Old West TV – Apache Kid

Dakota Livesay tells the riveting story of the Apache Kid, who was a White Mountain Apache scout and later a notorious renegade active in the borderlands of the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico in the late 19th and possibly the early 20th centuries.

Old West Book Review: Dragoons in Apacheland

Dragoons in Apacheland Dragoons in Apacheland details the fifteen years from 1846 through 1861 when the U.S. Army was engaged in dealing with the Apaches in southern New Mexico Territory. The conflicts and misunderstandings led to daily turmoil as the dragoons tried bringing peace and order to the region.

Deadly Apache raids, heat, dust, long marches in the desert, lack of decent food and shortages of equipment were only part of what the men were forced to put up with.  Army posts usually consisted of crude huts, shabby tents, harsh weather, sick horses and mules, and sometimes squadrons of mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, civilian leaders and politicians from Washington to the Territorial governors, lawmen and regional mayors only added to the confusion.  No one seemed to agree on how to handle this new land with its new problems.  At the same time, various Apache bands including Mescalero, Mimbres, Mogollon and Chiricahua fought to hold their ancestral homelands.  Indian raiding, kidnapping, horse and mule rustling and murder occurred regularly.  Some of these Indians took the blame for others, while a few wise old leaders like Mangas Coloradas tried to negotiate peace.  Mangas knew instinctively that the wave of white settlers would eventually wipe out the Apache bands by sheer numbers alone.  He held off the inevitable as long as he could.  The disputes raged endlessly between military men, Apaches, Mexicans, white settlers, and adventurers crossing the territory.

The author gives detailed accounts of the many skirmishes and battles between Apaches and the U. S. Military during those fifteen years prior to the Civil War.  Anyone doing research about the Apache Wars and what led up to the 1880s Indian Wars will find this a valuable source of information.  Readers will find this book a wonderfully detailed and accurate account of the pre-Civil War period in New Mexico Territory not often written about.  This time period seems to have been skimmed over until now, perhaps because people think of the Indian Wars having always to do with the names we are familiar with such as Geronimo, who came much later.

Kiser points out the Apaches presented an obstacle to those politicians, ranchers, farmers and businessmen working toward civilizing the new frontier.  Meanwhile, the Apaches driven from their land had good reasons of their own to offer resistance to those encroaching on their old way of life.  Both sides of the problem are presented here in careful detail, without taking sides.  The reader is given the opportunity to judge for his or herself what can happen when one civilization takes over another.

The book has maps showing the Chiricahua Apache homelands that extended from New Mexico (part of what is now southeastern Arizona) and far into Sonora, Mexico.  Eventually part of New Mexico Territory would split off and become Arizona Territory.  At the outbreak of the Civil War, the American troops were called back east for the horrific fighting about to begin. At that time New Mexico was not a priority for the United States government until the Civil War ended, and troops returned to the Western Frontier.

Carefully written and accurately documented, the author has gleaned his information from military records, U.S. government documents and publications, newspaper accounts and important books and papers on the subject.  Personally, he explains how when he was a child, his father took him to some sites of the old abandoned forts.  Here, sifting through the debris with a metal detector, he found a few precious mementos that piqued his interest to eventually write this book, an important addition to your Old West library. Be sure and get your copy HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de Ia Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York, 10988-0700 www.sllklabeIbooks.com.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

APACHE KID

I just finished putting together our weekly radio show that will be aired the week of March 19 – 25. As a part of Arizona’s centennial celebration, it included a conversation with Phyllis de la Garza about the Apache Kid. Phyllis has written a couple of books about him.

The Apache Kid, raised on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, became a sergeant of the Indian Scouts under Al Sieber. While Sieber was away, some Apache had a tiswin party. Unable to break up the party, Apache Kid joined in.

The Kid and some other scouts ended up going AWOL. When they returned, they were tried for being AWOL and sentenced to hang. Eventually, the sentence was changed to life. And after a year and a half, they were pardoned.

All of this took place in a military court. Next, Apache Kid was tried in civilian court for shooting Al Sieber in the leg…Although he was present at the shooting, there is no evidence he knew or had anything to do with the shooting.

On the way to Yuma Territorial Prison, with several other prisoners, the guards were overcome and everyone escaped. The Apache Kid was never captured. From that point, any atrocity that took place in the area was blamed on the Apache Kid.

I relate this story, not because I think the Apache Kid was a totally innocent person, but to show how events, rather than the person involved in the events can control so much of our lives.

Chief Eskiminzin

Chief EskiminzinIn the early 1870’s Chochise and his band were raiding and killing white settlers in southern Arizona, and resentment was running high against all Indians. Chief Eskiminzin was the leader of a small group of Apache. Low on food and poorly clothed he brought his people to Camp Grant near Tucson, Arizona. Eventually more than 400 Indians had assembled in the area, and the citizens were becoming fearful. Following an incident where a couple of settlers were killed, a mob of almost 150 men were assembled to punish the wrong doers.
               
Although Eskiminzin’s people had nothing to do with the killing, the mob attacked and killed about 100 of them, with most of them women and children. Eskiminzin lost two wives and five children.
 
Still Chief Eskiminzin wanted peace. But two month’s later a military attachment accidentally opened fire on his people. Eskiminzin had had enough. However, before he left the area he wanted to visit his old friend, Charles McKinney. So, on the evening of June 5, 1871 McKinney and Eskiminzin had dinner. Following the meal Eskiminzin suddenly stood up, drew his pistol and shot his friend McKinney dead.
 
Later Eskiminzin explained his action. He said: “I did it to teach my people that there must be no friendship between them and the white man. Anyone can kill an enemy, but it takes a strong man to kill a friend.”
Even though it was known that Chief Eskiminzin killed his friend, strange as it may seem, he never spent a day in jail for the killing, and neither did the mob that murdered his tribe.

Old West Book Review: Health of the Seventh Cavalry; A Medical History

Health of the Seventh CavalryHealth of the Seventh Cavalry; A Medical History, Edited by P. Willey and Douglas D. Scott, University of Oklahoma Press, (405) 325-3200, $3295, Cloth. 480 Pages, Illustrations, Maps, Graphics, Charts, Bibliography, Index.

Persons interested in the life and times of members of Custer’s Seventh Cavalry will find this book a treasure trove of information pertaining to the health of these soldiers.

The time period covered is 1866 through the early 1880s.  The first chapter talks about the Regimental history of the Seventh, beginning at the end of the Civil War.  At this time the Seventh began moving westward to deal with hostile Indians of the Plains.  Of course anything to do with the Seventh Cavalry must include information about General George Armstrong Custer, eventually leading to the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

But long before the Little Big Horn, in July 1866, Seventh Cavalry troops were assembling at Fort Riley, Kansas.  From here they were dispersed toward the western Plains from Ft. Riley and beyond.  One table in the book shows the Seventh Cavalry company assignments by year all the way to 1882.

The authors give detailed descriptions of the various living quarters, expeditions, care of horses, weather conditions and the like.  There is one particularly sobering photograph of the arrow-riddled Sergeant Frederick Wyllyams of Company G where he was murdered and mutilated by hostile Indians in 1867.

Always the book’s focus is on the health of the soldiers from information gleaned from, medical records as well as personal accounts written by those who lived and traveled with the troops.  Occasionally we hear from Elizabeth Custer and a few other wives as they described weather conditions, injuries, epidemics, living quarters and social events within the forts.

The men of the Seventh were attended by military physicians who had been doctors during the Civil War.  A list of their names and dates they served is included here.  They treated insect and snake bites, gunshot wounds, venereal disease, horse- related injuries, results of bar brawls, frostbite and contagious diseases such as cholera.  The lists include everything from lacerations to mumps. These doctors were also expected to treat civilians who worked at the forts that included officers’ wives and children, and laundresses.

Military doctors were not always looked upon with respect, behind their backs some were referred to as “Pills” and other uncomplimentary nicknames.  However, some surgeons such as Assistant Surgeon Leonard Wood earned the Medal of Honor for carrying dispatches through hostile Indian Territory during the 1886 campaign against Apaches in Arizona.  Wood was later credited with discovering the cause and treatment of yellow fever.

Eventually the reader arrives at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and much information is gleaned through forensic examination of the remains of the men who died with Custer.  Extensive examination of bones and teeth reveal many physical ailments the men suffered throughout their lifetimes, and including whenever possible wounds received on the battlefield that led to their deaths.

At the end the authors declared the men of the Seventh were “neither the unsoiled, healthy heroes represented by Errol Flynn in They Died With their Boots on, nor the maniacal one-dimensional soldiers portrayed in Little Big Man”.  One observer in the old days described the Seventh Cavalry as “good fighters but mostly heavy drinkers.’

And so be it.  They rode with Custer. May they rest in peace.  This unique book has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the health of those brave fighting men. The book belongs in your Old West library.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de Ia Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including the true crime Death For Dinner, The Benders of (Old) Kansas,, published by Silk Label Books, P. Box 700, Unionville, New York, 10988-0700 www.silklabelbooks.com

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

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