In 1878, Jack Swilling journeyed to the White Picacho Mountains in search of his old friend, Jacob Snively. Snively had been dead for 7 years now. Swilling eventually located the old prospector's remains and brought them back to town for burial. Shortly thereafter, Swilling was sent to the Yuma prison for robbing the Wickenburg stage. It would be his last journey. On August 12, 1878, Jack Swilling passed away in the Yuma prison.
In 1879, three of Arizona's famous Indian fighters passed away. Tom Roddick died young in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 42. King Woolsey, prospector, pioneer, and bane of the Apaches, was only 47 years old when he died on June 29, 1879. Less than two months later, the veteran Indian fighter, Dan Lount, passed away.
In December of 1879, Captain A.S. Haskell, Archie McIntosh, and Tom Jeffords negotiated the surrender of the hostile bands led by Geronimo and Juh. The hostiles were sent to the reservation at San Carlos. Unfortunately, this sequence of events would be repeated many times before the final defeat of the Apaches. An ominous pattern was developing in the Southwest. Hostile bands of Apaches repeatedly broke out of the reservations only to slip back undetected. Occasionally, the hostile bands were caught by the military. The survivors of these encounters either escaped into the mountains or were sent back to the reservations, where the whole cycle would begin again.
Clearly, the situation favored the Apaches. In most cases, the U.S. cavalryman was no match for the Apache warrior. It simply took Apaches to find Apaches. Unfortunately, that policy was presently out of favor with the Army. As a result, the decade of the 1880's would be one of frustration for the military authorities in Arizona.
In the fall of 1880, the legendary exploits of the Apache war chief Victorio came to an end. On October 15, 1880, Mexican forces led by Joaquin Terrazas and Juan Mata Ortiz defeated Victorio's band near Tres Castillos, (located in the Candelaria Mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico). Only about 30 Apaches escaped. Victorio was not among them.
In 1881, an aging Apache war chief named Nana led a spectacular raid through the Gila River country. Nana, a survivor of Victorio's band, proved to be invincible that summer. His warriors devastated the countryside, killing over 50 people during the raid. The summer of 1881 also witnessed the tragic "Cibicue affair"
in which the famous medicine man Noch-ay-del-klinne was killed by soldiers from Fort Apache. His death produced a flurry of retaliatory raids. In October, several bands of Apaches slipped out of the reservation at San Carlos and headed south to Mexico. These renegades were led by Geronimo, Juh, Chatto, Natchez, and Bonito. By the end of the year, war parties from Cibicue (Fort Apache reservation) and San Carlos were ranging from central Arizona to northern Sonora. The frontier was literally under siege. The stage was now set for the return of General George Crook to the Department of Arizona.
1882 was a pivotal year in the history of the American Southwest. In April of that year, more than 700 Apaches led by the Mimbreno chief known as Loco broke out of San Carlos. The hostiles swept southward to Mexico, stopping only to raid isolated ranches and settlements. (The little silver camp known as Galeyville was attacked by Loco's warriors during the spring of 1882. Located on the eastern slope of the Chiricahua Mountains, Galeyville was the hangout of the notorious outlaw, Curly Bill Brocius.) In July of that year, a large band of Apache renegades was defeated by several companies of U.S. cavalry at Big Dry Wash, near General Springs. This battle would prove to be the last full-scale engagement between U.S. troops and Apaches in Arizona. (From now on, Apache resistance in Arizona would consist of small, isolated raiding parties.) And then, in September of 1882, George Crook returned to Arizona. One of his first official acts was to bring back the Apache scouts. From that moment on, the fate of the Chiricahuas still hiding out in Mexico was sealed. The fall of 1882 was also marked by the death of the famous Indian fighter from Mexico, Juan Mata Ortiz. He was ambushed and killed by Chiricahua Apaches near the town of Galeana, Mexico.
In the spring of 1883, several detachments of U.S. cavalry crossed the border into Mexico in search of renegade Chiricahuas. Crooks's 1883 expedition into Mexico included three outstanding officers who would figure prominently in the final defeat of the Apaches. Captain Emmet Crawford, Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood, and 2nd Lieutenant Britton Davis would all win fame in the coming campaigns. That summer, Crook managed to find the hostile camp deep in the Sierra Madres of Mexico. When confronted by Crook's forces, most of the Apache chiefs agreed to surrender. Only Juh was absent. The old war chief had died of a heart attack prior to Crook's arrival.