CHAPTER IX. THE MILITARY.
General John S. Mason's report shows the condition of the Territory at the time he assumed command, and the necessity for vigorous operations on the part of the military. His recommendations were certainly wise so far as the employment of Arizona native troops for operation against the hostiles were concerned. All subsequent commanders for several years afterwards agreed with him that the native troops, Papagoes, Pimas, Mexicans, and also volunteers of our own race, were more effective in the Indian warfare than were two or three times the number of regular troops.
Tucson, at that time, according to General Mason's statement, was but little more than a village, and, while in the northern part of the Territory, and along the Colorado in the neighborhood of Yuma, there was quite a large population of whites and others, yet in all their enterprises they lacked the protection of the Government. General Mason was superseded before he had an opportunity to make effective the policy outlined by him in this report, which follows:
Before leaving San Francisco, neither the general commanding the department nor myself could learn anything definite as to the actual number of troops in the Territory, their status, nor the state of their supplies; but we were assured there were small garrisons at Fort Whipple near Prescott; Fort Goodwin on the Upper Gila; Fort Bowie at Apache Pass, and at Tubac.
The seventh California infantry volunteers, four companies of native California cavalry volunteers, and one company of the first California cavalry volunteers, were assigned to duty in the district. They commenced leaving San Francisco in April, and the last arrived in September. Supplies for six months, for the troops destined for service south of the Gila and east of Tucson, were sent to Guaymas, to be hauled through Sonora to the depot to be established at Tubac. Three months' supplies for the post at Fort Yuma, and those north of the Gila, were sent direct to Fort Yuma by water. It was understood before I left San Francisco that the companies of the seventh infantry would be distributed as follows: one company at Fort Mojave, two at Fort Yuma, four at Calabasas, or at some point near the site of
Governor John Goodwin accompanied me on this tour. On our arrival at the Pima villages, he made arrangements to raise two companies of Pima and Maricopa Indians for the Arizona volunteers; also, for a company of Mexicans at Tucson, and one at Tubac for the same regiment. The result of observations on my tour led me to the following conclusions: That the country bordering on the Colorado river was inhabited by the Yuma, Chemehuavies, Mohave, and Pinto tribes or nations of Indians, at peace with the whites. Between these tribes and Prescott and Wickenburg were the Hualapais, on the north, and the Yavapais south; both wild Indians who had seen but little of the whites, and who would not hesitate to attack small parties, although overtures for peace had been made by them.
The country east of Prescott, to the eastern line of the Territory, and north of the Gila, is inhabited by the Tonto, Pinal, Sierra Blanca, and Coyotero Apaches; in fact, most of the hostile Indians dwell north of the Gila river, or in the mountains contiguous to that stream, and east of the Rio Verde. One small but very hostile band, probably the very worst Indians on
At the time of my arrival in the district, I believe every ranch had been deserted south of the Gila. The town of Tubac was entirely deserted, and the town of Tucson had but about two hundred souls. North of the Gila, the roads were completely blockaded; the ranches, with but one or two exceptions, abandoned, and most of the settlements were threatened with either abandonment or annihilation. The mere establishments of posts in the vicinity of the settlements is of no practical importance. The Apaches, differing from almost all other Indians, in consequence of the difficulty of subsisting large parties, or of finding sufficient water, make their forages in small parties, joining forces at such points as they may have agreed on before hand, then separating again after an attack. The nature of the country is such that from the isolated mountains in the midst of extended plains they can watch the approach of any party, and as, from the great scarcity of water, they can always prepare an ambuscade, they seldom or never attack parties who are prepared or watchful, but depend entirely upon a surprise. If they fail in this they give up the fight. They are the most expert thieves in the world, having stolen from the people of Sonora for generations. They can come in small parties and steal stock almost in sight of the posts. To pursue them is useless. Soon they reach the rugged mountains, scatter into small parties, and can then defy either our infantry or cavalry; consequently I concluded
Colonel Wright, with eight small companies of his regiment arrived in October last. Colonel Wright with five companies, was sent to reoccupy old Fort Breckenridge now known as Fort Grant; and Colonel Pollock with the remaining companies, was sent to Fort Goodwin. Both posts have done a great deal for their sections of the Territory, being admirably located with reference to hostile Apaches. The post at Fort Grant will enable settlers to come in on the rich valley of the San Pedro. That at Fort Goodwin protects such Indians as may give themselves up and come to terms. The troops were at their stations, and the increase of expense to keep them on the move but trifling. Owing to several causes the results have not been as great as anticipated; the great trouble in bringing up supplies; the disinclination of some of the volunteer troops, who expected hourly to be ordered home, to take long scouts in mid-winter; the extreme severity of the winter itself, the thermometer ranging as low as 14° below zero for days; the snow at a depth of twenty inches; and, finally, the withdrawal of volunteers and substitution of regulars at a time that broke into the campaign, when we expected the most success—using that time in
I am satisfied that the only true policy is that at present adopted. By pressing the Indians from all points, and giving them a reservation where they can be protected and fed, we will succeed in the end. Already we have near nine hundred Indians on the reservation at Fort Goodwin, and they are reported as coming in daily. The Yavapais during the year have been induced to abandon their country and come in with the Mohaves. The Hualapais are desirous of doing the same thing, unless the late report of their murder by whites be considered a cause for renewal of hostilities. Numbers of the Tonto Apaches are moving down into the junction of the Gila and Colorado with the Yuma. The different valleys have been reoccupied, many new settlements have been started, and the year promises much for the development of the Territory. The troops now here are inadequate for the service. The district is immensely large, the distance over which supplies have to be hauled very great, requiring strong escorts to guard the trains, and with the very small number of men in the different companies, and but one officer with each company, most of the posts, for the present, can do but little more than hold their posts and escort their supply trains.
Efforts are being made to throw in a grass supply at once, which will enable us to dispense with many escorts. The different posts now occupied are mere cantonments, no money having been expended in their erection, so that should it be deemed advisable to abandon any of them and curtail operations in the district, there would be but very little actual loss to the government. I would recommend that authority be given to raise two or three companies of mounted scouts from the men who have been raised on the Sonora frontier, and have been fighting Apaches for years—men who are accustomed to travel for days with a little pinole and dried beef, and who can follow a trail with the certainty of an Indian. Such companies would, in my judgment, do more efficient service than thrice the number of regulars.
As we have seen, a strong effort was made by the people of Arizona to continue in the service the Arizona volunteers, who had proved the most valuable aid to the military in subduing the hostile Indians. General McDowell, in his
The regular troops in this district consist of the first and third battalions of the fourteenth infantry, four companies of the first United States cavalry, and one company of the second United States artillery. Until very recently there were also several companies and fragments of companies of Arizona volunteers. The latter have been ordered to be mustered out on the expiration of their year's term of service, and most, if not all, have by this time been discharged. They were the most effective troops for the service in that country that we have had, and have done more than all the others together. In fact, it is not too much to say that they only within the last year have inflicted any considerable injury on the hostile Apaches. The regular troops, used to a different kind of warfare, unused to the kind of life necessary to obtain any results against the Indians in Arizona, seem to acquire very slowly the experience necessary to enable them to be effective for offensive operations.
There has been a good deal of uneasiness within the year at several points along the river, particularly at La Paz, the mouth of Bill Williams's fork, Hardyville, and El Dorado Canyon, and it has been impossible to furnish the protection asked for, except to a limited extent. The hostility existing between the River Indians and certain bands of the Pi-Utes and Chemehuevis has caused alarm to the white inhabitants
The hostilities on the road from Camp Cady to Fort Mojave with the Pi-Utes seem to have extended their effects to the Indians of that or kindred tribes further to the north and there have been offensive movements against the important mining settlements at El Dorado canyon. This has given alarm to those engaged in the enterprise of opening a line of trade by way of the Colorado river to Utah, and they fear their boat with its supplies may be in danger. At their repeated and earnest request I have ordered a guard of ten men to be detached from Fort Mojave to be stationed for sixty days in El Dorado canyon. This, I since learn, will take every man, not on special duty, away from the post, the others being absent escorting cattle to Fort Whipple.
The Indians, who have heretofore been quiet on the road from La Paz to Prescott, and have confined themselves to limits prescribed by the military commander and Indian Superintendent, were found in large numbers beyond their limits in Skull valley. It is claimed they were there with hostile intent, and that they attacked a private train under escort of some Arizona volunteers. The result was an engagement, in which a large number of Indians were killed and wounded; it remains to be seen whether enough to subdue the tribe, or only to reflame it.
The Arizona volunteers, heretofore stationed in Skull valley, having been mustered out of service, their place has been supplied by the company of the fourteenth infantry, from Date Creek, and the stations at the latter place and at Wickenburg have been abandoned.
The post of Camp Lincoln, on the Upper Verde, has proved so favorable for operations against the Apaches that it will be maintained by a company of the fourteenth infantry, though the force, both in quality for this kind of service, and quantity, will not replace the volunteers whose places they take.
The post at Fort McDowell, on the Lower Verde, now occupied by three companies of the fourteenth infantry and one company of the first cavalry, has, together with the post of Camp Lincoln, inflicted so severe a chastisement in repeated combats with the Apaches, that they have compelled them to beg for peace. This, heretofore, has been offered them on condition they would go to the place reserved for Indian prisoners at Fort Goodwin. But they represent that they are at enmity with the Fort Goodwin bands, and cannot live with them.
I am not sure they are sincere in their desire for peace; but as they may be, and as I have now lost the force most competent to further chastise them, I have given instructions to grant them peace on the terms proposed to them by the late excellent commander of Fort McDowell, which will provide for their coming in as prisoners,
The post of Fort Grant, (two companies of the fourteenth infantry) at the mouth of the San Pedro, has been recently destroyed by the floods of the river, and the station has been removed to the site of old Fort Breckenridge. I hope soon to change it to the heart of the Apache country, where the climate may prove healthy, and there is an abundance of wood and grass, as well as pure mountain water.
The post of Fort Goodwin, occupied by three companies of the fourteenth infantry, is the place I have assigned for such of the Apaches as have surrendered themselves, and claim to wish to live in peace with the whites. At times several hundred have been on the reservation, but the difficulty of at all times having supplies for them has made it necessary to relax the rule for their constant presence, that they might lay in a store of mescal, etc., for food. This may have been taken advantage of in some instances to escape and commit depredations on the settlements. I do not expect in one season to reform a people whose whole life has been one of plunder, but I have no doubt that a combined system of kindness, when they do well, and chastisement when they do ill, will have the same effect on Apaches as it has on other men, as well as animals.
The camp on the upper San Pedro, near Barbecoma, is still maintained as a protection for the settlements, as are also the stations at Fort Bowie and Tucson. The companies stationed at Fort Mason, (so called) on the upper Santa Cruz near Calabasas, have been temporarily removed (by the district commander, on account of sickness) to the vicinity of old Fort Buchanan, whether to any good purpose remains to be seen.
I am glad to say that the experiment of a government farm on a large scale in the valley of the Verde, at Fort McDowell, has proved a success, and an abundant crop of corn and sorghum is about to be harvested, to be followed by a second crop of small grain.
Like results are expected from the farm ordered to be opened at Fort Goodwin, so I hope that next year will show a reduction in the cost of maintaining the troops, to be followed by reductions in every succeeding year, for there is an abundance of good arable land in the country to support a large population.
There should be at least four officers of the quartermaster's department in Arizona alone. There are but two there now, and they belong to the volunteer service and will undoubtedly soon be mustered out.
The lack of company officers is such that at times companies are without a commissioned officer. At one time a post of two companies in Arizona had only one officer, a subaltern, to command the post, the two companies, and do the duty of quartermaster and commissary.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the expedition against the hostile Apaches, made in compliance with Special Orders No. 119, dated Headquarters, Fort McDowell, Arizona Territory, November 10, 1866.
The rations consisted of pinole, jerked beef and coffee, which were carried by the men on their saddles. Four pack-mules were taken, but they were so lightly loaded that they were able to keep up with the command at a gallop. None of them carried one hundred pounds, and they might have been dispensed with entirely, but I wished to have some extra animals along in case any of the soldiers' horses should break down or be wounded.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14.—The expedition left Fort McDowell just as the sun was setting. Crossed the Pio Verde, and marched on the Pima trail to a small valley on Sycamore (or, it is sometimes called, Cañon) creek, where we camped. The camp was reached at 10 p. m. Distance from the fort, twenty-five (25) miles; direction, northeast. Wood, water and grass in abundance. The valley was so situated that it was almost impossible for the Apaches to discover us, without coming right into the camp.
NOVEMBER 15.—Remained in camp all day, grazing the animals. At sunset saddled up and marched through Sunflower valley, and over the Mazatzal mountains, crossing the ridge by the pass at the North Mazatzal. Camped at 11:15 p. m. in a cañon about two (2) miles from Tonto creek. Distance from last camp, twenty-one (21) miles. Water and grass good.
NOVEMBER 16.—At daylight two of the Indians were sent down to the creek to look for Apache signs. They returned in a few hours with information that, on the day before, two horses and one Indian had crossed the creek and gone in the direction of the Sierra Ancha mountains. At 1 p. m. saddled up and started on the track of these two horses.
The Apache had followed no trail, but kept as much as possible in the bushes, evidently hoping to conceal his track. About six (6) p. m. we followed the track on to an old Apache trail, and shortly after came upon the sign of a mule and a burro. About seven (7) p. m. we commenced to cross the Sierra Ancha range, and at ten (10) p. m. had reached the summit. The moon was obscured by clouds a good deal of the night, which rendered tracking a very difficult operation; but the Indians stuck to it with the tenacity of bloodhounds, and about midnight they reported that they were pretty certain we were near a rancheria. After some attempts to get into the cañon, we were obliged to give up all thoughts of getting on to it that night. The rocks were so steep that a man could not walk at the mouth of the cañon on foot. At one (1) p. m. we lay down by the horses and waited for daylight. Distance, about thirty (30) miles. This march was a very hard one, as we were continually winding round the mountains, and over them, down into deep cañons, and through rocks and boulders. Although the night was very cold, we built no fires, for fear of alarming the Apaches.
NOVEMBER 17.—At daylight we started right over the mountain, and after traveling up it for about half an hour, we discovered the rancheria at the head of the cañon. The men and Indians charged immediately down the rocks and into the rancheria, and, leaping from their horses, pursued the flying Apaches over the hills and across the cañons in the most gallant manner. Many of the men got bad falls among the rocks and precipices, but they kept on without any regard for anything but the Apaches. Six (6) were killed, five (5) were taken prisoners, and two (2) horses captured. The mule and burro had been killed, and were being roasted on the fire.
There was a very large amount of winter stores in this rancheria, which were all destroyed and the rancheria burned. Among the articles found were two tin canteens, such as are issued by government, a portion of an English copy of the New Testament, some mail straps and pieces of a saddle, a gun lock and brass plates belonging to a gun, and baskets such as are used for carrying grain, etc., in great numbers. They had a great abundance of seeds, nuts, acorns, buckskins, serapes, and other articles used by the Indians, and the destruction of these just as winter is setting in will be a great blow to them.
This was evidently an old established rancheria, and one which they considered very safe. Words cannot do justice to the place. It was as nearly inaccessible as possible. The huts were situated just at the head of the cañon, and back of them the rocks rose almost perpendicularly
As soon as the fight was over, and the rancheria destroyed, we started after some cattle which one of the prisoners (an Apache squaw) informed us were in Greenback valley. Coming upon some fresh signs of Indians, we took the gallop again, and charged across Greenback valley, which was about five miles distant. Much to our regret, we found nothing of them. We crossed another range of mountains, and got to within a short distance and in sight of Salt river. Here we struck more fresh tracks, and made another charge, getting very close on to some Indians, who were gathering seeds. They managed to escape us, however, by concealing themselves in the rocks, and our horses were now so badly used up that we could not overtake them. On the last charge we were brought to a stand-still in another cañon, out of which there appeared to be no means of exit whatever for any animal without wings. The Maricopas and Pimas had never seen the place before, and could give no information about it. We accordingly turned round and came slowly back to Greenback valley, where we camped about two (2) p. m.
We grazed the animals all the rest of the day and during the night. Distance travelled this day, I should think, was about twenty-five (25) miles. As most of the time we were on the run, and travelling backwards and forwards among the rocks, it is rather difficult to estimate it.
NOVEMBER 18.—Saddled up at daylight, and marched to Tonto creek, where we grazed the animals two (2) hours, and then crossed the North Mazatzal on the old trail, and camped in Sunflower valley. Distance thirty-two (32) miles.
To Lieutenant Carr and the enlisted men concerned in this campaign I am exceedingly indebted for the activity and energy they displayed. The conduct of one and all was gallant in the extreme. Their success in the previous expedition had given them confidence in themselves, and every man exerted himself to the utmost to make the campaign a success. The
I am also very much indebted to Mr. Thomas Ewing and Mr. Strobel. Mr. Ewing displayed his usual gallantry and energy. His knowledge of the country and of the habits of the Apaches is very extensive, and his services are exceedingly valuable.
Mr. Max Strobel, who is a topographical engineer by profession, kindly undertook to make a map of this country, and to him I am indebted for the map which accompanies this report. He exercised the greatest care in taking the distance, directions, etc., and I think he has succeeded in making the most correct map I have seen of that section of the country.
I cannot close without acknowledging my thanks to the Pimas and Maricopas who accompanied me. These splendid Indians performed their part in the most admirable manner and were of the greatest service during the whole trip.
As stated in my last annual report, 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 revolver. They probably resemble the African Bedouins more than any other people, and murder and robbery constitute almost the sole occupation of the Apache. These Indians do not fight in masses, like most of the tribes east of the Rocky mountains, but move stealthily in small bands over the greater portion of Arizona and the northern parts of Sonora and Chihuahua, waylaying and murdering travellers 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 practical 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. Military operations would probably be more effective in reducing these hostile Indians if the troops could be concentrated in larger posts, so as to have available a greater number for active campaigning
Under these circumstances, I have not felt myself justified in interfering with General McDowell's protective dispositions by ordering a greater concentration of troops. With an additional force of, say, one regiment of cavalry and one or two regiments of infantry in that country, which are really required there, we would be able to accomplish the double object of affording local protection, and, at the same time, of penetrating into the mountain homes of these savages. In giving local protection to settlements, it has not been proposed to guard particular ranches, mines, or mills from Indian depredations. To attempt this would absorb and paralyze our whole force without accomplishing any result, for it is well known that these Indians will steal stock, even before the eyes of the sentinels who guard it, and pursuit in such cases is seldom successful. The only plan which has given any valuable results, is that of establishing posts in the vicinity of settlements, and from these posts sending secret expeditions of small parties into known Indian haunts. Large parties are not required, and are never successful, for the Indians discover their approach and hide themselves in the mountains. They can be reached only by the utmost secrecy and rapidity of movement.
On the question of concentrating the troops in that country in a few posts only, I respectfully refer to the report of Lieutenant Colonel Roger Jones, and the accompanying remarks of Brevet Major General McDowell, transmitted herewith and marked 'B.'’’