Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief

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Overview

When it acquired New Mexico and Arizona, the United States inherited the territory of a people who had been a thorn in side of Mexico since 1821 and Spain before that. Known collectively as Apaches, these Indians lived in diverse, widely scattered groups with many names—Mescaleros, Chiricahuas, and Jicarillas, to name but three. Much has been written about them and their leaders, such as Geronimo, Juh, Nana, Victorio, and Mangas Coloradas, but no one wrote extensively about the greatest leader of them all: ...

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Overview

When it acquired New Mexico and Arizona, the United States inherited the territory of a people who had been a thorn in side of Mexico since 1821 and Spain before that. Known collectively as Apaches, these Indians lived in diverse, widely scattered groups with many names—Mescaleros, Chiricahuas, and Jicarillas, to name but three. Much has been written about them and their leaders, such as Geronimo, Juh, Nana, Victorio, and Mangas Coloradas, but no one wrote extensively about the greatest leader of them all: Cochise. Now, however, Edwin R. Sweeney has remedied this deficiency with his definitive biography.

Cochise, a Chiricahua, was said to be the most resourceful, most brutal, most feared Apache. He and his warriors raided in both Mexico and the United States, crossing the border both ways to obtain sanctuary after raids for cattle, horses, and other livestock. Once only he was captured and imprisoned; on the day he was freed he vowed never to be taken again. From that day he gave no quarter and asked none. Always at the head of his warriors in battle, he led a charmed life, being wounded several times but always surviving.

In 1861, when his brother was executed by Americans at Apache Pass, Cochise declared war. He fought relentlessly for a decade, and then only in the face of overwhelming military superiority did he agree to a peace and accept the reservation. Nevertheless, even though he was blamed for virtually every subsequent Apache depredation in Arizona and New Mexico, he faithfully kept that peace until his death in 1874.

Sweeney has traced Cochise’s activities in exhaustive detail in both United States and Mexican Archives. We are not likely to learn more about Cochise than he has given us. His biography will stand as the major source for all that is yet to be written on Cochise.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Without solid knowledge of Southwestern geography and history, readers will find themselves overwhelmed by the wealth of detail in this well-documented, exhaustive biography. For more than 40 years, Apache bands fought Mexican and American troops in the borderlands between New Mexico and Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora. In his first book, Sweeney gives a brief introduction to the Apaches and their culture, focusing on Cochise's band, the central Chiricahuas. Cochise was born about 1810, a time of relative peace in northern Mexico when the government supplied rations to the Indians. After the Mexican Revolution (1821), funds were not available, assistance was cut and Apaches started raiding ranches for cattle and horses. By the time Cochise reached maturity, hostilities were widespread. A resourceful and feared warrior, he became the undisputed leader of the Chiricahuas. Trailing Cochise through nearly every skirmish and battle of his career, the narrative is a veritable catalogue of persecution, treachery and cruelty on both sides. In the early 1870s, Cochise accepted peace; he died in 1874. Photos. (June)
Library Journal
The very name of Cochise, an extremely capable military leader of the Chiricahua Apache, evoked fear in the hearts of southwesterners and Mexicans during the 19th century. In this meticulously documented account, the author traces this noted Indian's rise to leadership of his Apache band, his daring and imaginative skirmishes with the military and others in both the United States and Mexico, and his successful negotiations for a reservation in the homeland of his peoples. The discussion centers around Cochise's career as a military leader and the impact of Chiricahua raids on settlers in New Mexico and Arizona. This is the first comprehensive treatment of Cochise's important role in southwestern history.-- Mary B. Davis, Huntington Free Lib., Bronx, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806126067
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Series: Civilization of the American Indian Series
  • Pages: 397
  • Sales rank: 638,511
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author


Retired as a professional accountant, Edwin R. Sweeney is an independent scholar and the author of Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief; Mangas Coloradas: Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches; and From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua Apaches, 1874–1886.
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