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
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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