Victorio, Apache Chief

Victorio was an Apache chief, thought to have been born about 1820-1825 near the current town of Truth or Consequences, Sierra County, New Mexico.  He was regarded by his opponents as being a clever, capable fighter and leader.

He was brought up in a group known as the Warm Springs Apaches (also known as the Chihende, or Red Paint People) and is known to have participated in skirmishes and raids along-side such well known leaders as Geronimo, Chato and Mangas Coloradas.  With Mangas, he helped drive the miners and settlers from a copper mining community near Santa Rita.  Victorio ascended to leadersup upon the death of Mangas, who was reportedly incarcerated and executed at a fort in southwestern New Mexico where he had initially gone to seek peace.

In 1877, Victorio was the leader of a band of Chiricahua and Mescalero that had been promised land in a newly completed reservation in Ojo Caliente.  They made the move and then shortly thereafter, the U.S. Government notified them that they would again be moved, this time to the San Carlos reservation in Arizona.  The move was objected to for several reasons including the fact that they would have to leave crops they had planted and would also be forced to reside in close proximity to tribes with which they had been at war.  Victorio pled with the authorities to be allowed to remain at Ojo Caliente (Warm Springs) but was ignored.  Victorio then said that he would allow the tribes’ women and children to reside at San Carlos but that he and his warriors would not.

Fearing that he would meet the same fate as Mangas, Victorio and his band left the Arizona reservation and commenced to mount attacks on Anglo settlers in Mexico, New Mexico and Texas.  Thereafter for a year and a half to two years, he led successful raids resulting in the loss of Anglo lives and destruction of property.  Around 1880, soldiers from Fort Concho acted on word that Victorio would be heading to a place known as Rattlesnake Springs.  They indeed met up with Victorio and fought a number of engagements over the summer, but were unable to defeat the Chief.

According to the account of former Texas Ranger James Buchanan Gillett, shortly thereafter, a band of Rangers and civilians were heading into Mexico looking for Victorio and his warriors, with the blessing of Mexican authorities.  The Rangers felt they were closing in on him when the Mexican authorities reversed their position and forbade the Anglos to go any further.  A Mexican force led by Col. Joaquin Terrazas pursued Victorio and in October, 1880 were about to capture Victorio and his band in the Tres Castillos Mountains, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.  A number of the warriors had already been killed or captured.  Although a scout was credited with killing him, the famous Chief is thought to have committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner.  Victorio is thought to have been interred in a non-cemetery burial in Mexico.

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