Monday, October 18, 2010

A Last Stand, Part II

October 18, 2010 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Read Part I here.

As I rode along a lonely trail toward Horse Camp Ridge in March of 19851 thought about the battles that once raged on the distant hilltops more than a hundred years ago. I wondered what kind of artifacts I might find if I could locate the place where a small band of Yavapai-Apache made a last stand in May of 1866. A place called Fortress Hill.

The directions I had to the hill were quite vague, however I knew the area well and felt I would recognized the hill from the description I had been given. The conical- shaped hill actually stood out among the many other hills in the area. As I rode toward the hill it fit the exact description I had been given.

Desert Apaches from a photo circa 1903.
The old man who told me about the hill described finding brass casings, lead balls and even a brass button or two. He said erosion had carried the artifacts down from the slopes of the hill. I was quite excited about what lay ahead as I quickly assembled my White Gold Master metal detector.

I began a systematic grid search of the lower slope of the hill. Within a few minutes I got my first beep. It was a brass casing and appeared to be a 45-90 cartridge. This find was followed by discoveries of more casings, lead mini-balls and one solitary brass button. I found some twenty mini-balls and almost as many brass cases. These artifacts indicated something had to have occurred on the top of this hill many years before my arrival. The metal detector had made myjob easier. I was convinced I had found Fortress Hill.

I had been told this story about a long forgotten hill in the heart of the Superstition Wilderness. I researched the military history of the area with the help of Joseph Crary and the United States Army Archives. I then traveled to the site to prove the old man's story. I was very fortunate and pleased to find relics from a battlefield dating back almost to the time of the American Civil War. It was so refreshing to hear a story about the Superstition Mountain area that actually panned out because most don't.

The discovery of these relics convinced me this battle occurred at this site. The discovery was also supported with military sketch maps of the area dating to the 1860's. This was an untold story of American history hidden deep in the Superstition Wilderness Area.

The artifacts found on Fortress Hill remain there today as part of a rich treasure trove of archaeological history. It is possible someday in the future Fortress Hill will be rediscovered and its story told.

The Superstition Wilderness Area is a treasure trove of historical and pre-historical artifacts and information. Federal law protects archaeological artifacts found in the Superstition Wilderness or on federal land. The removal of any artifacts including pottery shards, projectile points, or other historical objects construed to be fifty years or older is a violation of Federal Law. Please respect historical sites in this vast wilderness area that serves as an archaeological treasure trove.