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By Daniel Lewis, Senior Product Manager and Kristen Taynor, Senior Content Editor
“Apache war over.”
With these three words written from Fort Bowie, Arizona, on September 6, 1886, General Nelson A. Miles marked the end of an era. On September 4, 1886, the legendary Apache warrior, Geronimo, and his followers, surrendered to the U.S. Army, ending the last organized resistance to the U.S. government by American Indians not already confined to a reservation.
General Miles’s letter is part of the collection entitled Apache Campaign of 1886: Records of the U.S. Army Continental Commands, Department of Arizona, and is now available in ProQuest History Vault’s most recent module, American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971. This new module in History Vault has a special focus on the interaction between American Indians, white settlers, and the U.S. federal government in the 19th century, as well as important records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the first half of the 20th century. For more information about this module, see the press release and a Slideshare with examples of numerous documents in the History Vault module.
The U.S. Army’s pursuit of Geronimo is documented in extensive detail in American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971. Geronimo, a Chiricahua Apache, left the San Carlos Indian Agency for the final time on May 17, 1885. He had previously left the reservation numerous times only to be pursued and returned by the U.S. Army. His departure in May 1885 was expected, but army units could not reach the reservation in time to stop Geronimo and his band from leaving. According to a May 18, 1885 telegram, in the Apache Campaign collection, Geronimo and about 30 of his men left San Carlos on May 17. U.S. Army cavalry immediately went in pursuit. It would take the U.S. Army more than one year of substantial effort, including numerous casualties, before General Nelson A. Miles was able to report that the Apache War was over.
In their efforts to capture Geronimo and his band, U.S. troops made extensive scouting trips throughout the Arizona Territory, New Mexico Territory, and Mexico, and the scouting reports they compiled while on these trips are one of the highlights of the Apache campaign collection.
The following excerpts indicate the type of detail that can be found in the scouting reports:
“Lebo with thirty men had a fight last night with Geronimo’s band, twelve miles south-west of Santa Cruz in Pinto Mountains, Old Mexico. Indians in about equal number in very strong position in rocks and on top of high range. Failed to dislodge them but will renew attack this morning. Lawton’s and Davis’ troops directed to join Lebo and should be with him this morning. One soldier killed and one Corporal badly wounded. Two Indians reported killed.”
Captain Hatfield, 4th Cavalry, struck Geronimo’s camp yesterday morning and at first was quite successful capturing camp and horses driving Indians some distance in Conona Mountains, Mexico, about noon in moving 5 miles from camp through Deep Canon was attacked, fought two hours, lost two soldiers killed, three wounded and many of his horses and mules, reports Indians 70 strong and several killed, other troops in close proximity to hostiles. It is impossible to give an exact number of Indians with Geronimo. Our troops and Mexicans have fought them five times within the last twelve days although at some disadvantage not without loss to Indians. It requires nine-tenths of the command to hold in check the large bodies of Indians on reservation and protect exposed settlements.
The Apache Campaign documents in History Vault are just one of the fascinating episodes chronicled in American Indians and the American West. Other dramatic (and often tragic) events in this module include a significant collection on the process of Indian Removal in the 1830s, as well as documents on the Dakota War of 1862, the U.S. Army’s Yellowstone Expedition of 1873 (led by David Sloane Stanley and George Armstrong Custer), the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, and the Bannock Campaign of 1878.
Librarians: View the Slideshare for more information about American Indians and the American West, 1809-1971, and sign up for free trials of this module and other History Vault modules as well as other complementary digitized resources from ProQuest.