Arizona Weekly Citizen: August 7, 1881
Back in the 1860’s to 1880’s, the terrorist threat to Anglo and Mexican Tucsonans was local and ever-present. Only back then, they weren’t called “terrorists”. They were called “Apaches”. Click on the picture to enlarge the article.
Background to the Article
In the 19th century, the little town of Tucson was surrounded by a vast, inhospitable desert controlled by Apaches. Those who traveled beyond the safety of town were in mortal danger.
At about 3 AM on July 3, 1881, a band of Apaches attack a stagecoach with Mr. Comstock and fellow passenger, Mr Pugh, in route from Chihuahua, Mexico to El Paso, Texas, and then on to Tucson.
The primary driver and two mules were killed almost immediately. A second driver had been asleep, but awoke with the first shots and advised his passengers that they were under attack. Mr. Comstock, with a revolver, Mr. Pugh, with a Spencer rifle, and the second driver fled in the dark.
At daylight, Mr. Comstock made his way to a nearby ranch where he found the second driver who told him that Mr. Pugh was still back at the scene of the attack. Oddly, the article does not explain why Pugh had remained behind. Had he been severely wounded and physically unable to escape?
Some weeks earlier the Citizen published the initial report of this incident that had been transmitted via telegraph. This telegraphed report included the gruesome details of Mr. Pugh’s murder by the Indians. The Mexican troops who investigated the scene reported that the murders of the driver and Mr. Pugh were at the hands of renegade Warm Springs (NM) Apaches who had been under the leadership of the great Apache chief Victorio. Victorio and most of his band had been killed by Mexican troops led by General Tereras the year before.
Victorio’s little sister, Lozen, had not been with her brother at the time his band was nearly annihilated by the Mexican army. Most accounts of this incident say Victorio fell on his knife rather than be taken captive and tortured by the Mexicans. Many Apaches say that had Lozen been with her brother, her magical powers would have warned him of the approaching Mexican army.
This article says that Mexican troops believed that the robbery & murder were committed by “remnants of Victorio’s band” and led by Mangus Colorados. Eventually, it became known that after Victorio’s death at Tres Castillos (Mexico) in 1880, Chief Nana led the remains of Victorio’s band and other Warm Springs Apaches. For more than two months, Nana, with only 40 warriors, fought with and then eluded more than a thousand U.S. troops and hundreds of Apache scouts in a campaign that covered a thousand miles.
In his old age, Nana was considered by his people to be a wise and caring grandfather. However, it is likely Nana was responsible for killing more Anglos and Mexicans than either Cochise or Geronimo.
You can read about Victorio, his little sister Lozen, and the other great Apache chiefs in our Apache Wars Timeline.
For more information on the Apaches and the history surrounding the Apache Wars, see our page on the Local History of the Apaches.