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Report of Major-General George H. Thomas on Military Affairs in Arizona—Report of General Ord—General Ord's Account of Captain Barry's Disobedience of orders—Expense of Supplying Rations to Troops in Arizona — Fourteen Military Posts in Arizona — Desertion of Troops — Policy of Extermination Followed by Both Military and Citizens—Conditions in 1869 Described by Banta—Establishment of Camp Ord, Later Known as Fort Apache.

Major-General George H. Thomas, commanding the Department of the Pacific, with headquarters at San Francisco, in his report to the Adjutant-General of the United States Army, under date of September 27th, 1869, made the following reference to Arizona:


“Having performed duty in Arizona some years past, and then getting familiar with the topography of the country, and not having time to make a personal inspection of my whole command, I have depended upon the report of the inspector-general of the division, and special reports of the department commander for information, and have to report as follows: Fort Yuma, at the junction of the Colorado and Gila rivers, is an important post as a depot of supplies for that Territory; it is garrisoned by one company of infantry, and reported in good condition

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The garrisons at Tucson, Bowie, Grant, Goodwin, McDowell, Verde, Reno, Colorado and Mohave, I considered favorably situated for supervision of the Indian Territory, and have maintained them as found. Camps Willow Grove and Wallen having become useless, the garrisons of these posts, two companies, were used to establish a post at Toll Gate, which commands one of the passes most frequented by the Indians in their excursions from the north to the south. Active operations have been continued against the Indians of Arizona during the whole summer, in which the troops displayed great energy and perseverance, and were eminently successful—so much so that one tribe, the Hualpais, have sued for peace, and the chief given himself up as a hostage for the future good conduct of the tribe. For details of the operations of the troops in Arizona, your attention is respectfully called to the annual report of Brevet Major-General Ord, the Department Commander, to be forwarded, and the report of the inspector general of the division on Indian Affairs, which has been forwarded direct in obedience to instructions.”


The following is the report of General Ord, dated September 27th, 1869, referred to in the foregoing:


“Sir: I have to report that, during the past year my efforts, and those of the troops in this department, have been directed, first, to the reduction of the hostile bands of Indians which have, since the country was known, infested Arizona and portions of Nevada; second, to the exploration of extensive districts of which white

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men had little or no knowledge and which were supposed to be the retreats of hostile bands; third, the reduction of expenses by the evacuation of posts no longer needed, either because the country had become settled and the settlers capable of self-protection, or because it was found uninhabitable for whites or Indians, or because the garrisons were too small for offensive operations, and only invited roving bands to attack the government herds and trains which supplied the posts.

“My return of expeditions and scouts will show the success of the troops in reducing the hostile Apaches and kindred tribes. These Arabs of Arizona have heretofore neither given nor asked quarter; their hands have always been bloody, their favorite pursuit killing and plundering, their favorite ornaments the finger and toe-nails, the teeth, hair, and small bones of their victims. Their homes are in the high mountain ranges and mesas north of the Gila, which separate its tributaries from those of the Colorado. Some bands occupy mountains south of the Gila, and their expeditions extend far into Mexico.

“On taking command of the department I was satisfied that the few settlers and scattered miners of Arizona were the sheep upon which these wolves habitually preyed, and that, if that wilderness was to be kept free from Apache robbers and murderers, a temporizing policy would not answer; therefore I encouraged the troops to capture and root out the Apache by every means, and to hunt them as they would wild animals. This they have done with unrelenting

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vigor. Since my last report, over two hundred have been killed, generally by parties who have trailed them for days and weeks into the mountain recesses, over snows, among gorges and precipices, lying in wait for them by day and following them by night. Many villages have been burned, large quantities of arms and supplies of ammunition, clothing and provisions have been destroyed, a large number of horses and mules have been captured, and two men, twenty-eight women, and thirty-four children taken prisoners; and though we have lost quite a number of soldiers, I think the Apaches have discovered that they are getting the worst of it. Some of the bands, having the fear of extermination before them, have sued for peace; others, being driven to the defensive, compelled to fight for their women and children and plunder, have not had much time, lately, to hunt miners, attack settlers, and capture stock.

“There are, I think, not to exceed one thousand fighting men of the Apaches left; and if we continue as successful in reducing them as during the last year, the result is only a question of time. Colonel John Green, major First United States Cavalry, in a recent scout into the White Mountains, a country of which we know but little, after destroying some villages, killing a number of warriors, and destroying a large quantity of corn, etc., having heard of a village thirty miles north, where the Indians were reported friendly, and anxious to appease the troops, sent Captain John Barry, First United States Cavalry, to examine the matter, and, if he found them concerned in hostilities, to

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destroy them. Thus he describes the result: ‘On the night of August 1, Captain Barry returned with his command, and reported that when he reached Miguel's village, there was a white flag flying from every hut and every prominent point; that the men, women and children came out to meet them, and went to work to cut corn for their horses, and showed such a spirit of delight at meeting them, that the officers united in saying that if they had fired on them they would have been guilty of cold-blooded murder; even my chief scout, Manuel, who has no scruples in such matters, and whose mind was filled with taking scalps when he left camp, said he could not have fired on them after what he saw.

“‘Captain Barry also found that the white men had nothing but some provisions and implements, being what they represented themselves, prospecting miners. Miguel reiterated that he wanted to go on a reservation where he could be protected, and Captain Barry repeated what I had previously told him—that he must go to Camp McDowell and see the district commander. He also gave him a letter for that purpose. Miguel promised to start on the following day, and commenced to make preparation at once. The white men were also to accompany him. The Apaches have but few friends, and, I believe, no agent. Even the officers, when applied to by them for information, cannot tell them what to do. There seems to be no settled policy, but a general idea to kill them wherever found. I also am a believer in that, if we go for extermination; but I think, and I am sustained

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in my opinion by most of the officers accompanying my expedition, that if Miguel and his band were placed on a reservation properly managed, and had a military post to protect them, they would form a nucleus for the civilization of the Apaches, as they seem more susceptible of it than any tribe I have seen. I even believe that, if the Apache is properly managed, he could be used against the Apache, and so end the war in a short time. Miguel said that he had soldiers, and would place them at my disposal whenever I wanted them. The reservation, with a military post, should be in the White Mountain country, where they could raise crops and sustain themselves with but little cost to the Government, the climate and soil being excellent for such purpose. The only difficulty would be to make a wagon road into that country; but by proper exploration it might be accomplished. If this scheme should fail, a military post in that country would be of invaluable service in the Indian war in Arizona.’

“Of course the extermination policy is resolved Upon only when every other means fail to protect our people; and if it is possible to induce the Apache to accept terms, it should be done; and this being the first formal proposition for surrender from that section, General Thomas E. Devin, commanding in Southern Arizona, has been instructed to send Colonel Green, with sufficient forces, again into the White Mountain country, to visit Miguel's village, examine the vicinity carefully with a view, if deemed necessary, to open a road to it from the Gila Valley or from the West; to learn how

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far the country is adapted for a healthy reservation of sufficient extent to hold the friendly Apaches and afford them a field to hunt in and land to cultivate; and he will report on the probable expense of establishing a post in that vicinity; not that it is intended to increase the number of posts in that Territory, for I think we have too many there now.

“The earnestness with which the troops make war on the hostile Apaches is in proportion to the good will which is shown toward the inoffensive or friendly Indians. Many of the border white men, especially those that have been hunted, or lost friends or relations by them, regard all Indians as vermin, to be killed when met; and attacks upon and murder of quiet bands, who in some instances have come in to aid in pursuit of more hostile savages, is nothing unusual in Arizona. One citizen is now in confinement, arrested by the troops, for an attempt to murder a friendly Hualapai near Camp Mohave; and dozens of them are at large now who have tried it and succeeded. These citizens are not proceeded against by the civil authorities of the country. Reservations, to be at all safe from such attacks in that country must be forbidden ground to all white men, save the troops sent there to watch the Indians and guard them, and officers of the Indian Bureau. As an instance of the necessity of isolating reservations, the Pimas and Maricopas, always friendly, who cultivate the soil and render good service with the troops as scouts in reducing the hostile Indians, have a reservation on the Gila river. A number of Mexicans and some few

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American squatters have settled upon portions of it; I am informed that the Indian agent is one of them. As the cattle of the settlers and Indians will stray and be occasionally lost, and stock break into fields, there is no good feeling between the Indians and the settlers; the latter accuse the Indians of trespassing against them, and threaten vengeance. The Indians, being numerous, are defiant and sullen, and difficulties of a very serious nature would have ensued had not General Alexander, commanding the nearest military post, interfered. The difficulties are still pending, and the new military superintendent should have authority to remove the settlers, as yet not numerous.

“The services rendered by some of the friendly chiefs as scouts to the troops are so important and useful as to merit high commendation from commanding officers, and deserve reward. If within the intent of the law authorizing the employment of such scouts, I would recommend temporary organization of companies with the most useful Indian chiefs as officers.

“The scouting expeditions in Arizona have given us much useful information, and a few fertile valleys heretofore unknown have been found. A survey of the military reservation in Arizona has been completed. There was an extensive unexplored district between White Pine and the Colorado river, which was supposed to be rich in precious metals, and into which small prospecting and other parties were venturing, so that a proper regard for the general desire for correct knowledge of it required that it should

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be surveyed and mapped. I, therefore, with the approbation of the division commander, General George H. Thomas, directed an expedition to be fitted out and an escort to be furnished, placing the whole under Lieutenant George M. Wheeler, United States engineer, who, assisted by Lieutenant D. W. Lockwood, United States engineers, and furnished with a small sum by the Chief Engineer, General A. A. Humphreys, is now engaged in this duty. A careful military and scientific reconnaissance of this portion of the great American desert, such as Lieutenant Wheeler will make, may result in much valuable information, which will be published as soon as practicable. Lieutenant Wheeler, when last heard from, September 10th, had made good progress in his explorations. One of his party had reached the Pahranagat Valley, and another the Meadow Valley, en route to the Colorado.

“In administering an extensive military department like this, containing over four hundred and fifty thousand square miles, or greater by about one hundred thousand square miles than the original thirteen States, occupied by a population of savages estimated at from fifty to seventy-five thousand, garrisoned by three thousand men, Or three to every four hundred and fifty square miles, who are scattered in thirty posts, camps, and cantonments, many of them only accessible at certain seasons of the year, and after crossing extensive deserts, the expenditures are principally due to the cost of transporting supplies. The expense of supplying rations at Camp Goodwin, one of the posts in Arizona, and of feeding animals there, can be

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compared with similar expenses in San Francisco, when it is known that a barrel of good flour is bought in San Francisco for the army for from $4 to $5 in gold; and it has heretofore cost, to take two hundred pounds of freight to Camp Goodwin, in Arizona, about $30 in gold, going by land from Yuma Depot. A barrel of flour purchased in Arizona costs, delivered at Camp Goodwin, about $25 in gold; so that it has cost the Government purchasing supplies there or thereabouts five or six times as much to feed the soldiers there as here, and the ration for a horse at Camp Goodwin costs now about five times as much as it does in San Francisco.

“There are fourteen posts in Arizona, with an average garrison of one hundred and fifty men each, or two thousand one hundred men. There are in the Territory three thousand three hundred horses and mules; and to maintain these troops and animals it costs the Government, not including fuel, quarters, medical attendance, arms and accoutrements, ammunition, clothing, pay of the troops land employees, or stables, at least $4,000 per day; add the other items all the more expensive, where, as in Southern Arizona, a foot of lumber costs twenty-five cents, and the cost to the Government for the troops in Arizona is not far from $3,000,000 per annum.

“Almost the only paying business the white inhabitants have in that Territory is supplying the troops, there being as yet but few mines in that country worked to profit; and I am informed from every quarter that if the paymasters and quartermasters of the army were to stop payment in Arizona, a great majority of

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the white settlers would be compelled to quit it. Hostilities are therefore kept up with a view to protecting inhabitants most of whom are supported by the hostilities. Of course their support being derived from the presence of troops, they are continually asking for more. There was in Arizona, January 1, 1860, according to the Army Register, not a single army post or soldier; and there was then more travel across the southern part of the Territory than now, more need for troops there, and more Indians. It therefore becomes a question if this large expenditure cannot be reduced by reducing the number of troops in the country to the minimum, consistent with the interest of the whole country. For these reasons I have recommended, and the division commander has approved and ordered, the concentration of troops in Arizona at the most important posts, both with a view to economy and their greater efficiency.

“The transportation of freight heretofore by land from Yuma Depot to Tucson, for the supply of southern Arizona, will hereafter, (if present arrangements answer), be dispensed with, and supplies will be sent by water to Guaymas, and thence to Tucson, at a saving of nearly one-half. These and other means taken to that end, it is hoped, will reduce the quartermaster's estimates at least one-third. The additional comforts now furnished the troops in this department, such as better quarters, post and company gardens, canned fruits and vegetables, (where vegetables cannot be raised), have reduced the number of desertions. There

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were reported as deserted last year six hundred and ninety-four (694) men, to date this year, one hundred and sixty-three (163) only are reported, and the troops have shown by their increased energy and zeal that there is much gratitude in the stomach, and that the best way to keep the soldier is to keep him comfortable when not in the field.

“When the troops in Arizona are concentrated, a portion of them can be usefully employed as parties, with engineer officers and proper facilities, exploring the extensive district north of the Upper Gila, and on both sides of the Little Colorado, now comparatively unknown, and it may be found valuable in minerals. I recommend that Congress be asked for an appropriation of fifteen or twenty thousand dollars and that three or four competent engineer officers be detailed on this duty. The division commander authorizes me to say that escorts can be furnished them from this department. Should the appropriation I recommend be granted, these exploring expeditions will give us reliable information, now much needed, of the country through which the thirty-fifth parallel railroad is proposed to be built, and contribute to the protection of the parties of adventurous miners who are pushing their way into those wilds, many of them with insufficient supplies or means of defense, and who are not to be deterred because others have gone there and never been heard of.

“Portions of a band of Pi-Utes, from northern Arizona, who frequent the valley of northern California, and who, under the skillful

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soldiership of General Crook, commanding the department of the Columbia, were compelled to submit last year, have been recently troublesome in Surprise Valley. Additional troops have been sent there, and the matter has been, by order of the division commander, placed under control of the commander of the sub-district of the Lakes, composed of portions of this Department and that of the Columbia, with orders to act in the premises, so that no serious difficulty need be apprehended.

“In connection with the reduction of civil employees, ordered from Washington, it was found unnecessary to discharge many civilians in this department, the reduction having been already made to nearly the maximum allowed; but I beg leave to call attention to the fact that the duties of blacksmiths, farriers, carpenters, wheelwrights, teamsters, guides, interpreters, packers, and other skilled laborers, are as necessary in building, wagonmaking and repairing, shoeing, transporting freight, and other similar duties for the army, as they are for the business and support of our frontier towns; that our army posts are the nucleus around which such towns collect; and there are not mechanics or skillful laborers in the United States willing to enlist as soldiers and perform such duties for sixteen dollars per month in greenbacks, when in every village or settlement among the mountains and plains such labor is worth from three to ten dollars in gold per day. The result is, we have not soldiers to do such work, and either civilians must be hired to perform it for the army, or the army posts and expeditions in the

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Indian country must be abandoned and the troops concentrated at places where they are not needed.

“I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

“E. O. C. ORD,

“Brigadier and Brevet Major-General Commanding.

“Brevet Major-General E. D. TOWNSEND,

“Adjutant-General United States Army.”


In the foregoing report nothing is said of Colonel Green's order depriving Captain Barry of his command, and preferring charges against him. An entirely different version of that episode is given from that given by Mr. Banta, whose life was forfeit had Captain Barry obeyed orders.

The policy of extermination of the Apaches was followed by the military, and the citizens of Arizona to a great extent, up to 1870. In 1869, after the inauguration of President Grant, a Peace Commission was appointed. Their activities in Arizona will be treated fully in subsequent pages of this history.

In 1869, while the war was pressed ruthlessly both in the northern and southern territory of Arizona, the exterminating policy, to some extent, was relaxed in the northern portion of the Territory, but it seems was relentlessly prosecuted in the southern portion.

The following, taken from a story by Banta, which was printed in his paper, “The Observer,” in St. Johns, Apache County, in the year 1911, gives a vivid picture of conditions as they existed prior to and during the year 1869:

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“That readers of ‘The Observer’ may better comprehend conditions as they existed forty-two years ago, in a country now covered with happy homes and settlements long since unused to the whoop of the cruel, bloodthirsty and savage Apache, a country known at that time as the ‘Apacheria’ and unknown and unexplored by white men. True, King S. Woolsey, with a force of two hundred citizens, fought his way into the Tonto Basin in the spring of 1864, but after the celebrated ‘Pinole Treaty,’ was forced to fight his way out again, and from that time down, almost to 1880, the country remained a terra incognita. The section of which I speak, included the whole country north of the Gila river, and east of the Verde river; also bounded on the north by the Little Colorado river, and on the east by the frontier villages of western New Mexico. These Mexican villages were subject to Indian raids, by either Navahos or Apaches, at any and all times down to comparatively recent times.

“The military, ever in advance, had established camps at several points near the southern and western edges of this Apacheria; in fact, Camp Reno was located well inside the Apache lines, being near the eastern base of the Mazatzal range, and perhaps two or three miles west of Tonto Creek. This camp was garrisoned with one company of infantry, and the camp was almost daily harassed by the Tonto Apaches under the leadership of Chief Da-chay-ya. The Apaches were so numerous and hovered so closely about the camp, that it was considered dangerous to even wander a hundred yards from

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the military camp. If wood were needed, a detachment of soldiers was sent with wagons, and many times the wood party had to fight for their lives. In all the country of which this story relates, not a single white man had his habitat, nor a settlement existed.

“Before dosing these preliminary remarks, it is necessary that I should say a few words anent the military, their camps, locations and operations.

“At the time the event of which this story relates, the year 1869, the Territory of Arizona was subdivided into two military districts, the northern commanded by Brevet Brigadier General Frank Wheaton, with his headquarters at Fort Whipple; the southern district, and the one in which this story is concerned, was commanded by Brevet-Brigadier General Thomas E. Devin, with headquarters at Camp McDowell. Arizona at that time was in the Military Department of the Pacific, commanded by Brigadier General E. O. C. Ord. Camp Goodwin, first established by the California Volunteers in 1864, and named in honor of Arizona's first acting governor—not the first appointed by Mr. Lincoln, but the first one to act—was situated about three miles south of the Gila river, but after being occupied for a number of years, it was finally abandoned on account of its unhealthfulness. Camp Goodwin pertained to the southern military district, and in 1869 was garrisoned with several companies of the First Cavalry, besides infantry, under the command of Colonel John Green. The troops Stationed in the Territory in 1869 were the First and Eighth Regiments of

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Cavalry; also the 12th Infantry, and the ‘thieving’ 14th Infantry.

“Along in the year 1869, and years prior thereto, the Apaches were exceedingly troublesome — their normal condition, however — and were incessantly committing acts of pillage, rapine and, murder throughout almost the whole of southern Arizona. General Devin was reliably informed that many of the depredations that were committed in various parts of southern Arizona, and laid at the door of Cochise and other bands of Apaches south of the Gila, were being committed by the Apaches from the Apacheria of the north.

“Early in July, 1869, Colonel Green, commanding at Camp Goodwin, received orders from McDowell headquarters, to take all his available force, and personally head a campaign of ‘extermination’ against the Apaches in the mountains north of the Gila river. Pursuant to orders, Colonel Green crossed the Gila at the head of four troops of the first cavalry and a small auxiliary force of friendly Apaches under Chief Manuel. The Colonel plunged at once into the unknown mountain fastnesses, and after many days' clambering and climbing over almost precipitous and worse, canyons, the command finally encamped on the evening of July 27th, 1869, near the junction of two mountain streams, which are now known as the east and west forks of White River, and about a quarter of a mile west of the present Fort Apache. All along the line of march hostiles were met with, many of whom were killed, and more wounded. Any stock seen by the troopers were killed, and all

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growing crops destroyed. In fact, it was a campaign of retaliation—one of extermination and devastation.

“At this point Colonel Green, finding himself in the very heart of the Apacheria, decided to establish a camp as a working base, and named it Camp Ord. His acts were afterward approved by the General commanding, and the camp made permanent by a general order. That camp is now known as Fort Apache.”



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