By Eldon Bowman
Ever so gently, dawn came to Turret Mountain. The springtime air high up in the mountains of central Arizona was cool, dry and seemingly weightless. The sky was pearl gray except for the silver light that spread slowly from behind the far-eastern edge of the dark, broken silhouette of the Mogollon Rim. The first chirps of the birds gently eased aside the silence of the fading pre-dawn darkness. Then a pause, an almost unnatural silence, as the dawn expanded. Shortly, there was enough light to see the wickiups and the sights on a rifle barrel.2
Then, between darkness and dawn of March 23, 1873, this last quiet moment was violently shattered by the thunder of heavy-caliber military rifles sounding in unison, a volley of whining lead bullets sharply striking through brush huts. Suddenly, the morning was ghostly white and acrid from the smoke and stink of exploding black powder.3 Cries and shouts of surprise, a tattoo of shots, crouched movements in the half-light and the scratching of heavy boots across rocky ground all mixed together.
Those in the wickiups, Apache men, women and children scattered quickly into the bushes like quail to be flushed out by whizzing lead from one spot to another. Stunned by surprise and wild with despair, some of them were seen leaping from the steep precipice to sure death in the rocks below.4 No man surrendered; none expected to live if he did. As the thundering of the rifles stopped and the dense, white smoke drifted away, the toll was found to be fifty Apaches killed and fifteen taken prisoner. The women and babies were stunned and easily captured and the fight was over as suddenly as it had begun. For C. E. Cooley and his Apache scouts it was a good day’s work, an unusually good day’s work.
What troubled peace there was on the turbulent Arizona frontier in those days had vanished two years earlier in 1871, in the smoke of burning freight wagons along dusty, lonesome roads and in blazing cabins at remote ranches. Several small groups of renegades had gone off reservation and were cutting a wild and bloody swath of pillage, destruction and killing throughout central and eastern Arizona.5 Travel had all but stopped and the Territory was in the grip of terrible rumors. Infantry and cavalry patrols, each with Apache scouts, were everywhere, crisscrossing the mountains and basins of Apacheria, often it seemed, like slow-moving horned toads chasing wasps.
The Army's best Indian Fighter, Colonel George Crook—"Gray Wolf" as the Apaches soon named him—was responsible for these tactics of relentless pursuit, sending out greenhorn soldiers attempting to deny the renegades any rest and wear them down. After arriving in Tucson in 1871, he quickly appraised the situation and the forces available to him, then organized the Apache scouts and armed them with the best rifles available. Tucson citizens were appalled; there were no “friendly" Apaches they said, and Crook was risking a blood bath by arming them. Having recently met C. E. Cooley and learning of his earlier scouting experiences and his close relations with the White Mountain Apache bands, Crook made him the linchpin of the operation, immediately attaching scouts to each patrol sent out, counting on Cooley's influence and active participation to effectively restrain and guide the scouts' behavior.6
To soldier and scout alike the Colonel made his orders simple and direct: The clothes on your back, one blanket under the saddle, a few fast-walking mules carrying ammunition and food and that's all. Wherever they are, find the renegades and stay on their tail until, fearing their own destruction, they return to the safety of the reservation.
Cooley (he never seemed to have used his given names, Corydon Eliphalet) was in his element. His Apache friends were the eyes and ears of these patrols, spreading out before them like a fan to pick up the faintest of signs and guiding troopers along recent tracks to secluded camps in the brush along the creeks. Rarely, at least at first, were the hunted surprised; the troops were still too slow and too noisy to catch them unawares. More often than not the tired soldiers had to be content with finding an abandoned campfire, some stray pieces of venison, or a few fresh squash to destroy. Rarely were they lucky enough to get off a quick shot or two at figures melting into the shadows or disappearing among the rocks.
But, with months of practice and adopting Apache ways of moving and fighting, these mixed units of scouts and soldiers began to be effective. The battle of Turret Mountain culminated almost two years of scouting for Cooley. It was a major victory for the Army in this hide-and-seek war. His Apache scouts had captured a woman from the renegade band they had been hunting, forced her to disclose their hideout on the top of the mountain and then led the entire patrol on a silent, night-long climb up the heights and into position for the surprise attack at dawn. It was this kind of ceaseless and exhausting patrolling by small units that finally forced the rebellious Apaches back to their reservation. As one renegade told Colonel Crook, it was the copper cartridge (which allowed the troops to rapidly re-load their single-shot rifles) and the constant patrolling that had done them in.
By the winter of 1873, the worst of the fighting was over. Civilians were relieved but wary. The Army controlled the reservations, at least for the present and Crook was promoted to Brigadier General in recognition of both his success and the fact that his position, as Commander of the Military District of Arizona, called for that rank. Cooley remained around Camp Apache to give advice to Crook and encourage the acceptance of the Army's efforts to teach farming and other peaceful activities. Years later, in reviewing this Apache campaign, Crook angered professional officers in the East by saying that the Apache scouts, not regular troops, had won the skirmishes and that C. E. Cooley, a civilian, was the key man in recruiting and leading them.
Some isolated killing and cattle stealing continued with the Apaches now using their reservation as a refuge from civil authority. The Army became their policeman. For example, in August of 1874, Cooley, with a number of scouts accompanied by but one sergeant and four troopers, surprised renegades off reservation and fought them in a sharp skirmish. One of the scouts cut off the head of the leader, Chappo by name, and took it back to Camp Apache as proof of their success and a warning to others dissatisfied with reservation life to bring their complaints to their leaders and the Army or the civilian Indian Agent at that location.
It was a hard lesson for the Apaches to learn. With dissatisfaction widespread and civilian control hated and mistrusted, Crook was in a dilemma. As small groups began marauding off the reservation, Crook identified their leaders and put a price on their lives; a few heads were brought in for rewards. But, when two heads of Deltsay, a much wanted outlaw, were brought in to two different military posts at about the same time, the General considered the matter and “ . . . being satisfied that both parties were in earnest in their belief, and the bringing in of a extra head was not amiss, I paid both parties." 7
Much of Cooley's work as a scout and later as a deputy U. S. marshal on the reservation was of this violent kind. He was probably the only white man who could go deep into the reservation after outlaws and come back alive. For instance, in March of 1871, an Apache, named Handsome Charlie, walked into the sutler's store at Camp Apache and lanced to death the owner as he stood behind the counter. Charlie disappeared but came back two years later and was rumored hiding among his relatives. The post commander asked Cooley and two Apache headmen, One-Eyed Miguel and Petone, to find and capture him. The three rode to the village where Charlie was hiding, approached his wickiup and called him out. He appeared with a gun in his hand. At close range he pointed his revolver at Cooley and pulled the trigger. Cooley saw the fatal movement but heard only the hollow snap of the hammer failing on a dead chamber. As if in slow motion, he raised his own firearm as he saw Charlie's thumb curl over the hammer of his revolver and draw it back for a second shot. But this time he heard the crack of a pistol at his side. Petone had fired a lead ball that spun the outlaw to the ground, dead instantly.
How many times he was brushed by death, Cooley never would say. For years he was "on call" to both military and civilian authorities and would leave his ranch, a day's ride north of Camp Apache, to hunt down a particular renegade or murderer. On one such occasion he had been out a week when he unexpectedly rode in to the ranch alone, dusty, tired and hungry. Before going on down the post to turn in some evidence, he told his wife, Molly, he wanted to eat and rest a while. Thinking it would help to unpack his bedroll and air it out while he rested, she discovered two human ears in the folds of his blankets! She replaced the ears, re-tied the roll and later, without a word, watched him ride off with the “evidence” secured behind his saddle. Years later she said her discovery of those ears was reason enough she never again helped him unpack his camping things, nor asked him where he had been or what he had done.
Strange as it might seem, Cooley was neither cold-blooded nor egotistical as were other men attracted to the violent life in Arizona Territory. He was aware that no one else could deal with the Apaches as he could for he held their trust and they looked to him for advice in getting on in a white man's world. To the contrary, he was known far and wide across Arizona as a strong-willed Irishman with an irrepressible sense of humor, an inexhaustible bag of stories, and the best table in all of the eastern part of the Territory. Everyone, soldier or civilian, would count on a stop at Cooley's Ranch situated beside the military road going down to Camp Apache.
Corydon Eliphalet Cooley was born in Loudon County, Virginia. As a young man he attended college but quit to come west in 1856 to “see the Elephant”8 and seek his fortune. In the Old Spanish capital of Santa Fe he saw the last of the fur trappers. Going farther west to Pike's Peak in early 1860, he prospected for gold but also clerked in the trading post (store) of the famous trader to the mountain men, Ceran St. Vrain. On August 9, 1861, he joined the Union Army becoming an officer and his regiment’s quartermaster and an eyewitness and participant in all the major battles in New Mexico against Confederate troops. After the war, he was managing a hotel at the hot sulfur springs near Fort Union, New Mexico, when he heard of Doc Thorne's gold.
Doc's story was simple. While a captive of Apaches, he'd seen gold in unbelievable amounts lying loose in streambeds in dark canyons where no white men had ever gone. His story was also simplistic, “sheer hokum,” Cooley said, after he saw it all for himself. But, at the time, Doc's story sounded like “gospel truth” to him. He and his partner, Henry Dodd, decided to go prospecting. By dumb luck, or uncommon sense, they struck upon the only sure way to enter the forbidden territory and come out alive. They simply asked some Coyotero Apaches who were visiting at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, in the summer of 1869. Under Indian protection, the two white adventurers prospected throughout Apacheria for almost two years. What they found in gold wasn't even worth going back to pick up!
During this wilderness sojourn Cooley learned their language and became friends with some of the White Mountain bands, Chief Pedro's band in particular. Then, when troubled relations with the whites became violent in 1871, his example and advice kept these bands friendly and helped enlist them as scouts for the Army.
Three years later, in 1874, when his scouting work began to slack off, he moved north from Camp Apache and began ranching with a partner, Marion Clark. Cooley built a log cabin for his family. It is here that he began a life-long commitment to hosting all who came his way on the remote wagon road to Camp Apache. Things were crude at first, but Cooley made them hospitable. One young, eastern-bred Lieutenant's wife, Martha Summerhayes, many years later recalled her great relief and feeling of safety when her party reached Cooley's (1875). She wrote that it mattered little to her that the windows of the cabin were covered with cloth; that there were no rooms with doors, just partitions allowing scant privacy; that she had to sleep on robes on a dirt floor. “There seemed to be two Indian girls at his ranch,” she remembered discretely, “and they prepared us a most appetizing supper.” 9
There were indeed two girls at the ranch, Molly and Cora (Anglo names given them by Cooley). Both were daughters of Chief Pedro. Cooley had married Molly in 1871. Soon after that Cora moved in with them, at her sister’s request, as the girls decided he should marry her as well. Cooley accepted and never regretted this arrangement for he knew it was a customary practice among Apache women.
One story of their domestic relationship may be found in Farish's, History of Arizona. Here, at the ranch on Silver Creek, one startled traveler witnessed a lively domestic scene. Approaching the cabin, he saw Cooley crouched on the roof, laughing and dodging rocks vigorously thrown at him by one of the girls, who punctuated her throws with indignant yells and dire threats. When the storm had blown itself out and the girls had gone inside, Cooley jumped to the ground near his wide-eyed visitor and explained he had played one of his many jokes on the girls by putting a lizard down one of their backs and they both had taken after him with Apache vengeance in their eyes. With hardly time to finish his laughter, he then launched into a lively soliloquy on the advantages and pitfalls of polygamy. 10
Both girls impressed those who met them as bright, energetic and enthusiastic about Anglo cooking, homemaking and manners. Cora's Irish stew soon became famous; the “genuine thing" as one Irishman exclaimed. Cooley’s ranch became known as an oasis of hospitality on the lonely roads in the region and indeed all over the Territory, especially among Army personnel. But, things suddenly changed, as they often did in life on the frontier; to Cooley's life-long sorrow Cora died in childbirth in 1876, leaving Molly alone to care for the babies and Cooley and to continue their commitment to hosting travelers on the road.
The ranch prospered from the beginning because Cooley saw to it that produce was sold to the Army at Camp Apache. In those early days the Army was the only buyer and paid in cash. Cooley was not a farmer at heart; he hired out to others the work of growing grains, vegetables and cattle. After several seasons working together, Cooley and his partner, Marion Clark, decided to split the partnership but not the ranch. So, one cold, snowy December day, shortly before Christmas, 1876, the two men sat down in Cooley’s cabin to play a game of Seven-Up. In the last hand, when the top card was turned face up to determine the trump, Clark glanced up at Cooley and said: “Show low and take the ranch.” Cooley looked over his hand and then slowly drew out a card and laid it face up on the table. The card was the duce of clubs, the low card; the ranch was his! News of the card game spread quickly south to Camp Apache, north to the Mormon Settlements along the Little Colorado River and west to scattered ranches and the Territorial Capital at Prescott. In fact, the story of the card game brought laughter all over the Territory where ever it was told. Everyone began calling it the "Show Low" ranch and the name stuck, not only for the ranch, but also for the town of Showlow that eventually replaced it.
In 1881, Cooley took a new partner, Henry Huning, a bachelor from New Mexico, who didn't like to go it alone in such a venture. They extended their range and continued to raise grains and vegetables for the Army. Huning brought in the first purebred Hereford (white-faced) cattle to the area and managed the cattle while Cooley continued to hire out the other operations and spend much of his time in Army and reservation activities.
When Mormon colonists (Cooley was not a convert) moved into an area west of the ranch, Cooley heard Chief Pedro's complaint that the whites were settling on his band's favorite summer campgrounds. He passed the complaint to the authorities at Camp Apache, with the comment that it appeared the settlers were inside the generally accepted (but not surveyed) reservation boundary. The settlers persisted, but when they began selling their produce to Camp Apache, Cooley rode over and confronted them with charges of unfair competition and trespass on tribal land. So forceful was his warning, the settlers became anxious and wrote to church authorities in Salt Lake City. Back came the thunder of the Prophet himself, Brigham Young. He wrote Cooley: ”If you treat them [the settlers] right you will be blessed, but if you do not you will go down, become a pauper in the land and your family will disown you and you will die a miserable death."11 Young's prophecy got Cooley's dander up and he rode off to Camp Apache and complained to the Indian Agent, who needed little convincing that he had an explosive situation on his hands. He soon served notice of trespass and the colonists left the area. Cooley heard no more from the Mormons.
Cooley was often asked to umpire disputes and solve misunderstandings especially between whites and Apaches. Many of the incidents turned up in his bag of stories, invariably with a humorous twist. In one of his tales an Army officer killed an Apache warrior while leading a patrol near Cooley's ranch. Cooley heard about it, went to see the family and found them thinking about blood revenge. He knew that would mean the aggrieved family could take revenge on any white man they chose. Cooley told them that the fight had been fair and in self-defense. The family was not entirely convinced, so Cooley hurried to the post to tell the worried officer and suggested a solution that would surely convince the family to let the matter rest. The way out of his trouble was for the officer to give the dead man's brother a fine horse as compensation for the family's loss. The officer readily agreed, bought a good horse and asked Cooley to deliver the animal with his condolences. Cooley made the presentation and returned to the post with the news that the aggrieved brother was much pleased and suggested if this kind of thing should happen again, the officer was not to worry. The family would be content to receive one good horse for every brave done in—which Cooley told his listeners around the dining table would surely bankrupt the officer in no time!
Incidents like this one continued to take Cooley's time and attention. But for the most part, he and his family settled down to develop the ranch and host travelers passing his gate. He had a sawmill built and then constructed a large, handsome, pillared house made of sawed boards. It had a touch of tidewater architecture in it, revealing Cooley’s origins. It sat upon a green, grass-covered hill and was painted white; everyone called it the “'White House." Molly was impressed and deeply pleased; here she presided over a growing family, a big kitchen and a table loaded daily with all the good food field, forest and garden could provide. Sitting down with his guests, Cooley was a contented and a happy man.
Captain John G. Bourke, General Crook's long-time aide gave this enthusiastic recounting of Cooley's hospitality based on a number of visits: "Four decidedly pretty gypsy-like little girls assisted their mother in gracefully doing the honors ... and conducted us to a table upon which smoked a perfectly cooked meal of Irish stew of mutton, home-made bread, boiled and stewed mushrooms plucked since our arrival--fresh home-made butter, buttermilk, peas and beans from the garden and aromatic coffee. The table itself was spread and everything well served.” 12
Another visitor, General Thomas Cruse, spoke for many of his fellow officers over the years who had stopped at Cooley's, when he recalled an 1882 visit. “Within twenty minutes [of arriving]," he remembered, "we sat down to a meal of steaks, venison, wild turkey, all well cooked." When Molly came in to join them, Cruse noted that, "she was quiet, well mannered and the children were most attractive." 13
Molly understood English well enough but seldom spoke it in front of guests. It was said that her English had been made fun of in the early days by some officer's thoughtless remarks. Cooley accommodated her in her reluctance and out of a need for privacy in conversation; they developed their own dialect, one which even the children, could not understand.
In September 1882, General Crook returned to Arizona for a second campaign against renegade Apaches and called for Cooley to join him at Fort Apache. The situation was ominous and growing worse. After years of government double-talk, crooked agents and short supplies, the Apaches were desperate, mad and threatening to leave their reservations. Crook called the bands in to the Camp to hear their grievances, but some refused to come in and talk with him. Pedro's band did come in and the old chief admonished Crook. “When you were here," he said, ”we were content. Why did you leave us?” 14
A second time, the General asked the bands to come to the post and present their complaints. Again they refused but countered with an offer to talk if the General would come to them without a guard of soldiers. Among the officers at the post, feelings ran high against the General’s going without an escort of troops. It was a trap and force was the only sure thing to use against them. Crook tried to assess the situation. After all, they had been his friends, the ones who first answered his call for scouts in 1871. He asked a few questions ‘round about but otherwise kept still and took counsel with himself.15
Cooley also was worried. He thought it very serious that the bands would not come in to talk. Corporal Will C. Barnes, the post telegrapher, remembered his talking about it and saying that he was "scared stiff" and didn't expect to come back alive. But, he had made his will and was ready to go wherever the general went.16 Crook decided to go; taking with him a small party that included his two most experienced scouts, Al Sieber from Fort Whipple and Cooley, who would act as interpreter. As the group rode out of the post, the odds were decidedly negative; most likely the small party would be killed.
Three days later, with tension at the post strung as tight as a bowstring, the party quietly rode in, with the General in the lead on his favorite mule, “Apache.” By noon the next day over a hundred belligerent Apaches came in and set up their camps nearby. Crook and Cooley were much relieved for they did not want to fight old friends, nor did they want to have to fight elements of both the northern and the southern bands at the same time. Without this Apache support, now camped all around them, Crook had known he could not win.
At this tense time, Cooley had brought his wife, Molly, and family with him to Fort Apache, for he had no idea what he would be doing or where he might go; they were safer at the post. But, this put them in daily contact with the women of the post. These women were not the same ones who had gone through the earlier hard times of the first Apache campaign in 1871-74. Then, no one had raised a question as to the legality or the propriety of Cooley's relationship with Molly. Now, all the women were talking about it. Crook, not ordinarily sensitive to post gossip, acted quickly to write a letter, actually an official recognition wrapped around an order, confirming Cooley's marriage to Molly in an 1871 Apache ceremony that had been recognized at the time as a legal proceeding in accordance with the laws of the Territory and the Federal Government. It was a thoughtful gesture that did much to raise Molly in the eyes of her Victorian sisters at the post.17
Cooley worked a few weeks for the General in preparing an expedition to take to the field. But in November 1882, as Crook started into Old Mexico after the famous renegade, Geronimo, Cooley went home; at age forty-seven his scouting days were over.
As always, Cooley had more than ranching on his mind. He took on several obligations, postmaster, tax collector and county supervisor and of course continued to be the host of the road. In 1886, he sold his interest in the Show Low Ranch and moved south (near present-day McNary) just inside the Apache Reservation boundary, on the road to Fort Apache. (Camp Apache was designated a “Fort” in 1879.) Here Molly exercised her right to some tribal land and they lay claim to 160 acres, sufficient to raise what they needed. Cooley built another large house, a two-story ranch house with a full-length porch, where travelers could continue to enjoy their hospitality, his stories and Molly's good food. With linen napkins and real china gracing the dining table, guests could momentarily escape the roughness of travel and the starkness of the wilderness still around them.
Sitting by the fire after supper, Cooley would tell stories sheathed in laughter of earlier, frightening times. Some of his recollections had no laughter in them; these came on, if at all, later in the evening when the children were asleep. He recalled the time he used Molly's kitchen table to lay out a man and remove a lead ball flattened against his skull. Another time, he cut off a prospector's smashed leg with his hunting knife, then cauterized the wound, carefully searing closed an artery with a red-hot poker. Both men lived and recovered. In the guest book the Cooleys kept, there is an interesting entry written by an army surgeon: “A pleasant recollection of the day [years ago] you gave chloroform for me."18 There seems to be no recall or record of the incident, and it is probable that Cooley helped out in several such emergencies he excluded from his stories. It was all a part of scouting and a soldier's dangerous life on the Arizona frontier.
Cooley's guest book, between 1891 and 1913, tells a tale of the taming of that frontier. Army fighting and the long patrols settled down to routine management and boredom. Civilians on business and politicians now traveled the old roads and even tourists passed by. Here is a sampling of comments (after 1900) that confirm this change:
July 24, 1900--“Last meeting was at Fort Apache, July 4, 1886” N. 0. Kay, Captain, 9th Cavalry
August 15, 1901--'There is no more splendid and generous host than Cooley...” N. 0. Murphy, Governor, Arizona Territory
December 10, 1901--“Returned to Fort Apache after a month’s campaign in the Hopi Indian country, dragging Hopi children to school. Cooley's ranch certainly looks good to me." Frank B. Edwards, 1st Lieutenant, 12th Cavalry
October 25, 1913--[The last entry in the guest book.] "Touring in an auto is pleasant . . . [We are] on our way to Phoenix in a Lambert, from Mariston Colorado." Robert Tate and wife 19
Cooley lived in Arizona nearly fifty years and, indeed, saw the times change. He knew the northern Apache bands, as did no other white man. He helped them sustain the peace during the violent and blundering years when whites and Apaches often fought each other. For nearly twenty of those years he was a scout for the Army among the Apache Scouts or a Deputy U.S. Marshal ready to put his life on the line. But, through all the turbulence of the times in which he took a substantial, often crucial, part, he and his wife, Molly, raised a large family and for forty-three of those years they sheltered and revived tired travelers on the road to Fort Apache.
As if announcing the end of an era, in April 1916, Captain Oliver Hazzard, USA, and twenty Apache scouts rode by to pay their respects to Cooley. They were on their way to join General John “Black Jack” Pershing's Punitive Expedition into Mexico against the bandit, Pancho Villa. It was the last time the scouts would be called into action. They rode into Cooley's yard and dismounted. Cooley sat in a rocker on the porch of his house, his legs wrapped in a robe, stroke-stricken and forgetful. But, as they filed past him, the old scout's eyes brightened and he called each Apache by name, shook his hand and wished him well. This simple ceremony over, the scouts remounted their horses and the command, "Move Out," was given. In a cloud of rising dust, the scouts disappeared down the road.
Within a year--March 18, 1917--Cooley, at 81, also disappeared down the dusty road and the last, lingering twilight of frontier Arizona went with him.
1The material in this article is based predominantly on H. B. Wharfield’s book Cooley: Army scout, Arizona pioneer, Wayside host, Apache friend. (El Cajon, Cal.: by the author, 1966), based in large part on interviews with Apaches. He was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. Assigned as a young First Lieutenant to Fort Apache, Arizona, on January 8, 1918, he arrived within ten months of Cooley’s death on March 18, 1917. He witnessed and assessed the high regard for Cooley expressed by Apaches and Anglos alike, especially by the military, people who knew him either first or second hand. His later efforts to interview knowledgeable Apaches, in the late 1950s and early 60s, was in the nick of time, so to speak, before memories of Cooley slipped away enough to harden into legend. Finally, and perhaps most important, Apaches talked to Wharfield as a friend, one who “understood” what they were saying and what they meant by it. Wharfield’s qualifications and timing on his research gave his little book uncommon veracity and insight, which is nearly impossible to gage by other contemporary sources still available. Little wonder that researchers and western historians have stayed away from Cooley even though he is a major figure in the highly colorful and popular period of Territorial times when “Indian was painted and white man was pale.” The principle source for Cooley is Wharfield, almost exclusively so. His little book (101 pages) is quite scarce. I have found no new or contradictory material but rely on Wharfield. I have evaluated Wharfield as extensively as I can on the basis of my own experiences and studies in Arizona and western history and judge him to be accurate, reliable, and balanced, with no axe to grind and insightful. I do footnote quotes and cite other books as does Wharfield to confirm his information. Lastly, I make several short summery evaluations of Cooley and his activities, which the discerning reader will recognize as mine.
2Turret Mountain is still an obscure and unchanged place in the rugged country of central Arizona. See USGS Topographical (1:24,000) Bloody Basin and Tule Mesa, Arizona, Quadrangles. Also, see Tonto National Forest Map (USFS, 1975) at T. 10 N. R. 4E. Sec. 18. See also Will C. Barnes’ ARIZONA PLACE NAMES, 1988 Edition, p. 460. Barnes may be in error on his location of T. 11 N. He cites a forest map of 1926 vintage, while the more accessible 1976 map indicates T. 10 N. At dawn the entire Table mountain area was most likely as described; the most peaceful and quiet atmosphere imaginable with swiftly changing light and shadows rivaled only by Grand Canyon‘s similar display each morning. These conditions of silence and light are familiar to me through many years of riding the Canyon at all times of the day and night and several extended pack-trips along the Verde River and environs in the 1990s. The Apache renegades were certainly as accustomed to these conditions as modern urbanites are not. To them they gave assurance of safety and confirmation that they were all alone. The instantaneous shattering of the silence must have profoundly disoriented the sleepers causing terror among them. See footnotes 3 and 4. The soldiers and scouts had no choice but to await enough of dawn’s light to clearly see there rifle’s sights or most of their fire would go astray and the attack probably fail. Today’s rifle sights are highlighted easily, if not automatically, adjusted or even function on their own beams of light so rifle fire will be accurate even in the dark. Not so in 1873. Then, sights were simple, inert attachments at either end of the long barrel. The rear sight was a shallow vee or a small, thin metal circle (called a peep sight) into which the image of a thin, short post front sight had to be centered and held steady until after the trigger was pulled and the gun finally went off. On the military rifle of that day, the front and rear sights were 30 inches apart and impossible to align quickly in dim light.
3Black powder is the oldest propellant, the one that made firearms possible. It was, and remains, a dirty, somewhat unstable, fast-burning combination of carbon and saltpeter that produces a thick, white smoke that often hides the shooter from the target at the same instant that it identifies his precise location. If there is no breeze to blow it away, the smoke may cover and obscure the whole battlefield hiding all targets and prevented both sides from using aimed fire. The second marked characteristic of black powder is it’s strong smell of sulfur. Both the smoke and the odor worked to the decided advantage of the attackers, evidently disorienting the renegades almost completely.
4Wharfield, p. 42; The contrast between the pre-dawn quietness at the top of Turret Mountain and the swift, certain firing from the attackers was an absolute surprise that so terrorized the renegades that it may be that some of the men (warriors) were seen by the soldiers deliberately jumping to their death. Wharfield does not exclude men and it could have happened, but not likely. See endnotes 2 and 3. Apache warriors committing suicide in battle? Unheard of!
5Worchester, Donald E., THE APACHES: EAGLES OF THE SOUTHWEST, (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979), Chapt. VII. See also Chapt. VI.
6Cooley quickly earned Crook’s high regard and friendship. Shortly after they met, Crook put Cooley to recruiting scouts from the northern bands. Known as a taciturn and demanding General, Crook had few friends or advisors (Worchester, p. 123). It appears Cooley was both for many years and through two Apache Campaigns. Other signs: Cooley’s first-born (April 5, 1872) was named Bell Crook Cooley. There exists several cordial letters from Crook, one actually a memorandum that asserts with finality the Cooleys Apache wedding in 1871 and put to rest the gossip of the post women about the matter during the second campaign in 1882. Wharfield, pp. 30, 45, 76, 67.
7Wharfield, p. 49; Crook, George, Gen. GENERAL GEORGE CROOK: HIS BIOGRAPHY, Martin F. Schmitt, ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946, 1960), pp. 181-82.
8To “see the elephant,” is a western term for a western adventure, such as being in the California gold rush in 1849, where the expression became popular. To go west was to witness the great events, the stirring episodes, the huge land with it limitless freedom and wild opportunity; as strange and exciting as seeing the wonder of an elephant for the first time.
9Wharfield, p. 31. Summerhayes, Martha, VANISHED ARIZONA, (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott Co., 1908), p. 112. Or p. 118 in the Rio Grande Press reprint, 1970.
10Wharfield, p. 51. The author doesn’t indicate which volume of Farrish contains the reference. I didn’t find it in the first two volumes which are the only ones generally available. Farrish, Thomas E., HISTORY OF ARIZONA (San Francisco: Filmer Bros. Co., 1915).
11Wharfield, p. 59 12 Wharfield, p. 31; Bourke, John G., ON THE BORDER WITH CROOK, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891). Reprinted by TIME-LIFE BOOKS, 1980, p. 179-80.
13Wharfield, p. 31-32
14Wharfield, p. 71.
15Worchester, p. 123. See endnote 6.
16Wharfield, pp. 71-72; Barnes Will C., APACHES & LONGHORNS, (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 192), pp. 92-93.
17Wharfield, p. 67 18 Wharfield, p. 79. 19 Wharfield, p. 93.