More than 5,000 troops were under General Miles’ command at that time, including
elements of the 4th, 6th and 10th Cavalry. He gave the principal pursuit mission to the 4th
because it was headquartered at Fort Huachuca, the base of operations for the campaign.
The Army had permission to go to Mexico in pursuit.
Captain Henry Lawton, commanding officer of B Troop, 4th Cavalry, was an
experienced soldier who knew the ways of the Apaches. His tactics were to wear them
down by constant pursuit.
Stationed at the fort at that time were many men who would later become wellknown in the
Army: Colonel W. B. Royall, commanding officer of the fort and the 4th Cavalry, who was
responsible for the logistical support of the Geronimo campaign; Leonard Wood, who went
along on the expedition as contract surgeon; Lieutenant Colonel G. H. Forsyht; Captain
C.A.P. Hatfield; Captain J.H. Dorst; and First Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke, who was
immortalized by the artist, Remington, for saving a black trooper during the campaign.
With the fort as advance base for the pursuit forces, the heliograph communications
network, which General Miles had established in Arizona and New Mexico, was used
effectively for logistical purposes. However, the Indians and the Army were conducting
their chase in Mexico where the system did not extend. So the most the heliograph could
do in the campaign was relay messages brought by fast riders from the border.
April 1, 1886 was the date that Captain Lawton led his troopers with two pack trains and
30 Indian Scouts through the Huachuca Mountains to Nogales, Mexico, to pick up
Geronimo’s trail. Though various units would join the pursuit later and separate to follow
trails left by the Indians back and forth across the border, there were few times that Army
troops and members of Geronimo’s band would come face to face.
Four Months later, Captain Lawton and Leonard Wood were sent back to Fort Huachcua,
worn down by the rough country and grueling campaign.
More than 3,000 miles were covered by the Indians and the Army during the chase, which
took a month longer than General Miles had planned. The men had walked and ridden
through some of the most inaccessible desert land in North America, in heat sometimes
above 110 degrees.
After Geronimo’s surrender, B Troop of the 4th Cavalry was given the mission of
escorting the Apache’s to Florida.
The chase of Geronimo caught the interest of the Nation and the World. In 1887 President
Grover Cleveland approved the transfer of B Troop, 4th Cavalry to Fort Myer, VA, near
Washington, D.C. There, with Captain Lawton still commanding, the troop formed an
honor guard, and were reviewed by dignitaries, both foreign and national.
Captain Lawton, who had won the Medal of Honor with the 30th Indiana Infantry in the
Civil War, also fought in Cuba in 1898, and was killed in action in the Philippines in 1899
as a Major General.
Leonard Wood kept a complete account of the Geronimo campaign and later, when he was
assigned to Cuba, put to good use his experiences in the pursuit. In 1895 in Cuba he
served under General Samuel Whitside, who had founded Fort Huachuca in March 1877 as
a Captain of B Company, 6th Cavalry. Leonard Wood later rose to the rank of General
and became Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Elements of the 4th were stationed at Fort Huachuca from 1884 to 1890. During World
War II the 4th was reorganized and redesignated the 4th Cavalry, Mechanized. After
numerous reassignments and changes, it became the 4th Cavalry, Armored.
An Apache war chief, Geronimo, and a small band of warriors broke
out of a concentration camp. He fought a guerrilla campaign against
hundreds of United States cavalry and held out for months by raiding
from the mountains which had been the Apache range until the white men
came. While the cavalry followed rumours and false trails from canyon
to mesa, newspapers in the east quickly made the defiant Apache a folk
legend, demonizing him and at the same time making him a symbol of the
It was only with the help of other Apache scouts that the cavalry
at last cornered Geronimo and negotiated his surrender. Geronimo, who
had left the army concentration camps twice before, returned to the
fences and lived until he was old by learning to sign his name in
English and selling his autographs at ‘wild west’ shows. Suffering
from tuberculosis and pneumonia, Geronimo died pathetically on a winter
night, alone, after falling from his horse. He had had a vision that
he would die astride a horse.
There is so much about Geronimo that is appealing as a story.
Geronimo the Man was a brilliant personal leader, charismatic and
proud, and immensely spiritual–a hero in the real sense. The plight
of the Apache, like the story of Wounded Knee, was for those who stayed
in the reserves, one of suffering and inhumanity. As Geronimo’s
exploits became daily fare in the newspapers, the American government’s
Indian policy became the subject of political machinations that
extended even to the President. The hunt for Geronimo, himself, of
course, is the classic David vs. Goliath story become life.
. They set up camp on the
outskirts of the pueblos, dressed in animal skins, used dogs as pack animals, and
pitched tentlike dwellings made of brush or hide, called wikiups.
They exchanged buffalo hides, tallow and meat, bones that could be worked into
needles and scrapers, and salt from the desert with the Pueblos for pottery, cotton,
blankets, turquoise, corn and other goods. But at times they simply saw what they
wanted and took it. They became known among the Pueblo villages by another name,
apachu, the enemy. However, the Apache and Pueblos managed to maintain generally
peaceful relations. But the arrival of the Spaniards changed everything.
Their prowess in battle became the stuff of legend. An Apache warrior, it was said,
could run 50 miles without stopping and travel more swiftly than a troop of mounted
soldiers. During the mid-1700’s, one Apache raid caused as many as 4,000 colonists to
lose their lives. In the late 1800’s, one U.S. Army general who had fought them meant it
as a grudging compliment when he described the Apache as tigers of the human
The Apache saw themselves differently, they faced constant struggle to survive. When
they raided a village, they did so from pure necessity, to provide corn for their families
when game was scarce. Most of the time they went their own way, moving from camp to
camp in pursuit of deer and buffalo, collecting roots and berries, sometimes planting
seeds that they later returned to harvest.
Apache lived in extended family groups, all loosely related through the female line.
Generally speaking, each group operated independently under a respected family
leader….settling its own disputes, answering to no higher human authority. The main
exception to this occurred during wartime, when neighboring groups banded together to
fight a common enemy. Unlike ordinary raiding, where the main object was to acquire
food and possessions, war meant lethal business: an act of vengeance for the deaths of
band members in earlier raids or battles. Leaders of the local family groups would meet in
council to elect a war chief, who led the campaign. But if any one group preferred to
follow its own war chief, it was free to do so.
A strict code of conduct governed Apache life, based on strong family loyalties. The
most important bond led from an Apache mother to her children and on to her
grandchildren….Beyond this code of propriety and family obligations, the Apache
shared a rich oral history of myths and legends and a legacy of intense religious
devotion that touched virtually every aspect of their lives.
Cochise assumed leadership of the hostiles. From his stronghold in the Dragoon
Mountains of sourthern Arizona, he and about 200 warriors renewed their attacks on
white settlements. At this point another US commander, Gen. George Crook, tried a
strategy that proved more effective than any firearm-using Apache scouts as diplomats
who traveled from band to band, cajoling their kinsmen to move onto federal
reservations. Reassured that his people would not be forced to relocate to the dreaded
Ft. Tularosa in western New Mexico, but instead could retain their ancestral lands on a
reservation in the Chiricahua mountains, Cochise and his followers relented in the fall of
A peaceful interlude for the Apache held until 1875, when the government sought to
consolidate all the Apache bands on the San Carlos Reservation along the Gila River.
Many independent-minded fighters among the Warm Springs and Chiricahua groups
balked at the idea. Leading the Warm Springs renegades was Victorio who fled from San
Carlos in September 1877 with more than 300 folowers. Recaptured a month later, he
staged another breakout with 80 warriors within a year. Victorio’s swift-moving bands
crossed the Rio Grande repeatedly-until a sharpshooter killed him in Chihuahua, Mexico
in October 1880.
Shortly after Victorio’s death the appalling conditions on the San Carlos Reservation
sparked a further series of Apache breakouts…a new leader emerged from among the
Apache guerrillas, a seasoned fighter who had fought alongside Cochise and Victorio.
He was named Goyathlay, or One Who Yawns, but he was better known as Geronimo.
Geronimo led about 70 Chiricahua warriors along with their families across the Rio
Grande….But this time a regiment of Mexican troops managed to cut off most of the
Apache women and children and slaughtered them all. General Crook …was back in
Arizona territory. War-weary and losing followers, Geromino managed to evade the paid
Apache scouts Crook used to track him down until May 1883, when Crook located his
base camp and took the women and children hostage. The last of Geromino’s band
finally gave themselves up in March 1884.
In May 1885 Geronimo and other leaders were caught consuming home-brewed corn
beer, a violation of army rules. While the authorities debated his punishment, Geronimo
cut the telegraph wires, killed a ranching family, and slipped back into his old haunts in
Mexico’s Sierra Madre with 134 warriors. In March 1886, Crook finally managed a
two-day parley with Geronimo in Mexico’s Canon de los Embudos. Geronimo agreed to
surrender and accept a two-year imprisonment at Ft Marion, 2,000 miles away in Florida.
But along the way, while being led to Ft Bowie by Apache scouts, Geronimo and a
handful of his followers broke free again.
The army at this point replaced Crook with Gen. Nelson Miles, who committed 5,000
troops and 400 Apache scouts to the recapture of Geronimo. Even when confronted by a
force of this magnitude…Geronimo’s band of 38 men, women, and children still eluded
their pursuers for six months. When Apache scouts finally talked Geronimo into laying
down his gun in early September 1886, the surrender was bloodless and strangely
Recounted Geronimo’s cousin Jason Betzinex:Kayitah [an Apache scout] delivered
General Miles’ message. The general wanted them to give themselves up without any
guarantees. The Indians seemed stunned. Finally Geronimo’s half-brother, White Horse,
spoke out. ‘I am going to surrender. My wife and children have been captured. I love
them, and want to be with them.’ Then another brother said that if White Horse was
going, he would go too. In a moment the third and youngest brother made a similar
statement. Geronimo stood for a few moments without speaking. At length he said
slowly, I don’t know what to do. I have been depending heavily on you three men. You
have been great fighters in battle. If you are going to surrender, there is no use in my
going without you. I will give up with you.’
Almost immediately Gen Miles had Geronimo’s band taken into custody-along with the
Apache scouts who had tracked him down-and put on a train for Florida. Their
destination was Ft Marion, the old Spanish fortress in St. Augustine where the army
imprisoned its most dangerous Indians. There Geronimo would spend the next eight
years. Released from confinement in 1894, the old guerilla accepted an offer from the
Kiowa and Comanche to share their reservation in Indian Territory and spent his final
years as a farmer outside Oklahoma’s Ft Sill. He joined the Dutch Reformed church,
where he taught Sunday school. Later, with government approval, Geronimo spent a
year with a Wild West show and appeared in Omaha, Buffalo, New York, and at the St.
Louis World’s Fair, where he made money selling his photographs and bows and arrows.
In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt invited him to Washington DC to ride in the
inaugural parade. But to the day of his death in 1909, Arizona never considered
Geronimo safe enough to let him set foot in his homeland again.
Around 1917 after the Selective Service Act was passed, many Native Americans had
rushed to join the armed forces. By war’s end, about 17,000 were in uniform-close to 30%
of adult Indian males, double the national average. Commanding General John J.
Pershing authorized an Apache company of scouts: some of them were descendants of
warriors Pershing himself had fought on the Sothwestern frontier 30 years earlier.
In protest of Nazi Germany’s aggression in Europe, the Apache along with the Navajo,
Papago and Hopi, banned the swastika, an ancient native symbol, from their blanket and
basket designs. Apache Miguel Flores and Hopi Fred Kabotie signed the document
proclaiming the ban in February 1940.
Chiricahua Apache. (1829-1909)
To the Apaches, Geronimo embodied the very essence of the
Apache values, agressiveness, courage in the face of
difficulty. These qualities inspired fear in the settlers of
Arizona and New Mexico. The Chiricahuas were mostly
migratory following the seasons, hunting and farming. When
food was scarce, it was the custom to raid neighboring tribes.
Raids and vengeance were an honorable way of life among
the tribes of this region.
By the time American settlers began arriving in the area, the
Spanish had become entrenched in the area, they were
always looking for Indian slaves and Christian converts. It
was the Spanish who raided and killed Geronimo’s young wife and child and reportedly caused such
a hatred of the whites that he vowed to kill as many as he could.
In 1876, the U.S. Army tried to move the Chiricahuas onto a reservation, but Geronimo fled to
Mexico eluding the troops for over a decade. Sensationalized press reports exaggerated Geronimo’s
activities, making him the most feared and infamous Apache. The last few months of the campaign
required over 5,000 soldiers and 500 scouts to track down Geronimo and his band.
Geronimo finally surrendered on the urging of his followers in September after the Army promised
that after a period of time he would be able to return to Arizona. Geronimo and his followers were
shipped to St. Augustine, Florida where many died from malaria or tuberculosis. Geronimo never
again saw his beloved Arizona and died a prisioner many years later on a reservation in Oklahoma.
Quotes from Geronimo:
I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes.
I was living peaceably when people began to speak bad of me.
Now I can eat well, sleep well and be glad. I can go everywhere with a good feeling.
The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the
misdeeds of the Indians.
We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.
I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us.
There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the
darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.
When a child, my mother taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom and
Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person
prayed for all of us… and to Usen.
I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of
the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.
In 1874, some 4,000 Apaches were forcibly moved by
U.S. authorities to a reservation at San Carlos, a
barren wasteland in east-central Arizona. Deprived of
traditional tribal rights, short on rations and homesick,
they turned to Geronimo and others who led them in
the depredations that plunged the region into turmoil
In the early 1870s, Lieutenant Colonel George F.
Crook, commander of the Department of Arizona, had
succeeded in establishing relative peace in the territory.
The management of his successors, however, was disastrous, and spurred by
Geronimo, hundreds of Apaches left the reservation to resume their war against
In 1882, Crook was recalled to Arizona to conduct a campaign against the
Indians. Geronimo surrendered in January 1884, but took flight from the San
Carlos reservation in May 1885, accompanied by 35 men, 8 boys and 101 women.
Crook, along with scouts Tom Horn and Mickey Free (the white child Cochise
was falsely accused of abducting) set out in pursuit, and 10 months later, on
March 27, 1886, Geronimo surrendered at Cañón de Los Embudos in Sonora,
Mexico. Near the border, however, fearing that they would be murdered once
they crossed into U.S. territory, Geronimo and a small band bolted. As a result,
Brigadier General Nelson A. Miles replaced Crook as commander on April 2.
During this final campaign, at least
5,000 white soldiers and 500 Indian
auxiliaries were employed at various
times in the capture of Geronimo’s
small band. Five months and 1,645
miles later, Geronimo was tracked to
his camp in the Sonora mountains.
At a conference on Sept. 3, 1886, at
Skeleton Canyon in Arizona, Miles
induced Geronimo to surrender once
again, promising him that, after an
indefinite exile in Florida, he and his
followers would be permitted to
return to Arizona.
he at first attempted to take the white
man’s road. The promise was never kept.
Geronimo and his fellow prisoners
were put to hard labor, and it was May 1887 before he saw his family. Moved to
Fort Sill in the Oklahoma Territory in 1894,
. Before he died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Feb. 17,
Geronimo has the distinction of being the last
American Indian to formally surrender to the United States government–but only
after a long struggle. Geronimo was the leader of the Chiricahua band of the Apache
tribe in what is now southwest New Mexico, southeast Arizona, and northern Mexico. He grew up
in a time of intense regional conflict between Mexicans, Americans, and Indians. In 1858 Mexican
soldiers killed his mother, wife, and children, and Geronimo vowed to take revenge. No settler on
either side of the border–and no fellow Indian–was immune to his attacks.
Both the Mexican and the American armies, aided by rival Apaches, pursued him for more than ten
years. Though they captured Geronimo twice, he escaped both times. In 1886 Geronimo surrendered
for the last time, but on his own terms. He remained in the custody of the army, and after a brief
imprisonment, he worked as an army scout in Oklahoma. Later in life, with few other resources
available, Geronimo capitalized on his fame, selling souvenirs and appearing at public events such as
Teddy Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade. Said a judge who presided at his trial, There is not,
probably, in the history or tradition or myths of the human race another instance of such prolonged
resistance against such tremendous odds.
Geronimo (1829-1909), Native American, chief of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, born in
present-day Clifton, Arizona. After his wife, children, and mother were killed by Mexicans
in 1858, he participated in a number of raids against Mexican and American settlers, but
eventually settled on a reservation. In 1876 the U.S. government attempted to move the
Chiricahua from their traditional home to San Carlos, New Mexico; Geronimo then began
ten years of intermittent raids against white settlements, alternating with periods of
peaceful farming on the San Carlos reservation. In March 1886, the American general
George Crook captured Geronimo and forced a treaty under which the Chiricahua would
be relocated in Florida; two days later Geronimo escaped and continued his raids. General
Nelson Miles then took over the pursuit of Geronimo, who was chased into Mexico and
captured the following September. The Native Americans were sent to Florida, Alabama,
and finally to Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, where they settled as farmers. Geronimo
eventually adopted Christianity. He took part in the inaugural procession of President
Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. Geronimo dictated his memoirs, published in 1906 as
Geronimo’s Story of His Life. He died at Fort Sill on February 17, 1909.
And there is no question of their modern identity. Through steadfastness, strategy, and
an understanding of business they have done well for themselves. Money from the wool
of their thousands of sheep is supplemented handsomely by income from their hundreds
of gas and oil wells.
They have been able to adapt to many cultural and environmental changes in just 200
years. Though the old ways are maintained, the Jicarilla have become modern warriors.
They are brilliant business people with strong leaders, and are also very successful in
their dealings with the U.S. Government.
Geronimo was born in June of 1829 in No-doyohn Cañon, Arizona. His tribal
name was Goyathley, which means “one who yawns”. Later in life he became
known as Geronimo, “Little Jerome”. The Mexicans called him that in derision.
As he learned to talk his mother told him stories of the sun, moon, stars, wild
beasts, and Usen the “Great Spirit” who made everything and should be
worshipped. He spent the first few years of his childhood running free and playing
with his three brothers and four sisters until he was old enough to be put to work
in the fields. When he was 8 or 9 years old he began hunting. He first learned to
stalk deer by crawling long distances from bush to bush, taking hours to creep
close enough to launch his arrow. As he grew older he went after bigger game
such as bears and mountain lions. The only weapons he used were spears and
arrows and he was never injured in a fight with any of them.
When he was 17 he was admitted into the council of warriors. He could come
and go as he pleased and was able to sit in at talks, he could get married. Shortly
after he asked Alope’s father for her name in marriage. They had been lovers for
a long time before this. To insult him, her father told Geronimo she was worth
many ponies than he knew Geronimo had. In a few days Geronimo was seen
riding up in a cloud of dust driving a herd of ponies. He gave the ponies to
Alope’s father and proudly rode off with her. They made a home together not far
from his mother’s teepee. Alope was not very strong, but she gave Geronimo
In the summer of 1858, when he was near the age of 30 he accompanied his tribe
to Mexico to trade. They made camp a short distance from a town. When most
of the men rode into town to barter with the citizens, they left only a small guard
over their possessions, wives, and children. On their way back they encountered
fugitive women from their tribe who told them Mexicans raided the camp. They
stole their ponies and valuables and killed most of the women and children. The
braves separated and approached the camp from different directions. The
information was true. Geronimo found his wife, three children and mother slain.
Geronimo recalls “…there were no lights in camp, so without being noticed I
silently turned away and stood by the river. How long I stood there I do not know
but when I saw the warriors arranging for council I took my place.” This incident
marked a turning point in his life-Geronimo learned to hate that day and he never
forgot the lesson the Mexicans taught him.
Within a few months three tribes agreed to join them on the warpath. They
traveled silently and swiftly on foot. Horses would leave too plain a trail and on
foot they could dodge and twist around the mountains so they could not be
followed. When they reached the town of Arispe eight men were sent out to
parley with them. The Indians killed and then scalped them in plain sight of the
villagers, in order to draw the Mexicans out into an open fight and was successful.
The next morning two groups of Calvary and infantry were sent out. Geronimo
recognized some of them who took part in the killing of his family, and his hate
blazed even more.
The battle between the red and white was very fierce and the Mexicans were
shocked at seeing the Indians stand so firmly against them. As the Mexicans tried
to push them off the field the Indians would disappear and then reappear in
clusters everywhere. Geronimo arranged his men in a hollow circle near the river
where they were sheltered by timber. When the Mexicans tried to dislodge them
he threw his men to attack from the rear confusing the Mexicans. However, the
Mexicans withstood the attack and the fight lasted for two hours. After only eight
men were left, four Mexicans and four Indians, the Indians arrows were all gone
and their spears were broken in the bodies of enemies. Left with their bare hands
and small knives to fight with, they turned to face the Mexicans who fired and
two warriors fell. Geronimo and the other Indian turned to flee but his companion
was struck down. Geronimo was left to fight the four Mexican soldiers. He pulled
a spear out of a body and killed the closest to him. He stole his saber and killed
the next one. By now he was covered in blood ready to kill the other two but they
had disappeared. Other Indians saw what took place and rejoiced because the
massacre was now avenged. Geronimo was elected war chief of their tribe.
Across thousands of square miles of the Great American Desert, Geronimo, along with Chief Juh
and a handful of Apache men, women and children, would lead thousands of soldiers of two
nations on bloody chase. Consistently outgunned and perenially outmanned, Geronimo’s legend
would grow as he continually overcame enormous odds, perfidious government agents and
Apache scouts recruited by the US Cavalry.
Geronimo had had a taste of blood and he couldn’t go back. He planned series of raid on the
Mexican towns and struck quickly, killing anyone in his path. He stole horses and headed for the
Sierra Madre mountains. He continued this for years. Geronimo was wounded seven times
throughout these years and once was left for dead.
In 1868, Mexicans rounded up the horses and mules of a tribe not far from Geronimo’s. It had
been a year since any there were any raids on Mexico and it was unexpected. Later that afternoon
two Mexican scouts were seen near his settlement and were killed. The Mexicans got away with
their horses before they were seen. Geronimo took twenty warriors to trail the Mexicans. Along
the way they attacked some cowboys and took their stock. Nine cowboys were trailing them in
turn. He sent the stock ahead with some of his warriors and stayed behind with three warriors to
intercept the cowboys. They spotted the cowboys camp, waited until they were asleep then led
away their horses without waking them. They rode on the horses to catch up to the rest of the
warriors traveling at night. The cowboys did not follow them and never heard anything from the
Mexicans about the incident. This incident and the ruse palyed on the cowboys led to more fame
and the legend of Geronimo grew.
After this it was a long time before there was any interaction between the Indians and Mexicans
again. In the spring of 1871 Apaches drifted into Camp Grant for protection and food. The person
in charge of Camp Grant was Lieutenant Whitman. He took an interest in the Indians and issued
them rations and gave them a place for their teepees. On April 30 Lieutenant Whitman received
news some white men were going to attack the camp and kill all the Indians. By the time
Lieutenant Whitman got there it was too late. After this there were many fights between the Indians
and the white men for quite a few years. Even though most of the Indians wanted peace all the
treaties were broken by one side or the other.
In 1863, Mangus- Colorado (their chief) went to make a peace treaty with some white men at a
settlement at Apache Tejo, New Mexico. It was agreed they would issue blankets, flour, beef,
and other various supplies from the government. When he returned and gave this news to his tribe
Geronimo didn’t believe the white men would follow their part of the bargain. The tribe decided to
test their good faith. Mangus-Colorado returned to get some provisions. He, and with the men
from his tribe who accompanied him, never returned. Geronimo and the rest of the tribe heard
news they were captured and killed. The tribe escaped into the mountains in fear the white men
would come after them next. They were attacked several times by United States troops and all
their valuables stolen.
Geronimo’s tribe was starving and heard that Chief Victorio of the Chihenne Apaches was holding
a meeting with white men in New Mexico. His tribe had always been friendly with them and they
had provisions so the went to meet with them. Victorio gave them supplies for the winter and they
stayed with them for about a year. After they left they ran into General Howard. He issued them
clothing rations, and supplies from the government. These rations were issued about once a month.
After some fights between the Indians of different tribes, Geronimo and his tribe decided to leave
the Apache Pass and rejoined Victorio’s band.
After they arrived in New Mexico messengers were sent for Victorio and Geronimo. They seemed
to be friendly so they accompanied them to meet the officers. They were brought to headquarters
and were tried by court-martial. After answering a few questions Victorio was released and
Geronimo was put in chains and sentenced to the guardhouse. Geronimo was told this was
because he left the Apache Pass. Seven other Apaches were also sentenced to the guardhouse.
Geronimo did not know he was not allowed to leave. The other Indians had followed Geronimo,
not knowing they were doing anything wrong. After four months he was transferred to San Carlos
and released. There was no longer any trouble with the soldiers, but he didn’t feel comfortable or
welcome at the post. He and a few of his followers lived above San Carlos. In the summer of
1883 they decided to leave the reservation rather than go to Fort Thomas as they were asked to.
They traveled into Mexico and decided to remain there for fear of treachery.
There were many fights between the Indians and the Mexicans so the Indians decided to break up
into smaller groups and leave. Six men and four women accompanied Geronimo to New Mexico.
Along the way they killed every Mexican they came across and stole their supplies. They later met
up with their tribe in the Sierra de Antunez Mountains. United States soldiers trailed them and they
had fights with them almost every day. Eventually the Apache made a treaty with the Mexicans
agreeing they wouldn’t fight anymore and the Indians would return to the United States. They
hoped to make a treaty with the United States as well. Geronimo sent word to Captain Lawton’s
men he wanted to make a treaty with them. On his way he was told General Miles would like to
make a treaty with him so he went to see him. General Miles told him he was sent by the President
of the United States to speak with him and would like peace between Geronimo and the white
men. They both took an oath they would not do any wrong to each other. General Miles told
Geronimo if he would surrender and become a man of peace he would be give a house, land, and
men to work on his land. Even though Geronimo did not fully believe him he agreed and laid down
his arms. As Geronimo thought, General Miles did not stand up to his end of the bargain.
General Nelson A. Miles was then appointed the new commander of the Army in the Southwest.
He set a three month limit on Geronimo’s freedom. More than 5,000 troops were under General
Miles’ command at that time, including elements of the 4th, 6th and 10th Cavalry. He gave the
principal pursuit mission to the 4th because it was headquartered at Fort Huachuca, the base of
operations for the campaign. The Army had permission to go to Mexico in pursuit.
Captain Henry Lawton, commanding officer of B Troop, 4th Cavalry, was an experienced
soldier who knew the ways of the Apaches. His tactics were to wear them down by constant
pursuit. Stationed at the fort at that time were many men who would later become well known in
the Army: Colonel W. B. Royall, commanding officer of the fort and the 4th Cavalry, who was
responsible for the logistical support of the Geronimo campaign; Leonard Wood, who went along
on the expedition as contract surgeon; Lieutenant Colonel G. H. Forsyht; Captain C.A.P. Hatfield;
Captain J.H. Dorst; and First Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke, who was immortalized by the artist,
Remington, for saving a black trooper during the campaign.
With the fort as advance base for the pursuit forces, the heliograph communications network,
which General Miles had established in Arizona and New Mexico, was used effectively for
logistical purposes. However, the Indians and the Army were conducting their chase in Mexico
where the system did not extend. So the most the heliograph could do in the campaign was relay
messages brought by fast riders from the border.
April 1, 1886 was the date that Captain Lawton led his troopers with two pack trains and 30
Indian Scouts through the Huachuca Mountains to Nogales, Mexico, to pick up Geronimo’s trail.
Though various units would join the pursuit later and separate to follow trails left by the Indians
back and forth across the border, there were few times that Army troops and members of
Geronimo’s band would come face to face.
Four Months later, Captain Lawton and Leonard Wood were sent back to Fort Huachcua, worn
down by the rough country and grueling campaign.
More than 3,000 miles were covered by the Indians and the Army during the chase, which took a
month longer than General Miles had planned. The
men had walked and ridden through some of the most inaccessible desert land in North America,
in heat sometimes above 110 degrees.
At the turn of the century, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in
America. Everyone was susceptible; but some were more susceptible than
others. Northern Europeans, who’d been exposed for generations, had acquired
some resistance to TB, but populations that had never faced the disease had
In the fall of 1886, 5000 US soldiers captured a force of 35 Chiricahua Apaches
that had had never been touched by TB. The rag-tag band of warriors, women
and children was headed by Chief Naiche and his now-legendary medicine man,
Geronimo. The remainder of the tribe, 500 in all, had been living peacefully on
reservations in Arizona; but the government sent them with Geronimo’s band to a
Florida prison. On the journey from the desert southwest to the humid east coast,
tuberculosis attacked the Chiricahua for the first time.
After ten days on the train, the Apaches were interned at Fort Marion in St.
Augustine. They were crowded together on the fort’s parapet; their outhouse was
a sandy floor a few feet from the water supply. Weakened by the journey, sick
from unfamiliar food and filthy living conditions, the Indians did not have the
strength to fight the disease.
Fearing a mutiny, the army shipped Geronimo and his seventeen men to Fort
Pickens, an island prison three hundred miles to the west. Local authorities began
to ferry tourists across Pensacola Bay to meet and mingle with the famous
Apache warriors. Geronimo played to the sympathies of the tourists… ladies were
going back and forth bringing blueberry muffins, shirts, pants, food to the 17
warriors and none of them fell ill.
The army moved the remaining adults to Fort Vernon, in a humid, swampy part
of Alabama; their TB promptly became worse. Meanwhile, the children were sent
away to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.
There were 116 children initially removed from their parents. They lived in very
close dormitory quarters. Of the 116 Apache children at Carlisle, 37 died from
tuberculosis. Captain Henry Pratt who was the superintendent of Carlisle at the
time devised a plan and that was to put terminally ill Apache children on trains
and send them back to the prison camp at Mt. Vernon, Alabama to die and by
doing that, he avoided the statistics that were alarming government officials. Some
of the children were so ill that they died en route. When the train arrived at the
Mt. Vernon prison camp, those children who managed to survive the trip would
unload the corpses of their friends and put them into the arms of the waiting
parents who buried them. This was the case of Chappo who was at the Carlisle
school. He was sent home and Geronimo took him off the train, three days later
Chappo, the son of Geronimo, died.
Out of a population of 519 Chiricahua who were first imprisoned, approximately
300 died as victims of tuberculosis during their 27 years as American prisoners of
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More than 5,000 troops were under General Miles’ command at that time, including