Battle of Hembrillo Basin

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Battle of Hembrillo Basin
Part of the Apache Wars, Victorio's War
Hembrillo Basin 1.jpg
A map of the engagement in Hembrillo Basin.
Date April 6–7, 1880
Location Hembrillo Basin, Doña Ana County, New Mexico
Result United States victory
 United States Apache
Commanders and leaders
United States Henry Carroll Victorio
71 cavalry ~150 warriors
Casualties and losses
2 killed
7 wounded

The Battle of Hembrillo Basin, or the Battle of Rattlesnake Springs, was fought between the United States Army's 9th Cavalry against a combined band of Chiricahua and Mescalero Apaches led by Chief Victorio.[1][2][3]


Victorio's War was a series of battles fought between the United States Army and Victorio in which American and Mexican troops attempted to return the Apaches to the reservation at Mescalero, New Mexico.[4] Chief Victorio led a large band of warriors across southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, spreading terror and destruction throughout the population.

On 6 April 1880, Victorio battled Buffalo Soldiers in Hembrillo Basin[5][6]

As the day wore on, the cavalry troopers were needing water. Victorio recognized this limiting factor, and wisely guarded the nearby springs with warriors armed with repeating rifles, maximizing their firepower with meager personnel.


In 1988, archaeologists from Human Systems Research, Inc. began to process the artifacts from the Hembrillo Basin battleground under contract from the United States Army.[7] During a 10-year analysis, over 800 cartridges were discovered, tagged, and positioned with GPS. Forensic analysis revealed that the cartridges were fired from 147 unique rifles and carbines, and 39 separate pistols.

Officers from nearby White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss are frequently given staff tours of the battlefield to increase historic knowledge of small unit tactics against overwhelming odds. Artifacts, such as rifle cartridges, from the battle are still found today.[8]

See also[edit]