In 1988, archaeologists from Human Systems Research, Inc. under contract to White Sands Missile Range, began the process of recording the Hembrillo Battlefield. In April of 1880, the Hembrillo Basin, better known for the stories of lost gold at Victorio Peak, was the scene of a two day battle between Apaches led by Victorio and troops under the command of Col. Edward Hatch.
Hatch's troops included companies of 9th Calvary "Buffalo Soldiers" as well as one company of 6th Cavalry and three companies of Apache Scouts borrowed from the Department of Arizona.
Thomas Cruse's book, "Apache Days and After," written as a memoir of his military experience in the southwest, was the primary reference on the battle. Cruse talked of a fight around a spring but no evidence of the battle could be found near the rock art.
Almost simultaneously, Bob Burton, White Sands Missile Range Archaeologist, found a cartridge or two on one of the ridges just west of the Hembrillo road and Harold Mounce, who lived in the basin as a 16-year old in 1950, led us to areas where he remembered finding cartridges. We knew a group of "Buffalo Soldiers" under Captain Henry Carroll had been pinned down overnight on April 6, 1880. Hatch later described Carroll's position as being on a low ridge, surrounded by Apaches on a semi-circle of higher ridges. As the first ridge on which we found cartridges matched that description, we proceeded to look for Apache positions behind every military crest that could be used to fire at that position. And we found them.Next Page
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