General Fiction posted April 17, 2021 Chapters: 1 3 -4- 5... 

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Learning the art of scouting.

A chapter in the book Desert Flower

Continue Victorio' wars.

by Ben Colder

"Victorio's Apaches attacked settlers near Silver City beginning in April 1879. 9th Cavalry began its almost constant pursuit of Victorio's band. Captain Beyer and Lieutenant Wright's C Troop,
Folks, I lived for three years among the Navajo and Apache. I know this terrain. I also know the people and find them a good people and tinder toward the things of God. Easy to work with in Christ.
Those who come to know Jesus walk the walk and talk the talk.
They are good fighters in combat and good peaceful natured people in time of peace. I hope my stories will in someway offer understanding on both sides of the issue. Remember, it was a change of dispensations in God's time for such. Just like the seasons, nothing stays the same but Him. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.


In a private conversation with Sam, I learned why we never pursued the Indians with the cattle.

He responded, "They take to people. All hungry, hunting no good. Army no gives food like promised. Bad people take and sell Indian food to bad white people."

Since Thad and I had spent countless hours and days gathering a herd of wild cattle to sell to the Galveston market, I was careful as to how to form an opinion toward the subject however, it did reveal the Captain's thoughts toward humanity.


Though I now was counted among people of another color, I found them to be men of courage.

I vaguely knew of their reputation during my days in the Civil War, but that, I did know, they were like any other soldier no matter the color.

Altogether, with some of the fellows, it would be difficult to judge the darkest skin, them, or the Apache.

At dawn one morning in late April. Thad and I were summoned to headquarters. There we met two Navajo Indian scouts and soon was in the saddle riding toward Silver City New Mexico.

We were to meet two officers and the 9th-colored Cavalry at Fort Bayard.

Apache war chief, Victorio, and his band were attacking settlers and we were sent to find them.

It was a long ride and Thad was nursing a hangover and at times he could barely stay in the saddle.

I spoke, "Better take it easy on that water, no telling when or where we will find any more."

He remained the quietest I had ever seen. I chuckled, "That's what you get for trying to drink up all the rot-gut in Texas."

He remained silent as twice he stopped and regurgitated. I wanted to feel sorry for him, but he needed a lesson on restraint.

For the duration of the ride, I became cordial with one of the scouts and we exchanged names while the other remained somewhat remote.

I think learning the nitty-gritty as the Captain described was coming alive. I knew that I could never be the scout my father was, but I intended to do my best by familiarizing with the enemy I was supposed to be scouting.

When arriving at our destination, the middle of the day was well spent, but the mess sergeant saw we had something to eat.

Thad still looked sallow, and I could tell he was feeling bad by the way he picked at his food. He sat alone, which was something unusual for him.

We were hardly through with our meal when a settler came riding into the fort with a disturbing report. Victorio had raided a homestead leaving all occupants dead.
The incident was not far which sent the message he was ready for the inevitable.

Early the following morning, Captain Beyer and Lieutenant Wright had summoned a man named Foster, a local guide, and together with two companies of colored soldiers, we were soon in the saddle along with the two Navajo scouts heading toward the scene.

We had not traveled far before coming upon some dead animal carcasses. Mr. Foster led in the direction of the Mimbres Mountains, a place overflowing with canyons. The challenge, which canyon?

Following a tip from a local settler, we entered an area where many signs of the Apache were noticeable and by all indications, women and children were with them.

We tracked them for two days before finding them deep inside a canyon. Our officers in charge sent Sam and one of the Navajo scouts to summon the leaders for council leaving us on guard for the unexpected.

Soon our officer and the scouts returned. The negotiations were over. Victorio sent the women and children into the hills and the shooting commenced.


In the late 1870s, the U.S. government pursued the policy of concentrating all Apache bands at the San Carlos Indian Reservation in the Arizona desert. Victorio and the Warm Springs Apache opposed the move, both peacefully and violently. Some of the Apaches at San Carlos were enemies of the Warm Springs band, the management of the reservation by government agents was corrupt, and San Carlos was characterized by overcrowding, little grass for livestock to graze or game to hunt, bad water, and hot temperatures. Deaths of Apaches at the reservation were numerous, especially from malaria, a disease previously almost unknown among them.

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