When Carleton’s mission against the Confederacy in New Mexico failed, he quickly turned his attention to the troublesome Mescalero Apaches near Fort Stanton. On September 27,1862, General Carleton met with Colonel Kit Carson at Fort Marcy in Santa Fe. Carleton ordered Carson with five companies of his New Mexico Volunteers, to reoccupy Fort Stanton, one of the forts in Mescalero Apache country. On his way to reoccupy the fort, Carson received the orders to pursue and kill all Apache men and take the women and children captive to the fort.

Carleton gave Carson free reign to conduct the campaign any way he wished as long as the Apaches were soundly beaten. The military, under Carson, pursued, killed and captured the Apache wherever they went. Along those captured was Chief Cadete, who was ushered to Santa Fe for peace talks and unequivocal surrender. Chief Cadete appealed for respect and mercy. The General told Cadete that “if he desired to avoid a collison with our troops, he must withdraw his people, with all their effects, from the country occupied by the tribe and cease to have communications with it.” Further, he told Cadete that his troops would continue to attack the Mescaleros until they agreed to migrate to the new reservation he had planned. Facing certain extermination at the hands of Carleton’s and Carson’s military force, and tricked into thinking they would be given a new reservation in their own country near Fort Stanton, Cadete, worn out and exhausted, agreed to Carleton’s terms and surrendered. In January 1863 nearly 500 Mescalero Apache were forced to leave their homeland and were exiled to Fort Sumner, more than 100 miles away from their homes.

On February 1, 1863, Carleton reported to Washington that “the Mescalero Apaches had been completely subdued.”


“I was a boy when they moved the Mescaleros from their homeland to the Bosque at Fort Sumner. My people had been hunting with bows and arrows. The soldiers spied their camp and there was a big fight. They whipped the soldiers for a while but how could they fight against guns with only rocks, bows and arrows? For a long time we fight and hide and starve. Then our Chief Cadete make a counsel with the White Eyes. Many warriors had been killed, many people hungry and cold and Cadete think we better do what Kit Carson say. He tell us if we go to the Bosque Redondo on the Pecos, they feed us. What can we do?”

—Mescalero Scout Big Mouth

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