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U.S. Army Correspondence (1863-65)

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Although there were occasional confrontations between Union and Confederate forces in the borderlands during the Civil War, for most of the residents of Arizona Territory, the 1860s were far more memorable not for the war between North and South, but for the onset of a fierce conflict with the region’s Apache peoples.  Union and Confederate campaigns alike often united individuals from a number of the borderland's ethnic groups together in their hostility against the Apache.  Because of their intimate knowledge of the local geography, for instance, Tohono O’odham or Mexican Americans frequently served as scouts on raids in the 1860s, while Anglo American volunteered as civilian auxiliaries.

One of the most successful of these mixed campaigns took place in May, 1863 when Jesús María Elías and several “tame Apaches” living outside of Tucson guided a unit of soldiers under Captain Thomas Tidball of the U.S. Army from Tucson to Aravaipa Canyon.  Surprising an Apache encampment located in the canyon near daybreak, the party managed to kill some sixty Apaches and take another ten women and children captive.  Eight years later, many aspects of this attack—the early morning hour, the combination of Tohono O’odham, Mexican American, and Anglo forces, Jesús María Elías’s role as a guide—would become features of the much more controversial Camp Grant Massacre.