Determined to resist the loss of his homeland, Victorio began leading his small band of warriors on a long series of devastating raids against Mexican and American settlers and their communities in the 1850s. Finally, in 1869, the U.S. Army convinced Victorio to accept resettlement on an inhospitable patch of sunburnt land near San Carlos, Arizona, also known as Hell’s Forty Acres.
Farming nearly impossible, and the conditions were deplorable. So Victorio decided this new reservation was unacceptable and moved his followers to more pleasant grounds at Ojo Caliente (Warm Springs). Unfortunately, this made him once again an outlaw in the eyes of the U. S.
In 1880, a combined force of U.S. and Mexican troops finally succeeded in tracking him down, surrounding them in the Tres Castillos Mountains. The Mexican soldiers sent the Americans away, and proceeded to kill all but 17 of the trapped Apaches. The exact manner of Victorio’s death remains unclear. Some claimed an Indian scout employed by the Mexican army killed him. According to the Apache, Victorio took his own life rather than surrender to the hated Mexicans. Regardless, Victorio’s death made him a martyr to the Apache people and strengthened the resolve of other warriors to continue the fight. The last of the great Apache warriors, Geronimo, would not surrender until 1886.
Victorio’s sister was the famous woman warrior Lozen, Dexterous Horse Thief.
The character of Sierra Charriba, in Sam Peckinpah’s film Major Dundee (1965), played by Michael Pate, was based off of Victorio.