Part II – This is the second in a series on the great Chiricahua Chief, Cochise, and his part in the fascinating history of Southern Arizona. For the First Part in the series, Please see the post on Cochise Becomes a “Reservation Indian”.
Confederate Soldiers Occupy Tucson
In February 1862, Captain Sherod Hunter led a company of Confederate soldiers, about 120 Texans, into the little town of Tucson in Arizona Territory and raised the Stars & Bars over the Presidio. In this way, Tucson became the capital of the Western District of the Confederate Territory of Arizona.
In May of that year, Captain Hunter led his troops out of Tucson ahead of an advancing Union Army of infantry, cavalry, and artillery units known as the California Volunteers led by Brig. Gen. James Carleton, a highly competent veteran of the Regular U.S. Army.
The retreating Rebels headed back to the Rio Grande from whence they came. They followed the Butterfield Overland Stage route that had been abandoned a year earlier at the start of the Civil War. On that route was an important stage station at Dragoon Springs, as it was the only reliable source of water for many miles in any direction. It is located in the Dragoon Mountains about 16 miles east of present-day Benson.
First Battle of Dragoon Springs
Hunter needed supplies, particularly beef, for his men. He sent a small foraging party ahead to round up any stray cattle in the vicinity of Dragoon Springs. There they were ambushed by about 100 Chiricahua Apaches led by Cochise. The Chiricahuas killed one Confederate soldier and a Mexican stock herder that the Confederates had pressed into servitude. They then took 25 of the soldiers’ horses and 30 mules.Read More...