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Mangus Colorado

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A giant of a man, described as towering over the other members of his tribe, Mangus Colorado (Red Sleeves) was a chief of the Mimbrene Apaches. He was born about 1795 in the mountains of what is now Cochise County, Arizona, and took two Mimbreno wives when he was a young man. After the Mexican settlers began moving into the Apache lands, he joined some of the braves in attacking their camps. When he was about 25, Mangus Colorado captured a Mexican girl and decided to make her his wife. The brothers of his other wives, in the name of family honor, challenged him to the duel of knives. When Mangus Colorado killed them both, his reputation as a fighter led to his elevation to chieftainship of a Mimbreno band.

The Mexican government in 1837 proclaimed that it would pay $100 for the scalp of an Apache man, $50 for that of a woman and $25 for that of a child. An additional bounty was offered by the inhabitants of Santa Rita, a mining town. A group of unscrupulous trappers, headed by one James Johnson, plotted to make a rich haul in Apache bounty. They arranged a fiesta at Santa Rita and invited a large number of Apaches to attend, including the principal chief. Juan Jose, and lesser chiefs such as Mangus Colorado. At the height of festivities, Johnson uncovered a concealed howitzer loaded with scrap metal and fired into the midst of the Indians, killing and injuring many. Then the mob fell upon the survivors and killed many more, bringing the total slain to an estimated 400 men, women and children. Juan Jose was among the dead, only a handful escaping. Mangus Colorado organized the tribe, appointing seven sub-chiefs to serve under him.

A short time late, Mangus Colorado and his men raided the camp of Charles Kemp on the Gila River, killing all 22 of the trappers. Shortly afterward he captured three trappers led by Benjamin D. Wilson who, at Mangus Colorado's insistence, was allowed to go free. The other two were killed. Wilson became a senator of California and the first mayor of Los Angeles in later years.

The Mimbrenos blockaded Santa Rita, destroying all supply trains and leaving the citizens near starvation. At last the entire village tried to escape to Mexico. They were dogged and struck repeatedly by Mangus Colorado, until only ten survivors out of several hundred reached Chihuahua. Ironically, one of the few to survive was the hated Johnson.
Mangus Colorado formed an alliance with the Chiricahuas when he gave his daughter to Cochise in marriage. He continued his war with the Mexicans, but remained at peace with the Americans until the Gold Rush of '49 brought in thousands of greedy whites. When he came to talk to the miners at Pinos Altos, he was seized and horsewhipped. Later, he massacred 14 miners from Pinos Altos near Apache Pass. Almost immediately afterward, he joined forces with Cochise to attack a detachment of California Volunteers led by Captain Thomas Roberts. The Army won the battle with the aid of howitzers, which completely demoralized the Indians. Mangus Colorado was seriously wounded by Private John Teal, whose mount had been shot from under him. The chief's lieutenants carried him to Janos, 50 miles south of Santa Rita, and forced the Mexican doctor to aid Mangus Colorado under threat of having their town destroyed. Aged and ill, the giant Apache began to lose his taste for war and longed to make peace.

On 17 January, 1863, Mangus Colorado deliberately walked into a trap set by Captain E.D. Shirland and his company of volunteers, sending his aides back to their camp and entering the enemy camp alone. As the old chief sat by the fire, Colonel J.R. West, commander at Fort McLean, rode into camp and ordered two armed guards placed over the chief. One of them heated his bayonet in the campfire and, suddenly, near midnight, stabbed Mangus Colorado in the leg. When the Indian sprang up, the guards both fired their rifles into him, then drew their revolvers and emptied them into his body. It was later learned that they were acting under the orders of West. A surgeon decapitated the victim and examined his brain, which was found to be larger than that of a normal man.

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Collection of books and papers, 1922-1925

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