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North America » United States » Arizona » Willcox
December 2nd 2012
Published: December 2nd 2012
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A FINE KETTLE OF FISHA FINE KETTLE OF FISHA FINE KETTLE OF FISH

The site is on private property about 7.5 miles east of Pearce, AZ.
A FINE KETTLE OF FISH

LT Britton Davis graduated from West Point in the summer of 1881. In May of 1882 Geronimo was on the rampage in Mexico and needed more fighting men. He kidnapped them from among Loco’s band living peaceably near Camp Goodwin. In due course Geronimo surrendered to General Crook in Mexico and the hostiles were taken in three groups back to the San Carlos Agency. Lt Davis was charged with the responsibility for escorting the hostiles from the border up through Sulphur Springs Valley to the reservation. The first two groups had only a few ponies and were able to travel quickly enough to avoid trouble. Several weeks had passed before Geronimo’s group reached the border. When they finally arrived they had a herd of 350 cattle stolen in Mexico. With those cattle they could not travel quickly. Sulphur Springs offered a reliable and abundant supply of water and when Lt Davis arrived there with Geronimo he found the Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Arizona waiting for him along with the Customs Inspector from Nogales. The marshal was there to arrest Geronimo for depredations committed in Arizona and the customs inspector was there to confiscate the contraband herd of cattle. The situation for LT Davis was a fine kettle of fish. He could not comply with the federal officers without violation of his orders from General Crook. He could not comply with his orders from Crook without being subject to arrest by the marshal. The marshal had taken the precaution of deputizing Davis into his posse. Luckily Davis had a West Point pal at Fort Bowie, named J.Y.F. Blake - class of 1880, who was on his way over for an overnight visit. Blake had with him a quart of Scotch whisky. As the evening wore on it was the marshal and the inspector who drained that bottle and before long they were both blissfully snoring the lazy night away. In the morning when they woke up Davis was patiently waiting for them on an overturned ration box, Geronimo and his pals, all of the cattle, LT Blake, the escort, and the pack train were all gone and miles away from any possible pursuit. The photo shows the area around Sulphur Springs. The ranch in the background is where the incident happened. In 1887 there was a major earthquake in Mexico that caused Sulphur Springs to go dry. Davis was a fine officer. He resigned his commission in 1886. When the Apache Wars ended there was not much for him to do in the Army.

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