The Sand Creek Massacre
Governor John Evans Response to the Sand Creek Inquiry
In its final report on the three congressional investigations into the Sand Creek Massacre, the Committee on the
Conduct of the War severely criticized Governor John Evans for his involvement in the affair, and recommended the
Governor be removed from office. In response, President Andrew Johnson called for Evans’ resignation, which Evans’
reluctantly tendered on August 1, 1864. In a final plea to the citizens of Colorado, Evans wrote the following:
John Evans' reply to the Committee on the Conduct of the War
Denver, August 6, 1865
To the public:
I have just seen, for the first time, a copy of the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, headed, "Massacre of Cheyenne
As it does me great injustice, and by its partial, unfair, and erroneous statements will mislead the public, I respectfully ask a
suspension of opinion in my case until I shall have time to present the facts to said committee or some equally high authority, and
ask a correction. In the meantime, I desire to lay a few facts before the public. The report begins:
"In the summer of 1864 governor Evans, of Colorado Territory, as acting superintendent of Indians affairs, sent notice to the various
bands and tribes of Indians within his jurisdiction, that such as desired to be considered friendly to the whites should repair to the
nearest military post in order to be protected from the soldiers who were to take the field against the hostile Indians.
This statement is true as to such notice having been sent, but conveys the false impression that it was at the beginning of hostilities,
and the declaration of war. The truth is, it was issued by authority of the Indian Department months after the war had become
general, for the purpose of inducing the Indians to cease hostilities, and to protect those who had been, or would become, friendly
from the inevitable dangers to which they were exposed. This "notice" may be found published in the report of the Commissioner of
Indian Affairs for 1864, page 218.
The report continues:
"About the close of the summer some Cheyenne Indians, in the neighborhood of the Smoky Hill, sent word to Major Wynkoop,
commanding at Fort Lyon, that they had in their possession, and were willing to deliver up, some white captives. On his return he
was accompanied by a number of the chiefs and leading men of the Indians, who he had brought to visit Denver for the purpose of
conferring with the authorities there in regard to keeping the peace. Among them were Black Kettle and White Antelope, of the
Cheyennes, and some chiefs of the Arapahoes. The council was held, and these chiefs stated that they were friendly to the whites
and always had been."
Again they say:
"All the testimony goes to show that the Indians under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White Antelope, of the Cheyennes,
and Left Hand of the Arapahoes, were, and had always been, friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or
This word, which the committee say was sent to Major Wynkoop, was a letter to the United States Indian Agent, Major Colley, which is
published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1865, page 233, and is as follows:
(VERBATIM WITH GRAMMAR ERRORS)
"Cheyenne Village, August 29, 1864.
We received a letter from Bent wishing us to make peace. We held a council in regard to it. All came to the conclusion to make
peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos, Apaches ans Sioux. We are going to send a
messenger to the Kiowas and to the other nations about our going to make peace with you. We heard that you some (sic) prisoners
in Denver. We have seven prisoners of you which we are willing to give up providing you give up yours. There are three war parties
out yet and two of Arapahos. They have been out some time and expect now soon. When we held this council there were few
Arapahos and Siouxs present; we want true news from you in return, that is a letter.
Black Kettle and other Chieves.
Brought to Ft. Lyon Sunday Sept 4th, 1864 by One Eye
Compare the above extract from the report of the committee with this published letter of Black Kettle, and the admission of the
Indians in the council at Denver.
The committee say the prisoners proposed to be delivered up were purchased of other Indians. Black Kettle in his letter says: "We
have seven prisoners of yours, which were are willing to give up, providing you give up yours." They say nothing about prisoners
whom they had purchased. On the other hand, in the council at Denver, Black Kettle said: "Major Wynkoop was kind enough to
receive the letter and visited them in camp, to whom they delivered four white prisoners, Laura Roper, 16 or 17 years, Ambrose
Asher, 7 or 8 years, Daniel Marble, 7 or 8 years, and Isabel Ewbanks, 4 or 5 years; one other (Mrs. Snyder) having killed herself;
that there are two women and one child yet in their camp whom they will deliver up as soon as they can get them in. The prisoners
still with them are Mrs. Ewbanks and babe, and a Mrs. Norton who was taken on the Platte. Mrs. Snyder is the name of the woman
who hung herself. They boys were taken between Fort Kearney and the Blue."
Again: They did not deny having captured the prisoners, when I told them that having the prisoners in their possession was evidence
of their having committed the depredations when they were taken. But White Antelope said: "We (the Cheyennes) took two
prisoners west of Kearney, and destroyed the trains." Had they purchased the prisoners, they would not have been slow to make it
known in this council. The committee say the chiefs went to Denver to confer with the authorities about keeping the peace. Black
Kettle says: "All come to the conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos,
Apaches and Sioux."
Again the committee say:
"All the testimony goes to show that the Indians under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White Antelope of the Cheyennes
and Left Hand of the Arapahos, were, and had been friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility and
Black Kettle says in his letter: "We received a letter from Bent wishing to make peace." Why did Bent send a letter to friendly Indians,
and want to make peace with Indians who had always been friendly? Again they say: "All come to the conclusion to make peace with
you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos, Apaches and Sioux. We have seven prisoners of yours,
which we are willing to give up, providing you give up yours. There are three war - not peace - parties out yet, and two of the
Every line of this letter shows that they were and had been at war. I desire to throw additional light upon this assertion of the
committee that these Indians "were and had been friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or
depredations," for it is upon this point that the committee accuses me of prevarication.
In the council held at Denver, White Antelope said: "We (the Cheyennes) took two prisoners west of Kearney and destroyed the
trains." This was one of the most destructive and bloody raids of the war. Again, Neva (Left Hand's brother) said: "The Comanches,
Kiowas, and Sioux have done much more harm than we have." The entire report of this council shows that the Indians had been at
war, and had been "guilty of acts of hostility and depredations."
As showing more fully the status and disposition of these Indians, I call your attention to the following extract from the report of Major
Wynkoop, published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864, page 234, and a letter from Major Colley, their
agent, same report, page 230. Also the statement of Robert North, same report, page 224:
Fort Lyon, Colorado, Sept. 18, 1864
His Excellency, John Evans
Governor of Colorado, Denver, C.T.
Taking with me under strict guard the Indians I had in my possession, I reached my destination and was confronted by from six to
eight hundred Indian warriors, drawn up in line of battle and prepared to fight.
Putting on as bold a front as I could under the circumstances, I formed my command in as good order as possible for the purpose of
acting on the offensive or defensive, as might be necessary, and advanced toward them, at the same time sending forward one of
the Indians I had with me, as an emissary, to state that I had come for the purpose of holding a consultation with the chiefs of the
Arapahos and Cheyennes, to come to an understanding which might result in mutual benefit; that I had not come desiring strife, but
was prepared for it if necessary, and advised them to listen to what I had to say, previous to making any more warlike demonstrations.
They consented to meet me in council, and I then proposed to them that if they desire peace to give me palpable evidence of their
sincerity by delivering into my hands their white prisoners. I told them that I was not authorized to conclude terms of peace with them,
but if they acceded to my proposal I would take what chiefs they might choose to select to the Governor of Colorado Territory, state
the circumstances to him, and that I believed it would result in what it was their desire to accomplish - peace with their white brothers.
I had reference particularly to the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes.
The council was divided - undecided - and could not come to an understanding among themselves. I told them that I would march to
a certain locality, distant twelve miles, and await a given time for their action in the matter. I took a strong position in the locality
named, and remained three days. In the interval they brought in and turned over, the balance of the seven being (as they stated)
with another band far to the northward.
I have the principal chiefs of the two tribes with me, and propose starting immediately to Denver, to put into effect the aforementioned
proposition made by me to them. They agree to deliver up the balance of the prisoners as soon as it is possible to procure them,
which can be done better from Denver City that from this point.
I have the honor, Governor, to be your obedient servant.
Major, First Colo. Cav.
Com'd'g, Fort Lyon, C. T.
The following letter from Major Colley, Indian Agent, was sent to me:
Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory, July 26, 1864
Honorable John Evans
Governor and Superintendent Indian Affairs.
When I last wrote you, I was in hopes that our Indian troubles were at an end. Colonel Chivington had just arrived from Larned and
gives a sad account of affairs at that post. They have killed some ten men from a train, and run off all the stock from the post.
As near as they can learn, all the tribes were engaged in it. The colonel will give you all the particulars. There is no dependence to
be put in any of them. I have done everything in my power to keep the peace; I now think a little powder and lead is the best food for
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
United States Indian Agent
The following statement by Robert North was made to me:
November 10, 1863
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 fifty 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 Arapahos, 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 have 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 their lives. I saw the principal chiefs
pledge to each other that they would be friendly and shake hands 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 the war, saying that they would take a great many white women and children prisoners, and get a heap of
property, blankets, etc.; but while I am connected with them by marriage and live with them, I am yet a white man and wish to avoid
There are many Mexicans with the Comanche and Apache Indians, all of whom urge 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."
In addition to the statement showing that all the Cheyennes were in alliance, I desire to add the following frank admission from the
Indians in the council:
"Governor Evans explained that smoking the war pipe was a figurative term, but their conduct had been such as to show that they
had an understanding with other tribes. Several Indians said: "We acknowledge that our actions have given you reason to believe
In addition to all this, I refer to the statement of Mrs. Ewbanks. She is one of the prisoners that Black Kettle, in the council, said they
had. Instead of purchasing her, the first captured her on the Little Blue, and then sold her to the Sioux.
Mrs. Martin, another rescued prisoner, was captured by the Cheyennes on Plum Creek, west of Kearney, with a boy nine years old.
These were the prisoners of which White Antelope said, in the council, "We took two prisoners west of Kearney, and destroyed the
trains." In her published statement she says the party who captured her and the boy killed eleven men and destroyed the trains and
were mostly Cheyennes.
Thus I have proved by the Indian chiefs named in the report, by Agent Colley and Major Wynkoop, to whom they refer to sustain their
assertation to the contrary, that these Indians had "been at war, and had committed acts of hostility and depredations."
In regard to their status prior to their council at Denver, the foregoing public documents which I have cited show how utterly devoid of
the truth or foundation is the assertation that these Indians "had been friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of
hostility or depredations."
The next paragraph of the report is as follows:
"A northern band of Cheyennes, known as the Dog Soldiers, had been guilty of acts of hostility; but all the testimony goes to prove
that they had no connection with Black Kettle's band, and acted in spite of his authority and influence. Black Kettle and his band
denied all connection with, or responsibility for, the Dog Soldiers, and Left Hand and his band were equally friendly."
The committee and the public will be surprised to learn the fact that these Dog Soldiers, on which the committee throws the slight
blame for acts of hostility, were really among Black Kettle's and White Antelope's own warriors in the "friendly" camp to which Major
Wynkoop made his expedition, and their head man, Bull Bear, was one of the prominent men of the deputation brought in to see me
at Denver. By reference to the report of the council with the chiefs, to which I referred the committee, it will be observed that Black
Kettle and all present based their prepositions to make peace upon ther assent of their bands, and that these Dog Soldiers were
especially referred to.
The report continues:
"These Indians, at the suggestion of Governor Evans and Colonel Chivington, repaired to Ft. Lyon and placed themselves under the
protection of Major Wynkoop."
The connection of my name in this is again wrong. I simply left them in the hands of the military authorities, where I found them, and
my action was approved by the Indian Bureau.
The following extracts from the report of the council will prove this conclusively. I stated to the Indians:
"Another reason that I am not in a condition to make a treaty is that the war is begun, and the power to make a treaty of peace has
passed from me to the great war chief."
I also said: "Again, whatever peace they may make must be with the soldiers and not with me."
And again, in reply to White Antelope's inquiry, "How can we be protected from the soldiers on the plains?: I said: "You must make
that arrangement with the military chief."
The morning after this council, I addressed the following letter to the agent of these Indians, which is published in the report of the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864, page 220:
Colorado Superindendency of Indian Affairs,
Denver, September 29, 1864
Major S. G. Colley
United States Indian Agent, Upper Arkansas.
The chiefs brought in by Major Wynkoop have been heard. I have declined to make any peace with them, lest it might embarrass the
military operations against the hostile Indians on the plains. The Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, being now at war with the United
States Government, must make peace with the military authorities.
Of course, this arrangement relieves the Indian Bureau of their care until peace is declared with them; and as these tribes are yet
scattered, and all except Friday's band are at war, it is not probable that it will be done immediately.
You will be particular to impress upon these chiefs the fact that my talk with them was for the purpose of ascertaining their views, and
not to offer them anything whatever. They must deal with the military authorities until peace, in which case, alone, they will be in
proper position to treat with the government in relation to the future.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Governor of Colorado
and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
It will thus be seen that I had, with the approval of the Indian Bureau, turned the adjustment of difficulties with the hostile Indians
entirely over to the military authorities; that I had instructed Agent Colley, at Fort Lyon, that this would relieve the Bureau of further
care of the Arapahos and Cheyennes, until peace was made, and having had no notice of such peace, or instructions to change the
arrangement, the status of these Indians was in no respect within my jurisdiction, or under my official inspection.
It may be proper for me to say further, that it will appear in evidence that I had no intimation of the direction in which the campaign
against the hostile Indians was to move, or against what bands it was to be made, when I left the Territory last fall, and that I was
absent from Colorado when the Sand Creek battle occurred.
The report continues:
"It is true that there seems to have been excited among the people inhabiting that region of country a hostile feeling towards the
Indians. Some had committed acts of hostility toward the whites, but no effort seems to have been made by the authorities there to
prevent these hostilities, other than by the commission of even worse acts."
"Some had committed acts of hostility toward the whites!" hear the facts: In the fall of 1863 a general alliance of the Indians of the
plains was effected with the Sioux, and in the language of Bull Bear, in the report of the council, "Their plan is to clean out all this
The war opened early in the spring of 1864. The people of the East, absorbed in the greater interest of the rebellion, know but little
of its history. Stock was stolen, ranches destroyed, houses burned, freight (wagon) trains plundered, and their contents carried
away or scattered upon the plains; settlers in the frontier counties murdered, or forced to seek safety for themselves and families in
blockhouses and interior towns; emigrants to our Territory were surprised in their camps, children were slain, and wives taken
prisoners; our trade and travel with the States were cut off; the necessities of life were at starvation prices; the interests of the
Territory were being damaged to the extent of millions; every species of atrocity and barbarity which characterizes savage warfare
was committed. This is no fancy sketch, but a plain statement of facts which the committee seem to have no proper realization. All
this history of war and blood - all this history of rape and ruin - all this story of outrage and suffering on the part of our people - is
summed up by the committee and given to the public in one mild sentence, "Some had committed acts of hostility against the whites."
The committee not only ignore the general and terrible character of our Indian war, and the great sufferings of our people, but make
the grave charge that "no effort seems to have been made by the authorities there to prevent all these hostilities."
Had the committee taken the trouble, as they certainly should have done before making so grave a charge, to have read the public
documents of the government, examined the record and files of the Indian Bureau, of the War Department, and of this
superintendency, instead of adopting the language of some hostile and irresponsible witness, as they appear to have done, they
would have found that the most earnest and persistent efforts had been made on my part to prevent hostilities. The records show
that early in the spring of 1863, United States Indian Agent Loree, of the Upper Platte Agency, reported to me in person that the
Sioux under his agency, and the Arapahos and Cheyennes, were negotiating an alliance for war on the whites. I immediately wrote
an urgent appeal for authority to avert the danger, and sent Agent Loree as special messenger with the dispatch to Washington. In
response authority was given, and an earnest effort was made to collect the Indians in council. The following admission, in the report
of the council, explains the results:
Governor Evans - "Hearing last fall that they were dissatisfied, the Great Father at Washington sent me out on the plains to talk with
you and make it all right. I sent messengers out to tell you that I had presents, and would make you a feast; but you sent word to me
that you did not want to have anything to do with me, and to the Great Father at Washington that you could get along without him.
Bull Bear wanted to come in to see me, at the head of the Republican, but his people held a council and would not let him come."
Black Kettle - "That is true."
Governor Evans - "I was under the necessity, after all my trouble and all the expense I was at, of returning home without seeing
them. Instead of this, your people went away and smoked the war-pipe with our enemies."
Notwithstanding these unsuccessful efforts, I still hoped to preserve peace.
The records of these offices also show that, in the autumn of 1863, I was reliably advised from various sources that nearly all of the
Indians of the plains had formed an alliance for the purpose of going to war in the spring, and I immediately commenced my efforts to
avert the imminent danger. From that time forward, by letter, by telegraph, and personal representation to the Commissioner of
Indian Affairs, the Secretary of War, the commanders of the department and district; by traveling for weeks in the wilderness of the
plains; by distribution of annuities and presents; by sending notice to the Indians to leave the hostile alliance; by every means within
my power, I endeavored to preserve peace and protect the interests of the people of the Territory. And in the face of all this, which
the records abundantly show, the committee say: "No effort seems to have been made by the authorities there to prevent those
hostilities, other than by the commission of even worse acts."
They do not point out any of these acts, unless the continuation of the paragraph is intended to do so. It proceeds:
"The hatred of the whites to the Indians would seem to have been inflamed and excited to the utmost. The bodies of persons killed
at a distance - whether by Indians or not is not certain - were brought to the capital of the Territory and exposed to public gaze, for
the purpose of inflaming still more the already excited feelings of the people."
There is no mention in this of anything that was done by authority, but it is so full of misrepresentation, in apology for the Indians,
and unjust reflection on a people who have a right from their birth, education, and ties of sympathy with the people they so recently
left behind them, to have at least a just consideration. The bodies referred to were those of the Hungate family, who were brutally
murdered by Indians within twenty-five miles of Denver. No one here ever doubted that the Indians did it, and it was admitted by the
Indians at council. This was early in the summer, and before notice sent in June to the friendly Indians. Their mangled bodies were
brought to Denver for a decent burial. Many of our people went to see them, as many people would have done. It did produce
excitement and consternation, and where are the people who could have witnessed it without emotion? Would the committee have
the people shut their eyes to such scenes at their very doors?
The next sentence, equally unjust and unfair, refers to my proclamation, issued two months after the occurance, and four months
before the "attack" they were investigating, and having no connection with it or with the troops engaged in it. It is as follows:
"The cupidity was appealed to, for the governor, in a proclamation, calls upon all, either individually or in such parties as they may
organize, to kill and destroy as enemies of the country, wherever they may be found, all such hostile Indians; authorizing them to
hold, to their own use and benefit, all the property of said hostile Indians they may capture. What Indians he would ever term
friendly, it is impossible to tell."
Governor Evans' proclamation of August 11, 1864, is quoted herewith in its entirety:
Having sent special messengers to the Indians of the plains directing the friendly to rendezvous of Forts Lyon, Larned, Laramie and
Camp Collins for safety and protection, warning them that all hostile Indians would be pursued and destroyed, and the last of said
messengers having now returned, and the evidence being conclusive that most of the Indian tribes of the plains are at war and
hostile to the whites, and having to the utmost of my ability endeavored to induce all the Indians of the plains to come to said places
of rendezvous, promising them subsistence and protection, which, with few exceptions, they have refused to do.
Now, therefore, I, John Evans, Governor of Colorado Territory, do issue this, my proclamation, authorizing all 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 call to rendezvous at the points indicated, also to kill and destroy as enemies to 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 their own private use and benefit all the property of such
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 therefore.
I further offer to all such parties as will organize under the militia law of the Territory for the purpose, to furnish them arms and
ammunition, and to present their accounts for pay as regular soldiers for themselves, their horses, their subsistence and
transportation to Congress, under the assurance of the Department Commander that they will be paid.
The conflict is upon us, and all good citizens are called upon to do their duty for the defense of their homes and families.
In testimony thereof I have herewith set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the Territory of Colorado to be affixed this 11th day
of August, A.D. 1864.
S.H. Elbert, Secretary of Colorado Territory
I offer the following statement of the circumstances under which this proclamation was issued by the Honorable D.A. Chever. It is as
Executive Department, Colorado Territory
August 21, 1865
"I, David A. Chever, Clerk in the Office of the Governor of the Territory of Colorado, do solemnly swear that the people of said
territory, from the Purgatoire to the Cache la Poudre Rivers, a distance of over two hundred miles, and for a like distance along the
Platte River, being the whole of our settlements on the plains, were thrown into the greatest alarm and consternation by numerous
and also simultaneous attacks and depredations by hostile Indians early last summer; that they left their unreaped crops, and
collecting into communities built blockhouses and stockades for protection at central points throughout the long line of settlements;
that those living in the vicinity of Denver City fled to it, and that the people of said city were in great fear of sharing the fate of New
Ulm, Minnesota (the great Sioux uprising of 1862); that the threatened loss of crops, and the interruption of communication with the
States by the combined hostilities, threatened the very existence of the whole people; that this feeling of danger was universal; that a
flood of petitions and deputations poured into this office, from the people of all parts of the territory, praying for protection, and for
arms and authority to protect themselves; that the defects of the militia law and the want of means to provide for defense was proved
by failure of this department, after the utmost endeavors, to secure and effective organization under it; that reliable reports of a
presence of a large body of hostile warriors at no great distance east of this place were received, which reports were afterwards
proved to be true, by the statement of Elbridge Gerry (page 232, Report of Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1864); that repeated
and urgent applications to the War Department for protections and authority to raise troops for the purpose had failed; that urgent
applications to (military) department and district commanders had failed to bring any prospect of relief, and that in the midst of this
terrible consternation and apparently defenseless condition, it had been announced to this office, from district headquarters, that all
Colorado troops in the service of the United States had been peremptorily ordered away, and nearly all of them had marched to the
Arkansas River, to be in position to repel the threatened invasion of Rebels into Kansas and Missouri; that reliable reports of
depredations and murders by the Indians, from all parts of our extended lines of exposed settlements, became daily more numerous,
until the simultaneous attacks on (wagon) trains along the overland stage route were reported by telegraph, on the 8th of August,
described in a letter of George K. Otis, superintendent of the overland stage line, published on page 254 of Report to Commissioner
of Indian Affairs for 1864.
Under these circumstances, on the 11th of August (1864) the Governor issued his proclamation to the people, calling upon them to
defend their homes and families from the savage foe; that it prevented anarchy; that several militia companies immediately organized
under it, and aided in inspiring confidence; that under its authority no act of impropriety has been reported, and I do not believe any
occurred; that it had no reference to or connection with the Third Regiment of one-hundred-days men that was subsequently raised
by authority of the War Department, under a different proclamation, calling for volunteers, or with any of the troops engaged in the
Sand Creek affair, and that the reference to it in such connection in the report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War is a
preversion of the history and facts in the case.
David A. Chever
Territory of Colorado, Arapaho County,
City of Denver, SS.
Subscribed and sworn to before me
this 21st day of August, A.D. 1865
Eli M. Ashley, Notary Public
I had appealed by telegraph, June 14th (1864), to the War Department for authority to call the militia into the United States service,
or to raise one-hundred-day troops; also written to our delegate in Congress to see why I got no response, and had received his
reply to the effect that he could learn nothing about it; had received a notice from the department commander, declining to take the
responsibility of asking the militia for United States service, throwing the people entirely on the necessity of taking care of themselves.
It was under these circumstances of trial, suffering, and danger on the part of the people, and of fruitless appeal upon my part to the
general government for aid, that I issued my proclamation of the 11th of August, 1864, of which the committee complains.
Without means to mount or pay militia, and failing to get government authority to raise forces, and under the withdrawal of the few
troops in the Territory, could any other course be pursued?
The people were asked to fight on their own account - at their own expense - and in lieu of protection the government failed to
render. They were authorized to kill only the Indians that were murdering and robbing them in hostility, and to keep the property
captured from them. How the committee would have them fight these savages, and what other disposition they could make of the
property captured, the public will be curious to know. Would they fight without killing? Would they have the captured property turned
over to the government, as if captured by United States troops? Would they forbid such captures? Would they restore it to the
The absurdity of the committee's saying that this was an "appeal to the cupidity," is too palpable to require much comment. Would
men leave high wages, mount and equip themselves at enormous expense, as some patriotically did, for the poor chance of
capturing property, as a mere speculation, from the prowling bands of Indians that infested the settlements and were murdering their
families? The thing is preposterous.
For this proclamation I have no apology. It had its origin and has its justification in the imperative necessities of the case. A
merciless foe surrounded us. Without means to mount or pay militia, unable to secure government authority to raise forces, and our
own troops ordered away, again I ask, could any other course be pursued?
Captain Tyler's and other companies organized under it, at enormous expense, left their lucrative business, high wages, and
profitable employment, and served without other pay than the consciousness of having done noble and patriotic service; and no act
of impropriety has ever been laid to the charge of any party acting under this proclamation. They had all been disbanded months
before the "attack" was made that the committee were investigating.
The Third Regiment was organized under authority from the War Department, subsequently received by telegraph, and under a
subsequent proclamation issued on the 13th of August (1864), and were regularly mustered into service of the United States about
three months before the battle the committee were investigating occurred.
Before closing this reply, it is perhaps just that I should say that when I testified before the committee, the chairman and all its
members, except three, were absent, and I think, when the truth becomes known, this report will trace its parentage to a single
member of the committee.
I have thus noticed such portions of the report as refer to myself, and shown conclusively that the committee, in every mention they
have made of me, have been, to say the least, mistaken.
First: The committee, for the evident purpose of maintaining their position that these Indians had not been engaged in war, say the
prisoners they held were purchased. The testimony is to the effect that they captured them.
Second: The committee say that these Indians were and always had been friendly, and had committed no acts of hostility or
depredations. The public documents to which I refer show conclusively that they had been hostile, and had committed many acts of
hostility and depredations.
Third: They say that I joined in sending these Indians to Fort Lyon. The published report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and
of the Indian council, show that I left them entirely in the hands of the military authorities.
Fourth: They say nothing seems to have been done by the authorities to prevent hostilities. The public documents and files of the
Indian Bureau, and of my superintendency, show constant and unremitting diligence and effort on my part to prevent hostilities and
protect the people.
Fifth: The say that I prevaricated for the purpose of avoiding the admission that these Indians "were and had been actuated by the
most friendly feelings toward the whites." Public documents cited show conclusively that the admission the desired me to make was
false, and that my statement, instead of being a prevarication, was true, although not in accordance with the preconceived and
mistaken opinions of the committee.
This report, so full of mistakes which ordinary investigation would have avoided; so full of slander, which ordinary care of the
character of men would have prevented, is to be regretted, for the reason that it throws doubt upon the reliability of all reports which
have emanated from the same source, during the last four years of war.
I am confident that the public will see, from the facts herein set forth, the great injustice done me; and I am further confident that the
committee, when they know these and other facts I shall lay before them, will also see this injustice, and, as far as possible, repair it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Governor of the Territory of Colorado, and
ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
“The Chivington Massacre” – United States Congress, Senate. Reports of the Committees, 39 Cong., 2 sess. Washington Government Printing Office,
1867. pp. 77-87
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