Apache and Navaho War 1860-1865

[ 1860 - 1865 ]

Both the Apache and Navaho (Navajo) were warlike tribes who inhabited mainly what is now New Mexico and Arizona. Their warriors resisted and the encroachment of white civilization upon their territory. In the 1850s, US troops built a series of forts in the Southwest to protect and encourage white settlements there. In 1860, both tribes took to the warpath on their sturdy, fast-footed ponies and spread destruction throughout the area, while stealing guns, ammunition, cattle, horses, and other booty. In 1861, Cochise (1815?-74), a Chiricahua Apache, and five other Indian chiefs were seized and accused, wrongly, of cattle rustling and kidnapping a boy from a ranch. One chief was slain, Cochise escaped, and the four others were soon hanged. With many warriors, Cochise waged a blood war of revenge against the whites during the US Civil War, which drew many federal troops away from the Southwest and thus allowed Cochise to wreak havoc there with little opposition for a period. In 1862, the First California Infantry was ambushed at Apache Pass, but the two mountain howitzers the soldiers had brought along saved the day and put the Indians to flight. Union troops had to be transferred from the East, where they were fighting the Confederates. In 1863-64, Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson (1809-69), an experienced Indian fighter, led the First New Mexico Volunteers in a campaign against the Indians, who were to be killed outright and their women and children taken prisoner; Carson's force killed more than 650 Apache and captured over 9,000. In 1865, the Navaho surrendered and agreed to settle on a reservation on the Pecos River in New Mexico. Cochise and the Apache retreated to the mountains and continued to make raids.

Dictionary of Wars, 25.

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