To Fight Indians | Rocky Mountains News Editorial, August 1864
Sand Creek Massacre
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Appeal to the People, authorizing the organization of civilian militias, under the rules of militia law, to fight hostile Indian bands;
Rocky Mountain News, August 10, 1864.
Proclamation – After receiving approval from the War Department, Governor Evans calls for volunteers to join the Colorado Third
Regiment to fight Indians for a period of 100 days; Rocky Mountain News, August 13, 1864.
The Reynolds Band – Editorial defends the killing of five members of the notorious James Reynolds Gang by Colorado soldiers;
Rocky Mountain News, September 9, 1864.
Rocky Mountain News Editorials After the Sand Creek Massacre, including:
The Battle of Sand Creek – praises the Colorado third regiment. December 17, 1864.
The Third – 3rd Regiment soldiers not paid for their service at Sand Creek. December 29, 1864.
The Fort Lyon Affair – Indignation over criticism of the Sand Creek attack. December 30, 1864.
Its Effect – The consequences of a congressional investigation. December 31, 1864.
High Officials Checkmated – Letter to editor criticizes “High Officials” rumored to be pushing for an investigation into the Sand
Creek Massacre. Rocky Mountain News, January 4, 1865.
Scenes at Sand Creek – Interview of Captain John McCannon in 1881, detailing his experiences and opinions regarding the Sand
Creek Massacre. Rocky Mountain News, January 26, 1881.
Rocky Mountain News archives available at the Denver Public Library Western History Dept.
Rocky Mountain News editorial regarding Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans’ appeal to the
people upon the subject of Indian defense.
Rocky Mountain News, August 10, 1864
TO FIGHT INDIANS
His Excellency, Governor Evans, publishes in this paper an appeal to the people upon the subject of Indian
defence (sic). Except at the moment of alarm, a most remarkable state of apathy has thus far prevailed
among our people. They seem oblivious to the danger. The time is coming, and we believe it is near at hand,
when a different policy will have to be adopted or else our outside settlements, at least, are doomed to
extermination, and all our intercourse with the States will be cut off. The Indian uprising is general. It extends
from New Mexico to British America; from Missouri and Iowa to California and Oregon. There is no assurance
that troops will be sent here in numbers adequate for our protection. Gen. Curtis says: “You must defend
yourselves,” and in Kansas they have the same assurance so far as the Indian war is concerned. In that State
the militia is organizing to beat back the savages from their frontier settlements.
In this emergency the Governor calls for the organization of military companies. When organized, he will supply
arms. They will be entitled to all the horses and other property they may capture, and in addition, he promises
to use his influence to procure their payment by the general Government. There is but little doubt that it can
be effected. The first companies in the field will have the best opportunity to serve their country, and the best
chance for large pay.
Eastern humanitarians who believe in the superiority of the Indian race will raise a terrible howl over this policy,
but it is no time to split hairs nor stand upon delicate compunctions of conscience. Self preservation demands
decisive action, and the only way to secure it is to fight them in their own way. A few months of active
extermination against the red devils will bring quiet, and nothing else will.
It has been charged, first by interested parties and then by others who believed it, that the Governor refused to
allow independent companies to pursue and fight the Indians, and that he would arrest and punish those who
attempted to do so. The assertion is an unfounded lie. He never has said nor intimated any thing of the kind.
It is necessary, however, to procure arms, and in order to receive pay from Government hereafter, that all
companies should be organized and regularly officered.
As an illustration of the calumnies that have been industriously circulated, we give the following report of a
dialogue that occurred yesterday between the Governor and a very intelligent gentleman from the mountains.
The family of the latter is en route from the States to this place, and at present supposed to be below Fort
Kearney. He called upon the Governor to say that he desired to go out and meet them with a party sufficiently
strong to defend themselves against the Indians. The Governor told him that he had no disposition to prevent
his doing so, and the following conversation ensued:
Mr. A. – But I hear it said that you forbid persons fighting hostile Indians, and threaten to arrest all who attempt
to do so.
Gov. – That assertion is utterly and maliciously false. I have never said, nor intimated any such thing. On the
contrary, I would be but too glad to see every hostile Indian killed.
Mr. A. – Can I procure a commission for myself, and permission to go out with my party for the purpose.
Gov. – If your party numbers thirty or more, and will organize under the militia law - the only authority under
which I can act – commissions will be issued to its officers, and I will furnish arms and ammunition, with orders to
attack, disperse and kill hostile Indians wherever they can be found, and permission to keep all property
captured from such Indians.
Mr. A. – Then you have been the worst be-lied man I ever saw.
Gov. – That may be so, but I have more important business than to go around refuting lies.
This is as ‘twas told to us, and it is but a sample of such discussions that may be heard every day, only the
Governor is not often party to the dialogue.