The Sand Creek Massacre
Reports and Dispatches - October/November 1864
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We'll never forget
FORT LEAVENWORTH, October 7, 1864.
Major General HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
General Blunt came upon a party of Arapahoes and other hostile Indians, supposed to be four thousand, with fifteen hundred
warriors, on the twenty-fifth ultimo. This was about one hundred miles west of Larned, in Pawnee fork. The Indians overpowered
the advance, but the main force coming up routed and pursued them. Ninety-one dead Indians were left, and we lost two killed and
seven wounded. General Blunt's force was less than five hundred. He pursued for several days.
S. R. CURTIS, Major General.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, D. C., October 16, 1864.
Brigadier General CONNOR, Salt Lake City:
Give all the protection in your power to the overland route between you and Fort Kearney, without regard to department lines.
General Curtis's forces have been diverted by rebel raids from Arkansas.
H. W. HALLECK,
Major General, Chief of Staff.
“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” pp. 69-70
SPECIAL ORDERS, HDQRS. DIST. OF THE UPPER ARKANSAS,
No. 13. } Fort Riley, Kans., November 4, 1864.
I. Major E. W. Wynkoop, First Cavalry of Colorado, is hereby relieved from the command of Fort Lyon, Colo. Terr., and is ordered to
report without delay to headquarters District of the Upper Arkansas, for orders.
II. Major Scott J. Anthony, First Cavalry of Colorado, will proceed to Fort Lyon, Colo. Terr., and assume command of that post, and
report in regard to matters as stated in Special Orders, No. 4, paragraph VII, from these headquarters, dated Fort Riley, October 17,
By order of Major Henning:
Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
“War of the Rebellion” Series I, Vol. XLI, Part IV, p. 443
HEADQUARTERS, Fort Lyon, C. T., November 6, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this post and assumed command November 2, in obedience to Special Orders No. 4,
headquarters of district, October 17, 1864. Major E. W. Wynkoop, 1st cavalry of Colorado, was in command of the post. One
hundred and thirteen lodges of Arapahoe Indians, under their chiefs Little Raven, Left Hand, Nervah, Storms, and Knock Knee, and
numbering, in men, women and children, 652 persons, were encamped in a body about two miles from the post, and were daily
visiting the post, and receiving supplies from the commissary department, the supplies being issued by Lieutenant C. H. Copett,
assistant commissary of supplies, under orders from Major E. W. Wynkoop, commanding post.
I immediately gave instructions to arrest all Indians coming within the post, until I could learn something more about them. Went
down and met their head chiefs, half way between the post and their camp, and demanded of them by what authority and for what
purpose they were encamped here. They replied that they had always been on peaceable terms with the whites, had never desired
any other than peace, and could not be induced to fight. That other tribes were at war, and, therefore, they had come into the vicinity
of a post, in order to show that they desired peace, and to be where the travelling public would not be frightened by them, or the
Indians be harmed by travellers or soldiers on the road.
I informed them that I could not permit any body of armed men to camp in the vicinity of the post, nor Indians visit the post, except as
prisoners of war. They replied that they had but very few arms and but few horses, but were here to accept any terms that I
proposed. I then told them that I should demand their arms and all the stock they had in their possession which had ever belonged
to white men; they at once accepted these terms. I then proceeded with a company of cavalry to the vicinity of their camp, leaving my
men secreted, and crossed to their camp, received their arms from them, and sent out men to look through their herd for United
States or citizens' stock, and to take all stock except Indian ponies; found ten mules and four horses, which have been turned over
to the acting assistant quartermaster. Their arms are in very poor condition, and but few, with little ammunition. Their horses far
below the average grade of Indian horses. In fact, these that are here could make but a feeble fight if they desired war. I have
permitted them to remain encamped near the post, unarmed, as prisoners, until your wishes can be heard in the matter; in the
interval, if I can learn that any of their warriors have been engaged in any depredations that have been committed, shall arrest them,
and place all such in close confinement.
I am of opinion that the warriors of the Arapahoes, who have been engaged in war, are all now on the Smoky Hill, or with the Sioux
Indians, and have all the serviceable arms and horses belonging to the tribe, while these here are too poor to fight, even though
they desired war.
Nine Cheyenne Indians to-day sent in, wishing to see me. They state that 600 of that tribe are now 35 miles north of here, coming
towards the post, and 2,000 about 75 miles away, waiting for better weather to enable them to come in. I shall not permit them to
come in, even as prisoners, for the reason that if I do, I shall have to subsist them upon a prisoner's rations. I shall, however,
demand their arms, all stolen stock, and the perpetrators of all depredations. I am of the opinion that they will not accept this
proposition, but that they will return to the Smoky Hill. They pretend that they want peace, and I think they do now, as they cannot
fight during the winter, except where a small band of them can find an unprotected train or frontier settlement. I do not think it is
policy to make peace with them now, until all perpetrators of depredations are surrendered up to be dealt with as we may propose.
The force effective for the field at the post is only about 100, and one company, (K, New Mexico volunteers,) sent here by order of
General Carlton, commanding department of New Mexico, were sent with orders to remain sixty days, and then report back to Fort
Union. Their sixty days will expire on the 10th of November (instant.) Shall I keep them here for a longer period, or permit them to
The Kiowas and Comanches, who have all the stock stolen upon the Arkansas route, are reported south of the Arkansas river and
towards the Red river. The Cheyennes are between here and the Smoky Hill; part of the Arapahoes are near this post; the
remainder north of the Platte. With the bands divided in this way, one thousand cavalry could now overtake them and punish some
of them severely, I think, but with the force here it can only be made available to protect the fort. I shall not permit the Cheyennes to
camp here, but will permit the Arapahoes now here to remain in their present camp as prisoners until your action is had in the
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SCOTT J. ANTHONY,
Major 1st Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding Post.
A. A. A. G. District of Upper Arkansas, Fort Riley, Kansas.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF UPPER ARKANSAS,
Fort Riley, November 22, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the general commanding, respectfully asking for instruction in regard to the Arapahoe
Indians kept and fed as prisoners at Fort Lyon. Major Anthony has been instructed to carry out general field order No. 2, July 31,
1864, fully, until further instructions from department headquarters. I would also state that I have learned, unofficially, that on
Saturday, the 12th instant, two white men were killed and five wagons destroyed near Fort Larned by a party of Indians numbering
about thirty. Have written to commanding officer at Fort Larned in reference to it, and instructed him to report all cases of Indian
depredations that may come to his knowledge.
B. I. HENNING,
Major 3d Wisconsin Cavalry, Commanding District.
“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” pp. 70-71
FORT LYON, COLORADO,
November 25, 1864
DEAR SIR: Having learned with regret that you have been relieved and ordered to Fort Leavenworth to report your official
proceedings in regard to Indians while in command of this post, I cannot let the opportunity pass without bearing testimony to the
fact that the course adopted and carried out by you was the only proper one to pursue, and has been the means of saving the lives
of hundreds of men, women, and children, as well as thousands of dollars' worth of property.
No one can doubt that the lively aid rendered by you (at the risk of your own life as well as the lives of your small command) to the
captives among the Arapahoes and Cheyenne Indians, was also the means of saving their lives. For this act alone (even if you had
not done more) you should receive the warmest thanks of all men, whether in military or civil life.
Your visit to Denver with some of the principal chiefs of the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes was productive of more good to the
Indians, and did more to allay the fears of the inhabitants in the Arkansas valley, than all that has been done by all other persons in
this portion of the department.
Since that time no depredations have been committed by these tribes, and the people have returned to their houses and farms,
and are now living as quietly and peaceably as if the bloody scenes of the past summer had never been enacted.
Hoping that in all things your course will be approved by the commander of this department, and that you will soon be restored to
your command in this district, I remain your obedient servant,
JOSEPH A. CRAMER,
Second Lieut. First Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding Co. K.
Major E. W. WYNKOOP.
FORT LYON, COLORADO TERRITORY,
November 25, 1864.
We the undersigned, being conversant with all the facts set forth in the foregoing letter, heartily concur in the same.
R. A. HILL,
Captain First New Mexico Vols.
JAMES D. CANNON,
First Lieut. First New Mexico Vols.
WILLIAM P. MINTON,
Second Lieut. First New Mexico Vols.
C. M. COGSIL,
First Lieut. First Cav. of Colorado.
S. G. COLBEY, [sic]
United States Indian Agent.
HORACE W. BALDWIN,
Lieut. Ind. Battery C. V. A.
SILAS S. SOULE,
Captain First Cavalry of Colorado.
G. H. HARDIN,
First Lieut. First Cav. of Colorado.
The above letter was indorsed as follows:
HEADQUARTERS FORT LYON, C. T.
November 26, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to headquarters district, with the remarks: That it is the general opinion here by officers, soldiers, and
citizens, that had it not been for the course pursued by Major Wynkoop towards the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, the travel
upon the public road must have entirely stopped and the settlers upon the ranches all through the country must have abandoned
them or been murdered, as no force of troops sufficient to protect the road and settlements could be got together in this locality.
I think Major Wynkoop acted for the best in the matter.
SCOTT J. ANTHONY,
Major First Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding Post.
FORT LYON, COLORADO TERRITORY,
November 25, 1864.
Lieutenant Joseph A. Cramer and other officers of Fort Lyon, state that having learned that Major E. W. Wynkoop has been relieved
from command of Fort Lyon and ordered to Fort Leavenworth to report his official proceedings in regard to Indian affairs while in
command of that fort, bear testimony that the plan adopted and carried out by him was the only proper one, and that he has been
the means of saving the lives of hundreds of men, women, and children, and thousands of dollars worth of property, and hope his
proceedings will be approved by the department commander.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT UPPER ARKANSAS,
Fort Riley, December 6, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded to department headquarters.
R. S. HENNING,
Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Commanding District.
Major E. W. WYNKOOP, First Colorado Regiment Volunteers:
We, the undersigned, citizens of the Arkansas Valley, of Colorado Territory, in view of your recent action in taking certain chiefs of the
Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes of Indians to Denver to have a consultation with the governor of this Territory, and your efforts
thereby to effect a treaty of peace and restore pacific relations between us and those tribes who have threatened our peace and
safety as settlers of this country, desire to express to you our hearty sympathy in your laudable efforts to prevent further danger and
bloodshed, and sincerely congratulate you in your noble efforts to do what we consider right, politic, and just, whether those efforts
on your part prove successful or not, sincerely hoping they may prove successful, and peace instead of war reign throughout our
In consideration of the danger and risks you have incurred in achieving the rescue of prisoners from those tribes, the hazard to your
own life and the lives of the men under your command, we desire to further express our appreciation of your bravery, as well as your
sense of right, and earnestly express the hope that the merit which is justly your due may not go unrewarded in official preferment
as well as the gratitude of private citizens.
A. J. Boone. Allen A. Bradford.
Robt. B. Willis. P. K. Dobson.
W. Craig. James Chatam.
J. B. Rice. M. Dobson.
Z. Gattlen. J. M. Francisco.
Charles Autubees. W. J. Thompson.
N. W. Wellon. Benj. B. Field.
Davy Hayden. Geo. F. Norris.
Wm. Reeker. M. G. Bradford.
A. Sims. E. R. Cozzens.
George F. Hall. J. A. Betts.
J. T. Robinson. Jno. A. Thatcher.
S. S. Smith. J. T. Smith.
A. S. Alexander.
“Sand Creek Massacre” pp. 93-95
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF COLORADO,
In the field, on Big Bend of Sandy Creek, Col. Ter., Nov. 29, 1864.
SIR: I have not the time to give you a detailed history of our engagement of to-day, or to mention those officers and men who
distinguished themselves in one of the most bloody Indian battles ever fought on these plains. You will find enclosed the report of
my surgeon in charge, which will bring to many anxious friends the sad fate of loved ones who are and have been risking everything
to avenge the horrid deeds of those savages we have so severely handled. We made a forced march of forty miles, and surprised,
at break of day, one of the most powerful villages of the Cheyenne nation, and captured over five hundred animals; killing the
celebrated chiefs One Eye, White Antelope, Knock Knee, Black Kettle, and Little Robe, with about five hundred of their people,
destroying all their lodges and equipage, making almost an annihilation of the entire tribe.
I shall leave here, as soon as I can see our wounded safely on the way to the hospital at Fort Lyon, for the villages of the Sioux,
which are reported about eighty miles from here, on the Smoky Hill, and three thousand strong; so look out for more fighting. I will
state, for the consideration of gentlemen who are opposed to fighting these red scoundrels, that I was shown, by my chief surgeon,
the scalp of a white man taken from the lodge of one of the chiefs, which could not have been more than two or three days taken;
and I could mention many more things to show how these Indians, who have been drawing government rations at Fort Lyon, are
and have been acting.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. CHIVINGTON,
Col. Comd'g Colorado Expedition against Indians on Plains.
CHAS. WHEELER, A. A. A. G.,
Headquarters District of Colorado, Denver.
“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” p. 48
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“War of the Rebellion” - United States War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the
Union and Confederate Armies. Four series, 128 volumes. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1880-1901
"Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians" - United States Congress, House of Representatives Joint Committee Report on the
Conduct of the War, 38 Cong., 2 sess., Washington, Government Printing Office, 1865.
Go to Sand Creek Documents for links to sites containing the complete Rebellion Records
Go to Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians for complete Joint Committee report
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