|Winter 1864 - Betrayal . . .
November 5, 1864 – Major Scott Anthony arrives at Fort Lyon and relieves Wynkoop of his command. Although
Wynkoop is ordered to Fort Riley to answer to General Curtis for feeding and protecting the Arapahos, Anthony requests that
Wynkoop stay on for a few weeks to help acquaint him with the situation. Wynkoop and Soule are concerned that Anthony, an
ardent supporter of the policy to exterminate all Indians, will not honor Wynkoop’s promise of protecting the Cheyennes and
Arapahos that have willingly surrendered while they await a directive from General Curtis. Anthony is under strict orders from
Curtis to force the Arapahos away from the post and discontinue the distribution of prisoner rations.
Anthony immediately reports back to Curtis that a large body of Cheyennes, led by Black Kettle, is coming in.
except where a small band of them can find an unprotected train or frontier settlement.” Anthony recommends
that Curtis not honor Wynkoop’s agreement until Black Kettle gives up “all perpetrators of the depredations.”
(The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. XLI, Part I, pp.
This, of course, is impossible, for the perpetrators are waging war far to the north, and are not answerable to Black
Kettle. Neither Anthony, nor Curtis have any knowledge of the complex political structure of the Cheyenne nation. By
virtue of Black Kettle’s position as Principal Chief, they assume he has but to say the word, and the Dog Soldiers will
November 6, 1864 – Six soldiers from 7th Iowa Cavalry fend off Dog Soldier attack at Sand Hills Station, NE.
November 8, 1864 – As the Civil War still rages on, President Lincoln is re-elected to a second term, defeating
Democrat George B. McClellan. Lincoln carries all but three states with 55 percent of the popular vote and 212 of 233
November 12, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack settlements near Fort Larned, KS. $2,000 in livestock
November 14, 1864 – General Connor arrives in Denver to discuss the matter of procuring Colorado 3rd Regiment
troops to support his mission to hunt Indian war parties on the northern routes. Chivington, who has ordered his militia out
of Denver - away from Connor – suspects that Connor has ulterior motives. He refuses to provide Colorado troops, and he
himself departs Denver for a rendezvous with the 3rd Regiment now camped on Bijou Creek. If Connor, an outsider from
Utah, strikes a decisive blow against the warrior bands on the Plains, Chivington’s already crippled political career will be
ruined. He must wage a decisive battle against the Indians before his militia’s 100-days enlistment expires. In a belligerent
exchange with Connor before he leaves Denver, Chivington boasts that only he and Colonel Shoup know where to find an
Prior to this exchange, Chivington ordered seven companies of the Colorado 3rd and three Denver companies of the 1st
Regiment to march south to Camp Fillmore on the Arkansas. He ordered Colonel Shoup to the Platte to retrieve the
remainder of the 100-Daysers and march them toward the Arkansas. Chivington is moving the 3rd Regiment away without
orders, leaving Denver unprotected and marching the militia out of the district it was raised to protect. Chivington, who is
now technically acting in the capacity of a civilian, is moving the militia without orders from departmental headquarters.
General Curtis has no knowledge of Chivington’s actions henceforth.
Chivington’s intention is clear. Wynkoop has been removed from Fort Lyon and replaced by Anthony, whose support of an
aggressive war of extermination against the Indians is a matter of record. Because Chivington knows the Cheyennes and
Arapahos gathered near Fort Lyon are easy prey (due to the now deposed Wynkoop’s agreement with them), Chivington will
enlist the help of Anthony to attack Black Kettle’s band at Sand Creek. Due to the possibility of Wynkoop’s supporters at Fort
Lyon alerting Black Kettle prior to the attack, the mission is veiled in strict secrecy.
November 15, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack train nine miles west of Plum Creek, Nebraska. $1,600 in
November 16, 1864 – Governor Evans has not heard from Secretary Seward regarding his request to come to
Washington. Nevertheless, he packs up his family and heads east with a military escort.
November 16, 1864 – At Fort Lyon, Major Anthony continues to assess the agreement between Major Wynkoop and the
Cheyennes and Arapahos. He has parleyed with Black Kettle, Left Hand and Little Raven, and on the surface he expresses
an attitude of cooperation with the arrangements they have made with Wynkoop. He tells the Indians that he is under orders
not to provide them with any more rations, but if they give up their arms and move their people to Sand Creek, he will honor
Wynkoop’s promise of protection until he receives word from General Curtis regarding an official truce. When Black Kettle
expresses concern that other soldiers who don’t know about the tentative agreement might attack his village, he is told to fly
the American flag over his lodge if any troops approach.
Wynkoop reassures Black Kettle, and tells him he is leaving to answer to Curtis for all that’s transpired. Wynkoop is
optimistic that, after he explains everything to Curtis, they will be able to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all.
Although Black Kettle is suspicious of Anthony, and is disturbed that Wynkoop is leaving, he agrees to Anthony’s terms.
Soon thereafter, Black Kettle and Left Hand will move their people to Sand Creek, and Anthony will employ One Eye and US
Interpreter John Smith to spy on the camp and report on hostile tribe movements in the area.
Anthony then reports to General Curtis that he agreed to Wynkoop’s arrangement in order to keep the Cheyennes quiet until
enough military troops could be sent for a major offensive against all the tribes. In other words, he lied to both Black Kettle
In retrospect, the true intentions of Anthony and Wynkoop are clearly decipherable. Anthony was pacifying Black Kettle by
luring the chief to Sand Creek, where the military could keep an eye on the band and glean information about the Dog
Soldiers (Bull Bear was unsuccessful in his bid to convince the Dogmen to surrender). Conversely, Wynkoop truly believed
he could convince Curtis to make an official peace treaty with Black Kettle and employ his young warriors to help the soldiers
protect the Arkansas from the Kiowas and Comanches.
November 17, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack Deer Creek Station, Dakota Territory. $2,100 in livestock
November 18, 1864 – Colorado 3rd Regiment soldiers, with the three 1st Regiment companies, arrive at Camp Fillmore.
November 19, 1864 – Nebraska soldiers drive off attack by 100 Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors at Plum Creek Station,
NE. Five Indians killed.
November 21, 1864 – Colonel Shoup arrives at Camp Fillmore with three more companies of the 3rd Regiment, and
one company from the 1st.
November 23, 1864 – Colonel Chivington arrives at Camp Fillmore with Major Jacob Downing and Captain Joseph
Maynard. Chivington takes command of the 500 militiamen and 125 1st Regiment soldiers.
November 24, 1864 – Chivington’s command leaves Fillmore and marches east on the Arkansas for Fort Lyon. Guards
are posted at settlements along the route with orders to forbid civilians from leaving (obviously, Chivington does not want the
Fort Lyon soldiers to be alerted of his approach, as they might certainly warn the Indian prisoners that are under military
protection at Sand Creek).
November 25, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors attack coach five miles east of Plum Creek Station, NE. One
white woman, two men wounded.
November 26, 1864 - Dog Soldiers and Sioux warriors return to Plum Creek and attack train. 1st Nebraska Cavalry
counterattacks. Two civilians and three Indians killed.
November 26, 1864 – Wynkoop departs for Kansas. He carries two letters of commendation for the course of action he
has taken with regard to the Indians. The first letter is written by Lieutenant Cramer and co-signed by Captain Soule and all
the officers at Fort Lyon. The second letter is written and signed by 27 citizens living in the Arkansas valley. Major Scott
Anthony also writes a letter endorsing Wynkoop’s actions.
At the same time, Black Kettle and Left Hand settle in at Sand Creek, while Little Raven, who is skeptical of Major Anthony,
decides to move his Arapahos further east along the Arkansas. Anthony gives permission to John Smith to go to Sand
Creek and deliver trade goods to the Indians. Smith departs with Dexter Colley, Private David Louderback, and a wagon
driver, Watson Clark.
November 27, 1864 – Chivington’s command arrives at Bent’s ranch, and guards are posted to keep William Bent from
leaving. Bent’s son, Robert, is taken prisoner and ordered to serve the regiment as a scout. Another guard is put on the
John Prowers ranch. Prowers, who is married to the daughter of Cheyenne sub-chief One Eye, is not allowed to leave.
November 28, 1864 – Chivington’s militia arrives at Fort Lyon and immediately pickets the fort. Chivington orders his
men to shoot any 1st Regiment soldier who attempts to leave the post.
Major Anthony eagerly greets Chivington, either unaware or unconcerned that the 3rd Regiment’s presence on the Arkansas
is not only unauthorized, but is led by a commander that has no authority over him. Nevertheless, Chivington orders Anthony
to prepare 125 Fort Lyon troops to join the 3rd Regiment in a dawn attack on Black Kettle’s village at Sand Creek. Anthony
agrees without hesitation. (He will later testify that he expressed concern over attacking Black Kettle, when an attack on the
Dog Soldiers in his opinion would strike a more decisive blow. He claimed that Chivington assured him that they would hit
Black Kettle first, and then continue on to engage the Dog Soldiers. He would also change his testimony and lie under oath
that he strongly opposed attacking Black Kettle).
When Anthony orders his troops to prepare for the march, Captain Soule and Lieutenant Cramer lead a group of Fort Lyon
officers in protest of Chivington’s intended attack. They state that Black Kettle’s band at Sand Creek is clearly camped as
prisoners under the protection of the U.S. Army in accordance with Wynkoop’s truce. They point out that John Smith, Private
Louderback, Dexter Colley and a civilian teamster are currently camped with Black Kettle and distributing rations and trade
goods. Chivington angrily denounces Wynkoop, claiming he had no authority to make such an arrangement (despite clearly
stating this to be true during the Camp Weld Council). A heated argument ensues, and Captain Soule defiantly stands up to
Chivington. Cramer and the others intervene, but Soule has made an enemy of Chivington, who threatens to kill Soule or any
other soldier who disobeys him, declaring “Damn any man in sympathy with the Indians!” Anthony backs Chivington, and the
Fort Lyon officers and soldiers have little choice but to comply, for a mutiny against the superior numbers of the 3rd
Regiment would end in disaster.
At 8 p.m., Chivington’s 500-man 3rd Regiment militia, with 250 soldiers from the combined forces of the 1st Regiment from
Denver and Fort Lyon, marches for Sand Creek.
November 29, 1864 – At dawn, Chivington’s militia attacks the Sand Creek village - an estimated 700 to 800 Cheyennes
and Arapahos. The Indians are taken completely by surprise. Black Kettle reportedly attempts to wave the American flag in a
desperate attempt to fend off the attack, but the militia, fueled by alcohol and a fiery speech by Chivington to avenge the
murders of the Hungate family, ignores Black Kettle’s attempt to surrender.
In the frenzy, the untrained “Thirdsters” attack without order, sometimes leading the 1st Regiment soldiers into a dangerous
crossfire. Captain Soule, among the officers that marched under protest, calls his company off and orders his men to back
away from the attack. Lieutenant Cramer soon follows suit and refuses to fight.
The Indians attempt to mount a defense, while the women and children desperately try to escape, but their bows and arrows
are no match for the militia’s guns and cannons. Approximately 75 women, children and elderly are killed in the village bowl,
and another 75 die in a running battle along the creek. In total, 160 to 170 Cheyennes and Arapahos are killed in the attack,
while over 500 escape to the plains. Chivington’s militia does not pursue, instead opting to loot the village and scalp and
mutilate the dead. Three 1st Regiment soldiers and nine militiamen are killed, and 40 are wounded. Many of the military
casualties and injuries are the result of friendly fire in the haphazard attack.
November 29, 1864 – By afternoon, Major Anthony is beginning to realize that Chivington duped him. The colonel has
intimated that he intends to go after Little Raven next, not the Dog Soldiers. Knowing that Soule’s refusal to allow his men to
attack the village has further incurred the wrath of Chivington and the murderous “Thirdsters,” Anthony orders Soule to
accompany him back toward Fort Lyon to escort an approaching supply train.
In the meantime, Chivington dispatches a messenger to Denver with a letter to the Rocky Mountain News boasting that he
has decimated the entire Cheyenne Nation and killed many of their chiefs, among them Black Kettle (who in reality escaped
with the other survivors to the Smoky Hill River). Chivington claims that over 500 Indians were killed in an obvious attempt to
glorify the militia’s expedition. He then sends a dispatch to General Curtis containing similar lies.
December 1, 1864 – Chivington marches his militia south, toward the Arkansas, in a futile attempt to search out Little
December 5, 1864 – After days of wandering the Arkansas, Chivington gives up on attacking Little Raven. Knowing that
the Dog Soldiers will soon bring their vengeance for Sand Creek to the Arkansas Valley, Chivington and his militia hastily
turns north for a long ride back to Denver. They spend considerable time in the Fort Lyon area, gathering up the valuable
stock captured at Sand Creek.
December 14, 1864 – In a letter to Wynkoop, Captain Soule describes the situation at Fort Lyon prior to Chivington’s
march to Sand Creek:
James) Cannon's room, where a number of officers of the 1st and 3rd were congregated and told them that any
man who would take part in the murders, knowing the circumstances as we did, was a low lived cowardly son of
a bitch . . .”
(Rocky Mountain News. “Sins of Sand Creek,” September 15, 2000.)
December 18, 1864 – In a letter to his mother in Maine, Captain Soule writes:
three hundred Indians mostly women and children. It was a horrible scene and I would not let my Company fire.
They were friendly and some of our soldiers were in their camp at the time trading. It looked too hard for me to
see little children on their knees begging for their lives, have their brains beat out like dogs. It was a Regiment of
100 days men who accomplished the noble deed. Some of the Indians fought when they saw no chance of
escape and killed twelve and wounded forty of our men. . .”
(The Letters of Silas S. Soule – Recounting His Experiences in the Colorado Territory - 1861-1865. Western History/Genealogy
Dept., Denver Public Library.)
December 19, 1864 – In a letter to Wynkoop, Lieutenant Joe Cramer writes of the attack:
Officers as men, and one of those Officers a Major, and a Lt. Col. Cut off ears of all he came across, a squaw
ripped open and a child taken from her, little children shot while begging for their lives and all the indignities
shown their bodies that was ever heard of, (women shot while on their knees, with their arms around soldiers
begging for their lives). Things that Indians would be ashamed to do. To give you some little idea, squaws were
known to kill their own children and then themselves, rather than to have them taken prisoners. But enough!
For I know you are disgusted already . . .”
(Rocky Mountain News “Sins of Sand Creek,” September 15, 2000.)
December 20, 1864 – Word filters back to Denver that a congressional investigation into Chivington’s attack is in the
offing, claiming letters from “high officials” in Colorado accused the 3rd Regiment of attacking protected Indian prisoners
and conducting a wholesale massacre of women and children. Rumors abound regarding who the “high officials” are, and
many indignant soldiers of the Third vow to string them up.
The Rocky Mountain News takes up Chivington’s defense and leads the threats, publicly warning anyone who joined the
investigation “to get their scalps insured before they pass Plum Creek on their way out.”
December 22, 1864 – Chivington and the “Bloody Thirdsters” arrive in Denver and parade down 15th Street (then Ferry
St.), waving Indian body parts and scalps at an adoring crowd. The Rocky Mountain News reports:
history with few rivals, and none to exceed it in final results . . .”
(Rocky Mountain News 12/17/64)
December 28, 1864 – The Colorado 3rd Regiment is officially mustered out of service.
December 31, 1864 – With the disturbing reports of a massacre at Sand Creek stirring up Washington, General Curtis
suspects Chivington has indeed lied about the battle. Curtis, who early in December declared Wynkoop’s attempt to make
peace with Black Kettle an embarrassment, knows that Wynkoop may now be his only hope to prevent the government from
implicating him in the slaughter. Curtis orders Wynkoop to go back to Fort Lyon and resume command of the post. He
further orders Wynkoop to investigate the Sand Creek battle, and interrogate all participants.
We'll never forget
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