June 3, 1864 – Post office agent at Fort Leavenworth complains to General Curtis of westbound mail train robberies by
June 3, 1864 – Governor Evans sends second request for troops to General Curtis:
securely guarded as that freighters will not be afraid to cross the plains, especially by the Platte River, by which
our subsistence comes.”
(The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,
Series I, Vol. XXXIV, Part IV, p. 206-207.)
June 11, 1864 – The Hungate Massacre
The all too real fear of an Indian uprising in the Colorado Territory explodes on the Issac Van Wormer ranch, just 30 miles
southeast of Denver City. Indian raiders brutally murder Van Wormer’s ranch hand, Nathan Hungate, his wife Ellen, and their
two children Laura (age 2) and Florence (five months). Van Wormer is not present at the time of the attack, and there are no
eyewitnesses to verify who committed the unspeakable crime that left both Nathan and Ellen savagely butchered and scalped,
and their young children nearly decapitated. A posse of ranchers, freighters and soldiers searching for Indian war parties that
are stealing livestock in the area discover the Hungate bodies near their burned-out home.
Contemporary historians have maintained the Hungate murders were committed by four Arapaho warriors, led perhaps by
Notnee or Roman Nose. A recent archaeological study of the Hungate massacre site, however, uncovered new evidence that
provides a more detailed theory of what actually occurred.
Or go directly to Dr. Jeff Broome’s
Indian Massacres in Elbert County, Colorado: New Information on the 1864 Hungate and 1868 Dietemann Murders
June 13, 1864 – Word of the Hungate massacre filters into Denver, as Evans receives dispatch from General Curtis,
advising the Governor to act on his own authority to call out a volunteer militia. Curtis expresses a desire to send the existing
Colorado troops home in support. In reality, the Civil War was in full rage east of the Missouri, and Curtis needed the
Colorado soldiers in Kansas.
June 14, 1864 – Freighters bring the ravaged bodies of the Hungate family to Denver and display them in a crate,
threatening Denverites at gunpoint to look at the corpses and see the results of Governor Evans’ attempts to pacify the
Indians. As the shell-shocked citizens gaze in terror, the freighters spread wild rumors of a massive Dog Soldier attack on
Van Wormer’s ranch, sending Denver and the surrounding area into a panic. Many settlers up and down the South Platte
abandon their farms and ranches and take refuge in town.
June 14, 1864 – Evans wires Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, informing him of the Hungate Massacre and the dire need to
muster a full army regiment, sanctioned and supplied by the government, and supported by existing army officers.
June 15, 1864 – Colonel Chivington, skeptical of the fears of a Dog Soldier uprising so near Denver, orders Captain
Joseph Davidson to conduct a search for the Hungate murderers, cautioning Davidson to disregard the “flying rumors.”
Chivington tells Davidson to search only as long as there is a chance of success in capturing and killing the perpetrators.
Davidson abandons the search shortly thereafter, as witnesses can only provide sketchy information about Indian raiding
parties stealing cattle in the vicinity of the Hungate murder scene.
June 15, 1864 – Major T.I. McKenny, sent to Fort Larned by General Curtis to assess the growing Indian hostilities in
western Kansas, reports:
It should be our policy to try and conciliate them, guard our mails and trains well to prevent theft, and stop these
(military) scouting parties that are roaming over the country who do not know one tribe from the other, and who
will kill anything in the shape of an Indian. It will require but few murders on the part of our troops to unite all
these warlike tribes of the plains who have been at peace for years and intermarried amongst one another.”
(The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,
Series I, Vol. XXXIV, Part IV, pp. 402-404.)
McKenny also issued another unanticipated warning to Curtis, regarding the fitness of Fort Larned’s commander, Captain J.
W. Parmetar. The Captain, McKenny cautioned, was by all accounts a “confirmed drunkard.” Curtis would not act on this
ominous warning until after a later incident involving the hard-drinking Parmetar would further fuel the fires of war with the
June 16, 1864 – Denver City again erupts in panic when rancher William Shortridge frantically rides into town with the news
that a large band of warriors are headed straight for Denver. Shortridge is followed by dozens of settlers from the eastern
plains that abandoned their homes at the news Shortridge carried. Townspeople take refuge in barricaded Denver buildings,
the armory is ransacked, and Denverites hunker down in defense.
The panic turns out to be a false alarm, as the large cloud of dust the Shortridge saw billowing in the distance was simply a
cattle stampede provoked by a band of drunken Mexican cattle drivers.
Mid June 1864 – William Bent ventures to Indian country and locates Black Kettle for a council. They discuss the killing of
Lean Bear by Eayer’s troops, and Black Kettle emphasizes the Southern Cheyennes’ intention to stay out of the war that the
Dog Soldiers and Sioux have declared on the whites. Bent tells Black Kettle he will try to arrange a peace council with the
Union commanders. Believing he can expedite a peace accord with the Colorado soldiers more quickly if he confers with
Chivington instead of Curtis, Bent returns to Fort Lyon, where he finds Chivington has just arrived. Chivington rebukes Bent’s
request for a parley with Black Kettle, stating that he has no authority to make a treaty, as Curtis has ordered Colorado troops
to attack all Indian tribes regardless of district lines or friendly disposition professed by some Indian clans. Despite Bent’s
warning that killing friendly bands will only strengthen the overall Dog Soldier and Sioux warriors’ resolution for war,
Chivington states he is personally “on the warpath,” and will not stop until all Indians are killed.
June 27, 1864 – Evans’ efforts to round up volunteers for a militia are futile, as no governmental support has been
authorized to provided pay and equipment for those willing to risk their lives fighting the Dog Soldiers. Amidst continued
advice of agents and soldiers that not all Plains Indians want a war, the governor devises a plan to attempt to separate the
hostile Indians from the friendlies. He drafts a proclamation addressed “To the Friendly Indians of the Plains,” warning
them of and imminent war with the hostile bands. He directs the peaceably inclined Indians to go to the various forts
throughout the territory, where they will be protected, given annuities, and allowed to hunt buffalo and wild game. He states
his objective of this proclamation is to “prevent friendly Indians from being killed by mistake.” Copies of the proclamation
are sent out to agents and interpreters for delivery to Indians throughout the plains.
Read full text of Evans' first proclamation . . .
Although well intentioned, Evans’ efforts to communicate with the tribes this way is naïve and indicative of his
misunderstanding of the Indians’ political and military structure. The six tribes roaming thousands of square miles are
autonomous societies, divided into hundreds of independent clans ruled by individual chiefs and sub-chiefs. The Cheyenne
nation, in particular, is comprised of a complicated political system that is now in turmoil with the surge of support for the
warring Dog Soldiers. Further complicating the Evans proposal (representing the Bureau of Indian Affairs) is its fundamental
contradiction with War Department policy. To defend Colorado against the growing Indian threat, Chivington has been
ordered to disregard district lines and hunt down and kill all Indians, not just the hostile bands. He has further ordered all fort
commanders to regard any Indian presence near the forts as an act of war, and to shoot them on sight.
June 29, 1864 – Reports from agent Colley at Fort Lyon indicate that the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos are
comprised mostly of peaceably inclined Indians, led by principal chiefs Black Kettle (Cheyenne) and Little Raven (Arapaho).
This is not to say, however, that there are not some hostile warriors among the southern tribes. Little Raven’s son, by the
same name, has in fact rebuked his father’s efforts to make peace and is leading an Arapaho war party on raids in the
Arkansas River region.
Governor Evans directs Colley to enlist the help of William Bent and Cheyenne squaw man John Smith in securing peace with
the southern tribes in the Arkansas River region.
Early July 1864 – Bent sets out for Kansas to locate the nomadic southern clans and give them Evans’ proposal. It will be
a lengthy and difficult process, because the friendly Indians are constantly moving to avoid the soldiers.
July 1864 – A summer drought is scorching the arid plains, and a blight of locust now descends, destroying crops and
pushing Kansas and Colorado settlers to the brink of destitution. The harsh conditions are no less devastating to the Indians,
as many bands are fighting disease and hunger as they try to conduct the summer buffalo hunt, critical to survival in the
July 1864 – Union Administration Party holds constitutional convention in Denver. Party supports Colorado statehood;
backs Chivington to run for Congress; backs John Evans and Henry Teller for Senate. The party’s success in the election
hinges on Evans’ ability to end the threat of an Indian invasion of the territory.
July 1864 – Due to increasing pressure to quell the Indian uprising in western Kansas and eastern Colorado, General
Curtis sections the two existing military districts (Kansas and Colorado) into three divisions. Fort Lyon is removed from
Chivington’s command in the District of Colorado (headquartered in Denver), and put into the new Upper Arkansas District,
under command of Maj. General James Blunt. This begins a territorial feud between Chivington and Curtis, as Curtis
believes Chivington’s political aspirations are interfering with his military obligations to the Arkansas Valley.
Fearing political backlash by Curtis’ implications that he is not tending to the protection of the territory, Chivington will step up
his policy to pursue and exterminate Indians.
July 14, 1864 – Governor Evans sends Chivington to Fort Lyon with $3,000 to finance support of the friendly Indians who
will come in and surrender.
Mid July 1864 – William Bent has made contact with some chiefs of Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanches, Kiowas and
Apaches, informing them of Governor Evans’ proclamation. These leaders come into Fort Larned and council with the fort’s
commander, Captain J.W. Parmetar. A tentative truce is established, and annuities and trade goods are promised to those
clans wishing to keep the peace, but these chiefs only represent a small number of peaceably inclined Indian clans. The
warrior societies are still unbending in their intention to make war.
July 17, 1864 – The Dog Soldiers and Sioux warrior clans have consolidated and are running raids along the Republican
and Platte River routes. Eight vicious attacks have left a half-dozen white settlers dead, with several hundred head of horses
and cattle stolen. The Platte route, Denver’s primary source of supplies, is cut off as the warriors continue to inexorably move
toward unprotected Denver. Evans continues to plead to Washington for help, but the Civil War in the east preoccupies
General Curtis and the War Department.
July 18, 1864 – Two more Indian attacks closer to Denver on Bijou Creek. Five settlers murdered and scalped.
July 24, 1864 – Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack and burn four wagon trains at Cow Creek, KS.
July 24, 1864 – The Reynolds Gang is back, this time in Colorado. Now a gang of just nine bandits, Reynolds and the boys
conduct a series of robberies up the Arkansas as they head toward the mountain mining settlements. Chivington must thin
out the Colorado 1st even more, as he orders several Fort Lyon companies west to search for the gang.
July 30, 1864 – A miner posse spots the Reynolds Gang near Kenosha Pass in the Colorado mountains. A nighttime gun
battle ensues, and one Reynolds Gang member is killed as the others escape. Posse cuts off the head of the dead bandit
and displays it in Fairplay, CO.
July 30, 1864 – Kiowa warrior chief Satanta approaches Fort Larned and asks for parley with Captain Parmetar. Satanta
brings “firewater” and several alluring squaws to Larned. Satanta, Parmetar and the Larned troops go on a bender with the
liquor and women, while Satanta’s warriors raid Larned’s corrals, killing a sentry and stealing over 250 head of horses and
mules. Satanta and the squaws make a clean getaway, leaving the drunken Parmetar in a rage.
Late July 1864 – Hearing of Satanta’s raid, Arapaho Peace Chief Left Hand approaches Fort Larned, white flag flying, with
25 Arapaho braves. Left Hand confers with Larned sentry, requesting a parley with Parmetar to make certain the soldiers
know that his Arapahos had nothing to do with, nor did they condone the Kiowa raid. Left Hand also tells the sentry to let
Parmetar know that his braves will hunt Satanta’s party down and retrieve the stolen stock. The sentry returns to the fort, and
moments later, a drunken and enraged Parmetar fires a howitzer at Left Hand’s party. The Arapahos beat a hasty retreat,
escaping injury, but word of Parmetar’s attack will spread through the friendly tribes and turn many more to the side of the
August 1, 1864 – Under orders from General Curtis, Chivington arrives at Fort Larned and places Captain Parmetar in
irons. Colorado 1st Regiment Captain C.B. Backus is put in temporary command until Major Scott Anthony can arrive from
Fort Riley to take over.
August 6, 1864 – Four buffalo hunters murdered and scalped by Dog Soldiers on Saline River above Salina, KS. Mule and
Ox trains attacked by Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors above Little Blue River in Nebraska. Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors
attack soldiers, murder four near Salina, KS.
August 7, 1864 – Dog Soldiers steal horse herd at Salina, KS.
August 7, 1864 – Satanta’s Kiowa war parties initiate a series of attacks on the Arkansas. They hit Mexican train seven
miles from Fort Lyon, killing one and looting the train. Major Wynkoop sends troops out to chase Satanta, who then leads
another attack on the Rule ranch just a short distance from William Bent’s ranch. The Rule family and neighbors fend off
attack. Soon thereafter, Kiowa warriors kill five men at Cimarron Crossing. Wynkoop sends word to Chivington in Denver that
his sparsely equipped Fort Lyon force is too small in number to mount a serious campaign against the near-1000-strong
Kiowa war party.
August 8, 1864 – Over 400 miles north of Fort Lyon, Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack Plum Creek, Nebraska, and kill
11 men, burn 11 wagons, and steal $7,500 in property and livestock.
August 8, 1864 – Settlements along Little Blue River in Nebraska and Kansas are attacked by Dog Soldiers, Arapaho and
Sioux warriors. 15 killed, including family and relatives of William Eubank. Laura Roper (16) and Lucinda Eubank (23) are
kidnapped from Liberty Farm, with Lucinda’s children, Isabel (3), William Jr. (6 months), and nephew, Ambrose Archer (7).
Read Laura Roper's story, in her own words . . .
Read Lucinda Eubank's story . . .
August 9, 1864 – Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack Little Blue Station, Nebraska, and steal or destroy $50,000 in
property and livestock.
August 10, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack Little Blue Station again, stealing or destroying $8,000 in
property and livestock. Others attack the Kiowa Ranch Station 70 miles east of Fort Kearney, Nebraska, killing two men and
stealing or destroying $10,000 in property and livestock. Trains above Fort Kearney attacked, 14 men killed, 2 women and 4
children kidnapped, entire ranch destroyed and property and livestock stolen.
August 10, 1864 – Latest Indian offensive has choked off both the Platte and Republican rivers. Denver is now entirely
isolated. Governor Evans wires Indian Bureau and Secretary of War Stanton, pleading for authorization to raise a militia under
sanction of the army.
August 11, 1864 – Near the mouth of Sand Creek, Arapaho sub-chief Neva, with 15 braves, attempts to approach a Fort
Lyon scouting party with a letter from Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, informing white authorities of their intentions to stay out of
the war. Fearing that Neva’s braves are going to attack, the small soldier scouting party retreats to Fort Lyon without
conferring with Neva. Upon receiving the scout’s report, Major Wynkoop, under the mistaken conclusion that the Arapahos
were mounting an attack, sends troops to Sand Creek. A minor skirmish ensues when the soldiers locate Neva’s party, but a
driving rainstorm prevents a larger battle. Both sides eventually disperse.
Dispatches from Fort Lyon during August Indian troubles on the Arkansas
August 11, 1864 – War Department finally authorizes Governor Evans to raise a regiment of volunteers, immediately
transferring the militia into the new Colorado 3rd Volunteer Regiment and guaranteeing pay and supplies for a period of 100
August 11, 1864 – Although Governor Evans’ plan to offer refuge to the peaceably inclined Indians might have worked if
given more time, the warrior attacks on white settlements have sealed the fate of all Indians. Governor Evans is under
extreme pressure by his political opponents, as his career now relies on the success of his volunteer militia’s ability to protect
Denver City. The governor abandons his plan to offer the olive branch to the friendly Indian clans, and he issues second
proclamation authorizing all citizens to hunt down and kill hostile Indians:
citizens of Colorado, either individually or in such parties as they may organize, to go in pursuit of all hostile
Indians on the plains, scrupulously avoiding those who have responded to my said call to rendezvous at the
points indicated; also, to kill and destroy, as enemies of the country, wherever they may be found, all such hostile
Indians. And further, as the only reward I am authorized to offer for such services, I hereby empower such
citizens, or parties of citizens, to take captive, and hold to their own private use and benefit, all the property of
said hostile Indians that they may capture, and to receive for all stolen property recovered from said Indians such
reward as may be deemed proper and just therefor.”
(Report on the Conduct of the War, 38 Cong., 2 sess., Washington, Government Printing Office, 1865. p. 47.)
A call for volunteers to join the 3rd Regiment goes out, and Colonel Chivington immediately begins a strong-arm recruitment
campaign. Approximately 200 men are immediately mustered in, mostly destitute, out-of-work miners desperate for grub.
August 12, 1864 – Dog Soldier war party that attacked the Liberty Ranch arrive at large Cheyenne and Arapaho
encampment on the Smoky Hill River, with their prisoners, Lucinda Eubank, Laura Roper, Eubank nephew Ambrose Archer,
and Lucinda’s two small children, Isabel and ‘Willie’. Peace Chief Left Hand (Arapaho) makes trade with the warriors for
Ambrose, Laura and 3-year-old Isabel Eubank, whom the Indians mistakenly identify as Laura’s child (during the long trip
from the Little Blue, Laura cared for Isabel while Lucinda cared for her 6-month-old son, William, Jr.). Mrs. Eubank and the
baby, however, are sold to Sioux renegade, Two Face, who immediately leaves the camp with his new white slaves. This sad
twist of fate will forever change the lives of all five prisoners. Ambrose, Laura and Isabel are now in the hands of Left Hand, a
decent and highly educated Arapaho leader. They will be treated respectably while Left Hand and Black Kettle try to negotiate
their safe return in exchange for a truce with the soldiers. Mrs. Eubank, however, will suffer a long ordeal of rape and other
abuses at the hands of Two Face and his murderous warrior clan.
August 13, 1864 – Colorado 1st Cavalry detachment, under command of Lt. George L. Shoup, closes in on Jim Reynolds
and four Reynolds Gang members near Canon City, CO. Shoup will soon have all five in custody and turn them over to the
U.S. Marshal’s office in Denver.
August 16, 1864 – Little Raven’s son leads Arapaho war party on raid at the Point of Rocks Indian agency (constructed for
the benefit of the Cheyennes and Arapahos under the Fort Wise Treaty). They kill several men, steal 28 head of livestock, and
then move south to ranch owned by Charlie Autobees, where they steal several horses. The Point of Rocks Agency will soon
be abandoned, due to fears of Indian raids.
Read dispatch . . .
August 17, 1864 – Between Camp Fillmore and Fort Lyon, blacksmith named Snyder and a teamster are murdered and
scalped by Arapaho warriors led by Little Raven’s son. Arapahos burn the wagon, steal the mules, and kidnap Snyder’s wife.
Mid August 1864 – Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, led by Powder Face and Whirlwind, strike ‘Jimmy’s Camp’ on Platte
trail, south of Denver near Castle Rock. Livestock stolen. War parties strike other settlements in Castle Rock vicinity,
including Coberly Ranch (‘Halfway House’), which is a critical stage stop and sutler for Union troops traveling to Fort Lyon.
Initial reports incorrectly state that Hersa and Mattie Coberly are killed, but the girls and their mother and brothers survived the
attack. Historical accounts report, however, that the father, James Coberly, was killed by Indians around this time period. He
was most likely killed during these raids.
August 18, 1864 – Kiowas and Comanches loot and burn wagon, kill a man and his son at headwaters of Cherry Creek,
30 miles southeast of Denver.
August 19, 1864 – Kiowas attack and burn trains at Cimarron Crossing, kill 10 men and mutilate the bodies.
August 21, 1864 – Kiowas attack and burn 95-wagon train at Cimarron Crossing. Wagon master is murdered and
scalped, and all the livestock stolen.
August 21, 1864 – Unidentified Indian war party murder and scalp two men, Crawford and Hancock, along Arkansas River
between Camp Fillmore and Fort Lyon. Little Raven’s son is suspected.
August 23, 1864 – Chivington declares martial law in Denver. Businesses are closed, travel out of the city is shut off.
These measures are taken to induce all able-bodied men to enlist in the 3rd Regiment. Militia companies are pressed into
service with very little training, supplies or equipment, as Chivington attempts to bolster defense of the Platte road.
To emphasize the enforcement of martial law, and to whet the vengeful appetite of his newly mustered-in 3rd Regiment
soldiers, Chivington plans to make an example of the five Reynolds Gang members held at the U.S. prison. Although
Reynolds is under civil jurisdiction of the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chivington invokes his power under martial law and
orders the gang to stand trial by military commission. Although the Reynolds Gang has only committed robbery in Colorado,
Chivington requests that General Curtis grant him permission to execute the prisoners.
Late August 1864 – Black Kettle holds council with other chiefs of Cheyennes and Arapahos. Little Raven and Left Hand
(Arapahos) and War Bonnet, White Antelope, One Eye (Cheyennes) are present. Cheyenne military leaders Bull Bear (Dog
Soldiers) and Eagle Head (Bowstrings) represent pro-peace soldier leaders; Tall Bull (Dog Soldiers) will speak for pro-war
clans. Black Kettle proposes a peace council with whites, which is accepted by the peace chiefs and Bull Bear and Eagle
Head, but Tall Bull adamantly refuses. Bulk of Dog Soldiers leave the council in protest, but Black Kettle forges ahead with
plan to contact the soldiers with the peace proposal. A letter is composed with the assistance of William Bent’s half-
Cheyenne son, George. One Eye and Eagle Head volunteer to deliver the letter to Agent Colley and Major Wynkoop at Fort
|Summer 1864 - Terror on the Plains . . .
We'll never forget
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