Life among the Apaches/Chapter 5

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Mangas Colorado.—His Personal Appearance, Power, and Influence.—Indian Forces at the Copper Mines.—The Navajoes.—Their Appearance and Subsequent Acts.—Their Schemes Foiled.—Mangas in Full Uniform.—Strange Mode of Attire.—Inez Gonzales.—Her Rescue.—New Mexican Traders.—Summary Proceedings.—Story of Inez.—March into Sonora.—Santa Cruz.—Restoration of Inez.—Her subsequent History.—Tanori.

Mangas Colorado, or Red Sleeves, was, undoubtedly, the most prominent and influential Apache who has existed for a century. Gifted with a large and powerful frame, corded with iron-like sinews and muscles, and possessed of far more than an ordinary amount of brain strength, he succeeded, at an early age, in winning a reputation unequaled in his tribe. His daring exploits, his wonderful resources, his diplomatic abilities, and his wise teachings in council soon surrounded him with a large and influential band, which gave him a sort of prestige and sway among the various branches of his race, and carried his influence from the Colorado river to the Guadalupe mountains. Throughout Arizona and New Mexico, Mangas Colorado was a power in the land. Yet he could assume no authority not delegated to him by his people. He never presumed to speak for them as one having authority, but invariably said he would use his influence to perform certain promises and engagements. Mangas, in one of his raids into Sonora, carried off a handsome and intelligent Mexican girl, whom he made his wife, to the exclusion of his Apache squaws. This singular favoritism bred some trouble in the tribe for a short time, but was suddenly ended by Mangas challenging any of the offended brothers or relatives of his discarded wives. Two accepted the wager, and both were killed in fair duel. By his Mexican wife Mangas had three really beautiful daughters, and through his diplomatic ability, he managed to wive one with the chief of the Navajoes; another with the leading man of the Mescalero Apaches, and the third with the war chief of the Coyoteros. By so doing, he acquired a very great influence in these tribes, and, whenever he desired, could obtain their assistance in his raids. His height was about six feet; his head was enormously large, with a broad, bold forehead, a large acquiline nose, a most capacious mouth, and broad, heavy chin. His eyes were rather small, but exceedingly brilliant and flashing when under any excitement although his outside demeanor was as imperturbable as brass. This is the man we met at the Copper Mines; but as his name will be mentioned many times in the course of this narrative, in connection with his acts, no more need be added at present. His most immediate counselors and attaches were Delgadito, Ponce, Cuchillo Negro, Coletto Amarillo, El Chico, and Pedro Azul. These were all appellations bestowed by Mexicans, and not their Apache names, which I never learned.

The Indian force about the Copper Mines amounted, according to my calculations, to four hundred warriors, who were no match for the three hundred well armed and thoroughly organized Americans at the place. Four or five weeks elapsed in amicable intercourse with the Apaches; but from occasional expressions, I felt convinced that Mangas had sought aid for the purpose of expelling us at the earliest possible moment. Nothing, however, occurred to strengthen my suspicions, and I had almost dismissed them entirely, when I was surprised one morning to see the camp full of strange savages, who proved to be Navajoes, and were on the best terms with the Apaches. The new comers were fine looking, physically, but carried in their faces that nameless yet unmistakable impress of low cunning and treachery, which I afterward found to be the leading traits of their tribe. Although they are of the great Apache race, speaking identically the same language and observing the same general habits of life in all respects, yet they are far inferior in point of courage, prowess, skill and intelligence. Five Apache warriors will undertake and accomplish an exploit which no fifty Navajoes would venture to perform. A single Apache will go off, unaided, and commit a daring robbery or murder which twenty Navajoes would shrink from attempting.

Our new visitors were all mounted on small, but strong, active and wiry looking horses, which they rode with remarkable ease and grace. Feeling satisfied in my own mind that they had come there at the request of Mangas Colorado, I advised Col. Craig of my suspicions, and he, in turn, imparted the idea to Mr. Bartlett. We learned that four hundred Navajo warriors were encamped on the Gila river, only thirty miles distant, and knew that the Indian Commissariat could not support so great a number for any length of time, and that no such assemblage would have been got together in that portion of the country unless for some determined purpose. The hunting grounds around the Copper Mines offered no special inducement, as they must have crossed a hundred and fifty miles of better hunting country to arrive where they then were. There was no trading to rely upon, and on special incentive other than to help Mangas in driving us out of the place, or assisting him to steal our animals.

Their visits were very regular for three or four days, when, probably finding us too strong and too much on our guard to attack, they disappeared for a while, to return some weeks after and help to carry off our horses and mules. During their stay, my tent and its neighborhood were crowded with these savages, who asked me a multitude of questions, but never answered one of mine. This reticence on their part taught me a lesson, and I soon learned to endure their presence with perfect equanimity and nonchalance, smoking and replying to their queries with a simple nod or wave of the hand. My six-shooters and knife were always upon my person during these interviews, and my boy José sat in the back part of the tent with a Sharp's carbine and double barreled gun, well loaded with buckshot, within easy reach. I never permitted a Navajo to get behind me, and, while treating them with courtesy, gave them to understand that I had no special feeling on the subject, but regarded their visits as a matter of course.

It was a noticeable fact that neither Mangas Colorado or any of his leading men ever mixed with the Navajoes while in our camp, and judging this conduct somewhat strained and unnatural, Mr. Wiems and myself determined to watch them. In pursuance of this object, we saddled our horses one evening after the Indians had retired, for they were never permitted in camp after sunset, and very quietly picked our way to their bivouac, about two miles distant at that time. Gaining a slight eminence that overlooked them, we applied our field glasses, and, by the light of their fires, distinctly saw Mangas and the principal men in close conference with the leading Navajoes. This fact was also reported to Col. Craig, who took additional precautions, which had the effect of relieving us from the presence of the new comers. In after years, it was my lot to make a very extensive and sanguinary acquaintance with this tribe, and the opportunity was improved to the utmost. Thousands of them were subjected to my control, and quite a number of them remembered me from the time we met at the Copper Mines. In several conversations I accused them of coming to aid Mangas, and assisting him in getting rid of his unwelcome intruders; and on each occasion they frankly admitted that they had visited the Copper Mines with that intention. Mangas had sent messengers to tell them that a large body of Americans had come into his country; that they were very rich in horses, mules, cotton cloth, beads, knives, pistols, rifles and ammunition; that he was not strong enough to murder and plunder us himself, and therefore required their aid, in which case one half the plunder was to be theirs, in the event of success. Lured by these promises, and urged by their chief, who was the son-in-law of Mangas, four hundred of them had come down to help that renowned warrior. They met in council, and agreed to come in and spy out the land before commencing operations, little supposing that we would discern any difference between them and the Apaches proper. Should matters promise well, a sudden attack was to be made by their united forces; but if that was not practicable without great loss of life on their part, then the system of distressing us by stealing our animals and cutting off small parties, was to be adopted. All these statements I got from Manuelito and others, at Fort Sumner, thirteen years after our occupation of the Copper Mines in Arizona. The subject was frequently talked over, and remembered as vividly as if it were a thing of yesterday.

Mr. Bartlett, in order to retain the supposed friendship of Mangas, had a fine pair of blue pants, ornamented with a wide red stripe down the outside of the legs, made for that respectable individual. To this were added a good field officer's uniform and epaulettes, given by Col. Craig, a new white shirt, black cravat, and an excellent pair of new shoes, such as are furnished to our soldiers. It was my duty to invest Mangas in his new suit, but some difficulty was experienced in getting him to wear his shirt inside of his pants instead of outside. After a time he made his appearance in grande tenue, evidently in love with his own elegant person. During the whole day he strutted about the camp, the envied of all beholders, and as vain of his new dress as a peacock of his feathers. The next day Mangas failed to put in an appearance; but the day after he came, with his pantaloons wrapped around his waist; his shirt, dirty and partly torn, outside; his uniform coat buttoned to his chin; one epaulet on his breast, and the other fastened, bullion down, between the hind buttons of his coat. In this guise he fancied himself an object worthy of universal admiration; and as he walked along, he would turn his eyes over his shoulder to relish the brilliant flashes of his posterior ornament. In less than a week, coat, shirt, pants and epaulettes were sported by another Indian after his fashion. Mangas had gambled them away, and the wearer was the fortunate winner.

On the evening of the 27th of June, 1850, Mr. W. Bausman, Mr. J. E. Wierns and myself were standing in front of the sutler's store, when we perceived a light, resembling a camp fire, about two hundred yards distant, near the banks of the creek. We knew that Indians were prohibited from being there after sundown, and as none of the Commission dwelt in that direction, it was agreed to go and find out who were the campers about the fire. We approached cautiously, and found our selves in a bivouac of Indians and Mexicans. Among them was a young and handsome girl, clothed in a tattered chemise, with a buckskin skirt, and another skin thrown over her shoulders. This girl, who was not an Indian, appeared to be the waitress of the party, for whom she was preparing supper. As our approach had not been observed, we quietly proceeded to the cook fire, which was about four yards from the party, and I asked the girl, in a low voice, who those people were. She seemed evidently alarmed, and refusing to answer, hurried away to wait upon her associates. We remained until she came back, when I told her that it was necessary for us to know who they were; to which she placed her finger on her lips, and betokened that she dared not tell. The question was, however, pressed, when she stated in a whisper that she was a captive, and that the Mexicans present had just bought her, and were going to convey her to New Mexico. As this thing was specially prohibited by the United States laws, we made our way immediately to Mr. Bartlett and laid the matter before that gentleman for his consideration. With great promptitude Mr. Bartlett communicated the facts, in writing, to Col. Craig, and asked that gallant officer for a force to rescue the girl from her unhappy condition. This request was granted as soon as possible, and Lieut. Green was ordered to take a file of men and bring the girl before the Commissioner. This was done without delay, and the captive placed for the night under the care of Mr. Bartlett, who assigned her a comfortable room, and placed a proper guard over her quarters.

In the meantime the Apaches had slipped away, but a guard was put over the Mexican traders for the night. Next day they were summoned before the Commissioner to account for their possession of the girl, and their intentions as to her future disposal. Next morning the traders respectively gave their names as Peter Blacklaws—a very appropriate nomenclature—Pedro Archeveque, which, being translated, means Peter Archbishop—a very inappropriate name—and Faustin Yaldes. The testimony extracted from these men was extremely conflicting, but the tenor of it went to show that they were engaged, with some fifty others, in unlawful barter and trade with the Indians, selling them powder and arms, probably, in exchange for female Mexican captives of attractive persons, horses, skins, etc. Mr. Bartlett felt fully authorized to deprive them of the captive, but having no authority to punish the scoundrels, they were released; they were immediately afterwards waited upon by several gentlemen of the Commission, who gave them to understand that any delay in getting out of that place would be attended with imminent danger. In less than twenty minutes they had left the Copper Mines, poorer but wiser men.

The young captive gave her name as Inez Gonzales, the eldest child of Jesus Gonzales, of Santa Cruz, on the frontier of Sonora. About nine months previous, she had left Santa Cruz with her uncle, aunt, a female friend and her friend's brother, for the purpose of being present at the grande fiesta de Nuestra Senora de la Magdalena, or, the grand feast of our Lady of Magdalena. They were protected by a military escort of ten soldiers and an ensign. The second day of their journey they were ambushed by a large party of El Pinal Apaches, who killed her uncle and eight soldiers, including their officer, and carried off her and her two female friends, with the boy. For seven months she had been in their power, and made to perform all the hard labor of an Apache squaw, receiving kicks and blows as her reward. One old woman of the tribe, who had a tongue which made even the warriors quail, however, took a passing fancy for Inez, and from that time protected her from insult or harm so long as she remained among them. Her companions in captivity were subsequently purchased by a band of New Mexican traders, who took them off in a northerly direction. She never saw or heard of them afterwards. A second party had seen and purchased her, with the view of taking her to Santa Fe, for speculative and villainous purposes, when she was rescued by the Commission, every member of which vied with each other to extend their protection and care over this poor and suffering girl. Although she remained among us until her restoration to her parents and home, the sequel of her adventures will be given now.

On the morning of the 27th of August, exactly two months from the date of her rescue, the Commission left the Copper Mines, to prosecute its duties in the field, and as it had become necessary to visit Sonora again, Mr. Bartlett determined upon giving himself the gratification of restoring the fair Inez to the arms of her mourning mother. After many days' wandering, during which our small party was frequently reduced to only five or six, by reason of sending off occasional detachments, and after having lost our way and been forced to the necessity of living upon purslain and water for several successive days, we finally arrived near the town of Santa Cruz, on the 22d of September, nearly a month subsequent to leaving the Copper Mines. On the morning of the 23d, just one year to a day from the date of her capture, two men were dispatched to inform the family of Inez of her safety, and to add that she would be with her relations in four or five hours. About three miles from town we met a large and joyous party of Mexicans, arrayed in their gaudiest holiday costumes, and headed by the mother of our fair charge. They had come out to welcome her return and release from captivity among the Apaches, a thing never before known to have occurred. Mr. Bartlett conceded to me the privilege of placing Inez into the longing arms of her mother, who, after repeated embraces, and amidst alternate tears, prayers, thanksgivings and joyous cries, yielded her place to the strong but inferior claims of other relatives and friends, all of whom ardently and most affectionately embraced her by turns. It was one of the most affecting scenes conceivable, and, in joyous procession, the whole party entered the town, amidst the loudest acclamations of the entire population. Inez immediately entered the church, where the good priest was in attendance, and went through a solemn ceremony and thanksgiving. These scenes and all their attendant circumstances have ever been among the most pleasant in my remembrance. They form a delicious oasis amidst the unpleasant recollections of "man's inhumanity to man." Her own father had been deceased for some years, and the mother of Inez was then married to a man named Ortis, a very excellent, honest and reliable Mexican, who testified quite as much joy at her release from a captivity far worse than death, as if she had been his own child.

The future career of this young and attractive girl, whose fate was so suddenly and providentially changed, is worthy of record.

Some months after the Commission left, on its way toward California, Inez attracted and secured the admiration of a Captain Gomez in the Mexican Regular Army, and, at that time, in command of the frontier town of Tubac. The relaxed state of morals among the Mexicans seemed to warrant the poor girl in becoming his mistress for a time, but he subsequently made amends by marrying her and legitimatizing the two fine boys she bore him. Many years passed before I again saw or heard of Inez, and it was not until the fall of 1862, that I learned, while in Tucson, that she was still alive, but quite unwell. Capt. Gomez had been dead some years, and she was again married to the Alcalde of Santa Cruz, and had borne him two children—a boy and a girl. Having casually learned that I was in Tucson, and an officer in the Union Army, she dispatched me a letter, begging that I would order some one of our physicians to visit and prescribe for her. Of course, the poor girl, in her ignorance, had asked what it was impossible to grant, and I sadly dismissed the subject from my mind.

In 1864, it was again my lot to be within fifty miles of Santa Cruz, when a bold Opatah Indian chief, named Tanori, who had been commissioned as Colonel by Maximilian, had the temerity to cross our frontier with nearly seven hundred men and fire upon the people of the American town of San Gabriel, located two miles north of the dividing line, and fourteen miles from Santa Cruz. The excuse for this outrage was, that he had pursued the Liberal General, Jesus Garcia Morales, across our lines, and that he had not transcended his duty in so doing. Complaint of this raid having been made to me by the town authorities of San Gabriel, I immediately took the saddle, with one hundred and forty troopers, and marched straight to that place. Upon my arrival, I obtained affidavits of all the facts, and, having received permission from the acknowledged authorities of Sonora, determined to pursue Tanori and punish that gentleman for his audacious conduct.

He had retired upon Santa Cruz, whither I followed without delay; but, hearing of our approach, he hastened forward to Imurez with wonderful celerity, and, although the Adjutant, Lieut. Coddington, was dispatched, at speed, to request a delay on his part so that we could arrange matters, he excused himself by saying that "his orders were imperative to reach Ures without delay." As a proof with what rapidity the Mexican infantry can cover the ground when an enemy is in pursuit, it is a fact that Tanori, with over six hundred men, mostly infantry, made the march from Santa Cruz to Imurez, a distance of forty-three miles, in the space of nine hours. He left Santa Cruz at five o'clock in the morning, and I subsequently learned that he conversed with the party from whom I received my information, in the town of Imurez, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the same day. About three hundred of his men were there with him at the time mentioned.

My trip to Santa Cruz offered me the opportunity to visit Inez, whom I found to be the respected wife of the chief and most influential man in that little community. She has an affectionate husband, who is by no means cramped for this world's goods; is surrounded by a fine and promising family of three boys and a girl, and is universally esteemed for her many excellent qualities. It is needless to state that my reception was most cordial and enthusiastic. This sequel of her history will undoubtedly be received with sincere pleasure by all who were members of Mr. Bartlett's Commission, and by none with more interest than Mr. Bartlett and Dr. Webb.