Battle of Madera Canyon
Part of The Second Mexican War
Date 1881
Location New Mexico Territory
Result Confederate States victory
34StarsUnited States CSAConfederate States

Apache Indians

Commanders and leaders
USArmySealPeter Hains

USArmySealVirgil Earp(POW)

CSA battle flagJeb Stuart


The Battle of Madera Canyon was Confederate General Jeb Stuart's first major engagement of the Second Mexican War. Having duped the US Commander at Contention City, Stuart made an alliance with the Apaches. At Madera Canyon half way between the US towns of Tubac and Tucson, the Apaches led a combined US and volunteer cavalry under the joint leadership of Colonel Peter Hains and Colonel Virgil Earp into an ambush that decimated them.


After forming an alliance with Geronimo and his Apache tribe, Confederate General Jeb Stuart made camp at Tubac while they planned their next move. Together, they turned their attention to the town of Tucson, where there was a combined force of US cavalry and Tombstone Rangers. The combined CS and Apache force crossed the Santa Cruz River, before heading into the desert east of Sahuarita, about twenty miles south of Tucson. There, they set up positions around Madera Canyon that Geronimo had chosen for his ambush.

Battle of Madera CanyonEdit

Geronimo sent scouts to attack the US forces and lure them into an ambush. After leading them to the Canyon, they dismounted, and formed a defensive line. The US soldiers, unaware of the ambush rushed head long into the Canyon and Stuart’s artillery. They attempted to go wide, but ran into Stuarts infantry, dug in along the canyons sides. Realising they were now fighting Rebs, they all dismounted and fought back with their Winchester rifles. Unfortunately, their guns lacked the range of the Confederate's own Carbine, and they were out ranged and at the centre of fire from three directions.

Desperate for a way out, they tried to punch their way through the Confederate forces entrenched along the sides of the canyon. Many advanced on foot to make themselves smaller targets and some got into the defensive works resulting in hand to hand combat. Although they got to the lines they were unable to get through and retreated back to the centre of the canyon.

This allowed the Stuart's men to advance forward. With forces advancing on three sides, Colonel Hains attempted at last to withdraw, but it was far too late. Rifle fire from both west and east sides and Stuart’s own artillery took a heavy toll on them and only a small handful rode back to Tucson.


All Confederates and the Apaches were delighted with their victory. In this victory, General Stuart had defeated all US regular troops in the New Mexico Territory. All that were left were the Volunteer Forces in Tombstone, which he chose for his next offensive. The US defeat lead to a great deal of animosity between US cavalry and the Tombstone Rangers. While Colonel Peter Hains of the US Cavalry had escaped, the Colonel in charge of the Tombstone Rangers, Virgil Earp, had not. Although outfoxed and captured, he managed to get the last laugh by informing Stuart that the Apaches were no longer his problem but the General's.

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