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Bloody Retaliation

The policy of feeding and supplying hostile Indians with arms and ammunition has brought its bloody fruits. Testimony is abundant that munitions of war are freely furnished the Indians at Camp Apache, and that those Indians regard themselves at peace with the citizens only who reside on the White Mountain reservation, and that they have the earliest knowledge of all outrages upon settlers or mails or freighters. A short time since Lt. Royal E. Whitman, then in command at Camp Grant, accepted as sincere the professions of peace of a few hundred Apaches, and since then they have been receiving more or less food--if nothing more--at that post. They camped nearby, but not on any reservation, military or Indian. A few weeks ago, some stock was stolen near San Xavier. A party of citizens went in pursuit, overtook the thieves on the direct road and almost to Camp Grant, and since that the trail has been followed in the Arivaipa Canyon, the quarters of these military "friendlies." The murder of four citizens in San Pedro valley, is quite certainly the work of these "friendlies," and, so abundant had the evidence become that they were guilty of more atrocities under this assumed peace arrangement than every before, the patient endurance of citizens was exhausted, and they resolved on retaliation, so with the aid of over a hundred Papagoes, they started on the 28th April, reached Arivaipa, last Sunday morning, killed 85, took 28 children prisoners, and seven escaped. A horse, stolen at San Xavier, and on whose back an Indian captain was killed by citizens some weeks ago on the road to this camp, was there captured unbroken packages of centerprimed rifle cartridges, etc. were found in their wickiups.

If doubts ever existed that these Indians were only pretending peace, they do no longer. This slaughter is justified on grounds of self defence. At the rate San Pedro, Sonoita and Santa Cruz valleys were being depopulated it was either this course, or death to the remainder of the farmers, teamsters and mail riders. All over the United States, times occur when peaceable citizens are robbed, killed and their houses are burned over their heads, and the legal authorities neither punish the offenders nor prevent the repetition of the crimes, and an outraged people do for themselves what those charged with that duty fail to do. Their course is never unreservedly commended, but is nearly always excused or justified, and their acts never punished by legal prosecution, if indeed they are at all. It is the fervent desire of even the participators in these extraordinary cases of self-protection, that the necessity for them may cease at once and never reappear.

To say this instance shows a spirit of barbarism in our people, would be a gross slander, and we trust that the weekly reports of murders for, we may say, years gone in Arizona, and their number increasing, will be enough to convince all beyond our lines, that the wonder is not so much that this killing occurred now and as it did, as that it was so long delayed. There never was a murder committed in self-defence with stronger provocation or better grounds of legal justification, than in the case under consideration. While the killing is a matter for regret, the necessity for it is still more to be deplored, and undoubtedly exists in the minds of most people qualified to express an intelligent opinion in the case. Give the people of Arizona just protection, and they will never resort to such desperation. It costs time, money and hardship which they do not willingly squander in that way.

[Arizona Weekly Citizen, May 6, 1871, p.2]