BY TOM HORN
Originally published in 1904
I had been working since early in the spring of 1880 [as a scout and interpeter for the U.S. Cavalry on the Mexico border] and had not received any pay and [Chief of Scouts] Sieber had had a good deal of correspondence about it. When we got back to Camp Apache I was informed by the Quarter-master that my pay was all straightened out and was at San Carlos, for me to go there without delay and get it…
Along early in 1881, while I was camped about twelve miles above San Carlos, Indians kept complaining to me about Mexicans stealing their horses, and wanted me to do something about it. I rode down to the Agency and saw Sieber, and asked him what I could do.
“Organize your ‘Injins,’ and the next time any horses are stolen, go after them,” he said.
I went back up to camp and called up all the sub- chiefs, and from them learned that Mexicans had come in on the Reservation on two different occasions, stolen horses (always taking the best war ponies), and headed, on both occasions, towards the source of Turkey Creek, keeping on to the Mexican settlements on the Little Colorado River.
I then made arrangements for six different Indians to keep up a good horse apiece each night, so they could be gotten early in the morning, and for them to keep that up until more horses were stolen, and to let me know as soon as possible after the horses were taken.
Along in February word came in, about dawn one morning, that the Mexicans had stolen a bunch of horses and gone. In ten minutes after the word came in I was started with two men, the way the Mexicans had been seen going, about an hour before daylight, by some squaws that were camped up in the hills gathering muscal. By sunup there were six of us on the trail of the horses. We soon saw they were not more than a couple or three miles ahead of us, and then we concluded they would come up out of the cañon close to Turkey Springs. One of my men said there was a trail we could get over that we could make a cut-off and either overtake them or get ahead of them. These Turkey Springs were on top of the mountains, and the Mexicans would have a downhill swing from there, if they could make it. The Government road also ran by the springs.
We took the cut-off on the Mexicans and got in ahead of them all right, just at the Turkey Springs. The first the Mexicans knew, we were ahead of them. I yelled to one of them to surrender. He started to run, ran right up to one of my men and was killed. The other two Mexicans were killed also, but one of them ran about half a mile before the Indians got him. Finally, my men came back and said they had killed the last one over in the head of the gulch, and had his horse, saddle and gun. The horse, by the way, was a war horse belonging to one of the Indians.
About this time, Indians who had started later than we did began to come in, and some of them had been close enough to hear the shooting. Half an hour after we got to Turkey Springs we had all the horses, and the three Mexicans were dead. Everybody felt good, and as two of the dead Mexicans were close to the springs, and one of them was off some distance, one of the bucks said he did not get there in time to help kill them, but that he and his partner would go and drag the one up that was over in the head of the next gulch. So away they went.
I wanted to bury the Mexicans, but the Indians said, “No, let them lie by the side of the road here at the springs, and any other Mexicans coming along will see them, and, as all Mexicans are horse-thieves, when they see these dead Mexicans they will decide that it is not good to steal Apache horses!”
Just then we heard the tramp of cavalry horses, and, as they were on the Government road, I got on my horse and went to meet them, for by this time there was a large bunch of Indians at the springs.
It proved to be the ambulance of General Wilcox and his escort. He was making a round of the Government posts with the department inspector. They were right on us, and came on up to the springs, as they were going to stop there for feed and lunch. Of course, the first things they saw were the two dead Mexicans, and, as I had never met General Wilcox personally, so that he knew me, I told him who I was, and he said, “Yes, yes.”
Then he saw the dead Mexicans and asked me what it meant, and where the troops were, and I was telling him how it all came up, but I could see that he was mad. To make bad matters worse, just then up came the two Indians who had gone after the Mexican in the next gulch, and now they came, dragging him, with each of them a rope tied to the dead Mexican’s feet. General Wilcox did not know at first what they were dragging, but as Indians and soldiers gathered around the newly arrived, the General saw what it was.
I was trying to explain it all to him, but he did not want any explanation, and oh, what a raking he did give me!
I can’t remember all the things he said of me, but none of them were very complimentary, and perhaps that is the reason I can’t remember them.
Among other things, he said it was no wonder there was so much turbulence on the Reservation, when a white man of my position and influence with the Indians tolerated such things as this. “And not only do you tolerate it,” he said, “but I believe you encourage it. I have a notion to have you arrested by my escort and take you to Camp Thomas and put you in irons.”
I wanted to explain it all to him, but he would not let me talk, and would keep telling me not to talk back to him, but he would not quit upbraiding me. I was getting pretty tired of it, so I thought as Sieber always swore and raised Cain when he got in trouble that I would try the same game on Wilcox. I tore loose at him, and I did my best to equal Sieber or Major Chaffee, but I was a novice in the art compared with such accomplished veterans. Still, I could see I was making an impression, so I kept on and “gave him the other barrel,” and really I guess I did pretty well. My Indians all came around, and, while they did not understand one word that was being spoken, they knew I was mad, or they thought I was, and they knew it must be the horse thieves that had caused the trouble; at any rate, they were with me heart and soul.
General Wilcox was a fine-look-ing soldier. An old man he was at this time; his hair was perfectly white. He was dressed in civilian’s clothes, and the Indians knew he must be a man of importance, but it did not make any difference to them who he was, for they were with me, body and soul.
I guess I swore and tore along at a pretty fair rate, for the old man seemed paralyzed for a while. Then he ordered the officer of the escort to drive me and the Indians out of camp. We started in a minute after we got the order, and then General Wilcox called me back and said: “What are you going to do with those dead Mexicans?” I told him I guessed we would leave them, as we had no use for them at camp. He ordered his escort to bury them, and then told me to skip, and said he would take my case up with Sieber, my Chief of Scouts.
Every time I would start off, he would call me back and have some more words with me, but he kept getting in a better humor all the time, and finally wound up by asking me to stay to lunch with them! This I could not do, as I had all my braves, who would have had to go hungry; and, though it was now noon, I explained to the General that we had all had to start before breakfast, and were as hungry as wolves; that, though it was forty miles to camp, we did not think much of the return rider.
General Wilcox then called the officer in charge of the escort and made some inquiries about the rations, and we were given a sack of flour and some bacon. This I told the Indians to cook and eat, and in a short time we were all eating.
General Wilcox had his youngest son with him, and the boy was looking at a fancy buckskin bag one of the Indians had; was admiring it and wanted to buy it. I spoke to the Indian, telling him to give the bag to the boy, but to take nothing for it. The Indian then gave the boy the bag. Young Wilcox insisted on giving the donor a dollar, but the Indian spoke to the other Indians to get in a bunch. This they did, for they well understood the game proposed. The Indian who had given the bag then crowded into the bunch of Indians.
The Indians immediately scattered out again, and young Wilcox did not know which of the Indians had given him the trinket. This caused a big laugh among the soldiers and Indians, and, as the whole outfit was now ready for the road again, after bidding us good-bye, and after being told by General Wilcox that maybe I understood the Indian question better than he did, they pulled out, cheered to the echo by my outfit.
Charley Wilcox, the boy who was with his father, General Wilcox, on that trip, is now the business manager for William Cook Daniels, of the old firm of Daniels & Fisher, Denver, Colorado. He was for several years a reporter on a Denver newspaper.
We all got on our horses and struck out for camp as soon as the soldiers left, and it was late when we got back, as we rode slowly, having ridden very hard in the morning. Our ponies had gotten a couple of hours’ rest while we were at Turkey Springs, but we were forty miles from camp.
The next day I went down to the Agency and told Sieber the whole thing just as it happened of the row and reconciliation with General Wilcox. Sieber said I was doing well for a boy! To get such a complimentary letter from the Department Commander one month, and to fall out with him the next was a good way to keep the Government in mind that there was, in their employ, such a man as Tom Horn!
Nothing more was ever done or said about any of that affair so far as I ever heard, but we lost no more ponies by Mexican horse thieves.
Sieber and Horn, “An Armed Force,” Invade Mexico
There was nothing more doing until April, when Sieber was ordered to bring me, come around by Camp Apache, report to the commanding officer; to go from there to Camp Verde, report there, and then to come on to Fort Whipple and report to the commanding officer there. We were instructed to take all the time we wanted, and to look well over the Reservation, so as to be able to report the condition of affairs to the commanding officer at Fort Whipple on our arrival there.
We took three horses apiece and struck out. It was a delightful trip, and we enjoyed it to the limit.
When we got out of the White Mountains and out among the settlers in Pleasant Valley and Green Valley and Strawberry Valley, and on the Verde River, we were treated by the settlers to everything they had to give us, and we lived fat and enjoyed the trip as I never enjoyed a visit before nor since. Sieber was a great favorite with all the settlers, and I was called “Sieber’s boy,” so, for ourselves, on that trip all was lovely.
At Camp Apache, when we reported there, we were just told to go on, but at Camp Verde we were told by the adjutant to wait there for further orders. We stayed at Camp Verde about six weeks, and were then ordered back to San Carlos, and to go in a leisurely manner and to keep a good lookout among the settlers of the Tonto Basin to see if any of them had been molested by the Indians during the spring and summer.
Before we left Camp Verde we had heard that General George Crook was coming to take command of the Department of Arizona. Sieber was glad of it, as he said Crook was a good Indian man.
We had been waiting for a long time to hear some news of the Chiricahuas, in Mexico, but, beyond a few reports that they had been raiding in Mexico, we did not know anything of them. We got back to San Carlos in July, and, for the first time since the Chiricahuas broke out, we heard of them. A bunch of raiders had come back up from Mexico, killed a man close to Stein Peak, crossed over within ten miles of Fort Bowie, killed a man and his son, and stolen a lot of horses at Theo White’s Kanch, then had gone down through Rucker Mountains and into Mexico again. It was said there were about twenty or twenty-five bucks in the party.
From San Carlos we were ordered to Fort Bowie as fast as possible. We got there two days afterward, and went over to Pinery Cañon, struck the trail and followed it back to the Mexico line. The Indians [had] crossed the line At the Guadaloupe Cañon; Sieber and I were alone, but, as the Indian trail was three days old, we had no cause for alarm.
The Sixth Cavalry were going to New Mexico, and the Third Cavalry were coming to Arizona, so rumor said; sure enough, that fall saw a great change in the Department. General Crook did not show up in person till the summer following, but he was running things, so it was said.
Sieber and I were now kept at Fort Bowie, and were given to understand that Bowie would be our headquarters from that time on. We got all our ponies together.
We had about twenty-five between us, and we hired an old Mexican to herd and look after them for us when we would be away.
Early in the spring of 1882 there was a bunch of renegades from Mexico [that] crossed the line at Dog Springs, and raided up within two miles of Deming, New Mexico; from there up on the Membres River and over within six miles of Silver City, then down toward the Gila settlements. The first man they killed was at the old Yorke Ranch, across from the Stein Mountains, and there they were run into by a bunch of cowboys who were after them.
These boys struck the Indians just at sundown. The Indians were led, some of them, by a white man named Jones, and the cowboys were led by a cowboy named Buck Tyson. They were trying to run up behind the Indians, as they would not get ahead of them. They did finally overtake some of the rear Indians, and had a little running scrap. One of the squaws had to drop her kid, which was eight or ten months old, and the white man, leader of one of the outfits, picked it up “captured it,” the cowboys said. All of the other Indians escaped in the fast gathering darkness; and as the pursuers’ horses were completely worn out with the long chase they all turned back home.
Sieber and I struck the trail of the renegades as they went back across the line. We ran upon them at the Hot Springs, just across the line. Sieber killed a buck, and I ran up and captured his squaw. We were alone, in Mexico, and as we decided we must hold our prisoner, we turned back, traveled all night and reached Camp Rucker, where we found a bunch of soldiers, and turned our catch over to them to take to the guard house at Fort Bowie.
Sieber and I both told the officers that we captured the squaw on the head of the Guadaloupe Cañon, in Arizona; but some of the Mexican guards found the body of the dead buck at Hot Springs, and found our trail leading back into the United States. Thereupon the Mexican Government again sent a protest to the American Govern-ment about “armed bodies of men” from the United States entering Mexico. We swore up and down when we were “jacked up” about it that it was in the United States where we got the squaw and killed the buck.
By the time this thing came to a head, the squaw had been sent to San Carlos from Fort Bowie, and the agent there asked her where she was captured, and shes aid: “Right at the Hot Spring.” Now, there is only one Hot Spring in that part of the country, and that is in Mexico.
Sieber and I were certainly “in the soup!”
Captain Smith was in command at Fort Bowie, and we were summoned from the southern part of the territory to report at Bowie immediately. The detachment of men who brought us the summons had been looking for us eight days, and had started back to Bowie, when we ran upon them, and they gave Sieber the dispatches from the comman-ding officer at Bowie. We questioned the officers who had the dispatch, as to what was wanted with us, and he said his orders were to scour the Mexican line till he found us and delivered those letters, and that was all he knew. We knew it was some more of that Hot Springs business, so we went on in with the soldiers.
When we got in and reported to the commanding officer, he told us to go over and report to the adjutant.
We went to the adjutant’s office and sent an orderly to tell the adjutant to come to the office, which he did immediately. We were called into his office, and he dismissed the clerk who was there. He then informed us that he had a very disagreeable duty to perform. I could tell Sieber was mad, for he knew it was some more of the Mexico business, and we were both tired of it.
The adjutant got out a great elaborate report of a military investigation that had been made by certain commissioned officers of the United States of America, or something about like that; that this investigation was instigated because of certain reports made by certain officers of the Mexican Government; that the Mexican Government claimed that an armed body of men from the United States of America had crossed the international line between the United States of America and Mexico without authority; that this was done in violation of some treaty or other, and the Mexican Government asked that such steps be taken by the proper au- thorities of the United States to prevent such things in the future.
“Now,” said the adjutant, “the officers who are making this investi-gation have found that you, Al Sieber, chief of scouts, and you, Tom Horn, scout and interpreter for the Department of War of these United States, did, as an armed body of men, cross this so-called inter-national line between the United States of America and the Republic of Mexico, and that you did this without the order or sanction of the military commander of this dis- trict, of which Fort Bowie is headquarters. The order of the commission that made this investigation is, that you be censured for the violation. “Gentlemen,” continued the adjutant, “that is all. Now, let’s go down to the sutler’s and get a drink, and you will please do me the honor to dine with me this evening at 7 o’clock.”
We gladly accepted the invita-tion to dinner; went down to the sutler store and [got] fixed up about the drink; then went and hunted up our greaser herder and turned our tired horses out. So ended the second invasion of Mexican territory by “armed bodies of men from the United States.”
What a hell of a row those greasers keep kicking up!” was Sieber’s comment. “We are in big luck, though, to get out of it so easily, because I told General Crook that we did not go into Mexico at all, and I guess he thought it was funny if I did not know where the line was, for I was at the head of the party that made the preliminary government survey through there.”
From Bowie, after our “repri-mand,” as we called it, we were ordered to report at San Carlos as soon as convenient. So, in a few days, we went up there. General Crook was coming to San Carlos, and was going to reorganize everything in the entire Department.
We stayed at San Carlos a couple of weeks before General Crook came down. He came by way of Camp Apache, and there were about a couple of thousand Indians following him. We are going to have a big Indian talk. And we did have a big Indian talk, and it lasted for a week.
Old Coaly and Suneriano did the interpreting. Sieber and General Crook would talk together all night, or a big part of it, and then General Crook would talk to the Indians all day. General Crook wanted to enlist Indian scouts to go after the Chiricahuas, and he wanted the support of the Indian chiefs to do so. The Indians, on their part, wanted to be started in the cattle business, and they knew that if they could get General Crook interested he would do it for them, or take the proper steps to have it done. A whole week it lasted, and then General Crook went back to Whipple, and Sieber and I went back to Bowie.
General Crook was at this time working to get a treaty fixed up between Mexico and the United States, so that we might cross the Mexican line in pursuit of the Indians. It seemed as though the matter had been referred by the Mexican Government to officers of the Mexican army in the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, in Mexico, and that Colonel Garcia had made a strong protest to the Mexican Government against the treaty, saying that, as military commander of the District of Gallajano, in the State of Chihuahua, which was the only part of the state infested with renegade Indians, was entirely under his control, and cited as a fact that he had killed two hundred, as he said, and captured one hundred in one fight; that he had understood the American troops had made some slighting remarks about his engagements with the Indians on that occasion, to the effect that he had let the men all get away, killing only women and children. He said, so Sieber understood from General Crook, that fully one-half, or more than one-half, of the Indians killed by him were grown men with arms of warfare in their hands, and, therefore, he did not consider there was any need for the Americans to come into Mexico. That report of Colonel Garcia had to be gotten over some way, and that way was being worked as fast as the red tape at Washington, D. 0., would permit.
Before we left San Carlos we took the squaw we had captured at the Hot Springs, in Mexico, out of the cala- boose and gave her a pony, and took her to Fort Bowie, and told her to go and find the Indians in Mexico, and tell them to send up some one to talk to General Crook.
We lay around on the border for several months waiting for a messenger from the hostiles in Mexico, or from our treaty with Mexico. There was nothing doing.
Sieber and I went over to Tombstone and stayed a week to break the monotony, and we did sure break it to a finish! We knew a great many men in camp, and everybody knew of us as members of the pioneer party that located the camp. Well, that trip to Tombstone was worse than any campaign we had been on yet. Every one of the pioneer party that we met had done well.
Some of them who were in the party did not do well, but we did not see any of them. Every one of them insisted on buying us a new suit of clothes and hats and six shooters and champagne. Wow! But it was, as old Ed Clarke told us, “a brave struggle we made,” but the combination was too strong and too swift for us. We left one morning about 3 o’clock, so as to avoid the rush.
We got the city marshal to bring our horses out behind a place they called the “Bird Cage;” he came in the cage and called us out “for a minute,” and we got on our horses and “hit the pike.”
Well, I think I am safe in saying that we were drunk, and as we were not allowed to drink anything but champagne, for my part, I did not get steady for ten days.
Geronimo’s “Talk Carrier”
The early part of 1883 began to start trouble. Pee- chee, a Chiricahua warrior, came in from the hostiles in Mexico, went to an Indian camp up on the San Carlos River, and told the Indians in camp that he wanted to be taken by them to the Agency, as he had a big talk to make.
These Indians took him to the Agency as he requested, and there he said he wanted to see General Crook, to have a big long medicine talk with him. The agent put the Indian in the guardhouse and put a close watch over him, and wired General Crook that this man said he was from Geronimo’s camp in the Sierra Madre in Mexico and had come to see and have a talk with him (General Crook).
The General wired from Fort Whipple, where he was, that he would start for San Carlos as soon as he could make arrangements to do so. He also wired to Fort Bowie for Sieber to meet him in San Carlos. Of course, Sieber and I had heard of this man’s coming in, and we knew that the squaw had gotten to the hostiles’ camp in Mexico. I mean the squaw Sieber and I cap- tured at the Hot Spring and over whom we got our, by this time, famous reprimand. The officers at Fort Bowie were forever joking about our “invasion of Mexico with an armed body of men” and our consequent repri- mand by the investigating committee.
We knew that this man who, in all Government dis- patches, was called “Peaches” was a messenger of more “peace.” Geronimo was one of the greatest and most eloquent talkers in the entire Indian tribe, and when he sent in word that he wanted to talk, he always said he wanted to talk “peace.” When there was war to be made he never had anything to say, but just went to war; but he could stay on the war path only so long, and then he would get all filled up with talk, and he would send to the Government to get some one to talk to. This is what the rest of the Indians always said of him.
We went to San Carlos, and in about a week General Crook reached there also. We got this Indian, Peaches, and took him to General Crook’s camp, and the prelimi nary part of the big talk was on!
Peaches said that his talk was all from Geronimo and no one else; meaning that such chiefs as Ju, Loco, Chihuahua and Natchez were not in the talk. He said Geronimo wanted to talk and wanted to surrender, and come back again to the Reservation and not go on the war-path any more. He wanted General Crook to come to Mexico with a good big body of troops and escort all the hostile Indians who wanted to come up to the San Carlos Reservation, in case terms could be agreed upon between Geronimo and General Crook. Geronimo said he knew American soldiers could now come into Mexico, for he told of the fight at Sierra Media and on Carretas Creek, where they ran upon Garcia, and he knew we followed that far, at that time. He also knew how Sieber and I alone struck the little bunch of Indians at the Hot Spring and knew that the Hot Spring was in Mexico.
So he said we would not have as an excuse that we could not cross the line any more, as we had crossed it whenever we liked. He said that in the talk Sieber and I had with him in the Terras Mountains, three years before, that Sieber had told him it was only a question of time when arrangements would be made between the American and Mexican Governments so that we could cross, and he knew those arrangements had been made or we would never have crossed the line. Geronimo said he was tired of the war path, and, in fact, made the same old talk as in former times.
We then turned the Indian loose, made arrangements for him to get his meals with the escort of General Crook and told him to be on hand again in the morning.
Sieber and General Crook then held a long talk by themselves and they did not know what to do under the circumstances. Negotiations were on foot to bring about the treaty to allow us to enter Mexico, but General Crook had not heard anything concerning them and did not know what progress had been made in the matter.
The General said he would wire Washington and see what he could learn. This he did, and the next day got a reply and an order to come to Washington immediately.
We concluded to turn the Indian loose for good, give him a horse and some grub, and we made arrangements for me to meet him in two moons at a place in the San Luis Mountains, Mexico. General Crook said he would give Geronimo his answer at that time.
The Indian was given a horse, and Sieber and I took him to the Mexico line and turned him loose; at least, there we left him, as he had been loose all the time. General Crook went to Washington, and when he returned Sieber and I were again summoned to meet him, but this time he came to Fort Bowie. The General sent me to meet the Indian at the appointed time, and I found him with a squaw at the place where he said he would meet me. I told him General Crook wanted him to come with me to Fort Bowie to get his message from the General in person. Peaches then took his woman off to one side, and I guess he told her what to say to Geronimo. Anyhow, he soon came back to me; the squaw got on her pony and pulled out south. Peaches and I got on our horses and struck out for Fort Bowie.
General Crook was waiting for us anxiously, and was greatly relieved when we came riding into the fort. We had a talk with him that same night. General Crook told him that he must go and tell Geronimo that he, the General, would get together an outfit big enough, to furnish an escort for all the Indians who wanted to come to the Reservation, and for Peaches to go and tell Geronimo this, and that our command would go directly to a place in the Sierra Madre called Rio Viejo, and for a guide to meet us at Rio Viejo to take us to Geronimo, wherever he happened to be. [The General] also sent word he wanted to take all the Chiricahuas. The Indian was again turned over to me to take back to the Mexican line, which I did.
When this Indian, Peaches, and I were together he would tell me anything I asked him and we got to be great friends. We understood that as far as we were personally concerned, that we did not amount to much, and at the same time we knew that we did amount to something as “Talk carriers,” as he called it.
I left the Indian at the head of the Guadaloupe Cañon and returned to Fort Bowie. There I found great preparations being made for our expedition into Mexico, but no one knew where we were going to. Many soldiers and oflieers had seen the Indian and me going and coming, but they did not know who nor what he was. I think the general supposition was that the Indian and I were spy- ing on the Chiricahuas, and that we were going to Mexico to surprise the Chiricahuas. I told all of them that I did not know where we were going and I did not know if I would go along or not, and gave them answers of all kinds except the truth.
Some report had come out in the newspapers that there had been some kind of an agreement entered into between certain ministers of the United States and Mexico. The article said that negotiations were instituted to get a regular treaty, but that the treaty could not be brought about and that in place of a treaty this was simply an agreement. Putting together what they knew and what they could guess at, they knew we were going to Mexico, but that is all they did know, and they were not sure we were going there. All cavalry, of which I think there were three troops, were ordered to take rations for sixty days. All the mules in the Quartermaster’s Department were turned into pack mules, and a couple of pack trains also came in from New Mexico.
All the scouts were brought from New Mexico and a good many Apache scouts were enlisted. After all the transportation had been put in shape, the packers wore laughing to think that they would not have scarcely any load.
The evening before we were to pull out, the Quartermaster sent down extra flour and sugar enough to load all the pack mules down to the guards. The extra flour and sugar were for the hostiles we were going to meet. At last we got under way and we headed direct for Mexico. It was amusing to hear the different surmises as to what we were going to do and as to where we were going. The troops we had were of the Third Cavalry. Lieutenant Gatewood of the Sixth Cavalry, was with us, and in command of the Apache scouts. Captain Emrnet Crawford of the Third Cavalry, was in command of the cavalry escort. We had five pack trains and about fifty Apache scouts.
We went down past what we now called Tupper’s Battle Ground, at the Sierra Media, and on to where Colonel Garcia had his famous fight, and then we crossed the Sierra Madre to get on the Yaqui River slope and over through Bavispe, a good big town, kept up by the guards of the custom department. (This town, I will say now, was shaken down to its very foundation by earthquakes in 1887).
On to the Hostile Camp
On we went, past the town of Baserac, only two leagues [6 miles] from Bavispe, and the earthquake that razed Bavispe to the ground only cracked one adobe wall in Ba serac.
From there we kept on down to Bacadebichi and over by Nacori, (where we buried Captain Crawford three years later, as I will relate later on.) There we left the Mexican settlements and turned into the Sierra Madre proper and crossed over to the Rio Viejo. There the command was camped for a couple of days till I could go up to the head of the river and see if I could find our man to guide us to the hostile camp. I looked two days for my man before I could run on him, and then I met him coming down the Rio Viejo. We returned to our camp and I found General Crook very uneasy for fear I had been taken in by the Indians.
Next morning we started for the hostile camp, guided by Peaches, who said it would take us five days more to get there. We kept out a very careful line of guards for the pack trains and soldiers. General Crook said he had no fear of treachery, but it was well to be careful.
It was a lovely country we were passing through. Limes grew wild most everywhere. On the second day from the camp on Rio Viejo we camped on a stream that our guide said was called “the stream with the old houses on it,” and for miles up and down the creek were peach trees by the thousand, all of them loaded down with fruit. Some of the peaches were as ripe as could be without rotting, but more of them were very green. The guide said there were ripe peaches there five months in the year. General Crook said we would name this place “The Peach Orchard.” There were many more streams in that part of the country with peaches on them, but none where there were so many as here.
There were lots of signs of Indians, and our guide said the whole outfit of hostiles had just left that part of the country.
The night before we got to the camp of Geronimo we were joined by about twenty Indians; young men and young women. One of them, who was in command of them, apparently, said that they were sent by Geronimo as a hostage, and that they should remain with us till after our big talk. They requested to be put under guard, but they were told by General Crook just to stay where Captain Crawford ordered them to stay.
We found Geronimo camped in one of the most lovely places one could imagine. He sent several men to show us where to camp, but we picked a camp to suit ourselves.
Geronimo, Ju, and old Loco came during the evening and paid their respects to General Crook and arranged for a big talk on the following morning.
A big talk it was, sure enough. General Crook had for his interpreters two Mexicans named Antonio Dias and Montoyo. Geronimo started the war talk by saying that these interpreters were of Mexican blood and that no Mexican was a man of word, meaning they could not speak true. He said that he wanted only peace and harmony in the big talk that was coming off, and that there would be many days of it, and that some of it would be of such a nature that only Geronimo and General Crook should know, and it would necessarily have to go through the mouth of an interpreter, and he much preferred that I should be the one to do the interpreting. He then went on and told of all the preliminary work that led up to this meeting, the part I had taken in all of it, and of the confidence the Government must have in me to have me attempt such an undertaking; that the “old mad white man” (meaning Sieber) had raised and trained me; that he knew Sieber to be a man of war and a man of truth, a man who could always be found in a peace council or leading a war party, and that I, as a pupil of such a man, must be a good man and a truthful one, and that I had come to his camp with Sieber on a former occasion to see and talk to him; and he said Antonio Dias was of the Apaches who were not truthful, and he finally wound up his harangue by saying that I was the only one who could do the interpreting.
To be continued…