On this date; January 27, 1861, twelve year old Felix Ward set in motion nearly twenty five years of armed conflict between the US Army and the Chiricahua Apache. The young boy was kidnapped by Pinal Apache warriors as they raided his step fathers ranch in the Sonoita Valley of southern Arizona near Tubac.
As the Pinals raided the Ward Ranch young Felix tried to hide in the branches of a bear Peach tree but was soon spotted and abducted by the war party. US Army Lieutenant George Bascom leading Company C of the 7th Infantry led a search and rescue mission which soon brought them to Apache Pass.
At the Pass Bascom met with Chief Cochise of the Chiricahua Apache people. This meeting has since become known as the Bascom Affair. Lt. Bascom falsely accused Cochise and his tribe of kidnapping the young boy. The Army arrested Cochise and members of his immediate family. Cochise was able to escape but his family was held hostage in hopes of a "prisoner" exchange - them for the return of young Felix. Problem was that the Chiricahua never took the boy, it was the Pinals who soon traded him to the Coyotero band of Apache.
Bascom ordered the execution of a few of his hostages. Within the next two months nearly 150 farmers, ranchers, settlers and prospectors were slaughtered in retaliation. And it continued. Twenty five years later the hostilities ceased with the surrender of Geronimo in September of 1886.
Felix Ward? He became known as Micky Free, Sargent of Apache Scouts, employed by General George Crook during the Geronimo campaign of the Apache Wars. When he retired he became a farmer, had been married four times and had four children.
Lt. George Bascom was promoted to Captain. He was killed in action during the battle of Val Verde, New Mexico Territory just under thirteen months after his debacle at Apache Pass on February 21, 1862. Fort Bascom, New Mexico was named in his honor.