FORT BOWIE AND THE APACHE WARS

The trail we hiked was quite rough in places and steep in others. High desert, inhospitable to all but those who called it home, the Chiricahua Apache. They adopted the horse from incursions of Spaniards and made their last stand here against the American Calvary for life as they had known it.
The Apache allowed the Butterfield Stage to trek across their lands. They didn’t see them as a threat. It was a tense trip because the Butterfield drivers knew the Apache could be unpredictable. This pass was a direct link to the only southern route into California by way of the Yuma crossing which moved men and goods across the mighty Colorado river. Above is a trace of the stage road leading down into the valley and beyond.

This pass was chosen because it had the only dependable, year around source of water, Apache Springs. The Apache way of life was to ride into the valley and bag deer. The women kept the children, collected berries, prickly pear and other edibles to complete their way of life. When settlers began intruding, the Apache raided them. Everyone coveted the water.

The U.S. established Fort Bowie to protect the pass and its settlers from the Apache. They sent in soldiers and an uneasy co-existence was maintained for many years between the U.S. and the Apache by way of talks with their leader, Cochise. The U.S. established an Indian Agent to assist with peace-keeping promises. Skirmishes with indians and settlers were common with fear and mistrust ruling reason on both sides.
A shared cemetery.

Then the Bascom affair led to eleven years of all out war when the Apache were accused of kidnapping Mickey Free. Bascom was sent in to rectify things and during a meeting with Cochise he committed the unforgiveable sin of grabbing Chochise and imprisoning him during a peace talk. The new Apache leader was the renegade, Geronimo.
The U.S. sent in more and more troops. Expanded Fort Bowie and brought in Cannon to fight the Indians. They eventually succeeded in getting the Apache to surrender. They moved Cochise and Geronimo with their people to reservations.
It struck me how accurately some of the western movies I’ve seen over the years portrayed these events. Its also ironic that just 120 miles north, at Tuscon, are the studios that produced most of those movies on Arizona land.
The remains of the expanded, second Fort Bowie above. The hike takes you to both forts. The visitor center nearby has wonderful books on the Apache and a small, but good museum.

In this museum sits the tent shaped stove above. A soldier invented it and canvas covered tents, claiming he got the idea from examining indian tents. He signed a contract with the U.S Government to supply the tents for a royalty on each one sold. It is estimated he would have made 250,000 in royalties had they paid him. It was his misfortune to side with the Confederates.
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