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Monday, August 19, 2002

The Battle of Big Dry Wash
During the spring of 1882 a small group of White Mountain Apache warriors, sixty at the most, came out of their wilderness hiding and by early summer coalesced under the leadership of a man called Na-tio-tish.

In early July some of the warriors ambushed and killed four San Carlos policemen, including the police chief. Following the ambush Na-tio-tish led his band of warriors northwest through the Tonto Basin, raiding as they went. Central Arizona residents were greatly alarmed and demanded protection from the army which immediately sent out fourteen companies of cavalry from forts surrounding the Tonto Basin.

In the middle of July Na-tio-tish led his band up Cherry Creek to the Mogollon Rim, intending to reach General Springs, a well-known water hole on the Crook Trail. The Apaches noticed that they were trailed by a single troop of cavalry and decided to lay an ambush seven miles north of General Springs where a fork of East Clear Creek cuts a precipitous gorge into the Mogollon Rim. The Apaches hid on the far side and waited.

The cavalry company was led by Captain Adna R. Chaffee. Unbeknown to Na-tio-tish, Chaffee was guided by the famous scout Al Sieber who soon discovered the Apaches’ trap and warned the troops. Also unbeknown to Na-tio-tish, during the night Chaffee’s lone company was reinforced by four more from Fort Apache under the command of Major A. W. Evans.

Early in the morning of July 17 one company of cavalry opened fire from the rim facing the Apaches. Meanwhile Chaffee sent two companies upstream and two downstream to sneak across the canyon and attack the Apaches. Na-tio-tish failed to post lookouts and the troops crossed over undetected. From sixteen to twenty-seven warriors were killed, including Na-tio-tish.

The Battle of Big Dry Wash was the last battle fought between the Apaches and army regulars. It was also one of the few times that army soldiers fought and bested Apaches in actual battle but this was mainly because, as one historian noted, “it was one of the few instances in which Apaches allowed themselves to be drawn into conventional battle.” –Stephen G. Maurer

(Editor’s note: information for the above article was taken from “Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait” by James L. Haley, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981. The quote at the end is from Robert M. Utley’s “Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indians” Macmillan Co., 1973




List of All Dispatches
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Thursday, October 2, 2003
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Saturday, September 20, 2003
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Tuesday, May 20, 2003
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Thursday, April 24, 2003
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Thursday, April 24, 2003
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Sunday, March 9, 2003
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Monday, February 24, 2003
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Tuesday, January 28, 2003
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Wednesday, January 15, 2003
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Wednesday, January 8, 2003
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Tuesday, December 31, 2002
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Friday, December 27, 2002
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Friday, December 20, 2002
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Thursday, December 5, 2002
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Wednesday, December 4, 2002
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Monday, December 2, 2002
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Monday, December 2, 2002
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Sunday, December 1, 2002
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Sunday, December 1, 2002
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Tuesday, November 26, 2002
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Monday, November 25, 2002
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Sunday, November 24, 2002
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Sunday, November 17, 2002
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Friday, November 15, 2002
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Tuesday, November 12, 2002
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Sunday, November 10, 2002
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Thursday, November 7, 2002
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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
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Wednesday, September 25, 2002
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Monday, September 16, 2002
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Sunday, September 15, 2002
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Saturday, September 14, 2002
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Thursday, September 12, 2002
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Tuesday, September 10, 2002
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Friday, September 6, 2002
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Wednesday, August 28, 2002
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Monday, August 26, 2002
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Friday, August 23, 2002
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Friday, August 23, 2002
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Thursday, August 22, 2002
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Tuesday, August 20, 2002
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Monday, August 19, 2002
The Battle of Big Dry Wash
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Saturday, August 17, 2002
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Friday, August 16, 2002
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Monday, August 12, 2002
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Saturday, August 10, 2002
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Thursday, August 8, 2002
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Monday, August 5, 2002
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Saturday, August 3, 2002
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Saturday, August 3, 2002
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Friday, August 2, 2002
Historical Talk at Lake Valley Ghost Town
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Friday, August 2, 2002
Interactive Map Now Available
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Thursday, August 1, 2002
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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
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Saturday, January 1, 2000
Free Public Lands Map & Book Available From PLIA
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