The U.S. military’s insensitive use of “Geronimo” as code name for Osama bin Laden, equating the Apache resistance leader with the terrorist mastermind, brings to mind an odd historical coincidence.

During an anti-Indian campaign in 1886, the Arizona commander Gen. Marion Miles ordered an army captain, Henry Ware Lawton to mercilessly pursue Geronimo’s band of Apaches, who refused to bow to government control. After a grueling, hunger-filled attempt to elude Lawton’s troops, Geronimo and his band finally surrendered to Lawton’s command on September 4, 1886.

Lawton won plaudits, and after declaration of war against Spain in 1898 he was promoted to Major General of Volunteers and Colonel in the regular army. He was sent to the Philippines in January 1899 to command a brigade in the war against Filipino revolutionaries who had fought to overthrow Spanish colonial rule and now faced American troops intent on taking over their country.

Lawton made a name for himself in the Philippine War, capturing several towns and adopting the tactics he had used in his campaigns against Indians and Geronimo. On December 19, Lawton was in the town of San Mateo not too far from Manila when he engaged a body of Filipino revolutionaries.

Filipino sharpshooters saw a conspicuous target in the six-foot-three-inch-tall Lawton, and shot him dead. The Filipinos were under the command of the revolutionary General Licerio GERONIMO.