Sand Creek Massacre

These Sand Creek massacre occur to on November 29, 1864 during the Indian Wars. The Colorado militia attacked a village camped on the plains, massacring the population. The press initially reported the victory against the brave Cheyenne with pride. However, eyewitnesses showed the sinister side of this massacre. Their testimony would lead to a military investigation and two separate congressional investigations.

The Rocky Mountain gold rush which began in the 1850s brought an unending flood of settlers into the area. These new immigrants were not warmly welcomed by the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, who had inhabited the area for many years. Violence escalated, and in 1864 Governor John Evans sent the Army to suppress the natives. Colonel Chivington was entrusted with the deed.

A few skirmishes occurred. After some time, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe natives set up camp on the eastern plains near Fort Lyon. They were ready for peace.

It seemed as though peace was what they would get. Both tribes had signed treaties three years earlier, ceding their lands and agreeing to move to a reservation near Sand Creek.

Chief Black Kettle declared his peaceful intentions at Fort Lyon. He then led his small group north to Sand Creek. All together, they numbered around 550 men, women, and children. Colonel Chivington heard of the surrender. He promptly gathered 700 troops and marched towards Sand Creek.

In the morning hours, troops moved in. Within moments, 150 natives were dead, mostly old man, women, and children. In comparison, the cavalry lost around 10 men, with 36 more wounded.

Silas Soule, an abolitionist from Massachusetts, refused the order to shoot. None of his cavalry troops were permitted to fire upon the crowd. The brutal massacre shocked the nation, forcing the Army to investigate the role that Colonel Chivington played. Soule was eager to testify against the Colonel. After his testimony, Soule was murdered; many believe that the Colonel himself was responsible for the death.

Looking southwest, Sand Creek or Chivington Massacre, 1864. The battle at Sand Creek, Colorado, between U.S. troops and Native Americans (Cheyenne). Women and children panic behind trees in the foreground, warriors and soldiers fight among tepees in the background. By artist: O. Y. Rookstool; courtesy Wikipedia.