Painting of the attack on Sand Creek, courtesy the Colorado Historical Society
The Sand Creek Massacre, occurring on November 29, 1864, was one of the most infamous incidents of the Indian Wars. Initially reported in the press as a victory against a bravely fought defense by the Cheyenne, later eyewitness testimony conflicted with these reports, resulting in a military and two Congressional investigations into the events.
Starting in the 1850’s, the gold and silver rush in the Rocky Mountains brought thousands of white settlers into the mountains and the surrounding foothills. Dislocating and angering the Cheyennes and Arapahos who lived on the land, the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1858 brought the tension to a boiling point.
Washington, December 20, 1864
"The affair at Fort Lyon, Colorado, in which Colonel Chivington destroyed a large Indian village, and all its inhabitants, is to be made the subject of congressional investigation. Letters received from high officals in Colorado say that the Indians were killed after surrendering, and that a large proportion of them were women and children."