Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/148

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numerous people, exceedingly vigilant and rapid in their movements.

Casual observers have, unintentionally, done serious evil by underrating their real strength, to an extent almost inconceivable among those who are better informed. I have been in company with a body of fifteen hundred at the very time that intelligence was received that a half dozen other parties, numbering from twenty to three hundred each, were actively engaged in committing depredations at other points embraced in a radius of five hundred miles, and yet I have seen the number of Apaches estimated as low as fifteen hundred and two thousand. Nearly eight years of personal experiences have satisfied me that the Apache race, collectively, will number fully twenty-five thousand souls. In this estimate the Navajoes and Lipans are not included, but those are who inhabit portions of northwestern Mexico. Of this number five thousand are capable of taking the field and bearing an active part in their system of warfare. A boy of fourteen is quite as formidable an antagonist as a man of forty. From behind his rocky rampart or wooded covert he speeds a rifle ball as straight to the heart of his foe, while his chances for escape, in the event of failure, are greater than those of his more aged and heavier associate. Many of the women delight to participate in predatory excursions, urging on the men, and actually taking part in conflicts. They ride like centaurs and handle their rifles with deadly skill. I cannot conceive why the bullet sped by a woman should not be quite as much an object of danger as the one shot from the weapon of a man. In the estimate made, no account is taken of the fighting women, who are numerous, well trained, and desperate, often exhibiting more real courage than the men.