By Mick Woodcock

As more and more Anglo miners and settlers moved to Arizona, conflict with the local inhabitants was generally inevitable. This constant state of warfare with the various tribal groups caused the Army to send Lieutenant Colonel (later promoted to Brigadier General) George Crook to be commander of the newly created Military Department of Arizona in 1871.

While the Hualapais had been more or less peaceful, resentment built as Anglo trafficon the Hardyville Road between Prescott and the Colorado River increased. All-out warfare was started in early 1866 when Prescott teamster Sam Miller, formerly of the Walker Party, shot and killed Hualapai leader Wauba Yuba when the natives would not let Miller’s wagons leave Beale Springs without giving up part of a government beef herd traveling with Miller. This ended in 1870 with the last Hualapai band surrendering.

December 28, 1872, a force commanded by Major William H. Brown, Fifth United States Cavalry Regiment and Captain James Burns commanding Company G, Fifth United States Cavalry Regiment including Pima auxiliaries, surprised the camp of Yavapai leader Nanni-chaddi in the Salt River Canyon.

Declining to surrender, the Yavapai decided to fight it out. One warrior managed to escape though wounded. Eighteen women and children were captured, all with wounds. Seventy-six bodies were left in the cave, thus giving the rock shelter its subsequent name, Skeleton Cave.

In March 1873, another telling blow was dealt the Yavapai as a secure stronghold on Turret Mountain was attacked by a column commanded by Major George M. Randall, Twenty-Third United States Infantry Regiment. Led by a captured woman, the dawn attack was the final blow to large scale hostile resistance.

A patrol led by Second Lieutenant Charles King with Company K, Fifth United States Cavalry Regiment and Indian Scouts were tracking stock thieves. They stopped at Sunset Pass on the Little Colorado River on the evening of November 1, 1874. King and a few men went on foot to scout around and were ambushed by the Yavapai who they had been trailing.

King was wounded by two arrows to the head and a bullet to the right arm. His First Sergeant, Bernard Taylor, rescued him and in doing so received the Medal of Honor. King’s wounds were so serious that Contract Surgeon Warren E. Day was brought from Fort Verde to dress them.

Day saved King’s arm, but King retired from the service a few years later because of the disability. King went on to be a successful novelist, drawing on his army experiences for many of his works. Day was released from the army at the end of his contract when he moved to Prescott and set up a medical practice that lasted his lifetime.

Crook offered small rewards for the heads of band leaders that refused to come in to the reservation. The last was Delshay, who it turned out had two heads. One was brought in to the San Carlos Agency. The other was a scalp and ear turned in at the Rio Verde Agency. Crook happily paid the bounty on both.

In the summer of 1881, a White Mountain Apache medicine man named Noch-ay-del-klinne, nicknamed The Prophet, held “ghost dance” meetings on the reservation, promising that the white men would leave the country. His influence alarmed agent J. C. Tiffney at San Carlos Agency who wanted him arrested. The duty finally fell to Colonel (later Brigadier General) Eugene A. Carr, commander at Fort Apache.

Carr’s column headed for the camp at Cibecue Creek where The Prophet had lately been holding meetings on August 29. He was arrested by Carr’s troops to be brought in for questioning. At the first night’s camp site, the Apache scouts from Cibecue mutinied, firing at the soldiers and killing two outright. Others from the Cibecue camp joined them.

The soldiers killed The Prophet, buried their dead, and slipped out under the cover of night. They returned to the fort on August 30. The next day Apaches attacked the un-walled post, cutting the telegraph lines, setting fire to some of the buildings and wounding several soldiers. Signal Corpsman Will C. Barnes went for help, thus earning the Medal of Honor.

In July 1882 warriors from Cibecue, still upset about the arrest and killing of The Prophet, united behind a man named Na-ti-o-tish, who had escaped arrest at San Carlos Agency. Beginning an eleven-day reign of terror, they were stopped in a battle during a rain storm at Big Dry Wash where the Army concentrated troops from several forts.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International ( This and other Days Past articles are also available at The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles to contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 14, or via email at for information.