The Sand Creek Massacre | Rebellion Records
Governor Evans to W.P. Dole - November 10, 1863
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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Series I - Volume XXXIV - Part IV - Excerpts relevant to the Sand Creek Massacre
Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans reports to Commissioner of Indian Affairs William P. Dole,
regarding the rumor of an alliance between Plains Indians tribes intent on waging war on the Plains.
Page 100 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.
[Inclosure No. 2.] EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Denver, November 10, 1863.
Honorable W. P. DOLE,
Commissioner Indian Affairs:
SIR: I have the honor to report the following statement of a Mr. North on the subject of Indian hostilities, made to
me this day, viz:
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 55 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 Arapahoes, 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 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 the loss
of their lives.
I saw the principal chiefs pledge to each other that they would shake hands and be friendly 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 them in the war, saying that they would take a great many white women and children
prisoners, and get a heap of property, blankets, &c. 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 a great many Mexicans with the Comanche
and Apache Indians, all of whom urge on the 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.
This is substantially his statement, which he did not sign, as he cannot write. He requested that his name should
not be known, so as to get news of his giving this information to the Indians, as his life would be the penalty. He
also promised to keep me advised if he learned anything further on the subject. I am fully satisfied with the
truthfulness of his statement, and have deemed it prudent to make every arrangement to prevent was and to
ferret out any step in progress of this foul conspiracy among these poor, degraded wretches.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Governor Colo. Ter. and ex officio Supt. Indian Affairs.
I received letters from Major S. G. Colley, U. S. Indian agent for the Upper Arkansas, and from Major Loree, U. S.
Indian agent for the Upper Platte Agency, as well as other corroboration of these statements, which were also
sent forward with them.
Governor of Colorado Territory.
A rumor of an organized alliance between Plains Indians tribes for the purpose of waging war against white settlers in Colorado,
Nebraska and Kansas began to get legs in the fall of 1863. The troubling news came at the height of the Civil War, when most
Union troops were far from Colorado, and Denver City's defensive lines were drawn precariously thin. The alleged confederation of
Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Sioux tribes was first reported to Colorado Territorial Governor John Evans by
Robert North, a white man who was married to an Arapaho squaw. Although such an alliance of literally thousands of Indians who
roamed from Minnesota and the Dakotas as far south as New Mexico and Arizona was implausible, some Sioux warrior clans had
indeed joined with Cheyenne Dog Soldiers in attacking settlements along the North Platte and Republican rivers. These small war
parties undoubtedly included some warriors of the Arapahos, who were close allies of the Cheyennes, but these three tribal
nations had never before shown any propensity for détente with the Kiowas, Comanches and Apaches. In fact, they had all
engaged in bloody territorial wars for many decades.
Governor Evans, however, could not afford to ignore North's disturbing allegations, for Denver City was now a thriving community
that served the gold trade in the Rockies. Evans had been appointed to the governorship of the Colorado Territory specifically for
his expertise in land and railroad development. If the six Indian nations did overrun the land from Pueblo north to Wyoming, the
resulting death and destruction would leave the burgeoning territory in ruins. This would not only take a savage toll in lives,
property and commerce, but it would also leave the land from the vast Midwestern Plains to the Rocky Mountains vulnerable to
advancing Confederate Army troops. Although no formal alliance of Indian tribes ever materialized, attacks by Sioux, Cheyenne
Dog Soldier and Arapaho warrior clans increased over the next year. By the following fall, the Indians had cut off all supply trails
leading into Denver.
The letter above was one of many attempts by Evans to warn Washington officials of the growing danger. Written one year prior to
the Sand Creek Massacre, Evans would continue his plea for military assistance to little avail. In the fall of 1864, he would finally
persuade Washington to authorize the commission of a regiment of citizen volunteers for 100 days of service, its purpose to protect
Denver City and attack Indian clans along supply routes. The Colorado Third Volunteer Regiment, under the command of Lt.
Colonel George Shoup but led by Colonel John M. Chivington, would soon march 250 miles away from Denver, however, and
attack Black Kettle's Indian village at Sand Creek.
Hoig, Stan The Sand Creek Massacre
Roberts, Gary L. Sand Creek: Tragedy and Symbol
go to Bibliography for citation
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