Gatewood & Geronimo

(University of New Mexico Press, 2000)

Genesis of the Manuscript

“Unbelievable as it may seem, a film that dealt with the end of the Apache wars (Geronimo: An American Legend) has become the focal point for my writing projects. I saw it when it opened at the end of 1993, and although I liked its majesty and harshness, I was bothered that there was no central focus to draw me into the story. Without bothering to check its accuracy, I quickly forgot about it.

“Two years later I visited Guidon Books (Scottsdale, Arizona) to publicize Custer and the Cheyenne: George Armstrong Custer’s Winter Campaign on the Southern Plains (Upton and Sons Publishers, 1995). The conversation with Ruth and Aaron Cohen (proprietors of Guidon Books) turned to films and how they affect book sales. Surprisingly, Ruth (who died in 1999) said that Geronimo: An American Legend had not helped sales at all. This set off a conversation on one of the characters in the film, Lieutenant Charles Gatewood (Sixth U.S. Cavalry). I knew nothing about him except what I had seen in the movie. The talk turned to the Gatewood Collection, housed at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson. As little had been written about him, I decided to check out the collection the following month. The exploratory trip to Tucson quickly made me realize that even though the film presented its action in a way that made it appear to be truthful, it was actually off on just about everything. More important than realizing that the film was typical of Hollywood’s efforts of turning fact into fiction, however, was that I had found an exceptional man. The hunt was on.”
— Louis Kraft, Journal of the Indian Wars (Vol. 2, No. 1)

“I didn’t start giving any thought to Geronimo, or to Gatewood for that matter. Before saying anything else, I should tell you what interests me in the Indian wars: Two people who don’t speak the same language, don’t trust each other, and know that one wrong move could mean death, yet somehow are able to sit down, talk, and work out a solution without yanking out their weapons and killing each other. Now, that’s exciting.


lk at the very unsatisfactory Geronimo exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson in January 2012 (a research/road trip w/good friend Glen Williams). I had thought that Geronimo and the Apaches were in my past, but luckily no. (Photo © Glen Williams & Louis Kraft 2012)

“Whenever I speak about the Apache wars, someone always confronts me, painting the old warrior [Geronimo] as a beast who thirsted for blood. It is almost as if they are daring me to join their bandwagon. Whenever this happens, I ask one question: What would you do if a foreign power overran the U.S., took your home, destroyed your culture and religion, killed most of your loved ones, and those they did not kill they took from you? What would you do? I know what I would do. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly understand the other side of the coin and know why passions ignite when Geronimo’s name is mentioned. If I were a Mexican farmer or a New Mexican rancher and was caught in a firefight with Apaches and Geronimo was racing toward me with his guns blazing, I’d be damned close to dying of fright.”
— Kraft interview in Wild West (October 2001)

Dust jacket blurb

The two pre-eminent warriors of the Apache Wars between 1878 and 1886, Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood of the Sixth United States Cavalry and Chiricahua leader Geronimo, respected one another in peace and feared one another in war. Within two years of his posting to Arizona in 1878, Gatewood became the army’s premier “Apache man” as both a commander of Apache scouts and a reservation administrator, but his equitable treatment of Indians aroused the enmity of civilian and military detractors, and the army shunned him. In the late 1870s Geronimo, a medicine man, emerged as a brilliant Chiricahua leader and fiercely resisted his people’s incarceration on inhospitable federal reservations. His fight for freedom, often bloody, in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico triggered the deployment of hundreds of United States and Mexican troops and Apache Scouts to hunt him and his people. In the end, the United States Army recalled Gatewood to Apache service, ordering him into the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico to locate Geronimo and negotiate his band’s surrender. Showing the depravity and desperation of the Apache wars, Louis Kraft dramatically recreates Gatewood’s final mission and poignantly recalls the United States government’s betrayal of the Chiricahuas, Geronimo, and Gatewood at the campaign’s end.


“This recent addition to the parallel lives genre is a superbly told tale of the vicious Apache wars of the 1880s in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Drawing upon a variety of original sources, Kraft reconstructs the complex story of the famous Chiricahua leader Geronimo [and] Lt. Charles B. Gatewood.”
— Publishers Weekly (April 17, 2000)


lk tracking G&G in the Arizona mountains near Fort Apache in July 1996, a little over a year after discovering Gatewood and his relationship with Geronimo and the Apaches in May 1995. (Photo © Marissa & Louis Kraft 1996)

“Louis Kraft has written an important and historically significant study of the final phase of the Apache Wars. Unusual for such books, this one is as readable as popular history, and it will be enjoyed by those who have an interest in looking behind the scenes of history. The book is a fine reminder that earnest, hardworking and suffering people were responsible for the events in their textbooks.”
— Raymond L. Puffer, Ph.D., KLIATT (November 2000)

“Kraft succeeds in recounting the Gatewood-Geronimo drama with clarity and objectivity, conveying a warranted sense of pathos to the protagonists.”
— Jerome Greene, New Mexico Historical Review (Winter 2002)

“… the author had done his research and has written an outstanding book. Kraft has a knack for describing terrain and area geography which is so important to any reader interested in the Indian Wars. This book was difficult to put down even though the end was known. … a ‘must read’ and is highly recommended.”
— Richard A. Cook P.M., Denver Westerners Roundup (November/December 2000)

“I have not counted the number of books and papers regarding Geronimo’s surrender but they are many. Here are the facts, easy to read, accurate, and presented in a very enjoyable read. The author has done an excellent job presenting to the common man the story of bravery, death, and hardship of the early American soldier, and the betrayal of the American Indian. Many thanks to the author and publisher. Where are the awards for them?”
— Quinton E. Ford, Moline, IL, on (April 5, 2001)

“At long last, Louis Kraft, a free-lance historian and writer, has given us a full accounting of the final Apache Indian war through an examination of the lives of two of its principal antagonists. In addition, he has managed to sift through the conflicting historical record to give credit once and for all to the man responsible for Geronimo’s final surrender. What is even more satisfying, is that Kraft provides the reader with a compelling narrative that is filled with high drama, action, and adventure.

“Kraft’s narrative sweeps the reader along through the various outbreaks and grueling campaigns that marked the turbulent years of Apache warfare. He remains objective throughout, deftly discussing the injustices heaped upon the Apaches, while, at the same time, highlighting Lieutenant Gatewood’s accomplishments as chief of a group of White Mountain Apache scouts. The author also underscores the layers of acrimonious rivalry that characterized the relationships that existed between the military, the Department of the Interior, the civilian population of the Southwest, and the various Apache tribes.

“The story is told in a riveting fashion that will satisfy both scholars and those who seek the human drama of our past.”
— David Dixon, The Journal of Arizona History (Winter 2001)

“Kraft follows the parallel lives of Gatewood and Geronimo through the Apache campaigns of 1884-1886 in meticulous detail, keeping the prose lively and interesting throughout. … The book’s strength lies in its multifaceted approach focusing on both Gatewood’s and Geronimo’s perceptions of the same historical events in the tradition of Stephen Ambrose, Crazy Horse and Custer (New York, 1975). Such a balanced, comparative multiethnic writing formula is one scholars and writers of Indian war history are well advised to emulate in the future.”
— John H. Monnett, The Western Historical Quarterly (vol. 32, no. 2, Summer 2001)

“Kraft traces in entertaining and illuminating detail the poignant story of two men from vastly different cultures who learned to respect one another. Kraft offers a clear-eyed examination of the political forces in Washington and within the army high command that ultimately betrayed Gatewood, Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apaches.”
— Bruce Dinges, Southwest Books of the Year (2000)

“Controversy has surrounded the role of Charles Gatewood in the final surrender of the Apache leader Geronimo ever since the event occurred in September 1886. … Historians have continued arguing into the late twentieth century, polarized over who should be given credit for inducing the last Apache patriots to surrender to the U.S. Army.

“Opinions have generally fallen into two camps, those who believe General Miles and Captain Lawton should be given credit for the surrender, and those who think the distinction belongs to General Crook and Lt. Gatewood. In researching Gatewood & Geronimo, author Louis Kraft accessed the Gatewood Collection at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, the Arizona State Archives in Phoenix, and the George Crook Collection in Fremont, Ohio—sources that had not been adequately explored in previous scholarship—to flesh out the man at the center of the disagreement.

“Kraft’s sources reveal that Gatewood embodied as compelling a character as many historians have always suspected. Though long recognized as fair-minded and just in his relations with the Apaches in his administrative post on the reservation, Kraft’s portrayal also illuminates Gatewood’s tough-minded determination to exercise authority over civilians who impinged on his jurisdiction. Kraft also includes some surprises. Despite the historic polarity that paired Gatewood with Crook against Miles and Lawton, Kraft exposes the tension that actually defined Crook and Gatewood’s relationship. As Kraft demonstrates, Gatewood’s lifelong reputation as a ‘Crook man’—despite the fact the two did not care for each other—adversely molded the course of his career. Kraft also succeeds in conveying to the reader the delicacy of Gatewood’s health, and the hardship it added to the inherently demanding duty at Arizona army posts.

“Like Ed Sweeney’s Cochise, Shelly Bowen Hatfield’s Chasing Shadows, and Charles Collin’s recent study of the Cibecue battle, Louis Kraft’s work fills a void in Apache historiography, illustrating the dynamic state of Apache studies at the turn of the twenty-first century. The book has much to commend it, including clear, concise, and above all, useful annotation.”
— Victoria A. O. Smith, The Journal of Military History (vol. 65, no. 1, 2001)

Military Heritage award for best non-fiction work on the Indian wars (2001).
* History Book Club selection (2000).
Southwest Books of the Year selection (2000).




Available from
University of New Mexico Press
Barnes & Noble

Louis Kraft writer © Louis Kraft 2013–2020