What is the Bascom Affair?

David Salge

Queen Creek, Arizona

The Bascom Affair is a great example of arrogance, miscalculation and underestimating the will of an enemy.

It occurred at Arizona’s Apache Pass in 1861 when an officer accused Apache Chief Cochise of kidnapping 12-year-old Felix Ward on Sonoita Creek. Cochise denied that his Apaches kidnapped the boy. But Lt. George N. Bascom did not believe him, so soldiers took Cochise and several of his family members prisoner. Cochise later escaped. The two sides engaged in several skirmishes, and each took hostages. Bascom eventually hanged six Apache warriors; a couple of them may have been Cochise’s kin. That led to a 10-year war that Cochise ultimately won.

A band of Coyotero Apache (not Cochise’s band) stole the Ward boy, who grew up to be the famous Apache scout Mickey Free.

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