JF Ptak Science Books Post 1355
The Chiricahuan Apache leader and chief, Geronimo (1829-1909), famously led a progressively diminishing band through the Apache Wars of the 1850's-1880's. For thirty years of so he quirted the U.S. Cavalry, darting here and there in great exploits and famous escapes, evading the armies of the United States and Mexico. In the end, by 1886, there were just dozens who were following him, including women and children, and the elderly, ragged, tired, hungry, and pretty much, finally, beaten.
I think what finally did Geronimo in were the miles of pursuit and the sun.
The sun got to him via the heliographic communication network established by Major W.J. Volkman under the direction of General Nelson Miles (the other "miles" of this equation of defeat), which allowed the pursuing American army to communicate instantaneously over great distances, over hundreds of miles, without the need for runners or men or horseback or cutable telegraph wires or time The heliograph is an ancient instrument, used for more than two thousand years--in this case, they were very highly polished mirrors that reflected brilliant signals between stations, getting their light source from the sun. It allowed the army an enormous advantage, and one that finally caught up to Geronimo.
The "miles" were just those, the thousands of miles Geronimo was tracked and retracked over that very difficult terrain in the southeastern part of Arizona and into northern Mexico, sharp mountains, endless badlands, caves, heat, height, cold....very difficult. (I've been there on treks.. .its tough land.)
The capitalized "Miles" was the surname of General Nelson A. Miles who sent out with Lt. Col. George F. Crook to track down and capture Geronimo--and they almost did, again, in late MArch, 1886, when Geronimo presumably surrendered, but then fled to Mexico. After another five months and 1,600 miles, Miles came upon Geronimo om in Sonoran mountain camp, and induced him for the final time in September, 1886, at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona.
The details of the capture and surrender are told in many places by many others--I just wanted to surface the role of the sun in the capture of Geronimo.
The old man (who lived until 1909 and outlived just about everybody involved with hunting him down except for General Miles, who died in 1925) was shipped east, never to see Arizona again. He died after being thrown from his horse and contracting pneumonia as a result of being unable to help himself to safety through a long cold night, died in a bed as a prisoner in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
[The original map is available from our blog bookstore.]