On May 5, 1862, a Confederate foraging party rounding up cattle near the abandoned Butterfield Overland Mail Station battled a group of apaches. The soldiers were members of Company A, Governor John R. Baylor's Regiment of Arizona Rangers, under the command of Captain Sherod Hunter. Captain Hunter's command was based at Tucson and engaged in operations against Union forces from California. Four of Hunter's men were killed, and the Apaches took 25 horses and 30 mules. It is unknown whether any of the Apaches were slain.
From the Apache point of view, the Confederate party represented yet another unwelcome threat to the security of their homeland. The Chokonen band of the Chiricahua Apache, including the famous leader Cochise, was then living in the Dragoon Mountains and nearby Dos Cabezas, Chiricahua, and Peloncillo Mountains. Relationships with the United States, already uneasy, became markedly hostile in 1861 after a young U.S. Army officer, Lt. Bascom, falsely accused Cochise's group of kidnapping a child from a Sonoita Valley ranch. By 1862, the Apaches viewed any soldiers, whether Union or Confederate, as enemy invaders. Two months after the Confederates were killed near Dragoon Springs, the Apaches would do battle with Union forces at Apache Pass in the Chiricahua Mountains.
The fallen Confederates of the 1862 skirmish were hastily buried a few yards from the stone walls of the recently abandoned Butterfield Overland Mail Station. Two of the graves are marked - Sergeant Samuel Ford and Richardo, a Hispanic cattle drover. There are no markers on the other two burial mounds, but one probably holds the remains of Captain John Donaldson. The fourth burial remains unknown. These soldiers are the only Confederates known to have been killed in battle within the boundaries of modern-day Arizona.
This historic site is maintained by the Arizona Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.