Naiche and Geronimo Sent East (Sept 1886)

After Miles and the resisters talked, Geronimo, Naiche, and 32 others, including 13 women and children, accompanied troops to Fort Bowie. President Cleveland transmitted his orders.

“All the hostiles should be very safely kept as prisoners until they can be tried for their crimes or otherwise disposed of….”  (President Grover Cleveland to O. O. Howard, September 7, 1886, U. S. Senate Exec. Doc. 117 (49-2), p. 7.)

“As the disposition of Geronimo and his hostile band is yet to be decided by the President, and as they are prisoners without conditions, you are hereby directed to hold them in close confinement at Fort Bowie until the decision of the President is communicated to you.”  (General Philip Henry Sheridan, Commanding General of the Army, to General Nelson Miles, Commander of the Department of Arizona, September 7, 1886), U. S. Senate Exec. Doc. 117 (49-2), p. 10.)

Miles responded with a request to send the Apaches “out of this mountain country.”  On September 8, 1886 without receiving permission to do so, he loaded them on a train to Florida.

Officials immediately questioned Miles’ negotiations and actions. President Cleveland stopped the train in San Antonio, Texas to investigate and decide the Apache’s fate. Miles led his superiors to believe that the Chiricahuas had “surrendered unconditionally,” but this was not true.

“I believed at first from official reports that the surrender was unconditional, except that the troops themselves would not kill the hostiles. Now … the conditions are plain; first, that the lives of all the Indians should be spared; second, that they should be sent to Fort Marion, Florida, where their tribe, including their families, had already been ordered.”  (General O. O. Howard, Commander of the Division of the Pacific, to President Grover Cleveland, September 24, 1886.)

“(According to the Apaches) … when Geronimo met Miles at Skeleton Canyon, the latter said: ‘Lay down your arms and come with me to Fort Bowie, and in five days you will see your families, now in Florida with Chihuahua, and no harm will be done to you….’  (W)hen (Naiche) came, Miles said the same thing to him and his young men…. (When) … Geronimo and (Naiche) went with Miles to Fort Bowie … the latter said:  ‘We are still brothers; don’t fear anyone, no one will harm you; you will meet all the Chiricahuas; leave your horses near, maybe they will be sent to you; you will have a separate reservation with your tribe, with horses and wagons, no one will hurt you….’”  (General D. H. Stanley to General K. C. Drum, Adjutant-General of the Army, September 30, Quoted in Herbert Welsh, “The Apache Prisoners in Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.”  Philadelphia: Office of the Indian Rights Association. 1887:29.)

“After their arrival at Fort Bowie, General Miles said to them:  ‘from now on we want to begin a new life,’ and holding up one of his hands with the palm open, and horizontal, he marked lines across it with the finger of the other hand and said, pointing to the open palm:  ‘This represents the past, it is all covered with hollows and ridges,’ then rubbing his other palm over it, he said:  ‘that represents the wiping out of the past which will be considered smooth and forgotten.’”  (Department of Texas Commander General D. H. Stanley to the Adjutant-General of the Army, October 27, 1886. Quoted in Herbert Welsh, “The Apache Prisoners in Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.”  Philadelphia: Office of the Indian Rights Association. 1887:28.)

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