~ Mangas Coloradas ~
"Red Sleeves"

 

Born 1791 ~ Died Jan.18, 1863

 

Mangas Coloradas, Spanish for "Red Sleeves", emerged as the great Chief of the Beonkohes Apache in southwestern New Mexico after the Mexican-instigated massacre of many Apache Indians in 1837.

He sought friendly relations with the miners and the mining camp at Pinos Altos, who were under constant threat from the Apaches and an occasional band of Navajos. The miners and the Indians were not good neighbors. In the spring of 1860 Chief Mangas Coloradas was invited for a "friendly" visit to the Pinos Altos mining camp. The treacherous miners tied him to a tree and lashed him unmercifully with their bullwhips. When the chief recovered from his wounds he enlisted his son-in-law's help. His son-in-law was Chief Cochise, and revenge was an important factor in Chiricahua Apache warfare. Upon recovery, Mangas gathered his forces and drove the miners out. With his son-in-law, Cochise, he defended Apache Pass against Gen. James H. Carleton's California Column in 1862.

In a later skirmish Mangas, then in his seventies, was struck by a bullet in the chest. Surviving but in fragile health, Mangas sought to parley for peace. In January 1863 Mangas agreed to meet with an officer of the California militia. It turned out to be a trap! Mangas was locked up at Ft. McLane. Some soldiers began to taunt him one night with heated bayonets, he rose to protect himself and was shot dead. The official report was that he was trying to escape. Because of its large size, his head was cut off, boiled, and sent back East to be exhibited as a curio at public lectures. 

Most aficionados of New Mexico history are unaware that Mangas was a legend in his own time and a father-in-law of the famous Cochise. Mangas was incredibly tall for an Apache (well over 6' 4") making a visual impact where ever he appeared.

He was a man at peace with himself and his domain. One of his favorite rancherias was Santa Rita del Cobre near Silver City. Ironically, it was close to this site that he was brutally murdered by a race he tried to befriend. Unfortunately, trying to make peace with the advancing horde of white settlers, ranchers and miners was like trying to swim against a rip tide.

However, that was usually his stand, peace first, but when betrayed, he turned on his tormentors and wreaked havoc on both sides of the border. Even in death this was true and his cruel betrayal by the military caused the Apache wars to continue their bloody swath through settlements and lonely ranches for more than two decades as his people sought to prevent greedy encroachment into their territory.

He had won his reputation as a warrior in battle with treacherous military leaders from Sonora who used just about every miserable and degrading trick to destroy all Apaches. For over four decades his tactics saved his people as they tried to co-exist with the Mexican.

 

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Created on May 25, 1999 ~ Updated July 5, 2005 by Who Else....PurpleHawk