of the immense importance of our officers and men being thoroughly acquainted
with the whole line of our southwestern frontier, from the Sabine bay to the Rocky
Colonel Dodge, born in the country that now forms the State of
Indiana, served in our second war with England as a Captain, a Jlajor,
and as the Lieutenant- Colonel of a regiment of volunteers raised in Mis-
souri ; and was Colonel of a regiment of Michigan mounted volunteers that
took part in "Black Hawk's War,"' in the spring and summer of 1833.
HISTOKY OF COLORADO 153
On March 4, 1833, he was aiDpointed Colonel of the Firist Regiment of
United States Dragoons, with a part of which he made his expedition to
the Rocky Mountains. He :esigned from the army on July 4, 1836. to
become the Governor of Wiscons-n Territory, which was organized in that
year, and so served until the summer of 1841. In 1845, he was again
appointed Governor of that Territory, and still was filling the position
when Wiscousin was admitted into the Union, in May, 1848. He was then
elected the new State's junior Senator in the United States Congress. At
the expiration of his first term he was re-elected, and continued thus to
represent the State until March 4, 1857. He died on July 9, 1867.
In the year 1845, Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, then in command of
the First Regiment of United States Dragoons, with several companies of
that organization made a "Summer Campaign to the Rocky Mountains"
from Fort Leavenworth, in obedience to orders received from Washington.
Lea\dng Fort Leavenworth on May 18th, he took a westerly course to the
Oregon Trail, which he struck in the valley of the Big Blue Elver. There-
after, his westward march was upon that road â to the Platte River, thence
up that stream and the North Platte to Fort Laramie, and on to and some
distance beyond the South Pass. Returning to Fort Laramie about the
middle of Jul}', he moved almost directly south and passed through the
Colorado country, along the eastern base of the mountains, to the Arkansas
River; thence eastward by the course of that stream to the Santa Fe Trail,
and by that road, for most of the remaining way, to Fort Leavenworth.
In some respects, the purposes of Kearny's "Summer Campaign" were
similar to those of Colonel Dodge's expedition, but they were not animated
by the spirit of conciliation and good will to the extent that it character-
ized with the latter's intercourse with the Indian tribes that he met.
Colonel Kearny was inclined to depend more on a display of force in pro-
ducing lasting impressions upon the Indian mind; and the circumstances
now were different. He set out to demonstrate to the prairie Indian? the
military ability of the United States to protect the emigration to Oregon
and to punish them for any attacks or other depredations they should make
upon the white wayfarers. In commenting upon Kearny's reconnaissance.
General Winfield Scott, then "Commanding General of the Army", in his
annual report for that year, said "the great number of Indians passed, in
that wide circuit, must have been powerfully impressed with the vigor,
alertness, and fine appearance of the troops, as well as by the wise and
humane admonitions of the commander". Colonel Kearny's report of the
expedition, made to the Adjutant General of the United States Army,
and which is a remarkably condensed document, here follows :
"Report of a Summer Campaign to the Rocky Mountains, etc., in 184.5."
"Headquarters 1st Regiment Dragoons,
"St. Louis, Mo., September 15, 1845."
"Sir: The marches pointed out in the instructions to me from your office, of
April 9th, have been performed. The journal report, by Adjutant Turner, 1st
dragoons, and the map of tlie country over which we passed, drawn by Lieuten-
ant Franklin, topographical engineers, being now completed, are enclosed herewith.
Tliey render any other than a brief report from me unnecessary.
"On the 18th of May I left Fort Leavenworth, being in command of five com-
panies of my regiment, each 50 strong, well mounted and equipped for any service;
each dragoon having his proper arms â a sabre, carbine, and pistol. Two mountain
howitzers followed in the rear of the column. The officers attached to the expedition
154 HISTORY OF COLORADO
were Colonel Kearny, Surgeon De Camp, Captain ilcKissack (assistant, quarter-
master), Lieutenant Franklin (topographical engineer), Lieutenant Turner (adju-
tant of regiment). Lieutenant Carleton (assistant commissary of subsistence).
With company A were Capt. Eustis, Lieutenant Ewell, â with C, Captain Moore,
Lieutenant Smith, â with F, Lieutenants Kearny, Stanton, â with G, Captain Burg-
win, Lieutenant Love, â ^with K, Captain Cook, Lieutenant Hammond. Mr. Thomas
Fitzpatrick was our guide. From Fort Leavenworth we marched westward, and in
about 120 miles fell on the Oregon Trail, near the 'Big Blue'; continued on that
trail to the Nebraska, or Platte river, which we struck near the head of Grand
island, â up the right bank of that river to the 'Forks' â up the 'North Fork' to
Fort Laramie, which is a trading post of the fur company at the mouth of the
Laramie river, and which we reached on the 14th June. Leaving company A in
camp, a few miles from Fort Laramie, I proceeded with the other four on the 17th
June â continued up the north fork of the Platte â crossed from that river near the
'Eed Buttes', to 'Sweet Water' â up that river to a short distance from its source,
where we left it and marched by the 'South Pass' of the Rocky mountains to the
waters of Green river, or the Colorado of the west, which flows to the Gulf of
California and the Pacific ocean.
"Having reached the 'South Pass', the extreme west contemplated in our expe-
dition, we, on the 1st of July, commenced our return ; and on the 13th foimd com-
pany A not far from where we had left it on the Laramie river. Taking that com-
pany with us, we proceeded south on the following day â marched near the base of
the mountains, (passing 'Long's' and 'Pike's' peaks,) reached the Arkansas about
100 miles below Taas [Taos] and about 60 miles above 'Bent's fort', (another trad-
ing post of the fur company,) â passed that fort on the 29th of July â commenced
our march down, on the left bank of the Arkansas, to near the 'Pawnee fork' of
it â from there to the Kanzas, which we crossed about 50 miles from its mouth,
and returned to Fort Leavenworth on the 24th August, having been absent from
there 99 days ; during which time these dragoons had marched at least 2,200 miles
through the Indian country â a wilderness; a considerable portion of it a barren
one â carrying their provisions and stores with them, their horse-s subsisting entirely
upon the grass afforded by the prairie.
"During our march we met with the Pawnees â with several tribes of the
Sioux Indians â with the Chej-ennes Arapahoes. They were distinctly told that the
road opened by the dragoons must not be closed by the Indians, and that the
white people traveling upon it must not be disturbed, either in their persons or
property. It is believed that the Indians will remember to observe what has been
told to them on this subject.
"During our march we met with no obstacles that were not easily overcome,
and with but one accident of a serious result, which was that of a cairbine being
accidentally discharged by Private Smith, of company G, when the ball shattered
his right arm so as to render amputation necessary.
"Every man who left Fort Leavenworth with the command, in May, has
returned to his station. We lost about nine public horses and mules, which died of
disease, fatigue, and other causes.
"Great credit is due to the officers and enlisted men who composed this com-
mand. They have all proven themselves what their ambition is to be â good
"From the time of our reaching the Oregon trail, near the 'Big Blue', we con-
tinued on it to the 'South Pass', overtaking many of the emigrants the advance of
whom we passed at Fort Laramie. The total number this season we found to be
about 850 men, 475 women, 1,000 children, driving with them about 7,000 head
of cattle, 400 horses and mules, with 460 wagons."
Colonel Kearny added to the foregoing report a few remarks and
recommendations. He mentions that "from Fort Leavenworth to the
neighborhood of Fort Laramie, we found the soil tolerably fertile", and that
"from the neighborhood of Fort Laramie to the South Pass, a distance of
about 300 miles, the country is a barren sandy desert". He tells nothing
of the appearance of the parts of Colorado he traversed, but goes on to say:
HISTORY OF COLORADO 155
"In lieu of the establishment of a military post in that upper country, I would
suggest that a military expedition, similar to the one of this season, be made every
two or three years. They would serve to keep the Indians perfectly quiet, remind-
ing them of (as this one proved) the facility and rapidity with which our dragoons
can march through any part of their country, and that there is no place where
they can go but the dragoons can follow; and, as we are better mounted than they
are, overtake them.
"Although we did not see as many Indians on our march as we had desired,
yet the fact of our having been through their country is, no doubt, at this time
known to every man, woman, and child in it. And as these were the first soldiers
ever seen by those upper Indians, and as those who saw them were much struck
with their uniform appearance â their fine horses â their arms and big guns, (how-
itzers,) â it is most probable, in their accounts to those who did not see us, they
have rather exaggerated than lessened our numbers, power, and force. . . .
"In marching down the Arkansas we met with several parties of traders going
to Taas and Santa Fe; they were getting along without molestation, and without
difficulty. We saw no Indians on this river, except some Apaches who reside in
"There are a number of white men from our own States, who have nominally
their residence near Taas and Santa Fe, and who come frequently into the Indian
country between the upper Arkansas and Platte, between 'Bent's Fort' and 'Fort
Laramie;' bringing w'hiskey with them, which they trade to the Indians; conse-
quently causing much difficulty and doing much harm. This should be prevented;
and possibly might, by the appointment of a sub-agent, which I recommend, located
at 'Bent's fort', who, under instructions from the War Department, might put a
stop to that traffic in that section of country.
"I cannot refrain from repeating, in this place, what I have for many years
been convinced of â that the good of the Indians would be much advanced, and the
peace of the country much more effectually secured, if Congress would pass a law
declaring the whole of the Indian country under martial law. Tlie difficulty of
taking persons accused of offenses in the Indian country, with witnesses, to the
civil courts, which are so remote, and which sit only at stated periods in the year,
renders much of the trade and intercourse law of 1834 inoperative and useless."
In making up his "journal report'' of the outing, Adjutant Turner
followed his commander's example as to brevity. The most important
incident that he records as occurring upon the outward march was a council
held at Fort Laramie with "1,200 Sioux"', who "were gathered in a few
days", their head chieftain being Bull Tail. The Colonel lectured and
threatened the assemblage upon the matter of leaving the road open to the
emigrants; his advice and warnings being received in good part by Bull
Tail and his people. Of the homeward march from Fort Laramie, Lieu-
tenant Turner says:
"On the 14th of .July, the command set out for Bent's Fort, distant from Fort
Laramie about 400 miles, nearly due south. . . . The command struck the south
fork of the Platte on the 20tli of July, and after travelling along it for a day or
two it was left for Bent's Fort, arriving there on the 29th of July.
"From Fort Laramie to the south fork the country is very barren, without
any timber and with but little water. The south fork is timbered with cotton-
wood, but the grass is indifferent and the soil generally sandy.
"An evident improvement in the country appeared as the command went
south; and along Cherry creek, the soil is represented to be better than any before
passed over. Near the head of this stream there is fine timber, and. for one day's
journey, a part of the road, six miles in length, led through a pine forest.
"The command travelled near the foot of the mountains on the greater part
of this route, and encamped once very near the foot of Pike's Peak, said to be one
of the highest points of the whole chain. For want of time no one ascended it.
"The Arkansas river, which was struck about 70 miles west of Bent's fort,
is, at this point, well timbered with cotton-wood, but the river bottoms are sandy,
156 HISTORY OF COLOEADO
producing some grass, but so dry that it is hardly probable that anything else
would grow there.
"Bent's fort is a post built much after the manner of Fort Laramie, (of
unburnt bricks.) and for the same purposes. It belongs to Messrs. Bents and St.
Vrain, from whom the command received a hearty welcome. A halt, only sufficiently-
long to take some provisions that had been sent to this fort nearly two years before,
was here made. The provisions still were in a perfect state of preservation, not
even the rice or hard bread being spoiled ; a remarkable evidence of the dr.iTiess and
purity of the mountain air.
"From this place to the point where the command left the river, the grass
was very good; but there was little timber, and the soil was very sandy. The only
grass in the country was that on the river, the surrounding hills being almost
entirely bare. Buffaloes were plenty and quite fat.
"Tlie distance from Bent's fort to Fort Leavenworth is about 600 miles; and
after travelling 200 miles on the Arkansas the command left it where it turns to
the south, and keeping along the Santa Fe trail, arrived at Fort Leavenworth on
tlie 24th of August."
Although the route traversed by the expedition up the Soutli Platte
led it near to Foil St. Vrain, which had been abandoned recently, the
reports say nothing of that post. The course from the mouth of Cherry
Creek was up the valley of that stream, and then across the ridge into the
valley of the Fontaine qui Bouille. From the camp "very near the foot of
Pike's Peak", the column turned southeast, reaching the Arkansas River
at a point some twenty miles below the mouth of the Fontaine.
In the next }'ear, Colonel Kearny again crossed the plains into the
land of Colorado, but upon a far greater mission. The troops that consti-
tuted the army with which he made his bloodless conquest of New ilexico,
in August, 1846, were marched from Fort Leavenworth in detachments,
as these were made ready to move, by way of the Arkansas River to an
appointed camping-place nine miles below Fort Bent; and when the last
of these had arrived there his famous "Army of the West" was brought
into actual existence as an organized force and prepared for its invasion of
Mexican territory. Advancing from the rendezvous, the army marched
southwest and entered New Mexico by way of the Raton Pass. A few
weeks later, Colonel Sterling Price's force, which consisted of some seven-
teen hundred men, coming^ from the Missouri River by the same route,
halted and rested at the place of Kearny's encampment, and then moved
into the enemy's country by the same course that he had taken.
The raising of the war-hatchet by the Americans and the Mexicans,
and the coming and going of large bodies of white warriors â vastly more in
numbers than ever had been seen in the region west of the Mississippi â â¢
greatly excited the Indians of the central West and of the Southwest ; and
it was not long before some of them made ready to take a hand in the dis-
turbance. In the spring of 1847, the Comanches, Kiowas, Pawnees, Osages,
and a division of the Apaches began, harassing the supply and other trains
moving upon the Santa Fe Trail to and from Santa Fe; their bloody and
destructive attacks being continued through the following summer and
autumn. In the meantime, other bands of Apaches, the TJtes, and the
Navajos had begun to make trouble in the western and nortliwesterly
sections of New Mexico.
Several detachments from the United States troops in New Mexico
were put into the field to deal with these red raiders, and of which some
entered the southern parts of the Colorado country in pursuit of liands of
HISTORY OF COLOEADO 157
the marauders. But the most effective operations against the hostile Indians
were those of a command under Lieutenant-Colonel William Gilpin, who
was destined to become Colorado's first Territorial Governor. At the out-
break of the war, he was commissioned a Major of the First Missouri
Volunteer Cavalry (Doniphan's regiment), and with which he served in
the conquest of New Mexico and in the regiment's historic march to and
capture of the Mexican city of Chihuahua. Having returned to Missouri
late in the summer of 1847, Major Gilpin was called within a few weeks to
take command, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, of an emergency bodv
of Missouri volunteers that had been enlisted especially for the purpose
of ending the Indian depredations upon the caravans traveling the Santa
Fe Trail; the organization being officially designated as the "Missouri
Volunteer Battalion for the Plains"'. It consisted of three companies of
infantry and two of cavalry, to which two or three pieces of artillery sub-
sequently were added; the whole, including teamsters and other civilian
helpers, forming a little army of about 8-50 men. According to the Colonel's
report, made at Fort Mann, on August 1, 1848, to the Adjutant General of
the Army, after the close of the campaign, his troops were poorly equipped
and supplied. He says:
"Lieutenant-Colonel C. Wharton [in conunand at Fort Leavenworth], who
mustered the command into the U. S. service, displayed towards the companies
of the battalion and myself the most unrelenting malice. Defective arms, old and
bad in quality, were furnished ; the camp equippage worn and decayed, and trans-
portation insufficient. Medical supplies were almost entirely overlooked. Time to
furnish themselves with clothing was denied the soldiers, and the whole rushed upon
the wilderness in a raw and crippled condition."
Nevertheless, the Colonel marched his volunteers from Fort Leaven-
worth early in October, and on the 1st of November went into camp on
the Arkansas River, at the mouth of Walnut Creek.
"By careful inquiry, I estimated the losses sustained from Indian attacks,
during the summer of 1847, to have been: Americans, killed, 47; wagons destroyed,
330 ; stock plundered, 6,500. The greater amount of these losses were sustained by
government trains, passing with supplies to and from Santa Fe. . . .
"Such had been the losses sustained from the Pawnees, and from the allied
tribes and Camanches and Kiowas, upon the Arkansas and Cimaron, and from the
Apaches, upon the Canadian Eiver, further west. Rumors reached me from all
directions, that, inflamed by these excesses, an arrangement was negotiating between
the latter people, and the powerful tribes of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes (as-
sembled for that purpose upon the upper Arkansas) to carry on the war with thfir
united strength, as the season of 1848 should open."
Colonel Gilpin now resolved to march into the country of the Arapa-
hoes and Cheyennes immediately with a part of his troops. He moved his
entire force up the Arkansas to the dilapidated Fort Mann, which stood
upon the Santa Fe Trail, near the place where that road crossed the river.
"I placed the three foot companies of my command in garrison at the little
stockade of Fort Mann, with orders to repair and enlarge it, and with the two
cavalry companies, proceeded in November to the upper Arkansas, and fixed my camp
in the midst of the winter residences of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes."
This camping-place was on the north side of the river, near the site
of our city of Pueblo, and probably just below the mouth of the Fontaine
qui Bouille. The report does not locate it with exactness. The Colonel now
goes on to relate :
158 HISTORY OF COLOEADO
"Being without provisions and transportation, my command, dismounted for
the most part, endured in tents the rigors of the long winter, subsisting the men
upon such provisions as could be procured from New Mexico and the Indians, and
the horses upon the dead winter grass. Tlie Indians were, however, overawed by this
immediate contrast of a military force, abandoned all intercourse with the southern
tribes, and invited the Kiowas to withdraw from the Comanche alliance; to unite
with them (the Arapahoes and Cheyennes) in pacific relations with the Americans.
This has accordingly been effected, and the Kiowa Indians, long the scourge of the
borders of Mexico, Taos and this road, [he was writing at Fort JIaim, on the Santa
Fe Trail, on August 1, 1S4S] have since then been, and are now, awaiting peace,
and residing with the Cheyennes upon the upper Arkansas, near Bent's fort.
'â¢Having with great difficulty remounted my command upon mules, and added
to it infantry company E, Captain Koscialowski, and a six-pounder, under First
Lieutenant Stremmel, of C company [these had been brought up from Fort Mann],
I crossed the Ratone mountains early in March, and visited the frontier settlements
of El More, New Mexico, to procure provisions and transportation for a campaign
against the Apaches and Camanches residing upon the Rio Colorado, or Canadian."
Having obtained supplies and transportation in New Mexico, Colonel
Gilpin reunited his forces, and during the next three or four months had
eight or nine encounters with the Comanches and their Apache allies on
the part of the Santa Fe Trail that traversed southwestern Kansas and
northeastern New Mexico, dispersing many bands of the raiders, and killing
about two hundred and fifty of them in the various engagements. W. L.
Marcy, Secretary of War, in his next annual report, said the oijerations
resulted "in a manner highly creditable to our troops". I quote again from
the Colonel's report:
"It will be perceived, then, in what manner so many tribes of Indians, inhabit-
ing an immense and various territory, have been defeated by a single battalion. By
the winter march and residence of my cavalry command at the foot of the Rocky
mountains, the Kiowas, Cheyennes and Arapahoes were forced to abstain from hos-
tilities. These tribes being cut off and kept in the rear by the subsequent opera-
tions during the spring and summer upon the Canadian, Cimaron and middle Ar-
kansas, the Camanches, Apaches, Pawnees and Osages were attacked, defeated and
driven off in opposite directions. As neither treaties of peace nor fortified points
nor troops noiv exist to control this numerous cloud of savages, it is clear that all
the atrocities of a very severe Indian war may be momentarily looked for, and are
certain to burst forth with the early spring.
"The field of operations having been in the middle of the wilderness, the suf-
ferings, privations and hardships, cheerfully borne by the soldiers of my command,
have been greater than those of any other battalion in the public service. The con-
tinually crippled condition and destitution of supplies caused by the ignorance, the
laziness and the vicious character of the officers in the frontier depots, has fatally
retarded the pacification of the Indian country, and heaped up unmeasured trouble
for the national government.
"I recommended that four stations, provided with adobe buildings and earals, be
established: No. 1, near Pawnee Fork; No. 2, at the old (present) [Santa Fe]
crossing of the Arkansas; No. 3, at the 'Beautiful Encampment' [the Big Timber]:
No. 4, at the Rio Colorado (Canadian). This will cause the road [the Santa Fe
Trail] to follow the north bank of the Arkansas to the station No. 3, and pass
thence across the head of the Cimaron. I further recommend the purchase of Bent's
Fort in connexion with the above, and one additional station at Los Juntas."
In the year 18.51, the Comanches again became troublesome, not onlv
to white wayfarers across the plains, but also to some of the Indian tribes
of the central region, which had been their allies in 1847. In the spring of
1852, a military force consisting of several companies of mounted troops
HISTOKY OF COLORADO 159
of the Eegular Army, under the command of Colonel John B. Sanborn, was