June 8, 1874: Cochise passed on.
Words Spoken: Cochise ("Hardwood") - c 1812-June 8, 1874
"When God made the world he gave one part to the white man and another to the Apache. Why was it? Why did they come together?. The white people have looked for me long. I am here! What do they want? They have looked for me long; why am I worth so much?"
"You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts. Speak Americans.. I will not lie to you; do not lie to me."
"When I was young I walked all over this country, east and west, and saw no other people than the Apaches. After many summers I walked again and found another race of people had come to take it. How is it?
We were once a large people covering these mountains. We lived well: we were at peace. One day my best friend was seized by an officer of the white men and treacherously killed. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my people went to war with them.
The worst place of all is Apache Pass. There my brother and nephews were murdered. Their bodies were hung up and kept there till they were skeletons. Now Americans and Mexicans kill an Apache on sight. I have retaliated with all my might.
My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day.
Why is it that the Apaches wait to die -- That they carry their lives on their fingernails? They roam over the hills and plains and want the heavens to fall on them. The Apaches were once a great nation; they are now but few, and because of this they want to die and so carry their lives on their fingernails.
I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here.
Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please."
Cochise had long worked as a woodcutter at the Apache Pass stagecoach station of the Butterfield Overland line until 1861, when a raiding party drove off cattle belonging to a white rancher and abducted the child of a ranch hand. An inexperienced Army officer, Lt. George Bascom, arrived and ordered Cochise and five other Apaches to appear for questioning. When they denied guilt or complicity, Bascom ordered his men to seize and arrest the Apaches. (Their claims of innocence were later substantiated.)
In the ensuing struggle, soldiers killed one Apache and subdued four others, but Cochise, suffering three bullet wounds, escaped by cutting through the side of a tent. He soon abducted a number of whites to exchange for the Apache captives, but Bascom retaliated by hanging six Apaches, including relatives of Cochise. This sequence of events is usually referred to as "The Bascom Affair."
Avenging these deaths, Cochise took to the warpath with his uncle, Mangas Coloradas. During the following year, warfare by Apache bands was so fierce that troops, settlers and traders all withdrew from the region. And upon the recall of army forces to fight in the U.S. Civil War in 1861, Arizona was practically abandoned to the Apaches.
In 1862, an army of 3,000 California volunteers under Gen. James Carleton marched to Apache Pass to prevent Confederate attacks and put the Apaches to flight with their Howitzers. Although Mangas Coloradas was captured and killed the following year, Cochise and 200 followers eluded capture for more than ten years by hiding out in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, from which they continued their raids, always fading back into their mountain strongholds.
In 1871, command of the Department of Arizona was assumed by Gen. George Crook, who succeeded in winning the allegiance of a number of Apaches as scouts and bringing many others onto reservations. Cochise surrendered in September, but, resisting the transfer of his people to the Tularosa Reservation in New Mexico, escaped in the spring of 1872. He surrendered again when the Chiricahua Reservation was established that summer, and there he died (Ed's Note: of natural causes) on June 8, 1874. Today, the southeastern most county of Arizona bears his name; it includes Tombstone, Douglas and Bisbee, the county seat.
>From http://homepages.tesco.net/~richard.alonzo/People/Cochise.htm (Ed's Note: Many hyperlinks leading to background information embedded in this webpage)
Cochise was the leader of the Chock!onen band of Chiricahua Apache's. He was originally one of the least hostile Apache leaders allowing overland stages to run through his peoples territory. He also supplied the stage station at Apache Pass with firewood and permitted their use of the vital spring in the pass to water both livestock and personnel.
However the the Bascom affair (in 1861) turned Cochise into an unforgiving enemy of the Americans or as he himself put it "your soldiers did me a very great wrong and I and my people went to war with them..."
Driven from Apache Pass during the Apache wars Cochise established a hidden stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains of South-west Arizona. General George Crook's Cavalry combed the mountains without success engaging Cochise's warriors in a protracted guerrilla war.
In 1872 Tom Jeffords, a stage driver and prospector, who was also a personal friend of Cochise brought General Oliver O. Howard to Cochise's stronghold for peace talks. The terminally ill Cochise secured from him a promise that his people would be allowed to return to live in peace at Apache Pass in returning for laying down their weapons. Detesting the white mans lies to which the Apache had been subjected he warned General Howard "We want nothing but to live in peace, but I warn you if you try to move us again there will be war once more; it will be a war without end."
Howard agreed to Cochise's demands, but the generals promise died with Cochise in 1874 and the Apache were never allowed to reclaim Apache Pass. Following his death Taza, Cochise's son, assumed the leadership of the tribe, but it would be the man known to the white's as Geronimo who would lead the continuing Apache resistance.