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Victorio

Native American Nations | Indian Warriors
 

With the death of Mangus Zcolorado the leadership of the Membreno Apaches fell to Victorio, a pugnacious confidante of the late chief and of the Chiricahua chief, Cochise. Another Membreno, Geronimo, led a Broncho band which included men from several Apache tribes. After several years of sporadic fighting and raiding, Cochise made peace with the Government and both Victorio and Geronimo went to the reservation at Ojo Cliente, New Mexico.

In April, 1867, a small band led by Eskina caused some trouble at Sulphur Springs and went on the warpath in a small way. The Government decided to move the Chiricahua to the San Carlos Reservation, with the result that Geronimo and his followers fled and spent several months depredating in Sonora. Because of these troublesome incidents, Victorio was notified in April, 1879, that his tribe would be moved to San Carlos. During the night, Victorio and 30 of his men gathered their families and headed for the Big Bend country of Texas. Soon he was joined there by Cabellero and about 300 Mescaleros, including 75 warriors.

Victorio took charge and operated much in the manner of a big city gangster. Instead of killing Mexican settlers, he extorted them into giving him whatever he wanted. When the Texas Rangers moved into the Big Bend, Victorio's forces retreated into Mexico. They returned to New Mexico at the end of Summer and, near Ojo Caliente, encountered Captain Ambrose E. Hooker's company of the 9th Cavalry. The Indians killed eight troopers and made their getaway with 46 horses. Ten days later, on September 14, a civilian posse was ambushed by Victorio near Hillsboro, New Mexico. Then Lt. Col. N.A.M.Dudley, with two troops of the 9th Cavalry, engaged Victorio in the canyons of Las Animas Creek, New Mexico, where a pitched battle began. Reinforcements arrived and Victorio was greatly outnumbered, but during the night the troops retreated. Victorio headed back toward Mexico, closely pursued by more 9th Cavalry troops under Major Albert P. Marrow. Victorio made it back across the border on October 27, leaving behind three dead Apaches and about 60 horses and mules.

A short time later Victorio again invaded Texas, attacking the stave from Fort Davis to Fort Quitman and killing the driver and a passenger. Colonel Grierson almost ambushed the Apaches at Fresno Springs, but they eluded him and escaped once more to Mexico, fortressing in the Candelarias  Mountains of Chihuaua. A 15-man Mexican posse was annihilated when Victorio's warriors trapped them in a canyon, and when a search party of 14 men found the bodies, they, too, were slaughtered. When troops went to the Candalarias, they found the missing Mexicans but no Indians, for Victorio had gone back to New Mexico. Marrow and his men clashed with the Apaches on January 9, 1880, and again on the 17th, but Victorio escaped each time.

For three months nothing was seen of Victorio but his handiwork, for during this interval his warriors, unseen as ghosts, killed more than 100 persons. An attack upon Victorio was made by General Hatch in the San Andrea Mountains of southern New Mexico, with three Apaches killed and eight soldiers wounded before Victorio again escaped. At the end of July he raided again in Texas, fought with Grierson's troops (and lost seven men) and finally decided it was useless to try to return home.

A motley collection of fighting men moved against Victorio's hideout in the Tres Castillo Mountains of Chihuahua, a group of Tarahumari Indians, 20 Texas Rangers led by Colonel Baylor and 68 Chihuahua Apache scouts gathered for the attack. Colonel Joaquin Terrazas, the Mexican leader, asked the Rangers and Apache scouts to leave and let him handle the attack. Terrazas' men waited and ambushed the Membrenos in a canyon when, on October 14, they emerged to move to a new hideout. Held down all night until their ammunition was exhausted, the Apaches waited for the end. Old Victorio was shot down at dawn by a Tarahumari sniper named Mauricio, according to the Mexicans. Some of his friends said their chief committed suicide rather than be captured.

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Collection of books and papers, 1922-1925

Indian Warriors

 

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