CHAPTER XII. THE MILITARY (Continued).
Major General Halleck's Report for 1867–68—Describes Conditions in Arizona—Urges That More Troops be Sent to Arizona—Expeditions Against Hostile Indians—Frequent Desertions of Soldiers—Report of Brigadier General Thomas E. Devin of Expedition Against the Hostiles.
Under date of September 22nd, 1868, Major General H. W. Halleck, who had succeeded General McDowell in command of the Pacific, made his report to the Secretary of War, in which report he had the following to say in regard to conditions in Arizona:‘‘
This Territory has an area of some 104,000 square miles. There are no very reliable data in regard to its population, but a means of various estimates would place it at about 8,000 whites and 15,000 Indians. The military force in the Territory consists of two full regiments of infantry, and nine companies of cavalry; in all 29 companies that is, nearly one-half of all the troops in the division available for service in the field. Nevertheless, considerable dissatisfaction has been shown by the inhabitants because more troops were not sent to that Territory. This could not be done by me from the small force at my disposal without depriving other States and Territories of their proportionate
These troops in Arizona are distributed as follows: At Fort Mojave, two companies for the protection of the depot, with outposts on the road to San Bernardino; at Camp Willow Grove, two companies for the protection of the road from Mojave to Fort Whipple, and operations against the hostile Hualapais; at Fort Whipple, two companies for defending depot and operations against the Apaches; at Camp McPherson, one company to protect road and mail from La Paz to Prescott; at La Paz, one company for duty at Indian reservation; at Camp Lincoln, two companies to protect settlers on the Verde, and operate against Apaches east of that river; at Camp McDowell and the outpost of Camp Reno, five companies to guard depot and operate against Apaches between the Verde and Salinas rivers; at Fort Yuma (in an appended footnote General Halleck says: Fort Yuma is in the State of California, but is included in the military district of Arizona), one company to guard main depot of supplies; at Camp Lowell, Tucson, one company to guard depot of supplies for southern Arizona; at Camp Grant, three companies to protect roads and settlements, and to operate against Apaches; at Camp Goodwin, three companies to protect roads and settlements, and to operate against Apaches; at Camp Bowie, one company to guard an important pass and check hostile incursions by Indians from New Mexico; at Camp Wallen, two companies. This post was established to prevent hostile incursions by the Sonora
The locations of these several posts were determined by General McDowell after frequent personal visits to all parts of that Territory, and after consultations with officers fully acquainted with the topography of the country, and of large experience in operations against the Apaches. They should, therefore, be changed only after mature deliberation and upon the most satisfactory evidence that their location is erroneous. I have interfered only to prevent what I considered too great a division and scattering of our forces. To properly locate a military post in an Indian country, an officer should have a knowledge of the topography of the country, the dangers threatened, and the means of averting or surmounting them. As General McDowell possessed this knowledge in a remarkable degree, I have felt the less disposed to change or overrule any distribution of troops in Arizona which he proposed or ordered.
In northern Arizona the troops under Generals Devin, Price and Alexander have been, during the past year, actively engaged in scouts, and their operations have been attended with very considerable success. Much of the country lying between Verde and Salinas rivers, heretofore unknown, has been explored, and
The details of the military operations in Arizona during the past year are given in the several reports forwarded through department headquarters. Arizona has been greatly misrepresented, even by its own people. It has been described as a wonderfully rich mineral country, abounding in lodes and mines of gold and silver, of such surpassing wealth, that any man who could work them could, in a few months, accumulate a fortune of millions. But these mines of fabulous wealth, if they really exist, are as yet undeveloped, and perhaps undiscovered. I do not mean to say there are no valuable mines in Arizona, but simply that the products of these mines have never equalled the sanguine anticipations and representations of their owners, and that the failure of expected dividends to anxious stockholders has not been entirely due to the want of military protection, as is so commonly alleged. But this Territory has interests and resources other than its minerals, and I have little doubt that in a few years its agricultural products will far exceed in value the yield of its mines of gold, silver, and copper, however rich they may prove to be. In many parts of the country the soil is exceedingly rich, and crops of all kinds are most
It will be seen from this summary that, while there is a considerable military force in the territory, the number available for scouts and field operations is small, and that this field force cannot be increased without leaving unprotected many necessary depots of supplies
I call attention, also, in this connection, to the fact that the health of the troops in southern Arizona will soon render it necessary to exchange them for those at more northerly posts, say in California and Oregon. But to make this exchange will require several months, and, in the meantime, many posts would be so reduced as to be unsafe, and all would be too weak for any field operations against the hostile Indians. If an additional regiment of infantry be sent to the division, these changes can be effected gradually and without serious detriment to the service.
The law authorizing the employment of Indian scouts limits the number to 1,000, of which only 200 are assigned to this division. If this number could be doubled, at least on the coast, it would greatly facilitate military operations in Arizona. Officers are unanimous as to the value and usefulness of these scouts in the field.
The Apaches and cognate tribes in Arizona and northern Sonora are the natural and hereditary enemies of the whites, of whatsoever nation or character. They have successfully expelled from that Territory the Aztecs, the Spaniards and the Mexicans; and they will yield to our people only when compelled to do so by the rifle and the revolver. They probably resemble the African Bedouins more than any other people; and murder and robbery constitute almost the sole occupation of the Apaches. These Indians do not fight in masses, like most of the tribes of the Rocky Mountains, but more stealthily in small bands over the greater portions of Arizona and the northern part of Sonora and Chihuahua, waylaying and murdering travelers on the roads, and plundering and destroying unprotected agricultural and mining settlements. This mode of warfare, combined with the rough and desert character of the country, and the want of practicable roads, renders it very difficult to operate successfully against them, or to give adequate protection to the small and scattered settlements in that extensive but sparsely populated Territory.
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.’’
It gives me pleasure to report that the opening of new roads and the settlement and cultivation of land in the vicinity of the military posts have greatly reduced the cost and transportation of army supplies in the division generally. Still further reductions may be hoped in the future.
During this year several expeditions were carried out against the hostiles, in which a few Indians were killed and rancherias destroyed, the particulars of which are not given in General Halleck's report. General Ord, in his report dated September 27th, 1868, calls attention to the frequent desertions, saying:‘‘
In Arizona the men have been occupied in pursuit of the Indians, scouting, and on escort duty. They have been but in few cases able to build quarters; at some of the forts the troops are yet living in tents, or under earthen roofs and mud walls. Timber is so scarce in many parts of the State of Nevada, and in Arizona Territory, that at some posts it has been at times impossible to procure a sufficient number of boards to make coffins for the dead.
The consequences of these discomforts, and the want of vegetables, is many desertions, especially from the posts where commanders were careless of the comfort of their men, and failed to make use of such means as the country afforded in providing for them such necessaries as vegetable gardens, airy rooms, though built of adobes, and plenty of good water. Every effort has been made by me to remedy these wants, and some additional expense incurred which will, by increasing the comfort of the troops in quarters, diminish the number of desertions, and make them more healthy and efficient in the field. At one post inspected by me I found that its garrison of 86 men had lost 54 men by desertion, and every deserter had carried off a good horse and repeating rifle, worth together from $150 to $300 at the post. These horses and arms are generally sold to the citizens in the vicinity for half or a third of their value, so that the citizen finds more profit in encouraging desertion by buying the deserter's arms, horse and clothing, than in arresting him for the small reward of about $20 in gold. Commanding officers would prosecute such citizens in many cases if they were authorized to employ counsel, for there is scarcely ever in the vicinity of such remote posts a United States district attorney, or other person to act as such.
I would recommend as some preventive to this wholesale purchase of deserters' clothing, arms and horses, that whenever a citizen, or soldier returned a deserter, or his horse, arms or clothing, the person making the return should be paid the value of such articles as might be
The most important progress made by the military during this year is contained in the following report made by Brigadier General Thomas E. Devin who commanded the Sub-District of Prescott, which report is dated June 12th, 1868:‘‘
Colonel: I have the honor to report my return from a 45 days' scout into the Apache country, to the east of this post, in pursuance of instructions from headquarters district of Arizona, directing me to move with my available force in a southeast course from Camp Lincoln towards Goodwin, and as far as the headwaters of the San Carlos, on which I would find the hostile Pinal Apaches, who now appeared disposed to fight, and give us a favorable opportunity to punish them. No operative movements would be made from other points.
Crossing the divide to the southern crest of the mountains I descended into Tonto basin near the head of the east fork of the Verde, at a point where the mountain rises about 2,500 feet above the basin. The first 500 feet being nearly a perpendicular cliff, I was obliged to cut a zigzag path down the face, after which the breaking of a trail was comparatively easy. The same night my camp was fired into by Indians, killing one horse. At midnight, company L, with a guide, was sent out to look for 'smokes' seen from the mountain. As the column pushed on, detachments were sent out from the front and right flank to scour the country, many rancherias were found, but all had been abandoned—some of them quite lately, others for months.
The section of country north and west of the Salinas having been pretty well scouted, I encamped on one of the east forks of the Salinas, and taking 60 cavalry, all that I had left that were serviceable for a hard march, I pushed on to the San Carlos, which stream I reached after crossing three of its forks. The character of the country here is widely different from that west of the Salinas, the mountains easier of access, and the divides easier crossed. The scenery is very beautiful, land fertile, and river bottoms wide and filled with nutritious grasses, but no signs of recent occupation by Indians, as far as could be seen. A well beaten trail from the southwest, on which the tracks of women and children were very evident, led towards the head of the Little Colorado, or valley of the Prieta, and showed that their families had been moved east, but the shoes of my horses were worn out, and many of the men likewise. I had but rations enough to carry me back at a much faster rate than I had advanced, and from the highest peak not an Indian 'smoke' could be seen. I had with difficulty, and through a country hitherto unknown, and intersected
The men were eager for a fight, and I was willing, and it had been prophesied that I would meet a thousand warriors before I reached San Carlos; bnt I can truly say that I can at any time find more fresh Indian signs within 50 miles of this post than I found at 200 miles distant.
I concluded to return across the mountains and try to explore a road by which I might forward supplies by wagons along the crests of the divide between the waters running to the Colorado, and those running to the Salinas and Gila, thus enabling me to establish temporary depots, from whence I could make descents either into the valley of the Prieta, the Sierra Blancas, or the Little Colorado, with detachments supplied with five to ten days' rations, and thus obviate the necessity of large pack trains. I succeeded in finding such routes.
It may be proper here to refer to the expedition I was organizing to start about May 15 by this very route, and turning the head of the San Carlos, return by the Salinas to Camp Reno. I would thus have taken the Indians from the rear, with perhaps greater success; but military necessity ordained that the movement should be made earlier, and there was too much melting snow on May 1 to allow my animals to travel on the divide, and I had to descend into the basin.
At the time of the receipt of General Crittenden's order I had nearly completed a road from Clear creek to the summit of the Mogollones (for wagons). As soon as the summer rains set in I will recommence the work, and continue it to the southern crests, after which the road, though crooked, can be easily worked. My impression is that the most effectual mode of holding the Indians in check, next to fighting them, is to open roads and trails through their country, so that the troops can readily track and follow them. This policy I have followed since my assignment to duty here, and the district has been very quiet.
Two sets of shoes were prepared for the animals, and three for the infantry; nearly all were worn out before our return, and the feet of a number of the horses had to be encased in leather in order to enable them to return the last 60 miles to Lincoln, the country being covered with broken lava. For 40 days they had not a grain of forage. None of the large herd of cattle stolen by the Indians near Tucson could have been brought into Tonto basin, as at first supposed. Major Clendenin, who skirted the southern edge, could find no trail, and I repeatedly crossed his trail. No stock had passed over my route subsequent to the snow melting with the exception of two horses. The health of the men in general was excellent.
It will also be seen that, according to the military reports for the years 1866, 1867 and 1868, very little was accomplished in the way of subduing the hostile Apaches. Had Congress authorized the raising of a volunteer regiment in Arizona, such a body of men, under the command of an experienced frontiersman like King Woolsey, Townsend, or Genung, would have done more in one year for the protection of the settlers on the frontier and towards the conquering of the hostile Apaches, than all the soldiers furnished by the Government did up to the time Crook assumed command. Such, at least, was and is, the consensus of opinion among old time residents of this State. As it was, there were more Indians killed by settlers than by the troops.