Monday, May 16, 2016

Tom Horn at Canyon de los Embudos

May 16, 2016
   C.S. Fly had to drive a wagon full of glass plates from Tombstone to Canyon de Los Embudos (Canyon of the Funnels), some 90 miles east, over some very rough country. Even when I visited the site of Geronimo's surrender in 1993 it was rough going in a four-wheel drive vehicle. That he made it there and back without breaking any of his glass plates is an achievement even above and beyond the actual amazing and historic photographs he took. Earlier, another ambitious photographer, accompanied Crook into the Sierra Madres on a different campaign and took a bunch of photographs of Geronimo and his warriors, but on the way back, the mule carrying his glass plates went over a cliff and they were all destroyed. It is heartbreaking to imagine what images were lost in that tragic mishap. They would no doubt rival, or perhaps even surpass what Fly did closer to home, but we will never know.

   I have been studying and taking a new look at Fly's incredible photographs because three of the four principal characters in our upcoming feature on the hunt for the Apache Kid were at the Embudos surrender site. That would include the Apache Kid, Al Sieber and Tom Horn. The fourth character we are featuring—Mickey Free—was essentially banished from this trip because Geronimo blamed Mickey for "misinterpreting" what the G-Man said and thus blamed all the problems of the Apaches on Mickey Free. Here is one of the most intriguing of Fly's photos taken on March 26, 1886.

C.S. Fly photograph "No. 184, Scouts Under Liet. Maus"

   According to photo expert Jay Van Orden this photo "portrays the entire U.S. force allied at Canon de los Embudos against the Chiricahua Apaches: seven officers, fourteen packers, and interpreters; six hangers-on, including Tribolet [the miscreant who sold the Apaches liquor and botched the whole enterprise]; and the 90 scouts, mostly Western Apaches. . ." Now, what's interesting about this is there is evidently no U.S. cavalry troops with Crook, just the seven officers, packers and 90 Apache scouts! Crook indeed must have trusted the scouts to be there without an escort of regular troops. See the below quote if you need further proof.

   By extension, Al Sieber is in this photo as is the Apache Kid. More on that later. One guy who we can easily spot in this panoramic photo is Tom Horn. Of all the blobby and blurry faces, the champion roper stands out clear as a bell in his white shirt:

Tom Horn in white shirt at Embudos

And here is a blow-up of the blow-up:

A blow-up of the blow-up

   As you can see, we are losing detail but it appears Horn has his left hand on his rifle and perhaps there is the buckle of a gunbelt? Here's my first attempt to capture his visage using the photograph as a guide:

Daily Whip Out: "Tom Horn at Embudos"

". . .during the entire campaign [sixteen months], from first to last, without any exception, every successful encounter with the hostiles was due exclusively to the exertions of Indian scouts, and it is the unanimous testimony of officers commanding scout companies, that the Chiricahuas were the most subordinate, energetic, untiring and, by odds, the most efficient of their command."
—General George Crook

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