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Wrath of Cochise
Cover of Wrath of Cochise
Wrath of Cochise
The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars
Borrow Borrow

In a powerful evocation of the spirit and drama of the American West, the harrowing story of the feud that ignited the Apache Wars.


In February 1861, the twelve-year-old son of Arizona rancher John Ward was kidnapped by Apaches. Ward followed their trail and reported the incident to patrols at Fort Buchanan, blaming a band of Chiricahuas led by the infamous warrior Cochise. Though Ward had no proof that Cochise had kidnapped his son, Lt. George Bascom organized a patrol and met with the Apache leader, who, not suspecting anything was amiss, had brought along his wife, his brother, and two sons. Despite Cochise's assertions that he had not taken the boy and his offer to help in the search, Bascom immediately took Cochise's family hostage and demanded the return of the boy. An incensed Cochise escaped the meeting tent amidst flying bullets and vowed revenge. What followed that precipitous encounter would ignite a Southwestern frontier war between the Chiricahuas and the US Army that would last twenty-five years. In the days following the initial melee, innocent passersby—Apache, white, and Mexican—would be taken as hostages on both sides, and almost all of them would be brutally slaughtered. Cochise would lead his people valiantly for ten years of the decades-long war. Thousands of lives would be lost, the economies of Arizona and New Mexico would be devastated, and in the end, the Chiricahua way of life would essentially cease to exist.
In a gripping narrative that often reads like an old-fashioned Western novel, Terry Mort explores the collision of these two radically different cultures in a masterful account of one of the bloodiest conflicts in our frontier history.

In a powerful evocation of the spirit and drama of the American West, the harrowing story of the feud that ignited the Apache Wars.


In February 1861, the twelve-year-old son of Arizona rancher John Ward was kidnapped by Apaches. Ward followed their trail and reported the incident to patrols at Fort Buchanan, blaming a band of Chiricahuas led by the infamous warrior Cochise. Though Ward had no proof that Cochise had kidnapped his son, Lt. George Bascom organized a patrol and met with the Apache leader, who, not suspecting anything was amiss, had brought along his wife, his brother, and two sons. Despite Cochise's assertions that he had not taken the boy and his offer to help in the search, Bascom immediately took Cochise's family hostage and demanded the return of the boy. An incensed Cochise escaped the meeting tent amidst flying bullets and vowed revenge. What followed that precipitous encounter would ignite a Southwestern frontier war between the Chiricahuas and the US Army that would last twenty-five years. In the days following the initial melee, innocent passersby—Apache, white, and Mexican—would be taken as hostages on both sides, and almost all of them would be brutally slaughtered. Cochise would lead his people valiantly for ten years of the decades-long war. Thousands of lives would be lost, the economies of Arizona and New Mexico would be devastated, and in the end, the Chiricahua way of life would essentially cease to exist.
In a gripping narrative that often reads like an old-fashioned Western novel, Terry Mort explores the collision of these two radically different cultures in a masterful account of one of the bloodiest conflicts in our frontier history.

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About the Author-
  • Terry Mort is the author of The Hemingway Patrols and divides his time between Arizona and Colorado.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 14, 2013
    This enthralling chronicle of cultural misunderstandings far surpasses the title’s parameters. Mort (The Hemingway Patrols) examines the 1861 kidnapping of the 12-year-old son of a white Arizona rancher, the U.S. army’s efforts to find him, and the decades of cross-cultural violence that ensued when the army blamed the wrong guy. The author contends that Lt. George Bascom’s mistaken conviction that local native chief Cochise ordered the kidnapping was a result of Bascom’s ignorance of power dynamics between groups of Chiricahuas, one of many populations whites referred to as “Apache,” a term without organizational meaning for those to whom it was ascribed. Mort is as equally thorough in describing white society’s views of the natives as he is in illuminating the complex Chiricahuas, their precise and imagery-laden language, leadership structures, and ideas about revenge. He daringly pushes past conflicting historical records, but is always cautious to clearly signal narrative flourishes. Beyond the thrilling tale of the kidnapping and the Apache Wars, Mort’s history is also a meditation on the metaphysical underpinnings of each belligerent’s ways of thinking, and how the differences between them contributed to the viciousness of the conflict. 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group.

  • The Wall Street Journal

    "Compact, crisply written and provocative . . . Simply as a narrative of Western warfare, Mr. Mort's lucid, often beautifully written book is a pleasure to read. But he also poses questions that take his story to a deeper, morally challenging plane."

  • Associated Press "Meticulously written. Mort makes a fascinating read of every subject he takes up."
  • Kirkus Reviews "A unique biography of Ernest Hemingway's decision to volunteer and hunt German U-boats in the Gulf Stream. It was this quest that would shape much of The Old Man and the Sea. A rewarding read about the inner workings of an artistic mind."
  • Philip Caputo, author of A Rumor of War and Acts of Faith

    "Epic in scope. Terry Mort tells the story of a little-known period in the life of one of America's greatest novelists."

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The Bascom Affair and the Origins of the Apache Wars
Terry Mort
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