Geronimo (Chiricahua: Goyaałé, "one who yawns") (June 1829 – February 17, 1909) was a prominent leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States and their expansion into Apache tribal lands from 1858-1886. He took up arms after an attack by the Mexican army killed his wife and children. When traditional Apache lands became party of the United States, he fought the Americans just as fervently. He was skilled at hit and run attacks, but eventually persistence of the U.S. Army paid off. Geronimo and a very small band of troops were captured in 1887.
His last years were spent as a prisoner of the U.S. government. However, Geronimo attained a level of celebrity in his last years, appearing at fairs, selling souvenirs, and even appearing in the 1905 inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Geronimo in Southern Victory
Geronimo was the leader of his tribe, the Apache, who had been in trouble with both the US and Mexican authorities. His tribe often told stories about him- such as the instance where he had held off daylight for three hours so the tribe could escape a stronger enemy under cover of darkness. Geronimo's authority came as much from his reputation for extraordinary, even supernatural deeds as it did from his ability as a battlefield commander.
When the Second Mexican War began in 1881, Geronimo kept his band quiet as he observed the new Confederate masters, and was impressed when the commander of the Confederate forces hoaxed the Union commander at Contention City. He allowed his son, Chappo to approach the Confederates and seek out an alliance so that they could punish the Yankees who'd made life for his people so miserable.
To General Jeb Stuart, Geronimo's appearance gave him a look somewhat characteristic of witches and he wondered if it was these qualities that also helped fuel his supernatural reputation. He also quickly came to learn that although primitive, the Apache leader was far from a fool, when he organized an ambush that decimated a combined volunteer and US cavalry troop. This made Stuart, and his aide, Major Horatio Sellers, fear the man far more than they feared their Yankee opponents.
When the combined forces attacked and defeated the town of Tombstone, Geronimo wanted the locals slaughtered for all the pain they'd caused his people, but Stuart stubbornly refused, trying to placate the Apache chief with all the victories they'd won. For Geronimo, they were hollow.
Tensions between the Apache and the locals of the town of Cananea, already high, were exacerbated when a woman Maria Guerrero claimed that an Apache named Yahnozha had raped her. Yahnozha claimed that their act was consensual. In December 1881, Maria's father and brothers killed Yahnozha, and mutilated his corpse. In response, the Apaches attacked and ultimately burned down the town. After this, Geronimo led his band into the Sierra Madre to wage a guerrilla war against the Confederates.
- References to Historical Figures in Turtledove's Work for more minor references to Geronimo in Turtledove's work.
- How Few Remain, pg. 132, mmp.
- Ibid., pg. 182, mmp.
- Ibid., pg. 132.
- Ibid., pgs. 180-184.
- Ibid., pgs. 346-350.
- Ibid. pgs. 445-446.
- Ibid., pgs. 519-523.
- Ibid., pg. 551.