The Sand Creek Massacre
Reports and Dispatches - July/August 1864
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JULY 1864

FORT RILEY, July 23, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK:
The Indian difficulties west of this point are serious, and I have come here to rally a force on the borders to repress the mischief.
The stages not coming through, we have not definite intelligence. We only know that they have run off our stock from Larned and
Walnut creek, murdering some men. Small parties of Indians have come within thirty miles of this place. I have ordered the
quartermaster to buy horses to mount dismounted cavalry, and requested militia colonels to call out seven hundred militia to join
me. In this way I hope to raise a thousand men. I go on to Saline to-morrow. I think stealing is the main object of the Indians.
S. R. CURTIS, Major General.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians”  p. 62


SALINE, KANSAS, July 26, 1864, via Leavenworth.
General H. W. HALLECK:
The stage has just arrived from Laramie. The damage done by Indians amounts to ten teamsters killed, five wounded, two of them
scalped, and the stealing of about three hundred cattle. Our posts are safe.
S. R. CURTIS, Major General.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians”  p. 62


Washington, D. C., August 2, 1864.
Governor JOHN EVANS, Denver, Colorado Territory:
The Secretary of War directs me to say that a recent law requires all cavalry horses to be purchased under directions of Colonel
Ekin, of the quartermaster's department. If there is such a pressing necessity that purchases cannot be made in time, the military
authorities can resort to impressment. General Curtis is the proper judge of such necessity in his department.
Major General and Chief of Staff

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” p. 65


FORT LEAVENWORTH, August 8, 1864.
Major General HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
I have returned from Upper Arkansas. At Larned divided my force in all directions, going myself with those scouting southward
towards Red river. Could not overtake Indians, but scared them away from Santa Fé route, where stages and trains move
regularly. Have made district of Upper Arkansas, assigning General Blunt to command. Have increased and improved the
organization of troops, giving stringent orders against allowing Indians inside of our line. Discharged militia, and directed continual
caution. The Kiowas, Comanches and Big Mouth Arapahoes are evidently determined to do all the mischief they can. I hope no
favor will be offered them by authorities at Washington till they make ample remuneration for their outrages.
Major General.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” pp. 62-63


Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter, August 9, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to report for information of the colonel commanding that on the night of the 7th instant at about 10 o'clock I
received intelligence that a train had been attacked about seven miles from this post by a band of Indians supposed to be Kiowas
and Comanches, who immediately crossed to the south side of the river, and there joining a large party proceeded up the river. I
immediately sent word to Captain Gray, at Camp Wynkoop, to throw his command on the opposite side of the Arkansas River to cut
off the retreat of the Indians, should they proceed in that direction. In the meanwhile, with eighty men and one howitzer, I crossed
the river at this point for the purpose of proceeding up the other side rapidly in pursuit. My command consisted of detachments of
Company D, commanded by Captain Soule, and Company K, commanded by Lieutenant Quinby, and Company G, with howitzer,
commanded by Lieutenant Baldwin. While crossing the river I received a dispatch from Bent's Ranch to the effect that a party of
Indians had been there that evening, including Satanta, war chief of the Kiowas, and two more of their principal chiefs, that they
had but a small party with them in sight, but the supposition was, judging from the importance of the chiefs present, that a very
large war party was in the immediate neighborhood. The dispatch also stated that the Indians had proceeded down the river, and a
few miles below Bent's Ranch they attacked a house occupied by a family named Rood and murdered all the inmates. By a forced
march I proceeded up in the direction of Bent's Ranch, seeing no signs of Indians until I reached the house said to have been
attacked by the Indians, which was unoccupied, but which bore evidence of there having been a conflict, an attempt having been
made to fire the house from the outside, which had proved unsuccessful. I afterward learned that the house had been gallantly
defended by four men who had been attacked by fourteen of the red devils and had finally driven them off, killing one of them. I
then proceeded as far as Bent's Ranch, scouting the country, but finding no evidence of there having been more than fourteen
Indians, and those having apparently rapidly decamped in direction of the Cimarron, after fruitless search I returned to-day to this
post, my men having been in the saddle for two nights, being entirely exhausted. I am well convinced Satanta with 1,000 or more
warriors of the Kiowas and Comanches is located over on the Cimarron or in that vicinity. I have also received information that four
white men have been murdered by these same Indians near the Cimarron Crossing. The available troops that I have in this
garrison will not warrant me in attacking Satanta at present, not being able to take more than fifty men into the field, after leaving
what would barely suffice for the absolute protection of the post, If it is possible I would respectfully recommend that I receive some
re-enforcements, so that I may take a sufficient command in the field to punish this fiend Satanta and his murdering crew.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to remain, with much respect, your obedient servant,
Major First Colorado Cavalry, Commanding Fort Lyon.
Lieutenant J. S. MAYNARD,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dist. of Colo., Denver, Colo. Ter.

“War of the Rebellion” (LIII, Part I, pp. 231-232)


FORT LEAVENWORTH, August 10, 1864.
Major General HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
Indians have attacked and killed inhabitants on Little Blue, this side Fort Kearney, on overland stage route. Stage just arrived at
Atchison without passengers. I have requested governor to send militia after them, and telegraphed commander of Kearney to
come down on them if he has force, but forces are scarce in that region. Cannot some of General Sully's command move to
Major General.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” p. 63


AUGUST 11, 1864.--Skirmish near Sand Creek, Colo. Ter.

No. 1.- Major Edward W. Wynkoop, First Colorado Cavalry.
No. 2.- Lieutenant Joseph A. Cramer, First Colorado Cavalry.
No. 3.- Lieutenant Horace W. Baldwin, Independent Battery Colorado Light Artillery, commanding detachment First Colorado
No. 4.- Lieutenant Ira Quinby, First Colorado Cavalry.

No. 1.
Report of Major Edward W. Wynkoop, First Colorado Cavalry.

FORT LYON, COLO. TER., August 13, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report, for the information on the colonel commanding, that on the 11th instant while my ordnance
sergeant, Kenyon, was a few miles north of this post in search of a stray horse, he was pursued by fifteen Indians, they following
him to within sight of the commissary building. In ten minutes I had thirty men in the saddle, and dividing them into two squads
started them immediately in pursuit. The detachments were respectively commanded by Lieutenants Cramer and Baldwin, copies of
whose reports I inclose. Toward night, after hearing that Lieutenant Cramer was fighting the Indians, and receiving a message from
him to the effect that he believed there to be a very large body in his neighborhood on Sand Creek, I hurriedly dispatched
Lieutenant Quinby with thirty men to re-enforce Lieutenant Cramer. In the meanwhile Company E, Captain Gray, having arrived
from Camp Wynkoop, I left them to garrison the post and followed in person with a section of the battery, Lieutenant Hardin, and a
small detachment of cavalry, Captain Soule. I was accompanied by Captain Robbins, chief of cavalry. It was very dark when I left
the post, and I had gone but a few miles when a thunder-shower arose, making it impossible to know with any certainty what
direction I was proceeding. I still kept on, and after a march of over six hours succeeded in finding Sand Creek; there halting the
command I sent out scouts and remained until daybreak. On account of having been thrown considerably out of my course by the
storm, I was unable to find either Lieutenant Cramer or the whereabouts of the Indians. The Indians are supposed to be Kiowas.
There is a probability that they are Arapahos. At all events, it is my intention to kill all Indians I may come across until I receive
orders to the contrary from headquarters. Just as I was about leaving the post with the above-mentioned command two men were
driven in by the Indians who were proceeding up the river. I have received official intelligence to the effect that thirty men of
Company A, First Cavalry of Colorado, have had a fight with a large body of Indians, near the crossing of the Arkansas, and lost all
their horses. A few days before that two men of Company A were murdered while out alone; two men of Company E while at Camp
Wynkoop are supposed also to have been murdered. I desire also to report the fact that the carbines with which our regiment is
armed are absolutely worthless, it being impossible to discharge over two-thirds of them. I am obliged to depend almost altogether
on the pistol and saber, and you are aware that a large number of the men are without pistols. I have no doubt that the post was
surrounded by Indians for the purpose of endeavoring to run off my herds, but so far I have entirely baffled, not having lost a single
head. I will continue to remain as vigilant as possible.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major First Cav. of Colo., Commanding Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter.
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Dist. of Colo., Denver, Colo. Ter.

No. 2.
Report of Lieutenant Joseph A. Cramer, First Colorado Cavalry.

FORT LYON, COLO. TER., August 12, 1864.
SIR: In pursuance to Special Orders, Numbers 169, dated at these headquarters, Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter., August 11, 1864, I started
from this post at 12 [p.] m., proceeding down the river a distance of four or five miles and took a due north course for three miles,
and there came in sight of a band of Indians who were from five to six miles in advance of us, they going in a northeast direction. I
immediately gave chase, and after a race of fifteen or twenty miles I came up with them, fourteen in number, who immediately
turned and charged my command, and at the same time endeavoring to get to our rear. At the time that the fight commenced I had
but six men; the rest, whose horses had failed, were to our rear, coming up as fast as possible. As soon as the rest of our men had
joined us we advanced, driving them and following them four miles, in which it was a running fight, resulting in wounding four
Indians and capturing one pony, with no loss on our side. I here sent back a messenger to report the facts to you, and ask for
instructions. We were then twenty-five miles from the post; all of our horses given out. After a rest of a few moments we went over
on Sand Creek for water, which we found in abundance; then followed on for twenty miles farther, but were unable to get nearer
than three quarters of a mile of them. Our horses all gave out but three. Went into camp on Sand Creek at an Indian crossing,
where from 100 to 150 had crossed but an hour or two before we arrived, their trail leading southeast. At 10 at night there came up
a very heavy rain-storm spoiling all our ammunition, thereby obliging us to start for the post, where we arrived a little after sunrise
on the 12th, traveling a distance of ninety miles.

Allow me here to speak of the men who accompanied me, all of whom, with one exception, behaved with coolness and bravery. I
would more particularly speak of Sergeant Forbes, Company D; Corporal Yakee Company D; and Sergeant Reed, of Company L,
and recommend them to your notice. Had we had good arms I am satisfied we could have captured the whole band, but our
carbines (Starr) were useless, only two out of eleven that could be fired.
Respectfully submitted to Major Wynkoop for approval.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Second Lieutenant Company G, First Cavalry of Colorado.
Major E. W. WYNKOOP.

No. 3.
Report of Lieutenant Horace W. Baldwin, Independent Battery Colorado Light Artillery, commanding detachment First Colorado

FORT LYON, COLO. TER., August 12, 1864.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report that in compliance with Special Orders, Numbers 169, dated Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter., August
11, 1864, I crossed the river at this post with a command of one non-commissioned officer and fifteen privates of K Squadron, First
Cavalry of Colorado. I proceeded down the river on the south side until I had satisfied myself that the Indians had not crossed, and
believing that I could render more effective service by crossing, I crossed the river about twelve miles below this post and
immediately took the trail of the enemy. I followed this trail until about 4 p. m., when I met a messenger from Lieutenant Cramer's
command, who told me that by riding five miles directly north I would find Lieutenant Cramer engaged with the Indians. I made all
haste in the direction named, but failed to find Lieutenant Cramer. I continued to travel in this direction until it became so dark that I
could not see an object at 100 feet distant. I was at this time near the lime bluffs on Sand Creek, but believing that it would not be
safe for me to camp with horses in such condition I marched back to the lakes, ten miles from Sand Creek, where I rested my stock
about two hours. My men being very poorly supplied with clothing, and having no rations, the night being cold and rainy, I thought it
advisable for me to return to this post and report again for orders. My men were in the saddle about eighteen hours and rode
within that time sixty-five miles. I arrived at this post about one hour before daylight August 12, 1864.
Respectfully submitted.
Second Lieutenant, Ind. Batty. Colo. Vol. Arty., Commanding Detachment.
Lieutenant W. W. DENISON,
First Colorado Cavalry, Post Adjutant.

No. 4.
Report of Lieutenant Ira Quinby, First Colorado Cavalry.

FORT LYON, COLO. TER., August 12, 1864.

SIR: Agreeable to Special Orders, Numbers 169, dated Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter., August 11, ordering me with twenty men of Company
K, First Cavalry of Colorado, to re-enforce Lieutenant Cramer, I left this post at 7.30 p. m. the 11th and proceeded as I supposed in
the direction he had taken, but owing to the darkness of the night I lost my way, and after wandering about until nearly midnight I
camped until morning, then started in the direction I supposed he had gone. After traveling about fifteen miles I struck his trail
returning to this post, upon which I immediately returned. I did not see any Indians on the trip.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, First Cavalry of Colorado, Commanding Company K.
Major E. W. WYNKOOP,
Commanding Fort Lyon, Colo. Ter.

“War of the Rebellion” (LIII, Part I, pp. 237-240)


FORT LYON, COLO. TER., August 12, 1864.
Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs:
SIR: The Indians are very troublesome. Yesterday a party of fifteen chased a soldier within three miles of the post. Lieutenant
Cramer with fifteen men pursued them. After a chase of fifteen miles the Indians halted and gave fight. We killed 2, wounded 2
more, and captured 2 horses. They then retreated toward Sand Creek. Our horses were so much exhausted that our men were
unable to pursue farther. Last evening an expressman was driven back by four Indians. There is no doubt but large parties, since
the re-enforcement of Larned, have come up the river and are now in this vicinity. I fear the work at the agency will have to be
abandoned if troops cannot be obtained to protect it. I have made application to Major Wynkoop for troops. He will do all he can,
but the fact is we have no troops to spare from here. We cannot ascertain what Indians they were, but I fear that all the tribes are
engaged. The Arapahoes that I have been feeding have not been in for some time. It looks at present as though we shall have to
fight them all.
U. S. Indian Agent, Upper Arkansas.

DENVER, August 12, 1864.
Maj. Gen. S. R. CURTIS:
Indians have appeared near here. No militia organized for the field, and law no account. Troops all out after Indians and guerrillas;
can't send any down Platte yet.
Colonel, Commanding

“War of the Rebellion” (LIII, Part II, p. 673)


Washington, D. C., August 13, 1864.
Major General CURTIS, Fort Leavenworth:

The contractor of the overland mail line has represented through the Post Office Department that more protection against Indians
is required along the line, and that two armed men should accompany each coach. He also asks that orders be given to the military
not to use the grain, forage, and stores of the line.

Please see that these requests are carried out as far as you are able.
Major General and Chief of Staff.

FORT LEAVENWORTH, August 13, 1864.
General HALLECK:
Your despatch just received, and telegraphed to General Curtis, at Omaha. The following has just been received from General
Mitchell, commanding district of Nebraska, to General Curtis, Fort Leavenworth:

"Just heard from a company of militia sent up the Little Blue from Kearney. They scoured the country for forty miles up and down
the stream; found no Indians. I have parties out in every direction from each post chasing Indians. Everything will be done that I can
do with my present force. I am raising militia as fast as I can; the governor has authorized the raising of twelve companies. I have
received to-day ----- toward one company in this vicinity, of staunch men.
"B. B. MITCHELL, Brigadier General."
Major, A. A. G., Department of Kansas.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” pp. 63-64


OMAHA, August 16, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
Yours of the 13th, concerning the furnishing of escorts for overland mail line to defend it against Indians, will be complied with. I am
here to look after Indian troubles that are quite extensive on the line and against the border settlements. I have troops arriving on
the Blue, where the mischief was greatest. General Mitchell telegraphs from Fort Kearney that he thinks that region is threatened
by a large force of Indians collecting on the Republican. I am sending out militia in small parties to join forces which I have gathered
below, and will soon be upon them, be they many or few.
S. R. CURTIS, Major General

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” p. 64


Denver, August 16, 1864.
Colonel J. M. CHIVINGTON, Commanding District of Colorado:
SIR: I have the honor herewith to inclose for your information copies of letters received from Major Colley and Mr. Bent in reference
to the hostile disposition of the Indians in the vicinity of Fort Lyon.
Private Secretary.

Sunday evening, August 7, 1864 -11.30 p. m.
Honorable JOHN EVANS,

Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs:
DEAR SIR: About 9 o'clock this evening Mr. French, who is cutting hay for this post on side of the river about eight miles above
here, arrived here with the intelligence that a Mexican train encamped near him had been attacked by a party of Kiowa Indians, and
it is said that one man was killed. The Indians took some sugar, coffee, &c., and fled back across the river. Major Wynkoop
immediately called out Companies D and K of the First Colorado Cavalry, and, taking command in person, started out after the
Indians. While the troops were getting ready a shot was fired across the river opposite the post and another just below the
commissary where some men are encamped engaged in cutting hay.
Yours, truly,

A messenger has just arrived from Bent's Ranch, twenty-five miles above here. I inclose you Bent's letter. Major Wynkoop has sent
out an express to Camp Wynkoop ordering Captain Gray to cross the river and send out scouts, and if possible intercept the
Indians on their way down.
In haste, yours,

BENT'S RANCH, August 7, 1864.
About 10 or 11 o'clock to-day four Kiowa Indians came in sight and finally came up. One of them was Satanta, or Sitting Bear, and
one of them the Little Mountain, or Tohason's son. They said they were on a war party, and when they first left their camp that
there was a very large party of them, and on the Cimarron they killed five whites, and the most of the party turned back from there.
The Little Mountain's son says he was sent to me by his father to see if I could not make peace with the whites and them. I told him
that I could not say anything on that subject to them until I saw some of the proper authorities. I then told them that I had heard that
General Curtis was at Fort Larned, and that he was a big chief, and that he was the man that they would have to talk to. They
asked me about you. I told them you were at the fort. The Indians are all over the hill, and I am afraid they have killed old man
Rule's folks. I think I will have to move from here soon. The women are alarmed, and I don't think it safe here. We will send this
down after night, as we don't think it safe to send a man in daylight. The Little Mountain's son appeared to be very anxious for
peace, but it may all be a suck-in. I have no more to say. I am not in very good humor, as my old squaw ran off a few days ago, or
rather went off with Jo. Barraldo, as she liked him better than she did me. If I ever get sight of the young man it will go hard with him.
Yours, truly,

“War of the Rebellion” (LIII, Part II, pp. 734-735)


OMAHA, August 18, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK:
General Mitchell telegraphs from Fort Kearney that Captain Mussey encountered five hundred well-armed Indians on Elk creek,
near Republican; had a fight; killed ten Indians, and lost two soldiers; drove Indians ten miles, but had to fall back, pursued by
Indians, thirty miles.
S. R. CURTIS, Major General.

DENVER, August 18, 1864.
Hon. EDWIN STANTON, Secretary of War:
Extensive Indian depredations, with murder of families, occurred yesterday thirty miles south of Denver. Our lines of communication
are cut, and our crops, our sole dependence, are all in exposed localities, and cannot be gathered by our scattered population.
Large bodies of Indians are undoubtedly near to Denver, and we are in danger of destruction both from attack of Indians and
starvation. I earnestly request that Colonel Ford's regiment of 2d Colorado volunteers be immediately sent to our relief. It is
impossible to exaggerate our danger. We are doing all we can for our defence.
JNO. EVANS, Governor.

Denver, August 22, 1864.
E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
No government saddles within seven hundred miles from here; no government horses to mount hundred-days regiment of cavalry,
nearly full. Unlimited information of contemplated attack by a large body of Indians, in a few days, along the entire line of our
settlements. Order Captain Mullin, quartermaster here, to purchase horses, and Lieutenant Hawley, district, ordnance officer, to
purchase horse equipments. Necessity imperative.
Governor of Colorado Territory.

This application should be granted at once.
Colonel Commanding.

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” pp. 64-65


Fort Kearney, August 28, 1864.
Major General HALLECK, Chief of Staff:
Indians in small bands continue to commit depredations, but seem more cautious moving westward. Have effectually scoured the
country east of 99th meridian. Indians going west of settlements. Overland mail agents have withdrawn stock and gone east. I think
they can run through with such escorts as I can furnish. Militia very tardy in coming forward, many turning back before reaching this
Some fifty murders have been committed by Indians on this line, and considerable private stock stolen, but government has lost but
S. R. CURTIS, Major General

“Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians” p. 66
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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.

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