Victorio (Bidu-ya, Beduiat; ca. 1825October 14, 1880) was a warrior and chief of the Warm Springs band of the Tchihendeh (or Chihenne, usually called Mimbreño) division of the central Apaches in what is now the American states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

Bidu-ya, Beduiat
Tchihende Apache leader
Preceded byCuchillo Negro (Warm Springs Tchihende), Mangas Coloradas (Coppermine Tchihende)
Succeeded byNana
Personal details
Bornc. 1825
New Mexico, First Mexican Republic
Died(1880-10-14)October 14, 1880 (aged 55)
Tres Castillos, Mexico
Cause of deathKilled by Mexican soldiers during the Battle of Tres Castillos
Resting placeDoña Ana County, New Mexico, United States
Military service
  • He who checks his horse
  • Apache Wolf
Battles/warsApache Pass, Percha River, San Mateos Mountains, Animas Creek, Alma Massacre, Fort Tularosa, Aleman's Wells, Hembrillo Canyon, Quitman Canyon, Tres Castillos

War leader and chief

Victorio grew up in the Chihenne band. There is speculation that he or his band had Navajo kinship ties and was known among the Navajo as "he who checks his horse". Victorio's sister was the famous woman warrior Lozen, or the "Dextrous Horse Thief".

In 1853 he was considered a chief or sub-chief by the United States Army and signed a document. In his twenties, he rode with Mangas Coloradas, leader of the Coppermine band of the Tchihendeh people and principal leader of the whole Tchihendeh Apache division (who took him as his son-in-law), and Cuchillo Negro, leader of the Warm Springs band of the Tchihendeh people and second principal leader of the whole Tchihendeh Apache division, as well as did Nana, Delgadito, Cochise, Juh, Geronimo and other Apache leaders. Mangas Coloradas taught Victorio how to create an ambush and to wait for enemies to enter the killing zone.[1] As was the custom, he became the leader of a large mixed band of Mimbreños and Mescaleros (led by his friend and probably brother-in-law as husband of another daughter of Mangas Coloradas, as well the same Cochise Caballero) and fought against the United States Army.

From 1870 to 1880, Victorio, chief of the Coppermine Mimbreños and principal leader of all the Tchihende, along with Loco, chief of the Warm Spring Mimbreños and second-ranking among the Tchihende, were moved to and left at least three different reservations, some more than once, despite their bands' request to live on traditional lands. Victorio, Loco and the Mimbreños were moved to San Carlos Reservation in Arizona Territory in 1877. Victorio and his followers (including old Nana) left the reservation twice, seeking and temporarily obtaining hospitality in Fort Stanton Reservation among their Sierra Blanca and Sacramento Mescalero allies and relatives (Caballero was probably Victorio's brother-in-law and Mangus' uncle, San Juan was too an old friend and Nana's wife was a Mescalero woman), before they came back to Ojo Caliente only to leave permanently in late August 1879, which started Victorio's War. Despite Nautzili's efforts, many Northern Mescalero warriors, led by Caballero and Muchacho Negro, joined him with their families, and San Juan and other Mescaleros also left their reservation; many Guadalupe and Limpia Mescalero too (Carnoviste and Alsate were close allies to Victorio after 1874) joined Victorio's people. Victorio was successful at raiding and evading capture by the military, and won a significant engagement at Las Animas Canyon on September 18 1879. Within a few months Victorio led an impressive series of other brilliant fights against troops of the 9th, 10th and 6th U.S. Cavalry near the Percha River (Rio Puerco) (January 1 1880), in the San Mateos Mountains (January 17 1880) and in the Cabello Mountains near the Animas Creek (January 30, 1880), and again near Aleman's Wells, San Andres Mountains west of White Sands, (February 2 1880), then again in the San Andres Mountains (perhaps near Victorio’s Peak) routing the cavalrymen and chasing them to the Rio Grande (February 9th1889), then (April 4 1880) at Hembrillo Canyon, San Andres Mountains. In April 1880, Victorio was credited with leading the Alma Massacre – a raid on United States settlers' homes around Alma, New Mexico. During this event, 41 settlers were killed. Victorio's warriors were finally driven off by the arrival of American soldiers from Fort Bayard. However, Victorio continued his campaign with the attack on Fort Tularosa, where his warriors had to face a detachment (K troop) of the 9th Cavalry and were repulsed by the "Buffalo Soldiers" after a harsh fight.[2] Victorio's camp near the Rio Palomas, in the Black Range, was surprised and attacked on May 23–25, 1880, but the Mimbreños and Mescaleros succeeded in repulsing the soldiers. After the Rio Palomas battle, Victorio went on some raids to Mexico repeatedly fording the Rio Grande, after having been intercepted and beaten off, with a 60 warriors' party, at Quitman Canyon (July 30, 1880). Chased by more than 4.000 armed men (9th, 10th, 6th U.S. Cavalry, 15th U.S. Infantry, Texas Rangers) Victorio fooled all of them during more than one month. On August 9, 1880 Victorio and his band attacked a stagecoach and mortally wounded retired Major General James J. Byrne.[3]

Last stand and death

In October 1880, while moving along the Rio Grande in north-eastern Chihuahua (a land well-known to the Guadalupe and Limpia Southern Mescaleros), having sent Nana and Mangus to raid for food and ammunition, Victorio, with only a few warriors and even less ammunition, and his band were surrounded and killed by soldiers of the Mexican Army under Colonel Joaquin Terrazas in the Battle of Tres Castillos (29.967°N 105.783°W / 29.967; -105.783).[4][5][6]

An 1886 appendix for Papers Relating to the Foreign Nations of the United States states that, contemporaneously, the Tarahumara Scout credited with killing Victorio in 1880 was Mauricio Corredor.[7] Apache lore states that Victorio actually committed suicide with a knife rather than face capture, historians such as Kathleen Chamberlain note that the Mexicans at the battle could not identify which body was Victorio's.[8][9]

An Apache chief named "Vittorio" and loosely based on Victorio appears as a minor antagonist in Harry Whittington's 1963 novel Desert Stake-Out. Vittorio takes several people captive after learning that one of them murdered his brother, but later releases them upon learning that the killer is already dead and that the novel's protagonist, Merrick, is well regarded by the Mescaleros.

See also


  1. Schubert, Frank N. (1997). Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898. Scholarly Resources Inc. p. 49. ISBN 9780842025867.
  2. (nd) Alma Massacre Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 6/11/07.
  3. Gillett, James B. (1921). Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875 to 1881 (1 ed.). Austin, Tex: von Boeckmann-Jones Company. p. 253. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  4. Google Maps
  5. Gillett, p. 236.
  6. Gott, Kendall D. (2004). In Search of an Elusive Enemy: The Victorio Campaign (PDF). Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 1428910344.
  7. State, United States. Department of (1887). Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 602–603.
  8. Chamberlain, Kathleen P. (2007). Victorio: Apache Warrior and Chief. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-8061-3843-5.
  9. Adams, Alexander B. (1990). Geronimo: A Biography. Da Capo Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-306-80394-9.

Lehmann, Hermann. "Nine Years with the Indians." See also, "A New Look at Nine Years with the Indians."

Further reading

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