Military Administration

The Civil War divided the USA into two camps: The Union & the Confederates. All of The New Mexico Territory (AZ & NM) were claimed by the Confederates in 1861, but they were soon driven out following the small battle at Picacho Peak (AZ) Feb 15, 1862, and the much more significant battle at Glorieta Pass (NM); which they lost.

The Glorieta Pass March 26-28, 1862, was the major Civil War battle in the West, eliminating the Confederate investment in the West.

Regular Army (Union) Forces were primarily engaged in the Eastern half of this Country in fighting the Civil war until its conclusion 1865. The Arizona Territory was spilt out of The New Mexico Territory in 1863, with army administration shifting from New Mexico to California. The Military Department of Arizona wasn’t formed until 1867.

The ongoing Indian Wars in the Arizona received little oversight or funding, until 1870. Even then conflicts and confusion and frequent changes in local, regional and National leadership led to little progress or security for the European pioneer settlers in the Territories, in the 1860’s. Federal strategy remained conflicted between the “military solution” and The Superintendent of Indian Affairs’ “diplomatic approach”.

The military posts:

“Whipple Barracks”

The Arizona Territorial military post was initially set up November 1863, at Del Rio Springs, in Chino Valley. The subsequent establishment of the Territorial Capitol of Arizona in Prescott caused the military to relocate their principle base of operations to the Fort Whipple site in 1864. Whipple was primarily a cavalry Post to protect the Territorial Capital area and its supply routes.

[Note: The Arizona Territorial Capital was moved to Tucson 1867 to1877, then back to Prescott in 1877 until 1889, when it was moved to Phoenix.]

Today it is a major Medical Center for the Veterans Administration.

On April 15, 1870, General Gregg was assigned to head up the newly established Headquarters for The Military Department of Arizona at Whipple. He soon got into hot water with the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and he was transferred out in December, 1870. He wanted to put the Indians under heavy military pressure. This continued the political dispute of what strategy to implement in order to obtain a peaceful settlement with the American Indians in Arizona. This cycle of conflict between Military solution vs the Superintendent of Indian Affairs position of appeasement & protracted negotiations confounded military field operations and thwarted progress in the Indian Wars in Arizona for several years.

Continued deadly raids by the Indians on settlers and their livestock, on Freight and Mail transportation and a lack of Indian cooperation with efforts to get them onto Reservations appears to have finally provided General George Crook with the opportunity to put a successful plan together that contained the Indians and brought peace to most of the Arizona Territory by 1873.

Mining, Military and civilian operations required military protection. Stage routes, Pony Express routes and the main supply route of Mule or Oxen drawn Freight Trains to the Territorial Capital in Prescott, were critical. Cargo was shipped up the Colorado River to the Erinberg, area near La Paz. The La Paz to Prescott wagon Road was an arduous and sometimes dangerous trip Eastward across mostly unoccupied desert waste lands to the Date Creek area where the trail forked northward some 60 miles to Prescott, or to the Southeast 30 miles to the Wickenburg area, which was developing into a productive gold mining area.

General Crook’s campaign of 1871-1872 was completed and a peace treaty was signed at Camp Verde. On May 1, 1873, some 800 Yavapai Indians left Camp Date Creek for the Camp Verde Reservation. They were moved to the San Carlos Reservation in 1875. Today the Prescott Yavapai Tribe has a small reservation in the Prescott area.

Fort Whipple1s first telegraph: The first pole of the military’s telegraph line, to connect Prescott and the Territory of Arizona with San Francisco and civilization was placed in position September 2nd, 1873.

Ft. Whipple was discontinued in 1898, when the Territorial Capital was moved to Phoenix. Then regarrisoned in 1902, and built new officers’ quarters in 1904. It was abandoned in 1913. It was transferred to the Department of Treasury in 1922, and then began operations as a VA Hospital that continues today.

Camp Date Creek (1867-1874):

In 1864 an army 4th infantry Company “G” of the California Volunteers was assigned to the Date Creek area adjacent to this Trail junction. They were State militia mostly Mexican Americans recruited in the California area. In late 1865, an Arizona Volunteer Company “F” was also formed with new recruits and assigned to the Date Creek area. NOTE: Arizona Territory was authorized to recruit Militia Volunteers under the restriction “until the War (Civil) was over”; thus they should have been discharged in late 1865. In early 1966 The Arizona 1st Infantry Company “F” vacated Date Creek and moved to Skull Valley. They may well have moved in anticipation of the arrival in February 1966 of regular army companies “H” and “I” of the 14th Infantry composed of 2 officers and 52 men mostly new recruits. On 13 August 1966, the Battle at Grapevine Springs in Skull Valley resulted in 23 Indians dead and their attack of a Freight Wagon train was thwarted due to the presence of the company “F” Volunteers under Lt Oscar Hutton.

Local settlers and the Governor tried get the Army to retain the more experienced “Volunteers”, but were unsuccessful and Company “F” were all discharged by September 1966. In October 1866, Date Creek was again vacated as Companies “H” & “I”, relocated to Skull Valley and established Camp Skull Valley. Brivit Captain John Weir set his men to work building two large buildings. [Probably a Barracks & a Warehouse /Barn].

In January 1867, Commander of the Pacific Major General Halleck issued an order for the” Establishment of A Camp McPherson along Date Creek as a temporary post 60 miles southwest of Prescott in Yavapai County. It was created to protect travelers on the road from La Paz to Prescott. The post was named for Brig. Gen. James B. McPherson who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.”

In spite of Captain Weir’s building program in Skull Valley, a Camp Inspection in April 1867, informed them to move back to Date Creek. Arriving on May 11, 1867, there camp was called Camp McPherson, but due to mesquite and malaria problems, they twice relocated further away from the creek. Capt. Weir then set to work building facilities (his main skillset) and doing some protective services along the La Paz Trail.

1867 The Territorial Capitol of Arizona was moved to Tucson in 1867, and remained there until being returned back to Prescott in 1877 where it remained until the 15th Legislature passed authorization moving it to Phoenix on January 26, 1889.

In February 1868, Capt. Weir and most of Company “H” were transferred to The Colorado River Reservation to rebuild Camp Mansfield. They returned briefly in August, but In November were permanently transferred there. Captain George Whitefield Daves of Company “I” than was given command of Camp McPherson and soon its name was changed back to Camp Date Creek, in November 1868.

General Edward o. C. Ord took command of the Department of California and espoused a policy of Indian ‘Extermination”. Captain Davis and most of Company “I” were transferred out in May 1869, following difficulties of being under staffed, insufficient supplies & equipment and poor morale. 1st Lt George Evans, 21st Infantry Company “H” took over Command of Date Creek in June 1869. Indian raids in the Vulture Mine area necessitated a detachment of 21 men to patrol & escort the road to the Smelter. Indian depredations in the Prescott area were continuing unabated.

1870: Brevet Major General George Stoneman took up the newly created Military Department of Arizona, based at Whipple. At Camp Date Creek an inspection in Feb 1870, reported 5 officers & 175 men; compared to 1 officer & 45 men were available for field duty earlier under Daves.

On 30 March 1870 Camp Date Creek was declared as a Military Reservation 6 miles (E-W) and 2.5 miles (N-S), a little over 5600 acres. The confused Indian policy remained.

In July 1870, Captain O’Brierne, commander of Camp Date Creek was approached with the suggestion that Chief Ochocama and the Yavapai’s in the Santa Maria River area wanted to be considered as Reservation Indians. O’Briene observed that the Indians were in a famished condition and with little clothing.

General Stonernan’s tried out Indian feed stations set up at Date Creek Reservation and handed out blankets, trying to entice the Indians onto the new reservation hoping to reduce the need for military force. The Board of Indian Commissioners agreed with Stoneman. Governor Safford and the settlers were hostile toward Stoneman and he was soon transferred out.


1871 Command of the Department of Arizona was turned over to Brevet Major General George Crook in June 1871. He made an extended reconnaissance of his Command and consulted with the Governor, most of his military field officers, then put the Indians on notice: Move to the reservations peacefully or take the chance of being shot by the Army. President Grant appointee, Vincent Colyer, as Secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners was sent to seek a conciliatory solution. He arrived in August and called off General Crooks military plan. Crook then ordered an Indian feeding program at Date Creek starting in October of 1871.

On November 5th a band of Indians under Chief Ochocama ambushed the West bound Stage near Wickenburg and killed the driver and 4 passengers, two others escaped. A well-known Boston journalist was among the dead. General Crook gathered intelligence and set up a plan to trap Ochocama and his gang at Date Creek. This plan was also thwarted by the arrival of Oliver Otis Howard, another Peace envoy; who suggested that the “900 poverty stricken Indians near” Camp Date Creek be moved to the Colorado River Reservation. On July 6, 1872, Doctor Josephus Williams arrived at Date Creek as the first Indian Agent, hired by the Department of Interior, to administer Indian Affairs at the Camp. Williams instituted a daily roll call of the Indians in order to reinforce the order that they were not to leave the Post without written permission.

Malarial fever struck the Indians in August with as many as 5 dying per day. Charles Genung had hired 40 of the Indians on construction of the new cut-off road from Wickenburg to Prescott & on his ranch in Peeples Valley. Williams allowed several hundred of the other Indians to go to the higher Country to recover from the fever. On September 4, part of these raided the Cullun’s Stage Station steeling all of the livestock. This latest attack somehow released General Crook from the restraint of the Indian Service.

He first carried out his plan to trap Chief Ochocama for the Nov 5th Wickenburg Stage Coach Ambush. Then he began his famous winter campaign of 1872 – 1873, against the Yavapai and Apache Indians in North Central Arizona. On May 1, 1873 the Yavapai from Date Creek started their march to the Verde Reservation. There were over 1000 Indians there by the end of 1873. This post was closed in 187 4 and is now administered by the Arizona State Land Department.

Post-Civil War transition!

Communications in the 1860’s was a challenge as the telegraph lines had not been built yet from Los Angeles to Prescott and on to Santa Fe, NM. US mail was carried into the Territory once a week, when not delayed or disrupted or stolen by the Indians.

The Volunteer militias because they were better trained & equipped then the new recruits of the regular army’s Company “H” sent in to replace them in February 1866.

Company “F” relocated to Skull Valley and set up Camp under the command of Captain James W. Weir, they stayed for 6 months and built two buildings: 60x20x1 O & one 90x20x10. As a result of a military inspection in March 1967, they were ordered to return to the Date Creek area. They moved back to Date creek in May 11, 1967.

. January 23, 1867, Brig. General Gregg had received orders to establish a “Camp McPherson” along Date Creek. It was created to protect travelers on the road from La Paz to Prescott It was renamed Camp Date Creek in Nov 1868. April 6, 1873 Crook’s campaign against the Yavapai was completed and peace treaty was signed at Camp Verde. On May1, 1873, 800 Yavapai left the Military Reservation at Camp Date Creek for transfer to the Camp Verde Reservation. They were later moved to San Carlos Reservation in 1875.

General Crook’s successful winter campaign against the Apache & Yavapai Indians in 1872-1873, ended most of the Indian Wars in Arizona. The post was given up in 1874, and returned to the Public Domain. It currently is administered by the State Lands Department of Arizona.

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