|1860 - 1863 The winds of war . . .
Spring 1860 – Kiowas and Comanches go on warpath against Texans in Indian Country (present Oklahoma panhandle)
and Texas. Union Army engages in minor skirmishes with militant bands, ranging north from Texas panhandle to Solomon
May 1860 – The Reverend John Milton Chivington moves to Denver City to establish the city’s fist Methodist Church.
Silas Soule moves to Colorado to try his luck at gold mining.
September 8, 1860 – Commissioner Greenwood travels to Bent’s Fort with relatives and government officials to open
treaty talks with Cheyennes and Arapahos.
Arapahos and their chiefs Little Raven, Storm and Left Hand are present, but Cheyenne leaders, Black Kettle, White Antelope
and several sub-chiefs must be located at their camps, and do not arrive until September 18. According to Cheyenne law, all
Council of Forty-four Cheyenne chiefs must be represented in treaty council, and treaty ratification may not be consummated
without consultation with leaders of the military bands, Kit Foxes, Bowstrings, Elkhorn Scrapers and Red Shields. Because
the Cheyennes have divided into two factions, the northern bands are camped more than 250 miles north of Bent’s Fort.
Although Black Kettle and White Antelope insist that the northern chiefs must be present, Greenwood refuses due to time
constraints and appointments to treat with other tribes. Treaty negotiations ensue, and Greenwood offers up one-third of
annuities and gifts proposed to Cheyennes and Arapahos as a good-faith offer, providing the chiefs agree to a treaty
In Greenwood’s proposal, approximately two-thirds of the land given the joint tribes in the Fort Laramie treaty will be
relinquished to the government; in return the Cheyennes and Arapahos will be given all land forming a triangular area,
bounded by the Big Sandy (Sand Creek) on the west, and the Arkansas River on the south. Annuities of $30,000 per year for
fifteen years will be allotted for the Indians to purchase livestock and supplies. Greenwood also promises a sawmill and
workshops, and assistance from whites to help the Indians learn to cultivate the land. Each member of the tribe are offered
40 acres of land.
Although the proposal is far too small to accommodate the combined Cheyenne and Arapaho nations, all chiefs present
agree to Greenwood’s terms. Black Kettle, however, stipulates that he will not sign the treaty until all Cheyenne leaders are
allowed to vote on the proposal.
September 1860 – Near Bent’s Fort, Union Army begins construction of Fort Wise (later renamed Fort Lyon).
February 18, 1861 – Treaty of Fort Wise is signed by Black Kettle, White Antelope, Lean Bear, Little Wolf, Tall Bear, Lone
Bear (Cheyennes); and Left Hand, Little Raven, Storm, Shaved Head and Big Mouth (Arapahos).
The Fort Wise Treaty would forever remain a matter of controversy, for it later became a major contributor to the Sand Creek
Massacre. Although the treaty was clearly a land swindle perpetrated by the U. S. Government bent upon reclaiming valuable
Colorado land, the Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs clearly represented their respective nations when they signed the
agreement. Although Black Kettle had insisted upon gaining approval of the Cheyenne Council of Forty-four, only six of its
members signed the treaty, suggesting a serious breach of Cheyenne political protocol. The treaty not only drove deeper the
wedge of Cheyenne dissatisfaction with their leadership - it enraged many warriors who were appalled at the participation of
one of their own - Dog Soldier Chief Lean Bear.
February 28, 1861 – U.S. Congress approves establishment of Colorado Territory (present-day Colorado),
incorporating land previously part of Utah, Kansas and New Mexico territories.
March 1861 – Abraham Lincoln sworn in as the 16th President of the United States, sealing the fate of disagreements
between southern and northern states over tariffs, territorial issues, and the racially-charged dispute over slavery. South
Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. By 1861,
Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee join the 11-state Confederate government, led by President Jefferson
April 12, 1861 – The steaming kettle of hostility between pro-slavery Democrats and abolitionist Republicans finally boils
over. Confederate troops attack the Union-held Fort Sumter, South Carolina. President Lincoln immediately orders his army
to move on the Confederates, and the Civil War – or War of Rebellion – begins.
Summer 1861 – Confederate army of Texans led by General Henry H. Sibley push up Rio Grande Valley, capturing
Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Confederates intend to move northward and capture lands from Santa Fe to Fort Laramie,
cutting off Union supply lines to California. Colorado Territorial Governor William Gilpin recruits volunteers for the Colorado
1st Volunteers to answer the call for help from New Mexican Union forces. John Chivington offered position of Military
Chaplain, but he requests a “fighting, rather than praying” commission. Chivington enlists as a Major, Edward Wynkoop
commissioned as a Captain, and Silas Soule a First Lieutenant.
September 1861 – Annuities promised to Indians under Fort Wise Treaty have not yet been delivered. Although they have
been stored at Fort Wise all summer, Colorado Governor William Gilpin has ordered they not be distributed until winter.
Cheyennes and Arapahos, destitute and hungry after a long and dry summer on the plains, gather at Fort Wise to demand
delivery. Fort Wise commander Captain Elmer Otis distributes only a few provisions.
October 1861 – Amended version of Fort Wise Treaty is delivered to Fort Wise and signed again by chiefs.
Winter 1861 – Appointed by Lincoln, Samuel G. Colley replaces Albert G. Boone as Indian Agent for Cheyennes and
Arapahos at Fort Wise (Lyon). Colley and son Dexter operate a trading business with Indian interpreter and mountain man
John S. Smith, and rumors soon abound that the Colleys and Smith are selling government-issued annuities (the ones
allotted under the Fort Wise Treaty) to the Indians. The government never investigates these allegations.
Early Winter 1862 – President Lincoln appoints his friend John Evans to the office of Colorado Territorial Governor,
replacing William Gilpin. Lincoln recognizes the vast commercial potential of the territory, and concludes that Evans’ astute
skills in land development and railroad building make him the logical choice to help bring Colorado into the Union.
Evans is also appointed to the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, although Evans has no knowledge of Indian
customs. Evans is charged with keeping the Indian tribes pacified, while at the same time charged with developing
Colorado commerce and protecting its white emigrants.
March 26-28, 1862 – Battle at Apache Canyon and La Glorieta Pass, N.M.
Colonel John P. Slough’s 1st Colorado Cavalry joins New Mexican forces against Sibley’s Texans. Major John M.
Chivington's command, protecting Slough’s flank, by chance encounters the Texans’ main supply line and strikes a decisive
blow at La Glorieta Pass, sending the surviving Rebels scurrying back to San Antonio. For his accomplishments at La
Glorieta, Chivington promoted to Colonel and replaces Slough as Colorado’s Military District Commander. Denverites hail
the returning Colorado heroes, and dub Chivington “The Fighting Parson.”
March 1862 – Colorado 2nd Infantry is raised and mustered into service under command of Colonel Jesse H.
Leavenworth. Upon the return of the 1st Cavalry from New Mexico, the 2nd is immediately moved to Kansas to guard the
Santa Fe Trail against Confederate forces. Before the 2nd is taken from Colorado, the new Governor Evans had reported to
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs:
“ . . . now that the War Department has ordered the Colorado troops home, and mounted one regiment, giving
us ample military protection, we have but little danger to apprehend from Indian hostilities . . .”
(Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1862, pp. 373-376)
Late Summer 1862 – The government still has not delivered any annuities or other goods and services promised in the
Fort Wise Treaty. Although it demands the Cheyennes and Arapahos remain in the Sand Creek reservation, no
arrangements have been made to begin dividing lots for the Indians as promised. The tribes, politically divided over the
treaty from the beginning, are fragmenting as warrior hostility against both the whites and the elder tribal leaders grows.
Few Cheyennes or Arapahos remain on the arid and inhospitable Sand Creek reservation; instead, they follow the buffalo
herds on river trails, and thus continue to encounter white emigrants.
August – December 1862 - Dakota Sioux warriors, angered by a broken government treaty, go on a four-month
rampage of abduction, rape and murder around New Ulm, Minnesota, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,400 citizens and
soldiers before the uprising is finally subdued. Nearly 400 trials are held, resulting in the execution of 38 warriors. Many
uncaptured Sioux warriors will range south toward the Republican River over the next year, forming a strong bond with the
Cheyenne Dog Soldiers and inciting their Cheyenne brothers to make war against the whites on the Plains.
December 5, 1862 - Cheyenne warriors attack stage station of Cotterel, Viceroy and Co. (US mail contract carriers) on
the Arkansas River. Warriors steal supplies and provisions and burn a hay lot. Station manager and his assistants escape.
January 1863 - Nine-Mile Ridge Massacre. Kiowa and Comanche warriors attack a wagon train west of Fort Larned, KS.
All the teamsters are killed, and the train is ransacked and burned.
March 1863 – Cheyenne war party, on their way to raid a Ute camp, loots homes of a white settlement on the Cache la
Poudre near Camp Collins, CO (present-day Fort Collins).
March 27, 1863 – By invitation of President Lincoln, Cheyenne chiefs War Bonnet, White Antelope, Standing in Water, and
Dog Soldier Lean Bear travel to Washington D.C. with chiefs from Comanche, Arapaho, Kiowa and Caddo tribes. Chiefs
hold peace council with Lincoln and visit several eastern cities to learn about industry and farming. Lincoln promises the
chiefs that whites will do all they can to help the Indians learn to farm and build settlements, providing the Indians quite their
wild, nomadic ways and conform to government law. The chiefs return with new hope for peace, but the stubborn resistance
of the Dog Soldiers and other warrior clans is growing.
May 1863 – Governor Evans hears rumor that Cheyennes are holding councils with leaders of other tribes regarding a
united effort to drive all whites out of Colorado. Fearing another uprising similar to the 1862 massacre at New Ulm, Evans
meets with Arapaho leaders and warns them that the Union Army will conduct a mass war of extermination against all tribes
if this confederation comes to pass.
Summer 1863 – Historical accounts detail theft of cattle belonging to Issac Van Wormer, 30 miles southeast of Denver
near present day Elizabeth, CO. Van Wormer mounts a posse and confronts band of Arapahos, led by Notnee, who admit to
stealing the stock. Van Wormer takes livestock away from Arapahos, initiating an alleged feud that will later become a
controversial centerpiece to the brutal murders of Van Wormer's ranch hand, Nathan Hungate and his wife and children.
June 11, 1863 – Colonel Leavenworth’s 2nd Cavalry is shorthanded at Fort Larned, KS. He complains to departmental
headquarters and requests troops from the Colorado 1st, garrisoned at Fort Lyon under the command of Lt. Colonel Samuel
Tappan. Lyon is not in the same military district as Larned, and Chivington, Tappan’s commander, angrily orders Tappan to
refuse Leavenworth’s request. Chivington protests, declaring that Colorado should not be considered any less important
than the Kansas Territory, for if properly protected, Colorado will yield vast amounts of mineral wealth.
July 1863 - Evans sends Sioux squaw man Elbridge Gerry out to search out Cheyennes and Sioux and propose a peace
council with the governor.
July 1-3, 1863 - The tide of war turns against the South, as the Confederates are defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg, PA.
July 15, 1863 – Indian troubles at Fort Larned persist, as a large band of drunken Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas and
Apaches approach the fort to steal whiskey. A fight breaks out, and a Larned guard (an Osage Indian employed by the Army)
shoots and kills a Cheyenne brave. Leavenworth manages to avert a battle, but he again requests more troops from Lt.
Colonel Tappan, who this time sends reinforcements in defiance of Chivington’s standing order. As a result, Chivington
removes Tappan from command and sends him to Fort Garland (a remote and dilapidated outpost). The incident begins a
longstanding feud between Tappan and Chivington, which will later become an issue after the Sand Creek Massacre.
August 1863 – First serious Indian troubles in Colorado. Mountain-dwelling Utes begin raiding mountain settlements
and strike Medicine Bow Station near Camp Collins (present Fort Collins). Major Wynkoop leads 1st Cavalry soldiers on
expedition from Camp Weld in Denver, but fails to find the marauding Ute war parties. Wynkoop's Report
Aug 21, 1863 - Battle of Lawrence, KS - Pro-Confederate William C. Quantrill and 450 pro-slavery followers raid the town
and butcher 182 boys and men. The family home of Silas Soule is raided and burned. Soule’s mother, brother (Lawrence
Sheriff William L.G. Soule) and two sisters survive the attack. William will send the women back to Maine.
September 6, 1863 – Elbridge Gerry’s effort to bring the Cheyennes to a peace council with Governor Evans appears to
be successful. Evans is escorted to the Republican River in Kansas to meet with Black Kettle and other chiefs, but the
Cheyenne leaders don’t show up at the designated meeting spot. Gerry travels to the Smoky Hill fork, where the main body
of Cheyennes are camped, and discovers that the Dog Soldiers are now camped there as well. The Dogmen prevent Black
Kettle, White Antelope and one of their own leaders, Bull Bear, from attending the council with Evans, indicating a dramatic
shift in the political power structure of the Cheyenne Nation. Due to overall dissatisfaction with Black Kettle and White
Antelope’s participation in the Fort Wise Treaty, the militarily superior Dog Soldiers have apparently seized enough power
and influence to overrule the peaceably inclined chiefs (including Dog Soldier peace advocates Lean Bear and Bull Bear).
September 15, 1863 – Evans returns to Denver, angry that the Cheyennes refused to meet with him. He approaches
Arapaho Chief Roman Nose with a similar proposal to hold a peace council, and is similarly rebuked. Roman Nose sends
word to Evans that the Cheyennes, Sioux and Kiowa are disposed to go to war with the whites. Speaking for the Arapahos,
who are highly dependent upon the protection of the Cheyennes, Roman Nose tells Evans that his tribe has no interest in
holding any peace talks under these circumstances.
September 1863 – Major Scott J. Anthony, now commanding Fort Lyon (replacing the demoted Lt. Colonel Tappan)
reports more Kiowa and Comanche depredations on the Arkansas. He also reports rumors from friendly Indians that Sioux
warriors are roaming the area and trying to recruit warriors to attack settlements along the Arkansas and Santa Fe Trail.
November 10, 1863 – Governor Evans writes to Commissioner of Indian Affairs W. P. Dole, stating that Robert North, an
Arapaho squaw man, had witnessed a council between leaders of the Cheyennes, Arapahos, Sioux, Kiowas, Comanches
and Apaches, in which all leaders pledged to wage a large-scale war with the whites in the upcoming spring.
“I am fully satisfied with the truthfulness of his statement,” Evans wrote of North’s warning, “and have deemed it
prudent to make every arrangement to prevent war and to ferret out any step in progress of this foul
conspiracy among these poor, degraded wretches.”
(United States War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Series I - Volume XXXIV - Part IV, p. 100)
November 1863 – Government finally begins construction of Point of Rocks Indian Agency under the provisions of the
Fort Wise Treaty. Work on an irrigation ditch commences, and plans are under way to begin construction of a blacksmith
shop and other maintenance buildings. Most of the Cheyennes and Arapahos are now away from the Sand Creek
reservation, however. Agent Colley, who is still under suspicion of swindling the Indians out of annuities, reports to the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs:
“Most of the depredations committed by them are from starvation. It is hard to make them understand that
they have no right to take from them that have, when in a starving condition.”
(Report to Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1863).
November 1863 – Major Scott Anthony, regarding Colley’s assessment of the destitute condition of the Cheyennes and
Arapahos in the Arkansas River vicinity, reports:
“The Indians are all very destitute this season, and the government will be compelled to subsist them to a great
extent, or allow them to starve to death, which would probably be the easier way of disposing of them.”
(The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. XXII, Part II,
We'll never forget
John S. Smith
|Shaded area represents
land reserved for the
Cheyennes and Arapahos
under the Fort Laramie
Treaty of 1851.
Black area represents the
reduced land area allotted
to the Indians in the Fort
Wise Treaty of 1861.
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