Apache bands roamed the area of Southeastern Arizona, plus Southern New Mexico (& other adjacent areas) in the 1800s. Their ways didn’t promote permanent homesteads – but these areas were their home. Settlers from the Eastern U.S. began relocating to the area.
The Apaches weren’t happy with the situation. Inevitably, conflicts occurred. People on both sides of the line had aggressive, uncompromising attitudes.
The Bascom Affair
In Jan. 1861 a Native American band entered a So. AZ ranch, kidnapping a young boy. Lt. George Bascom was assigned to scout it out & retrieve him. Bascom suspected the kidnapper was Cochise, the Chiricahua leader. Bascom sent word for Cochise to meet him to talk.
Cochise arrived at Bascom’s camp with his wife, 2 children & 2 men. He discovered he was accused of taking this boy. He denied it (he was innocent). But said he’d find out who it was & bring them in. Bascom said yes – arrange that, but he’d hold Cochise hostage until the culprits were detained.
Cochise was angrily vexed by that idea – he knifed a hole in the tent & escaped! His family & the 2 warriors were retained. Bascom now felt an Apache attack was imminent. He saw signal fires on the hills adjacent to Apache Pass.
Will Talks Help?
Cochise returned with 3 Coyotero Apache warriors to negotiate. Bascom, 2 sergeants & the boy’s father met him. More Apache warriors entered a dry gulch nearby. 2 Overland stage agents approached the gulch & a warrior grappled with one.
Gunfire erupted, crisscrossing from the Army & the Apaches. That ended this Cochise-Bascom meeting. Next Cochise started stalking stagecoaches as a pressure tactic. In 1 attack, he took 3 men hostage. Meanwhile more & more Apache warriors arrived at Apache Pass.
3 Apache Chiefs were there: Cochise, Francisco & Mangas Coloradas. Talks for hostage exchange got nowhere with Bascom. So next the Chiefs attacked Bascom’s troops. On escaping, the Apaches killed their hostages.
That led to a relief Lieutenant hanging the Apache male hostages, but released the women & children.
In 1862 continuous skirmishes occurred between Apache warriors & the military. Particularly notable in the battle here in Apache Pass, was the participation of the California Column. Capt. Thomas L. Roberts led his Union troops against the warriors of Cochise & Mangas Coloradas.
Photo/Map Credit: Starwars1977
Give It & Take It Back
Cochise began indicating he had peace treaty interest around 1867. It took 5 years to get it accomplished.
In Dec. 1872 the Chiricahua Indian Reservation was created within the Chiricahua Apache territory. It reached from East of the Chiricahua Mountains to West of the Dragoon Mountains. Brought about through a treaty signed by Cochise. That encompassed Apache Pass.
The area is desirable, because a natural spring eminates from a fault. Timber is available in elevations. But the U.S. dissolved the reservation 2 years later, requiring the Chiricahua Apaches to reside at San Carlos Reservation. This didn’t suit many of them.
Cochise didn’t need to endure that dissolution. He died before it happened. His people buried him in an unknown location in Cochise Stronghold, part of Coronado National Forest. This is a place you can visit today.
You can hike the Trail Through Apache Pass on your own – or ask for a Ranger-guided hike. It’s an easy day trip from Tombstone Arizona.
Some controversies remain about the entire “Bascom Affair” – but that’s another issue for another day here.
There are often historical remembrance events that make one want to know the true facts for people who roamed the Tombstone area & the Old West. What was their true story? And what happened to them – do we even know?
And we enjoy sharing what we find with you.
We hope we’ll see you in town sometime, seeing areas where they spent time – back in the 1800s.
Let us know if you’ll be going to an upcoming event! Tell us how you liked any of them, or what you visited here! Just reply to this newsletter for easy input! (Let us know if we can use your comments – & how to credit you.)