Marc Simmons: The Indian wars continued in New Mexico in 1881

A view from the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway in Cuchillo, New Mexico. Photo from Waymarking

Historian Marc Simmons recounts a battle between Apache warriors and U.S. soldiers in southern New Mexico in August 1881:
By 1881 the Indian wars had ended almost everywhere in the American West. But an exception could be found in Southern New Mexico and Arizona where hostile Apaches still carried out bloody raids.

In the summer of that year the notorious Chief Nana led his warriors through the San Andres Mountains on the western edge of the Tularosa Basin. At isolated ranches women and children were killed, plunder seized and livestock driven off. Then the Apaches rode west across the Rio Grande.

Col. E. Hatch was sent in pursuit with the Ninth Cavalry. His orders were to round up the Indians and recapture the property they had stolen. The Ninth was one of the famous units of “Buffalo Soldiers.” That is its members were Black troopers serving under white officers. The nickname had been given by Plains Indians to black soldiers, whose hair reminded them of buffalo fur.

Some of Hatch’s men made first contact with Nana’s band on Aug. 12 in Carrizo Canyon. A detachment of 19 cavalrymen unexpectedly caught up with the main body of hostiles, who outnumbered them three to one.

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Buffalo Soldiers fought fiercely in the Cuchillo Negros (The Santa Fe New Mexican 8/6)

Another History Column:
Jon Covington: Saluting Buffalo Soldiers on their 150th anniversary (The Arizona Daily Star 8/4)

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