Today in 1886: Apache leader Geronimo and his band of followers finally surrendered to US General Nelson Miles in Arizona after years on the run and guerrilla warfare.
For decades, Geronimo led raids against settlers encroaching on traditional Apache lands. He and his warriors frequently succeeded against units of soldiers with much larger numbers by using guerrilla warfare tactics. Geronimo also led three rebellions against the US after the Apaches refused to live in restrictive and destitute conditions on reservations.
Running out of supplies and on the run for years, Geronimo agreed to surrender after the third escape from a reservation. He spent the rest of his life as a prisoner of war. For the first two years, he and his men were sent to Florida for hard labor on military bases. In 1894, Geronimo was transferred to Fort Sill in Oklahoma where he could build a small house. However, he was still a POW and forbidden from leaving without an armed military escort.
Geronimo was put on display for tourists pretty often, including for the World’s Fair in 1904. He rode a horse in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade, begging the new president to be freed from POW status, which was refused. Geronimo regretted surrendering.
Geronimo tragically died in 1909. Taking a trip on his horse while inebriated, Geronimo fell off and fell asleep/passed out. Soon after he developed pneumonia and passed away at 79 years old. His grave can be visited at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (you can get on the base with just a driver’s license).