Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mangas Coloradas

January 17, 1863: Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves) was camped near the Mimbres River when he was sent a message from California volunteers Captain Edmond Shirland requesting a truce and a parley. Against the advise of his APACHE followers, Mangas agrees to a meeting. Mangas enters the soldiers' camp, near present day Silver City, in southwestern New Mexico, under a white flag, but he is seized immediately. He will be transferred to old Fort McLane, in southwest New Mexico, and then killed.


Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves), 1797-1863

Mangas Colorado was at least six feet tall, with a powerful body and an enormous head. Anglo Americans regarded him as the greatest Apache leader of the mid nineteenth century ... He was a war chief, diplomat, and consummate strategist - one who, according to legend, married one daughter to Cochise, another to a Navajo chief, and a third to a leader of the Western Apaches. In a kin-based society, Mangas Coloradas wove a web of obligations that extended from central Arizona to Chihuahua.

His life spanned three chaotic epochs in Southwestern history. He was born in the early 1790s at a time when Spanish soldiers were scouring the Apacheria from Tucson to Texas. As a child he must have visited or perhaps even lived in the Apache peace camp near the presidio of Janos in northwestern Chihuahua, but he spent his adult years taking advantage of Mexican decline and decay. From his strongholds in the mountains of western New Mexico, he raided as far south as Durango in north central Mexico.

During the Mexican War, Mangas Coloradas welcomed the Anglo American soldiers and urged General Stephen Watts Kearny to join with the Apaches and conquer northern Mexico once and for all. Over the next fifteen years, however, friendship degenerated into wariness and war. In 1861, Mangas Coloradas tried to persuade miners in southwestern New Mexico to leave Chiricahua territory. The miners allegedly tied him to a tree and whipped him, so he and his warriors drove them out with fire and blood. The next year, he and his son-in-law Cochise ambushed troops from General James H. Carleton's California Column in Apache Pass between the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains. The soldiers repulsed the ambush with howitzers, and Mangas Coloradas slipped away to nurse his wounds.

Finally, in January 1863 members of mountain man Joseph Walker's party of gold seekers lured the old chief into the deserted mining camp of Pinos Altos to talk peace. Instead, they seized him and delivered him to General Joseph R. West, who had orders from Carleton to "punish the Gila Apaches, under that notorious robber, Mangus Colorado." That evening, West placed Mangas Coloradas under the guard of two soldiers. According to Daniel Ellis Conner, a member of the Walker party, "About 9 o'clock I noticed that the soldiers were doing something to Mangas, but quit when I returned to the fire and stopped to get warm. Watchmg them from my beat in the outer darkness, I discovered that they were heating their bayonets and burning Mangas's feet and legs. This they continued to do [until] Mangas rose upon his left elbow, angrily protesting that he was no child to be played with. Thereupon the two soldiers, without removing their bayonets from their Minie muskets each quickly fired into the chief, following with two shots each from their navy six-shooters. Mangas fell back into the same position . . . and never moved."


1 comment:

  1. Excellent history on the Great war Chief Mangas Coloradas. I have great respect, gratitude and praise for what our Apache Ancestors enured to make it possible for us to be here today.