Saturday, November 17, AT 1 p.m.
Near Mile Marker 132, east side of U.S. Hwy 180, just south of the Grant County Airport turnoff.
As a historical refresher, Mangas Coloradas (Spanish for "Red Sleeves"), was the dominant leader of the Apache bands in the southwestern region of New Mexico for several decades in the early to mid 1800s. He was recognized by friend and foe alike as a great war leader, strategist, political leader, and dynamic personality. In January of 1863, he was lured to a parley in the mining camp of Pinos Altos by soldiers and scouts of the California Column, a Union military force that had arrived in New Mexico the previous year.
A war between the Apaches and the white settlers had been raging throughout the Southwest since early 1861, and the commander of the California Column, General James Carleton, had issued orders to his officers to locate Mangas Coloradas, and through whatever means necessary, "deal with him in a final manner."
When Mangas Coloradas came to what he thought would be a peace negotiation at Pinos Altos, he was taken prisoner, and then escorted to the ruins of Fort McLane, which had been established in 1860, only to be abandoned with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861......the few log buildings were then burned by the Apaches, but a few nearly demolished walls still stood in 1863. On the night of January 18th, Mangas Coloradas was shot and killed by his captors, allegedly "trying to escape". Eyewitness accounts from a traveling band of white prospectors who were camped at the old fort, alleged that in actuality the Apache leader was tortured by his captors until he tried to fight back, then killed. In an act of barbarity, the body was decapitated, and the skull was shipped to a phrenologist for "study" in the East. The eventual fate of the skull is unknown. This event guaranteed that a state of war would continue unabated for years to come. The installation of this historical marker is the first time the site of Fort McLane and the dramatic events that unfolded there have ever been officially recognized.