There was great rejoicing in Arizona when, on April 6, 1873, at Camp Verde, the hostile Apaches surrendered unconditionally to General Crook. Much had been accomplished, to be sure. Yet very much remained to be done, and the obstacles to be overcome were immense. Though subjugated and forced upon reservations, the Apaches were still primitive savages, averse to civilized ways. The nature of the Apache was unchanged. He hated work and restraint. He was and always had been a nomad and marauder. The virtues that he inherited were the power and the will to steal and to kill. He had not lost his bitterness and distrust toward the white man. As long as he could, he had held out against cold, fatigue, starvation, and the bullets of his determined foe; and, though conquered, he was not reconciled, believing deep in his heart that he had been falsely and cruelly dealt with, brought as he was into bondage through a coercion beyond his power to understand or resist.
In fact, contrary to the common belief, Apache warfare did not close with the surrender of the great body of hostiles at Camp Verde. In a rare document entitled: Chronological List of Actions with Indians in Arizona and New Mexico Jan. 1866 to Jan. 1891 1 upwards of thirty-five encounters are reported between the Army and the Apaches between April 6, 1873, and the time that Crook was relieved in March, 1875. In these fights more than two hundred and forty Indians were killed by the troops, about as many were captured, and a very large number were wounded. Not a few soldiers and Indian scouts were killed or wounded, also.
In considering progress toward permanent peace and security, account must be taken, also, of the temper and character of the whites into whose hands the Apache was delivered and the quality and intelligence of the Government that ruled over Indian, soldier, and civilian alike. In this respect the prospect was anything but reassuring. Bad white men were more numerous than good ones in the Southwest at that time. Outlaws; adventurers; rough, gambling, hard-drinking soldiers; shrewd, overreaching merchants and ranchers; greedy, nonresident contractors with political pull; unconscionable Indian traders; grafting officeholders; and inefficient, inexperienced Indian agents–all these, with the exception of Army officers in general and a fair share of able and honorable Indian agents, were imbued with hatred and contempt for the Apache, and many of them were eager to bring about his extermination. It was in the face of such a set-up as this that the Apache described above had to make his climb to salvation and civilization. Surely no honest, humane citizen of America can fail to blush with shame when he contemplates the attitude and the acts of our national Government in its dealings with the Apaches during this crisis in their history and in the history of the citizens of the Southwest. Indifference, incompetency, delay, vacillation, disregard of solemn understandings entered into through its Army officers and official representatives from Washington–this was the sort of bulwark that the United States Government threw up for the encouragement and protection of such Apaches as did seek the straight and narrow way of righteousness, and such citizens and soldiers as did with intelligence and right motives seek firm and sure ways to humane understanding and enduring peace.
Crook remained in command of the Department of Arizona up to March, 1875. His plan for the control and future welfare of the conquered Apaches was wise and honorable. He insisted that they should be looked upon as human beings, to be handled with firmness, yet with consideration and utter fairness. He believed they should be put to work and permitted to enjoy the profits of their own labor; that, as soon as possible, they should be required to support themselves, should raise crops, supply wood, hay, and other articles to the posts and agencies, and for such supplies should be paid the regular market price. He believed that control and discipline should be placed in the hands of a select body of scouts drawn from their own number and paid by the Government at the same rate as enlisted soldiers. With the money they earned, he advised them to buy horses, cattle, and sheep. It was his hope that in this way they would have aroused in them the love of property and the sense of pride and independence that comes from personal ownership; for he believed that as a result they would be led to give up their roaming habits, would become attached to their stock and crops, and gradually find pleasure in a settled life. Not all could be influenced to give up their wild, nomadic life, he very well knew; he advised, therefore, that they be allowed considerable freedom of movement within the limits of their own reservations, so that they might gratify the habits of centuries in the gathering and cooking of mescal, the collecting of their favorite seeds and grasses, and even, with proper supervision, the hunting of deer and antelope. It was made clear to the Indians that each one must have an identification tag so that he could be accounted for at any time, and so prove in case of need or suspicion that he had not left the reservation. The Army officers appointed by Crook to oversee and control the Apaches on their reservations were in sympathy with his views and tactful in their attempts to carry out his plans for the welfare and advancement of these Indians.
Says John G. Bourke: “The transformation effected was marvelous. Here were six thousand of the worst Indians in America sloughing off the old skin and taking on a new life. Detachments of the scouts were retained in service to maintain order; and also because money would in that way be distributed among the tribes. Some few at first spent their pay foolishly, but the majority clubbed together and sent to California for ponies and sheep. Trials by juries of their own people were introduced among them for the punishment of minor offences, the cutting off of women’s noses was declared a crime, the manufacture of the intoxicant tizwin was broken up by every possible means, and the future of these Indians looked most promising, when a gang of politicians and contractors, remembered in the Territory as the ‘Tucson Ring,’ exerted an influence in Washington, and had the Apaches ordered down to the desolate sand waste of the San Carlos. . . .
“There is no brighter page in our Indian history than that which records the progress of the subjugated Apaches at Camp Apache and Camp Verde, nor is there a fouler blot than that which conceals the knavery which secured their removal to the junction of the San Carlos and Gila.” 2
Other powerful forces were at work to sow the seeds of discontent and to keep alive the fires of hatred. As pointed out in a previous paragraph, there were still many bold and recalcitrant outlaws who held out in their remote mountain retreats and vowed that they would never yield, and for years constant scouts were conducted against them by the troops. Among these renegades were two or three minor chiefs of notoriously bad reputation. Occasionally they made secret visits to their relatives in the various agencies and stirred up discontent and unrest. Very serious was the departure of seven bands of Indians, nine hundred people in all, from the San Carlos reservation on January 4, 1874. Fear and misunderstanding of the purposes of the white men was the cause of their flight, it seems. They sought safety in their old mountain haunts; but within three or four days were rounded up and brought back to the reservation. They were located on the south side of the Gila and, as the weather was very cold, were allowed to erect huts there. Soon a flood came and the river rose so high that the agency was cut off from communication with them. During this time, several of the worst of the outlaw minor chiefs, who had been skulking in the canyons, came in and mingled freely with those in the encampment. While the stream was still impassable, a wagon train bound for Camp Apache with supplies halted on the south side of the river near the camping place of the Apaches. Some of the teamsters sold much bad whisky to the visiting renegade chiefs, and on the night of January 31, 1874, some of them got very drunk. When the white men refused to sell them any more liquor, the Apaches killed them. The outlaws then at once fled into the mountains, and all the other Indians, without grievance, but frightened and confused, went with them.
February 3 the outlaws attacked white settlers at Old Camp Grant, and two men, a woman, and two children were killed. General Crook came to San Carlos and announced to the leading chiefs of the reservation that they must find and deliver up the guilty outlaw chiefs or he would be compelled to lead his troops against the Indians who had left the reservation. With this stern warning he returned to his headquarters. Spies were sent out by the chiefs to locate the outlaws. They were found; refused to surrender; and were killed in the fight that ensued. The bodies could not well be carried back as evidence that the General’s orders had been fulfilled, so the heads were cut off, put in a sack, carried back to San Carlos, and dumped on the parade ground in front of the tent of the commanding officer. The women and children who had witlessly fled with the renegades suffered greatly. Pitifully they pleaded to be allowed to come in; but Crook’s orders were inflexible, and until the leading Indians on the reservation had proved their good faith by the punishment of the murderers, both guilty and innocent were compelled to face cold, starvation, and death in the wintry mountains. It is pleasant to relate that the Army officers in command of the scouts did their best to relieve the sufferings of several bands of men, women, and children who would have perished but for their aid and kindheartedness.
August 8, 1874, John P. Clum, not quite twenty-three years of age, became Indian agent at San Carlos. During the eighteen months previous to Clum’s arrival there had been five different agents–three civilians and two Army officers. Just at this time a sharp controversy was going on between the Indian Bureau and the Department of War as to the administration of the Indian agencies. Of necessity troops had to be kept at or near the agencies to control and punish unruly savages. On the other hand, all administrative affairs were left in charge of the agent. It was not strange under these circumstances that clashes of authority should sometimes arise, very injurious to Government efficiency and most perplexing to the Indians.
In a somewhat bumptious manner young Clum, when he took charge at San Carlos, made it clear that he intended to assume full control of all affairs relating to the Indian service. He was convinced that the mixed civil and military rule was detrimental to the Indians, and he wanted them to understand at once that there was to be but one administrator. Major J. B. Babcock, in command of the troops at San Carlos, on September 3, 1874, very affably yielded to the new agent entire charge of affairs, and the officers who followed him worked amicably with the agent. There were at this time not quite one thousand Indians on the reservation. They were Pinals, Arivaipas, and Tontos. These Indians seemed peaceable and well disposed. After the customary friendly and formal smoke, during the course of which Clum made known to them his plans, agent and Indians were at once on very good terms. He explained that he wanted them to help him in local government, and assured them that if they would cooperate with him and do right it would not be long before they could get along without the presence of soldiers on the reservation. All this was very pleasing to them. He was fortunate in having as interpreter a famous individual–half Mexican, half Apache–Marijildo Grijalba; and very early in his administration he was so lucky as to secure as his chief clerk M. A. Sweeney, a sergeant of cavalry who had just given up Army life after fifteen years of service, but was enamored of life in Arizona and glad to get a job at the Indian agency. “Honest, industrious, good-natured, and fearless,” well versed in the character and ways of the Apaches, yet sympathetic in his dealings with them, he proved invaluable to Clum, and Clum’s success was largely due to the ability and devotion of this fine Irishman.
Clum’s first step in his plan of self-government for these Apaches was the selection of four of their leaders as policemen. He also created an Apache Court, made up of four or five chiefs and himself as presiding judge, before which offenders arrested by the police were brought for trial and sentence. This, too, appealed very much to the Apache sense of fair dealing, and the whole system of self-government that he inaugurated worked out well in practice. Indian law was applied with severity rather than leniency; and though Clum early had occasion to put the policemen and his court to a very trying test, he found then and ever afterwards that he could trust them fully. His Indian police became famous in Arizona. Thoroughly drilled by Sweeney, and properly uniformed, they were the pride of the Agency, and time and again were called upon to meet trying emergencies during the next three years.
Though the Indians who surrendered at Camp Verde had been promised that this was to be their permanent home, before two years had passed the Government, on the plea of economy, moved these fifteen hundred Indians to the San Carlos Agency. Some of the bands were at enmity with tribes already residing there. The transfer was made against their will; and they submitted only because they believed military force would be used if they did not do so. The action was taken against the earnest advice of General Crook. In his official report these words occur: “There are now on the Verde reservation about fifteen hundred Indians; they have been among the worst in Arizona; but if the Government keeps its promise to them, that it shall be their home for all time, there will be no difficulty in keeping them at peace and engaged in peaceful pursuits.”
En route to San Carlos there was a fight between two factions and several Indians were killed. A few slipped away into “Hell” and “Rattlesnake” Canyons and again took up their predatory life. Later, in bloody conflicts, they were again subdued by Captain Charles King, Lieutenant W. S. Schuyler, and Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts. Fourteen hundred were duly delivered to Clum. The San Carlos Indians from the first had been denied the use of firearms; and when the Verdes were brought to the reservation, Clum demanded that they give up their arms. They refused to do this at first; but Clum was firm and had good and persuasive reasons to offer. Moreover, the San Carlos Indians, some of whom had been hostile toward the newcomers in the past, stood squarely by him. So, after reconsidering the matter, the weapons were yielded up without bloodshed.
April 15, 1875, in accordance with an order from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Clum took control of the Camp Apache agency. There were about eighteen hundred Indians on this reservation. The previous month, the civil agent at Camp Apache, J. E. Roberts, had been removed by force of arms (so Clum asserts) 3 and Captain Ogilby, the commanding officer at Camp Apache, had assumed control. Young Clum went berserk when he arrived upon the scene. The military authorities were notified that he had come to Camp Apache with instructions to take over the agency and that he was now in full charge. April 19, he counted all the men at the agency. But hardly had the roll been completed when some of the Indians came to him in great anxiety and told him that Captain Ogilby had ordered them all to be at the post next morning to be counted there. “This order,” Clum writes, “was given without regard to my plans, wishes, or instructions, even without my knowledge, and came directly in conflict with orders I had already given. I rode over to the post, saw Captain Ogilby, and requested him to withdraw the order. His reply was that he would carry it out if it took every man under his command, and he had four companies and forty Indian scouts. . . . I. . . instructed the Indians to come to the agency the next morning and I would suffer with them if there was any trouble.” 4 Very careless playing with matches, and with plenty of explosive material about! Captain Ogilby had the good judgment to give up the attempt to make a separate enumeration and so the matter closed.
Orders were soon issued from Washington to transfer the Indians of the Camp Apache agency to the San Carlos Reservation. In July Clum set about complying with his instructions. One reason given for the change was economy in expense of administration; another, the fact that “it would avert the trade with these Indians from New Mexico to Arizona, where it properly belongs.” The wishes of the Indians were not taken into consideration, though some of them seemed willing to go. Eventually all except Petone and Diablo, who were scouts and could not be removed from the post, and the band of Penal, a petty chief, consented to go peaceably. About six hundred, mostly women, were allowed to stay behind to gather the corn crop; three or four hundred, including the Indian scouts and their families, remained until the scouts should have finished the period for which they had enlisted. The rest, consisting of fifteen White Mountain chiefs with their bands, between July 26 and 31, made the trek to San Carlos and from that time were rationed there. Clum in person led seven bands over the mountain trail, and the other eight were conducted by the post trader, Mr. George S. Stevens, by the wagon road. These were the only two white men in the company. The Army was much opposed to the transfer. Clum writes: “I met with vigorous and bitter opposition in my efforts to remove these Indians.” Thus, before he had been agent at San Carlos a full year, he was in control of about forty-two hundred Indians. He was not yet twenty-four, and his salary was still sixteen hundred dollars as it had been when he had fewer than one thousand in charge.
With the arrival of these large groups from Verde and Camp Apache Clum increased his police force. Eight men had been added after the Camp Verde Indians arrived; and now with the accession of the White Mountain Apaches the number was increased to twenty-five, and Clay Beauford was placed in command of the entire company. Clum has this to say of his police organization: “They were carefully chosen from the various tribes and bands, armed with needle guns and fixed ammunition, and placed under the command of Mr. Clay Beauford, who has been guide and scout in this country for several years. . . . The duties of this force are to patrol the Indian camps, to quell disturbances, to arrest offenders, to report any signs of disorder or mutiny, to scour the entire reservation and arrest Indians who are absent from the agency without a pass, also to arrest whites who trespass contrary to the rules of the reservation.” 5
Just before Christmas, 1875, after the troops had been moved from the agency at Clum’s request, Disalin, Chief of the Tontos, created a tragic situation. He was very jealous of one of his wives; and used to beat her and torture her in various ways. She complained to Clum. Young and chivalric, Clum took Disalin to task. This rebuke was not the sort of thing that an Apache husband–much less an Apache chief–submitted to. His wife was his to do with as he pleased. Clum’s breach of Apache etiquette was very deeply resented. Disalin brooded over the insult. An hour after leaving the agent’s office he returned. Over his shoulder he wore a blanket, which was unusual and should have aroused Clum’s suspicion. Walking across the room and opening the door of the adjoining office (that of Sweeney, the clerk) to assure himself that they were alone, he turned and faced Clum. His eyes now opened, Clum spoke to Disalin sharply. The Indian scowled; but just then the Negro janitor entered with an armload of wood, and just behind him Chapin, the doctor at the agency. With some casual remark Disalin now walked into Sweeney’s office and closed the door. Immediately there was the sound of a shot. Clum seized his revolver and started toward Sweeney’s office. Another shot rang out and Sweeney came running into the room, yelling, “Disalin!” By the time Clum had reached the connecting door, the Indian had made his exit. Then there was a third shot. As soon as Clum got outside he saw Disalin with a smoking pistol in his hand running toward the guardhouse. It had evidently been the villain’s purpose to kill Clum, Sweeney, and Beauford, captain of police. But the sudden chance entrance of the janitor and Dr. Chapin had upset his plans. He had shot at Sweeney and missed him, and now he was on his way to get Beauford.
Chased by Clum and Sweeney, Disalin dodged round the corner of the guardhouse and at that instant another shot was fired; then another, and in a moment a fusillade. Disalin had been killed by a shot from the loyal policeman, Tauelclyee, his own brother. During the very brief time that he was covering the two hundred yards to the guardhouse, two of the Apache police had become aware of what was happening; and two bullets struck him before he rounded the corner of the guardhouse. Though wounded he kept on running. Beauford, hearing the shouting, had come to the door of the guardhouse, and before he knew what was happening, Disalin shot at him twice. Beauford drew a careful bead; but before he could pull his trigger, Taueldyee, with rifle steadied against the wall of the corral, fired and dropped the miscreant dead.
The Indian Bureau gave Clum and his policemen plenty to do. May 3, 1876, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs instructed Clum by telegraph to go to Apache Pass, take over the Chiricahua Agency, and remove the Indians of that reservation to San Carlos. From the time of the peace pact entered into between President Grant’s representative, General O. O. Howard, and the great chief Cochise, and the establishment at that time of the Chiricahua reservation, Cochise and his people had remained true to their agreement and had not molested the Americans; though there seems to be no doubt that the young men of the tribe did now and then make raids into Mexico. In June, 1874, Cochise died, and Taza, his oldest son, succeeded him as chief. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs notified Jeffords in February, 1876, that no more beef could be furnished his agency during that fiscal year. As little beef remained on hand, Jeffords told the Indians that for the next four months, they would have to eke out their meat supply by hunting in the mountains. A part of Cochise’s tribe thereupon moved over to the Dragoon Mountains, about thirteen miles from the Overland Mail Station at Sulphur Spring. A quarrel arose among these Indians, and two men and a grandchild of Cochise were killed. The band now separated into two factions, Taza with most of the Indians returned to the neighborhood of the Agency; while Skinya, the principal troublemaker, with about twelve adherents and their families remained in the Dragoons. Four of this party, together with three Coyotero Indians who had become dissatisfied at San Carlos, made a raid into Sonora and returned with about one hundred dollars’ worth of gold dust and silver. Though Jeffords had warned Rogers, station keeper at Sulphur Spring, that he would be prosecuted and removed from the reservation if he sold whisky to the Indians, Rogers made known to these turbulent raiders that he could supply them with liquor in exchange for their gold and silver. On April 6 he did sell whisky of a very vile quality to Pionsenay. The next day this Indian returned and bought more; and in the afternoon returned with his nephew and demanded still more. But this time Rogers refused to sell it to him. Drunk with the rotten stuff he had already consumed, he killed Rogers, and also Spence the cook, who was the only other white man at the station. Stealing more whisky and some horses and ammunition, the Indians went back to their camp in the Dragoons.
The next morning, April 8, a few of the outlaws, who were still drunk, killed a man named Lewis, on the San Pedro, and stole four horses. When Jeffords, in the early morning of April 8, heard of the murder of Rogers and Spence, he set out with a troop of cavalry from Fort Bowie for the rancherías of Taza and his followers. These loyal Indians had taken to the mountaintops in great excitement. Jeffords sent the cavalry on to Sulphur Spring, while he went to the frightened Indians on the mountain and told them to return to the Agency and await him there, at the same time assuring them that they should not be harmed. He caught up with the cavalry at Sulphur Spring. After burying Rogers and Spence, Jeffords and the troops followed the trail of the murderers and, April 10, discovered Skinya’s band on an all but inaccessible peak in the Dragoon Mountains. Some shots were exchanged, but to have attempted to dislodge and capture the band would have been too costly in American lives, so the cavalry marched back to Fort Bowie.
When Jeffords got back to the agency, he told Taza and his Indians that they must neither camp nor hunt west of the Chiricahuas. Thus all Apaches found west of the Chiricahuas would be known as hostiles, and Jeffords so informed the military officers. Scouting parties from Fort Bowie and Fort Grant were sent out, but they did not succeed in capturing any of Skinya’s renegades.
June 4 Skinya and his party entered Taza’s camp and tried to persuade his band to leave the reservation and go on the warpath. When they refused to do this, a fight ensued in which Skinya and six other men were killed and two wounded. Nachez, the younger son of Cochise, fired the shot that killed Skinya, while Taza himself wounded Pionsenay, Skinya’s brother, with a shot through the shoulder. Taza, with his band, now camped near the Agency. Meantime, doughty agent John P. Clum had not been idle. Ably supported by General A. V. Kautz, commander of the Department of Arizona, with all available troops in the Territory, in addition to two hundred Indian scouts enlisted on the San Carlos Reservation and a picked bodyguard of fifty-four San Carlos Agency policemen, Clum proceeded to Apache Pass, which he reached the day after Taza’s fight with Skinya. In a talk with Clum on the sixth of June, Taza consented to go peaceably with Clum to the San Carlos Reservation with all that were left of Cochise’s own band–three hundred and twenty-five men, women, and children. June 8 a messenger came from Pionsenay with the request that he might come in to die. Twenty scouts were sent out and he was brought in a prisoner. There came with Pionsenay, also, the women and children of Skinya’s party, the men who had not been killed having already made their escape into Mexico. About four hundred of the most turbulent Chiricahuas, led by Juh, Geronimo, and Nolgee, had previously fled to Sonora to carry on their depredations there and in New Mexico. Between the abandonment of the Chiricahua Agency and October, 1876, according to Jeffords’ official report, these renegades had killed more than twenty people and stolen one hundred and seventy head of stock. But they were stout fellows whenever it became a matter of adherence to Uncle Sam’s bread line. They never willingly allowed their names to get off the roll. About one hundred and forty other unsubdued Indians who had been permitted on the Chiricahua reservation, but who were really Hot Spring, New Mexico, Indians, went back to New Mexico under their chief, Gordo.
June 12 Clum left Apache Pass with three hundred and twenty-five Indians, besides Pionsenay, whom he kept strongly guarded. He proceeded toward Tucson to meet the sheriff of Pima County who was coming out to take the murderer into custody. About two P.M., June 13, he turned Pionsenay over to the civil officers and seven hours later the wily villain gave the sheriff the slip and escaped. On the eighteenth of June, Clum located the Chiricahuas on the San Carlos Reservation. There were only sixty warriors in this party. The removal of the Chiricahua Apaches from their reservation was the crowning folly of the Indian Bureau. Not only did the Chiricahuas dislike the region of San Carlos; not only was it already overpopulous with tribes averse, or even hostile to each other, held there against their will; but the Chiricahuas were keenly aware of the fact that their own reservation had been taken away from them, not because of the disloyalty of the Chiricahuas as a people but as a result of the misdeeds of a small, violent faction arising directly from the wicked greed of a white man placed in their midst.
In Jeffords’ report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated October 3, 1876, he writes: “In conclusion, I have the honor to state that the killing of Messrs. Rogers, Spence, and Lewis was not an outbreak of the Indians of the agency; it was the result of selling whisky to Indians already outlawed from their tribe and who were anxious to have other Indians join them to make their number sufficiently strong to enable them to become hostile. When at the Sulphur Spring ranch, Lieutenant Henely and myself found a keg of whiskey that contained a quantity of tobacco and other materials to give strength to the liquor; and among civilized communities murders by men crazed from spirits are of frequent occurrence. The breaking of their treaty and attempted removal of nine hundred Indians for the criminality of three of their number has been the cause of the numerous murders and robberies that have been committed since the 12th of June.”
Late in February, 1877, it was discovered that Geronimo and his band of murderers were in New Mexico trying to dispose of stolen stock to the Mexican and American ranchers. The headquarters of the marauders was at Ojo Caliente; and these hardened outlaws were drawing rations and blankets from the Hot Spring Government Agency whenever it pleased their fancy to round up there. March 20 Clum received this telegram from the Indian Commissioner at Washington: “If practicable take your Indian police and arrest renegade Indians at Ojo Caliente, New Mexico. . . . Remove renegades to San Carlos and hold them in confinement for murder and robbery. Call on military for aid, if needed.”
Clum wired Clay Beauford, now in command of a company of Arizona Apache militia, to march at once to Silver City, New Mexico, and await his arrival there. He wired General Hatch, also, at Santa Fe, in command of troops in New Mexico, of his plans and requested his cooperation. Hatch replied that he had ordered troops of the Ninth Cavalry into the field and also that Major Wade, with three troops of cavalry, would meet Clum and the Apache police at dawn, April 21, at Ojo Caliente. Then, on foot, Clum began his four-hundred-mile march to Silver City.
Among the leaders in Clum’s company of police at this time were Eskiminzin, Nachez, Tauelclyee, Goodah, and Sneezer-names of note in Apache history. Clum and his police met Beauford and his militia at Silver City as planned; and by the morning of April 20 they were all within forty miles of Ojo Caliente, which Clum reached late that afternoon. A trusty scout had been sent to the agency several days in advance, and he now reported that Geronimo, with one hundred followers, was camped three miles from the agency and that he had visited the agency that very day for rations. Unfortunately Clum found awaiting him a telegram from Wade informing him that the troops would be delayed one day. Clum was in a quandary. Since he was operating now conjointly with the troops, he doubted whether he would be justified in acting further without consultation with Major Wade; yet he was aware that, when the renegades found out that he was there with his San Carlos police, almost any untoward thing might happen. Since they had come all this four hundred miles for the purpose of capturing the renegade leaders, he determined to make a bold and prompt move.
Clum had pushed forward to Ojo Caliente on horseback with only twenty-two of his police. He at once sent a courier to Beauford to bring in the additional police and his militia at four the next morning and secretly take station in the commissary building with loaded guns and thirty rounds of ammunition. At daylight a message was sent to Geronimo and the renegade chiefs with him to come in for a talk. They came at once in war paint and armed. On the porch of the agency building, facing the parade ground, Clum took his seat, flanked by six Apache police. The rest of the twenty-two men were deployed to advantage. Beauford stationed himself between the commissary building and Clum. The police had been instructed to be ready for instant action, but not to shoot unless so ordered by Clum or Beauford, or unless one or the other of these two opened fire, or unless the Indians began shooting. The sullen outlaws, just at sunrise, gathered in a compact group in front of Clum–Geronimo, Gordo, Ponce, and Francisco in advance, about ten feet from the porch. It was a very fierce and threatening array.
Clum began by accusing Geronimo of robbing and murdering. He charged him, too, with having broken his promise at the time of the removal of the Chiricahuas, when he agreed with Clum that he would go with him to San Carlos to live there. “Now,” he said, “we have come to take you back with us. We do not want to have any trouble and if you and your followers will come quietly, no harm will come to you.” 6 Geronimo made a defiant and boastful reply. The moment of action was at hand and the situation was very tense. Clum raised his left hand and touched the brim of his sombrero, the prearranged signal for the militia to appear. Instantly the commissary doors flew open and an Apache sergeant popped out and raced along the south end of the parade ground, followed by his men in single file. Each scout had his thumb on the hammer of his ready rifle, but there was no sound except the patter of swift-running moccasined feet.
Clum watched Geronimo and saw his thumb creep slowly toward the hammer of his rifle. His own hand had rested on his hip very near the butt of his Colt revolver. When he read Geronimo’s intention, he moved his hand over until it touched his weapon. This was the second preconcerted signal that had been rehearsed with Beauford and the twenty-two policemen. Beauford and the policemen instantly covered Geronimo and his companions with their guns. Geronimo hesitated for a moment but almost immediately realized that he was trapped and said very coolly he was now ready “to have big smoke and big talk.” Clum turned and handed his rifle and revolver to Sneezer. Then he said to Geronimo, “Tell all your men to lay their guns on the ground, out here in the open, where my police can gather them up and keep them for you.” 6
Geronimo made no move to comply. The moment was ominous in the extreme. From his position on the porch about ten feet from Geronimo and Ponce, Clum beckoned to Beauford slightly with his head, and the latter moved forward slowly with his rifle aimed straight at Geronimo. Stepping down, Clum walked up to the renegade and said; “I’ll take your gun myself.” There was no reply, nor did Geronimo move a muscle, except that he half closed the lids of his sullen eyes. Clum lifted the rifle from his unresisting left arm.
“I have seen many looks of hate in my long life,” Clum wrote in his very old age, “but never one so vicious, so vengeful. Geronimo’s mouth had a natural droop on the right side, so that even in repose he seemed to sneer. But when I took his rifle from him, his lips tightened and the sneer was accentuated. The old scar on his right cheek was livid.” 7 The remainder of the band were quietly disarmed. As there was no guardhouse at Ojo Caliente, Geronimo and six other leaders were shut into the corral under the vigilant guard of ten policemen, and ankle irons were riveted upon them.
The next morning when all the renegades were assembled before Clum and he was about to tell them his plans concerning them, Victorio, who had succeeded Mangas Coloradas as chief of the Warm Spring Apaches, came into the Agency. Up to this time Victorio had been inclined toward peace, and had sometimes taken Geronimo to task for his raids. He was now much surprised at the state of affairs before him. Clum abruptly addressed him explaining the situation and offering to take him and his followers with him to San Carlos if they cared to go, but making it clear that they must first all be counted. Just before sunset both the renegades with Geronimo and Victorio’s band appeared to be counted. Victorio’s motley following were counted first. They numbered three hundred and forty-three. The total of the Chiricahuas was one hundred and ten. After a week of preparation, with a daily count of the Indians, May 1, the four hundred and fifty-three Apaches started for San Carlos, under guard of twenty-five Indian police and a military rear guard of twelve, commanded by Lieutenant Hugo. On May 20 these Chiricahua outlaws and Warm Spring Apaches with Victorio, their chief, were settled on the San Carlos Reservation. Four new policemen were appointed from the newcomers and Victorio was added to the council of judges. Clum’s very rosy and self-gratulatory account of the transfer of the Warm Spring tribe differs decidedly from the account given by John G. Bourke. He writes: “The Warm Spring Apaches were peremptorily deprived of their little fields and driven away from their crops, half-ripened, and ordered to tramp to the San Carlos; when the band reached there, the fighting men had disappeared, and only decrepit warriors, little boys and girls, and old women remained.” 8 In the following chapter we shall learn how brief was Victorio’s stay upon the reservation.
Clum sent word to the civil authorities in Tucson that Geronimo and the other criminal chiefs were in irons and that he was prepared, not only to deliver them at the jail in Tucson “for trial, conviction, and execution,” but to testify personally against them. But Geronimo, the most voluble liar and bloody murderer in the Apache tribe, was released and new blankets and provisions were issued to him and his families. Very poor teamwork, this! If Geronimo had been executed then, as he richly deserved to be, hundreds of worthy lives would have been saved and infinite misery to both whites and Indians avoided.
At the request of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs officers of the Army had recently been detailed to inspect supplies furnished by the contractors to the various reservations. When the officer detailed to perform this work at the San Carlos Agency arrived, Clum was highly incensed and refused to permit the military inspector to perform this duty. Indeed, he told the Commissioner that he would resign rather than submit to such an inspection. According to the annual report of General August V. Kautz to the War Department under date of August 15, 1877, Clum did offer his resignation, with the request that it be accepted by July 1, 1877. As it had not been accepted by the Commissioner by that date, he abandoned his agency, on the ground that he was disgusted with the vacillating and dishonorable policies of the Indian Bureau. That the actions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs had been vacillating and dishonorable there can be no doubt. However, Clum’s sudden and headstrong action seems to have been due chiefly to his hostility toward the Army and Army officers. His attitude toward the military was often discourteous and denunciatory. The fact is, able, honest, and courageous as Clum undoubtedly was in his administration of the San Carlos Agency, his reputation and achievements suffer greatly from the egotism and bombast displayed throughout the account of his life as written in the book Apache Agent. The impression one gets from reading this book is that the daring and capable young man pictured there was fully convinced that he could make a perfect job of taking care of the whole Apache tribe without the aid of either the Department of War or the Department of the Interior.
- There are only two known copies of the original document–one is in the A.G.O., War Department, Old Records Section, and the other in the A.G.O., War Department, Officer Records Section. The transcript in my possession was made by Charles Morgan Wood.
- Bourke John G. “General Crook in the Indian Country.” In The Century Magazine, March, 1891.
- Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1874, p. 216.
- Clum, Woodworth. Apache Agent p. 157. Boston Houghton Mifflin, 1936.
- Official report.
- Clum Woodworth. Apache Agent. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1936.
- Clum Woodworth. Apache Agent. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1936. I have followed Clum’s own story of the capture of Geronimo somewhat closely.
- Bourke John G. On the Border with Crook, p. 444. New York, Scribner, 1896.