January 18, 1863: Murder of Mangas Coloradas


A chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves) in alliance with his son-in-law Cochise, a chief of the Chokonen Apache had been waging an all out War to drive the encroaching white settlers from Apache lands since 1860.  It was war to the knife and the knife to the hilt and atrocities were common on both sides.  They never achieved their goal of eliminating all whites from Apache territory, but with the withdrawal of Federal troops at the beginning of the Civil War, the white population was greatly reduced.  The war began to turn against the Apaches as volunteer troops were sent to New Mexico and Arizona and Union control reasserted.

On January 18, 1863, the seventy year old Mangas Coloradas appeared at For McLane to talk peace.  General Joseph Rodman West, a volunteer officer with the California volunteers was not interested in discussion.  He ordered that the apache chief be taken into custody and tersely ordered his guards to murder him.

Men, that old murderer has got away from every soldier command and has left a trail of blood for 500 miles on the old stage line. I want him dead or alive tomorrow morning, do you understand? I want him dead.

That night Mangas was tortured with red-hot bayonets.  He was then shot “while trying to escape”.  His corpse was decapitated, his head boiled and shipped to a New York phrenologist for display.  This act of barbarism was repaid with a quarter century more of war.  His captors shed no tears over his fate having seen too many remains of tortured and murdered captives held by the Apaches.

Published in: on January 18, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (3)  
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  1. Sorry… It is MaNGas Coloradas.

    • Correct Fabio and I have corrected the article. No doubt I was thinking of this hero of my youth:


      • No doubt.

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