SAND CREEK MASSACRE
COMPILED BY SPOTTED WOLF-JANUARY
BOYCOTT Yahoo Search
Engine and Mac Afee Virus Protection
For Unfairly Labeling this and another Native American Web Site
as "UNSAFE". Read
US CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS
ON SAND CREEK MASSACRE
Two Editorials from the Rocky Mountain News (1864)
THE BATTLE OF SAND CREEK
Among the brilliant feats of arms in Indian
warfare, the recent campaign of our Colorado volunteers will stand in
history with few rivals, and none to exceed it in final results. We are
not prepared to write its history, which can only be done by some one
who accompanied the expedition, but we have gathered from those who
participated in it and from others who were in that part of the country,
some facts which will doubtless interest many of our readers.
The people of Colorado are well aware of the situation occupied by the
third regiment during the great snow-storm which set in the last of
October. Their rendezvous was in Bijou Basin, about eighty miles
southeast of this city, and close up under the foot of the Divide. That
point had been selected as the base for an Indian campaign. Many of the
companies reached it after the storm set in; marching for days through
the driving, blinding clouds of snow and deep drifts. Once there, they
were exposed for weeks to an Arctic climate, surrounded by a treeless
plain covered three feet deep with snow. Their animals suffered for food
and with cold, and the men fared but little better. They were
insufficiently supplied with tents and blankets, and their sufferings
were intense. At the end of a month the snow had settled to the depth of
two fee, and the command set out upon its long contemplated march. The
rear guard left the Basin on the 23rd of November. Their course was
southeast, crossing the Divide and thence heading for Fort Lyon. For one
hundred miles the snow was quite two feet in depth, and for the next
hundred it ranged from six to twelve inches. Beyond that the ground was
almost bare and the snow no longer impeded their march.
On the afternoon of the 28th the entire command reached Fort Lyon, a
distance of two hundred and sixty miles, in less than six days, and so
quietly and expeditiously had the march been made that the command at
the fort was taken entirely by surprise. When the vanguard appeared in
sight in was reported that a body of Indians were approaching, and
precautions were taken for their reception. No one upon the route was
permitted to go in advance of the column, and persons who it was
suspected would spread the news of the advance were kept under
surveillance until all danger from that source was past.
At Fort Lyon the force was strengthened by about two hundred and fifty
men of the first regiment, and at nine o'clock in the evening the
command set out for the Indian village. The course was due north, and
their guide was the Polar star. As daylight dawned they came in sight of
the Indian camp, after a forced midnight march of forty-two miles, in
eight hours, across the rough, unbroken plain. But little time was
required for preparation. The forces had been divided and arranged for
battle on the march, and just as the sun rose they dashed upon the enemy
with yells that would put a Comanche army to blush. Although utterly
surprised, the savages were not unprepared, and for a time their defense
told terribly against our ranks. Their main force rallied and formed in
line of battle on the bluffs beyond the creek, where they were protected
by rudely constructed rifle-pits, from which they maintained a steady
fire until the shells from company C's (third regiment) howitzers began
dropping among them, when they scattered and fought each for himself in
genuine Indian fashion. As the battle progressed the field of carriage
widened until it extended over not less than twelve miles of territory.
The Indians who could escaped or secreted themselves, and by three
o'clock in the afternoon the carnage had ceased. It was estimated that
between three and four hundred of the savages got away with their lives.
Of the balance there were neither wounded nor prisoners. Their strength
at the beginning of the action was estimated at nine hundred.
Their village consisted of one hundred and thirty Cheyenne and with
Arapahoe lodges. These, with their contents, were totally destroyed.
Among their effects were large supplies of flour, sugar, coffee, tea,
&c. Women's and children's clothing were found; also books and many
other articles which must have been taken from captured trains or
houses. One white man's scalp was found which had evidently been taken
but a few days before. The Chiefs fought with unparalleled bravery,
falling in front of their men. One of them charged alone against a force
of two or three hundred, and fell pierced with balls far in advance of
Our attack was made by five battalions. The first regiment, Colonel
Chivington, part of companies C,D,E,G, H and K, numbering altogether
about two hundred and fifty men, was divided into two battalions; the
first under command of Major Anthony, and the second under Lieutenant
Wilson, until the latter was disabled, when the command devolved upon
Lieutenant Dunn. The three battalions of the third, Colonel Shoup, were
led, respectively, by Lieutenant Colonel Bowen, Major Sayr, and Captain
Cree. The action was begun by the battalion of Lieutenant Wilson, who
occupied the right, and by a quick and bold movement cut off the enemy
from their herd of stock. From this circumstance we gained our great
advantage. A few Indians secured horses, but the great majority of them
had to fight or fly on foot. Major Anthony was on the left, and the
third in the centre.
Among the killed were all the Cheyenne chiefs, Black Kettle, White
Antelope, Little Robe, Left Hand, Knock Knee, One Eye, and another, name
unknown. Not a single prominent man of the tribe remains, and the tribe
itself is almost annihilated. The Arapahoes probably suffered but
little. It has been reported that the chief Left Hand, of that tribe,
was killed, but Colonel Chivington is of the opinion that he was not.
Among the stock captured were a number of government horses and mules,
including the twenty or thirty stolen from the command of Lieutenant
Chase at Jimmy's camp last summer.
The Indian camp was well supplied with defensive works. For half a mile
along the creek there was an almost continuous chain of rifle-pits, and
another similar line of works crowned the adjacent bluff. Pits had been
dug at all the salient points for miles. After the battle twenty-tree
dead Indians were taken from one of these pits and twenty-seven from
Whether viewed as a march or as a battle, the exploit has few, if any,
parallels. A march of 260 miles in but a fraction more than five days,
with deep snow, scanty forage, and no road, is a remarkable feat, whilst
the utter surprise of a large Indian village is unprecendented. In no
single battle in North America, we believe, have so many Indians been
It is said that a short time before the command reached the scene of
battle of an old squaw partially alarmed the village by reporting that a
great herd of buffalo were coming. She heard the rumbling of the
artillery and tramp of the moving squadrons, but her people doubted. In
a little time the doubt was dispelled, but not by buffaloes.
A thousand incidents of individual daring and the passing events of the
day might be told, but space forbids. We leave the task for
eye-witnesses to chronicle. All acquitted themselves well, and Colorado
soldiers have again covered themselves with glory.
THE FORT LYON AFFAIR
The issue of yesterday's News, containing the
following dispatch, created considerable of a sensation in this city,
particularly among the Thirdsters and others who participated in the
recent campaign and the battle on Sand creek.
Washington, December 20, 1864
"The affair at Fort Lyon, Colorado, in which Colonel Chivington
destroyed a large Indian village, and all its inhabitants, is to be made
the subject of congressional investigation. Letters received from high
officials in Colorado say that the Indians were killed after
surrendering, and that a large proportion of them were women and
Indignation was loudly and unequivocally expressed, and some less
considerate of the boys were very persistent in their inquiries as to
who those "high officials" were, with a mild intimation that they had
half a mind to "go for them." This talk about "friendly Indians" and a
"surrendered" village will do to "tell to marines," but to us out here
it is all bosh.
The confessed murderers of the Hungate family - a man and wife and their
two little babes, whose scalped and mutilated remains were seen by all
our citizens -- were "friendly Indians," we suppose, in the eyes of
these "high officials." They fell in the Sand creek battle.
The confessed participants in a score of other murders of peaceful
settlers and inoffensive travelers upon our borders and along our roads
in the past six months must have been friendly, or else the "high
officials" wouldn't say so.
The band of marauders in whose possession were found scores of horses
and mules stolen from government and from individuals; wagon loads of
flour, coffee, sugar and tea, and rolls of broad cloth, calico, books,
&c, robbed from freighters and emigrants on the plains; underclothes of
white women and children, stripped from their murdered victims, were
probably peaceably disposed toward some of those "high officials," but
the mass of our people "can't see it."
Probably those scalps of white men, women and children, one of them
fresh, not three days taken, found drying in their lodges, were taken in
a friendly, playful manner; or possibly those Indian saddle-blankets
trimmed with the scalp's of white women, and with braids and fringes of
their hair, were kept simply as mementos of their owners' high affection
for the pale face. At any rate, these delicate and tasteful ornaments
could not have been taken from the heads of the wives, sisters or
daughters of these "high officials."
That "surrendering" must have been the happy thought of an exceedingly
vivid imagination, for we can hear of nothing of the kind from any of
those who were engaged in the battle. On the contrary, the savages
fought like devils to the end, and one of our pickets was killed and
scalped by them the next day after the battle, and a number of others
were fired upon. In one instance a party of the vidette pickets were
compelled to beat a hasty retreat to save their lives, full twenty-four
hours after the battle closed. This does not look much like the Indians
But we are not sure that an investigation may not be a good thing. It
should go back of the "affair at Fort Lyon," as they are pleased to term
it down east, however, and let the world know who were making money by
keeping those Indians under the sheltering protection of Fort Lyon;
learn who was interested in systematically representing that the Indians
were friendly and wanted peace. It is unquestioned and undenied that the
site of the Sand creek battle was the rendezvous of the thieving and
marauding bands of savages who roamed over this country last summer and
fall, and it is shrewdly suspected that somebody was all the time making
a very good thing out of it. By all means let there be an investigation,
but we advise the honorable congressional committee, who may be
appointed to conduct it, to get their scalps insured
before they pass Plum creek on their way out.
BACK TO TOP
Congressional testimony by John S. Smith, an eyewitness to the massacre
(March 14, 1865)
Congressional testimony by John S. Smith, an eyewitness to the massacre
(March 14, 1865)
Mr. John S. Smith
sworn and examined.
By Mr. Gooch:
Question. Where is
your place of residence?
Answer. Fort Lyon, Colorado
Question. What is your occupation?
Answer. United States Indian interpreter
and special Indian agent.
Question. Will you state to the committee
all that you know in relation to the attack of Colonel Chivington upon
the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians in November last?
Answer. Major Anthony was in command at
Fort Lyon at the time. Those Indians had been induced to remain in the
vicinity of Fort Lyon, and were promised protection by the commanding
officer at Fort Lyon. The commanding officer saw proper to keep them
some thirty or forty miles distant from the fort, for fear of some
conflict between them and the
soldiers or the traveling population, for Fort Lyon is on a great
He advised them to go out on what is called
Sand Creek, about forty miles, a little east of north from Fort Lyon.
Some days after they had left Fort Lyon
when I had just recovered from a long spell of sickness, I was called on
by Major S.G. Colley, who asked me if I was able and willing to go out
and pay a visit to these Indians, ascertain their numbers, their general
disposition toward the whites, and the points where other bands might be
located in the interior.
Question. What was the necessity for
obtaining that information?
Answer. Because there were different bands
which were supposed to be at war; in fact, we knew at the time that they
were at war with the white population in that country; but this band had
been in and left the post perfectly satisfied.
I left to go to this village of Indians on the
26th of November last. I arrived there on the 27th and remained there
the 28th. On the morning of the 29th, between daylight and sunrise -
nearer sunrise than daybreak - a large number of troops were discovered
from three-quarters of a mile to a mile below the village. The Indians,
who discovered them, ran to my camp, called me out, and wanted to me to
go and see what troops they were, and what they wanted.
The head chief of the nation, Black
Kettle, and head chief of the Cheyenne, was encamped there with us. Some
years previous he had been presented with a fine American flag by
Colonel Greenwood, a commissioner, who had been sent out there.
Black Kettle ran this American flag up to the
top of his lodge, with a small white flag tied right under it, as he had
been advised to do in case he should meet with any troops out on the
I then left my own camp and started for that
portion of the troops that was nearest the village, supposing I could go
up to the m. I did not know but they might be strange troops, and
thought my presence and explanations could reconcile matters. Lieutenant
Wilson was in command of the detachment to which I tried to make my
approach; but they fired several volleys at me, and I returned back to
my camp and entered my lodge.
Question. Did these troops know you to be a
Answer. Yes, sir; and the troops that went
there knew I was in the village.
Question. Did you see Lieutenant Wilson or
were you seen by him?
Answer. I cannot say I was seen by him; but
his troops were the first to fire at me.
Question. Did they know you to be a white
Answer. They could not help knowing it. I
had on pants, a soldier's overcoat, and a hat such as I am wearing now.
I was dressed differently from any Indian in the country. On my return I
entered my lodge, not expecting to get out of it alive. I had two
other men there with me: one was David Louderbach, a soldier, belonging
to company G, 1st Colorado cavalry; the other, a man by the name of
Watson, who was a hired hand of Mr. DD Coolly, the son of Major Coolly,
After I had left my lodge to go out and see what was going on, Colonel
Chivington rode up to within fifty or sixty yards of where I was camped;
he recognized me at once. They all call me Uncle John in that country.
He said, "Run here, Uncle John; you are all right." I went to him
as fast as I could. He told me to get in between him and his troops, who
were then coming up very fast; I did so; directly another officer who
knew me - Lieutenant Baldwin, in command of a battery - tried to
assist me to get a horse; but there was no loose horse there at the
time. He said, "Catch hold of the caisson, and keep up with us."
By this time the Indians had fled; had scattered in every direction. The
troops were some on one side of the river and some on the other,
following up the Indians. We had been encamped on the north side of the
river; I followed along, holding on the caisson, sometimes running,
sometimes walking. Finally, about a mile above the village, the troops
had got a parcel of the Indians hemmed in under the bank of the river;
as soon as the troops overtook them they commenced firing on them; some
troops had got above them, so that they were completely surrounded.
There were probably a hundred Indians hemmed in
there, men, women, and children; the most of the men in the village
By the time I got up with the battery to the place where these Indians
were surrounded there had been some considerable firing. Four or five
soldiers had been killed, some with arrows and some with bullets. The
continued firing on these Indians, who numbered about a hundred, until
they had almost completely destroyed them.
I think I saw altogether some seventy dead
bodies lying there; the greater portion women and children. There may
have been thirty warriors, old and young; the rest were women and small
children of different ages and sizes.
The troops at that time were very much scattered. There were not over
two hundred troops in the main fight, engaged in killing this body
of Indians under the bank. The balance of the troops were scattered in
different directions, running after small parties of Indians who were
trying to make their escape. I did not go so see how many they might
have killed outside of this party under the bank of the river. Being
still quite weak from my last sickness, I returned with the first body
of troops that went back to the camp.
The Indians had left their lodges and property; everything they owned. I
do not think more than one-half of the Indians left their lodges with
their arms. I think there were between 800 and l,000 men in this command
of United States troops.
There was a part of three companies of the 1st
Colorado, and the balance were what were called 100 days men of the 3rd
regiment. I am not able to say which party did the most execution on the
Indians, because it was very much mixed up at the time.
We remained there that day after the fight. By 11 o'clock, I think, the
entire number of soldiers had returned back to the camp where Colonel
Chivington had returned. On their return, he ordered the soldiers to
destroy all the Indian property there, which they did, with the
exception of what plunder they took away with them, which was
Question. How many Indians were there
Answer. There were 100 families of
Cheyenne, and some six or eight lodges of Arapahoes.
Question. How many persons in all, should
Answer. About 500 we estimate them at five
to a lodge.
Question. 500 men, women and children?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Do you know the reason for that
attack on the Indians?
Answer. I do not know any exact reason. I
have heard a great many reasons given. I have heard that that whole
Indian war had been brought on for selfish purposes. Colonel Chivington
was running for Congress in Colorado, and there were other things of
that kind; and last spring a year ago he was looking for an order to go
to the front, and I understand he had this Indian war in view to
retain himself and his troops in that country, to carry out his
Question. In what way did this attack on
the Indians further the purpose of Colonel Chivington?
Answer. It was said - I did not hear him
say it myself, but it was said that he would do something; he had this
regiment of three-months men, and did not want them to go out without
doing some service. Now he had been told
repeatedly by different persons - by myself, as well as others - where
he could find the hostile bands.
The same chiefs who were killed in this village
of Cheyenne had been up to see Colonel Chivington in Denver but a short
time previous to this attack. He himself told them that he had no power
to treat with them; that he had received telegrams from General Curtis
directing him to fight all Indians he met with in that country.
Still he would advise them, if they wanted any
assistance from the whites, to go to their nearest military post in
their country, give up their arms and the stolen property, if they had
any, and then they would receive directions
in what way to act. This was told them by Colonel Chivington and by
Governor Evans, of Colorado. I myself interpreted for them and for the
Question. Did Colonel Chivington hold any
communciation with these Indians, or any of them, before making the
attack upon them?
Answer No, sir, not then. He had some time
previously held a council with them at Denver city. When we first
recovered the white prisoners from the Indians, we invited some of the
chiefs to go to Denver, inasmuch as they had sued for peace, and were
willing to give up these white prisoners. We promised to take the chiefs
to Denver, where they had an interview with men who had more power than
Major Wynkoop had, who was the officer in command of the detachment that
went out to recover these white prisoners.
Governor Evans and Colonel Chivington were in
Denver, and were present at this council. They told the Indians to
return with Major Wynkoop, and whatever he agreed on doing with them
would be recognized by them.
I returned with the Indians to Fort Lyon. There we let them go out to
their villages to bring in their families, as they had been invited
through the proclamation or circular of the governor during the month of
June, I think.
They were gone some twelve or fifteen days from Fort Lyon, and then they
returned with their families. Major Wynkoop had made them one or two
issues of provisions previous to the arrival of Major Anthony there to
assume command. Then Major Wynkoop, who is now in command at Fort Lyon,
was ordered to Fort Leavenworth on some business with General Curtis, I
Then Major Anthony, through me, told the Indians that he did not have it
in his power to issue rations to them, as Major Wynkoop had done.
He said that he had assumed command at Fort Lyon, and his orders were
from headquarters to fight the Indians in the vicinity of Fort Lyon, or
at any other point in the Territory where they could find them. He said
that he had understood that they had been behaving very badly. But on
Wynkoop and others there at Fort Lyon, he was happy to say that things
were not as had been presented, and he could not pursue any other
course than that of Major Wynkoop except the issuing rations to them.
He then advised them to out to some near point,
where there was buffalo, not too far from Fort Lyon or they might meet
with troops from the Platte, who would not know them from the hostile
bands. This was the southern band of Cheyennes; there is another band
called the northern band. They had no apprehensions in the world of any
trouble with the whites at the time this attack was made.
Question. Had there been, to your
knowledge, any hostile act or demonstration on the part of these Indians
or any of them?
Answer. Not in this band. But the northern
band, the band known by the name of Dog soldiers of Cheyennes, had
committed many depredations on the Platte.
Question. Do you know whether or not
Colonel Chivington knew the friendly character of these Indians before
he made the attack upon them?
Answer. It is my opinion that he did.
Question. On what is that opinion based?
Answer. On this fact, that he stopped all
persons from going on ahead of him. He stopped the mail, and would not
allow any person to go on ahead of him at the time he was on his way
from Denver city to Fort Lyon.
He placed a guard around old Colonel Bent, the
former agent there; he stopped a Mr. Hagues and many men who were on
their way to Fort Lyon. He took the fort by surprise, and as soon as he
got there he posted pickets all around the fort, and then left at 8
o'clock that night for this Indian camp.
Question. Was that anything more than the
exercise of ordinary precaution in following Indians?
Answer. Well, sir, he was told that there
were no Indians in the vicinity of Fort Lyon, except Black Kettle's band
of Cheyennes and Left Hand's band of Arapahoes.
Question. How do you know that?
Answer. I was told so.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. Do you
know it of your own knowledge?
Answer. I cannot say I do.
Question. You did not talk with him about
it before the attack?
Answer. No, sir.
By Mr. Gooch:
Question. When you
went out to him, you had no opportunity to hold intercourse with him?
Answer. None whatever; he had just
commenced his fire against the Indians.
Question. Did you have any communication
with him at any time while there?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. What was it?
Answer. He asked me many questions about a
son of mine, who was killed there afterwards. He asked me what Indians
were there, what chiefs; and I told him as fully as I knew.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. When did
you talk with him?
Answer. On the day of the attack. He asked
me many questions about the chiefs who were there, and if I could
recognize them if I saw them. I told him it was possible I might
recollect the principal chiefs. They were terribly mutilated, lying
there in the water and sand; most of them in the bed of the creek, dead
and dying, making many struggles.
They were so badly mutilated and covered with
sand and water that it was very hard for me to tell one from another.
However, I recognized some of them - among them the chief One Eye, who
was employed by our government at $125 a month and rations to remain in
the village as a spy. There was another called War Bonnet, who was here
two years ago with me. There was another by the name of
Standing-in-the-Water, and I supposed Black Kettle was among them, but
it was not Black Kettle.
There was one there of his size and dimensions
in every way, but so tremendously mutilated that I was mistaken in him.
I went out with
Lieutenant Colonel Bowen, to see how many I could recognize.
By Mr. Gooch:
Question: Did you
tell Colonel Chivington the character and disposition of these Indians
at any time during your interviews on this day?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. What did he say in reply?
Answer. He said he could not help it; that his orders were positive to
attack the Indians.
Question. From whom did he receive these
Answer. I do not know; I presume from
Question. Did he tell you?
Answer. Not to my recollection.
Question. Were the women and children
slaughtered indiscriminately, or only so far as they were with the
Question. Were there any acts of barbarity
perpetrated there that came under your own observation?
Answer. Yes, sir; I saw the bodies of those
lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw
before; the women cut all to pieces.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. How cut?
Answer. With knives; scalped; their brains
knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there,
from sucking infants up to warriors.
By Mr. Gooch:
Question. Did you
see it done?
Answer. Yes, sir; I saw them fall.
Question. Fall when they were killed?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. Did you see them when they were
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. By whom were they mutilated?
Answer. By the United States troops.
Question. Do you know whether or not it was
done by the direction or consent of any of the officers.
Answer. I do not; I hardly think it was.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. What was
the date of that massacre?
Answer. On the 29th of November last.
Question. Did you speak of these
barbarities to Colonel Chivington?
Answer. No sir; I had nothing at all to say
about it, because at that time they were hostile towards me, from the
fact of my being there. They probably supposed that I might be
compromised with them in some way or other.
Question. Who called on you to designate
the bodies of those who were killed?
Answer. Colonel Chivington himself asked me
if I would ride out with Lieutenant Colonel Bowen, and see how many
chiefs or principal men I could recognize.
Question. Can you state how many Indians
were killed - how many women and how many children?
Answer. Perhaps one-half were men, and the
balance were women and children. I do not think that I saw more than 70
lying dead then, as far as I went. But I saw parties of men scattered in
every direction, pursuing little bands of Indians.
Question. What time of day or night was
this attack made?
Answer. The attack commenced about sunrise,
and lasted until between 10 and 11 o'clock.
Question. How large a body of troops?
Answer. I think that probably there may
have been about 60 or 70 warriors who were armed and stood their ground
and fought. Those that were unarmed got out of the way as they best
Question. How many
of our troops were killed and how many wounded?
Answer. There were ten killed on the
ground, and thirty-eight wounded; four of the wounded died at Fort Lyon
before I came on East.
Question. Were there any other barbarities
or atrocities committed there other than those you have mentioned, that
Answer. Yes, sir; I had a half-breed son
there, who gave himself up. He started at the time the Indians fled;
being a half-breed he had but little hope of being spared, and seeing
them fire at me, he ran away with the Indians for the distance of about
a mile. During the fight up there he walked back to my camp and went
into the lodge.
It was surrounded by soldiers at the time. He
came in quietly and sat down; he remained there that day, that night,
and the next day in the afternoon; about four o'clock in the evening, as
I was sitting inside the camp, a
soldier came up outside of the lodge and called me by name. I got up and
went out; he took me by the arm and walked towards Colonel Chivington's
camp, which was about sixty yards from my camp. Said he, "I am sorry
to tell you, but they are going to kill your son Jack."
I knew the feeling towards the whole camp of
Indians, and that there was no use to make any resistance. I said, "I
can't help it." I then walked on towards where Colonel Chivington was
standing by his camp-fire; when I had got within a few feet of him I
heard a gun fired, and saw a crowd run to my lodge, and they told me
that Jack was dead.
Question. What action did Colonel
Chivington take in regard to that matter?
Answer. Major Anthony, who was present,
told Colonel Chivington that he had heard some remarks made, indicating
that they were desirous of killing Jack; and that he (Colonel Chivington)
had it in his power to save him, and
that by saving him he might make him a very useful man, as he was well
acquainted with all the Cheyenne and Arapahoe country, and he could be
used as a guide or interpreter. Colonel Chivington replied to Major
Anthony, as the Major himself told me, that he had no orders to receive
and no advice to give. Major Anthony is now in this city.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Chivington say anything to you, or you to him about the firing?
Answer. Nothing directly; there were a
number of officers sitting around the fire, with the most of whom I was
By Mr. Gooch:
there any other Indians or half-breeds there at that time?
Answer. Yes, sir; Mr. Bent had three sons
there; one employed as a guide for these troops at the time, and two
others living there in the village with the Indians; and a Mr. Gerry had
a son there.
Question. Were there any other murders
after the first day's massacre?
Answer. There was none, except of my son.
Question. Were there any other atrocities
which you have no mentioned?
Answer. None that I saw myself. There were
two women that white men had families by ; they were saved from the fact
of being in my lodge at the time.
One ran to my lodge; the other was taken
prisoner by a soldier who knew her and brought her to my lodge for
safety. They both had children. There were some small children, six or
seven years old, who were taken prisoners near the camp. I think there
were three of them taken to Denver with these troops.
Question. Were the women and children that
were killed, killed during the fight with the Indians?
Answer. During the fight, or during the
time of the attack.
Question. Did you
see any women or children killed after the fight was over?
Question. Did you see any Indians killed
after the fight was over?
Answer. No, sir.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. Were the
warriors and women and children all huddled together when they were
Answer. They started and left the village
altogether, in a body, trying to escape.
By Mr. Gooch:
Question. Do you
know anything as to the amount of property that those Indians had there?
Answer. Nothing more than their horses.
They were supposed to own ten horses and mules to a lodge; that would
make about a thousand head of horses and mules in that camp. The
soldiers drove off about six hundred head.
Question. Had they any money?
Answer. I understood that some of the
soldiers found some money, but I did not see it. Mr. D. D. Colley had
some provisions and goods in the village at the time, and Mr. Louderback
and Mr. Watson were employed by him
to trade there. I was to interpret for them, direct them, and see that
they were cared for in the village. They had traded for one hundred and
four buffalo robes, one fine mule, and two horses. This was all taken
Colonel Chivington came to me and told me that
I might rest assured that he would see the goods paid for. He had
confiscated these buffalo robes for the dead and wounded; and there was
also some sugar and coffee and tea taken for the same purpose.
I would state that in his report Colonel Chivington states that after
this raid on Sand creek against the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians he
traveled northeast some eighty miles in the direction of some hostile
bands of Sioux Indians. Now that is very incorrect, according to my
knowledge of matters; I remained with Colonel Chivington's camp, and
returned on his trail towards Fort Lyon from the camp where he made this
I went down with him to what is called the
forks of the Sandy. He then took a due south course for the Arkansas
river, and I went to Fort Lyon with the killed and wounded, and an
escort to take us in. Colonel Chivington proceeded down the Arkansas
river, and got within eleven miles of another band of Arapahoe Indians,
but did not succeed in overtaking them.
He then returned to Fort Lyon, re-equipped, and
immediately for Denver.
Question. Have you spent any considerable
portion of your life with the Indians?
Answer. The most of it.
Question. How many years have you been with
Answer. I have been twenty-seven successive
years with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. Before that I was in the country
as a trapper and hunter in the Rocky mountains.
Question. For how long time have you acted
as Indian interpreter?
Answer. For some fifteen or eighteen years.
Question. By whom have you been so
Answer. By Major Fitzpatrick, Colonel Bent,
Major Colley, Colonel J.W. Whitfield, and a great deal of the time for
the military as guide and interpreter.
By Mr. Buckalew:
Question. How many
warriors were estimated in Colonel Chivington's report as having been in
this Indian camp?
Answer. About nine hundred.
Question. How many were there?
Answer. About two hundred warriors; they
average about two warriors to a lodge, and there were about one hundred
BACK TO TOP
Deposition by John M. Chivington (April 26,1865)
1) Question. What is
your place of residence, your age and profession?
Answer. My place of residence is Denver,
Colorado; my age, forty-five years; I have been colonel of 1st Colorado
cavalry, and was mustered out of the service on or about the eighth day
of January last, and have not been engaged in any business since
2)Question. Were you in November, 1864, in
any employment, civil or military, under the authority of the United
States; and if so, what was that employment, and what position did you
Answer. In November, 1864, I was colonel of
1st Colorado cavalry, and in command of the district of Colorado.
3) Question. Did you, as colonel in command
of Colorado troops, about the 29th of November, 1864, make an attack on
an Indian village or camp at a place known as Sand creek? If so, state
particularly the number of men
under your command; how armed and equipped; whether mounted or not; and
if you had any artillery, state the number of guns, and the batteries to
which they belonged.
Answer. On the 29th day of November, 1864,
the troops under my command attacked a camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho
Indians at a place known as Big Bend of Sandy, about forty miles north
of Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory. There were in my command at that time
about (500) five hundred men of the 3d regiment Colorado cavalry, under
the immediate command of Colonel George L. Shoup, of said 3d regiment,
about (250) two hundred and fifty men of the 1st Colorado cavalry; Major
Scott J. Anthony commanded one battalion of said 1st regiment, and
Lieutenant Luther Wilson commanded another battalion of said 1st
The 3d regiment was armed with rifled muskets,
and Star's and Sharp's carbines. A few of the men of that regiment had
revolvers. The men of the 1st regiment were armed with Star's and
Sharp's carbines and revolvers. The men of the 3d regiment were poorly
equipped; the supply of blankets, boots, hats, and caps was deficient.
The men of the 1st regiment were well equipped; all these troops were
mounted. I had four 12-pound mountain howitzers, manned by detachments
from cavalry companies; they did not belong to any battery company.
4) Question. State as nearly as you can the
number of Indians that were in the village or camp at the time the
attack was made; how many of them were warriors; how many of them were
old men, how many of them were women, and how many of them were
Answer. From the best and most reliable
information I could obtain, there were in the Indian camp, at the time
of the attack, about eleven (11) or twelve (12) hundred Indians: of
these about seven hundred were warriors, and the remainder were women
and children. I am not aware that there were any old men among them.
There was an unusual number of males among them, for the reason that the
war chiefs of both nations were
assembled there evidently for some special purpose.
5) Question. At what time of the day or
night was the attack made? Was it a surprise to the Indians? What
preparation, if any, had they made for defense or offence?
Answer. The attack was made about sunrise.
In my opinion the Indians were surprised; they began, as soon as the
attack was made, to oppose my troops, however, and were soon fighting
desperately. Many of the Indians were armed with rifles and many with
revolvers; I think all had bows and arrows.
They had excavated trenches under the bank of
Sand creek, which in the vicinity of the Indian camp is high, and in
many places precipitous. These trenches were two to three feet deep,
and, in connection with the banks, were evidently designed to protect
the occupants from the fire of an enemy.
They were found at various points extending
along the banks of the creek for several miles from the camp; there were
marks of the pick and shovel used in excavating them; and the fact that
snow was seen in the bottoms of some of the trenches, while all snow had
disappeared from the surface of the country generally, sufficiently
proved that they had been
constructed some time previously. The Indians took shelter in these
trenches as soon as the attack was made, and from thence resisted the
advance of my troops.
6) Question. What number did you lose in
killed, what number in wounded, and what number in missing?
Answer. There were seven men killed,
forty-seven wounded, and one was missing.
7) Question. What number of Indians were
killed; and what number of the killed were women, and what number were
Answer. From the best information I could
obtain, I judge there were five hundred or six hundred Indians killed; I
cannot state positively the number killed, nor can I state positively
the number of women and children killed.
Officers who passed over the field, by my
orders, after the battle, for the purpose of ascertaining the number of
Indians killed, report that they saw but few women or children dead, no
more than would certainly fall in
an attack upon a camp in which they were. I myself passed over some
portions of the field after the fight, and I saw but one woman who had
been killed, and one who had hanged herself; I saw no dead children.
From all I could learn, I arrived at the
conclusion that but few women or children had been slain. I am of the
opinion that when the attack was made on the Indian camp the greater
number of squaws and children made their escape, while the warriors
remained to fight my troops.
8) Question. State, as nearly as you can,
the number of Indians that were wounded, giving the number of women and
the number of children among the wounded.
Answer. I do not know that any Indians were
wounded that were not killed; if there were any wounded, I do not think
they could have been made prisoners without endangering the lives of
soldiers; Indians usually fight as long as they have strength to resist.
Eight Indians fell into the hands of the troops alive, to my knowledge;
these, with one exception, were sent to Fort Lyon and properly cared
9) Question. What property was captured by
the forces under your command? State the number of horses, mules and
ponies, buffalo robes, blankets, and also all other property taken,
specifying particularly the kinds, quality, and value thereof.
Answer. There were horses, mules, and
ponies captured to the number of about six hundred. There were about one
hundred buffalo robes taken. Some of this stock had been stolen by the
Indians from the government during last spring, summer and fall, and
some of the stock was the property of private citizens from whom they
had been stolen during the same period. The horses that belonged to the
government were returned to the officers responsible for them; as nearly
as could be learned, the horses and mules that were owned by private
citizens were returned to them on proof of ownership being furnished;
such were my orders at least.
The ponies, horses, and mules for which no
owner could be found, were put into the hands of my provost marshal in
the field, Captain J.J. Johnson, of company E, 3d Colorado cavalry, with
instructions to drive them to Denver and turn them over to the acting
quartermaster as captured stock, taking his receipt therefor. After I
arrived in Denver I again directed Captain Johnson to turn these animals
over to Captain Gorton, assistant
quartermaster, as captured stock, which I presume he did. Colonel Thos.
Moonlight relieved me of the command of the district soon after I
arrived in Denver, that is to say, on the ______ day of _________, A.D.
186 -, and I was mustered out of the service, the term of service of my
regiment having expired.
My troops were not fully supplied with hospital
equipage, having been on forced marches. The weather was exceedingly
cold, and additional covering for the wounded became necessary; I
ordered the buffalo robes
to be used for that purpose. I know of no other property of value being
captured. It is alleged that groceries were taken from John Smith,
United States Indian interpreter for Upper Arkansas agency, who was in
Indian camp at the time of the attack, trading goods, powder, lead, cap,
&c., to the Indians.
Smith told me that these groceries belonged to
Samuel G. Colby, United States Indian agent. I am not aware that these
things were taken; I am aware that Smith and D.D. Colby, son of the
Indian agent, have each presented claims against the government for
these articles. The buffalo robes mentioned above were also claimed by
Samuel G. Colby, D.D. Colby and John Smith. One bale of Buffalo robes
was marked S. S. Soule, lst Colorado cavalry, and I am informed that one
bale was marked Anthony, Major Anthony being in command of Fort Lyon at
I cannot say what has been done with the
property since I was relieved of the command and mustered out of
service. There was a large quantity of Indian trinkets taken at the
Indian camp which were of no value. The soldiers retained a few of these
as trophies; the remainder with the Indian lodges were destroyed.
10) Question. What reason had you for
making the attack? What reasons, if any, had you to believe that Black
Kettle or any other Indian or Indians in the camp entertained feelings
of hostility towards the whites? Give in detail the names of all Indians
so believed to be hostile, with the dates and places of their hostile
acts, so far as you may be able to do so.
Answer. My reason for making the attack on
the Indian camp was, that I believed the Indians in the camp were
hostile to the whites. That they were of the same tribes with those who
had murdered many persons and destroyed much valuable property on the
Platte and Arkansas rivers during the previous spring, summer and fall
was beyond a doubt. When a tribe of Indians is at war with the whites it
is impossible to determine what party or
band of the tribe or the name of the Indian or Indians belonging to the
tribe so at war are guilty of the acts of hostility. The most that can
be ascertained is that Indians of the tribe have performed the acts.
During the spring, summer and fall of the year
1864, the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, in some instances assisted or
led on by Sioux, Kiowa, Comanche and Apaches, had committed many acts of
hostility in the country lying between the Little Blue and the Rocky
mountains and the Platte and Arkansas rivers. They had murdered many of
the whites and taken others prisoners, and had destroyed valuable
property, probably amounting to $200,000 or $300,000. Their rendezvous
was on the headwaters of the Republican, probably one hundred miles from
where the Indian camp was located.
I had every reason to believe that these
Indians were either directly or indirectly concerned in the outrages
which had been committed upon the whites. I had no means of ascertaining
what were the names of the Indians who had committed these outrages
other than the declarations of the Indians themselves; and the character
of Indians in the western country for truth and veracity, like their
respect for the chastity of women who may become prisoners in their
hands, is not of that order which is calculated to inspire confidence in
what they may say. In this view I was supported by Major Anthony, lst
Colorado cavalry, commanding at Fort Lyon, and Samuel G. Colby, United
States Indian agent, who, as they had been in communication with these
Indians, were more competent to judge of their
disposition towards the whites than myself.
Previous to the battle they expressed to me the
opinion that the Indians should be punished. We found in the camp the
scalps of nineteen (19) white persons. One of the surgeons informed me
that one of these scalps had been taken from the victim's head not more
than four days previously. I can furnish a child captured at the camp
ornamented with six white women's scalps; these scalps must have been
taken by these Indians or furnished to them for their gratification and
amusement by some of their brethren, who, like themselves, were in
amity with the whites.
11) Question. Had you any, and if so, what
reason, to believe that Black Kettle and the Indians with him, at the
time of your attack, were at peace with the whites, and desired to
remain at peace with them?
Answer. I had no reason to believe that
Black Kettle and the Indians with him were in good faith at peace with
the whites. The day before the attack Major Scott J. Anthony, lst
Colorado cavalry, then in command at Fort Lyon, told me that these
Indians were hostile; that he had ordered his sentinels to fire on them
if they attempted to come into the post, and that the sentinenls had
fired on them; that he was apprehensive of an attack from these Indians,
and had taken every precaution to prevent a surprise.
Major Samuel G. Colby, United States Indian
agent for these Indians, told me on the same day that he had done
everything in his power to make them behave themselves, and that for the
last six months he could do nothing with them; that nothing but a sound
whipping would bring a lasting peace with them. These statements were
made to me in the presence of the officers of my staff whose statements
can be obtained to corroborate the foregoing.
12) Question. Had you reason to know or
believe that these Indians had sent their chief and leading men at any
time to Denver city in order to take measure in connection with the
superintendent of Indian affairs there, or with any other person having
authority, to secure friendly relations with the whites?
Answer. I was present at an interview
between Governor Evans on the part of the whites, and Black Kettle and
six other Indians, at Camp Weldmar, Denver, about 27th of September,
1864, in which the Indians desired peace, but did not propose terms.
General Curtis, by telegraph to me, declined to make peace with them ,
and said that there could be no peace without his consent.
Governor Evans declined to treat with them, and
as General Curtis
was then in command of the department, and, of course, I could not
disobey his instructions. General Curtis's terms of peace were to
require all bad Indians to be given by the Indians for their good
conduct. The Indians
never complied with these terms.
13) Question. Were those Indians, to your
knowledge, referred by the superintendent of Indian affairs to the
military authorities, as the only power under the government to afford
Answer. Governor Evans, in the conference
mentioned in my last answer, did not refer the Indians to the Military
authorities for protection, but for terms of peace. He told the Indians
"that he was the peace chief, that they
had gone to war, and, therefore, must deal with the war chiefs." It was
at this time I gave them the terms of General Curtis, and they said they
had not received power to make peace on such terms, that they would
report to their young men and see what they would say to it; they would
like to do it, but if their young men continued the war they would have
to go with them. They said there were three or four small war parties of
their young men out on the war path against the whites at that time.
This ended the talk.
14) Question. Did the officer in command of
Fort Lyon, to your knowledge, at any time extend the protection of our
flag to Black Kettle and Indians with him, and direct them to encamp
upon the reservation of the fort?
Answer. Major E.W. Wynkoop, lst cavalry,
Colorado, did, as I have been informed, allow some of these Indians to
camp at or near Fort Lyon, and did promise them the protection of our
flag. Subsequently he was relieved of the command of Fort Lyon, and
Major Anthony placed in command at that post, who required the Indians
to comply with General Curtis's terms, which they failed to do, and
thereupon Major Anthony drove them away
from the post.
15) Question. Were rations ever issued to
those Indians either as prisoners of war or otherwise?
Answer. I have been informed that Major
Wynkoop issued rations to the Indians encamped near Fort Lyon while he
was in command, but whether as prisoners of war I do not know. I think
that Major Anthony did not issue any rations.
16) Question. And did those Indians remove,
in pursuance of the directions, instructions, or suggestions of the
commandant at Fort Lyon, to the place on Sand creek, where they were
attacked by you?
Answer. I have been informed that Major
Anthony, commandant at Fort Lyon, did order the Indians to remove from
that post, but I am not aware that they were ordered to go to the place
where the battle was fought, or to any
17) Question. What measures were taken by
you, at any time, to render the attack on those Indians a surprise?
Answer. I took every precaution to render
the attack upon the Indians a surprise, for the reason that we had been
able to catch them, and it appeared to me that the only way to deal with
them was to surprise them in their place of rendezvous. General Curtis,
in his campaign against them, had failed to catch them; General Mitchel
had met with no better success; General Blunt had been surprised by
them, and his command nearly cut to pieces.
18) Question. State in detail the
disposition made of the various articles of property, horses, mules,
ponies, buffalo robes, etc., captured by you at the time of this attack
and by what authority was such disposition made?
Answer. The horses and mules that had been
stolen from the government were turned over to the officer who had been
responsible for the same; and the animals belonging to Atzins was
returned to them upon proof being made of such ownership. The animals
not disposed of in this way were turned over to Captain S.J. Johnson,
3rd regiment Colorado cavalry, with instructions to proceed with the
same to Denver, and turn them into the quartermaster's department.
After the command arrived in Denver, I again
directed Captain Johnson to turn over the stock to Captain C.L. Gorton,
assistant quartermaster, at that place. The buffalo robes were turned
into the hospital for use of the wounded as before stated.
19) Question. Make such further statement
as you may desire, or which may be necessary to a full understanding of
all matters relating to the attack upon the Indians at Sand creek.
Answer. Since August, 1863, I had been in
possession of the most conclusive evidence of the alliance, for the
purposes of hostility against the whites, of the Sioux, Cheyenne,
Arapaho, Comanche River, and Apache
Indians. Their plan was to interrupt, or, if possible, entirely prevent
all travel on the routes along the Arkansas and Platte rivers from the
States to the Rocky mountains, and thereby depopulate this country.
Rebel emissaries were long since sent among the
Indians to incite them against the whites, and afford a medium of
communication between the rebels and the Indians; among whom was Gerry
Bent, a half-breed Cheyenne Indian, but educated, and to all appearances
a white man, who, having served under Price in Missouri, and afterwards
becoming a bushwacker, being taken prisoner, took the oath of
allegiance, and was paroled, after which he immediately joined the
Indians, and has ever since been one of their most prominent leaders in
all depredations upon the whites.
I have been reliably informed that this
half-breed, Bent, in order to incite the
Indians against the whites, told them that the Great Father at
Washington having all he could do to fight his children at the south,
they could now regain their country.
When John Evans, governor of Colorado
Territory, and ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs, visited by
appointment the Cheyenne Indians on the Republican fork of the Kansas
river, to talk with them in regard to their relations with the
government, the Indians would have nothing to say to him, nor would they
receive the presents sent them by the government, but immediately on his
arrival at the said point the Indians moved to a great distance, all
their villages appearing determined not to have any intercourse with him
individually or as the agent of the government.
This state of affairs continued for a number of months, during which
time white men who had been trading with the Indians informed me that
the Indians had determined to make war upon the whites as soon as the
grass was green, and that they were making preparations for such an
event by the large number of arrows they were making and the quantity of
arms and ammunition they were collecting; that the settlers along the
Platte and Arkansas rivers should be warned of the approaching danger;
that the Indians had declared their intention to prosecute the war
vigorously when they commenced. With very few troops at my command I
could do but little to protect the settlers except to collect the latest
intelligence from the Indians' country, communicate it to General
Curtis, commanding department of Missouri, and warn the settlers of
relations existing between the Indians and the whites, and the
probability trouble, all of which I did.
Last April, 1864, the Indians, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and others, commenced
their depredations upon the whites by entering their isolated
habitations in the distant parts of this territory, taking there from
everything they desired, and destroying the balance; driving off their
stock, horses, mules and cattle. I sent a detachment of troops after the
Indians to recover the stolen property, when the stock etc., being
demanded of them they (the Indians) refused to surrender the property so
taken from the whites, and stated that they wanted to fight the troops.
Again, when a few weeks after the country along
the Platte river, near Fremont's orchard, became the theatre of their
depredations, one Ripley, a ranchman, living on the Bijon creek, near
camp Sanborn, came into camp and informed Captain Sanborn, commanding,
that his stock had all been stolen by the Indians, requesting assistance
to recover it. Captain Sanborn ordered Lieutenant Clark Dunn, with a
detachment of troops, to pursue the Indians and recover the stock; but,
if possible, to avoid a collision with them.
Upon approaching the Indians, Lieutenant Dunn
dismounted, walked forward alone about fifty paces from his command, and
requested the Indians to return the stock, which Mr. Ripley had
recognized as his; but the Indians treated him with contempt, and
commenced firing upon him, which resulted in four of the troops being
wounded and about fifteen Indians being killed and wounded, Lieutenant
Dunn narrowly escaping with his life. Again, about one hundred and
seventy-five head of cattle were stolen from Messrs. Irwin and Jackman,
government freighters, when troops were sent in pursuit toward the
headwaters of the Republican.
They were fired upon by the Indians miles from
where the Indians were camped. In this encounter the Indians killed one
soldier and wounded another. Again, when the troops were near the Smoky
Hill, after stock, while passing through a canon, about eighty miles
from Fort Larned, they were attacked by these same Cheyenne Indians, and
others, and almost cut to pieces, there being about fifteen hundred
Again, when on a Sunday morning the Kiowa and
Camanche were at Fort Larned, to obtain the rations that the commanding
officer, on behalf of the government, was issuing to them, they, at a
preconcerted signal, fired upon the sentinels at the fort, making a
general attack upon the unsuspecting garrison, while the balance of the
Indians were driving off the stock belonging to the government, and then
as suddenly departed, leaving the garrison afoot excepting about thirty
artillery horses that were saved; thus obtaining in all about two
hundred and eighty head of stock, including a small herd taken from the
suttler at that post.
Again, a few days after this, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, with
whom I had the fight at Sand creek, meeting a government train bound for
New Mexico, thirty miles east of Fort Larned, at Walnut creek, who,
after manifesting a great deal of friendship by shaking hands, etc.,
with every person in the train, suddenly attacked them, killing fourteen
and wounding a number more scalping and mutilating in the most inhuman
manner those they killed, while they scalped two of this party alive,
one a boy about fourteen years of age, who has since become an imbecile.
The two persons that were scalped alive I saw a
few days after this occurred within sight of Fort Zarah, the officer
commanding considered his command entirely inadequate to render any
assistance. But we think we have related enough to satisfy the most
incredulous of the determined hostility of these Indians; suffice it to
say that during the spring, summer, and fall such atrocious acts were of
almost daily occurrence along the Platte and Arkansas routes, till the
Indians becoming so bold that a family, consisting of a man, woman, and
two children, by the name of Hungate, were brutally murdered and scalped
within fifteen miles of Denver, the bodies being brought to Denver for
interment. After seeing which, any person who could for a moment believe
that these Indians were friendly, to say the least, must have strange
ideas of their habits. We could not see it in that light.
This last atrocious act was referred to by Governor Evans in his talk
with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on about the 27th day of
September, 1864, at Denver, Colorado Territory. The Indians then stated
that it had been dome by members of their tribe, and that they never
All these things were promptly reported to
Major General S. R. Curtis, commanding department, who repeatedly
ordered me, regardless of district lines, to appropriately chastise the
Indians, which I always endeavored to do. Major General S. R. Curtis
himself and Brigadeer General R. B. Mitchell made campaigns against the
Indians, but could not find them; the Indians succeeded in keeping
entirely from their view. Again, Major General J. P. Blunt made a
campaign against the Indians; was surprised by them, and a portion of
his command nearly cut to pieces.
Commanding only a district with very few troops under my control, with
hundreds of miles between my headquarters and rendezvous of the Indians,
with a large portion of the Sante Fe and Platte routes, besides the
sparsely settled and distant settlements of this Territory, to protect,
I could not do anything till the 3rd regiment was organized and
equipped, when I determined to strike a blow against this savage and
When I reached Fort Lyon, after passing over
from three to five feet of snow, and greatly suffering from the
intensity of the cold, the thermometer ranging from 28 to 30 degrees
below zero, I questioned Major Anthony in regard to the whereabouts of
hostile Indians. He said there was a camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho about
fifty miles distant; that he would have attacked before, but did not
consider his force sufficient; that these Indians had threatened to
attack the post, etc., and ought to be whipped, all of which was
concurred in by Major Colley, Indian agent for the district of the
Arkansas, which information, with the positive orders from Major General
Curtis, commanding the department, to punish these Indians, decided my
course, and resulted in the battle of Sand Creek, which has created such
a sensation in Congress through the lying reports of interested and
On my arrival at Fort Lyon, in all my conversations with Major Anthony,
commanding the post, and Major Colley, Indian agent, I heard nothing of
this recent statement that the Indians were under the protection of the
government, etc.,; but Major Anthony repeatedly stated to me that he had
at different times fired upon these Indians, and that they were hostile,
and, during my stay at Fort Lyon, urged the necessity of any immediately
attacking the Indians before they could learn of the number of troops at
Fort Lyon, and so desirous was Major Colly, Indian agent, that I should
find and also attack the Arapaho, that he sent a messenger after the
fight at Sand creek, nearly forty miles, to inform me where I could find
the Arapaho and Kiowa; yet, strange to say, I have learned recently that
these men, Anthony and Colly, are the most bitter in their denunciations
of the attack upon the Indians at Sand creek.
Therefore, I would, in conclusion, most
respectfully demand, as an act of justice to myself and the brave men
whom I have had the honor to command in one of the hardest campaigns
ever made in this country, whether against white men or red, that we be
allowed that right guaranteed to every American citizen, of introducing
evidence in our behalf to sustain us in what we believe to have been an
act of duty to ourselves and to civilization.
We simply ask to introduce as witnesses men that were present during the
campaign and know all the facts.
Lieu't Col. 1st Cavalry of Colerado, Com'd'g Dist. of Colerado.
Sworn and subscribed to before me this 26th day
of April, 1865.
ALEXANDER W. ATKINS,
[TEXT: Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War,
Massacre of Cheyenne Indians, 38th Congress, 2nd Session (Washington,
1865), pp. 4-12, 56-59 and 101-108.]
BACK TO TOP
BACK TO LIST
[ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 2 ] [ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 3 ] [ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 4 ] [ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 5 ] [ Sand Creek Massacre Pg 6 ]
Links to Wolf's
[ Contents---Register and Vote! ] [ Remembering The Great Chiefs ] [ Native American Legends & Stories ] [ Anglos Once Were Immigrants ] [ Handbook of American Indians, 1906 -Contents ] [ Native American Indians and the Eagle ] [ NA Names & Meanings ] [ Past Notable Native Americans-Pg 1 ] [ Past Notable Native Americans- Pg 2 ] [ Hill & Holler Thanksgiving Column ] [ A Thanksgiving Teaching ] [ On Being an Indian ] [ Where is Goyathlay's (Geronimo) Skull? ] [ Cochise ] [ Goyathlay (Geronimo) ] [ Mangas Coloradas ] [ Nana ]
Below are Links to the
Main Pages which are also on the
[ Home ] [
Contents of SnowwOwl's Website ] [
Flash News!-NA Current Issues ]
[ Music Options ] [
NA Information Contents Page ]
[ Native American
People/Tribes-Contents ] [ Native
American History-Contents ]
[ Powwow Information Contents Page ] [
Native American Life Living Art-Contents ] [
Native American-Leaders ] [
Hear the Voices of the People-Native American
Testimony ] [ The Natural World ]
[Native American-Recipes ]
[ SnowwOwl's Writings-Contents ] [
The Outraged Owl ] [
Spotted Wolf's Corner ]
[ Hill & Holler Column ] [
Wotanging Ikche ] [
So Says, Spirit Hawk ^i^ ]
[ Student Projects ] [
Guest Contributions Contents ] [
Dedicated People Contents ]
[ SnowwOwl-A Few SnowwOwl Feathers ] [
Featured Websites Contents ]
[ Featured Artists Contents Page
] [ Guest Log Archives Contents Page
[ Credits and Links ] [
Email Information ] [
Snowwowl's Website Awards ]
Created January 16,