Saturday, September 07, 2019

Chatto Story Arc

September 7, 2019
   Went out for a walk this morning and saw these sky hearts up on Morningstar:

   Back to the book. In terms of being an angel, Chatto was, well, no angel. In fact, he could be as badass as his mentor, Geronimo:

Chatto and Geronimo posing with the same weapon at San Carlos, 1884

   In the spring of 1883 Chatto and Bonito led a raiding party of 26 warriors into Arizona. They killed a dozen cowboys and prospectors near Tombstone and then turned northeast, moving up the San Simon Valley with a stolen herd of horses and mules. From there, Chatto's raiding party turned east and crossed into New Mexico and as they passed the Burro Mountains, on March 28, they came upon a family having a picnic in Thompson Canyon. Judge McComas and his wife Juniata were brutally murdered and their six-year-old son Charlie McComas captured and taken.

Charles McComas

   With the McComas killing and kidnapping as a pretense, General Crook with a large force went into Mexico on May 1, 1883 and through the inside information of Tsoe, known by the Americans as "Peaches," they made a beeline for Juh's stronghold. From there the advance scouts, led by Al Sieber and Mickey Free discovered a large Chiricahua village in a valley near the headwaters of the Bavispe River. The village belonged to Chatto, Bonito and Chihuahua. Geronimo eventually came in and he and Crook parlayed for several days. Many returned to San Carlos with Crook more than a few chiefs stayed out including Geronimo and Chatto. 

   Finally, on February 7, 1884, Chatto rode into San Bernardino (Slaughter's Ranch) with fifteen warriors and a fine herd of Mexican horses. After a feast of a captured pony, Chatto moved in with Mickey Free and joined him as a scout for the U.S. Army.

   After Geronimo and Chatto settled on the new reservation they took up farming and General Crook bragged to his superiors in Washington that the best tilled farms on Turkey Creek were those of Chatto and Geronimo, "who last year were our worst enemies."

   The peace didn't last, however. The peace at Fort Apache was wrecked by tiswin parties and drunken beatings of the Apache wives. When Lt. Davis tried to tell them the evils of alcohol and wife beating, the hungover chiefs became angry and said the treatment of their wives was their own business and old Nana, left, disgusted and said, "Tell the Nantan Enchan that he can't advise me how to treat my women. He is only a boy. I killed men before he was born."

   Fueled by false rumors and tiswin, Geronimo lied and told Naiche, Chihuahua, Nana and Mangas that he, Goyathlay had ordered the deaths of Lt. Davis, Mickey Free and Chatto and that they all must flee before the soldiers retaliated, and so, 42 of the 118 Chiricahua men and teenage boys fled, along with 92 women and children. Loco and Bonito defied Geronimo's threats and more than 400 Chiricahuas remained on the reservation.

   To the majority of Chiricahuas at Fort Apache, Geronimo was a lying sack of, well, sugar.

   Geronimo and his res jumpers moved quickly and killed everyone they met on the way to the border. In New Mexico, the group split in two with Chihuahua going in one direction and Geronimo's group in another.

Now a scout, Chatto told Mickey Free he knew exactly where Geronimo would rendezvous with Chihuahua in Mexico. Heading for Mexico, Captain Crawford decided to unleash Chatto and send him into the the Sierra Madre with thirty scouts. Under the cover of darkness, on June 22, 1885, Chatto and his crew picked up the trail of a dozen Chiricahua raiders and followed them into the mountains. Even though a heavy rain wiped out all tracks, Chatto knew where they would camp and went directly there, reaching the camp the next day (June 23rd).

In late October of 1885, Chihuahua and his brother Ulzanna slipped back into the U.S. and as Chihuahua raided in New Mexico, Ulzanna and a dozen warriors headed for Fort Apache to liberate relatives and kill Mickey Free and Chatto. Sweeping across the White Mountains, Ulzanna's men left 38 dead in their wake, with the loss of only one warrior. They didn't, however, manage to kill Mickey Free nor Chatto.

The Army had a cozy relationship with every Republican administration since Lincoln. But now that was about to change. With the election of Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, political pressure on Sheridan began to increase for a solution to the Apache problem. It was the new Secretary of War, William Endicott, who began to discuss with Sheridan, the removal of all the Chiricahuas from Arizona to either Florida or Oklahoma. 

   By the time of the killing of Captain Crawford and the fight on the Devil's Backbone, Crook's defense of the Apaches had worn pretty thin. Everyone, from the president on down now demanded Geronimo in chains, or dead.

   On Saturday, July 17, after an eight-day train trip, Chatto and Noche represented the Chiricahuas in Washington DC. They met with the Secretary of the Interior, L.Q. C. Lamar. After a week in the capital, then the next day, the entire delegation met with Secretary of War Endicott. Chatto told the secretary they were happy at Fort Apache. At noon on July 27, they went to the White House. President Cleveland presented Chatto with a silver peace medal. Three days later Bourke was summoned to the White House. There, Bourke learned, the president was anxious to send all the Chiricahuas to Florida. Bourke was horrified. But even as he tried to defend his friends, he knew the fix was in.

Captain John
Gregory Bourke

At Fort Marion, in Florida, John Bourke came to the rescue. In March of 1887, Bourke met with Chatto, Kaytennae, Chihuahua, Dutchy, Martine, Kayitah and Old Nana. He gave information to the press about the mistreatment of the Apaches and this infuriated General Miles and others. Bourke's career was ruined by this mission of mercy and he was shipped off to a lonely post on the Mexican border, and died there on June 8, 1896, at age 49.

Sheridan suffered a fatal heart attack on August 5, 1888. After lobbying mightily for the Apaches to be moved to Fort Sill, Crook himself had a fatal heart attack on march 21, 1890. The stress of their thankless jobs caught up with both of them.

   His name meant "flat nose," the result of a mule kick to the face when he was a youth. He was a Bedonkohe like Geronimo, but as a nephew of Mangas Coloradas, he had a more impressive bloodline among the Chiricahuas.
—direct quote from Paul Andrew Hutton, in "The Apache Wars"

   As time went on, more and more resentment was heaped upon Mickey Free and Chatto.

"Mickey Free! That miserable little coyote was trusted, and old and honest scouts disregarded. Chatto! Turncoat and traitor!"

Asa (Ace) Daklugie labeled Chatto as "the arch traitor—a sort of Benedict Arnold to us."

   Perhaps the saddest aspect of all these tragedies, is that through Crook's efforts the wife of Chatto was located in Chihuahua City. She had been imprisoned there after her capture by Taharamara Indians in the raid on Juh's camp and now she had been adopted into a doctor's family there and she didn't want to return to the Apache way of life.

   Just when you think life can't get any sadder, it does.

"Hundreds of dead animals  were met at every turn. . .Death reigned before our eyes."
—A. Frank Randall, a photographer and correspondent for the New York Herald

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