We'll never forget
©2005-2006 KcLonewolf.com All Rights Reserved
This site may be freely linked to but not duplicated or copied in any fashion without permission.
In June of 1865, John M. Chivington published a pamphlet in defense of his actions at Sand Creek.
Chivington, John M. Papers, Manuscript of John M. Chivington 1862-1892.
Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library
The Sand Creek Massacre
John M. Chivington's Defense: To the People of Colorado
|Sand Creek also
To the People of Colorado
Synopsis of the
Sand Creek Investigation
Denver, Colorado, June 1865.
To the Public:
In giving the evidence concerning the battle of Sand Creek to the world, I will state that I have selected only those
portions which relate to my innocence or guilt concerning the commencement of the Indian war. Major Wynkoop's
expedition to the Smoky Hill; the battle of Sand Creek; what my means of knowledge of the hostility of the Indians
on Sand Creek were; and what reasons I had to believe that those Indians were hostile, and the source of trouble
which originated the many false statements concerning myself and Sand Creek, and the brave men whom I had
the honor to command, with an exposure of the conspiracy to swindle the Government, and how the wise men at
Washington were imposed upon by the old men, Innocence and Cunning, which will show the mysterious
operations of the machinery of the Interior Department in anything but favorable light to our Fort Lyon
representatives, Colley and Smith.
I have also given copies of the orders from Major General S. R. Curtis, commanding Department of Kansas,
which, as a soldier I was bound to obey.
Lieut. Clark Dunn, First Colorado Cavalry, under oath says:
While in pursuit of a band of Indians to recover stock stolen from the ranches on Bijou and other creeks,
accompanied by a man by the name of Rippey, who had lost some of this stock, he overtook a party of Indians
after a hard day's ride, and while halting to water, Mr. Rippey and a soldier rode forward to the herd driven by the
Indians. Mr. Rippey recognized his stock and also recognized these Indians as the Indians who had taken it; that
the soldier informed him that the Indians were in line loading their rifles and intended to fight; that the Indians
would not listen to his question to talk with them, but advanced upon himself and command and fired upon them.
Certainly these could not have been the friendly Indians about which we have heretofore heard so much, if they
were they had a strange manner of showing it.
Now, can any candid man charge me with commencing the war, after reading this evidence? I, at the time, was in
Denver, a hundred miles distant; a white man demands the protection of our troops that had been stationed at
Camp Sanborn for that purpose, and in affording that protection, while endeavoring to recover the property of this
white man from the Indians, of which they, the Indians, had robbed him, the Indians fired upon the troops. What
would these High Officials desired these troops to have done? Refused assistance to that white man, and excused
themselves upon the grounds that an Indian war might result from the taking of this stock from the Indians, and
that they could not risk the occurrence of so dreadful a calamity? A few head of stock had better be stolen, a few
white men had better be killed, than have a thing so dreadful happen; it will not do to make the Indians angry; it is
better to feed them than to fight them. If the soldiers at Camp Sanborn had done thus you would have branded
them as cowards, and rather than done this it were better to have killed them, as a true soldier prizes his honor
more than his life.
Did not Lieut. Dunn do all that any man could have been expected to do under the circumstances, to avoid a
collision with the Indians? Yet malicious and designing parties have endeavored to attach blame to me for this
Again, Major Wynkoop's expedition to the Smoky Hill with one hundred and twenty men and two pieces of artillery,
which has been claimed by these parties would have resulted in the settlement of the Indian difficulties and the
restoration of peace, if Sand Creek had not occurred. Major Wynkoop, and others, claim that the noble treatment
received by the troops from the hands of the Indians, when the troops were at the mercy of the Indians deserved
better treatment than Sand Creek.
My only reply to those assertions is, read the evidence of Mr. Forbes, a disinterested soldier, serving under Major
Wynkoop on that expedition, and well acquainted with the conduct of the Indians while the officers were in council,
and well acquainted with the feelings of the soldiers, stating as he does that the camp was poorly arranged for
defense; that the soldiers were guarded by the Indians, and that finally, the enlisted men talked of breaking camp
and returning to Fort Lyon without orders. That there was talk of there being too much whisky in the outfit. In the
midst of a savage foe in such numbers that the troops were guarded by the Indians, and the officer of the day
compelled to pray for the assistance of an Indian chief to coax the Indians to leave their artillery, and yet in the
midst of all this danger we hear of there being too much whisky in the outfit; that the men have confidence in their
officers when they are sober, but did not like to trust themselves among the Indians when their officers had been
drinking. Who could blame them? If they had not been the bravest of the brave they would have all been
butchered. It was evidently the coolness of the men, not the sagacity of the commanding officer, that saved them,
and yet they have the audacity to state, because they were not all murdered through the blunders of their
commanding officer, that the Indians were friendly, when their last act, as Mr. Forbes says, was to set fire to the
grass to the windward of the camp.
Again Mr. Valentine says, that Government mules that the murdered blacksmith and soldiers had when the Indians
attacked them, were brought into Fort Lyon, and Major Wynkoop made no attempt to recover them, though the
murderers of his comrades were in the fort Major Wynkoop commanded. They openly exulted over their bloody
deeds unrestrained, and this they call the road to peace, pacifying the noble red man, by men wearing the
uniform of officers. It is not surprising that the Indian believes himself to be the white man's superior. White men of
the frontiers, do you desire to become the servile dogs of a brutal savage? If you do, this policy will suit you,
though I thought differently and acted accordingly.
When I arrived at Fort Lyon on an expedition against the Indians in November, 1864, I was informed that the
Indians on Sand Creek were hostile. Major Anthony, commanding the post, whom I thought was better acquainted
than any one else with the relations that existed between the Government and the Indians as regarded? peace or
war, informed me, on different occasions, that the Indians were hostile, that he had repeatedly fired upon them;
that the Indians had sent him word that if he wanted a fight to come out to Sand Creek and they would give him as
big a fight as he wanted; that every man of his command would go gladly, and urged an immediate departure.
Anthony after the battle of Sand Creek, exulted over the fight, and thought it was the biggest thing on record, and
witnesses say they never heard him speak of it except exultingly.
Have I not shown all these facts by witnesses under oath, and can the people of Colorado, or the world, say, that
though I had been governed by the most rigid rules of civilized warfare, that with such statements from the
commanding officer of a fort made to me, that my conduct could be adjudged anything but honorable. I am but
human, and the same means of knowledge by which the public have been informed of the "Chivington massacre,"
I was informed of the hostility of the Indians on Sand Creek. If Major Anthony, in representing the relations that
existed between the troops and the Indians, willfully lied, then Major Anthony is the responsible party, and the
world cannot consistently punish me for the crimes of others, for certainly, from all accounts, I will have enough to
answer for without them.
The morning of the 29th day of November, 1864, finds us before the village of the Indian foe. The first shot is fired
by them. The first man who falls is white. No white flag is raised. None of the Indians show signs of peace, but
flying to rifle pits already prepared they fight with a desperation unequalled, showing their perfect understanding
of the relations that existed as regards peace or war as forty-nine killed and wounded soldiers too plainly testified.
Our command consisted of nearly six hundred men. The fight continued till nearly three o'clock in the afternoon.
Stephen Decatur swears that being detailed as clerk, in company with Lieut. Col. Bowen, he rode over the field
where the fight had occurred and counted four hundred and fifty dead warriors and that no more women and
children were killed than would have been killed in a white village under like circumstances; that the women and
children that were killed could not have been saved if the troops had tried; that they were in the rifle pits with the
warriors; that there were very few women and children killed; that after he returned to the village he saw things
that made him desire to kill more Indians; that he saw great numbers of white scalps, daguerreotypes, part of a
ladies toilet, and children's wearing apparel.
Would not such sights make any person feel as Stephen Decatur did? Stephen Decatur is a husband and a
father, and how many harrowing thoughts of murder and suffering would a spectacle like this call up and how
many endearing reminiscences would be swept into the gulf of horror on an occasion like this? Stephen Decatur
has spent seven years among the Indians and is acquainted with them. He had been a soldier before, and speaks
of this fight as being the hardest he ever saw on both sides. He had seen the Lipan or Camanche Indians scalp
their own dead. Husbands and fathers under similar circumstances what would you have done? Coaxed the chiefs
to have taken their warriors away, or like white men and true soldiers accepted their wager of battle and whipped
them if you could. Yet this is all that was done at Sand Creek.
Though hundreds of Colorado soldiers are today branded as murderers, and that in many instances by men
without knowing or caring whether the charge be false or true. It is sufficient if he be a soldier in the eyes of these
malignant cowards. He must as a natural consequence be a murderer while others wearing the uniform of officers
without the courage to perform a brave deed themselves are the loudest to condemn the conduct of a brother
soldier who wins a single laurel that they cannot steal. Such men are more to be feared than the crawling viper.
Perjury, larceny or robbery are no obstacle in their road to vengeance, venomous as reptiles and cowardly as
But what is the cause of all this trouble--whence the source of this cry of holy horror that has been rung with such
startling effect upon the minds of the unsophisticated people of New England, the people generally of the States
and especially the billious old maids in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives? Why it
originates in the fertile minds of two Government employees conspiring together to swindle the Government, as
one of them says, out of $25,000. Through the influence of friends he has in Washington and by whom he
expects to get his claims allowed, probably some high official who is desirous of making an honest dollar by
advocating the cause of the honest old men of the wilderness, the voracious John Smith, Indian interpreter and
that reliable, respectable old gentleman, Major Colley, Indian Agent.
But under the solemn and binding obligations of an oath, what does Major Talbott say? Simply that Major Colley
and John Smith stated to him that they would do anything to ruin Colonel Chivington: that they were even equally
interested in their trade with the Indians--one an Indian Agent, the other Indian interpreter: that they had lost one
hundred and five buffalo robes and two white ponies by Col. Chivington's attack on the Indian village at Sand
Creek: that they would collect $25,000 for it of the Government, and eventually damn Col. Chivington: that John
Smith boastingly stated that the eastern papers would be filled with accounts of Sand Creek, as a massacre: that
they would go to Washington and represent to the committee on the Conduct of the War that Sand Creek was a
What did they mean when they said they would do anything to ruin Col. Chivington? The word has a broad
signification and did they not include perjury? It appears to us without any stretch of the imagination, they did take
the expression “we will go to Washington and represent Sand Creek as a massacre; the eastern papers will be
filled with accounts of Sand Creek as a massacre, by letters from Fort Lyon, and we will do anything to ruin Col.
Chivington,” and draw your own conclusions. If it appears to you as it does to me, perjury would be no obstacle to
these worthies in their road to vengeance. If they would deliberately conspired to rob the Government out of
$25,000, through the influence of their friends would they not also be guilty of perjury, to ruin their enemies?
Then what conclusions are we compelled to arrive at? That perjury has been perpetrated by these worthies,
abetted by their friends and the honorable gentlemen who compose the Committee on the Conduct of the War--
they whose piercing criticism has been a terror to evil doers in the States--they who, from their high order of
intelligence have been supposed to be able to draw aside the thick curtain that concealed the dark deeds of the
adepts in crime and allow the sunlight of truth and justice to shine in upon it, are made the innocent tools of two
ignorant old Indian trappers and traders, to wreak disgrace and ruin upon Colonel Chivington and Colorado
soldiers generally. Truly these two old gentlemen, Colley and Smith, must have read the Scriptures, for they
appear to have been, in Washington, “as innocent as lambs and as wary as foxes.”
Now, fellow citizens, what do you think of the Chivington massacre, whose horrors have filled so many columns of
the papers in the States and called down upon Colorado so many disgraceful epithets, while at the same time our
enterprising freighters, emigrants and settlers, with their wives and children, have been murdered, scalped and
their bodies horribly mutilated by these much abused sons of the plains. The citizens of Colorado have been
paying famine prices for all they consumed; civilization retarded, and labor in our mines suspended, simply
because these worthies and their friends had placed Colorado in the unenviable position of murderers and the
Government would not afford the protection we so much needed, though as soon as the Hon. Schuyler Colfax
telegraphed to the Secretary of War of the defenceless position in which we were situated, twelve thousand
soldiers are immediately sent upon the plains, under the gallant Connor who will soon render the Platte route as
safe for travel as the highway of an inhabited town, unless some Indian Agent or Interpreter should lose a few
dollars by the attack of his troops upon some Indian village, when probably our gallant commander would be
removed and a more humane policy be adopted.
Lo, the poor Indian, in thy untutored greatness, you have proved yourself, with the assistance of high officials,
your friends, a good diplomat. You have long been a bone of contention and many a villainous swindle has been
perpetrated upon the Government in thy name and humanity, which would put to blush the unparalelled
commander of the sons of sin, His Satanic Majesty, the Devil.
J. M. CHIVINGTON,
Late Col. 1st Cavalry of Colorado,
Com'd'g Dist. of Colorado.
Orders of Major General S. R. Curtis, Commanding Department of Kansas, to Col. John M. Chivington,
Commanding District of Colorado, Department of Kansas:
FORT LEAVENWORTH, April 8, 1864.
To Col. John M. Chivington:
I hear that Indians have committed depredations on or near the Platte River. Do not let District lines prevent
pursuing and punishing them. Give Col. Collins and General Mitchell your full co-operation and information.
S. R. CURTIS,
Major General Com'dg, &c.
FORT LEAVENWORTH, May 30, 1864.
To Col. John M. Chivington:
Some four hundred Cheyennes attacked Lieutenant Clayton on the Smoky Hill. After several hours' fight the
Indians fled leaving twenty-eight killed. Our loss was four killed and three wounded. Look out for Cheyennes
everywhere: especially instruct the troops on the upper Arkansas.
S. R. CURTIS,
Major General Com'd'g, &c.
FORT KEARNEY, August 8, 1864.
To Col. Chivington:
Nine men killed to day about two miles east of Plum creek. Two women and four children supposed to be taken
prisoners. Mrs. Smith is supposed to be one of them. Indians attacked these trains, destroyed one, and killed all
the men in the train.
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Sept. 28, 1864.
To Col. Chivington:
I shall require the bad Indians delivered up: Restoration of equal numbers of stock also hostages to secure. I want
no peace until the Indians suffer more. Left Hand is said to be a good chief of the Arapahoes, but Big Mouth is a
rascal. I fear Agent of Interior Department will be ready to make presents too soon: it is better to chastise before
giving anything but a little tobacco to talk over. No peace must be made without my directions.
S. R. CURTIS,
Major Gen'l Com'dg, Dept. Kansas.
THE FIRST COLLISION OUR TROOPS HAD WITH THE INDIANS.
HOW IT OCCURRED.
Lieut. Clark Dunn. First Cavalry Colorado being duly sworn, stated:
On the 12th day of April, 1864, I was stationed at Camp Sanborn, Colorado Territory, on the South Platte at
Fremont's Orchard, and about nine miles from Denver, when, in the morning of that day, I was ordered out by
Captain Sanborn, commanding camp, with forty men in pursuit of a party of Indians who were said to have stolen a
large number of horses, mules, &c., from the ranches on Bijou creek and vicinity. I left camp about nine o'clock, a.
m., accompanied by a man whose name I think was Rippey, he who brought the information of the Indian
depredations and who lost stock himself. I divided my command, sending half of them to Bijou ranche direct, and I
went myself with the balance down the Platte, which hearing nothing of the Indians, I went in the direction of Bijou
ranche, when about 2 p. m., I joined the balance of my command, and shortly afterwards I discovered the Indian
trail going north towards the Platte. Following their trail to within three miles of the river, I discovered smoke about
four miles down the Platte, when I again divided my command, sending half of them in the direction of the smoke,
and with the balance following the trail myself. Upon reaching the banks of the river I discovered a party of Indians
below me and in advance of this party was another party driving a herd of stock towards the bluffs. My horses
having travelled all day without water, I halted to let them drink, when Mr. Rippey with a soldier went in advance
towards the herd of stock the Indians were driving, and soon returned. Mr. Rippey stating that he recognized his
stock in the herd, and also these(?) Indians as the Indians who had taken the stock from him; the soldier stated
the Indians were going to fight, as they were in line and loading their rifles. When I got across the river on the
open ground, I found the Indians as the soldier stated, in line near the bank of the river, while the party of Indians
with the stock were driving it very rapidly towards the bluffs. My orders from Capt. Sanborn being to capture the
stock, disarm the Indians and take them prisoners, if I found them in possession of the stock. I immediately started
in pursuit of the herd, but the party of warriors immediately interposed themselves between my command and and
[sic] the herd, and when I wheeled my command of about twenty men into line, the Indians about five hundred
yards distant formed in line also. I then detailed four men to go in pursuit of the stock with Mr. Rippey, instructing
them to get the stock and bring it back if they could without making a fight, as my instructions were particular on
this point. I then rode, about 150 yards towards the Indians, alone, and requested one or two of the Indians to
come out so that I could talk with them. They paid no attention to me but continued riding towards me in line, with
their bows strung and their rifles in their hands, my men calling to me all the time to come back or the Indians
would kill me. I fell back to my command and found that my men had their pistols drawn: I ordered them to return
their pistols, and when the Indians were about six feet from me to dismount and disarm the Indians. As soon as my
men were dismounted the Indians fired upon us: I ordered my men immediately to return their fire, when we had
an engagement which lasted about an hour, resulting in four of my men being wounded and and [sic] a number of
the Indians killed. As soon as the firing commenced Mr. Rippey and soldiers returned to me, followed by about
fifteen or twenty Indians. I finally succeeded in driving the Indians about three-quarters of a mile, when the
balance of the command joining me, I followed the Indians about sixteen miles, when it becoming very dark and
stormy, I returned to camp and the next morning with a fresh mount and Geary as my guide, I again took their trail,
but the snow during the night had rendered it impossible to follow, thereby compelling us to relinquish the chase.
See Dunn’s actual testimony
MAJOR WYNKOOP'S EXPEDITION TO THE SMOKY HILL
WITH ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY MEN
AND TWO PIECES OF ARTILLERY.
B. N. Forbes being sworn, testified that he was a soldier, served in Co. D. First Colorado Cavalry.
I was with the expedition commanded by Major Wynkoop, that went to the Smoky Hill about the middle of
September, 1864. After going into camp on the Smoky Hill Major Wynkoop and the officers held a consultation
with the chiefs. We remained in the camp about six hours. The Indians came into this camp about five Indians to
one white man. The Indians were all armed; they took some of our provisions out of the wagon forcibly. The
Indians behaved towards the troops pretty saucily, a few that could talk English used pretty hard words, looking at
the troops they said “Damn you," &c. They kept the troops guarded, when a soldier got up and left his place two
or three Indians would follow him, whether this was intentionally I could not say, it looked like it, although they had
their bows strung all the time and arrows in their hands. Quite a number of Indians also surrounded the cannon;
Lieut. Harding went to one of their chiefs, Black Kettle, and got him to talk to the Indians and coax them away; they
saddled up their ponies and went away, first setting fire to the grass to the windward of our camp, which compelled
us to break camp and move back about ten or fifteen miles, where we camped that night. The camp in which these
things occurred was made right in the bend of a creek, encircling it on three sides. The opposite bank of the creek
that encircled us, was covered with a thick undergrowth, the bank being pretty high, sloping gradually toward the
creek; it would be very favorable for the concealment of an enemy. Generally the camp was arranged very poorly
for defense. I think the creek &c. furnished a fine ambuscade for an enemy. I was sergeant of the guard that day,
and did not receive orders from any person, Major Wynkoop, or any one else, to keep the Indians out of camp. In
the camp to which we moved, ten or fifteen miles distant, we remained two nights, and one day one of the Indians
that was with us left us, which aroused some excitement in the minds of the troops, and there was strong talk
among the men of breaking camp and returning to Ft. Lyon without orders. There was talk among the men that
there was more whisky aboard the outfit than was necessary. Some said they had confidence in their officers
when they were sober, but did not like to trust themselves among the Indians with them when they believed they
Chivington condenses Forbes’ testimony greatly. See the actual record for a more accurate account.
MAJOR ANTHONY'S STATEMENTS REGARDING THE INDIANS,
THEIR RELATIONS WITH THE TROOPS, &C.,
AS MAJOR ANTHONY WAS IN COMMAND OF FORT LYON
WHEN COL. CHIVINGTON ARRIVED, ANTHONY WAS PRESUMED
TO BE ACQUAINTED WITH THE FACTS, &C.
Lieut. Clark Dunn, being duly sworn testified:
I was at Fort Lyon, Nov. 28th, 1864. I talked with Major Anthony in regard to the Indians encamped on Sand
Creek. He said they were hostile and not under the protection of the troops; that he would have gone out himself
and killed them if he had had a sufficient number of troops under his command: this he stated before and after the
battle of Sand Creek. In the first conversation I had with Anthony on the 28th of November, 1864, immediately
after the arrival of Col. Chivington and command, Anthony said he was dammed glad we had come and the only
thing he was surprised at was that we had not come long before, knowing as we did how he was situated.
Chivington’s account of Dunn’s testimony is correct.
Capt. T. G. Cree, being duly sworn testified:
Major Anthony, after the battle of Sand Creek, stated that we had done a good thing in killing the Indians at Sand
Creek, and believed in following it up and killing more if we could catch them.
ACTUAL TESTIMONY OF CREE:
Answer. I had a conversation with Major Anthony after the battle of Sand creek, at the last camp down the
Arkansas, I think about one hundred miles below Fort Lyon. Colonel Chivington was talking of moving back, and
not pursuing the Indians; and further, I was talking with Major Anthony in his tent about the propriety of going
back, and he said that he was very much opposed to it, and said he should do all he could to prevent it. He said
that we had done a good thing, and he believed in following it up; that he knew about where their camp was or
where they made their headquarters, and he thought we could catch them. That is about all the conversation I
had with him in regard to that matter. See Cree’s testimony.
Lieut. Alexander F. Safely, being duly sworn, testified:
I was with Col. Chivington Nov. 28th, 1864, when he entered Fort Lyon. I heard a conversation between Col.
Chivington and Major Anthony, then commanding Fort Lyon, both before and after the battle of Sand Creek.
Major Anthony stated to Col. Chivington, in my presence that when he took command of Fort Lyon, or shortly
afterwards, he made a demand of the Indians to give up all their arms. Anthony said the Indians agreed to do it,
and that instead of turning in arms that were of any use to the Indians, they turned in some boy's bows and
arrows, and some broken double barrelled shot guns, and one Hawkin's rifle that had no lock on it. He said that he
then considered that they were insincere and gave them back their arms and ordered them out of the post, saying
to them if they came back again he would open his artillery upon them. He said that they then removed from the
vicinity of the post and were then on Sand Creek. He said that he was glad that we had come down, as the Indians
had sent him word that if he (Anthony) wanted to fight he could get as big a one as he wanted by coming out to
Sand Creek, indeed, he said he was becoming alarmed that they would come into the post and give him a fight.
He said that he and every man that he commanded would go with Col. Chivington's command. After the battle of
Sand Creek I heard Major Anthony say that he thought this would put a stop to the Indian war: that he considered
that it was the biggest Indian fight that ever was recorded. I heard him ask Col. Chivington for permission to visit
Fort Lyon with the sick and wounded, and that he would overtake Col. Chivington's command with the balance of
the troops that had arrived there since we had left.
ACTUAL TESTIMONY OF SAFELY:
Answer. I did hear a conversation between Colonel Chivington and Major Anthony, both before and after the
battle of Sand creek; and it was in regard to Indians. Major Anthony stated to Colonel Chivington, in my presence,
that when he took command of Fort Lyon, or shortly after that, he made a demand on the Indians to give up all
their arms; he (Anthony) said that the Indians agreed to do so, and that instead of turning in arms that were of
any use to the Indians, they turned in some boys' bows, and some double-barrelled shot-guns, and one
Hawkins's rifle, which had no lock on it. He said that he considered that they were sincere about it, and gave them
back their arms, and ordered them out of the post; that if they came back again he would open his artillery upon
them. He said that they removed from there, and were then somewhere on Sand creek. He said that he was glad
that we had come down there, as the Indians had sent him word that if he wanted to fight he could get as big a
one as he wanted by coming out there to Sand creek. Indeed (he said) he was becoming alarmed that they would
come in to the post and give him a fight. He said that he and every man he commanded would go with Colonel
Chivington's command. That is about all I can think of that he said before the battle. The day after the battle I
heard Major Anthony say that this would put a stop to the Indian war; that he considered that it was the biggest
Indian fight that ever was recorded. I heard him ask Colonel Chivington's permission to proceed to Fort Lyon with
the dead and wounded, and that he would overtake the command with the balance of the troops that had arrived
there since we left. That is about all.
See Safely’s testimony.
William H. Valentine, Veterinary Surgeon, 1st Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified:
I was at Fort Lyon when Major Wynkoop returned from Denver with the Indians in 1864. I had a conversation with
Left Hand in regard to a couple of Indians. I asked him if those were the two Indians, pointing to them, that killed
the blacksmith and the soldiers on the Arkansas River, near Haines' Ranch: he said yes, they were. The Indians
at this time had in their possession eight head of Government mules belonging to the ambulance and wagon the
blacksmith and the soldiers had when they were killed. I do not think that Major Wynkoop at any time attempted to
take these mules from the Indians.
Major Anthony succeeded Major Wynkoop in command of Fort Lyon. During the time that Major Anthony was
commanding at Fort Lyon I saw the guard fire upon some Indians about six or seven in number. I think the Indians
were trying to get into the Post. The guard gave as a reason that they had orders from Major Anthony to fire upon
the Indians. About two hours after this Major Anthony was laughing at the way the Indians ran. He said that the
Indians had annoyed him enough and that was the only way to get rid of them.
Chivington paraphrases Valentine’s testimony, but the content is essentially correct. The Commission, however,
cross-examined Valentine, which revealed some interesting facts that are not noted in Chivington’s pamphlet. See
Lieutenant Alexander F. Safely, 1st Cavalry of Colorado, was sworn and testified:
I witnessed the commencement of the battle of Sand creek, being the first man on the ground. Lieutenant Wilson
brought his battalion up on the left of the village, while Company H. of the 1st Cavalry of Colorado, came up in line
directly in front and on the right of the village, where I then was. While Lieutenant Wilson was coming up, I saw a
man's horse running away with him which I afterwards learned was George Pierce of Company F. 1st Cavalry of
Colorado. His horse carried him through the lower end of the village, and suddenly I saw himself and horse fall
together and shortly afterwards I saw George Pierce get upon his feet and run a short distance and stop and turn
around when I saw the smoke rise from an Indian's gun and also Geo. Pierce fall, immediately after which Wilson's
battalion commenced firing and then company H. 1st Cavalry of Colorado commenced firing. Just before company
H. took its position, three Indians came out of the village towards us firing arrows, which went over Company H.
and took effect in a company of the 3rd regiment, immediately behind us. One of the Indians was killed right there.
The next Indian that came towards us was White Antelope. He came towards us moving with a revolver in his left
hand firing at us almost every step. In his right hand he held a bow and number of arrows. I dismounted and shot
White Antelope through the groin. He ran, and when in the creek a soldier by the name of Henderson shot him
through the head. I did not at any time see any white flag in or near the Indian village. My position was such that I
could have seen it had there been any waved in the village or near it by the Indians.
Although Chivington paraphrases Safely’s testimony, the content is essentially correct. See Safely’s testimony.
HOW MANY INDIANS WERE KILLED,
WERE THE WOMEN & CHILDREN.
Four hundred and fifty warriors were killed and no more women and children than would have been killed in a
white village, &c. The women and children could not have been saved if the troops had tried as they were with the
warriors in the rifle pits, high officials to the contrary, notwithstanding.
Peaceful Indians: the friends of the high officials: how they show their love for the whites: scalps not over eight
days old, of white men found in the Indian village at Sand Creek.
Stephen Decatur, 3rd Regiment of Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified:
I have lived for seven years among the Indians. I was at the battle of Sand Creek. Arrived at the village at about
sunrise on the morning of the 29th of November 1864. I was acting battallion adjutant, by order of Lieut. Col.
Bowen commanding. This was my fourth battle and I never saw harder fighting on both sides. I was with Col.
Doniphan's regiment in the Mexican War. After the battle of Sand Creek I went over the field as clerk for Lieut.
Col. Bowen to ascertain the number of dead Indians. I counted four hundred and fifty warriors, and do not think
there were any more women and children killed than would have been killed in attacking a village of whites of the
same number, under like circumstances. I do not think that the squaws and children that were killed could have
been saved, as they were in the rifle pits with the warriors, who were fighting all the time most desperately. Rifle
pits were dug in every place favorable for concealment, or that afforded the least protection. After going over the
field and through the village I saw things that made me feel like killing a great many more Indians. I saw a man
open one of a number of bundles or bales and take there from a number of scalps of white men, women and
children. I saw one scalp, in particular, that had been taken entirely off the head of a white female, all the hair
being with it: the hair was a beautiful auburn and very long and thick. There were two holes in the front part of the
scalp. I saw a number of daguerreotypes, children's wearing apparel, and part of a lady's toilet. I saw
comparatively few women and children killed and it would have been impossible to have avoided killing them if the
troops had tried, as they were in the rifle pits. I have seen the White Lipan or Camanche Indians scalp their own
dead to avoid having their scalps taken by whites, which may account for some of the Indians being scalped at
Sand Creek. There was no white flag displayed by the Indians at Sand Creek: if there had been one I would have
Chivington extensively paraphrases and condenses Decatur’s testimony, although the content is essentially
correct. In reality, Decatur’s testimony was lengthy, and the Commission grilled him extensively on cross-
examination with regard to his claim of over four hundred Indians being killed, the “rifle pits,” and his bizarre claim
that Indians scalp their own dead. The cross-examination also revealed that Decatur was a friend of the
Hungates, who were murdered by four Arapahos in June 1864. Decatur took great pride in avenging the deaths
of the Hungates, although none of the Arapaho warriors who committed the murders were present at Sand
Creek. See Decatur’s full testimony.
Dr. Caleb S. Burdsall, Surgeon 3rd Regiment Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified:
I was at the battle of Sand Creek, fought Nov. 29, 1864. While dressing the wounds of some soldiers, in a lodge, a
soldier came to the door of the lodge and asked me to look at five or six white scalps he held in his hand. One or
two of these white scalps I think could not have been taken from the head more than ten days. The skin of the
flesh attached to the hair was quite moist. I examined the scalp closely, my attention having been called to the fact
of them having been recently taken.
ACTUAL TESTIMONY OF BIRDSAL:
Question. Did you see any white scalps at Sand creek? If yes, please state the particulars in regard to them.
Answer. I think it was about three or four o'clock p. m., November 29, the day of the battle, I was in the lodge
dressing the wounded; some man came to the opening of the lodge and hallooed to me to look at five or six
scalps he had in his hand. I should judge, from a casual look, that they were the scalps of white persons.
CROSS EXAMINATION BY THE COMMITTEE:
Question. What reason have you for saying the scalps you saw in the lodge were those of white persons?
Answer. I judge by the color of the hair.
Question. What was the color of those you saw in the lodge?
Answer. I think there were some white, some sandy brown. I don't think there were any that were very black.
Question. Did not these scalps present the appearance of having faded and changed from their original color by
Answer. I think not. My impression is that one or two of them were not more than ten days off of the head.
Question. From what indications do you determine the time not to have been over ten days?
Answer. The skin and flesh attached to the hair appeared to be yet quite moist.
Question. Did you examine these scalps closely?
Answer. Yes; my attention was called to that by others, to decide whether they were fresh or not.
Dr. T. P. Bell, Surgeon 3rd Regiment Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified as follows:
I was at the battle of Sand Creek, fought Nov. 29, 1864. After the battle I saw a great many white scalps in the
village of the Indians at Sand Creek: I have no idea how many, though there were a great many. There were some
that looked as if they might have been taken some time; others not so long, and one that I saw not over from five
to eight days old at furthest. I did not notice them particularly enough to give a more minute description, though
the fresh scalp came off the head of a red haired man.
ACTUAL TESTIMONY OF BELL:
Question. Did you see any white scalps in the Indian village at Sand creek? If yes, please describe them
Answer. I saw a good many white scalps there. The number, I have not any idea how many. There were some that
looked old, as if they might have been taken a considerable time; others not so long, and one that was quite
fresh, not over from five to eight days old at furthest. I did not notice them particularly enough at the time to give a
more minute description. The fresh scalp was from a red haired man.
Direct examination of Thaddeus P. Bell by J. M. Chivington closed.
Cross-examination of Thaddeus P. Bell by commission:
Question. Was there a soldier of Colonel Chivington's command killed and scalped by the Indians at the
commencement of the fight at Sand creek?
Answer. I cannot say whether he was scalped or not, but there was one killed. The first man I saw killed was one
of Colonel Chivington's command. There was one man scalped, but that was later in the day.
Question. Was not the fresh scalp you saw taken on the day of the fight by the Indians?
Answer. It was not.
Question. State how you know it was not.
Answer. I saw the scalp before the fight had been going on any length of time; before there had been any
wounded or dead brought in off the field, and at a place where there had been none either wounded or killed on
either side; and further, by the appearance of the scalp itself. It was lying in or near the door of one of the Indian
lodges; it looked like it might have been recently dropped there.
Question. What was done with this scalp?
Answer. I do not know what was done with it.
Question. Have you seen any of the scalps you saw at Sand creek since?
Answer. I have not seen any of the white scalps except one; I saw one since.
Question. Where did you see it, and in whose possession was it?
Answer. I saw it between where we leave the Arkansas river and cross to the Fountain-qui-bouit. It was in
possession of a man whose name I believe is Rhoades, one of the third regiment.
Question. How long after the fight commenced did you see these scalps you speak of?
Answer. I suppose the fight had been going on probably an hour; it might have been more or it might have been
Question. State particularly from what you determine the age of a scalp.
Answer. If the scalp had been taken that day the capillary vessels would have yet been bleeding, which they were
not, but the scalp was yet soft and green.
Cross-examination of Thaddeus P. Bell by the commission closed.
THE SOURCE OF TROUBLE.
Were Major Colley and John Smith in with the Indians? Were they, by their trading with the Indians, inciting the
Indians to the murder and robbery of white men and defenceless white women and children. Was there not a
conspiracy by these worthies, both Government employees, to swindle the Government?
Fellow citizens, read, and form your own opinions.
Major Presley Talbot, 3rd Regiment Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified:
I was at the battle of Sand Creek, fought Nov. 29, 1864. I had a conversation with Major Anthony commanding at
Fort Lyon, before the battle of Sand Creek. He expressed himself gratified that we had come to attack the Indians
and said that he would have attacked them himself before if he had had force enough at his command. Had
several conversations with Major Colley, Indian Agent and John Smith, Indian Interpreter, who stated that they had
considerable sympathy for me, I having been wounded in the fight and would give me all the attention and
assistance in their power, but they would do anything to damn Colonel John M. Chivington or Major Downing; that
they had lost at least six thousand dollars by the Sand Creek fight: that they had one hundred and five buffalo
robes and two white ponies bought at the time of the attack, independent of the goods they had on the ground,
which they never had recovered, but would make the general government pay for the same and damn old
Chivington eventually. John Smith had a bill made out against the general government, sworn to by one David
Louderback, which he showed to me, stating that he would go to Washington and get it allowed through the
influence of friends he had there. Smith and Colley both told me that they were equally interested in the trade with
the Indians. I heard a portion of a letter read in an adjoining room to which I lay wounded, the purport of which was
denouncing Col. Chivington. In the conversation I recognized the voice of Smith, Colley, and a man by the name
of Olmstead, all denouncing Col. Chivington and Sand Creek fight. The letter was addressed to the
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Washington City. Also heard Smith, in my presence boastingly say that the
eastern papers would be filled with letters from Fort Lyon denouncing the same. Colley and Smith stated to me
that they would go in person to Washington City and represent the Sand Creek fight as nothing more than a
massacre, and Smith stated that he would realize $25,000 for his losses.
This testimony, although paraphrased in part, is essentially correct as presented by Chivington in this pamphlet.
Refer to the actual record for a contentious series of objections raised by Tappan during Talbot’s testimony.
Lieut. Harry Richmond, 3rd Regiment of Colorado Cavalry, sworn and testified:
That he was on the expedition under Col. Chivington which resulted in the battle of Sand Creek, fought Nov. 29,
1864. I met Major Anthony at Fort Lyon, Nov. 28, 1864. After shaking hands with me and in reply to 'Where are
the Indians,' asked by me, said 'I am damned glad you have come: I have watched them over here about twenty-
five miles until I could send to Denver for assistance.' This was before the battle of Sand Creek. At another time
he asserted that he should have attacked them himself, if he had had sufficient force. I never heard Anthony
express himself, except exultingly, over the battle of Sand Creek.
Although paraphrased by Chivington, his account of Richmond’s testimony is essentially correct. Corporal James
J. Adams testified that he saw Lt. Richmond participate in scalping the Indians after the attack. See Corporal
PRIVACY - kclonewolf.com gathers only general site navigation statistics, and does not monitor personal information of site visitors. All correspondence sent to this site is
private, and e-mail addresses are not sold to spammers. Spam sent to this site is automatically deleted, unopened.