Geronimo His Own Story
Part I: The Apaches
Part II: The Mexicans
Part III: The White Men
Part IV: The Old And The New
Part III: The White Men
In Prison And On The War Path
Soon after we arrived in New Mexico two companies of scouts were
sent from San Carlos. When they came to Hot Springs they sent word
for me and Victoria to come to town. The messengers did not say
what they wanted with us, but as they seemed friendly we thought
they wanted a council, and rode in to meet the officers. As soon
as we arrived in town soldiers met us, disarmed us, and took us
both to headquarters, where we were tried by court-martial. They
asked us only a few questions and then Victoria was released and
I was sentenced to the guardhouse. Scouts conducted me to the guardhouse
and put me in chains. When I asked them why they did this they said
it was because I had left Apache Pass.
I do not think that I ever belonged to those soldiers at Apache
Pass, or that I should have asked them where I might go. Our bands
could no longer live in peace together, and so we had quietly withdrawn,
expecting to live with Victoria's band, where we thought we would
not be molested. They also sentenced seven other Apaches to chains
in the guardhouse.
I do not know why this was done, for these Indians had simply followed
me from Apache Pass to Hot Springs. If it was wrong (and I do not
think it was wrong) for us to go to Hot Springs, I alone was to
blame. They asked the soldiers in charge why they were imprisoned
and chained, but received no answer.
I was kept a prisoner for four months, during which time I was
transferred to San Carlos. Then I think I had another trial, although
I was not present. In fact I do not know that I had another trial,
but I was told that I had, and at any rate I was released.
After this we had no more trouble with the soldiers, but I never
felt at ease any longer at the Post. We were allowed to live above
San Carlos at a place now called Geronimo. A man whom the Indians
called "Nick Golee" was agent at this place. All went
well here for a period of two years, but we were not satisfied.
In the summer of 1883 a rumor was current that the officers were
again planning to imprison our leaders. This rumor served to revive
the memory of all our past wrongs-the massacre in the tent at Apache
Pass, the fate of Mangus Colorado, and my own unjust imprisonment,
which might easily have been death to me. Just at this time we were
told that the officers wanted us to come up the river above Geronimo
to a fort (Fort Thomas) to hold a council with them. We did not
believe that any good could come of this conference, or that there
was any need of it; so we held a council ourselves, and fearing
treachery, decided to leave the reservation. We thought it more
manly to die on the war path than to be killed in prison.
There were in all about 250 Indians, chiefly the Bedonkohe and
Nedni Apaches, led by myself and Whoa. We went through Apache Pass
and just west of there had a fight with the United States troops.
In this battle we killed three soldiers and lost none.
We went on toward Old Mexico, but on the second day after this
United States soldiers overtook us about three o'clock in the afternoon
and we fought until dark. The ground where we were attacked was
very rough, which was to our advantage, for the troops were compelled
to dismount in order to fight us. I do not know how many soldiers
were killed, but we lost only one warrior and three children. We
had plenty of guns and ammunition at this time. Many of the guns
and much ammunition we had accumulated while living in the reservation,
and the remainder we had obtained from the White Mountain Apaches
when we left the reservation.
Troops did not follow us any longer, so we went south almost to
Casa Grande and camped in the Sierra de Sahuaripa Mountains. We
ranged in the mountains of Old Mexico for about a year, then returned
to San Carlos, taking with us a herd of cattle and horses.
Soon after we arrived at San Carlos the officer in charge, General
Crook, took the horses and cattle away from us. I told him that
these were not white men's cattle, but belonged to us, for we had
taken them from the Mexicans during our wars. I also told him that
we did not intend to kill these animals, but that we wished to keep
them and raise stock on our range. He would not listen to me, but
took the stock. I went up near Fort Apache and General Crook ordered
officers, soldiers, and scouts to see that I was arrested; if I
offered resistance they were instructed to kill me.
This information was brought to me by the Indians. When I learned
of this proposed action I left for Old Mexico, and about four hundred
Indians went with me. They were the Bedonkohe, Chokonen, and Nedni
Apaches. At this time Whoa was dead, and Naiche was the only chief
with me. We went south into Sonora and camped in the mountains.
Troops followed us, but did not attack us until we were camped in
the mountains west of Casa Grande. Here we were attacked by Government
Indian scouts. One boy was killed and nearly all of our women and
children were captured.
After this battle we went south of Casa Grande and made camp, but
within a few days this camp was attacked by Mexican soldiers. We
skirmished with them all day, killing a few Mexicans but sustaining
no loss ourselves.
That night we went east into the foot hills of the Sierra Madre
Mountains and made another camp. Mexican troops trailed us, and
after a few days attacked our camp again. This time the Mexicans
had a very large army, and we avoided a general engagement. It is
senseless to fight when you cannot hope to win.
That night we held a council of war; our scouts had reported bands
of United States and Mexican troops at many points in the mountains.
We estimated that about two thousand soldiers were ranging these
mountains seeking to capture us. General Cook had come down into
Mexico with the United States troops. They were camped in the Sierra
de Antunez Mountains. Scouts told me that General Crook wished to
see me and I went to his camp. When I arrived General Crook said
to me, "Why did you leave the reservation?" I said: "You
told me that I might live in the reservation the same as white people
lived. One year I raised a crop of corn, and gathered and stored
it, and the next year I put in a crop of oats, and when the crop
was almost ready to harvest, you told your soldiers to put me in
prison, and if I resisted to kill me. If I had been let alone l
would now have been in good circumstances, but instead of that you
and the Mexicans are hunting me with soldiers". He said: "I
never gave any such orders; the troops at Fort Apache, who spread
this report, knew that it was untrue". Then I agreed to go
back with him to San Carlos. It was hard for me to believe him at
that time. Now I know that what he said was untrue, and I firmly
believe that he did issue the orders for me to be put in prison,
or to be killed in case I offered resistance.
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