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The War of Extermination against the Lipan Apaches

      By 1873, so many Texas settlers were complaining that the Lipans in Mexico were crossing the Rio Grande to raid in Texas that the U.S. military decided to take action. On May 17, 1873, Col. Ranald Mackenzie and six companies of cavalry from Fort Clark crossed the Rio Grande and attacked two rancherías of Lipan Apaches and Kickapoos at El Remolino, Coahuila. Nineteen Indians were killed and forty one women and children were taken prisoner. Chief Costalites, who was among the Lipan prisoners, later died when he tried to escape from a military “prison camp” at San Antonio.

      The Mackenzie raid was just the first of many cross-border attacks by the U.S. military against the Lipans in Mexico. The 1873 El Remolino attack was followed by numerous illegal cross-border raids in 1876 and 1877. Between April 1876 and October 1877, Lt. John L. Bullis of Ft. Clark and Col. William Shafter of Ft. Duncan led nine incursions into Mexico in order to seek out and destroy the Lipan Apaches. In only three cases were the incursions the result of “hot pursuits” of Lipan raiders who crossed from Texas into Mexico. In six cases, the Bullis and Shafter incursions were organized military expeditions which not only violated Mexican sovereignty, but were a direct abrogation of the terms of the San Saba Treaty, which the United States had signed with the Lipan Apaches in 1851. Bullis, Shafter and their troops crossed the Rio Grande and attacked Lipan rancherías which were located over 125 miles deep into Coahuila. These illegal cross-border attacks were followed by a second Mackenzie incursion in 1877. Illegal U.S. cross-border attacks on the Lipans became so common that General William T. Sherman was forced to privately reprimand the commander of federal troops in Texas. Not only were the Lipans chased back and forth across the border, but there were active criminal warrants against them in Texas and bounties for their scalps in Mexico.       The U.S. troops worked in conjunction with the Mexican Army in their war of extermination against the Lipan Apaches. General Gerónimo Treviño and 1,500 Mexican soldiers launched a massive campaign in 1878-1879 against the Lipans in Coahuila. Treviño’s campaign was followed by those of Generals Naranjo and Blás Flores in 1880-1881.

      The Mexican Army believed that it had run all the Lipans out of Mexico into the United States, where they were placed on reservations. The U.S. Army believed that they had run all the Lipans into Mexico, where they were slaughtered by the Mexican Army. But they were wrong.

      By 1884, 200 Lipans still lived in the Santa Rosa Mountains of Coahuila. There were still Lipans living in south Texas, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas; there were still Lipans living in or near San Antonio. The Lipan Apaches were and are as much a part of Texas (and northern Mexico) as the oak trees and cactus, as the whitish-gray limestone and alkalai which is reflected in their tribal name.





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Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas
P.O. Box 5218
McAllen, Texas 78502
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