Nelson Appleton Miles.

Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire online

. (page 40 of 51)
Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 40 of 51)
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them out of the camp, and had they not left when they did I am sure the
intoxicated Indians would have fired upon them. Here occurred a quarrel
between a company of White Mountain Indian scouts and one of
Chiricahuas. They loaded their rifles to fire upon each other, while the
first sergeants of the two companies fought between the lines, but I finally
succeeded in quelling the disturbance. The next day I hurried away, and
without further difficulty reached Lang's Ranch, arriving there on the first
day of February. Up to that time we had marched over one thousand

I was ordered to return, February 5, to Mexico and look out for the
hostiles, who had agreed to signal their return. I camped about ten miles
south of the line on the San Bernardino River, and remained there until the
15th of March, when a signal was observed on a high point about twenty
miles south. I went out with four or five scouts and met some messengers
from Geronimo and Natchez, near the point from which the signal had
been made. They informed me that the entire band of hostiles were then
about forty miles away, camped in the mountains near Fronteras. I told
them to return and bring Geronimo and his band at once, as the Mexicans
were in pursuit and liable to attack them at any time. On the nineteenth
the entire band came and camped about half a mile from my command.
One more warrior with his wife and two children gave themselves up, and
I now had thirteen prisoners. I endeavored to persuade Geronimo and his
band to go into Fort Bowie, telling them they were liable to be attacked
by Mexican troops, but could only induce them to move with me to the
Canon de los Embudos, about twelve miles below the border, where they
camped in a strong position among the rocks a half a mile away.

I had notified the department commander upon the arrival of the
messengers on the 15th, and on the 29th he arrived at my camp. In the
interval, however, before General Crook arrived, Geronimo had almost
daily come into my camp to talk to me and ask when the general would


get there. On his arrival a conference was held and the hostiles promised
they would surrender. General Crook then returned, directing me to bring
them in. This I endeavored to do, but this surrender was only an agree-
ment, no arms being taken from them, nor were they any more in my pos-
session than when I had met them in the Sierra Madre Mountains. It was
believed, however, that they would come in. Unfortunately, they obtained
liquor, and all night on the 27th I could hear firing in their camp a mile
or so away. I sent my command on, and, accompanied only by the inter-
preter, waited for the hostiles to move, but they were in a bad hu-
mor. They moved their camp at noon that day and I then left.
I met Geronimo and a number of warriors gathered together near by on
Elias Creek, many of them being drunk, and Geronimo told me they
would follow, but that I had better go on or he would not be responsible
for my life. I then proceeded to my camp. I had ordered the battalion to
camp at a point ten miles on the way back on the San Bernardino. That
afternoon the hostiles came up and camped about half a mile above me
in a higher position.

I went into their camp and found trouble. Natchez had shot his wife,
and they were all drinking heavily. I sent Lieutenant Shipp with a
detail to destroy all the mescal at a ranch near by, where they had pre-
viously obtained all their liquor. During the day all seemed quiet, but at
night a few shots were heard. I sent to find out the cause and found the
trouble was over some women; this trouble soon ceased, however, and
quiet was restored. I felt anxious about the next day's march, as I would
then cross the line and be near troops. The next morning I was awakened
and told that the hostiles were gone. I caused a careful search to be
made, and ascertained that Geronimo and Natchez with twenty men,
thirteen women and two children had gone during the night, and not a
soul as far as I could ascertain, knew anything of the time they had gone,
or that they had intended to go. Chihuahua, Ulzahney, Nana, Catley, nine
other men, and forty-seven women and children remained. The herd was
brought in, and only three of their horses were missing. I directed Lieu-
tenant Faison, with a sufficient detail, to take the remaining hostiles to Fort
Bowie; then, with all the available men left, Lieutenant Shipp and I at
once started in pursuit.

About six miles from camp we struck the trail going due west over a
chain of high mountains. This gave us a full view of the mountains in
all directions, but the trail suddenly changed its direction to the south and
went down a steep and diffi cult descent, across a basin so dense with chapparel



and cut up with ravines as to make travel very difficult and slow, espe-
cially as every bush was full of thorns which tore ourselves and animals.
Across this basin, about ten miles, the trail ascended a high mountain,
very steep and rocky. The trail of the one horse with the hostiles in-
duced us to think it might be possible to ride; but after reaching the top
we found this horse stabbed
and abandoned among the
rocks; they were unable to
take it farther. Be-
yond, the descent
was vertical and of

solid rock
from fifty to
three hun-

'dred feet high for miles
each way. Here the trail
was lost, the Indians having scattered
and walked entirely on the rocks.
No doubt our pursuit had been discov-
ered from this point when we crossed the mountain on the other side of the
basin, ten miles away. These Indians were well supplied with telescopes
and glasses, and a watch had doubtless been maintained here according
to their usual custom. It is in this way, by selecting their line of march
over these high points, that their retreat can always be watched and



danger avoided. In the same way they watch the country for miles in ad-
vance. These never- failing precautions may serve to show how diffi-
cult is the chance of catching these men, who once alarmed are
like wild animals, with their sense of sight and of hearing as keenly

We could not descend here, so we were obliged to retrace our steps
down the mountain and make a circuit of ten miles to again strike the
trail beyond. This we did, but when the stream beyond was reached it
was dark, and further pursuit that night was impossible. The next
morning we moved down the creek, cutting the trails which had
come together about four miles below, and we followed this for
about ten miles to the south. The hostiles had not stopped from the
time they had left, and now had made about forty-five miles and had
good ten hours the start. The trail here split and one part, the larger,
crossed over the broken mountains north of Bavispe, into the Sierra
Madres, while the other crossed into the mountains north of

The scouts now seemed discouraged. Their moccasins were worn out
by the constant hard work of the past five months, and the prospect of
returning to the scenes of their last trials was not inviting. Besides,
their discharge would take place in about one month. They appealed to
me to go no further, telling me that it was useless, etc. This I appreciated
and decided to return. We then retraced our way and continued the
homeward march. While returning, two of the escaped hostiles joined
me and gave themselves up. I arrived at Fort Bowie on the 3d of April.
The results of the expedition were by no means unimportant as we had
secured the larger part of the hostiles, seventy-nine in all, of whom fifteen
were warriors.

I cannot speak too highly of the noble and soldierly qualities of Captain
Crawford, killed by Mexican troops while doing all in his power to help
them. He was ever ready, ever brave and loyal in the performance of his
duty, and his loss was indeed a serious one.

Lieutenant Shipp suffered all the hardships of the campaign, and his
services are entitled to high consideration.

Lieutenant Faison showed much ability and energy in supplying the
command and in handling the trains. While not with the command
during the action with the Indians and Mexicans, his duty was not only a
hard one, but full of danger and suffering.

Doctor Davis was very faithful and efficient.


I cannot commend too highly Mr. Horn, my chief of scouts; his gallant
services deserve a reward which he has never received.*

Meanwhile, the closing scenes above described by Captain Maus, and
the condition of affairs in Arizona attracted unusual attention.

One of General Crook's methods of dealing with the hostiles was to
employ a certain number of the same tribe to act as scouts in their
pursuit. Possibly, as there have been so many misrepresentations as to
what his instructions actually were, the conditions he made with the
surrendered Indians, and my own instructions, a better understanding will
be obtained by presenting the official correspondence first published in
1886, that passed between the department commander and the higher au-
thorities immediately prior to my assuming command of that department.
This correspondence was as follows, General Crook having gone from
Fort Bowie down to meet the hostile Apaches:


20 MILES S. E. SAN BERNARDINO, MEXICO, March 26, 1886. \

I met the hostiles yesterday at Lieut. Maus' camp, they being located about five hun-
dred yards distant. I found them very independent, and fierce as so many tigers.
Knowing what pitiless brutes they are themselves, they mistrust everyone else. After my
talk with them it seemed as if it would be impossible to get any hold on them, except on
condition that they be allowed to return to their reservation on their old status.

To-day things look more favorable. GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier General.


LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SHERIDAN, U. S. A., Washington, D. C. : Confidential.

In conference with Geronimo and the other Chiricahuas I told them they must decide
at once on unconditional surrender or to fight it out. That in the latter event hostilities
should be resumed at once, and the last one of them killed if it took fifty years. I told
them to reflect on what they were to do before giving me their answer. The only propo-
sitions they would entertain were these three : That they should be sent east for not
exceeding two years, taking with them such of their families as so desired, leaving at
Apache Nana who is seventy years old and superannuated ; or that they should all return
to the reservation upon their old status ; or else return to the war-path with its attendant

"This Is quite true of Mr. Horn, but not more true than of the writer himself , and of Captain Crawford,
Captain Wirt Davis, Captain Wilder, Lieutenant Gatewood and Lieutenant Clarke. Neither were Captain
Baldwin and Captain Snyder rewarded, and the same is true of scores of others who have rendered most dis-
tinguished, laborious and heroic services in this most difficult and dangerous of all warfare. It is true that
some of them have had some advance of rank in the regular course of promotion, but no more than others who
have never engaged in such services. Yet they have the consciousness of having rendered to the government
and their fellow countrymen most valuable and important services.


As I had to act at once I have to-day accepted their surrender upon the first propo-
sition. Kaetena, the young chief who less than two years ago was the worst Chiricahua
of the whole lot, is now perfectly subdued. He is thoroughly reconstructed, has rendered
me valuable assistance, and will be of great service in helping to control these Indians in
the future. His stay at Alcatraz has worked a complete reformation in his character. I
have not a doubt that similar treatment will produce same results with the whole band,
and that by the end of that time the excitement here will have died away.

Mangus, with thirteen Chiricahuas, six of whom are bucks, is not with the other
Chiricahuas. He separated from them in August last, and has since held no communica-
tion with them. He has committed no depredations. As it would be likely to take at
least a year to find him in the immense ranges of mountains to the south, I think it
inadvisable to attempt any search at this time, especially as he will undoubtedly give him-
self up as soon as he hears what the others have done.

I start for Bowie to-morrow morning, to reach there next night. I respectfully request
to be informed whether or not my action has been approved, and also that full instructions
meet me at that point. The Chiricahuas start for Bowie to-morrow with the Apache scouts
under Lieut. Maus. GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 30, 1886.
GENERAL GEORGE CROOK, Fort Bowie, Arizona.

You are confidentially informed that your telegram of March 29th is received. The
President cannot assent to the surrender of the hostiles on the terms that their imprison-
ment last for two years, with the understanding of their return to the reservation. He
instructs you to enter again into negotiations on the terms of their unconditional surrender,
only sparing their lives ; in the meantime, and on the receipt of this order, you are
directed to take every precaution against the escape of the hostiles, which must not be
allowed under any circumstances. You must make at once such disposition of your troops
as will insure against further hostilities by completing the destruction of the hostiles unless
these terms are accepted. P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieut. -General.

FORT BOWIE, A. T., March 30, 1886.
LIEUT.-GEN. P. H. SHERIDAN. Washington, D. C.

A courier just in from Lieut. Maus reports that during last night Geronimo and
Natchez with twenty men and thirteen women left his camp, taking no stock. He states
that there was no apparent cause for their leaving. Two dispatches received from him
this morning reported everything going on well and the Chiricahuas in good spirits.
Chihuahua and twelve men remained behind. Lieut. Maus with his scouts, except enough
to take the other prisoners to Bowie, have gone in pursuit.

GEO. CROOK, Brigadier-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 31, 1886.

Your dispatch of yesterday received. It has occasioned great disappointment. It
seems strange that Geronimo and party could have escaped without the knowledge of
the scouts. P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieut-General.



FORT BOWIE, A. T., March 31, 1886.

In reply to your dispatch of March thirtieth, to enable you to clearly understand the
situation, it should be remembered that the hostiles had an agreement with Lieut. Maus
that they were to be met by me twenty-five miles below the line, and that no regular
troops were to be present. While I was very averse to such an arrangement, I had to


abide by it, as it had already been entered into. We found them in camp on a rocky hill
about five hundred yards from Lieut. Maus, in such a position that a thousand men could
not have surrounded them with any possibility of capturing them. They were able, upon
the approach of any enemy being signaled, to scatter and escape through dozens of
ravines and canons, which wouid shelter them from pursuit until they reached the higher
ranges in the vicinity. They were armed to the teeth, having the most approved guns and


all the ammunition they could carry. The clothing and other supplies lost in the fight
with Crawford had been replaced by blankets and shirts obtained in Mexico. Lieut.
Maus, with Apache scouts, was camped at the nearest point the hostiles would agree to
their approaching.

Even had I been disposed to betray the confidence they placed in me, it would have
been simply an impossibility to get white troops to that point either by day or by night
without their knowledge, and had I attempted to do this the whole band would have
stampeded back to the mountains. So suspicious were they that never more than from
five to eight of the men came into our camp at one time, and to have attempted the
arrest of those would have stampeded the others to the mountains. Even after the march to
Bowie began we were compelled to allow them to scatter. They would not march in a body,
and had any efforts been made to keep them together they would have broken for the
mountains. My only hope was to get their confidence on the march through Kaetena
and other confidential Indians, and finally to put them on the cars, and until this was done
it was impossible even to disarm them.

GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 1, 1886.

Your dispatch of March thirty-first received. I do not see what you can now do
except to concentrate your troops at the best points and give protection to the people.
Geronimo will undoubtedly enter upon other raids of murder and robbery, and as the
offensive campaign against him with scouts has failed, would it not be best to take up
the defensive and give protection to the people and business interests of Arizona and
New Mexico. The infantry might be stationed by companies at certain points requiring
protection, and the cavalry patrol between them. You have in your department forty-
three companies of infantry and forty companies of cavalry, and ought to be able to do
a good deal with such a force. Please send me a statement of what you contemplate for
the future. P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieut. -General.

FORT BOWIE, A. T., April 1, 1886.

Your dispatch of to-day received. It has been my aim throughout present opera-
tions to afford the greatest amount of protection to life and property interests, and
troops have been stationed accordingly. Troops cannot protect property beyond a radius
of one-half mile from their camp. If offensive movements against the Indians are not
resumed, they may remain quietly in the mountains for an indefinite time without crossing
the line, and yet their very presence there will be a constant menace and require the
troops in the department to be at all times in position to repress sudden raids, and so
long as any remain out they will form a nucleus for disaffected Indians from the different
agencies in Arizona and New Mexico to join. That the operations of the scouts in Mexico
have not proven as successful as was hoped, is due to the enormous difficulties they have
been compelled to encounter from the nature of the Indians they have been hunting, and
the character of the country in which they have operated, and of which persons not


thoroughly conversant with both can have no conception. I believe that the plan upon
which I have conducted operations is the one most likely to prove successful in the end.
It may be, however, that I am too much wedded to my own views in this matter, and as I
have spent nearly eight years of the hardest work in my life in this department, I respect-
fully request that I may now be relieved from its command.

GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 2, 1886.
GENERAL N. A. MILES, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Orders of this day assign you to command the Department of Arizona to relieve
General Crook. Instructions will be sent you.

R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.

FORT BOWIE, A. T., April 2, 1886.

The hostiles who did not leave with Geronimo arrived to-day. About eighty. I have
not ascertained the exact number. Some of the worst of the band are among them. In
my judgment they should be sent away at once, as the effect on those still out would be
much better than to confine them. After they get to their destination, if they can be
shown that their future will be better by remaining than to return, I think there will be
but little difficulty in obtaining their consent to remain indefinitely. When sent off a
guard should accompany them. GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier-General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 5, 1886.
GEN. GEO. CROOK, Fort Bowie, Ariz.

The present terms not having been agreed to here, and Geronimo having broken
every condition of surrender, the Indians now in custody are to be held as prisoners and
sent to Fort Marion without reference to previous communication and without, in any way,
consulting their wishes in the matter. This is in addition to my previous telegram of
to-day. P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieut. -General.

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 2, 1886.

General Miles has been ordered to relieve you in command of the Department of
Arizona and orders issued to-day. Advise General Miles where you will be.

By order Secretary of War. R. C DRUM, Adjutant-General.

FORT BOWIE, A. T., April 3, 1886.
GENERAL N. A. MILES, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Adjutant-General of the Army telegraphs that you have been directed to relieve me
in command Dep't of Arizona. Shall remain at Fort Bowie. When can I expect you
here? GEORGE CROOK, Brigadier-General.



The order was a perfect surprise to me. I do not expect to leave here for several
days, possibly, one week. N. A. MILES, Brigadier-General.


WASHINGTON, D. C., April 3, 1886. j
GENERAL NELSON A. MILES, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Lieutenant-General directs that on assuming command of the Department of
Arizona, you fix your headquarters temporarily at or near some point on the Southern
Pacific R. R.

He directs that the greatest care be taken to prevent the spread of hostilities among
friendly Indians in your command, and that the most vigorous operations looking to the
destruction or capture of the hostiles be ceaselessly carried on. He does not wish to
embarrass you by undertaking at this distance to give specific instructions in relation to
operations against the hostiles, but it is deemed advisable to suggest the necessity of
making active and prominent use of the regular troops of your command. It is desired
that you proceed to Arizona as soon as practicable.

R. C. DRUM, Adjutant-General.

I never had any desire to go to this section of country or to engage
in a campaign of that character. Still I was aware that such an event
might possibly occur.

Therefore, perhaps, I should not have been surprised when, at Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, April 2, 1886, I received telegraphic orders to
proceed immediately to Arizona and take charge of that department. I
did not welcome the order with any degree of satisfaction. In fact it
was a most undesirable duty. Yet the order was imperative and required
immediate action.

By special act of Congress general officers are allowed certain staff
officers known as aides-de-camp. They are the personal staff of the general
officer, and are expected to go with him to any field or any part of the
country and be in constant readiness for any service that may be required
of them in organizing, disciplining, mobilizing and commanding any mili-
tary force. At that time I was entitled to two officers of that class though
I had but one, Lieutenant 0. F. Long. He having recently been relieved
under a rule that had been newly inaugurated, and I, not having been able
to name another to take his place, was compelled to leave Leavenworth
practically alone. Still I had at that time a very efficient and faithful
general service clerk, stenographer and secretary, Mr. J. Frank Brown, and
under the rules existing at that time I had authority to discharge him from



the service and reemploy him in another department. I had requested to
have this man transferred to the Department of Arizona and also had
asked permission to take with me one other man, a faithful, intelligent
messenger. But these official requests having been disapproved, in accord-
ance with the authority then existing I discharged from the service
the general service clerk, and took him at my own expense to the
Department of Arizona, where I had him reemployed. I started on
the morning of the 7th of April and reached Bowie Station, Arizona,
April 12.

Very few of the troops in that department had ever served under my

Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 40 of 51)