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Bidu-ya, Beduiat
Victorio Chiricahua Apache Chief.jpg
Tchihende Apache leader
Preceded by

Cuchillo Negro (Warm Springs Tchihende),

Mangas Coloradas (Coppermine Tchihende)
Succeeded by Nana
Personal details
Born c. 1825
New Mexico, First Mexican Republic
Died October 14, 1880(1880-10-14) (aged 55)
Tres Castillos, Mexico
Cause of death Killed by Mexican soldiers during the Tres Castillos Massacre
Resting place Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States
Military service
  • He who checks his horse
  • Apache Wolf
Battles/wars Apache Pass, Percha River, San Mateos Mountains, Animas Creek, Alma Massacre, Fort Tularosa, Aleman's Wells, Hembrillo Canyon, Quitman Canyon, Tres Castillos

Victorio (Bidu-ya, Beduiat; ca. 1825–October 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.

War leader and chief[edit]

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 seized 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. 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, and their families joined him, and San Juan and other Mescaleros left anyway their reservation; many Guadalupe and Limpia Mescalero too (Carnoviste and Alsate were close allies to Victorio since 1874) joined Victorio's people. Victorio was successful at raiding and evading capture by the military, he 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 1st, 1880), in the San Mateos Mountains (January 17th, 1880) and in the Cabello Mountains near the Animas Creek (January 30th, 1880), and again near Aleman's Wells, San Andres Mountains west of White Sands, (February 2nd, 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 4th,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 with 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 an harsh fight.[1] Victorio's camp near the Rio Palomas, in the Black Range, was surprised and assaulted on May 23rd-25th, 1880, but the Mimbreños and Mescaleros succeeded in repulsing the soldiers; after the Rio Palomas battle, Victorio went for 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 30th, 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.[2]

Last standing and death[edit]

In October 1880, while moving along the Rio Grande in northern eastern Chihuahua (a land well-known to the Guadalupe and Limpia Southern Mescaleros), having sent Nana and Mangus to raid for food and ammunitions, Victorio, with only a few warriors and even less ammunitions, and his band were surrounded and killed by soldiers of the Mexican Army under Colonel Joaquin Terrazas in the Tres Castillos Mountains (29°58′00″N 105°47′00″W / 29.96667°N 105.78333°W / 29.96667; -105.78333),[3].[4][5]

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.[6] 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.[7][8]

Victorio in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (nd) Alma Massacre. Retrieved 6/11/07.
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Index Mundi: Mexico. Cerro Tres Castillos.
  4. ^ Gillett, p. 236.
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ State, United States. Department of (1887). Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 602–603. 
  7. ^ Chamberlain, Kathleen P. (2007). Victorio: Apache Warrior and Chief. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-8061-3843-5. 
  8. ^ Adams, Alexander B. (1990). Geronimo: A Biography. Da Capo Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-306-80394-9. 

Additional reading[edit]

  • Thrapp, Dan L. (1974). Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1076-7. 
  • Leckie, William H. (1967). The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. LCCN 67-15571. 
  • Kaywaykla, James (1972). Eva Ball, ed. In the Days of Victorio: Recollections of a Warm Springs Apache. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press. LCCN 73-101103. 
  • Franciscan Fathers (1968) [1910]. An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language. St. Michaels, Arizona, USA: St. Michael's Press.  page 127

External links[edit]