For the first three years of Prescott’s history, violence was unreported …except for what occurred in the countryside as frontier settlers worked to wrest the land away from the original inhabitants. There were reported shenanigans, but nothing like the confrontation in April, 1867, between Prescott residents and soldiers from nearby Fort Whipple sent to protect the settlers from the indigenous populace.
According to an article in the Arizona Miner, the battle centered on “…the common custom of retailing bad whiskey.” Saloon-keeps and boys in blue argued… and a brawl erupted. Shots were fired. It became a whiskey-row “raaOH”! When the smoke cleared, 15-to-20 soldiers were wounded… and taken back to the infirmary at Fort Whipple, where one soldier subsequently died.
Ill will and bad feelings continued – even within the military. A few months later, a party of cavalry got into a quarrel with a party of infantry. Towns folk sent them packing back to the Fort. En route, however, simmering tempers erupted… into a riot! Many shots were fired between the cavalry contingent and the boot-strapped infantry, but with such inaccuracy of aim that only two men were wounded.
Residents in the vicinity of the fracas were probably in more danger than the rioters, but fortunately escaped injury. Nevertheless, citizens wanted more protection from those sent to protect citizens in the first place. The newspaper editorial called on Fort Whipple officers to keep better track of their men – and sought an immediate solution for “…those boys in blue who acted in such a shameful manner as to be a disgrace to the service.”
To read the REST of THIS story and the entire three-part series, look for the “Days Past” articles….