Trouble with the Apache

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 hundred yards from the fort, where they stopped to see what was to follow, and make their escape in case of necessity. Many of their people crowded around them for protection and guidance. Some remained many minutes beckoning them to come back, and assuring them that they would not be hurt. They remained quiet until Colonel Craig, with the courage and determination which he exhibited in every trying scene, advanced alone toward them, told them he and all of us were still their friends, and invited them to the garrison where the man who had shot one of their people should be brought before them. They at once came forward; and while we all stood on the parade ground in front of the garrison, the prisoner was brought up with his feet in chains, by a file of the soldiers. We then passed into the quarters of Colonel Craig, for ¦an examination of the case. On questioning the prisoner why he had shot the Indian, he made no reply, except to say that on returning from the Mimbres, some Indians he met had threatened to kill him; although he did not pretend to say that the man he had shot was the one.

“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 muzzle, and deliberately shot him down, the ball passing through his body just above the heart. Jesus ran to the Indian’s horse which stood, near the tent, intending to make his escape. Mr. J. B. Stewart, who was not far off, and heard the report, levelled his rifle, threatening to shoot him if he stirred. The fellow stopped, and the next moment was a prisoner. When these facts were made known to Mangus Colorado and the other chiefs present, they were satisfied that the Americans were in no way implicated in the affair, and that it was a private quarrel between a Mexican and an Indian. They were equally satisfied when assured that the prisoner should be kept in chains and punished if the man died; and the conference ended in good feeling. The chief, Ponce, made a long speech on the occasion, and said they ‘all believed it the work of one bad man, and that the Commissioner had nothing to do with it. If the man died, they should require the punishment of the murderer. If he lived the Mexican should be compelled to labor, and the proceeds of it be given to the family of the wounded man, as a remuneration for the loss of his services.

“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 my friends, refusing both the coffin and burial, laid him across a mule, and carried him to their camp for interment, according to their own customs.

“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 feel sad, as well as all the Americans here, and sympathize with our Apache brothers for the death of one of their braves. We were all friends. The dead man was our friend, and we regret his loss. I know that he had committed no offense; that he even did not provoke the attack upon him. But our Apache brothers must remember that it was not by the hand of an American that his death was caused. It was by a Mexican, though a man in the employ of the commission. For this reason, it is my duty to see justice done you, and the murderer punished.

“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.

“Ponce, – This is all very good. The Apaches know that the Americans are their friends. The Apaches believe what the Americans say is true. They know that the Americans do not speak with two tongues. They know that you have never told them a lie. They know that you will do what you say. But the Apaches will not be satisfied to know that the murderer is punished in Santa Fe. They want him punished here, at the Copper Mines, where the band of the dead brave may see him put to death – where all the Apaches may see him put to death (making the sign of being suspended by the neck). Then the Apaches will see and know that their American brothers will do justice to them.

“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 of this brave demands the life of the murderer. Nothing else will satisfy her. She wants no money. She wants no goods. She wants no corn. Would money satisfy me, Ponce (at the same time striking his breast), for the death of my son? No! I would demand the life of the murderer. Then I would be satisfied. Then I would be willing to die myself. I would not wish to live and bear the grief which the loss of my son would cause me.

“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, was more to her than money or goods. The discussion was resumed.

“Ponce, – If an Apache should take the life of an American, would you not make war on us and take many Apache lives?

“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 bring them back as you have done. While the Apaches continue to do this, the Americans will be their friends and brothers. But if the Apaches take their property and you do not restore it, you can no longer be the friends of the Americans. War will then follow; thousands of soldiers will take possession of your best lands, your grass valleys, and your watering places. They will destroy every Apache they find, and take your women and children captives.

“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 these depredations, and the Commission was forced to leave, as soon as possible, the territory of the savage Apaches, for that occupied by the Pima and Maricopa tribes along the Gila River, and, in the subsequent treaty, known as the Gadsden treaty, the eleventh article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, previously mentioned, was abrogated, our Government having learned, by that time, more of the mammoth task it had undertaken in agreeing to protect the frontier of Mexico against Apache incursions. Santa Ana, then dictator of Mexico, consented to the abrogation of this clause, and gave as his excuse to his countrymen, that he did not think or believe that the American Government ever intended to carry it out.

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 and disclaimed any participation in the robbery or any knowledge of the missing animals. “They promised to hunt them up and restore them to Colonel Craig if found. Eight days after they kept their promise by making another raid upon the Colonel’s herd of mules, and relieving him of the necessity of guarding some twenty-five of those animals, and some fine horses. Having nothing but infantry in his command. Colonel Craig invoked the aid of Capt. Buford’s company of dragoons from Dona Ana. Soon after the arrival of that officer, another batch of animals disappeared in the same mysterious manner, and a joint scout of dragoons and mounted infantry started off to find the lost animals, and punish the robbers, if possible. The raid proved wholly ineffective; the animals were not discovered and the Indians were not punished, but during the absence of the force, word was brought that the Apaches had attacked the mining camp about three or four miles down the canyon, and were driving off the cattle. Lieutenant Whipple leading, about twenty of the Commission mounted their horses and gave immediate pursuit. The Indians were overhauled in a thick forest, and a party, consisting of about fifty warriors, stood ready for battle, while another detachment hurried on with the cattle. The Indians retreated as fast as possible, secreting themselves behind large pine trees, but at all times showing a bold and steady front. The pursuing party dismounted and, having been joined by Mr. Hay, the head miner, with four of his associates, left their horses in care of eight men, and took to the trees, keeping up a lively fire behind their friendly shelter. All doubt as to the identity of the robbers was soon set at rest, for they, headed by Delgadito, who kept at a safe distance, poured out torrents of violent abuse upon the Americans. Delgadito, only two nights before, had slept in the tent of one of the officers, and had then received from him a good shirt and a pair of shoes.

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 opprobrious 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, and no other warrior, at that time, could gather together such a large force of savages under one command. He possessed a powerful frame with iron sinews and muscles, and was gifted with an extraordinary amount of brain strength. Like other Apache chiefs, he fought his way to the top, through his genius, diplomacy and courage. His wonderful resources, his extraordinary ability in planning campaigns, his wise teachings and counsel, surrounded him with a large and influential band, which gave him a prominence among the different branches of his tribe. He was a power in Arizona and New Mexico. He never assumed authority not delegated to him. He never spoke as one having authority, but invariably said he would use his influence to perform certain engagements entered into. In one of his raids into Sonora, he carried off a handsome Mexican girl, whom he made his wife to the exclusion of his Apache squaws. This favoritism led to trouble in the tribe for a short time, but was suddenly ended by Mangus challenging to mortal combat any of the relatives or brothers of the discarded wives, according to the unwritten laws of his tribe. The wager was accepted by two of the relatives, and both were killed in fair duel. This Mexican wife bore to Mangus Colorado three really beautiful daughters, and through his diplomatic ability, exercising that statesmanship which prevailed in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, he married one to the chief of the Navajoes, another to the leading man of the Mescalero Apaches, and the third to the war chief of the Coyoteros, and, by so doing, acquired influence in those tribes, to such an extent that he could have their assistance in his raids whenever it was desired. He is described as a man of about six feet in height, with an enormously large head, broad and bold forehead, an aquiline nose, capacious mouth and broad heavy chin; his eyes rather small, flashing with great brilliancy under any excitement, although his outside demeanor was inexpressible as brass. He held Arizona and New Mexico under his dominion; he ravaged cities and towns in northern Chihuahua and Sonora, and destroyed large ranches teaming with cattle, horses and mules. Over a country three times as large as California, he held absolute dominion. Cruel, treacherous and revengeful, the record of his barbarities upon Mexicans and Americans would fill a volume. Not a man of extraordinary courage, yet he was so subtle in all his machinations as to compel admiration from his worst enemies. Had he lived under different environments; been an educated American; there is hardly a doubt but what he would have attained eminence among another race as he did among his own.

Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 1, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.

Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.

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