Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sand Creek Massacre
|Sand Creek Massacre|
|Conflict||Indian Wars (Civil War)|
|Date||29 November, 1864|
|Place||Kiowa County, Colorado|
|Result||U.S. victory (massacre)|
The Sand Creek Massacre refers to an infamous incident in the Indian wars of the United States that occurred on November 29, 1864 when Colorado Militia troops in the Colorado Territory massacred an undefended village of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped on the territory's eastern plains.
The attack was initially reported in the press as a victory against a bravely-fought defense by the Cheyenne. Within weeks, however, eyewitnesses came forward offering conflicting testimony, leading to a military investigation and two Congressional investigations into the events.
Starting the 1850s, the gold rush in the Rocky Mountains (then part of the western Kansas Territory) had brought a flood of white settlers into the mountains and the surrounding foothills. The sudden immigration came into conflict with the Cheyenne and the Arapaho who inhabited the area, eventually leading to the Colorado War of 1864 . The violence between the Native Americans and the miners spread, prompting territorial governor John Evans to send Colonel John Chivington to quiet the Indians. After a few skirmishes and a decisive warpath on the part of the Indians, the Cheyennes and Arapahos were ready for peace and camped near Fort Lyon on the eastern plains.
Both of the tribes had signed a treaty with the United States just three years before in which they ceded their lands to the United States and agreed to move to the Indian reservation to the south of Sand Creek, demarcated by a line to be run due north from a point on the northern boundary of New Mexico, fifteen miles west of Purgatory River , and extending to the Sandy Fork of the Arkansas River.
Black Kettle, a chief of a group of mostly Southern Cheyennes and some Arapahoes, some 550 in number, reported to Fort Lyon in an effort to declare peace. After having done so, he and his band camped out at nearby Sand Creek, less than 40 miles north. Having heard the Indians had surrendered, Chivington and his 700 troops of the First Colorado Cavalry , Third Colorado Cavalry and a company of First New Mexico Volunteers marched to their campsite in order to obtain an easy victory. On the morning of November 29, 1864, the army shot down people as if they were buffalo, killing as many as 150, or about one-quarter of the entire group. The dead were mainly old men, women and children and the cavalry lost only 9 or 10 killed and three dozen wounded. One man, Silas Soule, a Massachusetts abolitionist, refused to follow Colonel Chivington's orders. He did not allow his cavalry company to fire into the crowd.
After the massacre, some tribal members decided to join the Dog Soldiers , a group of Cheyenne who decided there could be no successful negotiations with the white men and were waging war against them.
The nation was shocked by the brutality of the massacre and the army decided to investigate Chivington's role. Silas Soule was extremely willing to testify against him. After he testified, Soule was murdered by Charles W. Squires. It is believed that Chivington had a hand in this murder.
Depiction in Fiction
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