The Apache and the Bascom Incident & Book Giveaway


1KristyNewAuthorPhotoAWhat a pleasure it is to guest blog at Petticoats & Pistols. I’ve been studying the Apache Indians for the last several months as research for my latest book, and I wanted to share a pivotal moment in American-Apache relations.

In the latter half of the 1800’s, the westward expansion of the United States brought with it endless clashes between immigrants and the military with Native American peoples. Oddly enough, the Apache Indians of the territories of Arizona and New Mexico initially tolerated Americans, and didn’t consider them an immediate threat. Apache had their hands full with the Mexicans, who passionately despised the Indians for all the raiding and plundering they wreaked in northern Mexico. Historians generally agree that this all changed with the Bascom Affair.

In January 1861, Apache marauders attacked John Ward’s farm, located in the Sonoita Valley of the Arizona Territory, eleven miles from Fort Buchanan near the U.S./Mexican border. Two war parties stormed the ranch, one driving off a number of cattle, and the other abducting Ward’s twelve-year-old adopted son, Felix Martinez, who was outside herding stock. Ward himself was away on business at the time, and while two men from the ranch attempted to pursue, they were unsuccessful.

Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom

When news of the raid reached Fort Buchanan two weeks later, the post commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pitcairn Morrison, ordered Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom to locate the Indians and recover the boy. Morrison incorrectly assumed that Cochise and his band were accountable for the kidnapping, so he directed Bascom to proceed east toward Apache Pass in search of the boy and the stolen cattle. Had the military been more familiar with the habits of the Indians in their district, they would’ve known that Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache—while certainly not innocent in other circumstances—had never been known to take American captives. The White Mountain Apache, however, habitually kidnapped whites to barter with other tribes or the Mexicans.

Apache Pass

Cochise had made efforts to keep a friendship with the U.S. government by frequently returning token animals stolen by other bands. But the increasing occurrence of raids on the Sonoita and Santa Cruz valleys had hardened the army toward the Chiricahua. Morrison told Bascom that if he located Cochise he was to settle for nothing less than the return of the boy, and to use force if necessary. Bascom assembled 54 men and rode toward the Chiricahua Mountains, known to be a winter home for Cochise.


Once they arrived, Bascom learned that Cochise was indeed in the area, and sent word to him. After a lengthy delay, Cochise finally came to Bascom’s camp, along with his brother, three other male relatives, his wife, and two boys. It is thought that Cochise must not have sensed danger in the meeting since he brought immediate family members with him. When Bascom questioned him about the raid on Ward’s farm, Cochise denied any involvement and even offered to help find the boy, cautioning that it could take at least ten days. Bascom agreed, but would keep Cochise’s family hostage until the boy was returned. At this point, Cochise and his brother, Coyuntura, pulled their knives and slashed their way out of Bascom’s tent. Cochise managed to escape.

Bascom now had six Apaches in custody, many of them related to Cochise, and he swiftly reinforced his defensive position around the camp. They readied for a long siege if necessary. The following morning a large contingent of Chiricahua Apache assembled in the 1ATT00002distance, but after a time most dispersed, leaving a small party bearing a white flag. Bascom reciprocated with his own white handkerchief, and a warrior approached. Cochise wished to speak with Bascom, so arrangements were made for a meeting. Each leader would be permitted to bring three men, all unarmed.

While they spoke, two civilians by the name of Culver and Wallace, ignored the rules set forth and began to approach the meeting. Bascom told them to stay back, but they didn’t. Apache warriors struck, and managed to drag both men into a ravine. Both sides opened fire, and a battle continued throughout the day. The following day, Cochise appeared on a hill with Wallace—hands bound and a rope about his neck—and 16 stolen government mules and offered to exchange them for the Apache prisoners. Bascom agreed, but Ward’s boy also needed to be returned. No resolution could be reached.

Unbeknownst to Bascom, Cochise managed to gain three additional prisoners by attacking a train of five1ATT00003 wagons loaded with flour eastbound for the Pinos Altos mines through the pass they all now occupied. Six Mexican teamsters had been killed during the abduction. Two of the survivors had been lashed to wagon wheels and set on fire. Cochise only spared the three white men to use as a bargaining position with Bascom. Cochise left a dictated note on a bush near Bascom’s camp stating that he would come in the following day to negotiate.

But due to the lack of cooperation of the army to exchange the prisoners, Cochise decided he would take back his people by force. He enlisted the aid of Francisco and the White Mountain Apache as well as Mangas Coloradas’s band of Mimbres Apaches. Over 200 Apache attacked two days later. Bascom’s men held them off, and for days he and his men were trapped. Reinforcements arrived, and troops were sent out to scout the situation. They found the decomposed remains of Cochise’s four prisoners—Wallace and the three men taken from the attacked wagon train.1ATT00001

The dead were buried, and talk soon turned to retribution. It was suggested that the Apache hostages be hanged in reprisal for the murders of Wallace and the three men. A Lieutenant Moore made the decision to hang the Apache prisoners, and while Bascom objected, Moore outranked him. The bodies of three warriors were left swinging to insure that Cochise saw them.

Mickey Free

The Bascom Affair, as it is known today, marked a significant turning point in relations between the Americans and the Chiricahua Apaches. It’s speculated that if Lieutenant Bascom hadn’t been duplicitous with Cochise at the outset (by keeping those Apache who accompanied him prisoner), then the outcome might have been much different. As for the abducted Ward boy, Felix Martinez did live and later became an army scout called “Mickey Free.” It’s very possible that Cochise could have obtained the boy’s freedom if Bascom had just been more patient. In the killing of his white hostages, Cochise forever changed the Apache-American relations, and the officers responsible for hanging the Apache men demonstrated that, in the end, they were no better than the savage men they condemned. This would lead to hostilities between the Chiricahua and Americans that would last for the next 25 years.


 THE BLACKBIRD ~ Available late-April ~

Arizona Territory 1877

1ATT00004Bounty hunter Cale Walker arrives in Tucson to search for J. Howard “Hank” Carlisle at the request of his daughter, Tess. Hank mentored Cale before a falling out divided them, and a mountain lion attack left Cale nearly dead. Rescued by a band of Nednai Apache, his wounds were considered a powerful omen and he was taught the ways of a di-yin, or a medicine man. To locate Hank, Cale must enter the Dragoon Mountains, straddling two worlds that no longer fit. But he has an even bigger problem—finding a way into the heart of a young woman determined to live life as a bystander.

For two years, Tess Carlisle has tried to heal the mental and physical wounds of a deadly assault by one of her papá’s men. Continuing the traditions of her Mexican heritage, she has honed her skills as a cuentista, a storyteller and a Keeper of the Old Ways. But with no contact from her father since the attack, she fears the worst. Tess knows that to reenter Hank Carlisle’s world is a dangerous endeavor, and her only hope is Cale Walker, a man unlike any she has ever known. Determined to make a journey that could lead straight into the path of her attacker, she hardens her resolve along with her heart. But Cale makes her yearn for something she vowed she never would—love.
Say hello to Kristy and you could win digital copies of the first three books in the Wings of the West series: THE WREN, THE DOVE, and THE SPARROW. The winner will be chosen on Sunday. For more info about Kristy and her books, visit her online at

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36 thoughts on “The Apache and the Bascom Incident & Book Giveaway”

  1. Our history books are filled with many incidents where officers made the wrong decisions: General Custer with Sitting Bull, the Oklahoma Cherokee Trail of Tears, the Colorado Sand Creek Massacre…

    Dances With Wolves showcased the mistreatment of the Lakota Sioux nation.

    I looked up your books on Amazon. I’d love to read them.

    • Hi Laurie,
      It’s heartbreaking and true. The Apache weren’t alone in their devastating interactions with the U.S. military. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Hi Debra,
      It’s just hard to fathom the level of violence sometimes, on both sides. Certainly not an easy time to live through. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hi Janine,
      Every time I research an area, I learn something too. Can’t say it left me feeling cheery though. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Hi Chelley,
      Do a Google Image search. BTW, I have a sister named Chelly. A unique spelling. I’ve never met anyone else with it!

  2. Kristy, once again, you captured this tale. I look forward to your blogs. I never fail to learn something. And I normally learn a lot! Thank you!

    • Miss Cindy,
      Always nice to see your friendly face. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post. Have a great weekend 🙂

  3. Great post, so many things happen back then. I love the history. Your books sound awesome and I would love to read them. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  4. Wow what a history, sometimes so sad but I’m glad we have the ability to learn about it now so that we can learn about others and our mistakes. I’m always looking for a new author to read and your books look great!

    • Hi Cori,
      Learning about the history of a place definitely makes you appreciate it more. I’m so pleased to get acquainted with everyone here.

  5. Welcome to Wildflower Junction Miss Kristy! I love the titles of your books and how they all relate to birds! Is it because they are a series?

    I learned a lot with your post. It is sad how relations between different cultures always cause clashes and fear–back then and still today. Wish it were different.

    • Dear Kathryn,
      Wildflower Junction — I love that. Yes, my ‘bird’ books are a series. It’s a pleasure to be here amongst all you lovely authors!

  6. Hi Kristy!! Great to have you. I loved your blog. So interesting. I remember the John Wayne movie Fort Apache where he tries to strike a deal with Cochise. I think Arizona has such fascinating history. It’s also very beautiful with it’s sweeping vistas.

    Congratulations on your upcoming book! YAY! I love stories with bounty hunter heroes.

    Wishing you tons of success!

  7. Hi Kristy,

    Sorry I’m just getting over here. I always enjoy your posts about the Southwest and Arizona history along with your knowledge of the American Indians in that area. This is such a sad tale, like so many when cultures collide.

    All the best with the new release!

    • Rebekah, thanks! Not the happiest of subjects, but always enlightening to learn about these histories from the Old West. Have a wonderful weekend.

  8. It seems mistrust and stubbornness has so many disastrous results. As you said, the results would have been much different if along the way each level of command hadn’t made wrong assumptions and acted on them. Not recognizing the abilities and character of an individual is a loss for everyone concerned.

    Congratulations on your books. It will be interesting to read how you portray the relationship between these groups.

    • Patricia,
      I so agree. But the past is filled with 20/20 vision, so it’s easy to see all the missteps along the way. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. Thank you for sharing this interesting history, Kristy. Your Wings of the West series sounds wonderful! Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.

    • Hi Britney,
      Thanks for stopping by. I love the flower in your avatar. Very bright and cheery.

  10. welcome,,im a bit tardy,,interesting post,enjoyed it so much,,sounds like such a good book,,i love to read,,ive got my books packed for a cruise im going on in 2 weeks,,again thanks for the wonderful post

    • Vickie,
      You’re not late. Were all still hanging out. A cruise sounds like so much fun. Where are you off to? Have a great time!

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