One day in October, 1860, Apache Indians raided the ranch of John Ward on Sonoita Creek, plundered his house, took his son Mickey Free, and ran off all of his stock. John Ward was absent at the time of the raid. Upon his return, Ward immediately rode to Fort Buchanan, twelve miles to the northeast, at the head of the Sonoita Valley, and reported the raid to the Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. Pitcain Morrison. Nothing was done at this time, the reasons to this day are unknown, but a guess would be due to the lack of troops present for duty. No reason was ever given and the pursuit of the raiders was not undertaken until January 29, 1861, three months later.
On January 29, 1861, Lieut. Col. Morrison ordered Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom, 7th U.S. Infantry, to proceed to Apache Pass, 150 miles to the Northeast to retake the boy, Mickey Free and the stolen stock. Bascom's command, consisted of 54 men mounted on mules. Also accompanying Bascom was Mr. Ward and an interpreter called Antonio. Bascom and his command arrived at the west summit of Apache Pass February 3rd and proceeded over the road two and a half miles to the Overland Mail Station.
Bascom halted his command for water, and told the station keeper Mr. Culver that he was on his way to Fort Bliss, Texas. After watering his command, Bascom continued on his way. When he had marched about one mile to one and a half miles, he halted his command in the vicinity of Goodwin Canyon and set up his camp. Bascom's command was camped in Siphon Canyon. Cochise's camp was in Goodwin Canyon, only a short distance away.
Bascom convinced Cochise to meet with him. Suspicious of Bascom's plans, Cochise brought with him his brother Coyuntwa, two nephews, his wife, and his two children. At the meeting, Cochise claimed he knew nothing of the affair. Doubting the Indian's honesty, Bascom attempted to imprison him and his family in a tent to be held hostage, but Cochise was able to escape with only a leg wound.
Bascom met Cochise at Apache Pass and captured him. Cochise escaped and Bascom captured five members of Cochise's family in retaliation, prompting Cochise to lay ambushes and capture four Americans whom he offered to trade for his family members.
On February 5, 1861, Cochise delivered a message to Bascom pleading for the release of his family, but Bascom refused and told Cochise that they "would be set free just so soon as the boy was released."
The following day, Cochise and a large party of Apaches attacked a group of Americans and captured three hostages, offering them in exchange for his family, but Bascom maintained that he would accept nothing other than the return of the boy and cattle. On February 7, 1861, Cochise and his men attacked Bascom's soldiers while they were fetching water.
According to recent sources, Cochise was known for his truthfulness and integrity and Bascom's accusations were false.
Cochise fled to Sonora. On the way, he killed the American prisoners and left their remains to be discovered by Bascom. Several days later, Bascom hanged Cochise's brother and nephews before he and his soldiers began their journey home.
The moment when Cochise discovered his brother and nephews dead has been called the moment when the Indians (the Chiricahua in particular) transferred their hatred of the Mexicans to the Americans.
Cochise's revenge in the form of numerous raids and murders were the beginning of the 25-year-long Apache Wars.