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This webpage reproduces an article in
Military Affairs
Vol. 12 No. 2 (Summer, 1948), pp91‑102

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p91  An Indian Reservation under
General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George Crook*

By Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles P. Elliott

By Brig. Gen. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles D. Roberts, Ret.​

In order to appreciate the conditions existing in Arizona during the period covered by this article, it is necessary to have some understanding of the historical background. From the time of the earliest Spanish explorers, Arizona, much of New Mexico and northwestern Texas, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora had been almost completely dominated by the various tribes of Apache Indians. Especially in northern Sonora and Chihuahua had the country been devastated again and again, and many regions were almost depopulated. Warfare was the chronic state of the country.

The building of railways in the 1870's and 1880's in both the United States and Mexico had somewhat simplified the problems of the authorities in dealing with the Indians. But the greater part of the region, of hundreds of thousands of square miles, remained a wilderness of mountains and deserts with few roads to unite the sparse population. While the devoted Spanish missionary priests had been success­ful in converting to Christianity the so‑called Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, California and parts of Sonora and Chihuahua, the Apache tribes could not be either tamed or civilized by the Spaniards. In fact, in southern Arizona and northern Mexico today there are not a few ruins of missions abandoned as a result of repeated Apache attacks.

The record of the United States Government in dealing with the Apaches is nothing to be proud of. It is the usual story of treaties made and broken, of Indian rights abrogated, of cruel warfare and atrocities. It must be said that the Army's part was usually well and humanely performed. The Army was inclined to be fair and just with the Indians, but, unfortunately, was rarely called upon except for punishment.

By the beginning of the 1880's General George Crook had come to be recognized as the outstanding Army officer in dealings with the Indians. Crook was born on a farm in Ohio in 1828.​a He graduated from West Point in 1852, well down in his class. For the first nine years of his service he was a lieutenant in the 4th Infantry in Oregon and California and spent most of the time in active operations in command of detachments of troops. In one skirmish he was severely wounded by an arrow, the head of which he carried in his right hip to the end of his life.  p92 At the outbreak of the Civil War he was returned to the East, promoted to captain, and in September 1861 made colonel of the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Crook had a distinguished career during the war: he became a Major General of Volunteers and commanded a division, a corps and a separate army in turn. In the Appomattox Campaign he commanded the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, serving under Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sheridan, who like both Crook and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant, had started his army career as a lieutenant in the 4th Infantry. At the close of the Civil War Crook reverted to his grade of captain. In 1866, he was appointed lieutenant colonel in the 23d Infantry, a new regiment, and was assigned to the command of a District. Later, with a brevet rank of major general, he commanded the Department of the Columbia.

Crook found conditions much disturbed in eastern Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada, and had to carry on long and difficult operations against the Modocs, Paiutes, and other tribes. By 1870 he had succeeded in pacifying his department, but there was not to be a long period of peace.

Conditions in Arizona being in their usual unsatisfactory state, Crook was ordered in 1871 to the command of that Department, still under his brevet rank of major general. After great exertions (hampered more, perhaps, by civilian interference than by the hostile Apaches) Crook succeeded in pacifying the territory and getting the Apaches on their reservations and on the way to self-support. He was rewarded in 1873 by the then very unusual promotion from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general.

By 1875, the long and bloody war against the Sioux, Cheyennes, and other plains tribes was approaching its climax, and Crook was sent to command the Department of the Platte (Iowa, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming). Here he spent the next seven years, almost constantly in the field. In 1880‑1882, comparatively peaceful conditions existed in the Department of the Platte, and it was time for Crook to be sent to a more difficult field.

In Arizona, serious outbreaks of the Apaches had occurred, due mostly to the same old causes of civilian mismanagement and graft in the Indian Bureaus and the encroachment by whites upon the Indians' lands and the stealing of their cattle. So, in September 1882, Crook was again sent to command the Department of Arizona.

In 1886, Crook returned to the Department of the Platte. In 1888 he was promoted to major general and sent to Chicago to command the Division of the Missouri. In 1889, as a member of a commission to treat with the Sioux, he was able by his wide acquaintance with these Indians and by their trust in his word, to persuade them to cede much of their land to the government and to accept more modern and civilized conditions of living. This was Crook's last great service to the United States before he died of a sudden heart attack at Chicago, March 21, 1890.

It will be seen from this brief sketch that, with the exception of the four years of the Civil War, Crook spent his entire career in the West, in intimate contact with the Indians. He understood the Indians as no other Army officer has. While implacable in war, he was the true friend of the Indian. General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman called him the greatest Indian fighter and manager the United States Army ever had.

Crook's opinion of the Indians and his policy in dealing with them is well summed up by him in his address to the graduating class at West Point in 1884, the very year covered by Capt. Elliott's article. He said, in part:

"With all his faults, and he has many, the American Indian is not half so black as he has been painted. He is cruel in war, treacherous at times and not over cleanly. But so were our forefathers. His nature, however,  p93 is responsive to a treatment which assures him that it is based upon justice, truth, honesty and common sense; it is not impossible that with a fair and square system of dealing with him, the American Indian would make a better citizen than many who neglect the duties and abuse the privileges of that proud title."

This last advice to the young graduates for their future dealings with Indians could be applied today in our dealings with "occupied territory."

"Make them no promises that you can not fulfill; make no statements that you cannot verify. When difficulties arise, as they occasionally will, endeavor to be so well informed of all the circumstances of the case that your action may be power­ful and convincing, just and impartial.

"Let the Indian see that you administer one law for both the white-skinned and the red‑skinned without regard for praise or censure, and you will gain his confidence."

After Crook left Arizona in 1875, the usual thing happened. The Army was gradually deprived of its control over the Indians; they were managed and defrauded by inexperienced and dishonest agents; their lands, when of any value, were seized by white miners and ranchers, and their cattle run off or stolen.

The Indians themselves were not blameless; the bad element among them were frequently engaged in raids upon the settlements and upon the friendly and more civilized Indians. To white civilians there was no such thing as a good Indian; every Indian was considered as hostile and frequently was shot on sight.

In the summer of 1881 one of those peculiar semireligious manias, which the American Indians have often experienced, attacked the Apaches. A medicine man named "|," claiming to be a messiah who was to drive the whites out of the country, started a series of religious dances that increased to such a frenzy that the Commanding Officer at Fort Apache was directed to stop the dances and to arrest Klinné. On August 30, Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.E. A. Carr, a veteran of the Civil War and an excellent officer, with Troops D and E, 6th Cavalry (consisting of six officers, seventy-nine men and twenty-three Indian scouts), went to Cibecue Creek, forty or fifty miles west of the post, where a large part of the reservation Indians had assembled. There they arrested the medicine man without difficulty.

However, as the troops were going in to camp, they were suddenly attacked by several hundred Apaches. Their own Indian scouts mutinied and joined in the attack. After a severe fight in which Capt. Edward C. Hentigb and four enlisted men were killed, the Indians were driven off. Klinné was killed by his guard. Only forty men had been left at Fort Apache, and Carr made a night march and reached the post next day about 2:30 P.M. The post itself was attacked in a half-hearted manner, and the Indians easily repulsed. The Indians were severely defeated in the subsequent campaign. The mutineers were captured, tried by courtmartial, three of them executed, and others confined in the military prison at Alcatraz. Nearly the whole Chiricahua tribe, about six hundred in number, retired into the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico whence they carried on incessant warfare against both Americans and Mexicans. Many people were killed in Arizona and New Mexico; the settlers became increasingly uneasy, and business in the Apache country was paralyzed.

This was the situation when Crook arrived in Arizona for the second time, in September 1882. After a very short visit to his headquarters at Whipple Barracks, Prescott, he went with two or three officers and a few Indian scouts to the San Carlos and Fort Apache reservations and spent several weeks visiting the Indians, many of whom he knew  p94 personally. He said that there were three things to be done at once:

(1) maintain control over the Indians on the reservations

(2) protect the lives and property of civilians

(3) subjugate the hostiles.

Arrangements were made for the relief of incompetent and corrupt Indian agents (as far as political considerations would admit) and for close cooperation between the Interior Department officials and General Crook. Crook visited the principal Mexican commanders in northern Mexico, established cordial relations, and arranged for cooperation. He reorganized the pack transportation of the Department, enlisted some three hundred and fifty Apache scouts, and disposed the available troops for the best possible protection of the border. He explained to the Indians that he intended to put into effect the rules he had used with great success in the 1870's. He explained to all the sub‑tribes that white civilians could not tell a hostile Indian from a friendly, and that all Indians would be blamed for the actions of the few renegades, and it was therefore to the interest of the friendly tribes to help in running down the hostiles.

From September 1882 to March 1883 there was not a single depredation committed by Indians on Arizona soil. But in March some twenty‑six Chiricahua braves under Chatto crossed into Arizona to obtain ammunition, and made a raid of six hundred miles in six days before recrossing into Mexico. About a dozen white men were killed and the whole country terrorized. But one of Chatto's braves, called "Peaches" by the soldiers, deserted, went to San Carlos and was captured.

Arrangements being complete, Crook, with two hundred Apache scouts under Capt. Emmet Crawford,​c 3d Cavalry, with five pack trains (two hundred and fifty mules), with ammunition and sixty days' supply of hardtack, bacon, and coffee, and with Capt. Adna Chaffee's​d troop, 16th Cavalry (forty‑two men), crossed the Mexican border and went after the Chiricahuas. The captured "Peaches" was the guide and proved loyal and dependable. Fearing recall by Washington, Crook took care to be entirely out of communication, and not a word was received from him for six weeks. Peaches led the command into the depths of the Sierra Madre where neither American nor Mexican troops had ever before penetrated. Crawford's scouts found the hostiles, had a sharp fight with them, and brought them to a stand. The result was the surrender of the entire Chiricahua tribe to General Crook. About four hundred of the tribe, including Geronimo, Chatto and other chiefs, returned to the United States and were put on the San Carlos reservation. Some hundred and fifty of the tribe, mostly women and children, had been killed by the Mexicans. Thirteen white captives were recovered.

On June 12th Crook reported his return to the United States. If he had failed, he would undoubtedly have been relieved from command. After considerable correspondence and numerous trips to Washington, Crook was given complete charge of the Chiricahuas and certain other Indians on the San Carlos and the White Mountain (Fort Apache) reservations. He put Capt. Crawford in direct control at San Carlos. Conditions in 1884 were very satisfactory: the Indians had harvested good crops and peace prevailed.

This brings us down to the period of Capt. Elliott's account.1


For the first time since the occupation of Arizona by Americans, the spring of 1884 came and passed into summer in peace. The  p95 rains fell, were soaked up by the dry soil; grass sprang up and matured and the Apache Indians, the Yumas, Mojaves, Tontos, San Carlos, White Mountains and, most astonishing of all, the Chiricahuas remained on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, contented and hard at work, taking out irrigation ditches, where necessary, and raising good crops of small grain. The reason for the contentment was not hard to find. General George Crook was in command of the Department of Arizona, and Captain Emmet Crawford​2 of the 3rd U. S. Cavalry was in immediate command of the White Mountain Reservation, with his headquarters at San Carlos, at the junction of the river of that name with the Gila River.

The peaceful condition of Arizona enabled the War Department to effect the transfer of the 6th U. S. Cavalry, which had done learning, arduous and distinguished service under Gen. Carr, its Colonel, and other of its officers, among them Gen. Chaffee, who was then Captain, and whose name was known and respected as an Indian fighter, but not as now to the world, as a soldier well fitted to maintain the dignity of our country in far distant China among most trying surroundings.

The transfer of the two regiments was effected by marching and was but little of a change for either the 6th from Arizona to New Mexico or the 4th to take its place. The sun seemed just as hot and the dust as thick and full of alkali on one side of the imaginary boundary line as on the other, and both columns appeared, from a short distance, as moving clouds of dust with no animate object visible.

I was ordered as 2nd Lieut. of Troop "H", 4th Cavalry, to Fort Lowell,​3 and soon after reaching that post was detached and ordered to report to Capt. Emmet Crawford for duty as provost officer on the San Carlos Reservation.

I went from Tucson, by rail to Willcox, by stage to Fort Grant,​4 where I met Capt. Crawford and went with him to San Carlos​5 via Fort Thomas6 by ambulance, as the government conveyances were called.

The heat and dust on the ride down the Gila can only be appreciated by those who have experienced it in mid‑summer, and one can fully endorse the wish expressed by an officer leaving the territory, that when next he saw it he hoped the whole country would be turned into a duck pond. San Carlos itself is no paradise but required such a ride to bring out its good points.

From the crest of the hills, about opposite the mouth of the San Carlos River, one catches glimpse of the Agency buildings. The valley of the Gila widens out slightly and with the flats at the mouth of the San Carlos an open space is formed, surrounded on all sides by more or less high and rugged  p96 hills and mountains, the two rivers breaking through from the east and north and lowing out together through a mild canon to the West.7

[image ALT: A striking photograph of a tall circular butte of stratified rock, the nearly vertical sides eroded into concave buttress-like formations, and the conical top, sloping at about thirty degrees, clothed in scrub and pine forest. The very summit is marked by a mini-butte of bare rock. The background consists of further hills and buttes, and far below, to the viewer's right, a trickle of water can be seen. It is a view of the surroundings of Fort Apache, Arizona.]

This view of the surroundings of Fort Apache, taken from a modern road, gives a good idea of the landscape routinely covered by the Cavalry — when there were no roads at all. Far below, in the bottom right corner of the photograph, the Gila River.

Photograph John Stanton 2016, by kind permission.

On the left bank of the Gila were numbers of huts or brush "wickiups," the home of several bands of Mojave and Yuma Indians. On the flats between the San Carlos and the Gila were the camps of the Government pack trains, thoroughly equipped, constantly in use, and always ready to move at a moment's notice to any part of the reservation where trouble might threaten.

Near the pack trains were the corrals for "C" Troop, 3rd Cavalry, when at San Carlos. On the bench just above the flats, and towards the west, stood school buildings occupied as store rooms, officers, and living rooms by the Commanding Officer and his assistants. Still further to the west down the Gila River on the same bench stood the Agency buildings, storehouse, and traders store. Below the Agency building on the flats near the river were the corrals and slaughter house for Indian cattle. The buildings were of adobe or sun‑dried mud‑colored brick, differing not at all in color from the sun‑baked plain on which they stood.

On one of the buildings with walls 18″ thick, I have seen a thermometer register 114 degrees at 2 P.M. The only good point that I can recall about San Carlos is its winter climate.

Opposite the Agency building across the river were the Indian camps spoken of before, and below, on both sides of the Gila, and above, on the San Carlos, numbers of camps were scattered.

Down the Gila and opposite the mouth of the San Pedro (on the right bank) was a considerable band, and on the San Pedro, Es‑him-on‑zeen, formerly a noted outlaw, had a camp and thriving fields. On the Aravaipa were several small camps, one of them the home of Capiaan Chiquito, with his six lusty young wives. And so, over the reservation, wherever the ground was favorable, camps were located.

Frequent reports were received from the outlying camps, and visits were made when necessary by the Commanding Officer or Provost Officer.

In July 1884 the civilian agent of the Interior Department was still in control of issues to the Indians, and the presence of two influences, civil and military, was bound to lead to friction. The presence of the military was a very unwelcome restraint upon the agents, if, as too often happened, it was considered necessary by them to eke out an insufficient salary by small deals with mining towns outside of the reservation.

The success­ful handling of 5500 Indians, the wildest ever known to us in this country, on a reservation 90 by 60 miles, rough beyond telling, with bands scattered all over it, was a task sufficiently difficult with the governing influences in perfect accord. The discord at headquarters multiplied the difficulties, but Capt. Crawford had mastered them, and his watch over the agent and his employees was as strict as that over the Indians, and he allowed no interference with the police control of the reservation. He, with his officers, Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.F. O. Johnson,​8 Q. M., Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.T. B. Dugan,​9 Adjutant, both of 3rd Cavalry, Dr Thos. Davis,​10 and Lieut. Charles P. Elliott, occupied an old adobe building, formerly used by  p97 schoolteachers who had vacated at the last outbreak and had never returned.

There were no troops in sight upon my arrival, and there were, in fact, none nearer than Fort Apache,​11 many miles away.

To the north of the schoolbuildings was a cluster of huts, where the Indian scouts with their families lived: two companies, so‑called, but there was no effort, at that time, to make trained soldiers of them.

There was a third company called home guards, whose members were scattered among the various camps of Indians, tributary to San Carlos. These reported to the provost officer direct and were under his orders, acting for Capt. Crawford.

There were about ten enlisted men at San Carlos in July 1884, acting as clerks, storekeepers, and hospital attendants. The only military organization having station there was "C" Troop, 3rd Cavalry, Capt. Crawford's Troop, under Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Parker West,​12 temporarily absent in mountains. It was there only because Capt. Crawford happened to be and was not utilized in the police control of the Indians, but was subsequently relieved, leaving only a few enlisted men for duty as indicated above.

Capt. Crawford had immediate control at San Carlos of all Indians tributary to that place. Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Britton Davis13 was in charge of the Chiricahua Apaches near Fort Apache, and Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.C. B. Gatewood,​14 6th Cavalry, with Lieut. Roach,​15 1st Infantry, controlled the White Mountain Apaches, with headquarters at Fort Apache, all under command of Capt. Crawford, who reported direct to Gen. Crook. The latter's interest in and supervision of the reservation was keen and direct and he knew in person all of the prominent Indians as well as many of the young men and enjoyed the perfect confidence of all, never making a promise that he could not fulfill and always keeping one made, whether to help the Indians or to punish them, as the case might be. There may have been more success­ful Indian fighters than Gen. Crook, but in the management of them on their reservations, he was far ahead of any officer that the Army has ever produced. His experience with Indians had been continuous during his service, except during the war of 1861 and 1865. He had studied their nature and habits; was himself a quiet and retiring man, thoroughly familiar with nature, a great hunter, and perfectly fearless. Those Indians who did not like him respected him and trusted him and in turn gave him the full measure of trust to which their conduct entitled them. During hostilities he utilized friendly Indians against hostile ones, and, in their reservations, he made them help to govern themselves.

On the San Carlos reservation were two distinct tribes of Indians, the Mojaves and Yumas constituting one, and the Apaches, of different appearance and language, the other. The latter were designated according to the locality formerly most frequented by them, as San Carlos, Tonto, White Mountain, and Chiricahua.

The Mojaves and Yumas had blended  p98 somewhat with the others, the result being known as Apache-Yuma and Apache-Mojave. These Indians had at different times been gathered in from all over southern Arizona within the borders of the San Carlos Reservation.

In 1884 a complete census had been made, the tribes being enumerated under their head chiefs and each camp of Indians of the same tribe under its head man. Brass tags of different shapes with one shape for each tribe had been provided. The band or subdivision of a tribe was designated by a letter of the alphabet, and each member of a band had his number, stamped by the provost officer on the tag of the proper shape and given to each Indian whose name was recorded in books kept for the purpose. Each man was required to wear his tag at all times and to produce it when called upon by the proper officer. Any failure to comply with these regulations was severely punished, and in a short time the system worked to the perfection I found it on my arrival.

Any American who would attempt to burden himself or his memory with a number of Indian names would soon be hopelessly lost, but tag numbers and the records made it very simple to locate a special individual.

In addition to the home guard of scouts mentioned above, there were a limited number of secret service employees, Indians, who rendered very efficient service.

One of the greatest menaces to the peace of the reservation was due to the efforts of white men to sell or trade guns, ammunition, and whiskey to the Indians, as well as to prospectors insisting on crossing the reservation line and looking for minerals on forbidden ground; many of the latter lost their lives probably, without anyone being the wiser for it. The duty of arresting such trespassers was a frequent and most unpleasant task, and it was never possible to convict and punish them in the territorial courts, though the sales made by them to the Indians were often directly responsible for outbreaks resulting in the death of innocent and isolated ranchers.

At San Carlos the guardhouse, where all offenders were confined, was under the control of the provost officer with Indian scouts as guards. Offenders could be arrested and imprisoned at all times, at near or distant camps, by members of the home guard or by scouts sent specially for the purpose, but before being confined were, if possible, examined by the provost officer to see that no flagrant injustice was done before a thorough trial could be had. If witnesses were convenient, the Commanding Officer or provost officer, if present, would hear the case and award the punishment; if not, Friday was recognized as the day for hearing all cases, civil as well as criminal, and then all parties and witnesses, willing and unwilling, gathered before the officer who faithfully attempted to sift out the facts and administer justice. Two interpreters were necessary to convert from Apache into English. First, Antonio Diaz, a Mexican, (captive for years among the Indians) translated from Apache to Spanish and Jose Maria Montoya from Spanish to English. If the case required a Mojave or Yuma witness, then a third to interpret from Yuma to Apache was necessary. The use as interpreters of young Indians, educated at the Indian schools in the east, who had returned to the reservation, proved most unsatisfactory.

There was a zealous effort on the part of all officers to assist the Indians in all possible ways and to aid them in making progress in agricultural pursuits.

The younger officers selected sites and laid out irrigating ditches, showing the best places for fields, superintending the digging of the ditches and regulating the distribution of water.  p99 The result of their efforts was most gratifying and was evidenced by the raising of some two million pounds of small grain in one season, a large part of which was bought by the government at good prices. The effort was also to uplift the Indians in their domestic life and to discourage the custom of having more than one wife, six being the greatest number known. A very thrifty old chief, with an eye to cultivating a good farm with labor entirely under his control, took six young wives, all good workers, and the result was so very satisfactory that it was impossible to induce him to reduce his family.

The habit of beating their wives was one that gave the officers a great deal of trouble and led up to the following occurrence, which given in detail will exemplify the methods employed.

A secret service report came from an Indian camp just across the river from headquarters that a certain Mojave had given his wife a brutal beating the night before, and, fearing arrest, had early in the morning, taken to the hills south of the Gila River, carrying his gun. On the receipt of this report two scouts were sent to arrest him, one an old and reliable man, the other a young Mojave. They struck his trail and about noon came within sight of him near a spring. The older scout, who was a friend of the wife beater, went towards him; the younger remained on the ridge about the spring. The hail of scouts was answered in a friendly spirit and upon the older scouts joining the fugitive, both went to the spring and ate a simple lunch together, the scout telling what was wanted and the other consenting to accompany him when they were through eating. In a few moments the scout was told the other would follow at once. He had not gone 20 feet when he was shot dead and another shot directed at the younger Mojave above (it was his baptism of fire) sent him flying to San Carlos with news of the murder.

A party was put on the trail of the murderer, but a lone Indian in those mountains is too much even for Apache scouts, and all trace of him was lost. He held no communication with any of his people for months, and they thought him dead. Several months elapsed when an Indian runner from the Yavasupai Reservation​16 went to Gen. Crook at Prescott and sent the description to San Carlos. He was the man wanted for murder, and the chief of scouts, Al Sieber,​17 was sent to Prescott to bring him back to San Carlos. In due time Sieber arrived with his prisoner who was a splendid specimen of Indian manhood, six feet tall, broad shouldered and in perfect physical condition, due to the life he had been leading in the mountains for so many months. There was a little excitement among the family and friends of the murdered scout, but no effort was made to try the prisoner, who was kept working under guard with other prisoners until it was decided whether he should be tried by the civil authorities or by tribal custom.

The civil authorities really had no jurisdiction of this particular case, so the trial was conducted according to the custom of his tribe.

Twelve men of his tribe were selected and under the direction of the provost officer proceeded with his trial which was open to all.

The testimony of all witnesses was interpreted into English so that intelligent revision of the case could be made.

Deep interest was manifested by all of the Indians, and every effort was made to arrive at the true facts. The evidence was very clear, and the man in his statement gave no  p100 excuse for the deed, admitting that the murdered scout was a friend of his, but, that having beaten his wife, he knew if he came back to San Carlos, he would be punished for it and saw no other way out of his trouble.

The deliberation of his peers did not take long.

They concluded that having killed a good man, his friend, while in discharge of his duty, the murderer should be shot to death himself.

When this decision was imparted to the provost officer, the prisoner was wild with rage and, ironed though he was, with one bound he reached the spokesman of his tribesmen, wound one hand in his long hair and endeavored to stab him in the throat with a piece of hard wood he had sharpened and concealed on his person. The provost officer jumped on him and pinioned him while Al Sieber caught him by his shackles, tripping him, and, in falling, his hold on the other Indian was broken, the provost officer going down in the fall with the prisoner.

The excitement among the Indians was intense and spread to numbers who were at the Agency drawing rations. Al Sieber and the provost officer, one on either side, hurried the prisoner to the guardhouse. Before putting him in the cell, Sieber was directed to search lest the prisoner should have some weapon concealed there with which he could injure his guard. The provost officer stood with his hand on the prisoner's shoulder and while Sieber was at the far end of the long cell, the Indian wheeled and grasped for the officer's throat, a push on his shoulders was just sufficient to deflect his hands so that they passed under the chin instead of around the neck; then it was a close fight with odds in favor of the Indian who was desperate and as strong as a bull, nor was there time to talk or ask for help, but Sieber heard the scuffle, ran out, grabbed the Indian by the hair, pulled him away from the officer, swung him off his feet half way around a circle and knelt on his head. It was a wonder­ful exhibition of strength and one that afforded me more pleasure to witness than any I have seen before or since. The prisoner's head had hardly touched the ground when Sergeant Smiley of the guard had the muzzle of his gun at his ear looked up and said "Shoot?" "No, no shoot," was the answer, "give me a piece of rope."

After having been bound for some time, the prisoner asked to see the provost officer who found him quiet and resigned to his fate. He was released from his bonds, and after several days, the excitement having quieted down, he was started with a firing party toward Fort Thomas, up the river.

The sentence of his tribe was executed upon him, and his life paid for his crime.

The effect on the other Indians was most beneficial, both as regards wife beating and resisting arrest.

The relatives of the murderer made threats to revenge his execution, but no attention was paid to them, and no overt act was committed.

To revert to the brass tags in detecting individuals, I cite the following instance. A complaint came in from the Silver King Mine that Indians had been off the reservation killing deer and that several had visited the store at the mine. The provost officer was ordered to investigate. There was no evidence that the Indians had killed deer, but they had been off the reservation, trading at the store and one of the clerks noti­cing the brass tags on them had taken, out of curiosity, the letters and numbers on a slip of paper. These were transferred to the officer's notebook. A two days' ride brought the detachment to the camp at the mouth of the San Pedro where the officer crossed the Gila on his mule, called the band of Indians together and walking  p101 along the line without a word, only looking at their tags, selected the men he wanted to see at San Carlos and rode off. The chief and all the band were astonished but promptly complied and their culprits were duly punished.

Infinite patience was necessary in listening to the various complaints made by Indians at the weekly sessions. Every trouble, large and small, was gone into most minutely and every new complainant began his talk by a complete family history reaching back as far as he could go. It made no difference that ninety-nine times out of a hundred the family history had no bearing on the case. As their responsibilities increased, the disputes multiplied, especially as regarded their grain fields, a fruitful source of discord, the differences often very difficult of adjustment, and it was never possible to satisfy both parties. In an attempt to settle a dispute of this kind, Lieut. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Mott,​18 who was on duty at San Carlos after me, was murdered by the party against whom the decision was rendered. Many of the complaints were very childish, but the Indian requires about the same treatment as a child. There was no sickly sentimentality about Capt. Crawford's method of handling the Indians. We allowed them to take no liberties with him, expected them to behave and do what they were told, any failure being visited by swift and sure punishment. The guardhouse was kept clean; the prisoners also kept the premises around the headquarters thoroughly in order and were kept at healthy work during the day.

The Indian has a well developed taste for whiskey are any other strong drink that will intoxicate him. It was difficult for them to obtain whiskey but the older ones knew how to make an intoxicant called "tiswin." Their "tiswin" drunks were responsible for many fights amongst themselves, but they were so secretive in making and hiding their liquor that it was only after the resultant fight that the fact of "tiswin" came to our knowledge. It was never my good fortune to get possession of any of this liquor but I was told that it was made usually, by the very old women, from corn, and was a sort of "sour mash."

In order to reap the full benefit of a "tiswin" drunk, the bucks fasted for three days beforehand, and then had a royal time, occasionally allowing a woman or two to join in for the pleasure of beating them when they had all reached the proper stage.

The Apache Indian is as perfect a savage as this country has ever produced, and it is impossible to conceive of greater cruelty and less natural affection in any creature that walks on two legs. The fiendish cruelties committed by them when on the warpath give one a creepy feeling while among them, and when a son brings in his father's head on which a reward had been placed, not because he had trouble with him, but because he happened to know where he was in hiding and wanted the reward, it makes one doubt whether they are human.

During my duty at San Carlos, "The Kid" was one of our most trusted scouts. Afterwards he was a terror to Arizona for years.

In the spring of 1885 the 3rd Cavalry was relieved from duty in Arizona, and Capt. Emmet Crawford was relieved from command of the San Carlos Reservation and went with his regiment to Texas.

The peace that had prevailed in Arizona for nearly two years soon came to a sudden end,​19 and it was only a few months before Capt. Crawford was ordered back, at Gen.  p102 Crook's earnest request, to command the battalion of Apache scouts put in the field in pursuit of hostile Chiricahuas. It was my good fortune to be with him for many months during his campaign in Arizona, New and Old Mexico, nor could a young man hope to serve under a better soldier in a better field of instruction. Capt. Crawford was killed by Mexicans in Sonora in 1886, just as, after months of arduous service, he was, with the surrender of the Indians in sight, bringing his campaign to a success­ful close.

General Crook was called by the Apaches "Nan‑tan Cle‑pa," which has been wrongly interpreted by many as "The Gray Fox." As a matter of fact, it means "Gray Captain," from his general appearance. There was less of the fox in his character than any man I ever met.

Captain Crawford was "Nan‑tan En‑das‑en," "The Tall Captain," and when I arrived, just as tall but much younger, the Indians were puzzled to name me until I was placed in charge of the guardhouse when I became "Calaboose Nantan."

The Quartermaster was "Nal‑soos-Nan‑tan," writing or letter captain because he gave little written slips as receipts for hay and grain.

One officer was "Big Foot," another "Long Nose," a third "Billy Goat," from his imperial.

Into their own names, it does not do to inquire too closely. One baby was called "White man scratched him on his back," from the marks of an officer's fingernail made on his little brown back. One very young officer was "Nantan Bijaji" (Baby Captain).


A complete description of General Crook's methods of handling the Apaches will be found in his Annual Reports as Commanding General, Department of Arizona, for 1883, 1884, 1885, and 1886, his Report of Operations of April 10, 1886, and his Resumé of Operations, 1882‑1886, dated December 27, 1886.

Frank C. Lockwood, The Apache Indians, (Macmillan, 1938), contains a very extensive bibliography with reference to Indian affairs in Arizona, which it is unnecessary to repeat here. A recent book, General George Crook, His Autobiography, by Martin F. Schmitt (University of Oklahoma Press, 1946) contains much previously unpublished data regarding Crook and Indian affairs.

The Editors' Notes:

* Publication of this article has been made possible by the Order of Indian Wars of the United States, a recent affiliate with the American Military Institute. The author, Captain Charles Pinckney Elliott, was born in South Carolina in 1860 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1882. He served for a year in the 13th Infantry, transferred to the 4th Cavalry in 1883, and remained in the latter regiment until his retirement in 1898 for disability incident to the service. In World War I he returned from his retirement as a captain and became a major in the Quartermaster Corps. He was commended in General Crook's Report of Operations, Headquarters Department of Arizona, Fort Bowie, Arizona, April 10, 1886. In May 1943 he died at Seabrook, S. C., at the age of 83. His article bears internal evidence that it was written about 1901.

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General Roberts, Medal of Honor winner in the Spanish-American War, has been Recorder of the Order of Indian Wars for several years. He was elected this year as Trustee of the Institute and also accepted a position on the Editorial Board of Military Affairs as representative of the Order.

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1 Charles Pinckney Elliott, was born in South Carolina in 1860, graduated from West Point in 1882. He served for a year in the 13th Infantry, transferred to the 4th Cavalry in 1883, and served in that regiment until his retirement as a captain in 1898 for disability incident to the service. He was a major and quartermaster in World War I and was advanced to major on the retired list. He died at Seabrook, S. C., 17 May 1943, aged 83 years. He was commended in General Crook's Report of Operations, Headquarters Department of Arizona, in the Field, Fort Bowie, Arizona, April 10, 1886. His article bears internal evidence that it was written about 1901.

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2 Emmet Crawford was born in Pennsylvania, served as an enlisted man and officer of volunteers for the entire period of the Civil War, and received the brevets of captain and major. He was appointed 2d Lieutenant, 39th Infantry in 1867 and 1st Lieutenant in 1868, transferred to the 3d Cavalry in 1870 and was promoted captain in that regiment in 1879. He died January 18, 1886, "near Nacori, Sonora, Mexico, of wounds received Jan. 11, 1886, in an attack made on his command of Indian scouts, by a force of Mexicans." (Army Register for 1887, page 364.) Commended in General Crook's Report of Operations, Headquarters Department of Arizona in the Field, Fort Bowie, Arizona, April 10, 1886.

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3 Fort Lowell was seven miles northeast of Tucson, Arizona.

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4 Fort Grant was near Mount Graham, twenty-seven miles north of Willcox, Arizona.

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5 Fort Thomas was near the Gila River, about sixty-five miles north of Bowie Station, Arizona.

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6 San Carlos was at the junction of the Gila and San Carlos Rivers, Arizona, about forty miles below Fort Thomas. It was the site of the San Carlos Indian Agency.

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7 Strangely enough, an old timer returning to San Carlos now would find the valleys of the Gila and the San Carlos turned into a large lake, formed by the Coolidge Dam.

Thayer's Note: The actual site of the San Carlos Agency now lies — most of the time — under the waters impounded by the dam: photographs and further information are given at FortWiki.
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8 Franklin O. Johnson, Class of 1881, West Point, was a 2d Lieutenant in the 3d Cavalry, in 1884. Retired as a colonel of cavalry in 1922. Died in 1935.

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9 Thomas B. Dugan, Class of 1882, West Point. Became Brigadier General in the National Army, World War I and retired as a Brigadier General. Died 1940.

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10 Thomas Davis was a Contract Surgeon, U. S. Army.

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11 Fort Apache was ninety miles south of Holbrook, Arizona, in the White Mountains and about 60 miles north of San Carlos.

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12 Parker W. West, Class of 1881, West Point, served in the 3d Cavalry as Lieutenant. Retired for disability in 1909 as a Major of Cavalry. Died 1947.

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13 Britton Davis, Class of 1881, West Point, appointed 2d Lieutenant, 3d Cavalry. He resigned June 1, 1886, and engaged in ranching and mining until he died in 1930.

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14 Charles B. Gatewood, Class of 1877, West Point, was a Lieutenant, 6th Cavalry. He was A. D. C. to General Nelson A. Miles, 1886‑1890. He was commended in General Orders 39 and 44, A. G. O. 1891, for his distinguished services in the Apache Campaigns of 1883 and 1886. Died in 1896.

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15 Hampton M. Roach, served as an enlisted man in Troop F, 5th Cavalry, 1876‑1883. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in action against the Utes in 1879. Was appointed 2d Lieutenant, 1st Infantry, 1883, and retired for disability as 2d Lieutenant, 1894. Died 1923.

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16 The Yavasupai Reservation was a very small reserve on Cataract Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River in Northern Arizona.

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17 Al Sieber was a well-known civilian scout employed by the Army as a Chief of Scouts. (See Lockwood, The Apache Indians, for many references to him.)

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18 Seward Mott, Class of 1886, West Point, was a 2d Lieutenant, 10th Cavalry. He died of wounds inflicted by an Indian at San Carlos, Arizona, March 11, 1887.

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19 The peace was ended in May 1885 by the outbreak of Geronimo's band of Chiricahuas. The ensuing campaign came to an end in 1886; the last of all the Indian wars in Arizona's bloody history.

Thayer's Notes:

a Cullum's Register gives 1829, and his tombstone has 1830.

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b Edmund C. Hentig: born in Michigan, appointed from Michigan. Second Lieutenant in the 6th Cavalry 12 Jun 1867; First Lieutenant 23 Dec 1868; Captain 15 Nov 1876. Killed 30 Aug 1881 in action with Apache Indians at Cibicu Creek, Arizona. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

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c Emmet Crawford: born in Pennsylvania, appointed from Pennsylvania. Private in Company F, 71st Pennsylvania Infantry, 28 May 1861 to 2 Jul 1864; First Sergeant in Company K, 197th Pennsylvania Infantry, 11 Jul to 11 Nov 1864; First Lieutenant in the Infantry 23 Nov 1864; honorably mustered out 18 Nov 1865; Second Lieutenant in the Infantry 16 Feb 1866; breveted Captain and Major of Volunteers 13 Mar 1865 for meritorious service during the war; honorably mustered out 19 May 1867; Second Lieutenant in the 39th Infantry 22 Jan 1867; First Lieutenant 5 Jun 1868; transferred to the 25th Infantry 20 Apr 1869; unassigned 17 Jun 1869; assigned to the 3d Cavalry 31 Dec 1870; Captain 20 Mar 1879. Died 18 Jan 1886 of wounds received from Mexican troops 11 Jan 1886 near Nacori, Mex. while in pursuit of Indians. (Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army)

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d Adna Romanza Chaffee: born in Ohio, appointed from the Army. Private, Sergeant, and First Sergeant in Company K, 6th Cavalry, 22 Jul 1861 to 12 May 1863; Second Lieutenant in the 6th Cavalry 13 Mar 1863; First Lieutenant 22 Feb 1865; Regimental Quartermaster 12 Dec 1866 to 12 Oct 1867; Captain 12 Oct 1867; Major in the 9th Cavalry 7 Jul 1888; Lieutenant Colonel in the 3d Cavalry 1 Jun 1897; Colonel in the 8th Cavalry 7 May 1899; Brigadier General of Volunteers 4 May 1898; Major General of Volunteers 8 Jul 1898; Brigadier General of Volunteers [sic Heitman] 13 Apr 1899; Major General of Volunteers 19 Jul 1900; Major General in the Regular Army 4 Feb 1901. Breveted First Lieutenant 3 Jul 1863 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Gettysburg, PA; Captain 31 Mar 1865 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Dinwiddie Court House, VA and Major 7 Mar 1868 for gallant and efficient service in an engagement with Comanche Indians on Paint Creek, TX 7 Mar 1868; Lieutenant Colonel 27 Feb 1890 for gallant service in leading a cavalry charge over rough and precipitous bluffs held by Indians on the Red River, TX 30 Aug 1874 and gallant service in action against Indians at the Big Dry Wash, AZ 17 Jul 1882.

The preceding from Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, which was published in 1903. Gen. Chaffee's career still had three years to go, during which he was promoted to Lieutenant General (1904) and served as Chief of Staff of the Army (1904‑1906).

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