Chiricahua Apaches Defy and Fight U.S. and Mexican Soldiers
(From Life of Tom Horn, originally published1904)
BY TOM HORN
All that year I was going back and forth between the Mexican line and San Carlos bringing in bunches of Indians and big bunches of [their stolen] stock [to the reservation].
The Mexican Government was just “raising Cain” because we were doing as we did. There was no mistake but that it was wrong, and very wrong; but we were powerless, and it did look to the Mexicans as though our troops were upholding the Apaches and protecting them in their raiding.
We had about 2,000 head of horses and mules taken from the Mexicans and several delegations of Mexican rancheros came to San Carlos and proved their property, but they all went back empty handed. The Indians would not give up the stock voluntarily, and our agent would not take them by force; so Mr. Mexican had to go back as poor as he came. Mad? Well, you should have seen them!
There was a Mexican newspaper at Tucson called El Fronterizo, and it did sure write some warm articles on the subject. Don Carlos Valasquez, the editor of this paper, came to San Carlos personally to see what could be done. But nothing was ever done. The Indians made their play stick [bringing stolen Mexican stock to the San Carlos reservation], and we had to protect them in it.
Along in the spring of ’79 a good many warriors came in [to the Reservation] and all of them made a big talk and said they were going to remain on the Reservation and draw their rations, and be good and go out on the war path no more. There were still a lot of renegades in Mexico under Geronimo and Ju (called “Who”), but they were hopeless as far as getting them to come in was concerned.
In June of ’79, we scouts and interpreters were again all discharged and fired off the Reservation. Appro- priation had run out and the Quartermaster had no money to pay us. Of course we all went to Tucson.
Tuly Ochoa & Co. had the contract to furnish the beef to the Indians at San Carlos from July, ’79 for one year, and they employed me to handle the San Carlos end of it, and gave me $150.00 a month. It took, on an average, of 225 beeves [beef cows] a week, all issued on foot.
Loco was still camped in the San Carlos and his band by this time numbered about 650 Indians. They must have had close to 5,000 head of horses and mules. The grass was fine, and their horses were all fat, and the bucks were running the whole country. In August, ’79, I turned loose 2,000 head of steers about six miles above the Agency and the Chiricahua bucks did have a good time with them. Every day, when they wanted meat, they would just round up and kill what they wanted.
Of course, I complained to the agent, and the best he could do was to have me keep count of the ones killed by them, and that suited me all right, for I did well with my counting. I could not get any cow-boys to stay at the camp to look after the cattle, so they were soon all killed off by the Indians. The Chiricahuas were not the only ones doing the killing. The San Carlos, and White Mountain Indians all helped themselves.
It did not take a very wise man to see that the Indians were running the mill to suit themselves. Major Chaffee had been relieved and sent to Fort McDowell and a man named Tiffany, a civilian, was agent. There were no troops at the Agency and things looked a good deal more like a hostile Indian camp than did the camp of Geronimo when we had gone to have the talk with him the year before in Mexico.
A man named Stirling was Chief of Police at the Agency and he had eleven police to keep the peace of the Agency. They worked for the Interior Department and not for the War Department.
Stirling was absolutely without fear and an able and intelligent scout, but what could he do toward handling 5,000 or 6,000 wild or half wild Indians with but eleven police? These police were Indians, and would have been splendid men had they had any show; but as things were, they were disgusted.
Tiffany, the agent, was so busy selling the Indians’ rations to freighters, prospectors and to merchants in Globe and McMilenville, that Indian troubles did not bother him in the least. Major Chaffee had accumulated a large amount of rations during his time as agent, and all the store houses were full of rations when Tiffany took charge. Tiffany was a very industrious and business-like politician, and immediately commenced to disburse that grub at the rate of $5.00 for a hundred pounds of flour, and $10.00 a hundred for sugar. That was dirt cheap in that country at that time, but Mr. Tiffany soon found himself arrested and taken before the United States Court at Tucson, and I think was charged with not being able to account for $54,000.00 worth of rations. This all happened in six or eight months. Nothing was ever done to him that I remember of, though he was in the courts for several years with this business.
An Indian Outbreak
Such was the condition of affairs at the Agency itself, so it was small wonder that in the spring of ’80, Ju came up from the renegades in Mexico and brought one hundred men with him to take Loco and his band back to Mexico. I was living five miles above the Agency and the Chiricahua camp was half-way between me and the Agency. I think it was May 5th, 1880, that this out- break occurred.
There were supposed to be about 700 Indians belonging to Loco’s camp, but no one knew the exact number. The settlers in the country said there was a continuous string of Indians going and coming from Mexico to San Carlos, and I think such was the case. Personally I do not know, for I was at San Carlos all the time.
At daylight, or a very little after, I heard a lot of firing at the Chiricahua camp. There were Indians camped all around me, and they began to arm themselves, and in about ten minutes word came in that the Chiricahuas were leaving for the war path. There were “things doin'” then for sure. In a very few minutes all the Indians around my camp were ready. Of course we did not want to fight, as the Bronks, (as we called the Chiricahua) far out-numbered us.
Across the Gila Valley rose a big spire of iron ore, or rather a good many of them, making an ideal fortification, and there we all went. It was a fine fort, its prominence giving us an excellent view of the country, and as the Bronks had to pass along directly under us, it gave us such a view as even few Indian scouts have a chance to see.
Just as the sun came up, here they came. Great droves of horses and mules were strung out for about a mile and a half. There must have been 5,000 head of them. Squaws and Indian children everywhere, driving the stock. Of course they had their camp outfits. The squaws were all yelling at the children, and the children all yelling at the loose stock. A small bunch of perhaps twenty warriors was in front, and behind was the main band of warriors.
Stirling had heard the outbreak just at daylight, as I had. He was at the Agency. He jumped on his horse, and with one Indian policeman, a captive called Navajo Bill, he rode right into the Chiricahua camp. He “never smiled again,” as he was killed just as he came up the bank of the San Carlos River. A squaw cut his head off. He was shot about seventy-five or one hundred times. Navajo Bill escaped, but how, one can scarcely tell, for he was right with Stirling.
Navajo Bill swung back toward the Agency and the rest of the police came to him, and again they rode at the Chiricahuas, and one more policeman was killed. There were at least two hundred Chiricahua warriors, and these police (there were only seven of them when they came up to where I was) kept right up with the Broncos, and killed one of them just below and in plain sight of myself and the party with me.
After this Chiricahua was killed, the rest of them seemed to think that something must be done, so they threw out several little bunches of men, about five or six in a bunch, and they dropped into gulches and in the grass and willows. The police saw this and went to high ground and stopped.
The Chiricahua were about half an hour passing the point where I was located. Some of the warriors in the rear guard stopped and looked at us for a minute or two, but I could not hear what they were saying. They were not more than three hundred yards from us. We on our part made no attempt to fire on them, and for my part I was glad to see them leave us alone. They could not have hurt us much where we were, as we had a fine place, and there were fourteen men with me, all of whom said there was no danger of the Indians firing on us.
As soon as the Bronks had all passed and gone, I went to the Agency and found a very confused state of affairs. There were no troops. Stirling, the Chief of Police and main-stay of the Agency, was killed. The Indians had cut the telegraph wire running into the Agency, and the chief clerk in charge of the Agency was only a tenderfoot, and he thought all the Indians on the Reservation had gone on the war path. There were lots of guns and ammunition at the Agency, and the chief clerk was giving a rifle and ammunition to every Indian buck who wanted one. The Indians at the Agency and below the Agency knew that it was only an outbreak of the Chiricahuas, but they were taking all the guns and ammunition they could get. The chief clerk kept no account of the guns, and did not know to whom he had given them, and very few, 7 of them, did he ever get back.
We could get no news from anywhere, and it was necessary to inform the troops as soon as possible, so I started up to Camp Thomas, thirty-two miles up the river and in the direction in which the Bronco Indians had gone. I got up there by 10:00 o’clock, for I rode fast.
The commanding officer at Camp Thomas had gotten the news that there was something wrong, but he could get no news from San Carlos, and when I got into Camp Thomas there was a squad of soldiers all ready to start toward San Carlos to see if they could learn what the trouble was. These men were at the Adjutant’s office all ready to go when I rode into the Post.
Sieber was there talking to some Indians, and all those Indians knew was that the Indians down the riverhad signalled that there was trouble from the Chiricahuas. Apaches can signal for a long ways when there is trouble, but they can not give details by their signals.
There were only two troops of cavalry at Camp Thomas, but their telegraph was all right, and troops all over the Department were soon notified. The Gila River was swollen, and I had to swim it to get to Camp Thomas, but I swam it at San Carlos (San Carlos and Fort Thomas now abandoned are both on the Gila river).
It was a sure thing the renegades would have to keep east toward the upper Gila, as the river was so high they would not attempt to cross it unless forced to by the troops. Sieber made arrangements for the troops to come toward Ash Creek, and he and I again swam the river, and struck out toward that part of the country he thought they would come through. We thought that it was before them, and so it proved to be.
On Ash Flats, about twelve miles from Camp Thomas and about twenty-five miles from San Carlos, we could see the dust they raised. There were so many of them they could not travel fast. They were handicapped by the hundreds of extra horses they had. We got on top of what was called Green’s Hill, and watched the big dust which was, maybe, two and a half miles away. Sieber said they would all scatter that night and go in small bunches toward Mexico and all come together again close to the line.
While we were looking at the dust to our left (they were in a swale, so we could not see the Indians themselves), we saw six Indians coming straight toward us, about five hundred yards away.
They were coming to get on Green’s Hill themselves, apparantly, but they saw us just as we saw them. They turned around and rode into a gulch that led off toward the main band of Indians. They were videttes [mounted sentries positioned to observe the movements of the enemy], for a large body of renegades when they are traveling keep out guards on all sides and before and behind.
All that Sieber and I could do was to watch them. Sieber had told the troops at Thomas how to come on the Eagle Creek trail, and that we would find them that night. The way the troops were directed to go, they would be about twenty miles from where we were then some time during the night; so Sieber said we would go and join the troops, but that we would have to wait till the Indians split up, for all the troops in Camp Thomas could not stop that bunch of Indians and that it would be several days before any more troops could join us.
We pulled out for where our troops were to come. They were guided by Micky Free, and he was so reckless and loved to fight so well that he would have led those two troops right into any kind of a trap. Micky knew he could get the troops into any kind of a trap and come out all right himself, for the fellow seemed to bear a charmed life.
We struck the troops as we expected, that night, and Sieber told the officer in command how things were. Gatewood, (that was his name) said that if we could strike them the next day he would “try them a lick.” He said, “We may not be able to lick them, but we will try it if we can find them.”
So we did. We struck them and got six men killed in a minute. Sieber told Gatewood that the warriors we were trying to whip were better men than his soldiers in any place that we could strike them. We buried our dead men and made arrangements to send the wounded back to Camp Thomas, and we had only thirty-six soldiers left. Gatewood was shot in the shoulder, but he would not go back.
By the time we started again it was getting late in the day, so, as the Indians were some distance ahead by this time, Sieber, Micky Free and I started on and left the troops to come more leisurely.
We three got over on the head of Eagle Creek late that night, and the next morning we found that the Indians had broken up into small bands and they left about a thousand head of stock on the head of Eagle Creek. They did not abandon them because they had to do so, but because they did not care for them. I forgot to say that we got about two hundred head of horses where we struck them the day before. From that time on they left a string of horses behind them. Most of the animals were played out.
Gatewood took these horses and turned back. It took all his men to handle the stock. Sieber, Micky and I went on after the Indians, knowing that more troops would come in to try to join us from Fort Baird and the New Mexico country.
By the middle of the afternoon we were again in sight of the Indians as they crossed the divide onto Blue River. So we kept along and passed the Indians that night, at least, the bunch of them that we were following. We went over toward Clifton that night and next day rode into the town and found that they knew the Indians were out and that everybody in the country had come into the little towns around [there]. We decided we would go on over to the Stein’s Peak Mountains, as we knew the Indians were sure to come that way. We heard some soldiers had gone toward Ash Springs, so Sieber told me to go and get them and camp them at Cottonwood and Indian Springs, and at a place called Horse Camp.
I started and found the troops at Ash Springs, but they were pretty well worn out and they wanted to rest their horses a while. I had gotten a couple of good horses at the Rail N. Ranch and was pretty well fixed for a mount. We did not leave Ash Springs till night, and it was morning as we pulled into Whitlock’s. As we were watering our horses, I noticed that the cattle were running up above us, and there were the Indians.
They were just coming around a point, and as I saw them they saw the soldiers. The soldiers started to deploy skirmishers on foot, and the Indians turned and ran up on a rocky point and gave us a good big stand-off.
I had told this officer (I do not recollect his name) of how we got whipped over on the other side of the Gila, and he said all he wanted me to do was to show him Indians.
This lieutenant had run behind the ruins of an old adobe house, and was directing his men to get the horses out of range of the Indians. I saw the Indians separating into bunches, and I heard one of them directing the other how to go and get a position on high ground, and drive us away, so their outfit could get into water. I told the officer what the Indians were saying, and what they were going to do, and he said: “Damn ’em! If they want this water they can have it, for it is strong alkali and warm to boot.”
So we all mounted and rode down into the flat and let the Indians come in to water. Had we not left, the Indians would have gotten the whole works of us.
The Indians, after about an hour, came down towards us for a ways with their entire outfit, and then swung up the San Simon Valley, and the bucks dropped behind so as to keep between us and the squaws. They were headed towards Doubtful Canyon, and so I told the officer in charge of the troops. That poor fellow did not know what to do. The Indians outnumbered us and could whip us, and I told him so; and I had previously told him of the way Gatewood made his fight with no show to win, and got six men killed and eleven wounded. So, as we could not do anything to the Indians after they had gone, we struck out in the same direction, keeping them or their dust in sight. I knew that there were plenty of soldiers out after the Indians, and that there would be one or more troops of cavalry after each band of Indians, and I thought all the rest of them would be in the same fix as ourselves. This I told the lieutenant; so we then wanted to find more soldiers.
Things proved to be exactly as I had an idea they would be. When we got up to Indian Springs, in the Stein’s Mountains, the Indians turned from the open valley directly into the Stein’s Mountains towards the head of Doubtful Canyon.
Hostile Indians from the upper Gila country would nearly always come through that section of the country, as it was decidedly an Indian rendezvous, and from Stein’s Mountains to the Mexico line there were neither settlements nor forts.
As the Indians turned into the mountains we saw there was quite a commotion among them, and shortly after we heard firing over on the east side of the mountains.
Our Indians had heard it first, as they were a couple of miles closer to the firing. It proved to be Sieber and Micky Free, with three small bunches of soldiers they picked up, and had come up with two more bunches of Indians that had separated at the head of Eagle Creek.
The firing continued for about an hour. The Indians we were following went directly towards the firing and we did the same. We were a mile from our band, and some of the guard for the Indians were not over half a mile from us. When we got to the top of the divide we could see there was a fight on between the troops and the Indians on the other side, so we went as fast as we could to join them.
It was getting late, and was just about sundown when we got to the part of the troop where there were two dead soldiers and five wounded ones. The main command was just drawing off, and as it was night, and all of the cavalry horses were about played out, or at least well jaded, camp was made there in what was called Cottonwood.
We were all tired and hungry, and the first thing we did was to get something to eat. Micky Free and I lay down and went to sleep as soon as we got something to eat.
Forty Soldiers and Twenty-five Scouts Against Three Hundred Chiricahua
About 11 or 12 o’clock Sieber came and woke us up, and told us to get our horses and be ready to go with him on after the Indians. I asked Sieber what was the use to go monkeying along after those Indians by ourselves when all the soldiers could not handle them.
Sieber spoke to me in a language more liable to be called forcible than elegant, and told me that the action or scarcity of soldiers was no concern of mine; that if they could not whip the Indians, that did not concern me or him; that I was a Government scout and he was my chief, and that he could not command the Department and get sufficient troops on hand to whip the Indians. “But,” said he, “I can and will keep up with the Indians, and you and Micky must come.” Sieber was mad, and anyone that knew him and worked under him would soon come to do as he said no questions asked.
I was tired and sleepy, but here was this old, gray-headed, iron-hearted man who had been at work while I was asleep; for, during the time that we drew away and made camp and got something to eat, he had gone on foot and noted which way the Indians went. Then he had come back and gotten something to eat, and woke Micky and me to go on. Sieber at this time was fifty-five years old; but, as I said once before, in a case of this kind he never seemed to want to sleep, and he did not get a chance to eat afterward.
We rode all night across and up the San Simon Valley, and Sieber said the Indians would strike the Chiricahua Mountains at Turkey Creek, or go far as Cane Creek.
At sun-up we were not more than ten miles behind the Indians, for they had gone just as Sieber said they would.
Where the Turkey Creek comes out of the Chiricahua Mountains the ground is higher than it is out in the valley where we were, and we could see the Indians going in on Turkey Creek. They made a terrific dust, and it was seen plainly by the soldiers we had left in the night, a distance of thirty-five or forty miles.
The Indians went into camp on Turkey Creek and stayed there all day. They had out guards on all sides. We (Sieber, Micky Free and I) camped on a little gulch that ran into Turkey Creek. There was a spring at the head of this gulch on a mesa, and we could see for quite a good distance around us. The Indian camp was about two miles above us. Some of the Indian pickets were in sight of us most of the time. Sieber said they would not molest us if we did not go right up to their camp, and this we had no idea of doing.
By 10 o’clock that morning we could distinctly see the dust of our troops coming across the San Simon Valley. The dust sprang into sight all at once, and the Broncos saw it at the same time that our party did.
We heard a great yell up at the hostile camp when this big dust was first sighted. It was still about twenty-five miles off. After we saw this dust, Sieber told Micky and me to keep awake and on the lookout, for he was going to take a little sleep.
We did keep a good eye open, but we were not molested. Our horses were very tired, but each of us had two horses, and that gave us a great advantage over the troops.
Somewhere about four o’clock in the evening the troops pulled in and went into camp about three miles below the Indians, on Turkey Creek. The cavalry horses were very tired and warm, and it took some time to get them watered. A consultation was held by all the officers and scouts. Pat Kehoe had come up with the soldiers, having overtaken them during the day. Pat said there were only bucks in the party, with the exception of a few squaws to tend camp. Sieber, Micky and I had not seen any of the camps made by them since they split up on Eagle Creek, and I saw only bucks at Whitlock’s, and as the bunch that had come together did not have the least fear of us, we thought that we were following the warriors, and that they were making a play to keep all the troops after them; that the most of the women and children and a few of the best warriors had kept a little behind, and calculated to drop in behind the troops, and so get into Mexico unmolested.
The Indians were swarming on the hills above us, but did not act as though they were going to attack.
Sieber said they were breaking camp and pulling out again to travel all night, and that the Indians in sight just wanted to take a look at us before they left. By 6 o’clock they had all gone, and Sieber told Micky and me to get ready to follow them.
After dark we pulled out for a place called Cloverdale, as Sieber said that would be the next stopping place of the Indians. Sieber was mad, and would not talk for a long time. We were crossing the head of the San Simon Valley and swinging well east again.
About midnight we stopped to change horses. Sieber commenced to talk to me. Micky asked him to talk Spanish so he could understand. Sieber had his roasting talk on.
“What is the use,” he said, “for us to be monkeying along here after these Indians. There never will be soldiers enough to catch up with us to whip them, for there are at least two hundred of them; this division of the party are no doubt led by Natchez and Chihuahua, and man for man in the rough country they can easily whip any troop in the world, for they will never come into an engagement unless they have far the best of the ground; and if it comes to a pinch they can abandon everything and go on foot, and then no one could do anything with them. I have reported to the Department Commander a half dozen times during the winter that these Indians would break out as soon as spring came, and I have pointed out to him that he had no transportation for his troops, and that there was no preparation made to pursue them when they did go. Now, you see how it is.
“There are those soldiers we just left. They have no grain for their horses, and very little or no rations for themselves. And here we are ‘piking’ along after these fellows just as though we were doing some good.
“Boys,” went on Sieber, “this outbreak means a long war, and there will come a time when there will be, some kind of organization for the soldiers in the field. They must have transportation in the shape of wagons and pack trains, and camps must be established at TurkeyCreek and Cane Creek and Cloverdale, where we are headed now, and at every other prominent place somewhere near here, or near the line of Mexico. Our present Department Commander doesn’t understand these things, and he doesn’t understand anything about Indians. Now, you boys can plainly see what I am explaining to you. We are perfectly harmless to the Indians, and they know it as well as we do.
“There is always one thing a man can do under circumstances of this kind, and that is, just go on and keep in touch with both the soldiers and Broncos. We are merely scouts, and can only show the soldiers how and where to go. After we get them up to the Indians, we can do no more, for it is the commissioned officer who commands the troops and not the scouts. You boys do as I tell you, and while the soldiers may be censured by the President and the people, if we do our part everyone will know it, and we will never be blamed.”
Sieber felt better after he had had a good growl; said he was a fool to expect anything else, and that was an end to his growl.
Daylight found us on a hill overlooking Cloverdale, and the whole place seemed alive with Indians. Sieber said they had been joined by another big band, or had run into them there at Cloverdale. The Mexico line was about a mile south of Clover-dale. Sieber said we would stay and watch the Indians all day, and that in the evening the hostiles would cross over into Mexico. “And in a day or two after they are gone,” he added, “there will be troops enough here to whip them, but they [the Apaches] will be in Mexico and perfectly safe, as no army officer would think of crossing the line, as he would lose his commission if he did.”
We stayed close to the Indians to see what was to be seen, for that was all we could do. Sieber es- timated there were five hundred of them. We could see dozens of women and children who had joined our bunch during the night, or had been at Cloverdale when our band got there.
Along about three o’clock in the evening we saw they were getting ready to go, and as some of the advance guard started off in an easterly direction, we got ready and struck out that way, knowing the main band of Indians would cross still further east. We figured that there was still a big band that had not arrived yet; they were evidently waiting for the entire bunch before crossing into Mexico. This advance guard showed us that they were all going towards a place on the line, or close to the line, called Aqua Blanco. We pulled out in the same direction, leaving the main bunch of Indians to come later, as we knew they would.
They could all have crossed the line right where they were camped, at Cloverdale, but a short distance south in Mexico the country grew very rough, and was hard for a big band of Indians to get through and all of them keep together, and if they went over by Aqua Blanco, they could cross over into Mexico and have good open country to travel in. Also, from Cloverdale, the San Luis Pass opened through the San Luis Mountains into a large open country or plain in Mexico called Llano de Janos, or Janos Plains. Any Indians that had kept farther up the Gila would naturally come in from the east and turn down this plain by the Aqua Blanco.
Well, what they did do was this: The main bunch went through the San Luis Pass, and the picket or advance guard went over to Aqua Blanco, striking the trail of Indians who had come from farther east and gone into Mexico ahead of them. The pickets may have struck some of the Indians belonging to the eastern band, for at night everything in sight was in Mexico and all headed, so we calculated, towards the Sierra Media, in Mexico. From a spur of the San Luis Mountains we could distinctly see four bands crossing into Mexico at sundown.
Sieber swore softly, and seemed, in a gratified, knowing way, not to care much. When it was dark we turned back and went towards Cloverdale again.
At Cloverdale we struck some new soldiers, and they had a pack train and some grub and grain with them. Major Tupper was in command, and as scouts he had Sage and some twenty Apaches. His troop consisted of more than forty men, and Major Tupper was glad to see us. His Apache scouts had informed him that we were in the country, but that we were most likely on the flank of the Broncos.
These scouts had seen our trail and followed it a short distance, and they could see by the route we took that we were on the lookout, watching to the south towards where the hostiles would naturally be.
All the elevations that we rode onto commanded a view south, and had our trail been made by the Bronco pickets, the elevations that we rode over would have been places that commanded a view to the north, whence troops were likely to come. On one high point, where these scouts of Tupper’s turned back, they found a quid of chewing tobacco; they were then satisfied it was Sieber, and they knew Micky and I would be with him.
Major Tupper was an old Civil War veteran and he wanted to “get a lick at the Indians.” He had rations for twenty-five days more, and was not trying to get back to the Post by the easiest route. While the men got us up a really good meal, he made a good many inquiries about the country to the south, Mexico. Sieber thought at first the old man was just talking, but after we got through eating Tupper kept on talking. Sage said to Micky in Apache, that the old Captain, meaning Tupper, was not afraid to cross the Mexico line in pursuit of the Broncos.
Sieber understood what Sage said and he turned to Major Tupper and inquired, “Is that so, Major?”
Tupper asked him what was so. Then Sieber, seeing that Tupper could not have understood Sage and the Indians, asked him if he cared to cross the line after the Indians.
Tupper did not want to talk before the soldiers and scouts, so he and Sieber went off out of camp and had a talk. In about half an hour they came back; Tupper gave command to “Get-a-going,” and in about an hour we pulled out for Mexico. It was about three o’clock in the morning.
Sieber and Major Tupper seemed to have settled the thing between themselves. I finally ventured a word at Sieber, and asked him if that old man thought he could whip three hundred Chiricahua braves with forty soldiers and twenty-five scouts.
“Why, the old man is crazy to get a chance,” said Sieber, “We must be very careful and not let him get too many of his men killed.”
Before sunup we went into camp in the rough hills, but Sieber, and not Tupper, was running things then. Every horse was kept in the low places and not allowed to go on top of any ridge or hill. Soldiers were all made to keep under cover. Sieber put some of the Apache scouts to watch the soldiers and keep them out of sight, for if we were to strike the Broncos it must be a surprise to them, for, as Sieber said: “If we try to surprise them and they surprise us, we are gone fawn skins.”
Sieber took Micky and me about 9 o’clock in the morning and we went on to try to locate the Indians. We felt sure they were camped at the Sierra Media.
This Sierra Media means “Middle Mountain,” and is a very rough, small mountain in the middle of the Janos plains. On the west side of this mountain was a fine, big spring. At that time of year there was bound to be lots of water and it took lots of water for that bunch of Indians when they were all together. There we felt sure the Indians would camp, for they were tired, and their stock was all tired, and the place was inside of the Mexican line, about twenty miles. The Indians knew we dared not cross the line, so they would feel perfectly safe, but it was necessary to use a great deal of caution in attacking them, for if we made a mistake they would kill all of us.
When we got within six or seven miles of the place where we thought they would be, we went up on a big hill and, Sieber took out a telescope he had borrowed from Tupper, and as it was a long concern, two or three feet long, we built up a pile of rocks and threw some limbs on them to disguise the rocks. Then we strung out that old telescope and focused it on the point of the Sierra Media where the water was. We had to build this rest for the telescope so we could steady it to see well. Sieber lay down and looked a long time; then told me to take a look. I did so, and there were the Indians and horses as natural as could be.
“Now,” said Sieber, “all we’ve got to do is to ‘ketch ‘em.”
To be continued…