Quote of the Day: General Nelson Miles, Who Tricked Geronimo

“I had it in my mind to utilize for our benefit and their discomfiture, the very elements that had been the greatest obstacles in that whole country to their subjugation, namely, the high mountain ranges, the glaring, burning sunlight, and an atmosphere void of moisture.” — Oak Flat: The Fight for Sacred Land in the American West, p. 121

Under General Miles, the U.S. Signal Corps established 14 heliograph stations in Arizona: “a network of points of observation and communication . . . on the high mountain peaks of this region,” including on Mount Graham. “It was remarkable what advantage (the stations) gave us in observing the movements of the Indians or of the troops in the valleys below,” wrote Miles in his memoir. A nineteenth-century heliostat was essentially a mirror mounted on a tripod. An operator could send a message to another station using a system of short and long flashes of light beamed off the mirror in a kind of visual Morse code. The larger the mirror and clearer the atmosphere, the farther the light signal could travel.

On Sept. 3, 1886, “on the western edge of Arizona’s Skeleton Canyon, Geronimo surrendered. Shortly after, Naiche, the last hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apache, surrendered, too.”

This is a fascinating book.

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