Cochise.    .    .    .    .


Physical Appearance

     Consistently, Cochise impressed literally every man who met him.  Not only by his stature (in his prime his height was invariably estimated at near six feet, which was a good 5-6 inches taller than the average Apache of that time), but also in his demeanor.  Apaches chose their leaders based on a number of attributes, and a man's appearance, if impressive, went a long way toward winning followers.  Of course other traits played even greater roles, and Cochise possessed, in spades, every one of the most important of them.

     We have in writing the impressions of a good number of Anglos who had the opportunity to meet Cochise in person -- and the recollections, given to biographers, of Apaches who were contemporaries of the great chieftain.  Whether friend or foe, the underlying sentiment was the same:  Cochise was unquestionably an extraordinary man, and one whose very appearance demanded respect and, to many, admiration.

"[Cochise] was both physically and mentally superior to even the 'superior people' [Apaches].  According to our standards he was a very handsome man.  That meant primarily that he was of physical perfection, but we did not disregard pleasing features and appearance.  Cochise had those, also."
 Daklugie, son of Juh -- to Eve Ball (INDEH, University of Oklahoma Press) 

Indeh, An Apache Odyssey   .  click to purchase

     As I've mentioned, even those who perceived Cochise more an enemy than a friend found themselves in awe of his attributes.  Such a man was James H. Tevis, stationkeeper at the Apache Pass stage stop from 1858-59.  This was during a time of comparatively peaceful relations between Anglos and Cochise's Chokonen band -- yet there was always an underlying tension.  Tevis had little to say in the way of praise for Cochise's character (their relationship was impersonal at best, and Tevis was working from a hostile viewpoint as a result of having to put up with fairly frequent stock raids carried out by Cochise's men).  Still, he left the following testimony for our consideration:

"[Cochise was] as fine a looking Indian as one ever saw.  He was about six feet tall and as straight as an arrow, built, from the ground up, as perfect as any man could be.  He only had one peer in physique, Francisco, chief of the Coyoteros.  I don't suppose that Cochise ever met his equal with a lance."

James H. Tevis, Arizona in the 50's
( my source:  Edwin R. Sweeney, "Cochise", University of Oklahoma Press

Cochise - Sweeney   click to purchase

     From Joseph Alton Sladen's personal journal, written during his stay with Cochise in 1872, we have this assessment:

"He was a remarkably fine looking man, fully six feet tall, as straight as an arrow, and well proportioned, the typical Indian face, rather long, high cheek bones, clear keep eye, and a Roman nose.  His cheeks were slightly painted with vermillion.  A yellow silk handerchief bound his hair, which was straight and black, with just a touch of silver.

He carried himself at all times with great dignity, and was always treated by those about him with the utmost respect and, at times, fear."

Joseph Alton Sladen, October 1872, in Cochise's camp 
(my source:  Edwin R. Sweeney, Making Peace With Cochise, University of Oklahoma Press

Making Peace With Cochise - Sweeney    click to purchase

     One man working at Ft. Bowie as a sutler commented that Cochise never smiled, and added that he always wore a grave countenance.  This must be taken for what it is worth:  Cochise's demeanor while visiting this fort could not be expected to be particularly relaxed.  He was in the midst of Americans while making appearances there, and Cochise, though respectful of the strength of the Americans, never came to trust the whites (with the notable exceptions of two men, Thomas Jeffords, with whom Cochise formed a solid friendship, and General O.O. Howard, with whom he made his peace treaty in 1872.)  Others have made comments that show Cochise had not only a pleasant countenance at times, but a sense of humor as well.  In another journal entry, Joseph Sladen states, "The old chief meditated a few minutes over this and then said, smiling, 'Leave Captain Sladen.  I will take care of him." 

     In an article written by General Howard just weeks following the peace conference, we are treated to several revelations with respect to Cochise's capacity to show kindness.  He imparts this exchange, which took place only minutes after the General's first meeting with Cochise had begun:

"He smiled pleasantly and said thoughtfully, 'I am glad you came.'

And further along in the same article, General Howard writes a revealing passage that gives us yet another rare glimpse of Cochise's softer side.  This exchange took place at the conclusion of Howard and Sladen's stay in the Dragoons campsite, after the peace treaty had been agreed upon, when Cochise was about to bid farewell to his new American friend:

"He looked at me a moment kindly, and then stepped forward and pressed me in his arms, saying 'good-bye' in English."

General Oliver Otis Howard, November 1872, from Account of General Howard's Mission to the Apaches and Navajos,
Washington Daily Morning Chronicle  ---  my thanks to Edwin R. Sweeney for supplying me with a copy of this document.

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