The Late Massacre in Arizona

One of the most important victories ever achieved by the white men over the savages in Arizona, was on the 30th ult., when a party well armed rushed into a camp of unarmed Apaches at Fort Grant, and massacred eighty-five of them. These savages had gone to the fort for protection, and had declared their intention to submit to the orders of the Government. The officers at the fort had accepted their submission, and were providing them with food at the time of the massacre. The slaughter was committed under the advice of the Arizonian, a newspaper printed at Tucson, the capital of the Territory. That paper in a late issue, according to a Los Angeles journal from which we quote, published the following paragraph:

On the persons of several of the Indians killed by the command under Major Kelly, near Silver City, were found "ration tickets" from Camp McRea, which fact has satisfied the citizens of that section that the said Indians were from the reservation of that post. A party of 160 miners accordingly organized themselves into a war party, and at last accounts were marching for the reservation to "wipe out" the Government pets. We expect lively news from that quarter by next mail. Would it not be well for citizens of Tucson to give the Camp Grant wards a slight entertainment, to the music of about a hundred double-barreled shot-guns? We are positive that such course would produce the best results.

We do not hear that the troops at Fort Grant made any opposition to the massacre, or that they had notice of it in time to prevent it. A similar massacre was to be committed at Camp McRea, but if either the Apaches or the officers get information of the expedition before its arrival, the scheme will fail.

This method of dispatching savages is not the most creditable. Proof will never be furnished that all the massacred men had taken part in the murder of Americans; but some of them bad. A horse recently stolen near Tucson, and a breastpin taken from a white woman lately murdered at Tubac, were found in the camp at Fort Grant. The ubiquity of these red devils, and the large forces which they have kept in the field at a time, though scattered over the country in numerous small bands, imply that nearly all the men must go upon the war path occasionally. If they had been in arms against the white men, the latter had failed to conquer them in fight, and could only get the better of them by murdering them after they had given themselves up. It was a very shabby victory; and if Arizona were an attractive country for cowards, this would have been a field for the exhibition of their prowess.

However, the question for the people of Arizona is not sentimental, but practical. They have found that the troops have failed to give them protection. They have seen two hundred out of their small number murdered within the last two years. They have been compelled to abandon many of their farms and to take large escorts for safety on their main roads. The Apaches prowl on the outskirts of their chief towns. The condition of the Territory has been growing worse instead of better. The superior military officers stationed there give no satisfactory explanation to the public of the reason of the failure, and no statement to justify a hope of improvement in the future. It is known that the savages are well provided with arms and ammunition, which, it is charged, are obtained directly or indirectly from the Federal posts. As no other source of supply is known; this charge is plausible and it has never been met.

The citizens wanted effectual protection and they failed to get it from the troops. They knew that some of those Apaches who had put themselves under protection had been engaged in the late outrages, and would soon, if not disturbed, engage in others. They could not distinguish between the guilty and the innocent; if they should wait until such a distinction is made, they might wait until every white man is driven from Arizona. The practical solution for them was for them to massacre all the adults of the party, and they did it. They adopted the only course to make sure that no one of those savages would ever kill another white man. Business must be taken into consideration as well as justice and mercy. We know that many of the white men on the borders are ruffians of the basest character, and that many of the outrages committed by the Indians are provoked by most cruel wrongs. But we know also that the Apaches are no saints. For a hundred years they have been devastating Northern Mexico; for twenty-five years they have been busy slaughtering and plundering Americans. They are untameable brutes; fit for nothing but slaughter, which they should have in open and relentless warfare, if our Government would give it to them properly, but if not then by the next best means. If the troops cannot whip the Apaches, we trust that they will at least not undertake to protect them. There will be no peace or security possible in Arizona while Apaches are fed at the military posts, supplied with arms and ammunition by the soldiers, settlers or citizens, and allowed to range over the country at pleasure. This Camp Grant affair will put an end among the officers and the Apaches to the idea of continuing a condition in which the savages have all the protection of peace and all the plunder of war. We demand the protection of the white population of Arizona, and, if necessary to that end, the extermination of the Apaches.

[Alta California, May 12, 1871, p.2]