Military History Itinerary
From the time of the opening of the American Southwest by the Army of the West in 1846 and the clashes with the Apaches, to the exploits of the African-American regiments that fought in Mexico and trained infantrymen for World War II combat, Cochise County has been at the center of a panorama of military history.
In March 1877, Captain Samuel M. Whiteside and two companies of the 6th United States Cavalry established a camp at the mouth of Huachuca Canyon. It had two missions: protect settlers in the area and stop Apache raiding parties from escaping into Mexico. Later, the camp became a permanent station and was designated a "Fort." By 1886, Fort Huachuca became the advance headquarters for General Nelson A. Miles' campaign against Geronimo. The all-black 24th Infantry was the first entire regiment stationed at the Fort. The all-black 10th Cavalry "Buffalo Soldiers" arrived in 1913, served in Pershing's punitive expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916 and helped guard the U.S.-Mexican border until 1931.
Note: Fort Huachuca is an active military installation. Visitor passes for U.S. citizens are available at the front gate with a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration, proof of vehicle insurance or rental agreement. Each passenger age 16 and older must also have a photo ID. Fort Huachuca is occasionally closed for maneuvers. International visitors are not permitted access, unless they are sponsored and escorted by authorized personnel.
Fort Huachuca Historical Museum
A National Historic Landmark that evokes a feeling for the past, explore Fort Huachuca to understand southwestern military history. The historical museum is housed in two buildings and is located on historic Brown Parade Field. It delves into the history of the U.S. Army in the Southwest.
Fort Huachuca Army Intelligence Museum
This museum traces the history of the intelligence profession within the U.S. Army. Exhibits display early code machines, surveillance drones and other intelligence gathering equipment.
Guided Tours of Buffalo Soldier Historic Sites
Each month you can take a tour of historic sites significant to the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black infantry unit stationed at Fort Huachuca. Learn about their accomplishments and history from members of the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers (generally held the third Saturday of the month).
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Fort Bowie and Apache Pass were the focal point of military operations that eventually culminated in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 and the banishment of the Chiricahuas to Florida and Alabama. It was the site of the Bascom Affair, a wagon train massacre, and the battle of Apache Pass, where a large force of Chiricahua Apaches under Mangus Colorados and Cochise fought the California Volunteers.
Buffalo Soldier Fireplace
While touring Faraway Ranch, the home of Swedish immigrants Neil and Emma Erickson in Chiricahua National Monument, take special note of the fireplace. While a detachment of black soldiers from the 10th U.S. Cavalry was encamped in Bonita Canyon, they built a stone monument to the recently assassinated President James Garfield (d. 1881). The soldiers carved their names along with Garfield's in a central stone. Later Ed Riggs used these stones to make a massive fireplace for the guest dining room at Faraway Ranch.
Within the Chiricahua Mountains, about 30 miles north of Douglas, is Camp Rucker. This site is a group camping site, but in the days of the Indian Wars, the U.S. Calvary built an outpost here that served as a base for fighting the Chiricahua Apaches. Interpretive signs along a trail will give you a glimpse of the site’s history.
Geronimo Surrender Monument
Geronimo surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles in Skeleton Canyon. The surrender ended the Indian Wars that created much turmoil in the Arizona territory. The monument, erected in 1934, is located on Highway 80, northeast of Douglas.
In Council Rocks, which can be reached via the Cochise Trail in the Dragoon Mountains, Cochise, the famous Chiricahua Apache met with a messenger sent by President Grant to discuss ending the hostilities between his people and the government during the “Indian Wars.” Cochise had been a formidable opponent. Council Rocks was ideal for his purposes. From here, fellow Apaches could use nearby cliffs as lookouts, and he and his men could escape easily through a pair of rugged canyons that comprise Cochise Stronghold, where you can hike or camp.