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George N. Bascom

Second lieutenant George N. Bascom is notorious in Arizona lore as the instigator of the "Bascom Affair" which started more than a decade of bloody warfare between the native Indians and white settlers.

Who was George and was he actually responsible for setting off the fireworks in the southwest? Neither of these questions are easy to answer. This page attempts to answer the first question, I'll discuss the second with a page on the Bascom Affair itself at a later date.

Okay, who was George N. Bascom? The following is a synopsis of information I've been able to gather on him.

George was a second lieutenant in the US Army, supposedly graduating near the bottom of his class (26th out of 27) from West Point in 1858. After graduation, he was sent to out to the wild west. First to Camp Floyd in Utah, then to Arizona's Fort Buchanan (which was located near present day Sonoita).

In 1861, the 24-year-old 2nd Lieutenant and a detachment of 54 soldiers was sent to investigate the kidnapping of a rancher's step-son. This lead to "the Bascom Affair" which I will cover at a later date.

When the Civil War started, George was recalled from the west and promoted to Captain and slated for a position with the U.S. 16th Infantry. Obviously, at the time, his actions in Arizona were considered detrimental to his career. Before he could join his new regiment, he was involved in the Battle of Val Verde in New Mexico near Fort Craig. He was killed in action on February 21, 1862. A new fort in eastern New Mexico was named in his honor (Fort Bascom, operational between the dates of 1863 - 1870).

His final resting place is also in question. It is thought he was originally buried in the post cemetery at Fort Craig, but was moved to the Sante Fe National Cemetery when Fort Craig closed in 1885. He remains were not identified and his body may occupy one of the unknown graves.

I could not find the circumstances in which he died or what kind of leader he became after the Bascom Affair. Reading the popular reports on the Bascom Affair would lead one to believe that George was inexperienced, head strong and rash. But I have found one source that challanges the popular opinion. Of course, we'll probably never know for sure. In hind-sight, his actions seemed anything but smart, but history is strange that way. The same actions would have probably been labeled 'insightful" if Bascom had been able to pull off his plan.

More on all this when I investigate the Bascom Affair itself.

Notes on pictures. Both were taken on my hike to Fort Bowie. One discribes the area around the Bascom Affair, while the other is a picture of the actual site. I could not find any pictures of George Bascom.

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