George N. Bascom

Published on January 12, 2011 by John

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George N. Bascom

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Army Officer. Bascom’s actions in dealing with the kidnapping of a rancher’s son led to a bloody 20 year war with the Chiricahua Apaches. In February 1861, Pinal Apaches raided the ranch of John Ward in southeastern Arizona. During the raid they kidnapped Ward’s adopted son. Bascom commanding a small detail of soldiers was sent to Apache Pass with orders to rescue the child. Bascom, a West Point Graduate and recently assigned to the Arizona Territory, had limited knowledge on the different bands of Apaches in the area. This resulted in his belief that the Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise, was responsbile for the attack and kidnapping. During negotiations with Cochise, Bascom ordered the taking of several of the chief’s relatives as hostages. Cochise, who had been at peace with the Americans, responded by attacking a passing stagecoach and wagon train. Survivors of the attacks were taken hostage by the Apaches. After this the situation quickly spun out of control with hostages on both sides being killed. The kidnapped child was not recovered until years later, and Basom and his men were only able to escape being wiped out by the timely arrival of reinforcements. This violent encounter between Bascom and Cochise has become known as the Bascom Affair. Not long afterwards the Civil War erupted in the west. Bascom, promoted to captain, participated at the Battle of Val Verde in New Mexico. On February 21, 1862, during the battle, Bascom was killed in action by Confederate forces. He was originally interred in the post cemetery at nearby Ft. Craig, New Mexico. When the fort was closed in 1885, all post interments was reburied at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Section I. Records indicate Bascom was one of the burials that were not indentifiable. It is believed Bascom’s grave is one of unknown markers.

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