Chiricahua POWs Moved to Fort Sill (1894)

In 1894 primarily for political reasons but also for reasons of Apache health, the government relocated the 259 Chiricahuas still alive from Mount Vernon Barracks to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The prisoners arrived on October 5 believing that they might find a better life.

“We could see the mountains. They weren’t tall like ours but they were mountains. There were trees, and we didn’t have to climb one to see the sun. There was water in the creek—clear sparkling mountain water. There were mesquite beans, and we began gathering and shelling them. We hadn’t seen one since we were taken to Florida. We gathered several bags of them. And there were deer, not so many as at Turkey Creek, but a good many…. The best of all was to hear the Coyotes sing, and the cry of the quail too. And the smell of sage was good to us.”  (Eugene Chihuahua, Chiricahua Apache POW. Quoted in Eve Ball 1980:160.)

Chiricahua people lived in tents during their first Oklahoma winter.

“They went into camp about one mile from the post under canvas borrowed from the post troops and companies because none of the articles ordered here for their use began to arrive until long after they did….

“At present the Apaches seem to be delighted with the change from Mount Vernon Barracks – their conduct since arrival has been excellent – they are improving in health already and are looking forward to an industrious and happy future.”  (Captain Hugh Lennox Scott, to Assistant Adjutant General, November 7, 1894.)

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