The Sand Creek Massacre
Reports of Chivington's Officers After the Attack
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The following reports were filed by officers under Colonel John M. Chivington following the Sand Creek Massacre.
First report of Colonel Shoup.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD COLORADO CAVALRY,
In field, 100 miles below Fort Lyon, December 6, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In answer to your communication of this date, asking me to consult with the officers of my regiment, and report their
opinion as to the propriety and willingness of themselves and the enlisted men under my command to continue this expedition
against the Indians to the Smoky Hill and Republican, I have to say -- My "officers and men" will obey orders and go to the Smoky
Hill and Republican, if the colonel commanding, after due deliberation, will so order. However, they are nearly all of the opinion, (the
officers,) that an expedition to the above named streams at present must fail. This opinion is based upon the fact that their horses
are worn out, and in an unserviceable condition; most of the animals would fail on the first forced march.
They are of the further opinion that many of these men will re-enlist to prosecute this campaign if we meet with no reverse and the
men are not worn out and disheartened in a fruitless march just before the expiration of their term of enlistment.
All the above is fully indorsed by me; and while I am more than eager to duplicate the great victory of November 29, I think an
expedition to the Smoky Hill and Republican, considering the worn-out condition of my horses, would prove more of a disaster than
a success, at present; the failure of which would so dishearten my men, that no inducement could be held out that would cause
them to re-enlist. All of which is most respectfully submitted.
GEORGE L. SHOUP,
Colonel 3d Colorado Cavalry.
Captain J. S. MAYNARD,
A. A. A. General, District of Colorado, in the field.
Second report of Colonel Shoup.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF COLORADO,
In the field, December 7, 1864.
DEAR SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken by my regiment, 3d Colorado cavalry, in the engagement with the Indians on
Sand creek, forty (40) miles north of Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, November 29, 1864.
I brought my regiment into action at sunrise. The first order given was to Captain John McCannon, company I, to cut off the Indians
from their ponies on the south side of the village; this order was obeyed with great celerity and success. Captain McCannon
captured about two hundred (200) ponies at the first dash, but being closely pressed by hundreds of Indians, sent the ponies to the
rear, and opened a terrible and withering fire on the Indians, completely checking them, killing many, and causing them to retreat up
Captain O. H. P. Baxter, with his company G, was sent to re-enforce Captain McCannon. The two companies then fought the Indians
up the south side of the creek for about two (2) miles, and at this point many of the Indians took refuge in the banks of the creek,
where they had prepared rifle-pits. Captain McCannon, with his company, remained at that place until late in the afternoon, and was
the last to leave the field of battle. His brave company killed twenty-six (26) Indians in one pit, and must have killed fifty (50) or more
during the engagement. Company G, led by Captain Baxter and Lieutenant Templeton, pursued the demoralized and flying savages
to the south and west, killing upwards of twenty Indians. Lieutenant W. E. Grinnell, with a detachment of 21 men of company K,
fought during part of the engagement on the southwest side of the battle-field. This brave little detachment deserve honorable
mention for their gallant conduct on the field. They lost one-fifth of their number, killed and wounded. At the opening of the
engagement I led about four hundred (400) of my men up the north side of the creek and engaged the main body of the Indians,
who were retreating to the west. I dismounted my men and fought them for some time on foot.
At this point Captain Talbott, of company M, fell severely wounded, while bravely leading his men in a charge on a body of Indians
who had taken refuge on the banks on the north side of the creek. Here a terrible hand-to-hand encounter ensued between the
Indians and Captain Talbott's men and others who had rushed forward to their aid--the Indians trying to secure the scalp of Captain
Talbott. I think the hardest fighting of the day occurred at that point, some of our men fighting with club muskets; the 1st and 3d
Coloradoans fighting side by side, each trying to excel in bravery, and each ambitious to kill at least one Indian. Many valuable lives
of officers and men were saved by the bravery of others just as the fatal knife was raised to perform its work of death. Early in the
engagement, Captain Nickols, with his company D, pursued a band of Indians that were trying to escape to the northeast; he
overtook and punished them severely, killing twenty-five or thirty and captured some ponies.
Other companies of my regiment fought with zeal and bravery, but after 10 o'clock a. m. the battle became so general and covered
so wide a field that it became necessary to divide my command into small detachments, sending them in all directions to pursue
the flying Indians.
I am told by my officers and men that some of their comrades engaged the Indians in close combat. I am satisfied, from my own
observation, that the historian will search in vain for braver deeds than were committed on that field of battle.
My loss is nine (9) men killed, one missing, supposed to be killed, and forty-four (44) wounded.
Captain Presley Talbott and Lieutenant C. H. Hawley are the only officers wounded of my regiment; Captain Talbott in left side, and
Lieutenant Hawley in shoulder.
Enclosed herewith you will find copy of the reports of my battalion commanders to me. All of which is most respectfully submitted.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
GEORGE L. SHOUP,
Colonel 3d Colorado Cavalry.
Colonel J. M. CHIVINGTON, Commanding District of Colorado.
Report of Lieutenant Colonel Bowen.
SANDY CREEK, November 30, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to enclose you the reports of the company commanders of the first battalion, commanded by myself, in the
action of yesterday. I fully indorse all contained in these reports; all behaved well, each vieing with the other as to who could do the
enemy the most injury. This, I think, can truly be said of the whole regiment. I was in position during the action to see most of the
regiment, and did not see one coward. Permit me to congratulate you upon the signal punishment meted out to the savages on
yesterday, "who so ruthlessly have murdered our women and children," in the language of the colonel commanding, although I
regret the loss of so many brave men. The third regiment cannot any longer be called the "bloodless third."
From the most reliable information, from actual count and positions occupied, I have no doubt that at least one hundred and fifty
Indians were killed by my battalion.
I cannot speak in terms of too high praise of all the officers and men under my command.
The war flag of this band of Cheyennes is in my possession, presented by Stephen Decatur, commissary sergeant of company C,
who acted as my battalion adjutant.
LEAVITT L. BOWEN,
Lieut. Col. 3d Colorado Cavalry, Commanding 1st Battalion.
Colonel GEORGE L. SHOUP,
Third Regiment Colorado Cavalry.
Report of Major Sayr.
CAMP ________, December 6, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my battalion in the action of November 29, on Sand creek.
The battalion consisted of company B, Captain H. M. Orahood, First Lieutenant Charles H. Hawley, Second Lieutenant Harry
Richmond, and sixty-four men; company I, Captain John McCannon, First Lieutenant Thomas J. Davis, and fifty-three men; company
G, Captain O. H. P. Baxter, Second Lieutenant A. J. Templeton, and forty men; company K, Lieutenant W. E. Grinnell, and twenty-one
men; making a total of 178 men. Company I was sent at the beginning of the action to the west of the field, where they remained
during the day, much of the time sustaining a heavy fire from the enemy, who were secreted under a high bank, on the south side of
Sand creek. This company did good service in preventing the escape of the Indians to the west. Companies B, G, and K, moved
across the creek and went into the action on the north side of the creek, and west of the Indian town, where they remained for
several hours, doing good service, while under a heavy fire from the enemy, who were concealed in rifle-pits in the bed of the creek.
The action became general, and lasted from 6.30 a. m. until 1 p. m., when the companies divided into small squads and went in
pursuit of the Indians, who were now flying in every direction across the plains, and were pursued until dark.
Both officers and men conducted themselves bravely. The number of Indians killed by the battalion, as estimated by company
commanders, is about 175 to 200. Company B, Lieutenant Hawley, wounded in shoulder; private Marrion wounded in thigh;
company I, three killed and three wounded; company G, none killed or wounded; company K, two killed and two wounded; making a
total of five killed and seven wounded.
Hoping the above will meet your approval, I am, colonel, very respectfully, &c.,
Major Commanding, 2d Battalion, 3d Colorado Cavalry.
Colonel GEORGE L. SHOUP,
Commanding Third Colorado Cavalry.
Report of Captain Cree.
CAMP SKEDADDLE, December 6, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report to you the part taken by the third battalion in the fight of the 29th of November. They first formed on the
left of the regiment, in the rear of the village, then removed upon the right bank of the creek, near one-half mile; there dismounted
and fought the red-skins about an hour, where the boys behaved like veterans.
After finding that we had done all the good that we could do there, removed companies D and E, (company F having gone with
Colonel Bowen's battalion,) and moved to the right, across the hill, for the purpose of killing Indians that were making their escape
to the right of the command, in which movement we succeeded in killing many. I then made a detail from company D, of fifteen (15)
men, and sent them to capture some twenty (20) ponies, which I could see some four (4) miles to the right of the village; but before
they reached the ponies some twenty Indians attacked them, when a fierce fight ensued, in which private McFarland was killed in a
hand-to-hand engagement; but, like true soldiers, they stood their ground, killing five (5) Indians, and wounding several others.
The Indians finding it rather warm to be healthy, left. The boys pursued them some eight or ten miles, and finding that they could not
overtake them, returned, bringing with them the ponies they were sent for. I then returned with the command to the village to take
care of their killed and wounded companions.
Company E lost one killed and one wounded; company D, two killed and one wounded.
As for the bravery displayed by any one in particular, I have no distinctions to make. All I can say for officers and men is, that they all
behaved well, and won for themselves a name that will be remembered for ages to come.
The number of Indians killed by my battalion is sixty (60.)
I am, colonel, yours truly,
T. G. CREE,
Captain Commanding 3d Battalion, 3d Colorado Cavalry.
Colonel GEORGE L. SHOUP.
Report of Major Anthony.
HEADQUARTERS, IN THE FIELD,
Battalion First Colorado Cavalry, December 1, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I left Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, with detachments from companies D, G, and H, 1st Colorado
cavalry, numbering one hundred and twenty-five men, and two howitzers, and joined Colonel Chivington's brigade one mile below
Fort Lyon, at 8 o'clock p. m., November 28, and proceeded with his command, on Indian expedition, in a northeasterly direction,
striking Sand creek at daylight of the 29th November, forty miles from Fort Lyon, when we came upon a herd of Indian horses, and I
was sent forward with my battalion to capture stock. After proceeding about one mile we came in sight of an Indian camp, some two
miles further. I immediately sent word to the colonel commanding that an Indian camp was in sight, and proceeded with my
command in the direction of the camp, which I reached just before sunrise. I found Lieutenant Wilson, with a detachment of 1st
Colorado cavalry, upon the right and south of the camp, and Lieutenant Dunn, with a detachment of the 1st Colorado cavalry, posted
upon the west bank of Sand creek, and opposite the camp, both commands keeping up a brisk fire upon the camp. Upon my
nearing the camp upon the west side I was attacked by a small force of Indians posted behind the bank of the creek, who
commenced firing upon me with arrows, and who had collected on the opposite side of camp. Colonel Chivington coming up at this
time with Colonel Shoup's regiment, 3d Colorado cavalry, and two howitzers, charged through the camp, driving the Indians
completely out of their camp and into the creek, in holes or rifle-pits dug in the sand. The fighting now became general. The Indians
fought desperately, apparently resolved to die upon that ground, but to injure us as much as possible before being killed. We fought
them for about six hours, along the creek for five miles.
The loss to my command was one killed and three wounded. The loss to the entire command, ten killed and forty wounded.
Lieutenant Baldwin, commanding the section of howitzers, attached to my battalion, had a fine private horse shot from under him.
Seven horses were killed from my command. The loss to the Indians was, about three hundred killed, some six hundred ponies,
and one hundred and thirty lodges, with a large quantity of buffalo robes, and their entire camp equipage.
The camp proved to be Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, and numbered about 1,100 persons, under the leadership of Black Kettle,
head chief of the Cheyenne tribe. Black Kettle and three other chiefs were killed.
All the command fought well, and observed all orders given them *. We camped upon the ground occupied by the Indians the day
before, destroyed the entire camp of the Indians, and then pushed rapidly in a southeasterly direction, in pursuit of Little Raven's
camp of Arapahoes, reported to be on the Arkansas river.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
SCOTT J. ANTHONY,
Major First Colorado Cavalry, Commanding Battalion.
A. A. A. General Colonel CHIVINGTON'S
Brigade, Indian Expedition.
* In later personal letters, First Regiment officers Captain Silas Soule and Lt. Joseph Cramer both admitted to Major Wynkoop that
they refused orders to fire on the Indian camp. Cramer further alluded to similar actions of fellow First Regiment officer Lt. Chauncy
M. Cossitt. Major Anthony reports here that all members of the command "observed all orders given them," raising the question of
why he did not report Soule, Cramer, and Cossitt's insubordination. Further questioning about this serious breach of command is
also conspicuously absent from the official military inquiry held several months later. In fact, the three officers were never
questioned, nor were they ever charged with an offense that clearly called for a court martial hearing. Some historians speculate
that the army intentionally tried to keep these facts out of the official record, for had they become public it would ignite further
speculation and criticism of the military breakdown of command at Sand Creek.
SEE SOULE'S LETTER TO WYNKOOP
SEE CRAMER'S LETTER TO WYNKOOP
Report of Lieutenant Kennedy.
HEADQUARTERS CO. C, FIRST COLORADO CAVALRY,
Camp, South Bend of Big Sandy, November 30, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to make the following report of company C, 1st cavalry of Colorado, on the expedition against the
Cheyenne Indians, in pursuance of special orders from headquarters, district of Colorado, No. 132, of November 13, 1864.
I left camp Wheeler, Colorado Territory, on the 20th of November, 1864, with forty-two men of company C, 1st cavalry of Colorado, en
route for Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, a distance of two hundred and forty miles, at which place I arrived on the 28th of November,
1864. I left Fort Lyon at eight (8) o'clock p. m the same day, with thirty-five (35) men of C company, under command of First
Lieutenant Luther Wilson, commanding battalion 1st cavalry of Colorado, made a march of forty miles to South Bend of Big Sandy,
Colorado Territory, at which place I arrived a little after daybreak on the morning of the 29th, where we came upon a large village of
hostile Cheyenne Indians, numbering from nine hundred to one thousand, which we immediately attacked; after which a general
engagement ensued, which lasted until 3 o'clock p. m., in which the Indians were defeated and nearly annihilated; after which we
returned to the Indian village, which we helped to destroy, and then went into camp.
I had one private, Oliver Pierson, mortally wounded, (who has since died;) two privates, August Mettze and John B. Calhoun,
severely wounded; Sergeant M. H. Linnell, saddler Elias South, and privates C. J. Ballon and William Boyls, slightly wounded. And I
would most respectfully acknowledge to the colonel commanding the services rendered by my platoon commanders, sergeant
John C. Turner and M. H. Linnell, and recommend them for their bravery during the entire engagement.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. J. KENNEDY,
Second Lieut. 1st Colorado Cavalry, Commanding Co. C.
Colonel J. M. CHIVINGTON,
Commanding Indian Expedition.
Report of Lieutenant Dunn.
HEADQUARTERS CO. E, FIRST COLORADO CAVALRY,
Camp South Bend of Big Sandy, C. T., November 30, 1864.
COLONEL: I have the honor to make the following report of company E, 1st cavalry of Colorado, on an expedition against Indians.
On the 25th instant I left Camp Fillmore with my company, pursuant to Special Order No. 3, headquarters, District of Colorado, dated
in the field November 23, 1864. I joined the column then in the field the same evening at Spring Bottom, thirty miles distant. I
continued the march the next day under command of Lieutenant Wilson, commanding battalion of the 1st cavalry of Colorado. We
reached Fort Lyon, seventy miles further down the Arkansas, on the 28th instant, about noon. About 7 o'clock the same evening I
started from that place with eighteen men of my company, taking three days' cooked rations on our horses, and travelled in a
northeasterly course. At daylight we came in sight of a large village of hostile Indians, Cheyennes and Arapahoes, numbering nine
hundred or one thousand, nearly two miles north of us. We immediately proceeded to the attack by moving down a small ravine and
making a charge on the village from the north side, taking the Indians completely by surprise. They rallied immediately and the
engagement became general, and lasted till afternoon, when they were utterly routed and half their number left dead on the field.
We continued the pursuit till 3 o'clock p. m., when our horses being much fatigued, and our ammunition nearly exhausted, we
returned to the village, which we helped to destroy, and then went into camp for the night.
I lost no men killed, and but two wounded. Sergeant Jackson had his hip broken, and private Mull was shot through the leg.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Second Lieut. 1st Colorado Cavalry, Commanding Co. E.
First Colorado Cavalry.
United States, Congress, House of Representatives. "Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians," Report on the Conduct of the War, 38
Cong., 2 sess., Washington, Government Printing Office, 1865 (pp. 50-55)
See lists of Union casualties reported by Burlington, IA Hawkeye, and the Denver Daily News published after the attack.
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