Chief of Police John Louis Colvig

Chief of Police John Louis Colvig

San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, Tribal Police

End of Watch Thursday, July 6, 1882

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John Louis Colvig

Chief of Police John Colvig was shot and killed when he and several other officers were attacked by a group of Apache warriors and scouts who had deserted from the United States Cavalry.

The group of 60 warriors had been attacking villages and camps along the trail to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. They encountered Chief Colvig on the Globe Road approximately 10 miles west of San Carlos while he was handing out ration tickets with three other officers.

The officers were attacked by the group and Chief Colvig and the other officers were shot and killed. The group continued to flee but were pursued by troops from Fort McDowell and Camp Verde. When the troops located the men a shootout, later named "Battle of Big Dry Wash", ensued in which 22 Apaches including their leader were killed. One soldier was killed. The surviving apaches fled back to the San Carlos Apache Reservation. This was the last major battle between the U.S. Army and the Apaches in Arizona, although there would be many minor battles for years to come.

Chief Colvig took the place of Chief Albert D. Sterling who was killed by Apaches ten weeks earlier.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 2 months, 2 weeks
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Arizona
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Not available


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Chief Colvig,
On today, the 140th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of the San Carlos Tribe. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

July 6, 2022

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