Indian War of 1868

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During the three years following the battle of Sand Creek there was little trouble with the Indians in El Paso County; consequently the people of that section of Colorado, while keeping a sharp lookout, felt fairly safe upon their ranches. During the summer season of each of these years, however, the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho continued their raids upon the exposed settlements and the lines of travel to the East.

In the meantime, the Government was following its usual temporizing policy with the savages. In the spring of 1867, agents of the Indian Bureau attempted to negotiate a new treaty with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, and for that purpose visited them at their camp on Pawnee Fork, near Fort Lamed, Kansas. But spring was not the time of year when the Indians wanted to negotiate treaties, and as a result, after making several appointments for councils, none of which was kept, the savages suddenly disappeared, and were next heard of raiding the frontier settlements of Kansas and Nebraska, and the lines of travel between Colorado and the Missouri River. These raids were continued during the next five or six months, but, after killing and robbing the whites all summer, these Cheyenne and Arapaho came in again professing penitence; whereupon, following the usual custom, a new treaty was made with them, by the terms of which both tribes consented to give up their lands in Colorado and settle upon a reservation elsewhere. Under the treaty, they agreed that “hereafter they would not molest any coach or wagon, nor carry off any white woman or child, nor kill or scalp any white man.”

For this and the lands ceded by them, these tribes were to receive twenty thousand dollars annually, and a suit of clothes for each Indian; and, in addition, teachers, physicians, fanners’ implements, etc., were to be provided, in order to help them to acquire the habits of civilization.

While it was not expressly stated in the treaty, it was understood that the Cheyenne and Arapaho were to be supplied with arms and ammunition. The treaty seems to have been entered into by the agents of the Indian Bureau with all the outward semblance of good faith, although if those responsible knew anything of the facts they must have realized that the promise of these Indians to remain peaceable was utterly worthless, as had been proved year after year for a long period of time. Not only did the treaty turn out to be worthless, but that part of it giving the savages arms and ammunition was particularly reprehensible, as was shown by the results. The savages remained quiet during the winter, as usual, but in the spring they demanded the arms and ammunition that had been promised to them, and the Indian agents urged the Bureau to grant the request, making the plea that the Indians would starve unless these were given to them, so that they might be able to hunt the buffalo and other game of the plains.

Evidently the Government hesitated, but, finally, influenced by these statements, the issue of the arms and ammunition was authorized. At this juncture, Major Wynkoop, who after the battle of Sand Creek had proved himself an enemy of the people of Colorado, again showed that. he had no regard for their welfare. He had by this time been taken into the service of the Indian Bureau, presumably as a reward for his services in aid of the Bureau in connection with the Sand Creek investigation, and had been appointed an Indian agent. He was one of those who had been urging that arms and ammunition be given to the Indians, and it was he who finally delivered them to the savages. On August 10, 1868, he wrote to the Department:

I yesterday made the whole issue of annuity, goods, arms, and ammunition to the Cheyenne chiefs and people of their nation. They were delighted in receiving the goods, particularly the arms and ammunition, and never before have I known them to be bet-ter satisfied and express themselves as being so well contented previous to the issue. They have now left for their hunting grounds and I am perfectly satisfied that there will be no trouble with them this season.

On the very day that Wynkoop sent this letter, a body of two hundred and fifty Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux were raiding the settlements on the Saline River in Kansas, killing settlers, burning buildings, and committing unspeakable outrages on many defenseless women. Before the end of the month, according to the report of General Sheridan for that year, forty white men had been killed by the savages on the frontiers of Kansas and Colorado, many were wounded, and a large amount of property destroyed.

I must, however, confine my narrative to events that occurred in El Paso County and the counties adjoining. About ten days after the Wynkoop letter was written, a party of seventy-five Cheyenne and Arapaho, all well mounted, marched in from the plains and passed up through Colorado City. Most of the savages had modem guns and were well supplied with ammunition,-presumably issued by the Government. They bore letters from Indian agents and peace commissioners, which stated that they were peaceably disposed and should not be feared nor molested; but our people, not being satisfied with that kind of testimony, telegraphed to the Governor at Denver, who replied, reiterating that they were not hostile and must not be interfered with. At the time of their visit to Colorado City, the Indians were noticeably sullen in their demeanor, and appeared to be observing everything in a suspicious manner. However, they left without committing any overt act, and, apparently, went on leisurely up the Ute Pass into the mountains to fight the Ute, which they claimed was their intention.

A day or two later they surprised a small band of Ute who were camped a few miles south of the Hartsell ranch in the South Park, and in the fight that followed claimed to have killed six of the Ute including two or three squaws, and to have carried off a small boy. On the day of this occurrence Samuel Hartsell, owner of the ranch above referred to, had gone over to the mountains that form the eastern border of the South Park, looking for wild raspberries. While on one of the low mountains of that locality, he saw a group of mounted men in the valley below, a mile or so away. He had not heard of any Cheyenne or Arapaho being in that neighbor-hood, consequently he very naturally concluded that the horsemen were Ute. Having been on friendly terms with that tribe for many years, and well acquainted with many of its members, he decided to ride down the mountain to meet them. But as he came near the group, he noticed that they were not dressed as the Ute usually were, nor did they look like the people of that tribe; however, it was now too late to retreat, as almost immediately afterward he was discovered and surrounded by the savages. By that time Hartsell, through his general knowledge of the Indians of this Western country, knew that his captors were Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, tribes that had been hostile to the whites during the past four years, and were still hostile, so far as he knew. Consequently, he was very much alarmed, realizing that he was in a very dangerous situation. Evidently, the savages were not yet ready to begin hostilities, as was proved by their efforts to reassure Hartsell by showing him their certificates from Indian agents, telling of their peaceable character; but this did not prevent them from at once taking his revolver, ammunition, and pocket knife.

Hartsell estimated that there were about seventy Indians in the band, all of whom were fully armed and amply supplied with ammunition. The savages told him of their victory over the Ute, showed him the scalps they had taken, and the boy they had captured. Finally, after keeping Hartsell in suspense for more than three hours, the Indians allowed him to ‘go without injury, and then departed eastward in the direction of Colorado City. The people of Colorado City and its vicinity knew nothing of this occurrence until some time afterwards. Notwithstanding the assurance of the Governor and the Indian agents, the settlers continued to be very much alarmed at the presence of the savages, and knowing their treacherous nature, maintained a sharp lookout in order to prevent being at-tacked unawares. About eleven o’clock in the morning three or four days after the savages disappeared up Ute Pass, three Indians appeared at H. M. Teachout’s ranch on Monument Creek, eight miles northeast of Colorado City. They claimed to be friendly Ute, but Teachout, being familiar with the Indian tribes of the region, knew that they were not Ute. After staying five or ten minute, during which time they seemed to be intent on taking in the surroundings, and especially the corral where Teachout’s large herd of horses was kept at night, they left, following the main road towards Colorado City. Mr. Teachout and his brother, who lived on the Divide, owned about one hundred and fifty horses, all of which were kept at this Monument Creek ranch.

After the Indians had disappeared, Teachout, being alarmed, rounded up his horses and drove them into the corral, where he kept them during the daytime thereafter, letting them out to graze only at night, thinking that the safest plan. Apparently, the Indians, having obtained all the information they desired concerning the settlements around Colorado City, disappeared, and a day or two later were heard of raiding the frontier settlements east of Bijou Basin and on the head-waters of Kiowa, Bijou, and Running creeks, during which raid they killed several people and ran off much stock.

On August 27, 1868, the Cheyenne and Arapaho killed Mrs. Henrietta Dieterman and her five-year-old son on Comanche Creek, about twenty-five miles northeast of Colorado City, in a peculiarly atrocious manner. The Dieterman household consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Dieterman, a daughter about twelve years old, a son of five years, a sister of Mr. Dieterman’s, and a hired man. The sister was soon to marry the hired man, and he and Mr. Dieterman had gone to Denver to buy furniture for the new house-hold, leaving a German farmhand temporarily in charge. On the morning of the 27th, something happened to alarm Mrs. Dieterman. She evidently believed the Indians were near, for she hurriedly started with her sister-in-law and the two children for a neighbor’s house some distance away. After having gone a few hundred yards she remembered that she had left a considerable sum of money in the house, and with her small son went back to get it. They reached the house, got the money, and started away again, but had gone only. a short distance when they were overtaken by the Indians, who at once shot and killed both of them. The savages shot the boy repeatedly and finally broke his neck. The mother was shot through the body, stabbed, and scalped, and the bodies of both were dreadfully mutilated. Those who afterwards saw the victims said that it was one of the most horrible sights they had ever looked upon. Meanwhile, the sister-in-law and daughter ran to where the German was working in the field near by. He stood the Indians off by pointing the handle of his hoe at them, making them believe it was a gun. In that way he covered the retreat of himself and the others to a neighbor’s house. Mrs. Dieterman had formerly lived near the northern line of El Paso County, and was well known to many of the old settlers. The awful tragedy of her death created a great sensation, not only in that county, but also in Denver and throughout the entire State. News of the killing of Mrs. Dieterman and of the other out-rages perpetrated by the Indians in that region reached Colorado City late in the evening, a clay or two afterwards. As there was a possibility of the savages appearing at any moment, messengers were at once sent throughout the county notifying the people of the great danger that confronted them. At that time I happened to be at home with my father and other members of the family on our Bear Creek ranch. About eleven o’clock at night, we were aroused from sleep by the messenger sent to warn us and were advised to go immediately to Colorado City for protection. We appreciated the danger of our situation and quickly hitched up our team, put a few necessary articles of wearing apparel and bedding into the wagon, and started for town, three miles distant. It was a dark night, which made the trip a weird as well as an anxious one. With my sisters and younger brothers in the wagon, my father and I marched along behind, each with a rifle in hand, knowing that there was a possibility that the Indians had already stolen into this region, and that every bush or rock on the way might conceal a savage; but nothing happened and we reached town in safety. It was an incident that made one appreciate to the fullest extent the disagree-able and dangerous features of frontier life. We rented a house in Colorado City, moved our household effects from the ranch, and remained in town until after the Indian troubles were over.

Early in the morning of September 1st, Mr. Teachout, accompanied by his hired man, went out to bring in his herd of horses, as had been his custom since the visit of the three Indians a few days previous. They went down Monument Creek a mile or two, then up Cottonwood Creek, where they found the herd scattered along the valley for a mile or more above the point where the Santa Fe Railway now crosses that creek, which is about six miles north of the present city of Colorado Springs. The two rode leisurely through the herd up the valley on the south side of the stream, and had gone about half a mile above the point just mentioned, when they saw a half dozen mounted Indians come over the hill to the north and dash at full speed in the direction of the herd. Following them, other Indians came in sight, until there were at least twenty-five in the band. In a very short time the savages had rounded up most of the horses and were driving them up the creek at a furious speed. They passed Teachout, who was on the other side of the creek, expecting every minute to be at-tacked. Neither he nor his hired man had guns, but as they did not run., the Indians evidently thought they were armed, and kept some distance away. As they went by, one of the Indians who could speak English yelled: “Damn you, we are going to take your horses!” Soon after this, Teachout saw that the Indians had missed a bunch of fifteen to twenty colts that were grazing off to one side, and he and his hired man started after them, thinking to save at least that part of the herd. But the Indians soon discovered what they were after and started in pursuit, firing as they went. When affairs took this turn, there was nothing left for Teachout and his man to do but ride for their lives, and get back to the ranch as quickly as possible, which they did. The Indians rounded up the colts and soon disappeared to the eastward up Cottonwood Creek with the entire herd. Less than an hour afterward, they passed a ranch near the head of the creek, traveling rapidly. At this place the Indians attempted to add to their herd, but failed, as the horses they were after happened to be picketed close to the house, and a few shots from two well-armed ranchmen entrenched behind the walls of their log cabin drove the savages off.

Upon reaching home, Teachout immediately sent a messenger to his brother on the Divide, with an account of the raid and a request that he enlist as large an armed force as could quickly be gotten together, to follow the Indians and, if possible, recover the horses. The brother acted promptly, and that evening a party consisting of Dow and Bale Simpson, Jim Sims, “Wild Bill,” and others, whose names I have been unable to obtain, twenty-eight in all, started in pursuit of the savages. The party camped that night at a ranch about three miles southeast of C. R. Husted’s saw-mill, and at this point were joined by a Mr. Davis and Job Talbert, a brother-in-law of Mr. Husted. These two men had expected to get horses and arms at this ranch. Failing in this, however, they started back to the mill the following morning, but had gone only a short distance when the Indians overtook them, killed and scalped both leaving their mutilated bodies in the road, where they were found by their friends a few hours afterward.

The Simpson party, as it afterwards was called, started again early in the morning, soon found the trail of the captured herd, and followed it rapidly along the south side of the pinery, then eastward across Squirrel Creek and down the Big Sandy to the mouth of a creek coming in from the north, the size of the herd making the trail plain and easy to follow. So far no Indians had been seen, and the indications were that the Indians with the stolen horses were so far ahead as to make further pursuit useless. But instead of returning directly home, they decided to follow up this creek and scout the country to the east of Bijou Basin. A few miles up the creek they came to a ranch, which they found deserted. The house was open and had been thoroughly ransacked, but the owner nowhere appeared. After’ considerable search, his dead body was found some distance away.

He had been killed and scalped by the Indians, and, as in every other case, the body had been horribly mutilated, the house looted, and all his stock driven off. After burying the body, the party continued in a northerly direction until it reached the old Smoky Hill road. Here they met a party of eighteen men from the country to the north of Bijou Basin, and it was decided to combine the two forces for further scouting in that region. A short distance away from their camp that night, they found and buried the bodies of two men who had been killed by the Indians a day or two before. The combined parties camped together that night, and the following morning started towards Bijou Basin. During all this time no Indians had been seen, and it seemed probable that the savages had returned to their villages on the plains. Under this impression, the men marched rather carelessly along, strung out over the prairie for a considerable distance.

Early in the afternoon the party of eighteen, having decided that there was nothing further they could accomplish, left the Simpson party and started off northwesterly, in the direction of their homes. Hardly were they out of sight when two of Simpson’s men, who were some distance ahead of the main party, saw a few Indians on a hill not very far away. Word was at once sent back to the stragglers, and the party closed up in double-quick time. Meanwhile other Indians appeared, until in a short time they greatly outnumbered the Simpson party. This made it imperative that a place for defense should be found without delay. Apparently, the most favorable position in sight was the extreme point of a short and rather isolated ridge near by, at which place the ground dropped off rather abruptly on three sides. The men rushed to this point, formed a circle, and began to throw up temporary entrenchments with butcher knives and such other implements as they had at hand. By this time the Indians, under cover of a ridge to the south, had opened a sharp fire. Bullets were whizzing around in a lively fashion and in a few minute several of the horses had been wounded. However, an encouraging feature of the situation was that many of the shots fired by the Indians struck the ground some distance away. The whites returned the fire at every opportunity, and had reason to believe that their shots had been effective in a number of instances, although the Indians kept under cover as much as possible. Before darkness came on, a number of Simpson’s men had been wounded an d several of the horses killed. By this time, not withstanding the strong defense that was being made, it became more and more a question whether the party could withstand a vigorous charge by the Indians.

Night coming on, the firing of the Indians slackened a little and the men were enabled to give some consideration to their situation. It was realized that neither their location nor re-sources were favorable for a long siege, and for that reason help must be obtained as soon as possible. Among the party was a dare-devil sort of fellow known by the name of “Wild Bill, ” who volunteered to take the fastest horse, and in the darkness endeavor to break through the Indian line, which now completely surrounded the hill. Then, if successful, he was to hurry on to the settlements at Bijou Basin, fifteen miles away, and bring back reinforcements as quickly as possible. This suggestion met with the approval of every one, and arrangements were immediately made to carry it into effect. About nine o’clock Wild Bill, mounted on Dow Simpson’s race horse, stole out from the entrenchments and quietly rode away. The night being moderately dark, he succeeded in getting some distance away before he was discovered by the Indians. He then put spurs to his horse and dashed away at the best speed the animal, was capable of, the Indians following in a frantic endeavor to cut him off, shooting at him as they ran. Fortunately neither he nor the horse was hit, and in a short time he had left the Indians far behind. After that, he was not long in reaching Bijou Basin, where arrangements were at once made to dispatch couriers to Colorado City and elsewhere for reinforcements.

Meanwhile, those surrounded on the hill were most anxious for the safety of their messenger. They heard the shots and knew that he had been discovered, and that the Indians were in pursuit of him, but had no means of telling whether or not he had escaped. The only reassuring circumstance was that soon after this the firing gradually slackened, finally stopping altogether; and when daylight came there were no Indians in sight. The besieged men realized that this might be only a ruse, and that possibly the Indians were lurking near, ready to take advantage of them after they had left their entrenchments. However, on account of their critical position, being entirely without water for themselves and their horses, they determined to make a dash and take a chance of reaching the settlements. This being decided upon, they started at once, and without further molestation reached Holden’s ranch in Bijou Basin before noon, no Indians having been seen on the way. In the engagement none of the party had been killed and no one seriously wounded, probably because of the poor ammunition issued to the Indians by the Government for which I suppose the white people of this region should have been duly thankful.

While this engagement had been going on, stirring events had been happening in the neighborhood of Colorado City and elsewhere in the county. As I have already stated, within the next few days after the killing of Mrs. Dieterman, and the raid upon Teachout’s horses, most of the ranchmen down the Fountain Valley had brought their families to Colorado City for protection. The people of the Divide gathered for defense at McShane’s ranch near Monument, at John Irion’s on Cherry Creek, and at Husted’s mill in the pinery. The air was full of rumors of Indian depredations in every direction; but, as it was harvest time, it was imperative that the gathering of the crops be attended to. This made it necessary that some chances be taken, and it so happened that, when the crisis came, many of the men of Colorado City were out in the harvest fields of the surrounding country.

About noon on September 3, 1868, a band of forty to fifty Indians came dashing down the valley of Monument Creek, capturing all loose horses in their path. The first white man they ran across was Robert F. Love, of Colorado City, who was riding along the higher ground to the east of Monument Creek, not far from the present town of Roswell. As soon as Love saw the Indians, instead of trying to get away, which he knew would be useless, he dismounted, keeping his pony between himself and the savages, and, by keeping his revolver pointed in their direction, showing them that he was armed. After maneuvering around him for a time, the Indians passed on, apparently convinced that some of them would get hurt if they remained. It was not their policy to take many chances, as was evidenced through-out their entire stay in this region. They seldom troubled people who seemed to offer any serious resistance, seeking rather defenseless men, women, and children. Soon after leaving Love, a few of the Indians crossed Monument Creek to the house of David Spielman, which stood on the west side, about half a mile above the Mesa Road Bridge in the present city of Colorado Springs. Spielman had just finished moving his family and household effects to Colorado City, and being tired, had lain down behind the open front door, and had gone to sleep. The Indians looked in at the open door, but fortunately did not see him. They then went to the corral and took from it a horse that Spielman had purchased only the day before. After that they recrossed Monument Creek and joined the main body, which continued rapidly along the low ground east of the creek, crossing the present Washburn Athletic Field, on the way, and coming out on to the higher ground a few hundred yards south of Cutler Academy, near where the Hagerman residence now stands.

A short time previously, Charley Everhart, a young man about eighteen years of age, had started from his home just west of Monument Creek and near the present railway bridge above the Rio Grande station, to look after his father’s cattle, that were grazing on the plain now covered by the city of Colorado Springs. After crossing Monument Creek, he followed a trail that led eastward along the south rim of the high bank north of what is now known as Boulder Crescent. Everhart knew there were Indians in the country, and was no doubt on the lookout for them. He was mounted on a small pony, and had probably gone as far east as the present location of Tejon Street, when he evidently saw the Indians as they came out into open view to the north of him. He at once turned his pony toward home and urged it to its highest speed, making a desperate effort to escape from the savages; but his horse was no match for those of the Indians, and they soon overtook him. Everhart had reached a point near the intersection of what is now Platte and Cascade Avenues, when a shot from one of the savages caused him to fall from his horse. One of the Indians then came up to him, ran a spear through his body, and scalped him, taking all the hair from his head except a small fringe around the back part. The whole occurrence was witnessed from a distance by several persons. An hour or so afterward, when the Indians had gone and it was safe to do so, a party went out to where his mutilated body lay, and brought it to Colorado City.

After killing Everhart, the Indians saw farther down the valley, a quarter of a mile or so away, a lone sheep herder, who was generally known as ” Judge” Baldwin, and the whole band immediately started after him. When Baldwin saw the Indians coming, he tried to escape. Having no spurs or whip, he took off one of his long-legged boots and used it to urge his mount to its utmost speed. This, however, was ineffectual, as his horse was inferior to those of the Indians, and they had no difficulty in overtaking him before he had gone very far. They shot him, and he fell from his horse near the site of the present Fourth Ward Schoolhouse. The bullet struck Baldwin in the shoulder, and as he was leaning forward at the time, it passed upward through his neck and came out through the jaw. He dropped from his horse completely dazed, but in his delirium he used the boot to fight off the Indians. The latter evidently thought the wound mortal, so with-out wasting any more ammunition upon him one of their number proceeded to take his scalp. The savage ran the knife around the back part of Baldwin’s head, severing the scalp from the skull, and then discovered that he had been scalped at some previous time. For some reason, probably superstition of some kind, the Indians then abandoned the idea of scalping him, and the entire band rode off, leaving their victim, as they supposed, to die on the prairie. It was a fact that Baldwin had been scalped by Indians in South America some years before.

After leaving Baldwin, the Indians divided into two bands, one of which went in a northeasterly direction and crossed Shooks Run near the point where Platte Avenue now intersects it. Near this place they were joined by other Indians who had evidently been in concealment near by. It is said that during all this time two or three Indians stationed on the hill where the Deaf and Blind Institute is now located, apparently by the use of flags, directed the movements of those doing the killing, wigwagging in a manner similar to that in use in the army at that time, and that these signal men fell in with the others as they came along; after which they all rode rapidly to the eastward and soon disappeared on the plains. The other party continued down the valley of the Fountain, and at a point just below where the Rio Grande bridge now crosses Shooks Run, they came upon two small boys, the sons of Thomas H. Robbins, who lived on the south side of the Fountain, not far away. These two boys, eight and ten years of age respectively, were looking after their father’s cattle. They had evidently seen the Indians coming when some distance away, as they were using every possible endeavor to escape; but they had not gone far when the savages were upon them. It is said that one of the boys fell upon his knees and lifted up his hands, as though begging the Indians to spare his life, but the savages never heeded such appeals. Two Indians reached down, each seized a boy by the hair, held him up with one hand, and, using a revolver, shot him with the other and then flung the quivering, lifeless body to the ground.

The savages then continued rapidly down along the edge of the bluffs, to the north of Fountain Creek, and when at the south side of the present Evergreen Cemetery, attempted to capture some horses at the Innis ranch, in the valley a short distance away, but the presence of a number of armed men there caused them to desist after two or three futile dashes in that direction. Half a mile below this point, they met Solon Mason, a ranchman from the lower end of the county, accompanied by two or three other men. These men were all armed and, after two or three shots were exchanged, the Indians gave them a wide berth. At a ranch just below, occupied by George Banning, the Indians secured a few horses, after which they struck out over the plains to join the other band.

As I have already said, armed parties were going out every day from Colorado City to harvest the grain that had been ripe for some time. On that morning, I had joined a group that was to assist Bert Myers, a merchant of Colorado City, in harvesting a field of wheat on land now occupied by the town of Broadmoor. I was binding wheat behind a reaper, at a point not very far from the present Country Club buildings, when, about two o’clock in the afternoon, I saw a horse-man coming from the east riding furiously in our direction. When he reached us we found that it was a Mr. Riggs, who lived near the mouth of Cheyenne Creek. He told us that the Indians were raiding the settlements in every direction, and were killing people, mentioning of his own knowledge Everhart, Baldwin, and the Robbins boys, and he thought a good many more; and also had run off a large number of horses. My first thought was that the Indians had come in during the previous night, concealed themselves in the underbrush along the creeks, and taken advantage of the time when most of the men were out in the fields, to attack, rob, and murder. I knew such a thing was possible, as there was no one living between our settlement and the Indian country to give us notice of the approach of a hostile band. It then occurred to me that my three small brothers, Edgar, Frank, and Charles, were looking after our cattle near the mouth of Bear Creek, and certainly were in great danger, if indeed they had not already been killed. I immediately secured permission to take one of the horses from the reaper, in order to ride in search of the boys. I quickly stripped off all the harness except the blind bridle, mounted the horse, and tore away in the direction of Bear Creek. As a matter of precaution, I had taken a revolver with me to the harvest field as at this time few went out unarmed. After a ride at top speed, I met the boys about three-quarters of a mile south of Bear Creek.

My brothers told me that while eating their luncheon in the milk house near our dwelling on Bear Creek, they were alarmed by the excited barking of their dog. They ran out to see what was the matter, and, looking across on the present site of Colorado Springs, saw a group of horsemen whom they immediately knew to be Indians, pursuing another horseman, whom they at once conjectured was Charley Everhart. A moment later the band seemed to be grouped around some object, which doubtless was the time when the Indians were scalping young Everhart.

The boys witnessed the savages race. down over the flat in their pursuit of Baldwin, and while this was in progress, they counted the horsemen and found that there were thirty-five in the band. The boys then ran up the hill to the east of the house, heard the shot, and witnessed what I have already described concerning the shooting of Baldwin. They then saw the band divide, one party going out on the plains and the other down the creek. Becoming alarmed for their own safety, they had started to run to some of the neighbors on Cheyenne Creek, when I met them. As soon as I had heard their story, which assured me that the Indians had gone off to the east and that there was no immediate danger to the boys, I rode back to the harvest field where we had abandoned the reaper, hitched to the wagon, and drove to town. Later in the afternoon, the Robbins family, whose two boys had been killed, as I have related, came by our Bear Creek ranch on their way to Colorado City, and took my brothers to town with them. By the time we reached Colorado City, the bodies of Everhart and the two Robbins boys had been brought in. The party that went after Baldwin found him alive, but supposed him to be mortally wounded. It was thought that he could not possibly live more than a day or two at most, but, to the surprise of everybody, in a short time he began to recover and in a month or so was apparently well again.

Of course, the excitement in Colorado City and throughout the county was intense. We knew that the Territorial authorities were unable to give us any help whatsoever, and that the general Government had turned a deaf ear to our appeals for protection. Consequently, we realized that we must again, as in 1864, rely solely upon our-selves. In this emergency we repaired the old fort around the log hotel, and organized our forces to the best possible advantage, in order to be prepared for any further attacks that the Indians might make. Only a few hours after the raid, a messenger came in from Bijou Basin, asking that men be sent to the relief of the Simpson party, which was surrounded by Indians near that point, as I have already told. After consideration of the matter, it was decided that our force was strong enough to spare a few men for that purpose. Accordingly, that night ten of us volunteered to go to the assistance of the besieged. For this expedition a Mr. Hall, who lived on what has since been known as the Pope ranch, loaned me an excellent horse and a Colt’s rifle, a kind of gun I had never seen before nor have I seen one like it since. It was a gun built exactly on the principle of a Colt’s revolver, the only trouble with it being that one never knew just how many shots would go off at once.

Early the following morning we started out, following up Monument Creek to the mouth of Cottonwood; thence up that creek over the ground where Teachout’s herd of horses had been captured. We stopped a few minute at the Neff ranch, which we found deserted, and then went east along the route taken by the Indians when running off the Teachout herd.

An hour later, while we were riding along in a leisurely manner, and had reached within about half a mile of the pinery, we saw to our right a band of about twenty-five mounted Indians, half a mile away on the south bank of Cottonwood Creek. We had been so wrought up by the murders of the previous day, that without a moment’s hesitation we wheeled about and made for the Indians as fast as our horses could go. We had no sooner started than I realized that we might be running into an ambuscade, and I warned our people not to cross the ravine at the place where we had first seen the savages, but to go on one side or the other; however, our men were in such a state of frenzy, that they would not listen, so we rushed headlong to the bank of the ravine through which the creek ran. The bank was so steep that we had to dismount and lead our horses. Fortunately for us, there were no Indians at that moment at the point where we were crossing the ravine, but we had not gone a quarter of a mile before a mounted Indian appeared on the bank, almost at that identical puce, and probably there were others hidden near the same point.

As soon as the Indians on the south bank saw us coming, they started on the run in a southeasterly direction, and, when some distance away, gradually turned to the eastward. By this time our party began to think a little of the desirability of keeping a way of retreat open, in case of defeat in the expected engagement. For that reason, we veered a little to the right, and kept on until we were directly between them and Colorado City. By this time, the Indians had dismounted on a large open flat, about three-quarters of a mile to the eastward of us, and, forming a circle with their ponies, seemed to be awaiting our attack. We could see their guns flashing in the sunshine, and while we were surprised at this movement, so contrary to the usual custom of the Indians, we did not hesitate a moment, but started toward them as fast as our ponies could take us. Evidently changing their minds upon seeing this, the Indians remounted and started in the direction of the pinery as rapidly as they could go. Their horses were better and fleeter than ours, so we were unable to head them off, and when they entered the edge of the timber we knew it would only be inviting disaster to follow farther. We then resumed our march in the direction of Bijou Basin. An hour or two later, we went by the extreme eastern edge of the pinery, at the point where the old government road crossed Squirrel Creek. Here, judging by the great number of fresh pony tracks, a large number of Indians must have passed only a short time previously. After a short rest at this point, we rode steadily on and reached Bijou Basin that evening just before dark. On our arrival, we found that the besieged party had come in the day before, and that all the men, except the wounded, had returned to their homes. The wounded were being cared for at Mr. D. M. Holden’s ranch. There being nothing further for us to do, we started for home early the following morning. Upon our way, we found many Indian pony tracks at various places along the eastern and southern edge of the pinery, showing that the Indians were still around in considerable numbers, but we saw none during the day. After leaving the pinery, we followed the wagon road that came down through what is now known as the Garden Ranch. As we came down the hill, two or three miles to the northeast of the ranch houses, we noticed a number of horsemen congregated near that point. From their actions we knew that they were very much excited, and evidently mistook us for a band of Indians. They gathered around some tall rocks a little way to the eastward of the gateway, and seemed to be preparing for defense. We tried by signaling and otherwise to make ourselves known to them, but were unsuccessful until we were almost within gun-shot distance. They were greatly relieved when they ascertained who we were. We then joined them and reached Colorado City without further incident.



MLA Source Citation:

Howbert, Irving. The Indians of the Pike's Peak Region. New York: Knickerbock Press. 1914. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/indian-war-1868.htm - Last updated on Oct 23rd, 2013


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