November 17, 2015

The Indian Raids on the Bully Bueno Mine

The strategy of Native Americans during the Indian Wars was more nuanced than simply "collecting scalps."

Their preferred method was to utilize a strategy this author would describe as "guerrilla attrition."  Instead of starving out their opponent with a siege by surrounding them, Native Americans would uniquely use guerrilla raids to attack the provisions, animals and supplies necessary for the survival of their foes.

One of the more successful and best examples of guerrilla attrition by the Native Americans was their raids on the Bully Bueno Mine.

George Vickroy thought he was on his way to making millions of dollars when he first heard of the gold deposits just north of an area that would become Goodwin, Arizona.  Instead he found finacial ruin.

His public accounting of the losses incurred by him and the rest of the stockholders of the Walnut Grove Mining Company offers an insight into how the Indians successfully stopped the mine from opening for a decade and a half.

Vickroy's account is a tedious read of nearly endless Indian raids, everyone of which seemed to incur an accompanying loss of mules. (*1)  26, 12, 8, 11, 4, 7... each number representing a raid and the mules taken. The tenacity of the Indians' strategy covering three years of nearly constant raiding would prove to be successful until the war eventually turned.

Things seemed auspicious when Vickroy and two other men were placer mining on Turkey Creek in the Spring of 1864. The three found the quartz vein from which the placer gold originated. (*2)

(A note for those unfamiliar with gold mining: Placer gold is gold that eroded out of a quartz vein and is found through panning; for gold still trapped in the quartz vein, a large machine called a "stamp mill" was used to pulverize the quartz and expose the hidden gold. Stamp mills are large, heavy and expensive.)

A stamp mill showing the size of people. Vickroy's mill
was a whopping 4 times larger than this example.
The three men had earned some good money placer mining, but the really big money was still in that quartz vein. They had caught gold fever and were determined to get filthy rich. They would name their claim The Bully Bueno Mine.

It would take the incorporating of the Walnut Grove Mining Company and the raising of $77,000 in capital from back east to purchase the stamp mill and the 268 mules necessary to pack it from Kansas to the mine site, 20 miles south of Prescott.  (*1 & *2)

But in order to raise the capital, Vickroy needed to have the assurance of military protection.  In all, Vickroy received three separate promises from the military for protection of the mine, but ultimately only received it for their first month in Arizona.

Eventually the capital was raised and the money was spent purchasing a 20-stamp mill, a 40 horse power engine, 26 wagons, 268 mules, harnesses, provisions and tools. (*3)

"On February 28, 1865 all of this was loaded unto wagons with 35 men in Leavenworth KS and set out for Arizona." (*3) Trudging through axle-deep mud, the party finally arrived in Navajo Springs, AZ around August 1st.

"The welcoming committee was a band of Indians who attacked the train and made off with 26 mules." (*3) It was at this point that Vickroy received the only military protection he would get; an escort of 21 soldiers to the mine. (*1) The next day, Indians attacked, killing one and stealing 12 more mules. (*3) It took two weeks to reach Prescott. Then, in the 14 day trip from Prescott to the mine site, the train was attacked everyday, (*1) progressing a mere 7500 feet a day due to the heavy equipment and the raids.

Story of how Yavapai county sat helpless in the midst of Native American raids during the Indian Wars.

About September 1st, they arrived at the future mine and started to unload.  The Indians immediately attacked again and took their "entire beef herd of 22 head of cattle." (*1) This facilitated the need to resupply in Prescott.

One day into that trip, they were attacked again at Pine Flat. The Indians killed one teamster, burned one wagon and stole 8 more mules. When the train reached Prescott, the military escort was withdrawn, and Vickroy would not receive another one again due to the army's "scarcity of men." As bad as it was WITH the soldiers, things were destined to only grow worse without them. (*1)

Not finding all the necessary supplies in Prescott, the train headed toward Fort Mohave. On the way, they were attacked at Huapai Springs--11 more mules lost. The next day at Beale Springs, Indians captured 4 mules and 1 horse.  The train had to turn around and headed to Fort Whipple hoping to find safety.  Even while they camped at the military base, daring Native Americans managed to take 7 more mules!

The crew settled back in Prescott, but raiding by the Indians occurred everyday for the next two weeks and another 100 mules were taken.

Undaunted, Vickroy started working at Bully Bueno with a paltry 11 men. These were attacked the afternnon of October 4th, 1865 and were driven off the site--some going to Walnut Grove and some going to Prescott. Vickroy then employed a larger force of men simply to stand guard. That winter they lost another 50 mules to the Indians as well as losses to freighting in wagons and (of course,) mules. (*1)

On February 9th, 1866 Indians attacked the Bully Bueno Camp once more; killing 2 men, wounding 1, and driving the rest of the men away.

In mid-March, 1866, only two men were at the Bully Bueno Mine when the Indians raided again:
"Mr. Chambers and Begold, who have been guarding the Vickroy machinery at the Bully Bueno lode, were attacked one night last week by a number of Indians who tried to burn their cabin while they were sleeping. They were immediately aroused by the movement of (them) and succeeded in putting out the fire and shooting one of them, but Mr. Begold was hit by an arrow in the abdomen and badly hurt. Mr. Chambers left him, at his request, for aid, and a party immediately went over from Lynx Creek. Dr. Phelps and others from Prescott followed close on their heels and Begold was removed here and to the surprise of all, is doing well." (*4)
Vickroy then increased his force to 40 men and left for Philadelphia to obtain more capital to replace the company's losses. During that summer, the Indians took another 20 head of animals. (*1)

Vickroy somehow secured more capital from stock sales. In October, 1866, he sent provisions from California. These were completely captured at the Aqua Fria River, 10 miles short of the camp. Five teamsters were killed and about 40 animals taken. As a result, little was done until the next summer.

Come June 1867 Vickroy bought 70 head of mules and horses and six wagons, loaded them with provisions and merchandise and sent them to Prescott.  The train was harassed by the Indians the entire way finally reaching the mine after losing a number of animals. (*1)

"The day after the train arrived at camp, the Indians captured every animal and killed the herders. This caused a total suspension of operations since no animals could be purchased in Arizona." (*1) Another year was lost.

Vickroy hired more guards to watch the expensive mill and they were harrassed all winter.

The story of one of the first Indian conflicts in Yavapai county. A group of miners unjustly murder 20 Yavapai Indians for a crime they did not commit.

On March 2nd, 1868, yet another 11 mules and horses were stolen. All Vickroy could do now was to try to guard the property and the mill. However, the Bully Bueno site had gained a wide spread reputation for constantly being under Indian attack.  So, in March 1868, Vickroy could only find 13 men willing to risk the dangers of guarding the mill. (*1) He was able, however, to double that force by the time summer came.

The final act for Vickroy and his men occurred July 9, 1869 when a large force of Indians attacked the premises and burned the mill, storehouse, sawmill, superintendent's house, blacksmith and carpenter shops, as well as the stables. Additionally, they destroyed the machinery, tools and supplies, together with all of the books, papers and accounts. (*1)  25 people were killed and 150 more mules stolen. (*5) The Bully Bueno was a complete and total loss.

At great expense, Vickroy's stamp mill was the very first to ever enter the Arizona Territory and the Native Americans successfully made sure that it never came close to full operation. (*1)

On January 6th, 1872 Vickroy and the Walnut Grove Mining Company sued the US Government for its losses, arguing that the constant promises for military protection without it materializing was the cause. (*5) Many in the area rightly saw it as a test case hoping that a flood of federal money might come into the area to cover the"guerrilla attrition" losses incurred by the Indians.

The claim against the government was for $292,800 (nearly worth $12 million today).

Just like the rest of Vickroy's luck, he lost.

Tourist Tips:
The location of the Bully Bueno Mine is off of Senator Highway north of where Pine Flat Rd. intersects Senator near the town site of Goodwin.

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(*1) Arizona Weekly Journal Miner March 29, 1873 pg 1 col 4
(*2) THE BULLY BUENO MILL: A Mining Fiasco on Turkey Creek, 1864–1877
(*3) Daily Courier July 18,1996 pg 4A col 3
(*4) Arizona Miner March 14, 1866 pg 3 col 1 (bottom)
(*5) Daily Courier July 25, 1996 pg 4A col 3 (bottom)


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