Attacks On Camp Reno

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Chapter 32: The history of the Tonto Apaches

When the Army commanders decided an outpost in Green Valley would stretch their supply line too far, they established the post on Reno Wash as a more permanent location.

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White Mountain Apaches like these scouts joined with the Army to help ferret out renegade Tontos like Del-che-ae and his band.

The Army's cattle herd was moved to Camp Reno and immediately Del-che-ae led 150 warriors on a raid, only a few of whom were mounted. The herd was stampeded during a hand-to-hand skirmish between Indians and herders, but Del-che-ae's group was routed as soon as the alerted cavalry troops arrived. Three Indians were killed, eight wounded, and the brother of Del-che-ae was taken prisoner.hat happened next was reported by Reno in the June 13, 1868, Arizona Miner.
"(On May 24th) the chief's brother, who was one of our prisoners and the best-looking Indian in the tribe, attempted to make his escape and was shot dead by the guard.he remainder of the prisoners are rather inclined to remain.hief Del-che-ae's brother was named ‘Rising Sun' and was thought more of by the tribe than any other Indian.e had been cautioned against trying to escape, but said he was bound to go and, if killed, his bones would neither make silver nor gold.o the ‘Rising Sun' of the tribe is set."

If ever Del-che-ae resolved for an all-out war with the white invaders, it was now.uring the rest of 1868, Del-che-ae's band was being blamed for attacks on wagon trains from Tucson to LaPaz, far more activity than would have been humanly possible for his single group.owever, Del-che-ae's warriors did attack the mail trains plying between McDowell and Reno. These were usually small military detachments, vulnerable as they rode along the steep mountain sides and deep ravines of the Reno Road. Apaches were after the Army mules, which they relished for food, andurthermore the mail trains often carried the soldier's pay.hile the greenbacks were worthless to the Indians, confiscating the money created hardship and morale problems for their enemy.

An especially bloody raid on the mail party occurred the middle of June, at Toddy Mountain, along the Reno Road. Today the location is called Black Mountain. The remains of four soldiers were taken to the post cemetery at Camp McDowell for burial. During this period, the defending Army killed dozens of the Tonto warriors.

The supply line to McDowell was too extended to support very many troops.s the summer wore on, the garrison got down to as few as 23, an officer being rotated with the troops every 30 days. Perhaps the low number of soldiers encouraged a number of peaceful Apaches from other Tonto, Pinal and Yavapai families to settle near Camp Reno. They worked crops along the Tonto Creek bottomland and sold hay to the post, cut from the abundant grasses.t was difficult for the soldiers to know, at any given moment, who were the peaceful Indians and who were enemies. Individuals came and went, keeping the Army guessing.
The berry harvest was plentiful along the streams in the summer of 1868, and proved some small relief to the hungry Tontos, who still held out in the mountains. Desperate for meat, they continued attacks against the Army livestock during July.arly in the month, Del-che-ae's band descended upon a government herd en route to Camp Reno, and made off with a dozen of the animals.he cavalry pursued them into the Sierra Ancha, where the trail of the animals was lost. The soldiers did come upon a camp of 70 or 80 Tontos, who with the first shot, escaped in all directions. Later that month, Del-che-ae's warriors teamed up with those of Escavotil (Pinal Apache) and Wah-poo-eta (Yavapai) to attack the herd again at Camp Reno.he almost-200 warriors were driven off by 20 soldiers from McDowell who were arriving to take up positions at the outpost.

On July 20th, a major thunderstorm hit the post, and during its hour-long duration, the Indian prisoners escaped from the newly constructed stockade.en days later, the Tontos went after the herd again, but soldiers drove the livestock into the stockade, before any were stolen.unger continued to gnaw at the morale of the Tontos, and while they grew more desperate in their raids, many wanted to compromise with the white man. The Cherry Creek band of Tontos led by chief Osh-kol-te came into Camp Reno making peace signs, but the officer in charge rebuffed them.

On the evening of Nov. 30, 1868, a meteorite shot across the Tonto Basin in a golden shower and crashed over the horizon with a rumbling like thunder and a shockwave like a small earthquake.he night lit up as day.he soldiers wondered if this had been a sign for change to the Tontos, because during the next several months, a strange peace descended over the Rim Country.owever, this may have been due, less to the heavenly sign, than to the fact that Del-che-ae was busy obtaining a supply of guns and ammunition from the Navajos and the Hopis in the north.

Next week: Peace for food

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