Life among the Apaches/Chapter 9
Pimo Superstition.—Eclipse of the Moon.—Terrible Excitement.—Dangerous Predicament.—Lieut. Whipple's Coolness.—Satisfactory Result.—Pimos and Maricopas.—Their Traditions.—Religions and Modes of Interment.—Dr. David Wooster.—Arrival of Gen. Conde.—Death of Antonio.—Horrible and Revolting Ceremonies.—The Gila Bend.—Down the Gila.—The Maricopa Refugees.—Important News.—The Colorado River.—John Gallantin and his Party.
Among the most superstitious of all our Indian races, the Pimos take precedence. They entertain an unfaltering belief in witchcraft, sorcery, ghosts, the direct influence of the evil one, and the absolute necessity of propitiating the "gentleman in black." It is not, by any means, difficult to disturb their serenity and set them almost wild, by the exercise of the most simple processes known to us. I have often fancied to myself their unbounded wonderment and fear at a skillful exhibition of the magic lantern, or the more scientific feats of chemistry such as converting fluids into solids, and vice versa but so far none of these effects have been shown them.
After joining the party under Lieut. Whipple, that superior officer and thorough gentleman, invited me to accompany him one beautiful night to assist in observing an eclipse of the moon, which was to take place about ten o'clock. The opportunity to make observations was too valuable to be lost, and as Mr. Wheaton was ill, the invitation to fill his place was kindly tendered to the writer. The large telescope and other important instruments were carried by two men of Whipple's party, and we proceeded until the highest hillock in the neighborhood was surmounted. The Pimos and Maricopas soon learned that the white men were abroad with sundry curious looking weapons, and surrounded us by hundreds; but as we knew them to be thoroughly peaceful, and even generous, no notice was taken of their presence. The telescope was placed in position, and on being asked by a Pimo what it was, I carelessly replied that it was a terrific cannon, the shot of which would reach to the moon. Little did we think how quickly this answer would place us in imminent jeopardy. The round, full moon was sailing across the heavens in refulgent splendor. Not a cloud could be seen; the air was calm and tranquil; the night was pleasantly warm, and everything promised a satisfactory observation. By and by, the eclipse was about to commence. Mr. Whipple stationed himself at the telescope, and the rest of us stood ready to obey his directions. Every one was attentive, and wholly bent on making the occasion a success. At length the observation commenced. It was watched by the Indians, who kept their eyes alternately fixed on the moon and on Mr. Whipple; and as the disc of that luminary began to grow less and less, and darker and darker, the Chief, Culo Azul, said to me: "What are you doing?"
Not apprehending any difficulty, and relying on their well known and often tried amity, I replied: "We are shooting and killing the moon."
This was translated to the surrounding multitude, and immediately followed by the most dreadful yells I ever heard. A rush was made toward us, and weapons brandished with fearful and vengeful violence. Our party became alarmed, and prepared to sell our lives as dearly as possible; but the thought of our unsuspecting comrades in the camp compelled us to act with, caution. The first object of the savages was evidently to destroy the weapon which they believed to be killing the moon; but its loss would have been irreparable, and their vengeance would not have stopped there.
"What are we to do without the moon?" inquired the Chief. "How are we to note time? How shall we know when to plant and when to reap? How can we pass all our nights in darkness, and be incapacitated from preventing Apache raids? What have we done to you, that you should do this thing to us?" To these questions, asked with vehemence and rapidity, I replied, "Wait until I consult my superior," and immediately acquainted Mr. Whipple with all the facts. That officer had left the telescope in alarm; but immediately replaced himself with the greatest sang-froid, and, in an undertone, said:
"Tell them that, if they will keep quiet and promise not to make any hostile movement, we will restore the moon again, as full and as bright as ever."
His coolness, courage, and undisturbed self-possession excited my highest admiration, and I immediately translated his words to Culo Azul, who again made them known to his people. Under the direction of Mr. Whipple, I added:
"We can hit the moon, as you may see for yourselves,"—at this time that luminary was obscured one-half by the earth's shadow—"and it is also in our power to restore it to health and strength; but if you harm us or injure our instruments, then the moon must remain dead, and can never be restored. We have only the kindliest feelings toward the Pimos and Maricopas, and we only wished to destroy the moon in order to prevent its light from guiding the Apaches and Yumas to your villages. But as our brethren have signified their dislike to the proceeding, we will restore the moon to its original splendor. If in a little while it does not reappear, our Pimo and Maricopa friends may take their vengeance and destroy our instruments. But they must remember that we alone are the medicine men; our brethren in the camp are as innocent as you, and should not be disturbed or held accountable in any event."
This promise restored some degree of tranquility, and they gave us their word not to injure or interfere with our unsuspecting comrades.
It has often occurred to me what a dreadful fate would have been ours if a sudden storm had arisen at that period, and prevented the moon from being seen again immediately after the eclipse. But the heavens were specially bright and cloudless, and not the slightest incident occurred to dash our courage. In the course of time the observation reached its fullest extent, and the anxiety of our Indian friends became intense. Yells and moanings rent the still night air, maledictions and curses were lavished upon us, weapons were drawn, and every indication given of speedy dismissal from this vale of tears; but the grand old chief, who seemed to have absolute control of his people, stood between us and harm, and quietly awaited the issue. By and by the moon began to exhibit her brilliant shield once more. Its silver disc grew larger and larger. Gradually, but surely, it sailed from behind the earth's shadow and assumed its pristine proportions, until she was again unveiled in full majesty. To describe the joy, the amazement and the homage of the savages is quite impossible. We were lifted up on their arms, patted on our backs, embraced, and dignified to their utmost extent. All this time Mr. Whipple had been quietly taking his observations and writing them in his book. At no period did he appear ruffled or concerned. His equanimity won respect, and his influence with the Pimos became all powerful. In a subsequent chapter will be found detailed another and no less curious incident among those Indians.
The Pimos and Maricopas both pretend to trace their descent from Moctezuma, whoever that renowned gentle man may be, but they have entirely different ideas about the matter. The Pimos believe Moctezuma to have been a god, who resided on earth for a time, and became the founder of their race, but was treacherously and basely murdered. Before yielding up the ghost, he threatened his slayers with future punishment, foretold the scattering of the various tribes he had created and organized, and promised to come again and assume control of their affairs when all his children should be reunited under his rule.
The Pimos invariably resort to the ceremony of cremation when any of their tribe dies. The body is placed upon a funeral pyre and rapidly consumed. No effort is made to collect the ashes of the dead, but all his friends and relatives take a portion, and, mixing them with the dissolved gum of the mesquit tree (which is a species of the acacia, and yields a concrete juice similar to gum arabic), they daub their faces with the odious compound, and permit it to remain until it is worn away. The chastity of their women is proverbial, but this is probably more the result of the fear of detection than from any natural virtue. Among themselves loose women are tolerated, but the Pimo girl who may be caught in carnal intercourse with any other than a Pimo man, runs nine chances out of ten to be stoned to death. If a white man be a trader among them, and has been there for a long time, and has acquired something of their language, he is more or less considered entitled to the privileges of the tribe; but, even then, disclosure of concubinage is attended with imminent danger to the guilty female. The women of this tribe are particularly fine looking, possessing elegant forms, nicely shaped and well tapered limbs, brilliant and perfect white teeth, small hands, and the easy carriage of the unfettered Indian girl who never saw a pair of corsets, nor inclosed her form in the net-work of crinoline. The men are rugged and tolerably well made, but in nowise remarkable for size nor physical strength. Their powers of endurance are about on a par with most other Indian races, but bear no comparison with those of the Apaches. They are almost all bow-legged, with long trunks and arms, deep chested, narrow shouldered and big headed. Their noses are flatter, wider and more fleshy than those of other tribes, while their feet, in both sexes, are unusually large and splayed. Prior to receiving muskets and ammunition from the American Government—a favor granted them through the wise intercession of Gen. James H. Carleton—their weapons consisted of a bow and arrow, and a lance or knife. Their arrows differ from those of all the Apache tribes in having only two feathers instead of three, and in being much longer, with the single exception of the Coyoteros, who use very long arrows of reed, finished out with some hard wood, and an iron or flint head, but invariably with three feathers at the opposite end.
The Maricopas invariably bury their dead, and mock the ceremony of cremation. They, like the Pimos, and most other Indian tribes, believe in the existence of two gods, who divide the universe between them. One of the divinities is the author of all good, the other the father of all evil. The good god is deemed a quiet and inactive spirit, who takes no decisive part in the affairs of mankind, but relies more upon their desire to escape the evils brought upon them by the bad spirit than upon any direct efforts of his own. He contents himself with the knowledge that after mankind has been sufficiently tormented by his great adversary, they will seek him as a source of refuge. On the other hand, they invest the evil spirit with powers of unequaled and inconceivable activity. He is everywhere at once, and takes the lead in all schemes and pursuits, with the view of converting them to his ultimate use. The first duty of the Indian, exposed as he is to the influences of these two spirits, is to propitiate the most active of the two, and the one which will control his every day avocations. His next object is to approach the good spirit and ask his pardon for having made terms with his one great enemy. This method is something in the style of Louis XI's prayers, but is really in use among these Indians. Their women are not noted for chastity, but are very cautious against detection, which is severely punished, although not to the extent that obtains among the Pimos. They are quite as good looking as their neighbors, and the men generally are credited with a superior reputation as warriors. Their dress, arms, accoutrements, and general style of person are so nearly similar as not to arrest the attention of travelers; but their religion, language, laws and customs are wholly different. The Maricopas seem to have more general recklessness and cordiality of manner than the Pimos, who are constrained and stiff in their intercourse with strangers. The Pimo believes in a future state, in which material modifications will exist; but the Maricopa thinks that the existence of man, after death, closely resembles his earthly career that his wants and requirements will be very similar to those he experienced in this world. Acting on this belief he will sacrifice at the grave of a warrior all the property of which he died possessed, together with all in possession of his various relatives. The decease of a warrior therefore becomes a bona fide cause for mourning; for each of his immediate relations is stripped of any goods they may own, in order that his spirit may assume a proper place and distinction among his predecessors in the other world. This solemnity of course impoverishes all his relations, and its exaction creates sincere grief. How completely is this custom at variance with ours. How clearly does it exhibit the difference between savage and enlightened views on a point of no common importance. This custom, so strictly enforced among the Maricopas, does not exist among the Pimos; but in the case of an intermarriage between the two tribes the deceased is invariably sepultured in rigid accordance with the views of his or her tribe. Self-interest is, after all, as strong a motive among Indians as among whites, and for this reason intermarriages between the two tribes are so rare, even after one hundred years of undivided co-existence on the same lands, and prosecution of the same general objects.
A more marked dissimilarity is observable in their superstitions regarding warfare. The American officer can take a body of Pimos and follow up the trail of a hostile force until he has run his game to earth, when a fight takes place, in which he can depend upon the pluck and courage of his followers; but should the contest result in the death of a single enemy, or in that of a Pimo, he must bid adieu to any further effort for the time being, for the Pimos will immediately about face and return to their villages, to undergo the process of purification from blood. No threats, no inducements can make them alter or modify this course. It is a part of their religion, and they will observe its dictates. One, or twenty, or a hundred of the enemy may be killed during the engagement, but if blood be spilled the Pimos will return to their villages for the purpose above stated. Not so with the Maricopas, although they are prone to abandon the war path after the enemy has been met and overcome; but if led by energetic white men they will continue and obey them to the end. The reader cannot fail to have remarked some singularly diverse traits of character in these two tribes; and this difference is the more extra ordinary in view of the fact that they have been domiciled together for so many years, and been acting under one common bond of sympathy and interest. It only affords another convincing proof, if any such were required, of the unchangeable and unimpressible character of the North American savage.
The country inhabited by the Pimos and Maricopas is a dead flat with clayey soil, which is extremely tenacious when wet, and sparsely covered with mesquit trees. It is a fine wheat land, and the Indians raise very abundant crops of wheat, melons, pumpkins and corn; but their supplies are almost wholly limited to these articles. As before recited, they manufacture a very superior quality of cotton blanket, which will turn rain, and is warm, comfortable and lasting. Dr. David Wooster of San Francisco, who resided among them for some time, and compiled a vocabulary of their language, is, perhaps, better informed with regard to these tribes than any other white man. He was indefatigable in his researches, and received the confidence and affection of these Indians for his many benevolent acts, and his self-sacrificing attention to their sick, without the hope or prospect of pay or reward. The remembrance of his many kind deeds is cherished among them, and they charged me, on my last visit, to make known that fact to their benefactor.
We left the Pimo villages with much misgiving, as we had learned that the Yumas, on the Colorado river, had declared war with the Americans, and our party at that time was only ten strong, seven Americans and three Mexicans, among whom was the step-father of Inez, who had consented to act as guide and arriero for our party. Just as we were about to depart an incident occurred explanatory of Indian character, and for that reason worthy of a place in this work.
Gen. Garcia Conde had been to the Colorado river with his command, and returned to the Pinio villages, bringing with him a noted Yuina chief, named Antonio. This brave had signalized himself in the frequent contests between the Yumas and Maricopas, and had earned the undying vengeance of the latter tribe. Gen. Conde, however, persuaded him to act as guide for his party, promising to protect him from all harm, and to have him safely returned to his country and people. On arriving at the Maricopa village, which was the first to the westward, it was soon bruited abroad that Antonio was with the Mexicans and under their protection. Hundreds of Maricopas and Pimos visited Gen. Conde's camp to get a sight of their famed enemy, but no overt demonstrations were made, as Gen. Conde warned them that he would protect Antonio at all hazards, and they had no disposition to provoke his power to enforce his promise. The next morning Antonio was found dead, his body pierced in many places. Gen. Conde was much grieved, but as the deed had already been consummated, and there was no clue whatever of the murderers, he contented himself with giving decent Christian sepulture to the remains, and then immediately prosecuted his journey.
Two days afterward we passed down the road, going westward, and it was my lot to be something like a mile or two in the rear of my comrades, but being better mounted than they, this fact gave me no concern, especially as I knew that we were among peaceful and inoffensive tribes. Just south of the last village inhabited by the Maricopas, a low, flat-topped hill is met, with its northern base close to the highway along which I had to pass. On arriving near this hill, I observed a very large crowd of Indians on its summit and sides, who appeared to be performing a series of most unusual antics, accompanied with occasional discordant and ear-splitting yells. At first I feared that my comrades had committed some act that had aroused their vengeance, but cooler consideration convinced me that they were not the men to do foolish acts. I rode forward at a round gallop, with the intention of passing the hill and its occupants as quickly as possible without appearing to be in flight, but I was not destined to escape so easily. Four or five stalwart warriors placed themselves in the road and beckoned me to hold up, and, believing discretion to be the better part of valor, on this occasion at least, I obeyed their summons. One took my horse, while another assisted me, most courteously, to dismount, and then taking my hand, led me up the ascent, accompanied by his associates. It beggars all my descriptive powers to depict the scene which met my astonished gaze when I reached the summit and was introduced inside the inner ring. From four to five thousand Indians were present. The squaws were formed in three complete circles nearest the center, leaving a space of two hundred yards diameter. Around these were great numbers of warriors, of greater or less fame, and boys from ten to fifteen years of age. In the center of the open space a human head, and the forearms with hands attached, were placed upon the ground—the head standing on the stump of the neck, which was supported by a stick driven into the ground and thrust up through the throat, and the arms and hands crossed, one over the other, immediately in front of the face. I recognized the head to be that of Antonio, the murdered Yuma chief, and concluded that the present gathering was held for the purpose of a grand jubilee over his death. My conjecture was correct, but before I had time to reflect, I was seized by the hands of two powerful Indians, who joined others, until a small ring of sixty or seventy were got together, and was hurried round and round, in a regular dance, about the horrid spectacle for the space of several minutes. Showing signs of fatigue from the violent rotary motion, I was rescued by a friendly Pimo, who said: "Do you like this thing?"
"Certainly," I replied, "it is your way of rejoicing over the death of your enemies, and as the Pimos and Maricopas are our friends, I do not see why I should not rejoice with you."
This response delighted him greatly, and he immediately translated it to the multitude, who greeted me with terrific yells of approbation. Availing myself of the good feeling engendered, I desired my robust friend, whose every limb quivered with excitement, to state to the multitude that my party had gone on a long time before; that the country over which I had to pass was frequently the scene of Apache horrors; and that I had sufficiently expressed my sympathy with the occasion to be allowed to depart in peace. This speech was received with another chorus of yells, and I was gently conducted down the steep, at the base of which I found my horse in safe keeping. My conductors were warmly thanked, and I set off at full gallop to join my comrades, delighted at having so easily escaped the well meant but revolting hospitality of the savages.
Twelve miles further on we entered the Gila Bend desert. At this point the Gila river trends to the north and describes a curve of one hundred and twenty miles around the northern base of a long range of mountains, resuming its original course westward about fifty miles from the point of departure. This space of fifty miles is entirely without water, and is the highway for the Coyoteros and some of the Sierra Blanca Apaches making raids upon Sonora. The probabilities were very much in favor of meeting one or more war parties of those tribes, and we kept a strict lookout during the transit, but failed to see any, although we may have been observed by them.
On the afternoon of the third day after leaving the Pimos, we came upon the scene of the Oatman massacre, and as the coyotes had dug up the remains of the murdered party, they were carefully and safely re-interred by us. Here was another caution to beware the treachery and malice of the Apaches. The lesson was well heeded by our little band; but we felt ourselves able to whip five times our number in fair fight, and the strictest vigilance was observed in passing any place which could shelter an ambush. Next day we camped on the Gila, under a splendid grove of high and clear cotton-wood trees. There was no underbrush for hundreds of yards in every direction, and our rifles could easily reach the surrounding expanse, in case of attack, while the friendly trees would afford us good shelter. Every one was busy—some collecting dry wood for the guard fire, others in cooking, others again in securing the animals and providing their food—when I suddenly perceived an Indian running toward us with both arms raised above his head. I was about to draw a bead upon the fellow, but seeing that he was alone and unarmed, I refrained, and beckoned him to come forward, which he did with decided good will. He spoke Spanish well enough for all practical purposes, and informed us that he was a Maricopa and had been captured by the Yumas, together with a woman of his tribe, some months before, but had managed to effect his escape a few days before meeting our party, and as he and his companion were starving, they came to ask our assistance, having struck our trail at the entrance to the camp ground. He then uttered a peculiar cry, and was immediately joined by the woman, who had concealed herself to await the issue of his visit. The poor woman presented a thin, worn and suffering appearance, which did not require the use of language to explain. Our first care was to supply these poor creatures with food and a spare blanket each; for, as we had left the higher and colder regions, and were entering upon the warmest known on the globe, and as our means for transportation were becoming beautifully less, we could afford to be generous in this respect, especially as the probabilities were greatly in favor of abandoning or cacheing the major part of our effects, among which were a number of costly instruments, which could neither be eaten nor drank. No further questions were pressed upon our guests until their hunger had been appeased, when, sitting at the camp fire, the man gave us the following narration, corroborated in all points by his companion.
Some five months previous, a large war party of the Yunias had come up the Gila with the intention of cutting off small detachments of Maricopas and Pimos, who annually visit the Gila Bend desert to collect the fruit of the petajaya, a gigantic species of cactus. This fruit is dried in the sun and closely resembles our figs in point of size, taste and shape, but the external husk or covering is not edible. They also macerate it in water after being dried, when the saccharine qualities causes the liquid to ferment, and after such fermentation it becomes highly intoxicating. It is upon this liquor that the Maricopas and Pimos get drunk once a year, the revelry continuing for a week or two at a time; but it is also a universal custom with them to take regular turns, so that only one-third of the party is supposed to indulge at one time, the remainder being required to take care of their stimulated comrades, and protect them from injuring each other or being injured by other tribes. The Yumas are well acquainted with the custom, and the party referred to had gone up the Gila to profit by the circumstance. In that raid they succeeded in killing a few Maricopas and taking prisoners the man and woman who were then our guests and informants. Of course any species of labor and hardship that could be imposed they were compelled to undergo, until the arrival of a band of twenty-one Americans with a great many sheep which they were driving to California. The military, consisting of a Sergeant and ten men, had been driven off by the Yumas just before the advent of these visitors, who were wholly ignorant of the fact, and quite unprepared to expect the hostility which terminated with their massacre. They were received by the Yumas with every profession of friendship, the Indians bringing in large quantities of slim, straight and dried cotton-wood branches to build fires with, and rendering them other kindly services, so that all apprehension was completely lulled. While the evening meal was in preparation, the Yumas interspersed themselves thickly among the Americans, who had some four fires going, built by the Yumas, who had placed the long, smooth cotton-wood branches across each other, in every direction, and the fire as nearly to the center as possible. So soon as those sticks had burned through so as to leave an effective club at each end, a single sharp cry gave the signal, upon which each Yuma present, probably a hundred, seized his burning brand, and commenced the work of death, dealing blows to the nearest American, while an other large party rushed fully armed upon the scene, and quickly dispatched their unprepared and unsuspecting visitors. The Americans fought with desperation, discharging their six-shooters and using their knives with bloody effect, but were soon overcome by resistless numbers, and slain to a man. It was during this contest, which engaged the whole attention of the Yumas, that our two guests managed to effect their escape. They had traveled for four days without food, hiding themselves from morning till night, and prosecuting their way only after dark. Seeing a small party of Americans, whom they knew were always friendly to their tribe, and incited by the double motives of obtaining food and warning us of our danger, they had sought our camp.
Our danger was indeed imminent. Our party consisted only of seven Americans and three Mexicans, and our ammunition had been reduced to forty rounds for each weapon. A party of well armed men, more than three times our number, had been massacred only a few days before by a hostile tribe of Indians, through the heart of whose country we would be compelled to make our way, if we continued. The enemy had driven off the miserably small garrison, and were flushed with the success of their last great robbery and murder. The Colorado river was impassable without a launch, and that was in possession of the Indians. We were in a "regular fix," and a council of war was immediately held. I am free to acknowledge that I was afraid to go forward, and used every argument to show the foolhardiness of such an attempt, but all my objections were met by the imperturbable Dr. Webb, who contented himself with saying—"Our provisions are nearly exhausted, our ammunition is nearly expended, we are ordered to go on, and it is our duty. We may be killed, but it is better to die fighting, since we have been warned and are on our guard, than to die of starvation on these terrible deserts. In any case, it is only a choice of deaths, but it is certain destruction to turn back, while we may manage to escape or pass the Yumas in safety." It was finally agreed to adopt his views—keep a sharp lookout, fight if need be, to the bitter end, and die like men in the proper discharge of a recognized duty. This determination was duly imparted to our Maricopa friends, who could not restrain expressions of amazement, and gave us some additional valuable information about the existence of the launches in which to cross the Colorado, the nature and habits of the Yumas, their treacherous manner of approach, and the best means for us to adopt. Those kindly people were then supplied with provisions enough to last them to their villages, and took leave of us with unfeigned regret, expecting never to see one of our number again. My next meeting with them will be found in a succeeding chapter.
Early next morning we resumed our journey down the Gila, and prosecuted it for several days until we reached the Colorado near its junction with the Gila. At that period the whole country was a wilderness, and the place now occupied by large houses and well filled stores, with an American population of six or seven hundred souls, was waste and desolate. The approach to the river was hidden by a dense mass of young willow trees, through which we had to pass in order to reach water, of which ourselves and animals were greatly in need. The thermometer stood at 118 degrees Fahrenheit, in the shade, and we had marched twenty-four miles that day without water. On emerging from the willows to the banks of the broad, red, swift and turbid stream which met our gaze, we discovered, on the opposite side, within easy rifle reach, a large number of Yuma men, women and children, a fact which assured us that our approach had not been known by that tribe. They instantly fled in all directions, thereby proving their fear and suspicions, which would not have been entertained if the two people had been at peace with each other. Having watered our suffering animals, we prosecuted our way down the Colorado, and encamped upon an open sand beach, with three hundred yards of clear ground in the rear and the river in front. No weapon in possession of the Yumas could reach anything like that distance, while our rifles commanded the whole area. Our animals were drawn up in line on the river side with a careful guard, and were fed with an abundance of young willow tops, which they eat greedily. Our fires were well supplied and kept blazing brightly, so as to shed light on the surrounding shore and disclose the approach of any enemy. In this manner we passed an anxious night.
The next day, soon after dawn, an Indian presented himself unarmed, and with reiterated assurances of the most cordial friendship for the Americans. He subsequently proved to be Caballo en Pelo, or the "Naked Horse," the head chief of the Yumas. Our reception was not calculated to excite his hopes, every one extending his left hand, and keeping a revolver in his right, and it was not long before Caballo en Pelo found that he had committed himself to the tender mercies of men who entertained the deepest suspicion of his professed amity. To test his sincerity, Dr. Webb asked what had become of the soldiers, to which he replied that they had voluntarily withdrawn three months before. This we knew to be a lie, as Gen. Conde had informed us of their presence with a couple of good launches to assist the crossing of immigrants, and we had met the General only twenty days previous, when this information was received from him, who had come directly from the Colorado in eleven days. The report of our Maricopa visitors also disproved the statement of Caballo en Pelo, and we immediately consulted together as to our future course, which was afterward carried into effect, as the reader will discover, and to it I attribute our escape from the treacherous Yumas.
We subsequently learned that the persons massacred by the Yumas just before our arrival, were John Gallantin and his band. This man had the reputation of being one of the worst scoundrels who ever existed even in that demoralized and villainous region. It is reported of him, that the Governor of Chihuahua, having offered a premium of thirty dollars for every Apache scalp, Gallantin got together a band of cut-throats and went into the business. But all his activity and cupidity failed to find the Apaches, and scalps became very scarce. Determined to make money out of the Governor's terms, he commenced killing Papago, Opatah and Yaqui Indians, whose scalps he sold in considerable numbers at thirty dollars each, declaring that they had been taken from the heads of Apaches. But the ease with which Gallantin and his band supplied themselves, without producing any sensible diminution of Apache raids, excited suspicion, and he was actually caught taking the scalps from the heads of several Mexicans murdered by his people in cold blood. Finding that he had been discovered in his unspeakable villainies, he fled to New Mexico, where, by stealing and by purchase, he collected about two thousand five hundred head of sheep, with which he was passing into California, when he encountered his well-merited fate at the hands of the Yumas. Not a soul of his band escaped death.
At the period about which I am writing, Arizona and New Mexico were cursed by the presence of two or three hundred of the most infamous scoundrels it is possible to conceive. Innocent and unoffending men were shot down or bowie-knived merely for the pleasure of witnessing their death agonies. Men walked the streets and public squares with double-barreled shot guns, and hunted each other as sportsmen hunt for game. In the graveyard of Tucson there were forty-seven graves of white men in 1860, ten years after the events above recited, and of that number only two had died natural deaths, all the rest being murdered in broils and bar-room quarrels. Since Carleton's occupation of those Territories with his California Column, a great change for the better has taken place, and this melioration promises to gain ground.