Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 5, 1881
Zamacona to Mr. Blaine.
Washington, July 18, 1881.
Mr. Secretary: Referring to the communication which I had the honor to address to your Department under date of the 24th of May last, I now inclose an article from the El Paso Times, which was sent me by the Mexican consul at that place, and in which the decided opinion is expressed that the Indians who were permitted to leave their reservation, and to whom I referred in my aforesaid note, entered the State of Chihuahua, as it was feared they would do, where they have committed various outrages, among them the murder of the American engineers of the Central Railway and the robbery of a stage, on which latter occasion they killed one of the drivers and took an American passenger prisoner, who, according to statements published in the Washington and New York papers, has since been put to death by the savages.
The article which I inclose, and the note with which it was sent to me, contain the very obvious suggestion that the booty obtained by the murders, among which are some very conspicuous articles, may facilitate their identification on their return to the reservations where they in all probability belong. This fact induces me to send this information without delay, in the hope that the Department of State will be pleased to make use of it, and to take such measures as may be in its power in order to put a stop to the practice of granting leaves of absence to the Indians on the reservations, concerning which I have, in the name of my government, presented complaints which are being most fully justified by the facts.
I renew to you, Mr. Secretary, the assurances of my highest consideration.
devils’ deeds—apaches again on the war path in chihuahua—they kill five engineers of the mexican central railroad—they also attack the chihuahua stage—one driver killed and a passenger captured—the escape of the other driver and passengers.
Last Friday morning Mr. W. P. Shields and a small party left this city for Chihuahua, by private conveyance, taking the more direct road over the sand-hills. They were intending to inspect some mining property along the line of the Mexican Central Railroad. Sunday morning they abruptly returned to the city with the news that five men have been killed by the Indians about 40 miles below the city. When about that distance out of town they met two Mexicans, who were very much frightened. They reported discovering the bodies a short distance ahead, and warned Mr. Shields’s party to return. They went on, however, until they reached the scene of the massacre, and a terrible sight presented itself to their eyes. Four partially decomposed bodies lay strewn about, and one in an ambulance, which had been nearly consumed by fire. The party were very apprehensive of the return of the Indians, and after securing some letters, &c., from the bodies, made haste to return to this city. The letters evidently belonged to employés of the Mexican Central engineer corps, and they were turned over to Colonel Vaughn, chief engineer of that road.
Governor Anthony notified Lieutenant-Colonel Gailardo, who at once departed for the scene with a detachment of cavalry, accompanied by five Americans whom Governor [Page 835]Anthony sent out to identify and bury the bodies, locate the scene, and take possession of the effects. While the people were anxiously awaiting further details, rumors of different parties being with the engineers were rife, and fears were especially entertained that Messrs. Upham and Slade, who were expected to return shortly, were among the unfortunate party.
Monday noon a coach on the new stage line arrived in the city. The passengers were besieged for news of the massacre. Mr. A. R. Hammond, of the new line, was interviewed by a reporter, and stated that at San José they were informed of the presence of Indians in the vicinity, and that a small party had been hovering about the road. As there were several passengers on the coach, however, and all well armed, they proceeded on their journey, taking the precaution to keep their arms in their hands, and be ready at any moment for an encounter. A short distance this side of Lucero, they thought they saw Indians lurking, and, whipping up the horses, they fired several volleys at the supposed Indians. But the tire not being returned, it is supposed that they were only imaginary red-skins. They came on to the city without further incident. It is now known, however, that at about that point, two hours afterwards, the Chihuahua stage was attacked. Mr. Hammond reported also that he was bringing some stock along for the new stage line, and that, the night before, while it was being herded, the Indians had run off eleven head.
While waiting for further news of the disaster, popular excitement was thrown into fever heat by the receipt, by Governor Anthony, of a letter from Mr. Slade, which, though assuring him of the safety of himself and Mr. Upham, conveyed the startling intelligence that the Chihuahua stage had been attacked, the driver killed, and one of the passengers taken prisoner by the Apaches. Governor Anthony at once repaired to Fort Bliss, and urged upon the military authorities the necessity of prompt measures for the rescue of the prisoner and the cutting off of the Indians at Quitman Canon should they attempt to cross the river in that vicinity, as it was thought was their intention. Captain Brinkerhoff replied that he would have to receive orders, but would probably be able to send out a detachment the following morning. This, however, he was unable to do, as the detail was not received until Wednesday. The troops leave to-day for the Sacramento Mountains, where they will catch any of the Mescalero Apaches who may be either going to or returning from Mexico. The detail consists of Lieutenant Guilfoyle with twenty men, and the band of scouts under Frank Bennett, chief scout.
The Mexican military authorities, however, upon receiving notice of this last outrage, promptly responded, and Monday afternoon a detachment of Mexican soldiers left for the vicinity of the Guadalupe Mountains.
Messrs. Upham and Slade arrived in the city Monday evening, very much fatigued by their journey. They brought the following details of the attack upon the stage:
They were traveling from Chihuahua to this place by private conveyance, little dreaming of danger lurking on the road. On reaching San José they were notified to look out, as Indians had been seen in the vicinity. Somewhat surprised, though not much alarmed, they proceeded to Lucero, arriving there about six o’clock Sunday morning. Here they met Mr. A. V. Comstock, of California, who narrated a most thrilling story. Mr. Comstock, who is visiting the mines in this part of the country, in the interest of J. W. Mackey, the bonanza king, is a brother of the famous discoverer of the Comstock lode. He and Mr. Thos. K. Pugh, of Ohio, were the only passengers on the Chihuahua stage, which left this place, Friday night. The coach had two drivers, and everything went well until Sunday morning about three o’clock. The second driver was driving at the time, the first driver being asleep in the boot. At this time, and when within about six miles of Lucero, the lead mules became frightened at something invisible to the driver and stopped. The sudden stopping awakened the first driver who asked what was the matter. The second driver replied, “Nothing, I guess,” and cracked his whip. Immediately a volley of rifle balls were discharged at the driver from a distance of several rods in front of the stage, which killed him instantly and shot the lead mules. The wounded and frightened animals wheeled shortly off to the right and turned about half around. Upon hearing the discharge of firearms, the first driver knew well whence it came, and slipping down from the boot, he thrust his head in at the stage door and saying hurriedly, “Get out, Indians,” was off. Mr. Comstock discharged one shot in the direction of the Indians and leaped out. He went off some distance from the road and then bethought himself that Pugh did not immediately follow him out of the stage, but that he seemed to be fumbling about the coach, either dazed or in search of his pistol. This recollection came to him momentarily and in a confused way. He then heard four or five shots and supposed poor Pugh was done for. Not knowing anything about the country, he was undecided which way to take, but judging from the time they had traveled since leaving the last station, he thought another station ought to be near at hand, so, keeping off the road, he continued in the direction in which the coach was traveling and in a short time reached Lucero. Shortly afterwards the first driver came in. In a couple of hours Messrs. Slade and Upham came along, traveling in the opposite direction. Upon hearing [Page 836]the story these two gentlemen sent the driver towards Carrizal, where troops were stationed, with the information. The driver met an officer with a small detachment of troops on the road. Upon learning the news, the officer dispatched one of his men to Carrizal, with instructions to risk killing the animal ha rode, in order to reach there as soon as possible. The driver then returned to Lucero, and was there when Messrs. Slade and Upham left.
After sending the messenger for troops, these gentlemen and Mr. Comstock very cautiously approached the scene of the disaster and beheld a terrible sight. The coach had been set on tire, the ruins of which were still smoldering when the party reached the spot. The ground was strewn with papers and letters and various other articles. The second driver and two mules lay dead, the Indians having captured the other two mules.
The body of Pugh was nowhere to be seen. A careful examination was made of the vicinity and it was found that the scene of the attack was an open level plain, without brush or any natural pi ace of concealment. The Indians had dug pits alongside the road, wherein they had concealed themselves and awaited the coming of the coach. Prom the number of the pits it was judged there were twelve Indians, and it was evident they had awaited the coach quite a while from the packed appearance of the freshly-stirred earth and the smoked cigarettes lying about. Upon gathering up the letters, papers, and other effects lying about, a sheet of paper was discovered standing on edge and leaning against a small bush. It was discovered to be a letter originally written by Mr. Ugarte, of Paso del Norte, but on the back of the sheet, which had been left blank, was written the following sad story:
“Messrs. McManus and Sons, Chihuahua, Mexico:
“Pay to bearer one hundred dollars. Draw on State National Bank, El Paso, Texas. I am a prisoner.
“THOS. K. PUGH.
“Apaches have got me. Hurry after me.”
Across the writing was the word “Notice” in large letters. It is supposed that Pugh had been bound, while the Indians were going through the mail-bags, and as they tore open the letters they threw them on the ground. The wind was blowing from the east at the time, and this sheet was fortunately blown to where Pugh lay. Thus we are enabled to surmise what will be his terrible fate. As mercy is an unknown element in the composition of the Apache, we can only believe his lot will be to endure the most horrible torture known to a fiendish race.
Among the litter about the coach was quite an amount of Mexican paper money which they had torn in pieces; several papers and photographs belonging to Mr. Pugh. These latter were mutilated and cut, as if they had been human beings, and it afforded the devils as much pleasure as they probably anticipated in the slow death to which they have devoted their most unhappy victim. In the stage were also several hundred yards of ribbon, some of it very costly, the blocks on which it had been wound being found amongst the débris. It was known that considerable silver and American greenbacks were on the coach, but none of it can be found. It is therefore concluded that the Indians have carried this off, and together with the ribbon it may yet prove the means of their capture. Thomas Key Pugh was the son of ex-Senator Pugh, of Ohio, also son-in-law of ex-Governor Hendricks, of Indiana.
Mr. Slade immediately returned to Lucero and obtained a courier whom he dispatched to this place with the news, and the courier reached here Monday morning, as stated above. Mr. Slade brought with him, to mail upon reaching El Paso, a letter from Mr. Comstock to his wife in San Francisco.
Tuesday afternoon the party returned who went out to identify the bodies of the engineers. They buried the bodies, made a map of the spot, collected such effects of the murdered men as were obtainable, and returned.
From Mr. Upham we learned such of the particulars of this massacre as are presented. The party consisted of Guy Leavitt, leveler; L. W. Ford ham, rodman; George Wallace and Charles H. Grew, chainmen, and Charles Haines, teamster. They left the engineers’ camp at Almos de Pena on the 28th of June at 5 o’clock in the morning, to come to work on the upper end of the Mexican Central Railroad. They were well armed with revolvers and rifles, but evidently apprehended no danger. As near as can be learned, they were attacked Thursday night or Friday morning. They were, no doubt, taken by surprise. The body of Grew was found half burned in the ambulance at the side of the road. The rest escaped the first fire. The bodies of Leavitt, Fordham, and Wallace were found side by side about 200 yards from the wagon, where they probably made a stand against their pursuers. Haines succeeded in getting nearly a quarter of a mile from the scene, and was ascending a hill when overtaken. Wallace, after he fell, mortally wounded, took out his pocket-book and buried it in the sand at his feet. The Indians coming up dashed his brains out. The pocket-book was found, as were other letters and papers belonging to the murdered men which were turned over to Colonel Vaughn, chief [Page 837]engineer. Here also there was strewn about considerable mutilated Mexican paper money, but no silver or American money. This indicates that they were Indians belonging to the United States and intended returning to this country.
If our Indian agents only use proper vigilance, they can identify this band when they return to their reservation. This is the same band that attacked the stage, where they obtained the colored ribbons. As they will most probably bedeck themselves with the ribbon, it will prove a means of their capture. It is estimated that there were about ten Indians in this tight.
Commandante Leon, of the Mexican custom-house, has received a letter from Colonel Gailardo dated at Luno, Colorado, on the 5th, stating that the party of Americans who accompanied him from here last Sunday found over $900 belonging to the engineer party. He also sent in several letters belonging to the murdered men, and says he has gone towards Lucero, following the trail of the Indians.
The scene of the stage disaster is 26 miles south of east from the scene of the engineers’ massacre. At Lucero two roads branch, both leading to Paso del Norte. That taken by the engineers was the one across the sand-hills and is the more westerly and more direct, it also being near the projected line of the Mexican Central Railroad. The one on which the stage was attacked is the regular stage road and went more easterly toward the Rio Grande at Guadalupe, whence it follows up the river to Paso del Norte, thus avoiding the dreadful sand-hills. The distance from the scene of the last catastrophe to the river near Quitman, whence the Indians are supposed to be going, is about 100 miles.
There are now three bodies of Mexican troops out after the Apaches; the one under Colonel Gailardo in person, which left Sunday over the sand-hills and is following the trail; one which left. Carrizal the same day, coming this way and expected to meet Colonel Gailardo, and the detachment sent out from here Monday afternoon to intercept the redskins in the Guadalupes.
Should the Apaches cross the river near Quitman they might meet with a reception from Colonel Baylor and his rangers, who are in that vicinity, and escaping all these the United States troops and scouts will have a chance to run across them going to the Mescalero reservation. So the chances for the escape of the red devils are somewhat limited.