The Sand Creek Massacre | Rebellion Records
Captain David Nichols to Chivington Regarding Killing of Big Wolf
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"Rebellion Records"
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,
Series I, Vol. XLI, Part III  -  Excerpts relevant to the Sand Creek Massacre

In October 1864, after receiving criticism for its lack of effectiveness in hunting down Indian warrior parties, the
100-days commissioned Colorado Third Volunteer Regiment finally engaged the enemy near Valley Station,
Colorado.  Captain David Nichols and his company of 40 soldiers attacked a small Cheyenne camp, killing the Dog
Soldier Chief Big Wolf, five Dog Soldiers, three squaws, a teen-aged boy, and two infants.  For months, Denver's
citizenry had jokingly referred to Governor John Evans' volunteer militia as the "Bloodless Third," a moniker that
now became the "Bloody Thirdsters."


VALLEY STATION, October 11, 1864.


DEAR SIR: Thinking that perhaps a more minute description of yesterday's transactions would be interesting to you
(if not necessary as a report), I will endeavor to give you a full account of the transaction and its results. In the first
place we heard Sunday night of an Indian being seen dressed in full war dress and painted (was seen five miles
above this at the Wisconsin Ranch, about sundown, too late to follow him that night in the bluffs); but learning from
Sam. Ashcraft that there was a spring situated about twelve miles south of this, in the bluffs, and it being his
opinion that the Indians were camped at those springs, I concluded to have a little surprise party on yesterday
morning, and accordingly left camp at 2 a. m., accompanied by Second Lieutenant Dickson and forty of my men,
and two citizens as guides. We arrived at the springs about an hour by sun and found two lodges of the red devils
containing six warriors, three squaws, and one lad about fifteen, I should judge (I know he shot an arrow well), and
two smaller children were said to be in the outfit, but I did not see any except the ten first named. We fired into
them after getting between them and their ponies, and they returned our fire with a hearty good will, and having the
advantage in the ground in the start, even dared us to the conflict; and when Big Wolf (for I have learned this was
the name of the


chief) gave us the dare we went for them in earnest, and in a very short time they raised the white flag, but too late.
They went under, one and all, and as trophies we brought ten ponies, one mule, and various other Indian fixings,
and recovered several thinks which were taken from the whites, some of which i will mention, and the first that I will
mention was the scalp of some white lady and her shoes, covered with blood, and some articles of underclothing.
We also found bills of lading, or perhaps more properly, freight bills, from parties in Saint Joseph to Denver
merchants, and signed by one Peter Dolan, who no doubt went under. We also found Big Wolf's certificates of
good character, friendship for whites, &c., but the lady's scalp and clothing fail to corroborate the statements of the
back-handed gents who gave the certificates. I reported eleven ponies, but was mistaken one in my count, which
you will confer a favor by correcting.* We are fully satisfied that there are more in this vicinity by scouting. We lack
arms. Accept our thanks for the ammunition which you sent us, and for your kindness in supplying us soon. But,
colonel, the coach has come and I must close. There are some of the minutiae of this affair that I will give
personally in future.

Yours, respectfully,


ibid Part I:


Denver, October 10, 1864.

Captain Nichols, Third Colorado Volunteer Cavalry, surprised and killed 10 Indians Cheyennes; captured 11
ponies and 1 mule this morning near Valley Station. We will clean them out of country between Platte and Arkansas


Colonel, Commanding District.

Major General S. R. CURTIS,

Department of Kansas, Fort Leavenworth.



Nichols reported ten killed in the Indian village, among them Big Wolf, who was guilty of conducting murderous raids along the Platte
Trail.  Nichols, however, makes a vague reference to two "small children," whom he claims were reported but he did not see.  In his
memoirs of the Valley Station incident, Private Morse Coffin wrote vividly about another soldier shooting one of the infants while still in
its mother's dead arms.  Coffin said that he was sickened by the killing, cursing the soldier, but he feared retribution if he had tried to
stop it.  The incident demonstrated the harsh emotions of the times, for the indiscriminate killing of white women and children by
Indian warriors fed the blood lust of many vengeful Colorado citizens.  This served as an ominous precursor to the tragedy that
followed at Sand Creek.


Hoig, Stan
The Sand Creek Massacre

Coffin, Morse H.  The Battle of Sand Creek

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