Fort McDowell was established by the
California Volunteers on the west
bank of the Verde River in September, 1865. Situated in the midst of Indian
country and surrounded by mountains, the area around the isolated location
still contained several often used travel routes. Created to protect the
area from the fierce
who roamed the Salt and Gila River Valleys, it was built to be one of the
most solid posts in the territory. The camp was first called Camp Verde,
but was later renamed to Camp McDowell after Major General Irwin
McDowell, made famous for his
loss of the first large-scale battle of the American
Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run. The fort became an embarkation point
for many of the expeditions against the Apache,
including becoming the base of
General George Crook's
Tonto Basin campaign
in the early 1870's.
the winter of 1872-73, nine detachments, using Apache scouts
recruited from the reservations, crisscrossed the Tonto Basin, in
constant pursuit of the Apache. Wearing
down their opponents, the soldiers forced as many as 20 different
skirmishes, resulting in the deaths of about 200 Indians
The fort's most decisive victory was the
Canyon Battle in December, 1872, when two companies of the 5th
Cavalry, along with 30 Apache scouts
surprised a band of more than a hundred
Yavapai as they tried to
emerge from a cave deep in the recesses of Salt River Canyon. the
victory was instrumental in bringing the campaign to a close.
On April 10,
1890, the fort became the Fort McDowell Indian
Reservation, serving the Mohave, Apache, and
some Pima Indians.
In 1903, additional land was set aside for the reservation.
The site of the old fort is just west of the
Fort McDowell Indian Agency in Maricopa County. Overgrown with vegetation,
the only original building left are the ruins of the officers' quarters. However, low
earth mounds and adobe remnants mark the location of other structures.
This image available for
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of America, updated May, 2017.
The Yavapai - Fierce Warriors of the