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The Story of Mangas Coloradas

The Story of Mangas Coloradas
November 24
13:25 2021

The Story of Mangas Coloradas

By John Christian Hopkins

mangas Coloradas

Before Geronimo, before Cochise, there was Mangas Coloradas.

Mangas, who was Mimbreno Apache, was born around 1793. He earned his reputation fighting Mexicans in the 1820s and 1830s.

The Mexicans placed a bounty on any Apache scalp, and in 1837, the chief of the Coppermine Mimbrenos was killed. Mangas became chief, as well as war leader. He launched a punishing attack against the Mexicans.


In 1846, when the United States went to war against Mexico, the Apaches promised safe passage for American troops. After the war Mangas signed a peace treaty with the Americans.

As was usual when it came to treaties, it wasn’t the Indians who broke it.

Miners flocked to the Pinos Altos mining camp.

In 1851 a group of miners attacked Mangas, tying him to a tree and severely flogging him. Historians are divided on whether this event really occurred.

There was an uneasy peace, with minor clashes back and forth. Then, in 1860, a group of 30 miners attacked an Apache village. The Bascom Affair was the final straw.

Lt. George Bascom invited Cochise for a parlay, then – under a white flag of truce – the soldiers captured Cochise and his envoy,

Bascom accused the Apaches of kidnapping a rancher’s child and demanded the boy’s return.

The problem was that the Apaches hadn’t done it.

The lieutenant did not believe Cochise and threatened hanging. Cochise escaped, but Bascom had the chief’s brother and five of his warriors hung,

Following this, Mangas and Cochise joined forces and went to war against the Americans, determined to drive every white man out of Apache territory. They were joined in the fight by Victorio, Juh and Geronimo,

By this time, Mangas Coloradas was an old man, nearly 70 years old. He met with an emissary, seeking peace, in 1862. The old warrior decided to give peace another chance.

He arrived at Fort McLane, in southwestern New Mexico, under a flag of truce, to meet with Gen. Joseph Rodman West. But, as with Cochise earlier, the army violated the white flag and took Mangas prisoner.

It was a white man visiting the fort who reported what happened next.

“I want him dead tomorrow morning. Do you understand? I want him dead,” Gen. West ordered the guards.

Mangas was shackled, hand and foot. But the soldiers did not care. They laughed as they heated their bayonets in the fire and keep scalding the old man’s arms, legs and the soles of his feet.

Finally, though he was still heavily shackled, he was shot – trying to escape.

His head was cut off and his skull was put on display.

The Story of Mangas Coloradas - overview

Summary: The Story of Mangas Coloradas


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