1858 was also the year of Jacob Snively's gold strike on the Gila River, west of Tucson. (Jacob Snively was an adventurer who had fought with Sam Houston in the Texas Revolution. In 1843, he was in command of a force of Texans stationed on the Santa Fe trail to raid Mexican caravans. His entire command was captured by the 1st United States Dragoons under Captain Phillip St. George Cooke and paroled back to Texas.) The mining camp of Gila City sprouted up around the gold diggings but by 1859, the placers were exhausted.
In 1859, Apache-American relations took a turn for the better as a result of the efforts of Dr. Michael Streck. Streck managed to meet with several of the hostile bands during that year, including that of Cochise. Most of the Apaches agreed to abstain from raids in Arizona and New Mexico, although Old Mexico was still fair game. Unfortunately, the truce would last for barely 2 years.
1859 would also witness the discovery of gold at Pinos Altos, located just north the Santa Rita copper mines. The ore was discovered in Bear Creek by three prospectors, one of which was Jacob Snively. Soon, the rush was on!
During 1860, most of the encounters between white men and Apaches in southern Arizona were peaceful. By the end of the year, however, relations were strained. In December of 1860, a group of miners from Pinos Altos went on a rampage near Fort Webster and killed several peaceful Apaches. The repercussions were immediate and widespread. The famous chief Victorio went on the warpath. In February of 1861, 2nd Lieutenant George Nicholas Bascom, while parlaying with Cochise, attempted to capture the great leader of the Chiricahuas. Cochise cut his way to freedom and the Chiricahua nation went on the warpath. Shortly thereafter, Mangas Coloradas arrived at Pinos Altos to inspect the new mining camp. Although a ferocious enemy of the Mexicans, Mangas had been fairly lenient with Americans prior to this visit. The miners tied him to a tree and beat him with a bull whip. Unfortunately, hundreds of Americans would eventually suffer for this senseless act. To make matters worse, most of the federal troops stationed in Arizona were recalled back east. The Apaches lost no time in taking advantage of the situation.
The Civil War left no part of the United States untouched. For the western territories, the disappearance of federal troops meant only one thing: an increase in the frequency and audacity of Indian raids. In the spring of 1861, the Apaches under Cochise wiped out a party of white men in Doubtful Pass, near Stein's Peak. The veteran frontiersman Anthony Elder lost his life in this engagement. Another party of white men was wiped out in Doubtful Pass that spring, but only after an extremely hard fight in which 45 Indians died. The hard-fighting white men, led by Free Thompson, made quite an impression on Cochise. (Cochise later claimed that he had seen no men braver than those of the Free Thompson party.) That spring, the Apaches also attacked
the new mining camp at Pinos Altos. The miners were driven
In 1862, the Civil War came to Arizona. That spring, a force of Confederate cavalry led by Captain Sherod Hunter arrived in Tucson. Meanwhile, a Union force commanded by General James H. Carleton made its way east from California toward the Confederates in Arizona. Hunter's cavalry met Carleton's Union troops at Picacho Pass, but the Confederates were unable to stop the troops from California. The Confederates retreated eastward, abandoning Tucson to Carleton's force. In June, elements of the California Column left Tucson and headed east toward Santa Fe. At Apache Pass, the soldiers were ambushed by hundreds of Indians led by Cochise and Mangas Coloradas. At the same time, a party of miners on its way west was attacked and wiped out on the other side of the pass. (The Apaches found $40,000 worth of gold dust on their bodies.) Meanwhile, the fight was going badly for the Apaches on the west side of the pass. They were forced to withdraw after losing 66 warriors.
1863 was a momentous year in the history of Arizona. In January of that year, the famous chief Mangas Coloradas was captured and killed by soldiers at Fort McLane. His capture was accomplished by the famous Walker Party, led by mountain man Joseph Reddeford Walker. The man who engineered the capture of Mangas Coloradas was a former Confederate soldier named John W. (Jack) Swilling. Swilling was second in command of the Walker Party and had served as a lieutenant in Sherod Hunter's Confederate cavalry in 1861. When Mangas died, a surgeon at Fort McLane cut off the chief's head and sent it back east to the noted phrenologist, O.S. Fowler. (It proved to be larger than the skull of Daniel Webster.)
Meanwhile, the Walker Party managed to elude the Apaches and cross over the Continental Divide into Arizona. Joseph Walker now demonstrated that uncanny ability to locate mineral deposits that he had seen many years before during his fur-trapping expeditions. In the spring of 1863, Joseph Walker led his party straight up the Hassayampa River to Spruce Ridge, located 5 miles south of Prescott. Early in May, they began to find rich placer deposits of gold. Exactly 3 weeks later, Powell Weaver guided a similar group of prospectors straight to the gold-bearing deposits of present-day Wickenburg. Shortly thereafter, Henry Wickenburg discovered the fabulous Vulture mine near the west bank of the Hassayampa River. The Vulture mine proved to be one of the richest in North America. The Bradshaw Mountains were the scene of another gold strike in 1863 - that of Bill Bradshaw. The Arizona gold rush was on! Prospectors poured over the mountains and deserts in search of ore. Unfortunately, the Apache Indians still controlled most of the region. As a result, prospecting in Arizona was an extremely hazardous business. It would remain so for many years to come.