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The Geronimo campaign

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. 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 ut 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 vanishing frontier. 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 tolose 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 species. ” 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 1872. 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 followers.

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 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 anticlimactic. 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. The 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.

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. 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 and bloodshed. 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 the whites. 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 Can 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.

Before he died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Feb. , 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.

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