife and family of your dead brave. This I will see paid in blankets, in cotton, in beads, in corn, in money or in anything the family may want. I will give them all that is now due this man, and at the end of every month, I will give them twenty dollars more in money or in goods. When the cold season arrives, these women and children will then come in and receive their blankets and cloth to keep them warm, and corn to satisfy their hunger.
Ponce,—You speak well. Your promises are fair. But money will not satisfy an Apache for the murder of a brave! No! thousands will not drown the grief of this poor woman for the loss of her son. Would money satisfy an American for the murder of his people? Would money pay you, Senor Commissioner, for the loss of your child? No! money will not bury your grief. It will not bury ours. The mother
Commissioner,—Your words are good and true. You speak with a heart full of feeling. I feel as you do. All the Americans feel as you do. Our hearts are sad at your loss. We mourn with this poor woman. We will do all that we can to assist her and her family. I know that neither money nor goods will pay for their loss. I do not want the Apache chiefs, my brothers, so to consider it. What I propose is for the good of this family. My wish is to make them comfortable. I desire to give them the aid of which they are deprived by the loss of their protector. If the prisoner's life is taken, your desire for revenge is satisfied. Law and justice are satisfied. But this poor woman and her family get nothing. They remain poor. They have no one to labor for them. Will it not be better to provide for their wants?
The chiefs now exchanged views with each other, all having more or less to say; when Ponce, their principal speaker, said they had all agreed to leave the matter entirely with the mother of the deceased, and that by her decision they would abide. She evidently desired the life of the prisoner. Her desire for revenge, or justice,
Commissioner,—No, I would demand the arrest of the murderer, and would be satisfied to have him punished, as the Apaches punish those who commit murder. Did not a band of Apaches attack a small party of Americans, my countrymen, very lately on the Janos road? Did they not kill one of them, and pierce three others with their arrows? And did they not take from them all their property? Yes, you all know it to be true, and I know it to be true. I passed near the spot where it took place, three days after. The Apaches did not even bury their victim, they left him lying by the roadside, food for the wolves and crows. Why do not the Americans revenge themselves for this act? They are strong enough to do it. They have many soldiers, and in a few days can bring a thousand more here. But there would be no justice in that. The Americans believe that this murder was committed by your bad men, by cowards. The Apaches have bad men among them; but you who are now with us are our friends, and we will not demand redress of you. Yet, as I told you before, you must endeavor to find the man who killed our brother, and punish him. Our animals feed in your valleys; some of your bad men might steal them, as they have already done; but the Americans would not make war on you for this. We hold you responsible, and shall call on you to find them and
The discussion continued in this manner for two hours, the chiefs showing much sagacity in arguing their point. The matter was finally settled very much to my satisfaction and apparently to that of the Indians, by my paying to the mother of the deceased thirty dollars in money, that being the amount due the prisoner. I furthermore agreed to pay her twenty dollars a month, hereafter, the amount of the prisoner's wages. Thus was terminated this unfortunate affair, which, at one time, seemed about to destroy the good understanding which had existed between the members of the Commission and our Indian friends.’’
While the Indians apparently accepted the conclusions forced upon them by the Commission, yet it is a matter of fact that they did not feel themselves bound to comply with the conditions. In other words, it was a treaty accepted under duress, which the Commission paid dearly for, for the Indians stole from them several hundred head of very valuable animals, causing them much loss and delay. Delgadito, one of the chiefs who was present at these interviews, was the leader of the band which committed
At this time gold mines were discovered a few miles from the camp of the Commission, a fact that threatened the existence of a permanent colony of Americans, which, together with the invasion of their country by the Survey Party, the recovery of Inez Gonzales and the two Mexican boys by the Americans and their restoration to their relatives, served to inflame the savage malevolence of the Apaches. All was quiet at the Copper Mines for some weeks, but toward the latter end of July, following, a number of mules belonging to the Commission, and for which Colonel Craig was responsible, could not be found, although the surrounding country was searched for thirty miles, and the conclusion was reached that they had been stolen by the Apaches. Colonel Craig, taking thirty soldiers, visited the camp of Delgadito on the Mimbres River. The Indians were much excited
The Commission was furnished with several styles of newly patented arms, among these some Wesson rifles, which could throw a ball a distance of four hundred yards with comparative accuracy, at that time a remarkable distance. Among the party was Wells, the Commissioner's carriage driver, a good shot, brave and cool. Captain Cremony, who owned one of these Wesson rifles, pointed out Delgadito to Wells, handing him the rifle, and told him to approach as near as possible, take good aim, and bring the rascal down. Wells slipped from tree to tree with great caution and rapidity until he was within two hundred and sixty yards of Delgadito, who, at that moment was slapping his buttocks and defying the Americans in the most opprobious language, a favorite taunt among the Apaches. He uncovered his posteriors to Wells, who, taking deliberate aim, fired. The ball reached its mark and Delgadito, with an unearthly yell, and a series of dances and capers previously unknown to the Apache ballet, being recalled to the consciousness of his exposed position by the whizzing of several more balls in close proximity to his upper end, ceased his salutatory exercises, and rushed frantically through a thick copse, followed by his band.
The command started back for their horses, remounted and again pressed forward in pursuit. In a quarter of an hour they had passed through the woods and opened upon the plain, over which the Apaches were scouring in hot haste. The pursuit lasted for thirty miles, and at sundown the pursuing party came upon the cattle, which had been abandoned by the Indians. Further pursuit being deemed useless, the herd of cattle was driven back and restored to its owner. It was afterwards learned that Wells' shot gouged a neat streak across that portion of Delgadito's person, known among school boys as the "seat of honor," which impaired his general activity for several weeks.
This celebrated Apache was killed about two years later by a Mexican whom he was seeking to destroy. They were fording the Mimbres river on foot, and upon reaching the eastern bank, Delgadito caught hold of the projecting branches of a tree to assist himself, when the Mexican, taking advantage of his momentary neglect, plunged a knife through the Indian's heart from behind. The body of the savage was found the next day clinging to the branch. (From Cremony's Life Among the Apaches.)
Mangus Colorado, or Red Sleeves, whom we now meet for the first time in this history, will appear quite often in subsequent pages, and a brief outline of the man as he appeared to one who knew him well, may not be out of place at this time. He was the King Phillip of the Apache nation. He understood the value of collective forces, and his influence extended from the Mimbres river in New Mexico to the Colorado,