Battle of Big Dry Wash
Mogollon Rim District staff monitoring second incident
CoconinoNF wrote:CLINTS WELL, Ariz., Sep. 10, 2021 — A vandalized grave marker at the historic Battle of Big Dry Wash site near Blue Ridge was recently replaced with a new headstone of gray granite, according to Coconino National Forest Mogollon Rim District Ranger Linda Wadleigh.
The grave marker, erected in 1976 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), was vandalized and damaged beyond repair over a year ago. The headstone marked the grave of Pvt. Joseph McLernon who died on July 17, 1882, during the Battle of Big Dry Wash.
Local citizens who monitor the site for vandalism contacted the Forest Service about the damage. The Mogollon Rim Ranger District, and the Department of Veteran Affairs in Quantico, Virginia, authorized and facilitated the acquisition of a new granite marker replacement. According to District Archaeologist Melissa Julien, its construction and placement gives an extra measure of protection against further vandalism.
The Battle of Big Dry Wash historical site protects a significant event in the conflict between the United States military and the indigenous Apache and documents an engagement in 1882 where both sides experienced loss of life. It is considered the last official battle of the Indian Wars era.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed two memorials on the south side of East Clear Creek Canyon near the battlefield. The monuments are notable for being designed and promoted by historian Will C. Barnes, the telegraph operator at Fort Apache who wrote an article about the battle and died a year before they were erected. One of these monuments has also recently been vandalized with graffiti. Members of the public with any knowledge of this vandalism should contact Forest Service law enforcement at 928-527-3511.
Coconino National Forest staff are in the process of consulting with Yavapai-Apache Nation cultural heritage representatives to develop a balanced narrative of the site and present interpretation from both parties while accurately reflecting documented history.