July 31

This Day in History

Old West

Jul 31, 1937:

Apache scout Martine dies

Charles Martine, an Apache scout who played an important role in the surrender of Geronimo, dies on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico.

Born in 1858 among the Chiricahua Apache of northern Mexico, Martine was captured as a young boy and sold to a Mexican family as a servant. His knowledge of both Spanish and Apache and his familiarity with the southern desert lands eventually made him a valuable interpreter and scout. In 1886, the American General Nelson Miles recruited Martine and another Apache, Kayitah, to help track down the renegade Apache chief Geronimo.

The wily Geronimo had long stymied the U.S. Army's best efforts to find and arrest him. Now Miles decided to try negotiating. He wanted Martine and Kayitah to find the chief and persuade him to come in and talk about peace. If they succeeded, Miles reportedly promised they would be well rewarded by the U.S. government.

Accompanied by a small party of soldiers, Martine and Kayitah eventually located Geronimo's camp in northern Mexico. Bearing a white flag, the two scouts cautiously approached the hostile camp. Geronimo initially wanted to shoot the two scouts, but his braves convinced him to let them come forward. Still in considerable danger, the two scouts entered the camp. They managed to convince Geronimo to talk to the army officers. Eventually, Geronimo agreed to a meeting with General Miles during which Geronimo gave his unconditional surrender.

Despite their brave and effective service in obtaining the surrender of one of the last hostile Indians in the nation, Martine and Kayitah never received the awards promised them by General Miles. Instead, they were exiled to the east with Geronimo and the other hostile Apache. Miles insisted that all the Chiricahua Apache be exiled-even the scouts who had worked for the U.S. Army. In 1913, they both opted to move to the Apache reservation at Mescalero, New Mexico. On this day in 1937, Martine died there. He was about 80 years old. His longtime friend and ally, Kayitah, had died three years earlier.

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