Cochise - Strength of Oak

Leader of the Chihuicahui and Principal Chief of the Chokonen band of Chiricahua, born 1805.

Cochise's father was killed by Mexican raiders which fuelled his determination to defend his people.  In 1848 he was captured by the Mexicans but released in exchange for 12 Mexican soldiers.

In 1861 he was wrongly accused of involvement in the kidnapping of the 12 year old son of a white rancher and was lured to an army encampment by Lieutenant George Bascom.  Cochise's statement of innocence was ignored and the officer tried to arrest him, leading Cochise to draw a knife and slash his way out; an event remembered by his Apache descendants as "Cut the Tent".

Hostages were taken on both sides and the situation escalated when US army reinforcements arrived.  All hostages were eventually killed, including Cochise's brother and two nephews.

Cochise spent time in Mexico then in 1862 he joined his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas and about 500 others at Apache Pass, which they held against the forces of General James Henry Carleton until they were dispersed by howitzers.  The following year Mangas Coloradas was tricked by a flag of truce, captured and murdered.

Cochise withdrew to the Dragoon Mountains where he and his band held out until 1873, when a treaty was agreed with General Howard, assisted by Thomas Jeffords who was said to be Cochise's only white friend.

"I am alone in the world.  I want to live in these mountains;  I do not want to go to Tularosa.  That is a long way off.  I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here."

 He died in 1874 aged 69 and was buried somewhere in the rocks above the Cochise Stronghold in the mountains.


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