The Sand Creek Massacre
Governor John Evans Response to the Sand Creek Inquiry
In its final report on the three congressional investigations into the Sand Creek Massacre, the
Committee on the Conduct of the War severely criticized Governor John Evans for his
involvement in the affair, and recommended the Governor be removed from office. In
response, President Andrew Johnson called for Evans’ resignation, which Evans’ reluctantly
tendered on August 1, 1864. In a final plea to the citizens of Colorado, Evans wrote the
John Evans' reply to the Committee on the Conduct of the War
Denver, August 6, 1865
To the public:
I have just seen, for the first time, a copy of the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War,
headed, "Massacre of Cheyenne Indians."
As it does me great injustice, and by its partial, unfair, and erroneous statements will mislead the public, I
respectfully ask a suspension of opinion in my case until I shall have time to present the facts to said
committee or some equally high authority, and ask a correction. In the meantime, I desire to lay a few facts
before the public. The report begins:
"In the summer of 1864 governor Evans, of Colorado Territory, as acting superintendent of Indians affairs,
sent notice to the various bands and tribes of Indians within his jurisdiction, that such as desired to be
considered friendly to the whites should repair to the nearest military post in order to be protected from the
soldiers who were to take the field against the hostile Indians.
This statement is true as to such notice having been sent, but conveys the false impression that it was at
the beginning of hostilities, and the declaration of war. The truth is, it was issued by authority of the Indian
Department months after the war had become general, for the purpose of inducing the Indians to cease
hostilities, and to protect those who had been, or would become, friendly from the inevitable dangers to
which they were exposed. This "notice" may be found published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs for 1864, page 218.
The report continues:
"About the close of the summer some Cheyenne Indians, in the neighborhood of the Smoky Hill, sent word
to Major Wynkoop, commanding at Fort Lyon, that they had in their possession, and were willing to deliver
up, some white captives. On his return he was accompanied by a number of the chiefs and leading men of
the Indians, who he had brought to visit Denver for the purpose of conferring with the authorities there in
regard to keeping the peace. Among them were Black Kettle and White Antelope, of the Cheyennes, and
some chiefs of the Arapahoes. The council was held, and these chiefs stated that they were friendly to the
whites and always had been."
Again they say:
"All the testimony goes to show that the Indians under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White
Antelope, of the Cheyennes, and Left Hand of the Arapahoes, were, and had always been, friendly to the
whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or depredations."
This word, which the committee say was sent to Major Wynkoop, was a letter to the United States Indian
Agent, Major Colley, which is published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1865, page
233, and is as follows:
(VERBATIM WITH GRAMMAR ERRORS)
"Cheyenne Village, August 29, 1864.
We received a letter from Bent wishing us to make peace. We held a council in regard to it. All came to the
conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos,
Apaches ans Sioux. We are going to send a messenger to the Kiowas and to the other nations about our
going to make peace with you. We heard that you some (sic) prisoners in Denver. We have seven
prisoners of you which we are willing to give up providing you give up yours. There are three war parties
out yet and two of Arapahos. They have been out some time and expect now soon. When we held this
council there were few Arapahos and Siouxs present; we want true news from you in return, that is a letter.
Black Kettle and other Chieves.
Brought to Ft. Lyon Sunday Sept 4th, 1864 by One Eye
Compare the above extract from the report of the committee with this published letter of Black Kettle, and
the admission of the Indians in the council at Denver.
The committee say the prisoners proposed to be delivered up were purchased of other Indians. Black
Kettle in his letter says: "We have seven prisoners of yours, which were are willing to give up, providing you
give up yours." They say nothing about prisoners whom they had purchased. On the other hand, in the
council at Denver, Black Kettle said: "Major Wynkoop was kind enough to receive the letter and visited them
in camp, to whom they delivered four white prisoners, Laura Roper, 16 or 17 years, Ambrose Asher, 7 or 8
years, Daniel Marble, 7 or 8 years, and Isabel Ewbanks, 4 or 5 years; one other (Mrs. Snyder) having killed
herself; that there are two women and one child yet in their camp whom they will deliver up as soon as they
can get them in. The prisoners still with them are Mrs. Ewbanks and babe, and a Mrs. Norton who was
taken on the Platte. Mrs. Snyder is the name of the woman who hung herself. They boys were taken
between Fort Kearney and the Blue."
Again: They did not deny having captured the prisoners, when I told them that having the prisoners in their
possession was evidence of their having committed the depredations when they were taken. But White
Antelope said: "We (the Cheyennes) took two prisoners west of Kearney, and destroyed the trains." Had
they purchased the prisoners, they would not have been slow to make it known in this council. The
committee say the chiefs went to Denver to confer with the authorities about keeping the peace. Black
Kettle says: "All come to the conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas,
Comanches, Arapahos, Apaches and Sioux."
Again the committee say:
"All the testimony goes to show that the Indians under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White
Antelope of the Cheyennes and Left Hand of the Arapahos, were, and had been friendly to the whites, and
had not been guilty of any acts of hostility and depredations."
Black Kettle says in his letter: "We received a letter from Bent wishing to make peace." Why did Bent send
a letter to friendly Indians, and want to make peace with Indians who had always been friendly? Again they
say: "All come to the conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas,
Comanches, Arapahos, Apaches and Sioux. We have seven prisoners of yours, which we are willing to give
up, providing you give up yours. There are three war - not peace - parties out yet, and two of the Arapahos.
Every line of this letter shows that they were and had been at war. I desire to throw additional light upon
this assertion of the committee that these Indians "were and had been friendly to the whites, and had not
been guilty of any acts of hostility or depredations," for it is upon this point that the committee accuses me
In the council held at Denver, White Antelope said: "We (the Cheyennes) took two prisoners west of
Kearney and destroyed the trains." This was one of the most destructive and bloody raids of the war.
Again, Neva (Left Hand's brother) said: "The Comanches, Kiowas, and Sioux have done much more harm
than we have." The entire report of this council shows that the Indians had been at war, and had been
"guilty of acts of hostility and depredations."
As showing more fully the status and disposition of these Indians, I call your attention to the following extract
from the report of Major Wynkoop, published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864,
page 234, and a letter from Major Colley, their agent, same report, page 230. Also the statement of Robert
North, same report, page 224:
Fort Lyon, Colorado, Sept. 18, 1864
His Excellency, John Evans
Governor of Colorado, Denver, C.T.
Taking with me under strict guard the Indians I had in my possession, I reached my destination and was
confronted by from six to eight hundred Indian warriors, drawn up in line of battle and prepared to fight.
Putting on as bold a front as I could under the circumstances, I formed my command in as good order as
possible for the purpose of acting on the offensive or defensive, as might be necessary, and advanced
toward them, at the same time sending forward one of the Indians I had with me, as an emissary, to state
that I had come for the purpose of holding a consultation with the chiefs of the Arapahos and Cheyennes,
to come to an understanding which might result in mutual benefit; that I had not come desiring strife, but
was prepared for it if necessary, and advised them to listen to what I had to say, previous to making any
more warlike demonstrations.
They consented to meet me in council, and I then proposed to them that if they desire peace to give me
palpable evidence of their sincerity by delivering into my hands their white prisoners. I told them that I was
not authorized to conclude terms of peace with them, but if they acceded to my proposal I would take what
chiefs they might choose to select to the Governor of Colorado Territory, state the circumstances to him,
and that I believed it would result in what it was their desire to accomplish - peace with their white brothers.
I had reference particularly to the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes.
The council was divided - undecided - and could not come to an understanding among themselves. I told
them that I would march to a certain locality, distant twelve miles, and await a given time for their action in
the matter. I took a strong position in the locality named, and remained three days. In the interval they
brought in and turned over, the balance of the seven being (as they stated) with another band far to the
I have the principal chiefs of the two tribes with me, and propose starting immediately to Denver, to put into
effect the aforementioned proposition made by me to them. They agree to deliver up the balance of the
prisoners as soon as it is possible to procure them, which can be done better from Denver City that from
I have the honor, Governor, to be your obedient servant.
Major, First Colo. Cav.
Com'd'g, Fort Lyon, C. T.
The following letter from Major Colley, Indian Agent, was sent to me:
Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, July 26, 1864
Honorable John Evans
Governor and Superintendent Indian Affairs.
When I last wrote you, I was in hopes that our Indian troubles were at an end. Colonel Chivington had just
arrived from Larned and gives a sad account of affairs at that post. They have killed some ten men from a
train, and run off all the stock from the post.
As near as they can learn, all the tribes were engaged in it. The colonel will give you all the particulars.
There is no dependence to be put in any of them. I have done everything in my power to keep the peace; I
now think a little powder and lead is the best food for them.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
United States Indian Agent
The following statement by Robert North was made to me:
November 10, 1863
Having recovered an Arapaho prisoner (a squaw) from the Utes, I obtained the confidence of the Indians
completely. I have lived with them from a boy and my wife is an Arapaho.
In honor of my exploit in recovering the prisoner, the Indians recently gave me a 'big medicine dance' about
fifty miles below Fort Lyon, on the Arkansas River, at which the leading chiefs and warriors of several of the
tribes of the plains met.
The Comanches, Apaches, Kiowas, the northern band of Arapahos, and all of the Cheyennes, with the
Sioux, have pledged one another to go to war with the whites as soon as they can procure ammunition in
the spring. I have heard them discuss the matter often, and the few of them who opposed it were forced to
be quiet, and were really in danger of their lives. I saw the principal chiefs pledge to each other that they
would be friendly and shake hands with the whites until they procured ammunition and guns, so as to be
ready when they strike. Plundering to get means has already commenced, and the plan is to commence
the war at several points in the sparse settlements early in the spring.
They wanted me to join the war, saying that they would take a great many white women and children
prisoners, and get a heap of property, blankets, etc.; but while I am connected with them by marriage and
live with them, I am yet a white man and wish to avoid bloodshed.
There are many Mexicans with the Comanche and Apache Indians, all of whom urge war, promising to help
the Indians themselves, and that a great many more Mexicans would come up from New Mexico for the
purpose in the spring."
In addition to the statement showing that all the Cheyennes were in alliance, I desire to add the following
frank admission from the Indians in the council:
"Governor Evans explained that smoking the war pipe was a figurative term, but their conduct had been
such as to show that they had an understanding with other tribes. Several Indians said: "We acknowledge
that our actions have given you reason to believe this."
In addition to all this, I refer to the statement of Mrs. Ewbanks. She is one of the prisoners that Black Kettle,
in the council, said they had. Instead of purchasing her, the first captured her on the Little Blue, and then
sold her to the Sioux.
Mrs. Martin, another rescued prisoner, was captured by the Cheyennes on Plum Creek, west of Kearney,
with a boy nine years old. These were the prisoners of which White Antelope said, in the council, "We took
two prisoners west of Kearney, and destroyed the trains." In her published statement she says the party
who captured her and the boy killed eleven men and destroyed the trains and were mostly Cheyennes.
Thus I have proved by the Indian chiefs named in the report, by Agent Colley and Major Wynkoop, to whom
they refer to sustain their assertation to the contrary, that these Indians had "been at war, and had
committed acts of hostility and depredations."
In regard to their status prior to their council at Denver, the foregoing public documents which I have cited
show how utterly devoid of the truth or foundation is the assertation that these Indians "had been friendly to
the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or depredations."
The next paragraph of the report is as follows:
"A northern band of Cheyennes, known as the Dog Soldiers, had been guilty of acts of hostility; but all the
testimony goes to prove that they had no connection with Black Kettle's band, and acted in spite of his
authority and influence. Black Kettle and his band denied all connection with, or responsibility for, the Dog
Soldiers, and Left Hand and his band were equally friendly."
The committee and the public will be surprised to learn the fact that these Dog Soldiers, on which the
committee throws the slight blame for acts of hostility, were really among Black Kettle's and White
Antelope's own warriors in the "friendly" camp to which Major Wynkoop made his expedition, and their head
man, Bull Bear, was one of the prominent men of the deputation brought in to see me at Denver. By
reference to the report of the council with the chiefs, to which I referred the committee, it will be observed
that Black Kettle and all present based their prepositions to make peace upon ther assent of their bands,
and that these Dog Soldiers were especially referred to.
The report continues:
"These Indians, at the suggestion of Governor Evans and Colonel Chivington, repaired to Ft. Lyon and
placed themselves under the protection of Major Wynkoop."
The connection of my name in this is again wrong. I simply left them in the hands of the military authorities,
where I found them, and my action was approved by the Indian Bureau.
The following extracts from the report of the council will prove this conclusively. I stated to the Indians:
"Another reason that I am not in a condition to make a treaty is that the war is begun, and the power to
make a treaty of peace has passed from me to the great war chief."
I also said: "Again, whatever peace they may make must be with the soldiers and not with me."
And again, in reply to White Antelope's inquiry, "How can we be protected from the soldiers on the plains?: I
said: "You must make that arrangement with the military chief."
The morning after this council, I addressed the following letter to the agent of these Indians, which is
published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864, page 220:
Colorado Superindendency of Indian Affairs,
Denver, September 29, 1864
Major S. G. Colley
United States Indian Agent, Upper Arkansas.
The chiefs brought in by Major Wynkoop have been heard. I have declined to make any peace with them,
lest it might embarrass the military operations against the hostile Indians on the plains. The Arapaho and
Cheyenne Indians, being now at war with the United States Government, must make peace with the military
Of course, this arrangement relieves the Indian Bureau of their care until peace is declared with them; and
as these tribes are yet scattered, and all except Friday's band are at war, it is not probable that it will be
You will be particular to impress upon these chiefs the fact that my talk with them was for the purpose of
ascertaining their views, and not to offer them anything whatever. They must deal with the military
authorities until peace, in which case, alone, they will be in proper position to treat with the government in
relation to the future.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Governor of Colorado
and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
It will thus be seen that I had, with the approval of the Indian Bureau, turned the adjustment of difficulties
with the hostile Indians entirely over to the military authorities; that I had instructed Agent Colley, at Fort
Lyon, that this would relieve the Bureau of further care of the Arapahos and Cheyennes, until peace was
made, and having had no notice of such peace, or instructions to change the arrangement, the status of
these Indians was in no respect within my jurisdiction, or under my official inspection.
It may be proper for me to say further, that it will appear in evidence that I had no intimation of the direction
in which the campaign against the hostile Indians was to move, or against what bands it was to be made,
when I left the Territory last fall, and that I was absent from Colorado when the Sand Creek battle occurred.
The report continues:
"It is true that there seems to have been excited among the people inhabiting that region of country a
hostile feeling towards the Indians. Some had committed acts of hostility toward the whites, but no effort
seems to have been made by the authorities there to prevent these hostilities, other than by the
commission of even worse acts."
"Some had committed acts of hostility toward the whites!" hear the facts: In the fall of 1863 a general
alliance of the Indians of the plains was effected with the Sioux, and in the language of Bull Bear, in the
report of the council, "Their plan is to clean out all this country."
The war opened early in the spring of 1864. The people of the East, absorbed in the greater interest of the
rebellion, know but little of its history. Stock was stolen, ranches destroyed, houses burned, freight (wagon)
trains plundered, and their contents carried away or scattered upon the plains; settlers in the frontier
counties murdered, or forced to seek safety for themselves and families in blockhouses and interior towns;
emigrants to our Territory were surprised in their camps, children were slain, and wives taken prisoners; our
trade and travel with the States were cut off; the necessities of life were at starvation prices; the interests of
the Territory were being damaged to the extent of millions; every species of atrocity and barbarity which
characterizes savage warfare was committed. This is no fancy sketch, but a plain statement of facts which
the committee seem to have no proper realization. All this history of war and blood - all this history of rape
and ruin - all this story of outrage and suffering on the part of our people - is summed up by the committee
and given to the public in one mild sentence, "Some had committed acts of hostility against the whites."
The committee not only ignore the general and terrible character of our Indian war, and the great sufferings
of our people, but make the grave charge that "no effort seems to have been made by the authorities there
to prevent all these hostilities."
Had the committee taken the trouble, as they certainly should have done before making so grave a charge,
to have read the public documents of the government, examined the record and files of the Indian Bureau,
of the War Department, and of this superintendency, instead of adopting the language of some hostile and
irresponsible witness, as they appear to have done, they would have found that the most earnest and
persistent efforts had been made on my part to prevent hostilities. The records show that early in the
spring of 1863, United States Indian Agent Loree, of the Upper Platte Agency, reported to me in person that
the Sioux under his agency, and the Arapahos and Cheyennes, were negotiating an alliance for war on the
whites. I immediately wrote an urgent appeal for authority to avert the danger, and sent Agent Loree as
special messenger with the dispatch to Washington. In response authority was given, and an earnest effort
was made to collect the Indians in council. The following admission, in the report of the council, explains the
Governor Evans - "Hearing last fall that they were dissatisfied, the Great Father at Washington sent me out
on the plains to talk with you and make it all right. I sent messengers out to tell you that I had presents, and
would make you a feast; but you sent word to me that you did not want to have anything to do with me, and
to the Great Father at Washington that you could get along without him. Bull Bear wanted to come in to see
me, at the head of the Republican, but his people held a council and would not let him come."
Black Kettle - "That is true."
Governor Evans - "I was under the necessity, after all my trouble and all the expense I was at, of returning
home without seeing them. Instead of this, your people went away and smoked the war-pipe with our
Notwithstanding these unsuccessful efforts, I still hoped to preserve peace.
The records of these offices also show that, in the autumn of 1863, I was reliably advised from various
sources that nearly all of the Indians of the plains had formed an alliance for the purpose of going to war in
the spring, and I immediately commenced my efforts to avert the imminent danger. From that time forward,
by letter, by telegraph, and personal representation to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Secretary of
War, the commanders of the department and district; by traveling for weeks in the wilderness of the plains;
by distribution of annuities and presents; by sending notice to the Indians to leave the hostile alliance; by
every means within my power, I endeavored to preserve peace and protect the interests of the people of
the Territory. And in the face of all this, which the records abundantly show, the committee say: "No effort
seems to have been made by the authorities there to prevent those hostilities, other than by the
commission of even worse acts."
They do not point out any of these acts, unless the continuation of the paragraph is intended to do so. It
"The hatred of the whites to the Indians would seem to have been inflamed and excited to the utmost. The
bodies of persons killed at a distance - whether by Indians or not is not certain - were brought to the capital
of the Territory and exposed to public gaze, for the purpose of inflaming still more the already excited
feelings of the people."
There is no mention in this of anything that was done by authority, but it is so full of misrepresentation, in
apology for the Indians, and unjust reflection on a people who have a right from their birth, education, and
ties of sympathy with the people they so recently left behind them, to have at least a just consideration.
The bodies referred to were those of the Hungate family, who were brutally murdered by Indians within
twenty-five miles of Denver. No one here ever doubted that the Indians did it, and it was admitted by the
Indians at council. This was early in the summer, and before notice sent in June to the friendly Indians.
Their mangled bodies were brought to Denver for a decent burial. Many of our people went to see them, as
many people would have done. It did produce excitement and consternation, and where are the people
who could have witnessed it without emotion? Would the committee have the people shut their eyes to
such scenes at their very doors?
The next sentence, equally unjust and unfair, refers to my proclamation, issued two months after the
occurance, and four months before the "attack" they were investigating, and having no connection with it or
with the troops engaged in it. It is as follows:
"The cupidity was appealed to, for the governor, in a proclamation, calls upon all, either individually or in
such parties as they may organize, to kill and destroy as enemies of the country, wherever they may be
found, all such hostile Indians; authorizing them to hold, to their own use and benefit, all the property of said
hostile Indians they may capture. What Indians he would ever term friendly, it is impossible to tell."
Governor Evans' proclamation of August 11, 1864, is quoted herewith in its entirety:
Having sent special messengers to the Indians of the plains directing the friendly to rendezvous of Forts
Lyon, Larned, Laramie and Camp Collins for safety and protection, warning them that all hostile Indians
would be pursued and destroyed, and the last of said messengers having now returned, and the evidence
being conclusive that most of the Indian tribes of the plains are at war and hostile to the whites, and having
to the utmost of my ability endeavored to induce all the Indians of the plains to come to said places of
rendezvous, promising them subsistence and protection, which, with few exceptions, they have refused to
Now, therefore, I, John Evans, Governor of Colorado Territory, do issue this, my proclamation, authorizing
all citizens of Colorado, either individually or in such parties as they may organize, to go in pursuit of all
hostile Indians on the plains, scrupulously avoiding those who have responded to my call to rendezvous at
the points indicated, also to kill and destroy as enemies to the country wherever they may be found all such
hostile Indians. And further, as the only reward I am authorized to offer for such services, I hereby empower
such citizens or parties of citizens to take captive and hold their own private use and benefit all the property
of such hostile Indians that they may capture, and to receive for all stolen property recovered from said
Indians such reward as may be deemed proper and just therefore.
I further offer to all such parties as will organize under the militia law of the Territory for the purpose, to
furnish them arms and ammunition, and to present their accounts for pay as regular soldiers for
themselves, their horses, their subsistence and transportation to Congress, under the assurance of the
Department Commander that they will be paid.
The conflict is upon us, and all good citizens are called upon to do their duty for the defense of their homes
In testimony thereof I have herewith set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the Territory of Colorado to
be affixed this 11th day of August, A.D. 1864.
S.H. Elbert, Secretary of Colorado Territory
I offer the following statement of the circumstances under which this proclamation was issued by the
Honorable D.A. Chever. It is as follows:
Executive Department, Colorado Territory
August 21, 1865
"I, David A. Chever, Clerk in the Office of the Governor of the Territory of Colorado, do solemnly swear that
the people of said territory, from the Purgatoire to the Cache la Poudre Rivers, a distance of over two
hundred miles, and for a like distance along the Platte River, being the whole of our settlements on the
plains, were thrown into the greatest alarm and consternation by numerous and also simultaneous attacks
and depredations by hostile Indians early last summer; that they left their unreaped crops, and collecting
into communities built blockhouses and stockades for protection at central points throughout the long line of
settlements; that those living in the vicinity of Denver City fled to it, and that the people of said city were in
great fear of sharing the fate of New Ulm, Minnesota (the great Sioux uprising of 1862); that the threatened
loss of crops, and the interruption of communication with the States by the combined hostilities, threatened
the very existence of the whole people; that this feeling of danger was universal; that a flood of petitions
and deputations poured into this office, from the people of all parts of the territory, praying for protection,
and for arms and authority to protect themselves; that the defects of the militia law and the want of means
to provide for defense was proved by failure of this department, after the utmost endeavors, to secure and
effective organization under it; that reliable reports of a presence of a large body of hostile warriors at no
great distance east of this place were received, which reports were afterwards proved to be true, by the
statement of Elbridge Gerry (page 232, Report of Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864); that repeated
and urgent applications to the War Department for protections and authority to raise troops for the purpose
had failed; that urgent applications to (military) department and district commanders had failed to bring any
prospect of relief, and that in the midst of this terrible consternation and apparently defenseless condition, it
had been announced to this office, from district headquarters, that all Colorado troops in the service of the
United States had been peremptorily ordered away, and nearly all of them had marched to the Arkansas
River, to be in position to repel the threatened invasion of Rebels into Kansas and Missouri; that reliable
reports of depredations and murders by the Indians, from all parts of our extended lines of exposed
settlements, became daily more numerous, until the simultaneous attacks on (wagon) trains along the
overland stage route were reported by telegraph, on the 8th of August, described in a letter of George K.
Otis, superintendent of the overland stage line, published on page 254 of Report to Commissioner of Indian
Affairs for 1864.
Under these circumstances, on the 11th of August (1864) the Governor issued his proclamation to the
people, calling upon them to defend their homes and families from the savage foe; that it prevented
anarchy; that several militia companies immediately organized under it, and aided in inspiring confidence;
that under its authority no act of impropriety has been reported, and I do not believe any occurred; that it
had no reference to or connection with the Third Regiment of one-hundred-days men that was
subsequently raised by authority of the War Department, under a different proclamation, calling for
volunteers, or with any of the troops engaged in the Sand Creek affair, and that the reference to it in such
connection in the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War is a preversion of the history and facts
in the case.
David A. Chever
Territory of Colorado, Arapaho County,
City of Denver, SS.
Subscribed and sworn to before me
this 21st day of August, A.D. 1865
Eli M. Ashley, Notary Public
I had appealed by telegraph, June 14th (1864), to the War Department for authority to call the militia into
the United States service, or to raise one-hundred-day troops; also written to our delegate in Congress to
see why I got no response, and had received his reply to the effect that he could learn nothing about it; had
received a notice from the department commander, declining to take the responsibility of asking the militia
for United States service, throwing the people entirely on the necessity of taking care of themselves.
It was under these circumstances of trial, suffering, and danger on the part of the people, and of fruitless
appeal upon my part to the general government for aid, that I issued my proclamation of the 11th of August,
1864, of which the committee complains.
Without means to mount or pay militia, and failing to get government authority to raise forces, and under
the withdrawal of the few troops in the Territory, could any other course be pursued?
The people were asked to fight on their own account - at their own expense - and in lieu of protection the
government failed to render. They were authorized to kill only the Indians that were murdering and robbing
them in hostility, and to keep the property captured from them. How the committee would have them fight
these savages, and what other disposition they could make of the property captured, the public will be
curious to know. Would they fight without killing? Would they have the captured property turned over to
the government, as if captured by United States troops? Would they forbid such captures? Would they
restore it to the hostile tribes?
The absurdity of the committee's saying that this was an "appeal to the cupidity," is too palpable to require
much comment. Would men leave high wages, mount and equip themselves at enormous expense, as
some patriotically did, for the poor chance of capturing property, as a mere speculation, from the prowling
bands of Indians that infested the settlements and were murdering their families? The thing is preposterous.
For this proclamation I have no apology. It had its origin and has its justification in the imperative
necessities of the case. A merciless foe surrounded us. Without means to mount or pay militia, unable to
secure government authority to raise forces, and our own troops ordered away, again I ask, could any other
course be pursued?
Captain Tyler's and other companies organized under it, at enormous expense, left their lucrative business,
high wages, and profitable employment, and served without other pay than the consciousness of having
done noble and patriotic service; and no act of impropriety has ever been laid to the charge of any party
acting under this proclamation. They had all been disbanded months before the "attack" was made that the
committee were investigating.
The Third Regiment was organized under authority from the War Department, subsequently received by
telegraph, and under a subsequent proclamation issued on the 13th of August (1864), and were regularly
mustered into service of the United States about three months before the battle the committee were
Before closing this reply, it is perhaps just that I should say that when I testified before the committee, the
chairman and all its members, except three, were absent, and I think, when the truth becomes known, this
report will trace its parentage to a single member of the committee.
I have thus noticed such portions of the report as refer to myself, and shown conclusively that the
committee, in every mention they have made of me, have been, to say the least, mistaken.
First: The committee, for the evident purpose of maintaining their position that these Indians had not been
engaged in war, say the prisoners they held were purchased. The testimony is to the effect that they
Second: The committee say that these Indians were and always had been friendly, and had committed no
acts of hostility or depredations. The public documents to which I refer show conclusively that they had
been hostile, and had committed many acts of hostility and depredations.
Third: They say that I joined in sending these Indians to Fort Lyon. The published report of the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and of the Indian council, show that I left them entirely in the hands of the
Fourth: They say nothing seems to have been done by the authorities to prevent hostilities. The public
documents and files of the Indian Bureau, and of my superintendency, show constant and unremitting
diligence and effort on my part to prevent hostilities and protect the people.
Fifth: The say that I prevaricated for the purpose of avoiding the admission that these Indians "were and
had been actuated by the most friendly feelings toward the whites." Public documents cited show
conclusively that the admission the desired me to make was false, and that my statement, instead of being
a prevarication, was true, although not in accordance with the preconceived and mistaken opinions of the
This report, so full of mistakes which ordinary investigation would have avoided; so full of slander, which
ordinary care of the character of men would have prevented, is to be regretted, for the reason that it throws
doubt upon the reliability of all reports which have emanated from the same source, during the last four
years of war.
I am confident that the public will see, from the facts herein set forth, the great injustice done me; and I am
further confident that the committee, when they know these and other facts I shall lay before them, will also
see this injustice, and, as far as possible, repair it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Governor of the Territory of Colorado, and
ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
“The Chivington Massacre” – United States Congress, Senate. Reports of the Committees, 39 Cong., 2 sess. Washington
Government Printing Office, 1867. pp. 77-87
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