Two years after the 1872 peace agreement with Cochise, the great Apache chief died. Several hundred Chiricahuas were relocated on the San Carlos Indian Reservation. However, Geronimo and over a hundred of his followers escaped the roundup, to begin a ten-year period of raining and pillaging on both sides of the border. During this time, Fort Bowie was the hub for military operations against the hostile Chiricahuas.
Arduous "search and destroy" missions into Mexico, by regular troops and specially recruited Apache scouts, finally wore down the Geronimo band. The Chiricahua's last surrender in September 1886 signalled the end of the nation's Indian wars.
Fort Bowie settled into its final, leisurely eight years of existence. Cottonwood trees, planted in 1885, flourished and kerosene street lamps lit pathways between frame buildings. A tennis court graced officer's row. The men attended dances, played baseball, hunted, and held training maneuvers. Fort life was more relaxed.