The Sand Creek Massacre
Reports and Dispatches - May 1864
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MAY 1864

May 19, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that on the 16th instant, when within 3 miles of the Smoky Hill, I was attacked by the Cheyenne
Indians, about 400 strong, and after a persistent fight of seven and one-half hours succeeded in driving them from the field. They
lost 3 chiefs and 25 warriors killed; the wounded I am unable to estimate. My own loss is 4 men killed and 3 wounded. My animals
are exhausted. I will remain at this post until further orders.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant, Commanding Detachment.
Commanding District of Colorado.

“War of the Rebellion” Series I, Vol. XXXIV, Part I, p.935


Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter., May 21, 1864.
Lieutenant J. S. MAYNARD,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Mil. dist. of Colo., Denver, Colo.:

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of letter from district headquarters, of date May 16, and would state, for
the information of the colonel commanding, that I have just received a dispatch from Lieutenant Wilson, commanding Camp
Wynkoop, a picket camp 60 miles east of this post, to the effect that the Cheyennes are about establishing a large camp in his
vicinity, and have sent him instructions in accordance with those laid down in above-mentioned letter, with the exception that, after
gaining all the information in his power in regard to the Indians, he will report the result of his investigation to myself, when, if they
are a portion of the party of Cheyennes before named, who have committed the depredations, I will use the proper means to
punish them. The announcement I have received of the fact of potatoes being en route for this post comes as welcome news, they
being very much required. In regard to the repairing of quarters I am happy to state that I have succeeded so far in making repairs
of material benefit without any expense to Government.
I am, lieutenant, your obedient servant,
Major First Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding Post

“War of the Rebellion” (XLVI, Part III, pp. 711-712)


FORT LYON, COLO, TER., May 27, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to state for the information of the colonel commanding that Lieutenant Eayre, with a detachment of his
command, have reported at this post; the balance of his command are now at Fort Larned. He has had a fight with the Cheyenne
Indians at a point on the Smoky Hill Fork, between this post and Fort Larned, known as big Bushes. His loss is 4 killed and 3
wounded; the loss of the Indians amounts to 25 to 30 killed and a number wounded. Among the Cheyennes killed is their principal
chief, Black Kettle, and two other chiefs, viz Good-Eye and Tut-Tut. The Cheyennes retreated in a direction toward the north.
Lieutenant Eayre supposes the number of Indians to be from 400 to 500 that he engaged, all warriors, they making the first attack.
Lieutenant Eayre has lost a number of horses killed wounded and stampeded in the fight. From all I can learn the men and officers
behaved well and acted in such a manner as to reflect credit upon themselves as Colorado soldiers, the odds being great in
regard to numbers against them, and the nature of the ground such that it was greatly to our disadvantage in using the howitzers,
notwithstanding which a complete victory was achieved.

I have information to the effect that the Kiowa Indians below here on the Arkansas are showing evidences of discontent, and have
lately committed some depredations upon trains in the neighborhood of Fort Larned. I have troops disposed in such a manner that
I can receive immediate intelligence of any depredations committed by any Indians on this route. The middle and left sections of
First Colorado Battery, Lieutenant Burdsal commanding, reported at this post to-day.

I am, with respect, your obedient servant.
Major, First Cavalry of Colorado, Comdg. Fort Lyon.
Lieutenant J. S. MAYNARD,
A. A. A. G., Military District of Colorado.

“War of the Rebellion” (XLVI, Part I, pp. 934-935)



Denver, May 28, 1864.
Major-General CURTIS,
Commanding Department of Kansas:

DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 9th instant was received a few days ago. I have delayed an answer for a few days to gather more
information in regard to the dangers to which our settlements are subjected from hostile Indians, and to see if we could not spare
our troops for the active war against the rebellion, in which we are all so deeply interested. My disposition to spare all the troops
not positively necessary for our defense may be established by correspondence had with yourself when in command of the
Department of the Missouri.

I then proposed to spare you all except six companies, two of which were then in the Department of New Mexico, to be returned to
Colorado. This proposition it was not thought prudent to accept, as you said it would not be prudent to weaken the frontier lines; but
as we were then at peace with all of the tribes in this Territory and on the plains, I thought it possible to spare all the troops
excepting the six companies.

Now we have but half the troops we then had, and are at war with a powerful combination of Indian tribes, who are pledged to
sustain each other and drive the white people from this country. I was made aware of this combination last fall through reliable
sources of information, which were at once sent to the Colorado District headquarters, and thence to department headquarters at
Saint Louis, and to the Indian Bureau at Washington. They were, through the Secretary of the Interior, laid before the War
Department. I also went to Washington last fall to make preparations for the probable conflict. I inclose copies of the more
important papers referred to for your information, to which I made reference in a former letter. The Secretary of War asked me what
I thought to be necessary, to which I replied that our troops, First Cavalry, ought to have carbines (as they were only armed with
pistols and sabers), and that I desired the posts on the plains in Kansas and Nebraska to be strengthened as much as he could
do by springtime. He promptly told me we should have the carbines, and they were accordingly to be sent out at once. They have
arrived since the hostilities commenced this spring, having been detained on the way all winter by bad weather or other cause of

Having no militia organization that is serviceable for other than neighborhood defenses, and they only in the more densely
[populated] settlements, mostly in the mountains and on settlements that are exposed on the plains, being scattered along the
streams, in single tiers of houses, from 2 to 4 miles apart for hundreds of miles along the South Platte and Arkansas Rivers and
their tributaries, it is perfectly out of the question for them to be collected on the headwaters of the Republican and Smoky Hill
Forks of the Kansas River. The depredations have commenced precisely as foretold in my communications to the Departments
last fall. From information I have just received from old Indian traders and from Indians within a few days I feel assured that the
Sioux Indians that reside in this Territory and the band of Arapahoes referred to have declined to join in the war as they were
expected to do; but I have from the same sources of information, which I regard as reliable, learned that all of the Cheyennes, a
most warlike and powerful tribe, with the Kiowas and Comanches, are allied and now carrying out their hellish purposes according
to their agreement.

That they are in strong force on the plains I have no doubt, and if the U. S. troops are withdrawn I feel confident that they will wipe
out our sparse settlements in spite of any home force we could muster against them. The troops have had several skirmishes with
them, and at Cedar Cañon Major Downing gave a party of them a severe chastisement; but what has been done, the traders who
know them well say, has only whetted their appetite for revenge, and has by no means subdued them. Unless a force can be sent
out to chastise this combination severely and at once the delay will cost us a long and bloody war and the loss of a great many
lives, with untold amounts of property. Our lines of communication, our main dependence for subsistence out here, will be
plundered and the trains will be driven off the route in consequence of these dangers. The consequence to a people remote as we
are from any supplies you can imagine for yourself, and I trust understand.

In the name of humanity, I ask that our troops now on the border of Kansas may not be taken away from us, just as they have been
specially prepared to defend us by the Government and at the time of our greatest need of their services since the settlement of the
country. I ask, as the best protection to our settlements and the best economy to the Government, that at least half of the regiment
go up from their present place of rendezvous on the Arkansas River, which is not very far from the Indian's haunts on the Smoky Hill
and Republican, and chastise them severely until they give up hostilities, and I make these requests, feeling as deep an interest in
the suppression of the infernal rebellion against the Government as any other man, and also feeling as ready to send out for that
purpose every available man at this most trying time in the history of our country. I do it, too, entirely independent of any political or
personal considerations. If the permission for the expedition asked for is granted please telegraph me, and I will do my best to co-
operate along the line of the settlements and the stage route by distributing arms to the ranchmen for their own defense under our
militia regulations.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Governor of Colorado

[Inclosure No. 1.]
Denver, November 9, 1863.
Commanding District of Colorado:
SIR: I have the honor to inclose copies of two communications received at this office in reference to difficulties with the Indians;
also a copy of a report from Major Loree, U. S. Indian agent, near Fort Laramie; also a letter from John Smith, U. S. Indian
interpreter for the Upper Arkansas Agency, addressed to Major Colley, agent; also his letter transmitting the same. As these
reports are from reliable parties, I deem it prudent to give copies of them for your information. Some of the bands referred to have
been greatly dissatisfied, and a failure to secure a council with a portion of them, which was directed at Washington, makes more
probable these reports. As the combination would be formed for mischief it is hoped that our defenses may be adequate to the
emergency. A knowledge of the removal of a portion of our troops which marched to Kansas City last week will enhance the
danger. I hope our forces may not be weakened further at present. I have sent for the man North referred to, and also the chiefs of
the Arapahoes, and will advise you of the result of my conference with them, if one is obtained.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Governor Colo. Ter. and ex officio Supt. Indian Affairs.

[Inclosure No. 2.]
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 whiter man, and which 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 war and to ferret out any step in progress of this foul conspiracy among these poor, degraded
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.

Denver, May 28, 1864.
Major C. S. CHARLOT,
Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of Kans., Fort Leavenworth, Kans.:
MAJOR: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a letter received from Lieutenant George S. Eayre, Independent Battery,
Colorado Volunteer Artillery, of the 1st instant; also a dispatch from Major O'Brien, commanding at Cottonwood. I have some fears
that the latter has reference to Lieutenant George S. Eayre, First Independent Battery, Colorado Volunteer Artillery, with one section
of the battery, two mountain howitzers, and 40 men, Company D, First Cavalry of Colorado, who went out from here on the 24th day
of April, 1864, in pursuit of Indians (Cheyennes) who stole Irwin, Jackman & Co.'s cattle.

I instructed him to report by couriers until he was near to Lyon or Larned which he did up to the 1st day of May, since which time I
have heard nothing from him, but felt no uneasiness until now, for the reason that high water has caused great irregularity of mails,
particularly from the south. I telegraphed to Major O'Brien to give any information he could, also send by courier to Fort Lyon for any
information they had of the whereabouts of Lieutenant Eayre's command. These Indians I fear are going to give our settlements a
bad time this season. Most of the First Cavalry of Colorado are now on the march for the southeast corner of this district, and all but
two companies are under orders for the same destination. One company is left at Fremont's Orchard and one at Fort Garland.
I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding District.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.*]


Commanding District of Colorado:
SIR: After having examined the country adjacent to my former scout and ascertaining that the Indians had not been in the vicinity
since my departure I pursued a southeast course, being persuaded that the Indians had taken that direction when to-day, May 1,
being on one of the branches of the Smoky Hill, I had incontestible evidence of the correctness of my impressions from the fact that
a large trail (some 100 lodges) had preceded me but a few days, having come direct from the Republican. I am convinced that the
Cheyennes have not yet banded together, but are roaming the prairies in detachments. The trail of one I think I am on and will
follow with the greatest possible dispatch. My animals are all in good condition and the command is in perfect state of health.
From your special instructions I consider it imperative to send messenger and only regret that I have nothing definite to
communicate, but trust my next will be of a more interesting character. I design following the trail, let it lead where it will; can
therefore not conjecture where I will be three days hence, but expect ultimately to put in at Fort Larned.
With this very unsatisfactory report, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant, Commanding Detachment.

*Inclosure No. 2. embodied in Maynard to Wynkoop, May 23, p. 14.

Lieutenant J. S. MAYNARD,
A. A. A. G., Dist. of Colorado, Denver City, Colo. Ter.:
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that I have just received from Major Wynkoop an order for this company to march without delay
and report to the commanding officer at Fort Lyon for duty. The major says:
I have received information that Lieutenant Eayre's command have nearly all been killed by the Cheyenne Indians at some place
over on Smoky Hill Fork. I have already used all the means in my power to ascertain the correctness of the report and know not
what moment I may be obliged to start with a large command to his assistance.
For the following reasons I cannot comply as promptly as I could wish with the foregoing order, viz: I have not a single team or
wagon with which to transport the company and its stores, but am advised by Captain Backus that the company teams would leave
Denver on the 25th instant. I will march as soon as transportation arrives unless orders are received to the contrary. Two sections
of the battery left this camp on Wednesday, 25th instant, for Lyon.
Your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, First Cavalry of Colorado.

“War of the Rebellion” (XLVI, Part IV, pp. 97-102)


Denver, Colo., Ter., May 29, 1864.

Major E. W. WYNKOOP,
Fort Lyon, Colo., Ter.:
MAJOR: You had better send a company or two to Wilson's camp, whenever re-enforcements are in reach of you, and instruct the
officer in command not to be surprised; also instruct him to break up whisky selling to Indians, and to do this last if he has to break
the neck of the offender. A train of supplies ordnance, &c., left yesterday for your post.

I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,
Colonel First Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding District.

“War of the Rebellion” (XLVI, Part IV, pp. 115-116)
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