Ft. McDowell Patrol Report, May 9th, 1870

Ft. McDowell Patrol Reports

Edited by Bob Mason


This is one in a series of rare patrol reports written by the officer in charge immediately after the return to McDowell. They offer a first hand look at a soldier’s life there in the 1860s. The exact grammar and punctuation are reproduced. Parenthetical notations have been made by the editor for clarity, except for numerals, which were included by the officer writing the report.


H’d Qrs Camp McDowell, A.T. (Arizona Territory)

May 9th, 1870


To The

Assistant Adjutant General,

Sub District of Arizona

Tucson Depot, A.T.




I have the honor to report briefly the result of operations against the hostile Indians up to the 7th of May, by the Expedition ordered in Post Orders No. 63, dated HdQrs Camp McDowell, April 15th, 1870.

The Expedition left Camp McDowell on the 16th and 17th insts., and from that time was occupied in scouting the country to the north of Camp Reno, including the valleys on Tonto and Meadow Valley Creeks, and the Sierra Ancha Mountains.

No fresh Indian signs were discovered, and it was evident that very few, if any, of the bands which usually infest that Section were present.

Later I found that they were burning Muscal south of the Salt River.

On the 24th of April, the whole command moved down Tonto Creek, and from thence up the Rio Salado (Salt River).

On the 28th of April I took a party of Cavalry and crossed on to Pinal Creek (north of today’s Globe) in the night, hoping to be able to surprise some Apaches there. None were found however; but, a field of Wheat was discovered next day, which I had completely destroyed, after feeding my animals all they wished of it.

On the 29th of April I moved to the head of Pinal Creek; sending Capt. Weinhold, 3rd Cavalry, and Lt. Smith in one direction; while I moved in another along the base of the Pinal Mountains. No Indians were discovered.

On the 30th of April I moved up the East Fork with about half of the command, sending Bvt. Major P. Collins with a Detachment to the eastward in the direction of the San Carlos River.

The Major returned on the morning of the 1st of May, having succeeded n surprising a party of Apaches; killing eleven (11) and capturing four (4). I append his report of his operations, which were managed with great energy, and were deservedly successful.

On the 2nd of May, I moved down Pinal Creek with the whole command, for the purpose of scouting the Apache Mountains (now called the Sierra Ancha Wilderness), and country on the upper Salt River. Near the wheat fields of the Pinal, I met on the same day, a party of Cavalry from Camp Grant – 3rd Cavalry – (Southeast Arizona) under command of Lt. W. B. Cushing 3 Cavly. They had been scouting the country to the west of the Pinal Mountains, while I was similarly occupied on the eastern slope.

On the morning of the 3rd of May I left Major Collins in camp on Pinal Creek, and with Captain Weinhold, 3rd Cavalry, and fifty (50) mounted men crossed the Apache mountains and explored the country thoroughly, for Apache tracks were everywhere visible and all leading in the same direction; namely, towards the White mountains. They were however some two (2) days old, and had too good a start to be recovered.

I again met Lieut. Cushing on Salt River, and he informed me that his observations agreed with mine in regard to the fact that the Indians had all gone to the eastward. After consultation with him, I decided to cross the Salt River and push on, while he turned to the S.E. and towards the San Carlos (River).

In the evening I struck a creek; which proved to be Cherry Creek, and following up the canyon, camped on good grass, after a very tiresome march lasting over ten (10) hours, and not less than thirty-five (35) miles long.

The next day I crossed the divide of the Sierra Ancha, and camped on Salt River.

The Indians by this time had established a complete watch on the command, and the moment we moved in any direction smokes were started on every mountain peak.

On the 5th of May, Major Collins joined me, and on the 7th, I returned to Camp Reno, to procure rations, and rest the men and animals. Two (2) horses belonging to “B” Troop, 3rd Cavalry, gave out on this expedition, and the Troop Commander reported the rest of them as in a very bad condition.

I have returned to Camp McDowell for the purpose of changing Capt. Weinhold’s Troop for Captain Sutorius’, and shall probably also relieve Major Collins’ Company, by “G” 21st Infantry under Lieut. Ross.

This will somewhat cut down the mounted strength, as Captain Sutorius is only able to mount thirty (30) men.

The grass and water are very scarce just now, and the horses suffer considerably. I intend to start from Reno with another Expedition in a few days – probably by the 12th of May; and expect to cross the Sierra Ancha and strike Salt River up near the Chivico country. From thence I will, if practicable, come down into the San Carlos again, and make another sweep through the Pinal Country.

I have the honor to forward herewith copy of a Map showing the trails followed by the different parties in the Expedition


I am, Sir,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant

Geo. B. Sanford            

Captain 1st Cavalry

Bvt. and Lt. Colonel U.S.Army



Author: Bob Mason

Bob Mason. a frequent contributor to The Peak, is the author of “Verde Valley Lore” and “MORE Verde Valley Lore,” collections of stories of the lower Verde River Valley area and “The Burning,” a novel based on the true story of a pioneer family near Ft. McDowell in the 1870s. His books are available at the Cave Creek Museum in Cave Creek, Gridleys and the River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills and the Village Green in Rio Verde.

Share This Post On
468 ad

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.