login   |    register
Osprey Publishing [ MORE REVIEWS ] [ WEBSITE ] [ NEW STORIES ]

Book Review
Apache Tactics 1830-86
Osprey Publishing LTD book Apache Tactics 1830-86
  • move

by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma


**The Apache peoples of the southwest United States and northern Mexico became so legendary as guerrilla fighters that their name is still a byword for a fierce, elusive, and unpredictable foe. Masters of survival and rapid movement in rugged terrain, for centuries the resisted Spanish and Mexican encroachment – and periodic attempts at outright extermination – before meeting advancing American settlers in the 19th century. From 1860 to 1886, surprisingly small numbers of warriors led by warchiefs such as Cochise, Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Nana, and Geronimo usually outwitted and often outfought US troops, who were thinly scattered across the wilderness of Apacheria.**

** Author’s words quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released Apache Tactics 1830-86 as Number 119 in their Elite series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white and color photographs, black and white and color illustrations, and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-630-1. The book examines and discusses the tactics used by the Native American Apache’s in their fight to survive and remain free and to keep their native lands while battling with the United States, Spain and Mexico.


  • The historical background – the Apaches and Spain, Mexico, and the United States
  • The scope of this text
  • The scale of Apache warfare
Environment And Culture
  • Apacheria
  • The role of raiding in the Apache life
  • Training
  • Leadership
Guerrilla Strategies & Tactics
  • The Raid
    • Raiding ranches and villages
  • Evasion
    • Victorio’s evasion strategy
  • The Ambush
    • The planned ambush: Ojo Caliente, September 4, 1879 – Cuchillo Negro River, September 30, 1879 – Santa Cruz Mountains, May 15, 1886
    • The killing ambush: Candelaria Mountains, November 1879
    • Ambush by decoy and deception: Horseshoe Canyon, October 24, 1871 – Las Animas River, September 18, 1879 – Sierra Madre Mountains, April 1883 – McEvers Ranch, September 10-11, 1879 – Whetstone Mountains, May 5, 1871 – Caballo Mountains, January 30, 1880
    • The ad hoc ambush: the Apache “roadside bomb” – Las Palomas, March 1880 – Goodsight Mountains, September 7, 1880 – Carrizo Canyon, August 12, 1881
  • The Attack
    • The rarity of direct attack
    • Attack after successful ambush: Cerro Mata Ortiz, November 13, 1882 – Conline’s skirmish, April 5, 1880
    • Combined tactics: Hembrillo Basin, April 6-7, 1880
Other Aspects Of Apache Warfare
  • Targeting horses and mules
  • Reactions to American technology
  • Terror tactics
The Failure Of Apache Resistance
  • The Apache scouts
  • Shortage of ammunition
  • Numerical weakness
  • Defeats
Further Reading


The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice and spelling or grammar errors as I read through the book. Dr. Robert N. Watt covers the Apache tactics from1830 to 1886 very well and goes into great detail in the various campaigns and the actions taken there and various related incidents. Anyone interested in The Apaches, Native American warfare, or the United States, Spain and Mexico’s battles with the Apache will find this book very informative and interesting.


There are a total of 26 black and white photographs and 19 color photographs throughout the book. Several of the photographs are of Apache warriors and show their clothing and weaponry in nice detail. Also shown are key locations and terrain features used by the Apache. Another section of photographs show some of the venomous reptiles in Apache territory such as the Western Diamondback rattlesnake, the tarantula and the scorpion. The majority of the photographs are nice, clear, centered and focused images and are of a good quality considering the era in which they were taken. Considering that photography was still a fairly new science at the time the photographs were taken I was impressed with all of the photographs. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before, if not all of them, and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. Many of the photographs can be used as inspiration to simple vignettes and possibly even larger dioramas. They also provide several details on items such as clothing and small arms.


There are 2 black and white illustrations in the form of a diagram and a map. There are 8 color illustrations by illustrator Adam Hook which covers various actions taken by the Apaches and their foes and they are very well done. The captions that accompany the illustrations are well written and very detailed.

The black and white illustrations are of the following:
  • Sketch plan of Lt. Burnett’s skirmish against Nana’s warriors on August 16, 1881
  • Author’s suggested site for the McEvers Ranch ambush of September 10, 1879 (map)

The color illustrations are of the following:
  • Apache “Marching Formation”
  • From Evasion To Ambush
  • The Theater Of Operations, 1879-81
  • Killing Ambush: Candelaria Mountains, November 7 & 9, 1879
  • Ambush By Decoy Trails
  • Attack: Conline’s Skirmish, April 5, 1880 (I)
  • Attack: Conline’s Skirmish, April 5, 1880 (II)
  • Combined Tactics: Hembrillo Basin, April 6-7, 1880


The captions that accompany the photographs are well written and are very detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammar errors as I read through them. They give very specific information as to individuals, military units, uniform items, weapons and locations shown.


All in all I am very impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many interesting photographs and well detailed captions. It details the tactics used by the Apache Native Americans in their fight to remain free and keep their native lands while battling with the United States, Spain and Mexico. One thing I would have liked to of seen in this book would have been more close-up detailed photographs of the individual small arms and other weapons used by the combatants. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library. The scale figure modeler and the vignette and diorama builder will find this volume a useful companion.


Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History
Theodore Brasser
Firefly Books

Native American Hunting and Fighting Skills
Colin F. Taylor
The Lyons Press

Native American Weapons
Colin F. Taylor
The Lyons Press

The Indians
The Old West
Time/Life Books

The Great Chiefs
The Old West
Time-Life Books

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
An Indian History Of The American West
Dee Brown

Winchester An American Legend
The Official History of Winchester Firearms and Ammunition from 1849 to the present
R.L. Wilson
Chartwell Books, Inc.
Highs: Well written and detailed text and captions. Nice photographs and artwork.
Lows: Would liked to have seen more close up detailed photographs of the individual small arms and other weapons.
Verdict: An excellent book which greatly details 19th century Apache warfare tactics and contains numerous useful photographs and illustrations
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 978-1-84908-630-1
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95/ UK £11.99/ CAN
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 15, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.



What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move