Historic Era

Southwest Archaeology

Background on Historic Military Establishments
in South and South Central New Mexico

Presidios   Forts    Battles    Treaties    Routes and Locations   Background

This material taken from Fort Selden Management Plan Appendix 4 Historical Narrative



Spanish Contact

The first written account definitely pertaining to the area later occupied by the Fort Selden Military Reservation comes from Juan de Oñate’s settlement expedition into Nuevo México in 1598. Even earlier Coronado’s scouts came to the present-day Mesilla Valley in the 1540s, and fray Agustín Rodríguez and Capt. Francisco Sánchez Chamuscado could have passed this way in the early 1580s. Juan de Morlete apparently earlier had traveled parts of Oñate’s route and is the first Spaniard recorded to have crossed the Jornada del Muerto, in 1591 (Riley 1999:32–34, 45–47).

Oñate began his expedition from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua, México, on January 26, 1598, traveling with as many as 560 persons. A number of the soldiers brought their families as well as their servants and slaves. Most of the soldiers were young men, and the 3 oldest were around 60 years old. Oñate was in his mid to late 40s. At least one soldier was a mulatto, and among the servants and slaves were Indians, mestizos, and blacks (Riley 1999:43–44). Also accompanying Oñate were a group of Tlascalan Indians, a woman native of Pant-ham-ba Pueblo (near Galisteo) called Doña Inés, and 12 Franciscans. The soldiers carried a banner with an image of Our Lady of the Remedies (Gutiérrez 1991:48).

Oñate’s enormous entourage included perhaps 1,200 horses, 1,500 cattle, and thousands of sheep and goats. The soldiers’ personal weapons included harquebuses and swords, and they brought armor for themselves as well as their horses. The expedition traveled with quantities of a variety of goods including iron tools, some 13,500 nails, clothing and rolls of cloth, grinding stones, an assortment of food, medicines and medicinal supplies, mining equipment, blacksmithing equipment, gunpowder, sheet lead for ammunition, and artillery. The trade goods included rosaries and 80,000 trade beads. Their equipment was transported in 80 wagons and carts drawn mostly by oxen and some by mules. The people, animals, and vehicles spread over 2 miles and must have impacted the terrain terrifically; Oñate himself noted wagon ruts still prominent from Morlete’s expedition 7 years earlier (Riley 1999:44–47).

Traveling from Santa Bárbara up the Río Conchos in Chihuahua, Oñate reached the Río Grande on April 20. On April 30 he took formal possession of Nuevo México for Felipe II and Spain (Riley 1999:47). According to Gutiérrez (1991), Oñate literally played out dramas to

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teach the Indians they encountered “the meaning of their own defeat, of Spanish sovereignty, and of the social hierarchies that would prevail under Christian rule” (Gutiérrez 1991:47). Oñate had a chapel constructed on April 30, where the Spanish celebrated Solemn High Mass, and the soldiers then enacted the arrival of and greeting by Hernán Cortés of 12 Franciscans in Mexico City in 1524. Oñate presented himself as Cortés, knelt before and kissed the hands and hems of the friars, and ordered the Indian caciques to do the same. After the drama Oñate again fell to his knees and prayed for the conversion of the Indians as well as peaceful occupation of Nuevo México. The soldiers fired harquebuses, and Oñate erected a cross (Gutiérrez 1991:48–49). Oñate named the site of their Río Grande crossing “el paso del río del norte” (Timmons 1990:14). While the Spaniards still were camped on the river before crossing on May 4, 40 Indians entered their camp. Oñate called them “mansos,” which sounded like their first utterances to him (Riley 1999:55). Alonso de Benavides 32 years later said the name manso derived from a Spanish word meaning “tame” or “peaceable” (Hickerson 1994:87). Oñate described these Indians as having “long hair cut to resemble little Milan caps, headgear made to hold down the hair and colored with blood or paint.” They carried Turkish bows and made the sign of the cross with their thumbs. Oñate clothed the Indians and presented them with other gifts, and the Mansos in turn helped the Spaniards cross their sheep to the Río Grande’s north side (Riley 1999:55).

Sent ahead of the main expedition to scout the Piro area, Capt. Pablo de Aguilar Inojosa in mid- May, against Oñate’s orders, entered the first Piro village he encountered. Oñate so wanted the expedition to proceed in secrecy, because Indians had fled with their food supplies from previous expeditions into Nuevo México, that he almost had Aguilar executed (Riley 1999:47). On May 13 the main expedition reached the Organ Mountains, which Oñate called the “Sierra del Olvido.” A child died on May 17, and on May 21, one day after Aguilar returned from his unfortunate scout, 60-year-old Pedro Robledo died and was buried at his place of death. The officer Robledo, a native of Maqueda, near Madrid and Toledo, Spain, was accompanied by his wife Catalina López, his daughters, and 5 sons (Riley 1999:47; Jaskolski 2000:199, 200). The campground or paraje where he was buried became known as La Cruz de Robledo because of the cross marking his grave. The name later was shortened to Paraje Robledo or simply Robledo. Another campground 1 league to the south was called variously Robledo el Chico, Robledito, or Robledillo. Robledo would become the Camino Real’s south entrance to the Jornada del Muerto (Julyan 1996:301).

On May 22 Oñate, 2 Franciscan friars, and about 60 men moved ahead of the expedition to contact the nearest Piro town on the Río Grande. The expedition finally reached the north end of the Jornada del Muerto on May 27. Oñate eventually would select a region 250 miles to the north at the mouth of the Chama River for settlement, and in August his settlers began to move into some house blocks of the Tewa pueblo of Okeh (Riley 1999:47–49, 75).

Manso Indians

Beckett and Corbett estimate the Manso occupied an area stretching from south of El Paso, Texas, to as far north as Hatch, New Mexico (Hammond and Rey 1953:661 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2), placing the Fort Selden site well within their territory. Mansos presumably lived in the Organ Mountains, which became known as the Sierra de los Mansos (Rivera 1945:69 and Kinnaird 1958:84 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2). By 1667 a ranchería was as far west as the Florida Mountains near Deming (Forbes 1959:118 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2). The Jano and Jocome, relatives of the Manso, lived to their west and southwest; the Suma lived to the south; and the Piro lived along the Río Grande in the area of present-day Socorro and San Marcial. Apaches, relative newcomers, lived in adjacent areas (Benavides 1945:12–17 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2).

Hickerson identifies the Manso with the Tanpachoas, encountered by Antonio de Espejo in 1582 in marshy areas near El Paso del Norte

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(Hickerson 1994:38). Luxán describes the Tanpachoas as being

of the same blood and type as the Otomoacos, and of the same dress, except that the men tie their privy parts with a small ribbon. Their mode of fighting is with Turkish bows and arrows, and bludgeons as much as half a yard in length, made of tornilla wood, which is very strong and flexible. We all made stocks for our harquebuses from this tornillo wood because it was very suitable for the purpose [Luxan in Hammond and Rey 1966:169, quoted in Hickerson 1994:40].

In his revised memorial of 1634, fray Alonzo de Benavides describes the Manso as “a robust people, tall, and with good features, although they take pride in bedaubing themselves with powder of different colors which makes them look very ferocious” (Benavides 1945:52–2 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:30). Apparently hunters and gatherers, the Manso ate raw fish from the Río Grande in addition to the animals they hunted. Their wickiup shelters may have replaced earlier, more permanent housing (Beckett and Corbett 1992:30).

The Spanish established a mission for the Manso at El Paso del Norte (present-day Juárez, Chihuahua) in 1656 that lasted only two years, but Mission Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de los Mansos del Paso del Norte was permanently founded in 1659. According to Timmons the little church completed in 1668 became a way station for all travelers between Parral and Santa Fe and between Casas Grandes and Santa Fe.

The mission also attracted some Spanish settlers, Jumanos, Sumas, Tanos, and Apaches (Timmons 1990:15, 17; see also Hickerson 1994:123–124). By 1683 the Mansos, Sumas, and Janos joined the Pueblo nations of New Mexico in rebelling against the Spanish. They soon were joined by other Indian groups in the El Paso district, Nueva Vizcaya, and Sonora (Moorhead 1991:20–21; Hadley et al. 1997:13).

Several Manso rancherías are known in southern Nuevo México in 1691. The Mission of San Francisco de los Mansos, occupied from 1691 to 1693, and its associated ranchería were near La Unión. Other rancherías were near Doña Ana and present-day Las Cruces and in the Florida Mountains (Beckett and Corbett 1992:12, 46). In 1692 don Diego de Vargas referred to an abandoned ranchería at Doña Ana (Espinosa 1942:110 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2).

Because of the bad road, Vargas’s wagons and crews spent the night of October 18, 1692, at Yerba del Manso, located by Kessell and others 10 km south of Robledo and described by Vargas as “a league and a half from the outpost of Robledito” (Vargas 1995:388). Beckett and Corbett speculate a ranchería reported by Pedro Rivera at a paraje 21 leagues north of Paso del Norte was the Ranchería Grande shown on Miera y Pacheco’s Map (Rivera 1945:69 and Adams and Chavez 1956:268 in Beckett and Corbett 1992:2–3).

In a journal written in 1695 during a campaign against the Pimas, Capt. Juan Fernández de la Fuente from Janos notes

how the Janos, Jocomes, Mansos, Sumas, Chinarras, and Apaches have united. We have seen their great numbers and how they always travel together and how they never leave the rugged sierras where they always have their habitations. From the mountain peaks they are able to do whatever they wish, and the Spaniards are unable to punish them because the rebels have united for this purpose on these frontiers and those of Sonora. We have seen the pride of these tribes… [Naylor and Polzer 1986:585–586].

Beckett and Corbett’s research indicates the last colonial reference to the Manso as an independent group occurred in 1711. On November 16 the Manso and the Jano of El Paso del Norte fled to the Organ Mountains but by November 27 were persuaded to return. Later history merges the Manso with the other Indians of the El Paso Guadalupe mission, but some 1751 Spanish records list them as a distinct

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ethnic group at El Paso del Norte (Beckett and Corbett 1992:12–13). By 1766 the Organ Mountains were the domain of the Apaches, when Joseph de Urrutia notes on his “Map of Presidio and Pueblo of El Paso del Norte” that “a league to the north is the so-called Sierra de la Otra Banda, or Sierra de los Organos, along the foot of which runs the Río Grande del Norte and which is inhabited by the Apache Indians under the denominations of Natagés, Carlanas, and Faraones” (in Moorhead 1991:150).

  Settlement of Doña Ana

The settlement of Doña Ana may have been established by 1680. Gov. Antonio de Otermín visited Doña Ana during his unsuccessful attempt to reconquer Nuevo México in 1682. In 1693 don Gabriel del Castillo reports Indians killed three Spaniards in the region of the Organ Mountains, “the raiders then going on to a place called Las Cruces, and stealing stock also at Mesilla, then raiding the ranch of Doña Ana María, Niña de Córdoba” (Castillo, quoted in Julyan 1996:112).


By 1799 the Spanish knew as independent Apache nations the Tontos or Coyoteros, Chiricagüi (Chiricahuas), Gileños, Mimbreños, Faraones, Mescaleros, Llaneros, Lipanes, and Navajos. All except the Navajos were nomadic and preferred to live among rugged hills and mountains, considering the sites most difficult to access as the best located. Two Apache groups, the Chiricahuas and the Mescaleros, later figure in the areas protected by the Fort Selden Military Reservation. In 1799, Cortés y de Olarte identifies the Chiricagüi name as derived from the principal mountains they inhabited. At that time the Chiricahua were bounded by the Tontos and Moguinos on the north, the Gileños on the east, and the Province of Sonora on the south and west. The Mescalero occupied the mountains adjacent to both sides of the Pecos River extending south to the mountains at the top of the Bolsón de Mapimí [probably the Chisos Mountains in present-day Big Bend National Park in Texas]. The Mescaleros were bounded on the west by the Faraones, on the north by the Cumanchería, on the east by the Lipanes, and on the south by the Province of Coahuila. Cortés y de Olarte describes Mescalero clothing as made from finely cured chamois skins, with good breeches made “to perfection,” and head adornments with “attractive plumage” worn by some. In general, the Apache women also dressed in skins, with short skirts tied at the waist and fringes at the knees. They wore short shirts or jackets that hung to the waist and were open on the sides. Both sexes wore similar shoes, but the women wore no head coverings. Apache women adorned “their throats and arms with strings of deer and pronghorn hooves, as well as shells, fish spines, and roots of fragrant flowers.” The Apache already had adopted firearms, particularly valued by the Mescalero (Cortés y de Olarte 1989 [1799]:49–60).

Of the three groups identified in the Organ Mountains on the 1766 map, Opler conjectures the Faraones merged with the Mescaleros. Between 1720 and 1726 the Spanish applied the name Faraón to all Apaches living between the Río Pecos and the Río Grande from Santa Fe south to the Río Conchos in Mexico (Opler 1983a:390). Cortés y de Olarte in 1799 says the Faraones “constitute a very large group and are believed to be a branch of the Xicarillas. They inhabit the mountains between the Río Grande del Norte and the Pecos” (Cortés y de Olarte 1989 [1799]:52). They were bounded on the north and west by the Province of New Mexico, on the east by the Mescaleros, and on the south by Nueva Vizcaya (Cortés y de Olarte 1989 [1799]:52). The name Faraón was replaced by Mescalero by 1814, although it shows up on maps until 1858 (Opler 1983a:390).

The Natagés in 1745 consisted of the Mescaleros in the El Paso and Organ Mountain region and the Salineros in the Río Salado area. In the mid to late 1700s, the Spanish used the names Natagés and Mescaleros interchangeably. Mescalero replaces Natagé after that, although Natagé occurs on 1820 maps. Interestingly, Opler identifies the Carlanas as a Plains group that lived in the Raton Mesa area. Another group, the Apaches de Chilmo, lived west of the Río Grande and north of the Mansos, and probably are forerunners of the Warm Spring Apaches (Opler 1983a:392).

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[Establecimientos de Paz]

Griffen (1988) describes the unique relationship the Spanish established with the Apache, a relationship that would change forever the lifestyle of the Apache and their relationships with government entities, communities, and individual settlers. After 1786 the Spanish government persuaded many Apaches to settle at the chain of forts along its northern frontier. The administrative units, usually called establecimientos de paz (peace establishments), were unique in that the military and not the church administered to the Apache (Griffen 1988:9). Unfortunately, historians largely have ignored the significance of the symbiotic relationship that developed from these peace establishments and the impact of the establishments on the Apache.

By May 1793 the Spanish had established 8 reservations for the Apache, 6 sheltered by presidios. In all, about 2,000 Apaches settled at the reservations, which stretched from Sonora to the area of the Texas Big Bend. In Nuevo México 226 Gilas lived near Sabinal (Moorhead 1991:261). The Spanish were to issue rations every Monday to only those Apaches living at peace either within the walls of a presidio or within 10 miles of it. Apaches camped farther away were to receive whatever the commissioners considered necessary for their existence and to assure their good conduct (Moorhead 1991:264). Moorhead itemizes the rations provided:

Each adult woman was to receive weekly a sixth of a bushel of corn or wheat, four boxes of cigars, one loaf of brown sugar, half a handful of salt, and, when it was available, one thirty-second of a beef. Each other adult in a family would receive a half portion of these rations, and each child a quarter portion. No weekly rations were to be allotted for infants, and no cigars issued to children under seven years of age. A chief would receive, in addition to the rations for an adult, one loaf of brown sugar and two boxes of cigars. On first presenting himself in peace each chief and his favorite wife, as well as each prominent warrior, was to receive clothing and saddlery, as also were those who distinguished themselves in battle as auxiliaries. However, the commandant of the presidio was to exercise economy in presenting these gifts, artfully providing goods which the Apaches esteemed highly but which were of little value [to the Spanish] [Moorhead 1991:263].

Apaches who served with the troops were to be given “cigars and the kind of food to which they were accustomed, in amounts sufficient for the duration of the sorty or campaign, but a strict accounting was to be made of all supplies that were issued to any of the tribesmen” (Moorhead 1991:264). Each commissioner was to take a detailed monthly census of the Apaches under his supervision, gathering information about each person’s sex, age, and marital status, the number of horses or mules each person owned, and the number of Indians absent on hunting-and- gathering expeditions and where they went.

The census also was to collect information about the land occupied by each band: its potential to support these inhabitants and its distance from the area’s military post (Moorhead 1991:264). Only one year later, in 1794 Spanish officials determined administrative costs of having so many Apaches dependent upon their administration were too high. They began reducing the numbers directly administered at the reservations as well as the rations issued to those who remained. The Spanish intended to make the changes so gradually the Apaches would not realize they were occurring. Confident those Apaches who returned to the hinterland would remain at peace, the military nevertheless continued patrols to search for and destroy recalcitrants (Griffen 1988:10–11).

For the next 40 years, the levels of Apache depredations failed to increase, even though Spanish and Mexican forces in the area declined. Griffen speculates the Apaches who remained at the peace reserves shared their rations with their relatives in the hinterland, helping to maintain the peace. This relative calm ended after Mexican independence in 1821, when the Mexicans terminated rations to the Apaches. Most Apaches left the presidios, and subsequent

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attempts by the Mexican military failed to coerce them back. Peace was not regained until 1842, when Mexico again instituted regular allotments (Griffen 1988:11–12).

The Apaches, whom the Spanish and Mexican governments had made dependent on them for food, increasingly turned to theft to survive. They also committed various depredations on the European and Mexican populations who had invaded their territory. Travelers along the Camino Real in the 1830s particularly dreaded venturing through the Jornada del Muerto, not only because of the lack of water but also because of the danger of Apache attacks. Especially dangerous was the trail to the Ojo del Muerto or Dead Man’s Spring, where travelers often had to detour to water their animals (Gregg 1967 [1844]:240–241).

To counteract the Apaches’ hostilities, the Mexican government contracted with mercenaries to kill Apaches and present their scalps for money. John Johnson and Santiago Kirker were two renowned scalp hunters who operated in Nuevo México. In 1838 Kirker attacked a ranchería on the upper Gila River, where he reportedly took 55 scalps, 9 prisoners, and 400 head of livestock, which he disposed of in Socorro. This feat led the Chihuahuan government to contract with Kirker to hunt for Apache scalps (Griffen 1988:54).  

Typical of the times, many historical accounts in the Fort Selden area refer only to “Indians” or “Apaches.” Although few bands or individuals are named, enough accounts exist to begin to identify persons and to piece together recognizable groups. Much more research is needed to develop a comprehensive history of the historic groups that occupied the area including the Fort Selden Military Reservation. From the current project’s limited research, some reasons for the vacillating relationships between the Apache and Mexico and between the Apache and the United States are evident. These relationships are key to the history of the establishment of military forts in present-day southern New Mexico.

Sweeney names three prominent Chiricahua Apache chiefs for the nineteenth century. Their names and periods of dominance are Pisago Cabezón, 1831 to 1840; Mangas Coloradas, about 1840 until early 1860s; and Cochise, early 1860s to early 1870s. Cochise was a son-in-law of Mangas Coloradas. Sweeney notes the Chiricahua consisted of “four autonomous bands, further divided into local groups and extended family groups. Each band and group had its own leaders” (Sweeney 1998:3–4). When the bands came together, as in times of crisis, the most respected chief provided leadership. Chiricahua legends and myths record the Chiricahua lived near Ojo Caliente or Warm Springs. The Chihenne band remained, and the other three bands moved south and west. Known to the Chiricahua as the Nednhis or “enemy people,” the southernmost band was called by Mexicans and Americans the Janeros and other names. This band lived primarily in the Mexican state of Chihuahua but ranged occasionally into southern New Mexico and Arizona. A third band, the Central Chiricahuas, lived in southeast Arizona and northern Sonora and Chihuahua. Pisago Cabezón and Cochise were members of this band, known to the Apaches as the Chokonens. Probably the smallest band, the Bedonkohes lived along the Gila River and Mogollon Mountains. Mangas Coloradas probably belonged to this band, and he married into the Chihenne. The Chihenne, the most numerous band, occupied a territory in presentday New Mexico west of the Rio Grande. The mountain ranges they occupied include the Black, Mimbres, Pinos Altos, and Florida. They are called various names by Mexicans and Americans: Gila, Copper Mine, Mimbres, Mogollon, and Warm Springs. Nineteenthcentury Chihenne leaders also include Cuchillo Negro, Itán, Ponce, Delgadito, and Victorio (Opler 1983b:401; Sweeney 1998:4–7).

The Mescalero Apache occupied the area of southern New Mexico east of the Río Grande. Opler’s research indicates the Mescalero from the seventeenth century until the third quarter of the nineteenth century continuously occupied a territory extending from the Río Grande on the west to the Río Pecos on the east (though they ranged farther east to hunt) and from the 34 degree latitude on the north to northwest Texas and northern Chihuahua and Coahuila to the south. Opler believes the Apaches de Perillo identified by fray Alonso de Benavides in the

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Jornada del Muerto in the early seventeenth century were Mescalero (Hodge 1895:234 in Opler 1983c:420). When Gov. Antonio de Otermín invaded the Organ Mountains in 1682, he saw evidences of Mescalero occupation (Hackett 1942 in Opler 1983c:420).

Within the Chiricahua and the Mescalero, tribalwide relationships were maintained through social dances, puberty rites, and intermarriages, although marriage outside one’s band was uncommon before 1830. Custom required the man to live with his wife’s people after marriage. Grandparents, particularly on the mother’s side, were important educators and disciplinarians. Apacheans basically were hunters and gatherers, although the Chiricahua and Mescalero practiced some farming. Apacheans distinguished between raiding and warfare, with raids undertaken to acquire horses and booty and war undertaken to avenge previous Apache casualties (Opler 1983a; 1983b; 1983c).

In 1842 Mescalero chiefs José María María and two others requested armistice with the state of Chihuahua. Nuevo México sent a document from Santa Fe listing four conditions negotiated with the Apaches. These conditions included provision of 5,000 pesos annually plus restoration of rations as previously given; freedom for those captives who fled the Apaches and those that the Apaches had exchanged to the Mexicans; and issuance to the Apaches of a special brand for their livestock so they could sell them to whomever they wished. Chihuahua renegotiated the agreement somewhat, and José María María, now given the title General, accepted the changes. Another Mescalero chief, General Espejo, visited Chihuahua City in May. A local newspaper describes his group:

The athletic figures and the new use of moustaches by the men…and the delicate features of some of their wives and sisters, not less than the uniqueness of their adornments and the various designs painted on their faces, has generally attracted the attention of the people who have followed them through the streets with a singular curiosity because, although many times Indians have been seen in Chihuahua City, there is no doubt that this time they have come with greater finery and display [La Luna, quoted in Griffen 1988:71].

By August, Mescaleros in the vicinity of El Paso del Norte were living peacefully. Every two weeks they went into town to receive rations, mingling with the Mexicans and often getting drunk (Griffen 1988:71). At Doña Ana the 261 new Mexican settlers who arrived in 1843, however, enjoyed no such peace. Apaches repeatedly marauded their community. In 1844 many of the new settlers returned to El Paso, but by 1847 those that remained were reported to be “thriving” (Noble 1994:171).

In the summer of 1843, the Chihuahuan government hired Jim Kirker, with a small army of Shawnee, Delaware, and Anglo mercenaries, to punish Apaches responsible for an attack on a merchant train near Ciudad Chihuahua and to take scalps. To augment their take, Kirker, still operating in southern New Mexico, suggested a raid on an Apache village in northwest Chihuahua. Cochise, present during the massacre, recognized Kirker and vowed never again to believe in a white man (McGaw 1972:138–143).

Two years later, about February 1845, Apaches camped near Doña Ana increased their assaults under the leadership of El Flaco, Paranquita, El Sahuano, El Sierra, Togusle (Tubule), and a captive named Jesús (Griffen 1988:97). In June Chief Vueltas and other Apaches went to El Paso to warn Mexican authorities that 500 to 600 warriors were traveling to a large reunion upriver from Doña Ana. Griffen refers to the Apache’s dependence on rations: “Interestingly, the prefect at El Paso was not so worried about immediate hostilities as he was that with the shortage of resources it would be impossible to give rations to such a large group; in that case they might well turn to hostile acts. Until this time, thirty to fifty Apaches were receiving rations twice a month” (Griffen 1988:97). Restless Apaches created problems around El Paso throughout the summer (Griffen 1988:97– 98). Mexican authorities determined that José María María was the leader of rebels in northern

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Chihuahua, who all may have been Mescaleros and operated primarily around the towns of Doña Ana and El Paso. By early October Chihuahua was at war against both the Apaches and the Comanches (Griffen 1988:94). In the fall of 1845, a Mexican ensign encountered an Apache warrior who reluctantly revealed that he belonged to a local group under Itán, who had remained in the Mogollons with Mangas Coloradas. This group recently had opened a new market at Socorro, New Mexico, where they traded their loot for arms and powder (Sweeney 1998:131).

During the Mexican War, in 1845 Frank S. Edwards traveled through the Jornada del Muerto with the Doniphan Campaign. Edwards enumerates each camp along the route and the distances between each stop. From the north and approaching Robledo, from Camp Sierrita to Alemán was 24 miles; Alemán to Camp San Diego, 24 miles; San Diego to Robledo on the Rio Grande, 12 miles; and Robledo to Campos de Doña Ana, 12 miles (Edwards 1996 [1847]:130). Doniphan’s troops reached “the new and rich town of Doña Ana” in December (Edwards 1996 [1847]:50–51). While the troops were camped there, Apaches stole 50 mules from the artillery, but the Americans made up their losses by stealing from the Mexicans (Griffen 1988:120), a pattern that may have been well established with Apaches often being blamed for infractions by Anglos.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which officially ended the Mexican War in 1848, the New Mexico Territory became part of the United States (Taylor 1995:4). Many Doña Ana residents did not wish to be United States citizens and thus moved to La Mesilla (Noble 1994:172), which at the time was on the west side of the Río Grande. The present community of Las Cruces also was laid out in 1848, although over 100 people already were living in the area (Julyan 1996:198).

Little changed in the Mexican-Apache relations after the Mexican War. Desperate Mexican authorities again paid money for Apache scalps, and a May 1849 law authorized a schedule of payments that soon financially burdened the state government and caused increased retaliations by the Apaches (Griffen 1988:121). Capt. Enoch Steen was stationed at Doña Ana with a company of dragoons in 1849. In August they skirmished with Apaches near Santa Rita del Cobre, when an officer was killed and three enlisted men were wounded. Steen was wounded by a shot from “Apache Jack” Gordon (Peter Worthington), a white man married to a Chihenne woman and leading the Apaches in this encounter (Adjutant General’s Office 1979 [1891]:13; Sweeney 1998:177).

En route from Santa Rita del Cobre to Doña Ana in January 1850 to begin negotiations with Captain Steen, the Chihenne Itán and a group of Apaches along the way encountered troops or civilians who killed several of their party. In response Miguel Narbona, a Chokonen, raided Doña Ana with 56 men, killing 1 and wounding 3 men and driving off all the stock. Steen quickly rounded up a force and crossed the Jornada del Muerto to intercept the Indians. At least 3 Indians and 1 soldier were wounded. This encounter prompted Steen to suggest the military relocate the garrison from Doña Ana to Santa Rita del Cobre in an effort to convince the Apaches to make peace. The war faction of the Apaches—the Bedonkohes, some Chokonens, and Mangas Coloradas’s Chihennes—resumed raiding in Sonora (Sweeney 1998:189–191). By June 1850 six Chiricahua—Ponce, Delgadito, and Itán of the Chihenne, and Coleto Amarillo, Láceres, and Arvizu of the Nednhis— agreed to nine articles of peace. One of the men said Coleto Amarillo was their “general.” Mangas Coloradas, who may have been planting crops, did not attend but perhaps sent Aguirre as his delegate (Sweeney 1998:204).

On December 27, 1849, Delgadito had captured two boys from an influential Doña Ana family: Teófilo and Mateo Jaramillo. In August 1850 Captain Steen left Doña Ana with 60 dragoons to visit Santa Rita del Cobre in an attempt to negotiate a treaty and to recover the Jaramillo boys. Steen met with Mangas Coloradas and Josécito, who claimed the boys had been sold in Sonora (Sweeney 1998:189, 205–206).

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expresses Mangas’s sentiments toward the two governments in his report of the conversation with the two men: 

they replied that they were very desirous of being and remaining at peace with the Americans—but at the same time would swear eternal hatred to the Mexicans; that while the Americans could pass where they wished through their country, and could eat and sleep with them as safely as if he was by his own friends; with the Mexicans it was and ever would be “War to the Knife” [Sweeney 1998:206]. 

Captain Steen returned to Doña Ana on August 21, and on September 2 José María Ponce, Itán, and Cuchillo Negro came to Doña Ana, soon followed by Josécito and about 30 men and women, all seeking friendship with the Americans. Mangas Coloradas, in the meantime, led 300 warriors on another incursion into Sonora. Other prominent leaders of this party were Miguel Narbona, Cochise, and Esquinaline. Mexicans troops chased Mangas Coloradas’s successful raiding party to the Chiricahua Mountains but turned back at U.S. territory (Sweeney 1998:206–207). By the early 1850s traffic along the Camino Real had declined as shorter routes through Texas connected the Mexican markets with Santa Fe (Noble 1994:297). Capt. Louis S. Craig arrived at Santa Rita del Cobre in 1851 to establish a depot for the U.S. Boundary Commission under John R. Bartlett. Craig met with Delgadito and Mangas Coloradas, who reiterated his friendship with the Americans and his hatred of the Mexicans (Sweeney 1998:214–215). In March the new Sonoran commander, Col. José María Carrasco, set out to punish the Apaches and invaded Janos, reportedly killing the mother, wife, and three children of Geronimo, along with numbers of other Apaches. Mangas Coloradas was in the vicinity and returned to his home in southern New Mexico (Sweeney 1998:215, 219). By late August when Bartlett decided to abandon Santa Rita del Cobre to move farther west, Mangas Coloradas was disillusioned with the Americans and sought peace with Janos (Sweeney 1998:240).

Map of 1850s Forts in New Mexico Territory

  1850s Forts in New Mexico Territory

The new Secretary of War Charles M. Conrad proposed in July 1851 to guard the frontier with a line of fortifications rather than with the existing garrisons in frontier towns. The War Department sent Col. Edwin Vose Sumner to implement Conrad’s plan (Mozer 1967:6). At the same time, Maj. Electus Backus recommended removing the troops from Coon’s Ranch [El Paso] (Timmons 1990:111–112). That month Colonel Sumner ordered the posts at Doña Ana, El Paso, and San Elizario abandoned. The Coon’s Ranch troops and those from Doña Ana moved to new Fort Fillmore, which became headquarters of the 3rd U.S. Infantry and consisted of three infantry companies and two dragoon companies. The troops immediately began constructing buildings (Mozer 1967:6–7; Timmons 1990:112). Undeterred by this new military presence, in late 1851 Apaches killed several men along the Rio Grande. Apaches, perhaps Chiricahuas led by Mangas Coloradas, killed a teamster and captured 51 mules between Fort Fillmore and El Paso (Sweeney 1998:244). In 1852 Doña Ana County was created with the town of Doña Ana as its seat. A year later the county seat was moved to Las Cruces (Julyan 

Page 58

1996:113). In considering the protection the forts provided the territory’s citizens, New Mexico Gov. James S. Calhoun in 1852 said the ill-equipped U.S. troops were “totally useless” against the well-mounted Indians (Calhoun, quoted in Mozer 1967:9). For its part, Fort Fillmore protected travelers, settlers, and mail carriers, in addition to guarding U.S. Army surveying parties. The United States authorities continued to focus on pacifying the Apaches (Mozer 1967:9–10). In addition to Fort Fillmore, military posts protecting New Mexico in the 1850s were Forts Conrad, Craig, Marcy, Stanton, Thorn, Union, Webster, and Wingate as well as Los Lunas and Camp Ojo Caliente. Fort Bliss was established in present-day El Paso, Texas.



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