Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Close-up of Mickey Free and Alchesay

May 10, 2014
   As I mentioned yesterday, I really enjoyed seeing a sneak preview of the forthcoming Medal of Honor Show at the Tempe branch of The Arizona Historical Society facility (90,000 square feet with two theaters!). This is one of the blow-up photographs in the exhibition:

General Crook and his White Mountain Apache Scouts at Fort Apach, this photo is from the collection of Jeremy Rowe and is a wonderful print.

   It was Crook who famously said, "Only an Apache can catch an Apache" and here was his proof. In this amazing photograph are nine Medal of Honor recipients, including the legendary Alchesay, front right:

Alchesay nay the namesake of Alchesay High School in White River (just north of Fort Apache)

   Alchesay shows up in a couple photographs, most notably with General Crook aboard his mule, Apache, at Fort Bowie. Big Al was a handsome dude and later joined the Lutheran Church at White River. I met his namesake, Arthur Alchesay Guenther, the anglo Lutheran pastor who probably had more to do with the high school being named for Big A, than anyone else. Pastor Guenther even showed me a photograph of Alchesay holding the tiny tike (Guenther). These kinds of history lessons, where you are talking to a guy who is connected directly to the guy in this photo is, well, kind of marvelous.

Meanwhile, the other incredible visage captured in this photo is this wonderful rascal:

Felix Ward AKA Mickey Free

Yes, this is non other than Felix Ward, the lad who started the longest war in US history. Kidnapped by Apaches, from his father's ranch near Patagonia on the Mexican border, the kid grew up as an Apache and joined the scouts at Camp Verde. While serving, one of the soldiers nicknamed him Mickey Free and the handle stuck.

"He was half Irish, half Mexican and all son of a bitch."
—Al Sieber, chief of scouts describing Mickey Free