Friday, June 10, 2011

Captain Maus, Tom Horn & the Apaches

June 10, 2011

Someone on Facebook commented that I haven't been around AK-47s very much, so I went back and reworked the assault rifle on my Osama bin Geronimo illustration.

I Googled AK-47 images, sketched it in then came in the office to finish it. Forgot about the wood stock and forearm, which I added this morning, then rescanned.

Worked this morning on cleaning up the narrative on the Crawford fight at Devil's Backbone in Sonora, Mexico (1886). In addition to studying the new Edwin Sweeney instant classic book: "From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua apaches 1874-1886" I also emailed author and historian Larry Ball who has just finished a new biography of Tom Horn, which should be out next year (Oklahoma Press). Larry graciously agreed to proof my narrative to correct any mistakes ("Life of Tom Horn", written by himself, has very good quotes and anectdotes, but Ball has ferreted out the truth, and discards many of Horn's exagerations).

This morning I brought in my coy of "Personal Recollections of General Nelson A. Miles" (1896 edition) to see what Captain Maus has to say about the affair (Miles gives Captain Marian Maus an entire chapter to tell his version of the Crawford events). Maus is effusive in his praise of the 81 Apache scouts who accompanied the command into Mexico, saying in part, "Their system of advance guards and flankers was perfect, and as soon as the command went into camp, outposts were at once put out, guarding every approach. All this was done noiselessly and in secret, and without giving a single order." But he also admits, "It was impossible to march these scouts as soldiers, or to control them as such, nor was it deemed advisable to attempt it."

Boy Howdy.

After the debacle at Devil's Backbone, where Captain Crawford and almost the entire Mexican core of commanding officers were killed (in large part because Maus and the officers could not control the Apache scouts), Maus had the unpleasant task of trying to get everyone back to the United States. For one thing the scouts got "a large quantify of mescal" at Bavispe, got drunk, then squared off against each other (The White Mountain Apaches upset with the Chiricahuas, which is a rift that lingers to this day). They loaded their rifles and only through the efforts of the officers pleading with them, did they stop.

It gets worse ("Natchez had shot his wife, and they were all drinking heavily") but it becomes clear, at least to me, that to tell any story of the Apaches you have to deal with the misery that tiswin, mescal and whiskey has brought upon them, and continues to bring upon them (with the added curse of crank and crack). Very sad, but it's the truth and it has to be faced. We somehow have swept this under the rug.

"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
—Eric Hoffer

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