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Sierra Tres Castillos

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Apacheria

The following is from the book, Indian Wars, by Bill Yenne.

In September 1880, under the new spirit of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, plans were laid for a three-prong sweep through northern Mexico. Colonel George Buell would lead a force out of New Mexico, while Colonel Eugene Carr would ride south from Arizona with the entire 6th Cavalry. The third fork was Colonel Joaquin Terrazas with the equivalent of three regiments of Mexican cavalry. It was to be the largest multinational force to be fielded during the Indian Wars in the West.

Unfortunately, this great coalition operation was doomed to failure. As the U.S. Army should have learned in its massive offensive operation in Montana Territory in 1876, large formations deployed against a highly mobile irregular force are unwieldy and ineffective. However, as often happens in such operations, it was ill fated not for technical reasons, but political factors. It seems that the politically ambitious Terrazas wanted Victorio for himself.

Eventually, the Mexican colonel had his wish. On October 16, 1880, the Mexican army cornered the Apache in the Sierra Tres Castillos of Chihuahua and attacked. The Apache suffered sixty warriors killed, along with eighteen women and children. Victorio himself took a fatal bullet from the rifle of a Tarahumara scout.

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