Ulzana's Raid (1972)





Director:    Robert Aldrich

Starring:    Burt Lancaster (McIntosh),  Bruce Davison (Lt. Garnett DeBuin),  Jorge Luke (Apache scout Ke-ni-tay),  Richard Jaeckel (sergeant),  Joaquín Martínez (Ulzana),  Lloyd Bochner (Capt. Charles Gates),  Karl Swenson (Willy Rukeyser),  Douglass Watson (Major Cartwright),  Dran Hamilton (settler Mrs. Riordan). 

Based on the 1882 capture of Apache Ulzana (or Josana), who broke out from the reservation and started raiding, by US Army scout MacIntosh.   Another key scout was an Apache, whose movie character was modeled after two or more real Apache scouts.  The Apache scout is not trusted by the Lieutenant at the head of the army, but the Apache performs his duties in spite of this. 


Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.

San Carlos Indian Reservation, Graham, Arizona. An Apache disturbs the horses a bit and the agent in his pajamas comes to look out from the front porch. He doesn't see anything, so he goes back to bed. The Apache take some of the horses.

Fort Lowell. The soldiers play baseball on the desert. A man comes riding fast up to the fort yelling: "War party out! Ulzana's gone out!"

An older man named McIntosh comes to see the fort commander, who is currently talking to his two officers about what should they do about this Ulzana? McIntosh says he hears Ulzana is on a raid. He asks Capt. Charley Gates who did he send to warn the settlers in the area? Mulkearn and Horowitz. McIntosh says that Mulkearn is just a new recruit. The major tells McIntosh to go up to the agency to see if he can't get some better information on what happened.

McIntosh wants to know how many men is the major sending after Ulzana? He and the captain say that they won't know that until the size of the raiding party is known, as well as their probable intentions. McIntosh speaks up: "Their probable intention is to burn, maim, torture, rape and murder, Charlie."

The officers ignore that remark. The major tells McIntosh to tell that agent Steegmeyer that this time he wants to know the names of the Indians in the war party. McIntosh says it will take him two hours to get up there and then two hours to get back. By this action, the major is giving Ulzana more than a four hour head start. The major just reiterates what he has already told McIntosh.

After McIntosh leaves, Gates says: "He's a willful, opinionated man with a contempt for discipline, either moral or military." But, says the major, he's a good scout and he knows the Apaches.

At the agency McIntosh uses the translator Ke-Ni-Tay. They have before them two elderly Apache that won't talk much. So McIntosh has the translator asks them: is Ulzana a great war chief? Is he wiser than Nana, braver than Chato, crueler than Victorio?

Back at Fort Lowell the major learns that Lt. Garnett DeBuin is much like his minister father who believes that Christian kindness would do a lot of good to soothe the relationships with the Indians. The major warn the lieutenant that this particular view is not a good one to have when facing the Apache. Then he tells Lt. DeBuin that he will be leading the chase for Ulzana.

Four Apache trap and kill one of the soldiers warning the settlers.

The other such soldier warning the settlers, named Willie, reaches the property of Mr. Ginsford. He tells Ginsford that the army doesn't have enough soldiers to protect each land holding in the area. So he's on his own.

The Ginsford family pack up their belongings in a wagon. The parents tell the boy and two girls that they are heading over to the fort to see if any packages have arrived for them.

The major tells DeBuin to trust McIntosh's advice, but never forget the DeBuin is the man in charge of this detail.

Willie tells Mr. Rukeyser it would be better if he and his family came back with him and some other. That would give them two extra guns. Rukeyser is sending his wife and boy to the fort, but he's staying to fight for his beloved land.

McIntosh and Ke-Ni-Tay pick up the trail of the raiding party. The lieutenant tells McIntosh that they need to go faster. McIntosh slowly and calmly tells the lieutenant that there is no sense in pushing the horses because the Apache are going to know the cavalry is trailing them. He adds that an exhausted horse will just lay down on the ground.

The Apache set up an ambush along the dirt path. And here comes Willie and the family. One of the horses pulling the wagon is shot. The soldier goes after the Indians, but Mrs. Rukeyser starts screaming so much that he had to turn around. He shoots the mother in the forehead and swoops up the kid. He is going to try to get away from the Apache.

An Apache shoots Willie's horse out from under him. Willie shoots himself in the mouth so as not to be tortured by the Apache. The Apache cut his heart out and throw it back and forth amongst them.

An Apache pulls mother off the wagon and tries to get her ring off her finger. The little boy rushes over and pushes the Apache off his mother, but then he uses his teeth to loosen the ring, pull it off and gives it to the Apache.

The Apache leave. Now they watch Mr. Rukeyser and his dog. Three braves shoot their arrows and they all hit the dog, killing him. Rukeyser sees the dog, gets his rifle and runs into the farm house.

The cavalry reach the scene of Rukeyser killings. The lieutenant wants to know why they spared the boy? McIntosh says it's just a whim on their part.

The Indians are going to burn Rukeyser and his house. The Apache break open the front door, but they do not rush in. Rukeyser was ready for them, but he only hears the sounds of running horses. Now he hears the sound of the cavalry bugle. He starts thanking God.

McIntosh arrives and looks for the body or Rukeyser in the farm house. No sign of him. Ke-Ni-Tay calls McIntosh over to him. There they find Rukeyser dead from a fire with his feet spread out and leaning against a tree. The Apache started the fire right by the white man's groin.

At the night encampment, the sergeant says that he was with Lt. Giltwell when they went after Nana in 1881. They rode around for three weeks without seeing one of "those murdering bastards".

The lieutenant asks Ke-Ni-Tay why do the Apache torture human beings? The Apache says this is the way they are; they have always been this way. This way the Indian can take the power of the man he killed. He says that Ulzana had thin power. He gains power from the torturing. They didn't kill the boy because a man cannot take power from a boy. The lieutenant then says: "Then Ulzana will want to kill many." Ke-Ni-Tay agrees.

The next day the lieutenant asks he scouts where are the Apache headed. Ke-Ni-Tay says: "He will take us where it's hard to follow. " The lieutenant asks where will Ulzana fight them? McIntosh answers: "He don't mean to fight you no place, lieutenant. He only means to kill you. "

The Apache have a lame horse. The horse it taken over to a watering place and gut it with a knife to contaminate the water for the soldiers. Ulzana now carries the man without a horse on the back of his horse.

The Indian set up an ambush for the soldiers. They go up into the mountains and the young lad with them takes the horses away to hide them.

The two scouts tell the lieutenant that the horses are running light. Meaning that the Apache got off their horses to go into the mountains. They want the cavalry to come up there and they will all get scattered up there and easier to pick off.

McIntosh says there's one way to outfox him. Get to their ponies before Ulzana can get to them. He figures that the horses will be marched back to the mountains to Ulzana and his men can get back on their horses. They won't drive the ponies straight back, but will go with them off to the left or the right. The cavalry will get into positions on the left and right of the lieutenant and wait for the horses to come to them.

The lieutenant talks to the sergeant about treating the Apache with more kindness. The sergeant says he once had to retrieve a baby out of a cactus tree and then wait around two hours for the baby to die, so he could bury it. "There ain't nobody gonna tell me to turn the other check to no Apache, sir."

McIntosh sends the messenger rider back to the lieutenant. Tell him the horses crossed behind the cavalry. Bring the lieutenant back to pick up the trail.

McIntosh rides as fast as he can to catch to the horses. He can't overtake them, so he shoots the lead horse and then the back horse. The two Indian boys rush McIntosh. The lead one shoots McIntosh's horse out from under him. McIntosh runs and jumps behind his downed horse. With his rifle he shoots the lead fellow twice, but he only wounds the other man because the bullet ricochet off the bugle around his neck.

Ulzana heard the shot and now runs toward the direction of the sound.

The cavalry reach McIntosh. The lieutenant sends the sergeant and one other man, named Muiller, out to track down the wounded man that got away from McIntosh. The lieutenant sees some of his men mutilating the body of Ulzana's son. He rushes over to them and stops them. Then he tells the men to give the Apache a decent burial.

McIntosh takes the Apache scout's horse. Ke-Ni-Tay grabs onto the saddles and runs along with McIntosh's hoses.

The sergeant comes back, but not Miller. Where's Miller? Dead. Where's the wounded Indian? Dead. But now the Apache scout will have his own horse to ride.

The lieutenant asks the sergeant where the nearest homestead is? The sergeant says it's only about five miles away from them. They head for the homestead. By the time they get there the farm house has already been burned down. They find the farmer tortured to death.

The lieutenant says he doesn't want the men to bury the body. He wants the Apache scout to do that. McIntosh objects to that kind of prejudice and discrimination toward Ke-Ni-Tay. The lieutenant says now it's McIntosh who isn't making any sense. They find a young white woman scarred on her face and probably gang raped.

The lieutenant asks the Apache scout what is Ulzang going to do now? The scout says Ulzana will be thinking of killing more white people for the death of his son. The Apache have gotten two horses, from the farm, but that is not enough. If he can't get more horses, then the raid is finished. Ulzana will try to kill the lieutenant and his men and get their horses this way.

Ke-ni-tay says that the Apache left the woman alive, precisely because he knows the whites will sent her to Fort Lowell. This gives Ulzana a chance to kill the soldiers and the woman and that would give them eight horses, which is probably enough to attack the main cavalry force.

Knowing that Ulzana will go after the detachment, gives the cavalry the chance to set up a trap for Ulzana

The raped woman says she wants to wash off the stain of the rapes. When she says she can't wash it away, she tries to drown herself in the pond. The lieutenant picks her up out of the water. The lady gets the lieutenant to promise that if the Apache, he won't let them take her again. The lieutenant promises.

The next morning all the soldiers accompany the detachment up to a fork in the road. The wagon with the woman and escort goes left and the soldiers go right. Ulzana sees his chance to get the horses he needs.

Ke-ni-tay tells the lieutenant that Ulzana will go up on the Mountain of Fire. The horses cannot go. So he says he will go and kill Ulzana. He takes the binoculars from the lieutenant. He tells the lieutenant that when he sees the flashing of the two lenses in the sunlight, tht will mean the cavalry must ride the the defense of McIntosh and the detachment. The lieutenant agrees to the plan.

The fault in the plan is that Ulzana also has binoculars with him. And, sure enough, the men see Ulzana's lenses shining and they start to head to the detachment.

McIntosh decides to rest the horses. They are too close to an ideal ambush site and he wants more time for the main force to come up closer to them.

Ke-ni-tay keeps pursuing one of the raiders. He puts his rifle and glasses down to free two hands to help navigate through the narrow passages. The raider knows the Apache scout is after him. He finds some cover and puts down his binoculars. Ke-ni-Tay sees his position and takes a different way that gets him behind the raider.

The raider moves his position closer to the hidden scout. He turns his back to the scout and Ke-ni-tay knifes him in the back and jerks the knife back and forth in the raider's back.

Ulzana starts the attack on the detachment. Two soldiers are wounded and fall off their horses. The horses run away and the Indians grab them. The driver of the wagon is shot. McIntosh gets in the driver's seat and drives the wagon into the rock. The wagon gets stuck in the rocks. Mcintosh pulls the woman off the wagon and puts her under the wagon. He also gets under the wagon.

Most of the detachment now has been shot down. Through this whole battle the soldiers have not hit a single Apache. But the Apache have hit the soldiers. Finally, they hit one of the Indians.

Now the Indians focus on killing the people under the wagon. The sergeant made it under the wagon, but he was shot trying to get there. He now dies. And now McIntosh gets hit in the back. Ulzana uses hand gestures to tell two of the men to rush McIntosh and the wagon. McIntosh is able to shoot down both of the Indians.

The cavalry is on its way. Now Ke-ni-tay shoots a raider guarding the captured horses. What's left of the raiding party now makes a run for it. The lieutenant reaches McIntosh who tells him that Ulzana lit out as soon as he heard the sound of the bugle.

Ulzana keeps running. He keeps hearing the sounds of horse hooves. He finally sees the scout coming on a horse toward him. Ulzana throws his rifle down and goes to his knees. Ke-ni-tay walks up to him and shoots him in the head.

The cavalry also hear the shot. McIntosh says he's might not even make it to the wagon to be taken home. Ke-ni-tay brings the body of Ulzana to the lieutenant. The lieutenant tells his men to bury Ulzana with the other dead warriors. Ke-nik-tay says no. He will bury Ulzana himself. And, finally, the lieutenant salutes the brave Apache scout.

The cavalry move out. Ke-ni-tay takes the body of Ulzana to bury it somewhere.

McIntosh stays puts and rolls a cigarette.



Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:



From north to south:

Pleasanton -- located northeast of Silver City. Located southwest of Clifton, AZ.

Clifton - located nw of Silver City in AZ.

Silver City -- located in sw, NM, west of US 25. Just west of intersection of Routes 15 and 180.

Cookes Range-- located NW of Fort Cummings and SE of Sliver City.

Fort Cummings - NE of Deming. Fort Cummings, 1836-1886.

Deming -- located at intersection of Interstate-10 and Route 180. NW of Florida Mountains.

Florida Mountains -- southeast of Deming and northeast of Columbus.

Tres Hermanas (Three Sisters) Mountain -- nw of Columbus.

Columbus -- near the border with Mexico.



Below the information comes mostly from writer Jerry Eagan http://www.desertexposure.com/200606/200606_ulzana.html.  He's a retired civil servant who writes, sells his photography at A Daily Practice yoga studio, 104 N. Texas St. in Silver City, and hikes twice a week into Apacheria (or Apache country).


Ulzana was the older brother of Chihuahua—Kla-esch—who was a Chiricahua subgroup leader. Chihuahua's group came from the Western side of the Mogollons. Like Geronimo, he was a Bedonkohe Apache.

1885 (summer)  --  Emmet Crawford and Britton Davis led an expedition against the Chiricahua in Mexico. They never caught up with Geronimo. Davis became so discouraged that he resigned from the army and started ranching in Chihuahua.

1885 (November)  --  running low on cartridges, the great warrior Ulzana led raids into Arizona. He and 10 to 12 braves rode 1,200 miles in two months killing 38 whites. He lost only one warrior. He even attacked Fort Apache itself.   In response, Gen. Crook created a stream-lined team of mostly Apache scouts under Crawford to strike back at the Apaches.

1885 (November and December) -- Ulzana (a.k.a. Ulzahuay, Josanie, Jolsany, Jolsanie, Jolsanny) entered the Florida Mountains of New Mexico with 10 warriors to "raid". Ulzana's raiders probably crossed the border in the Western Portillos, east of Columbus. From the border, Ulzana's trail went north, from the Tres Hermanas, to the Floridas, then north, past Fort Cummings and into the Cooke's Range. In all, they traveled approximately 1,200 miles.

Lives were lost in Lake Valley, Hillsboro, the Black Range, the Mimbres, Alma and Fort Apache, Ariz. Lieutenant S. W. Fountain's C Troop, 8th Cavalry, hunted Ulzana in the area from San Francisco River over as far west as Eagle Creek and Clifton, Ariz., Mule Springs (now Mule Creek) and the foothills of the Mogollons, Little Dry Creek and Big Dry Creeks and Cactus Flats (south of present-day Pleasanton).

1885 (Nov. 7) -- Captain Chafee of the US 6th Cavalry was stationed at Cambray, east of Deming. He reported that "hostiles" had attacked the couriers of Troop A, and killed a Navajo scout, Antonio, and wounded Private Abbott, "securing the two horses and carbines of the two men." Chafee also reported that Apaches had attacked the houses of Mr. and Mrs. John Shy and of Andrew Yeater and his wife. Both men worked for the Missouri Cattle Company, which ran 700 head of cattle along the eastern and southern end of the Floridas.

1885 (Nov. 23)  --  Ulzana and his men hit the Fort Apache Reservation. Five men and boys, 11 women and four children died there as Ulzana took a few Chiricahua women and children with him as he headed east, back towards Mexico.

1885 (Dec. 7)  --    Fountain and his scouts "picked up a trail of possibly 20 hostiles." Fountain trailed the Apache as they headed towards Mogollon Park, then to the "head of Turkey Creek" (more than likely, Turkey Feather Creek). He plunged into the Mogollons, doggedly trailing Ulzana's raiders.

1885 (Dec. 9)  --  Fountain had tracked scattered Apache trails past a cabin on fire, which was put out, then on to another cabin, which Fountain identified as being owned by John Lilley. There a firefight erupted. Fountain and his men had chased this band of Apache at least 38 miles in less than 24 hours in cold and snow. They were probably sick and tired of chasing, and wanted to do some fighting. Fountain saw a cabin burning orange and red against snow and heard heavy rifle fire all around. He ordered and land he and his men charged.  The surprise was complete. The hostiles ran up the hill behind the house. Fountain was elated, though, since they had separated the Apache from their horses.

Fountain was anxious to reach Presley Papineau's place, three miles farther north on the Middle Fork of the Gila, concerned that Papineau also might be attacked. "We found Mr. [John] Lilley's dead body a hundred yards from the house. He had been shot through the head, his body was not mutilated in any manner—a half burned body was in the house supposed to be Mr. [Thomas] Prior."

1885 (Dec. 10)  --  Fountain marched to Papineau's, a distance of three miles. He found men who would bury Lillie and "old man Prior.

Fountain and his men had marched 268 miles.

Historians say only one Apache who rode with Ulzana was killed on the raid. John Lillie, Thomas Prior and Presley Papineau were three of 38 people killed by Ulzana's raid.

1909  --  Ulzana, who later had two wives and was reported as a man who "drinks too much," died at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He and others of Chihuahua's group are buried there.

Ulzana had two wives (Nah-Zis-Eh, Nahn-Tsh-Klah), two daughters and five sons, only two of whom survived:  Richard (who became a Carlisle student in 1894) and Samuel (who was brought up by his relatives, former scout William Coony (or Coonie, Kuni), and his wife).




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