Geronimo, His Own Story 2
In the summer of 1858, being at peace with the Mexican towns as well as with
all the neighboring Indian tribes, we went south into Old Mexico to trade.
Our whole tribe (Bedonkohe Apaches) went through Sonora toward Casa Grande,
our destination, but just before reaching that place we stopped at another
Mexican town called by the Indians Kas-ki-yeh. Here we stayed for several
days, camping outside the city. Every day we would go into town to trade,
leaving our camp under the protection of a small guard so that our arms,
supplies, and women and children would not be disturbed during our absence.
Late one afternoon when returning from town we were met by a few women and
children who told us that Mexican troops from some other town had attacked
our camp, killed all the warriors of the guard, captured all our ponies,
secured our arms, destroyed our supplies, and killed many of our women and
children. Quickly we separated, concealing ourselves as best we could until
nightfall, when we assembled at our appointed place of rendezvous--a thicket
by the river. Silently we stole in one by one: sentinels were placed, and,
when all were counted, I found that my aged mother, my young wife, and my
three small children were among the slain. There were no lights in camp, so
without being noticed I silently turned away and stood by the river. How
long I stood there I do not know, but when I saw the warriors arranging for
a council I took my place.
That night I did not give my vote for or against any measure; but it was
decided that as there were only eighty warriors left, and as we were without
arms or supplies, and were furthermore surrounded by the Mexicans far inside
their own territory, we could not hope to fight successfully. So our chief,
Mangus-Colorado, gave the order to start at once in perfect silence for our
homes in Arizona, leaving the dead upon the field.
I stood until all had passed, hardly knowing what I would do. I had no
weapon, nor did I hardly wish to fight, neither did I contemplate recovering
the bodies of my loved ones, for that was forbidden. I did not pray, nor did
I resolve to do anything in particular, for I had no purpose left. I finally
followed the tribe silently, keeping just within hearing distance of the
soft noise of the feet of the retreating Apaches.
The next morning some of the Indians killed a small amount of game and we
halted long enough for the tribe to cook and eat, when the march was
resumed. I had killed no game, and did not eat. During the first march as
well as while we were camped at this place I spoke to no one and no one
spoke to me--there was nothing to say.
For two days and three nights we were on forced marches, stopping only for
meals, then we made a camp near the Mexican border, where we rested two
days. Here I took some food and talked with the other Indians who had lost
in the massacre, but none had lost as I had, for I had lost all.
Within a few days we arrived at our own settlement. There were the
decorations that Alope had made--and there were the playthings of our little
ones. I burned them all, even our tepee. I also burned my mother's tepee and
destroyed all her property.
I was never again contented in our quiet home. True, I could visit my
father's grave, but I had vowed vengeance upon the Mexican troopers who had
wronged me, and whenever I came near his grave or saw anything to remind me
of former happy days my heart would ache for revenge upon Mexico.
As soon as we had again collected some arms and supplies Mangus-Colorado,
our chief, called a council and found that all our warriors were willing to
take the war path against Mexico. I was appointed to solicit the aid of
other tribes in this war.
When I went to the Chokonen (Chiricahua) Apaches, Cochise, their chief,
called a council at early dawn. Silently the warriors assembled at an open
place in a mountain dell and took their seats on the ground, arranged in
rows according to their ranks. Silently they sat smoking. At a signal from
the chief I arose and presented my cause as follows:
Kinsman, you have heard what the Mexicans have recently done without cause.
You are my relatives--uncles, cousins, brothers. We are men the same as the
Mexicans are--we can do to them what they have done to us. Let us go forward
and trail them--I will lead you to their city--we will attack them in their
homes. I will fight in the front of the battle--I only ask you to follow me
to avenge this wrong done by these Mexicans--will you come? It is well--you
will all come.
Remember the rule in war--men may return or they may be killed. If any of
these young men are killed I want no blame from their kinsmen, for they
themselves have chosen to go. If I am killed no one need mourn for me. My
people have all been killed in that country, and I, too, will die if need
I returned to my own settlement, reported this success to my chieftain, and
immediately departed to the southward into the land of the Nedni Apaches.
Their chief, Whoa, heard me without comment, but he immediately issued
orders for a council, and when all were ready gave a sign that I might
speak. I addressed them as I had addressed the Chokonen tribe, and they also
promised to help us.
It was in the summer of 1859, almost a year from the date of the massacre of
Kaskiyeh, that these three tribes were assembled on the Mexican border to go
upon the war path. Their faces were painted, the war bands fastened upon
their brows their long scalp-locks ready for the hand and knife of the
warrior who would overcome them. Their families had been hidden away in a
mountain rendezvous near the Mexican border. With these families a guard was
posted, and a number of places of rendezvous designated in case the camp
should be disturbed.
When all were ready the chieftains gave command to go forward. None of us
were mounted and each warrior wore moccasins and also a cloth wrapped about
his loins. This cloth could be spread over him when he slept, and when on
the march would be ample protection as clothing. In battle, if the fight was
hard, we did not wish much clothing. Each warrior carried three days'
rations, but as we often killed game while on the march, we seldom were
We traveled in three divisions: the Bedonheko Apaches led by
Mangus-Colorado, the Chokonen Apaches by Cochise, and the Nedni Apaches by
Whoa; however, there was no regular order inside the separate tribes. We
usually marched about fourteen hours per day, making three stops for meals,
and traveling forty to forty-five miles a day.
I acted as guide into Mexico, and we followed the river courses and mountain
ranges because we could better thereby keep our movements concealed. We
entered Sonora and went southward past Quitaro, Nacozari, and many smaller
When we were almost at Arispe we camped, and eight men rode out from the
city to parley with us. These we captured, killed, and scalped. This was to
draw the troops from the city, and the next day they came. The skirmishing
lasted all day without a general engagement, but just at night we captured
their supply train, so we had plenty of provisions and some more guns.
That night we posted sentinels and did not move our camp, but rested quietly
all night, for we expected heavy work the next day. Early the next morning
the warriors were assembled to pray--not for help, but that they might have
health and avoid ambush or deceptions by the enemy.
As we had anticipated, about ten o'clock in the morning the whole Mexican
force came out. There were two companies of cavalry and two of infantry. I
recognized the cavalry as the soldiers who had killed my people at Kaskiyeh.
This I told to the chieftains, and they said that I might direct the battle.
I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply
wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to
prove worthy of the trust. I arranged the Indians in a hollow circle near
the river, and the Mexicans drew their infantry up in two lines, with the
cavalry in reserve. We were in the timber, and they advanced until within
about four hundred yards, when they halted and opened fire. Soon I led a
charge against them, at the same time sending some braves to attack the
rear. In all the battle I thought of my murdered mother, wife, and
babies--of my father's grave and my vow of vengeance, and I fought with
fury. Many fell by my hand, and constantly I led the advance. Many braves
were killed The battle lasted about two hours.
At the last four Indians were alone in the center of the field--myself and
three other warriors. Our arrows were all gone, our spears broken off in the
bodies of dead enemies. We had only our hands and knives with which to
fight, but all who had stood against us were dead. Then two armed soldiers
came upon us from another part of the field. They shot down two of our men
and we, the remaining two, fled toward our own warriors. My companion was
struck down by a saber, but I reached our warriors, seized a spear, and
turned. The one who pursued me missed his aim and fell by my spear. With his
saber I met the trooper who had killed my companion and we grappled and
fell. I killed him with my knife and quickly rose over his body, brandishing
his saber, seeking for other troopers to kill. There were none. But the
Apaches had seen. Over the bloody field, covered with the bodies of
Mexicans, rang the fierce Apache war-whoop.
Still covered with the blood of my enemies, still holding my conquering
weapon, still hot with the joy of battle, victory, and vengeance, I was
surrounded by the Apache braves and made war chief of all the Apaches. Then
I gave orders for scalping the slain.
I could not call back my loved ones, I could not bring back the dead
Apaches, but I could rejoice in this revenge. The Apaches had avenged the
massacre of Kas-ki-yeh.
Fighting Under Difficulties
All the other Apaches were satisfied after the battle of Kaskiyeh, but I
still desired more revenge. For several months we were busy with the chase
and other peaceful pursuits. Finally I succeeded in persuading two other
warriors, Ah-koch-ne and Ko-deh-ne, to go with me to invade the Mexican
We left our families with the tribe and went on the war path. We were on
foot and carried three days' rations. We entered Mexico on the north line of
Sonora and followed the Sierra de Antunez Mountains to the south end of the
range. Here we decided to attack a small village. (I do not know the name of
this village.) At daylight we approached from the mountains. Five horses
were hitched outside. We advanced cautiously, but just before we reached the
horses the Mexicans opened fire from the houses. My two companions were
killed. Mexicans swarmed on every side; some were mounted; some were on
foot, and all seemed to be armed. Three times that day I was surrounded, but
I kept fighting, dodging, and hiding. Several times during the day while in
concealment I had a chance to take deliberate aim at some Mexican, who, gun
in hand, was looking for me. I do not think I missed my aim either time.
With the gathering darkness I found more time to retreat toward Arizona. But
the Mexicans did not quit the chase. Several times the next day mounted
Mexicans tried to head me off; many times they fired on me, but I had no
more arrows; so I depended upon running and hiding, although I was very
tired, I had not eaten since the chase began, nor had I dared to stop for
rest. The second night I got clear of my pursuers, but I never slackened my
pace until I reached our home in Arizona. I came into our camp without
booty, without my companions, exhausted, but not discouraged.
The wives and children of my two dead companions were cared for by their
people. Some of the Apaches blamed me for the evil result of the expedition,
but I said nothing. Having failed, it was only proper that I should remain
silent. But my feelings toward the Mexicans did not change--I still hated
them and longed for revenge. I never ceased to plan for their punishment,
but it was hard to get the other warriors to listen to my proposed raids.
In a few months after this last adventure I persuaded two other warriors to
join me in raiding the Mexican frontier. On our former raid we had gone
through the Nedni Apaches' range into Sonora. This time we went through the
country of the Cho-kon-en and entered the Sierra Madre Mountains. We
traveled south, secured more rations, and prepared to begin our raids. We
had selected a village near the mountains which we intended to attack at
daylight. While asleep that night Mexican scouts discovered our camp and
fired on us, killing one warrior. In the morning we observed a company of
Mexican troops coming from the south. They were mounted and carried supplies
for a long journey. We followed their trail until we were sure that they
were headed for our range in Arizona; then we hurried past them and in three
days reached our own settlement. We arrived at noon, and that afternoon,
about three o'clock, these Mexican troops attacked our settlement. Their
first volley killed three small boys. Many of the warriors of our tribe were
away from home, but the few of us who were in camp were able to drive the
troops out of the mountains before night. We killed eight Mexicans and lost
five--two warriors and three boys. The Mexicans rode due south in full
retreat. Four warriors were detailed to follow them, and in three days these
trailers returned, saying that the Mexican cavalry had left Arizona, going
southward. We were quite sure they would not return soon.
Soon after this (in the summer of 1860) I was again able to take the war
path against the Mexicans, this time with twenty-five warriors. We followed
the trail of the Mexican troops last mentioned and entered the Sierra de
Sahuaripa Mountains. The second day in these mountains our scouts discovered
mounted Mexican troops. There was only one company of cavalry in this
command, and I thought that by properly surprising them we could defeat
them. We ambushed the trail over which they were to come. This was at a
place where the whole company must pass through a mountain defile. We
reserved fire until all of the troops had passed through; then the signal
was given. The Mexican troopers, seemingly without a word of command,
dismounted, and placing their horses on the outside of the company, for
breastworks, made a good fight against us. I saw that we could not dislodge
them without using all our ammunition, so I led a charge. The warriors
suddenly pressed in from all sides and we fought hand to hand. During this
encounter I raised my spear to kill a Mexican soldier just as he leveled his
gun at me; I was advancing rapidly, and my foot slipping in a pool of blood,
I fell under the Mexican trooper. He struck me over the head with the butt
of his gun, knocking me senseless. Just at that instant a warrior who
followed in my footsteps killed the Mexican with a spear. In a few minutes
not a Mexican soldier was left alive. When the Apache war-cry had died away,
and their enemies had been scalped, they began to care for their dead and
wounded. I was found lying unconscious where I had fallen. They bathed my
head in cold water and restored me to consciousness. Then they bound up my
wound and the next morning, although weak from loss of blood and suffering
from a severe headache, I was able to march on the return to Arizona. I did
not fully recover for months, and I still wear the scar given me by that
musketeer. In this fight we had lost so heavily that there really was no
glory in our victory, and we returned to Arizona. No one seemed to want to
go on the war path again that year.
In the summer (1861) with twelve warriors I again went into Mexico. We
entered Chihuahua and followed south on the east side of the Sierra Madre
Mountains four days' journey; then crossed over to the Sierra de Sahuaripa
range, not far east of Casa Grande. Here we rested one day, and sent out
scouts to reconnoiter. They reported pack trains camped five miles west of
us. The next morning just at daybreak, as these drivers were starting with
their mule pack train, we attacked them. They rode away for their lives,
leaving us the booty. The mules were loaded with provisions, most of which
we took home. Two mules were loaded with side-meat or bacon; this we threw
away. We started to take these pack trains home, going northward through
Sonora, but when near Casita, Mexican troops overtook us. It was at daybreak
and we were just finishing our breakfast. We had no idea that we had been
pursued or that our enemies were near until they opened fire. At the first
volley a bullet struck me a glancing lick just at the lower corner of the
left eye and I fell unconscious. All the other Indians fled to cover. The
Mexicans, thinking me dead, started in pursuit of the fleeing Indians. In a
few moments I regained consciousness and had started at full speed for the
woods when another company coming up opened fire on me. Then the soldiers
who had been chasing the other Indians turned, and I stood between two
hostile companies, but I did not stand long. Bullets whistled in every
direction and at close range to me. One inflicted a slight flesh wound on my
side, but I kept running, dodging, and fighting, until I got clear of my
pursuers. I climbed up a steep canon, where the cavalry could not follow.
The troopers saw me, but did not dismount and try to follow. I think they
were wise not to come on.
It had been understood that in case of surprise with this booty, our place
of rendezvous should be the Santa Bita Mountains in Arizona. We did not
reassemble in Mexico, but traveled separately and in three days we were
encamped in our place of rendezvous. From this place we returned home
empty-handed. We had not even a partial victory to report. I again returned
wounded, but I was not yet discouraged. Again I was blamed by our people,
and again I had no reply.
After our return many of the warriors had gone on a hunt and some of them
had gone north to trade for blankets from the Navajo Indians. I remained at
home trying to get my wounds healed. One morning just at daybreak, when the
squaws were lighting the camp fires to prepare breakfast, three companies of
Mexican troops who had surrounded our settlement in the night opened fire.
There was no time for fighting. Men, women and children fled for their
lives. Many women and children and a few warriors were killed, and four
women were captured. My left eye was still swollen shut, but with the other
I saw well enough to hit one of the officers with an arrow, and then make
good my escape among the rocks. The troopers burned our tepees and took our
arms, provisions, ponies, and blankets. Winter was at hand.
There were not more than twenty warriors in camp at this time, and only a
few of us had secured weapons during the excitement of the attack. A few
warriors followed the trail of the troops as they went back to Mexico with
their booty, but were unable to offer battle. It was a long, long time
before we were again able to go on the war path against the Mexicans.
The four women who were captured at this time by the Mexicans were taken
into Sonora, Mexico, where they were compelled to work for the Mexicans.
After some years they escaped to the mountains and started to find our
tribe. They had knives which they had stolen from the Mexicans but they had
no other weapons. They had no blankets; so at night they would make a little
tepee by cutting brush with their knives, and setting them up for the walls.
The top was covered over with brush. In this temporary tepee they would all
sleep. One night when their camp fire was low they heard growling just
outside the tepee. Francisco, the youngest woman of the party (about
seventeen years of age), started to build up the fire, when a mountain lion
crashed through the tepee and attacked her. The suddenness of the attack
made her drop her knife, but she fought as best she could with her hand. She
was no match for the lion, however; her left shoulder was crushed and partly
torn away. The lion kept trying to catch her by the throat; this she
prevented with her hands for a long time. He dragged her for about 300
yards, then she found her strength was failing her from loss of blood, and
she called to the other women for help. The lion had been dragging her by
one foot, and she had been catching hold of his legs, and of the rocks and
underbrush, to delay him. Finally he stopped and stood over her. She again
called her companions and they attacked him with their knives and killed
him. Then they dressed her wounds and nursed her in the mountains for about
a month. When she was again able to walk they resumed their journey and
reached our tribe in safety.
This woman (Francisco) was held as a prisoner of war with the other Apaches
and died the Fort Sill Reservation in 1892. Her face was always disfigured
with those scars and she never regained perfect use of her hands. The three
older women died before we became prisoners of war.
Many women and children were carried away at different times by Mexicans.
Not many of them ever returned, and those who did underwent many hardships
in order to be again united with their people. Those who did not escape were
slaves to the Mexicans, or perhaps even more degraded.
When warriors were captured by the Mexicans they were kept in chains. Four
warriors who were captured once at a place north of Casa Grande, called by
the Indians Honas, were kept in chains for a year and a half, when they were
exchanged for Mexicans whom we had captured.
We never chained prisoners or kept them in confinement, but they seldom got
away. Mexican men when captured were compelled to cut wood and herd horses.
Mexican women and children were treated as our own people.
Raids That Were Successful
In the summer of 1862 I took eight men and invaded Mexican territory. We
went south on the west side of the Sierra Madre Mountains for five days;
then in the night crossed over to the southern part of the Sierra de
Sahuaripa range. Here we again camped to watch for pack trains. About ten
o'clock next morning four drivers, mounted, came past our camp with a
pack-mule train. As soon as they saw us they rode for their lives, leaving
us the booty. This was a long train, and packed with blankets, calico,
saddles, tinware, and loaf sugar. We hurried home as fast as we could with
these provisions, and on our return while passing through a canyon in the
Santa Catalina range of mountains in Arizona, met a white man driving a mule
pack train. When we first saw him he had already seen us, and was riding at
full tilt up the canyon. We examined his train and found that his mules were
all loaded with cheese. We put them in with the other train and resumed our
journey. We did not attempt to trail the driver and I am sure he did not try
to follow us.
In two days we arrived at home. Then Mangus-Colorado, our chief, assembled
the tribe. We gave a feast, divided the spoils, and danced all night. Some
of the pack mules were killed and eaten.
This time after our return we kept out scouts so that we would know if
Mexican troops should attempt to follow us.
On the third day our scouts came into camp and reported Mexican cavalry
dismounted and approaching our settlement. All our warriors were in camp.
Mangus-Colorado took command of one division and I of the other. We hoped to
get possession of their horses, then surround the troops in the mountains,
and destroy the whole company. This we were unable to do, for they too, had
scouts. However, within four hours after we started we had killed ten
troopers with the loss of only one man, and the Mexican cavalry was in full
retreat, followed by thirty armed Apaches, who gave them no rest until they
were far inside the Mexican country. No more troops came that winter.
For a long time we had plenty of provisions plenty of blankets, and plenty
of clothing. We also had plenty of cheese and sugar.
Another summer (1863) I selected three warriors and went on a raid into
Mexico. We went south into Sonora, camping in the Sierra de Sahuaripa
Mountains. About forty miles west of Casa Grande is a small village in the
mountains, called by the Indians "Crassanas." We camped near this place and
concluded to make an attack. We had noticed that just at midday no one
seemed to be stirring; so we planned to make our attack at the noon hour.
The next day we stole into the town at noon. We had no guns, but were armed
with spears and bows and arrows. When the war-whoop was given to open the
attack the Mexicans fled in every direction; not one of them made any
attempt to fight us.
We shot some arrows at the retreating Mexicans, but killed only one. Soon
all was silent in the town and no Mexicans could be seen.
When we discovered that all the Mexicans were gone we looked through their
houses and saw many curious things. These Mexicans kept many more kinds of
property than the Apaches did. Many of the things we saw in the houses we
could not understand, but in the stores we saw much that we wanted; so we
drove in a herd of horses and mules, and packed as much provisions and
supplies as we could on them. Then we formed these animals into a pack train
and returned safely to Arizona The Mexicans did not even trail us.
When we arrived in camp we called the tribe together and feasted all day. We
gave presents to everyone. That night the dance began, and it did not cease
until noon the next day.
This was perhaps the most successful raid ever made by us into Mexican
territory. I do not know the value of the booty, but it was very great, for
we had supplies enough to last our whole tribe for a year or more.
In the fall of 1864 twenty warriors were willing to go with me on another
raid into Mexico. There were all chosen men, well armed and equipped for
battle. As usual we provided for the safety of our families before starting
on this raid. Our whole tribe scattered and then reassembled at a camp about
forty miles from the former place. In this way, it would be hard for the
Mexicans to trail them and we would know where to find our families when we
returned. Moreover, if any hostile Indians should see this large number of
warriors leaving our range they might attack our camp, but if they found no
one at the usual place, their raid would fail.
We went south trough the Chokonen Apaches' range, entered Sonora, Mexico, at
a point directly south of Tombstone, Arizona, and went into hiding in the
Sierra de Antunez Mountains.
We attacked several settlements in the neighborhood and secured plenty of
provisions and supplies. After about three days we attacked and captured a
mule pack train at a place called by the Indians "Pontoco". It is situated
in the mountains due west, about one day's journey from Arispe.
There were three drivers with this train. One was killed and two escaped.
The train was loaded with mescal, which was contained in bottles held in
wicker baskets. As soon as we made camp the Indians began to get drunk and
fight each other. I, too, drank enough mescal to feel the effect of it, but
I was not drunk. I ordered the fighting stopped, but the order was
disobeyed. Soon almost a general fight was in progress. I tried to place a
guard out around the camp, but all were drunk and refused to serve. I
expected an attack from Mexican troops at any moment, and really it was a
serious matter to me, for being in command I would be held responsible for
any ill luck attending the expedition. Finally the camp became comparatively
still, for the Indians were too drunk to walk or even fight. While they were
in this stupor I poured out all the mescal, then I put out all the fires and
moved the pack mules to a considerable distance from the camp. After this I
returned to camp to try to do something for the wounded. I found that only
two were dangerously wounded. From a leg of one of these I cut an arrow
head, and from the shoulder of another I withdrew a spear point. When all
the wounds I had cared for, I myself kept guard till morning. The next day
we loaded our wounded on the pack mules and started for Arizona.
The next day we captured some cattle from a herd and drove them home with
us. But it was a very difficult matter to drive cattle when we were on foot.
Caring for the wounded and keeping the cattle from escaping made our journey
tedious. But we were not trailed, and arrived safely at home with all the
We then gave a feast and dance, and divided the spoils. After the dance we
killed all the cattle and dried the meat. We dressed the hides and then the
dried meat was packed in between these hides and stored away. All that
winter we had plenty of meat. These were the first cattle we ever had. As
usual we killed and ate some of the mules. We had little use for mules, and
if we could not trade them for something of value, we killed them.
In the summer of 1865, with four warriors, I went again into Mexico.
Heretofore we had gone on foot; we were accustomed to fight on foot;
besides, we could easily conceal ourselves when dismounted. But this time we
wanted more cattle, and it was hard to drive them when we were on foot. We
entered Sonora at a point southwest from Tombstone, Arizona, and followed
the Antunez Mountains to the southern limit, then crossed the country as far
south as the mouth of the Yaqui River. Here we saw a great lake extending
beyond the limit of sight. Then we turned north, attacked several
settlements, and secured plenty of supplies. When we had come back northwest
of Arispe we secured about sixty head of cattle, and drove them to our homes
in Arizona. We did not go directly home, but camped in different valleys
with our cattle. We were not trailed. When we arrived at our camp the tribe
was again assembled for feasting and dancing. Presents were given to
everybody; then the cattle were killed and the meat dried and packed.
In the fall of 1865 with nine other warriors I went into Mexico on foot. We
attacked several settlements south of Casa Grande, and collected many horses
and mules. We made our way northward with these animals through the
mountains. When near Arispe we made camp one evening, and thinking that we
were not being trailed, turned loose the whole herd, even those we had been
riding. They were in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, and we were
camped at the south of this valley so that the animals could not leave
without coming through our camp. Just as we had begun to eat our supper our
scouts came in and announced Mexican troops coming toward our camp. We
started for the horses, but troops that our scouts had not seen were on the
cliffs above us, and opened fire. We scattered in all directions, and the
troops recovered all our booty. In three days we reassembled at our
appointed place of rendezvous in the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern
Sonora. Mexican troops did not follow us, and we returned to Arizona without
any more fighting and with no booty. Again I had nothing to say, but l was
anxious for another raid.
Early the next summer (1866)I took thirty mounted warriors and invaded
Mexican territory. We went south through Chihuahua as far as Santa Cruz,
Sonora, then crossed over the Sierra Madre Mountains, following the river
course at the south end of the range. We kept on westward from the Sierra
Madre Mountains to the Sierra de Sahuripa Mountains, and followed that range
northward. We collected all the horses, mules, and cattle we wanted, and
drove them northward through Sonora into Arizona. Mexicans saw us at many
times and in many places, but they did not attack us at any time, nor did
any troops attempt to follow us. When we arrived at homes we gave presents
to all, and the tribe feasted and danced. During this raid we had killed
about fifty Mexicans.
Next year (1867) Mangus-Colorado led eight warriors on a raid into Mexico. I
went as a warrior, for I was always glad to fight the Mexicans. We rode
south from near Tombstone, Arizona, into Sonora, Mexico. We attacked some
cowboys, and after a fight with them, in which two of their number were
killed, we drove all their cattle northward. The second day we were driving
the cattle, but had no scouts out. When we were not far from Arispe, Mexican
troops rode upon us. They were well armed and well mounted, and when we
first saw them they were not half a mile away from us. We left the cattle
and rode as hard as we could toward the mountains, but they gained on us
rapidly. Soon they opened fire, but were so far away from us that we were
unable to reach them with our arrows; finally we reached some timber, and,
leaving our ponies, fought from cover. Then the Mexicans halted, collected
our ponies, and rode away across the plains toward Arispe, driving the
cattle with them. We stood and watched them until they disappeared in the
distance, and then took up our search for home.
We arrived home in five days with no victory to report, no spoils to divide,
and not even the three ponies which we had ridden into Mexico. This
expedition was considered disgraceful.
The warriors who had been with Magnus Colorado on this last expedition
wanted to return to Mexico. They were not satisfied, besides they felt
keenly the taunts of the other warriors. Magnus Colorado would not lead them
back, so I took command and we went on foot, directly toward Arispe in
Sonora, and made our camp in the Sierra de Sahuripa Mountains. There were
only six of us, but we raided several settlements (at night), captured many
horses and mules, and loaded them with provisions, saddles and blankets.
Then we turned to Arizona, traveling only at night. When we arrived at our
camp we sent out scouts to prevent any surprise by Mexicans, assembled the
tribe, feasted, danced, and divided the spoils. Mangus Colorado would not
receive any of this booty, but we did not care. No Mexican troops followed
us to Arizona.
About a year after this (1868) Mexican troops rounded up all the horses and
mules of the tribe not far from our settlement. No raids had been made into
Mexico that year, and we were not expecting any attacks. We were all in
camp, having just returned from hunting.
About two o'clock in the afternoon two Mexican scouts were seen near our
settlement. We killed these scouts, but the troops got under way with the
herd of our horses and mules before we saw them. It was useless to try to
overtake them on foot, and our tribe had not a horse left. I took twenty
warriors and trailed them. We found the stock at a cattle ranch in Sonora,
not far from Nacozari, and attacked the cowboys who had them in charge. We
killed two men and lost none. After the fight we drove off our own stock and
all of theirs.
We were trailed by nine cowboys. I sent the stock on ahead and with three
warriors stayed in the rear to intercept any attacking parties. One night
when near the Arizona line we discovered these cowboys on our trail and
watched them camp for the night and picket their horses. About midnight we
stole into their camp and silently led away all their horses, leaving the
cowboys asleep. Then we rode hard and overtook our companions, who always
traveled at night instead of in the daytime. We turned these horses in with
the herd and fell back to again intercept anyone who might trail us. What
these nine cowboys did next morning I do not know, and I have never heard
the Mexicans say anything about it; I know they did not follow us, for we
were not molested. When we arrived in camp at home there was great rejoicing
in the tribe. It was considered a good trick to get the Mexicans' horses and
leave them asleep in the mountains.
It was a long time before we again went into Mexico or were disturbed by the
About 1873 we were again attacked by Mexican troops in our settlement, but
we defeated them. Then we decided to make raids into Mexico. We moved our
whole camp, packing all our belonging on mules and horses, went into Mexico
and made camp in the mountains near Nacori. In moving our camp in this way
we wanted no one to spy on us, and if we passed a Mexican's home we usually
killed the inmates. However, if they offered to surrender and made no
resistance or trouble in any way, we would take them prisoners. Frequendy we
would change our place of rendezvous; then we would take with us our
prisoners if they were willing to go, but if they were unruly they might be
killed. I remember one Mexican in the Sierra Madre Mountains who saw us
moving and delayed us for some time. We took the trouble to get him,
thinking the plunder of his house would pay us for the delay, but after we
had killed him we found but nothing in his house worth having. We ranged in
these mountains for over a year, raiding the Mexican settlements for our
supplies, but not having any general engagement with Mexican troops; then we
returned to our homes in Arizona. After remaining in Arizona about a year we
returned to Mexico, and went into hiding in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Our
camp was near Nacori, and we had just organized bands of warriors for
raiding the country, when our scouts discovered Mexican troops coming toward
our camp to attack us.
The chief the Nedni Apaches, who, was with me and commanded one division.
The warriors were all marched toward the troops and met them at a place
about five miles from our camp. We showed ourselves to the soldiers and they
quickly rode to the top of a hill and dismounted, placing their horses on
the outside for breastworks. It was a round hill, very steep and rocky and
there was no timber on its sides. There were two companies of Mexican
cavalry, and we had about sixty warriors. We crept up the hill behind the
rocks, and they kept up a constant fire, but we had cautioned our warriors
not to expose themselves to the Mexicans.
I knew that the troopers would waste their ammunition. Soon we had killed
all their horses, but the soldiers would lie behind these and shoot at us.
While we had killed several Mexicans, we had not yet lost a man. However, it
was impossible to get very close to them in this way, and I deemed it best
to lead a charge against them.
We had been fighting ever since about one o'clock, and about the middle of
the afternoon, seeing that we were making no further progress, l gave the
sign for the advance. The war-whoop sounded and we leaped forward from every
stone over the Mexicans' dead horses, fighting hand to hand. The attack was
so sudden that the Mexicans, running first this way and then that, became so
confused that in a few minutes we had killed them all. Then we scalped the
slain, carried away our dead, and secured all the arms we needed. That night
we moved our camp eastward through the Sierra Madre Mountains into
Chihuahua. No troops molested us here and after about a year we returned to
Almost every year we would live a part of the time in Old Mexico. There were
at this time many settlements in Arizona; game was not plentiful, and
besides we liked to go down into Old Mexico. Besides, the lands of the Nedni
Apaches, our friends and kinsmen, extended far into Mexico. Their Chief,
Whoa, was as a brother to me, and we spent much of our time in his
About 1880 we were in camp in the mountains south of Casa Grande, when a
company of Mexican troops attacked us. There were twenty-four Mexican
soldiers and about forty Indians. The Mexicans surprised us in camp and
fired on us, killing two Indians the first volley.I do not know how they
were able to find our camp unless they had excellent scouts and our guards
were careless, but there they were shooting at us before we knew they were
near. We were in the timber, and I gave the order to go forward and fight at
close range. We kept behind rocks and trees until we came within ten yards
of their line, then we stood up and both sides shot until all the Mexicans
were killed. We lost twelve warriors in this battle.
This place was called by the Indians "Sko-la-ta". When we had buried our
dead and secured what supplies the Mexicans had, we went north-east. At this
place near Nacori Mexican troops attacked us. At this place, called by the
Indians "Nokode," there were about eighty warriors. Bedonkohe and Nedni
Apaches. There were three companies of Mexican troops. They attacked us in
an open field, and we scattered, firing as we ran. They followed us, but we
dispered, and soon were free from their pursuit; then we reassembled in the
Sierra Madre Mountains. Here a council was held, and as Mexican troops were
coming from many quarters, we disbanded.
In about four months we reassembled at Casa Grande to make a treaty of
peace. The chiefs of the town of Casa Grande, and all of the men of Casa
Grande, made a treaty with us. We shook hands and promised to be brothers.
Then we began to trade, and the Mexicans gave us mescal. Soon nearly all the
Indians were drunk. While they were drunk two companies of Mexican troops,
from another town, attacked us, killed twenty Indians, and captured many
more. We fled in all directions.
Geronimo's Mightiest Battle
AFTER the treachery and massacre of Casa Grande we did not reassemble for a
long while and when we did we returned to Arizona. We remained in Arizona
for some time, living in San Carlos Reservation, at a place now called
Geronimo. In 1883 we went into Mexico again. We remained in the mountain
ranges of Mexico for about fourteen months, and during this time we had many
skirmishes with Mexican troops. In 1884 we returned to Arizona to get other
Apaches to come with us into Mexico. The Mexicans were gathering troops in
the mountains where we had been ranging, and their numbers were so much
greater than ours that we could not hope to fight them successfully, and we
were tired of being chased about from place to place.
In Arizona we had trouble with the United States soldiers and returned to
We had lost about fifteen warriors in Arizona, and had gained no recruits.
With our reduced number we camped in the mountains north of Arispe. Mexican
troops were seen by our scouts in several directions. The United States
troops were coming down from the north. We were well armed with guns and
supplied with ammunition, but we did not care to be surrounded by the troops
of two governments, so we started to move our camp southward.
One night we made camp some distance from the mountains by a stream. There
was not much water in the stream, but a deep channel was worn through the
prairie, and small trees were beginning to grow here and there along the
bank of this stream.
In those days we never camped without placing scouts, for we knew that we
were liable to be attacked at any time. The next morning just at daybreak
our scouts came in, aroused the camp, and notified us that Mexican troops
were approaching. Within five minutes the Mexicans began firing on us. We
took to the ditches made by the stream, and had the women and children busy
digging these deeper. I gave strict orders to waste no ammunition and keep
under cover. We killed many Mexicans that day and in turn lost heavily, for
the fight lasted all day. Frequently troops would charge at one point, be
repulsed then rally and charge at another point.
About noon we began to hear them speaking my name with curses. In the
afternoon the general came on the field and the fighting became more
furious. I gave orders to my warriors to try to kill all the Mexican
officers. About three o'clock the general called all the officers together
at the right side of the field. The place where they assembled was not very
far from the main stream and a little ditch ran out close to where the
officers stood. Cautiously I crawled out this ditch very close to where the
council was being held. The general was an old warrior. The wind was blowing
in my direction, so that l could hear all he said, and I understood most of
it. This is about what he told them: "Officers, yonder in those ditches is
the red devil Geronimo and his hated band. This must be his last day. Ride
on him from both sides of the ditches; kill men, women, and children; take
no prisoners; dead Indians are what we want. Do not spare your own men;
exterminate this band at any cost; I will post the wounded shoot all
deserters; go back to your companies and advance."
Just as the command to go forward was given I took deliberate aim at the
general and he fell. In an instant the ground around me was riddled with
bullets; but I was untouched. The Apaches had seen. From all along the
ditches arose the fierce war-cry of my people. The columns wavered an
instant and then swept on; they did not retreat until our fire had destroyed
the front ranks.
After this their fighting was not so fierce, yet they continued to rally and
readvance until dark. They also continued to speak my name with threats and
curses. That night before the firing had ceased a dozen Indians had crawled
out of the ditches and set fire to the long prairie grass behind the Mexican
troops. During the confusion that followed we escaped to the mountains.
This was the last battle that I ever fought with Mexicans. United States
troops were trailing us continually from this time until the treaty was made
with General Miles in Skeleton Canyon.
During my many wars with the Mexicans I received eight wounds, as follows:
shot in the right leg above the knee, and still carry the bullet; shot
through the left forearm; wounded in the right leg below the knee with a
saber; wounded on top of the head with the butt of a musket; shot just below
the outer corner of the left eye; shot in left side, shot in the back. I
have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not
count them. Some of them were not worth counting.