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Full text of "The Ute war : a history of the White River massacre and the privations and hardships of the captive white women among the hostiles on Grand River"

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WJ Ei IUYMI MAooAbnii 






Written and compiled by THOMAS F. DAWSON and F. J. V. SKIFF, 


Printed by the Tribune Publishing House, 
Herman Beckurts, Proprietor, J 
Denver, Colorado. 


IN giving this little book to the public, no effort is made at literary 
excellence. The one aim of the book is to furnish in connected and 
comprehensive shape an account of the recent uprising of the Utes, 
and the origin and attending circumstances of the entire trouble from 
the time of Johnson's attack upon Agent Meeker, including the Thorn- 
burgh fight at Milk River, the agency massacre, the captivity of the 
women, and other incidents of interest. The authors feel competent to 
assume this task. They have, as editors of the Tribtine, written a 
complete history of the affair from day to day, and need simply to put 
in book form what they have heretofore published. We have culled 
largely from the Denver Tribune and other papers, including the New 
York Herald and the Chicago Tribune, in preparing the book, and 
have added some information never before given to the world. In 
submitting this work to the public we desire simply to say that it is 
reliable. No facts have been either suppressed or exaggerated for 
sensational effect. 






It was about noon on the 1st day of October of 
the present year, that the first news of the Milk River 
fight between the United States troops under Major 
T. T. Thornburgh and the Ute Indians, reached Den 
ver and the remaining portions of the outside world. 
For, although the battle had occurred two days previ 
ous to this time, the long distance between the scene 
of the conflict and a telegraph station, and the rough 
mountain trail lined, it was supposed, with Indians, 
had prevented any earlier communication of the news. 
The first information of the disaster came in the 
shape of a telegraphic dispatch, dated at Laramie City, 
Wyoming, and was sent by Col. Stephen W. Downey, 
delegate to Congress from Wyoming, to Governor 
Pitkin. It was as follows: 

"LARAMIE CITY, October i, 1879. 
" To Governor Pitkin, Denver : 

"The White River Utes have met Colonel Thorn- 
burgh's command, sent to quell disturbances at the 
agency, killing Thornburgh himself, and killing and 
wounding many of his officers, men and horses, 
whereby the safety of the whole command is imper 
iled. I shall warn our people in the North Park, and 
trust that you will take such prompt action as will 
protect your people and result in giving the War 
Department control of the savages, in order to protect 
the settlers from massacres, provoked by the present 


temporizing policy of the government with reference 
to Indian affairs, in all time to come. 


Numerous dispatches followed the one given above, 
and the news spread from lip to ear, until by two 
o'clock the entire population of the city was excited 
to an unusual pitch. The reports were mainly vague 
and unsatisfactory, and imagination assisted greatly to 
swell the volume of horror and the prospect of war 
and murder on our own frontier. To relate half the 
stories that fan^j^, wove into shape and fluent lips 
spoke into open ears in that one afternoon would be to 
fill this volume, and to impart to it the character of 
romance which it is not intended to give it. For sev 
eral weeks there had been talk in the newspapers 
about trouble with the Utes, and the public at large 
had been informed of the savage treatment received 
by Agent Meeker at White River at the hands of the 
Indians; but the masses had passed these warnings 
by quite heedlessly, and many had doubtless forgotten 
that there had ever been any cause for alarm. During 
the few days previous the newspapers themselves had 
ceased in a degree to speak of affairs on the reserva 
tion. The soldiers under Major Thornburgh having 
been sent out from Fort Steele, all seemed to feel a 
sense of security on behalf of the people at the 
agency. It was tacitly agreed that the sending in of 
the troops had put an end to demonstrations on the 
part of the Indians. 

This was the quiet before the storm the calm, 
clear morning before the dark and storming afternoon. 
The surprise was complete. Had the troops marched 
into the ambush laid for them at Milk River and 
been suddenly fired upon before seeing an Indian, their 
astonishment could have been but a degree greater 
than that felt by the people of Colorado and Wyoming 


on receiving the news. To use a favorite and expres 
sive phrase of the reportorial brotherhood, it fell like 
a bolt of lightening from a clear sky. 

Many days passed before any definite information 
could be obtained, and during that interim the wires 
were fairly humming with anxious inquiries for friends 
in Colorado from all parts of the globe, from news 
papers and from the government authorities, and the 
responses to all, many of which embodied the start 
ling rumors which were floating in the atmosphere 
and passing from one person to ano%ber, in lieu of 
something more authoritative to send. 

The uncertainty in regard to the whereabouts of the 
Indians and the certainty in regard to their commit 
ting depredations wherever an opportunity might offer, 
were causes for the most serious apprehension in be 
half of the prospectors, miners and stock raisers along 
the line of the reservation. Governor Pitkin took 
immediate steps to inform the frontiersmen of the 
danger to which they were subjected. He sent or 
caused to be sent couriers to North Park, Middle Park, 
Bear River, Snake River, Grand River, Eagle River, 
Gunnison River and its tributaries, Coal Creek, Ohio 
Creek, Anthracite Creek, Taylor River, etc. ; Lake 
City, Silverton, Ouray, Rico, Animas City, and other 
points which it was believed would be in danger in 
case the Indians should scatter or determine to attack 
the settlements. Militia companies were organized 
and drilled, and arms and ammunition distributed by 
the State as fast as they could be obtained from the 
government. In less time than a week the entire State 
was in arms, and was well ready to fight the Indians 
before further news was received from Milk River. 





While we are anxiously awaiting this intelligence, 
it will certainly not be out of place to revert briefly 
to the circumstances which immediately preceded and 
led up to the Thornburgh affair. 

The origin of the difficulties with the Utes seems 
to have lain partially in the fact that this tribe, like 
the Cheyennes, could not content themselves upon 
their reservation. The country north of the Colorado 
Reservation is very desirable for farming and grazing 
purposes, and is thickly settled. For three or four 
years past the Indians have been in the habit of in 
truding into this district, as well as into North and 
Middle Parks, which practice has caused considerable 
annoyance to settlers, particularly on Snake, Bear and 
Grand Rivers. There are many lawless persons in the 
vicinity, it is said, who for years have carried on a 
brisk trade with the Indians, supplying them with 
whisky and ammunition, causing constant complaints 
to the Indian Office. Depredations have also been 
committed by the Indians along the valleys of the 
rivers referred to. In the fall of 1 877 Agent Danforth 
visited that country, together with Lieutenant Parke, 


of the Ninth Cavalry, United States Army, with a 
view to the adoption of measures to protect the set 
tlers and break up this unlawful traffic. They re 
ported in September, 1877, that it would be necessary 
to establish a military post there, that this would keep 
the Indians on their reservation, serve to protect the 
settlers and break up the unlawful trade referred to. 
The recommendation was never complied with. 

It was about this time that Hon. N. C. Meeker was 
appointed by President Hayes agent at White River. 
He found affairs in a deplorable state. Many of the 
Indians had left the reservation, and had gone as far 
north as Sweetwater Creek in Wyoming, Chief Doug 
lass being among those who had wandered from the 
flock. Great dissatisfaction existed because of ill treat 
ment by former agents, and there was no little talk of 
war. But Agent Meeker soon succeeded in restoring 
quiet among the discontented, and soon again all 
went well. 

Very soon after establishing himself at the agency 
Mr. Meeker commenced to introduce some reforms 
into the system of conducting Indian Agencies, in 
which efforts he had the co-o t >eration of the govern 
ment. It was a pet theory with him that he could 
make the agency self-supporting by stock raising 
and agriculture, and that, by an effort in the proper 
direction, the Indians could be educated. He did not 
believe in wasting time on the old Indians of fixed 
customs, but thought that the young might be in 
duced to attend school and grow up educated in the 
English language and trained in the manners of civil 
ized society. For the accomplishment of the latter 
purpose he took his daughter, Miss Josephine Meeker, 
the herbine of this narrative, with him to the agency, 
and she established a school for the benefit of the In 
dian juveniles. The agency was removed during Mr. 


Meeker's administration twenty miles from White 
River, from the old site, to Powell's Bottom, one of 
the best favored and most beautiful tracts of land on 
the continent. Here he began his agricultural demon 
strations, which were the direct cause at least the 
principal one assigned by the Indians for their out 
break and murder of the Agent. 

The Indian trouble was really brewing all summer. 
In June the Utes began burning the forests and 
grasses along the line of their reservation, a distance 
of over three hundred miles. Roving bands wand 
ered up and down the entire country, leaving a trail of 
fire wherever they went. Fires were started in unin 
habited districts at first, but in August the houses of 
Major Thompson and a Mr. Smart on Bear River, 
Routt county, were burned by Indians who were seen 
and recognized. Complaints for arson were sworn 
out before Judge Beck, First Judicial District, who 
issued warrants for the arrest of two Indians named 
Bennett and Chinaman. Sheriff Bessey and a posse 
followed the Indians into the reservation to execute 
the warrants, but they were unable to find the crim 
inals. Chief Douglass denied the right to arrest In 
dians on a reservation. This fact was officially re 
ported to Governor Pitkin by Judge Beck, and* he 
applied to General Pope for troops to execute the 
warrants, on the ground that no Indian guilty of arson 
could escape punishment for crimes by taking refuge 
on the reservation. General Pope at once ordered a 
company of cavalry, then scouting in Middle Park, to 
the agency to arrest the Indians or assist the sheriff. 

Meanwhile Father Meeker, the White River Agent, 
had difficulty with certain members of the tribe and 
had been rudely handled by Johnson, a leading chief. 
A plowman was also shot at and exciting scenes 


As these were the events which led to the following 
more serious incidents, we re-produce entire Mr. 
Meeker's own explanation of the difficulty, which 
was that which follows : 

" Having finished the plowing of one field we 
started on another. This field was one of about 
200 acres, not yet fenced, but only half was to be 
plowed, the remainder was to be irrigated for a hay 
meadow. Since so many Indian horses eat up the nat 
ural hay, we have to go from four to seven miles to 
cut hay, and even there the horses leave only a part. 
A chief object in moving the agency was to obtain 
tillable land, and this particular tract of 200 acres was 
an inducement. But after we had irrigated a bed 100 
feet wide and half a mile long several Indians objected 
and Jane in particular. Her man Parviets had built 
a corral on the ground, though he was told previously 
that the land would be plowed; and Antelope was 
another. Both of these had been off in Middle Park, 
cutting up generally, and they had to be sent for and 
brought back, and when they came fire followed them 
all the way back to Bear River. 

" The claim that Jane and Antelope made was that 
this is the Utes' country; that they had fixed them 
selves and did not want to move, for the grass was 
good and they wanted it all the while for their horses. 
Being close to the agency, for the buildings are on 
the lot, it was handy and they wanted it. Besides, they 
said the Utes did not want any more land plowed, 
there was enough now, and they wanted to live just 
as they had lived. Jane was told that there were 
plenty of places just as good; that the employes 
would move everything without any trouble to her, 
and make things enough sight better; and she 
was told, too, that if the buildings were moved she 
would be sure to follow and claim land close by, and 


so the Agent could have no chance to plow at all. 
She said he might plow off in another place, and she 
indicated, as Douglass and others did afterward, that 
a certain tract, covered with grease wood, cut up with 
sloughs, and white with alkali, was good to plow, 
though it would take three months to clear the sur 

" No, she would listen to nothing; that piece of land 
was to be theirs, and they wouldn't have it plowed, 
for they had taken it, which was something like the 
case when Greeley was first settled, when men wanted 
to locate their share on 160 acres next to the town 
centre. Therefore the plows were ordered to run, but 
before a single round had been plowed, there came 
two Indians with guns and forbid the plowing. When 
the plowman came back he reported to the Agent, who 
told him to go ahead. And so the sulky-breaker 
went ahead, and for an hour or so peace seemed re 
stored; but after awhile the plowman reported that he 
was shot at from a little bunch of sage brush, where 
two Indians were seen lying, and the ball whistled 
close to his person. Of course plowing was ordered 
stopped and the team turned out. Then Douglass 
was sent for, but he would do nothing. This was the 
Utes' country, and they wanted it for their horses. 

" Then Jack, the chieftain, a rival to Douglass, was 
sent for, ten miles up the river. Jack has a big body 
of big Indians under him, and it was scarcely two 
hours before as many as twenty of them, with Jack at 
their head, came down on the full run, for Jack had 
been told that the Agent was going to telegraph to 
Washington, but before he did so he wanted to know 
whether all the Utes united to stop the plowing, and 
all of them should be heard. 

" Then followed a talk lasting nearly to sundown, 
when it was decided that the Agent might plow that 


bed, but no more. The Agent said that would not do 
at all. Then it was decided that he might plow more 
and have it all, so the thing seemed settled. However, 
it was not settled. 

"The next day the plow started, but it had not gone 
half around before out came Parviets and Antelope 
and threatened dire vengeance if any more than that 
land was plowed, which, by the way, was a* fine piece 
to fence, being in all about six acres, and requiring 
more fencing than a square of one hundred acres. 
Still, the plow ran an hour or so, doing first-rate work. 
But by this time the employes began to think there 
was likely to be different kind of work to do than they 
came hither for, and so the plowman was ordered to 
retreat from the enemy. About this time the remark 
was made to George, 'This is getting rather interest 
ing,' to which he replied, ' It may be to you, but I 
can't see it for my part.' 

" Then Jack was sent for again, and he came down 
with a big lot of retainers, earlier than the day before, 
and a big long talk was had. The A gent sat for hours 
in a hot room filled with tobacco smoke, and listened 
to speeches of which he understood nothing, and dur 
ing all the time he said nothing silently representing 
the government of the United States. 

" Among the speeches was one by Douglass, which 
was the closing plea, or summing of the case, lasting 
nearly half an hour, and then it was understood why 
Douglass was made chief that is, on account of his 
eloquence. First, he spoke in poetic Ute, not in the 
ordinary vernacular. Second, the words were uttered 
with perfect distinctness, and yet quite rapidly. Third, 
the sentences were measured. There would be three 
sentences of about fifteen words each ; then a sentence 
of thirty or forty words, and so on. The Indians lis 
tened to him with the utmost attention, and some 


seemed to shed the sympathetic tear, for frequently in 
his gestures he seemed to embrace some object, and 
with fervor and love. It was afterward learned that 
he spoke of the unity of all the Indian tribes, the 
Utes, the Bannocks, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Pawnees, 
Apaches and Navajos, and then of the fatherly care of 
the government, embracing and caring for all as if 
they were the children of one father. 

" Soon after the conclusion of the speech, Douglass 
asked the Agent what he would do for Jane if she 
would move off. The reply was that he would move 
the corral, help her husband build a log house, dig a 
well, give them a stove, and have everything nice. 
This was agreed to, and the Agent was allowed to have 
the land. The impression is, that if the Indians had 
been free to choose, they would have forbidden an 
other furrow to be turned." 

Colonel John W. Steele, an agent of the post office 
department, visited White River Agency immediately 
after this occurrence. Colonel Steele, speaking of the 
scenes and incidents of his visit, which fell on the 
1 2th of September, says : 

" I soon learned that the Agent, Mr. Meeker, had, a 
short time before my affival, been violently assaulted 
by a Ute chief named Johnson, and severely, if not 
dangerously, injured. The white laborers told me 
that they had been fired on while plowing in the field 
and driven to the agency buildings, but that they were 
not much scared, as they thought the Indians only 
wanted to prevent the work and fired to frighten 
them. Finding Mr. W. H. Post, the Agent's chief 
clerk and postmaster, at White River in his office, I 
proceeded to transact my business with him. While 
engaged at this the Indians began to congregate in 
the building.. Mr. Post introduced me to Chiefs Ute 
Jack, Washington, Antelope and others. Ute Jack 


seemed to be the leader, and asked me my name and 
business. I told him. He inquired if I came from 
Fort Steele and if the soldiers were coming. I re 
plied that I knew nothing of the soldiers. 

"Jack said: 'No 'fraid of soldiers. Fort Steele 
soldiers no fight. Utes heap fight.' 

" He again asked me my name and when I was going 
away. I replied : ' In the morning/ 

"Jack said: 'Better go quick.' 

" I offered him a cigar and repeated that I would go 
in the morning. He then inquired for Mr. Meeker, 
and said to Post : ' Utes heap talk to me. Utes say 
Agent plow no more. Utes say Meeker must go 'way. 
Meeker say Utes work. Work ! work ! Ute no like 
work. Ute no work. Ute no school ; no like school/ 
and much more of the same sort. 

" Jack asked Mr. Post when the Indian goods would 
be issued. Post replied : ' In two moons.' Jack said 
the goods were issued at the Uncompahgre agency ; 
that four Indians had come from there and told him. 

" Post replied : ' Guess not.' 

"Mr. Post said to me: ' Every fall there is more 
or less discontent among the Indians, which finally 
dies out. This year there is more than usual. 
Jack's band got mad last week because I would not 
issue rations to some Uintah Utes who had come 
here, and all the bucks refused to draw their supplies. 
The squaws drew for themselves and children.' 

" Mr. Meeker came in for a short time while we were 
talking. About 8 o'clock I went to his quarters, and 
found him propped up in his arm chair with pillows, 
evidently suffering severely from injuries received 
from the assault of Chief Johnson. After a short talk 
we discovered that we had formerly been fellow 
townsmen, which opened the way for a free conversa 
tion about mutual acquaintances. After which Mr. 


Meeker said : ' I came to this agency in the full be 
lief that I could civilize these Utes ; that I could teach 
them to work and become self-supporting. I thought 
that I could establish schools and interest both Indi 
ans and their children in learning. I have given my 
best efforts to this end, always treating them kindly 
but firmly. They have eaten at my table, and re 
ceived continued kindness from my wife and daughter 
and all the employes about the agency. Their com 
plaints have been heard patiently and all reasonable 
requests have been granted them, and now the man 
for whom I have done the most for whom I have 
built the only Indian house on the reservation, and 
who has frequently eaten at my table has turned on 
me without the slightest provocation, and would have 
killed me but for the white laborers who got me 
away. No Indian raised his hand to prevent the out 
rage, and those who had received continued kindness 
from myself and family stood around and laughed at 
the brutal assault. They are an unreliable and 
treacherous race.' 

"Mr. Meeker further said that previous to this as 
sault on him he had expected to see the dis 
content die out, as soon as the annuity goods 
arrived, but he was now anxious about the matter. 
In reply to an inquiry, he said that the whole com 
plaint of the Indians was against plowing the land, 
against work and the school. I told him I, thought 
there was great danger of an outbreak, and I thought 
that he should leave the agency at once. To this he 
made no reply. 

, "Shortly after, Ute Jack came into the room 
where we were sitting, and proceeded to cate 
chise me nearly as before. He then turned to Mr. 
Meeker and repeated the talk about work, and then 
asked the Agent if he had sent for soldiers. Mr. 



Meeker told him he had not. Jack then said : 'Utes 
have heap more talk.' 

" During the conversation Mr. Meeker said that 
Chief Douglass was head chief at that agency, but 
that he had no followers and little influence. That 
Douglass and his party had remained on the reserva 
tion all the summer and had been friendly to the 
whites ; that Colorow, Ute Jack, Johnson and their 
followers paid no attention to his orders and had been 
off the reservation most of the summer ; that Chief 
Ouray was head chief, but had lost his influence with 
and control of the northern Utes. 

"I again urged on him the danger of remaining at 
the agency, when he told me he would send for troops 
for protection. During this conversation the Indians 
had remained around the agency buildings, making 
much noise. About ten o'clock I went to the quar 
ters assigned me for the night in the store-house of 
fice. Soon after this the Indians began shouting and 
dancing in one of the agency buildings and around 
the Agent's quarters. About midnight Mr. Meeker 
attempted to quiet them, but was on}y partially suc 
cessful, and the red devils made it exceedingly un 
comfortable for me most of the night. I was told in 
the morning that the Indians had had a war dance. 
Those who saw and could have described the scene 
are all dead now. At daylight the bucks had all dis 
appeared. After breakfast I called on Mr. Meeker in 
his room to bid him good-by. He told me he had 
written for troops, and requested me to telegraph for 
relief as soon as I reached Rawlins." 

It was immediately after this occurrence that Mr. 
Meeker applied to Governor Pitkin for troops for pro 
tection, and he made a request of General Pope, who 
at once ordered Major Thornburgh on the mission 
in which he met his unfortunate death. General Pope 


issued orders, September igth, for four companies of 
cavalry to concentrate at White River Agency. Two 
of these companies were ordered from Fort Fred. 
Steele, one from Fort Saunders and one from Pagosa 
Springs. The latter company was a negro command, 
and had been skirting along the western boundary of 
the reservation. It was ordered north two months 
previous, in response to the Governor's telegram rel 
ative to the Indians firing the forests. 







Major T. T. Thornburgh, commanding officer of the 
Fourth United States Infantry, and for the past year 
in command at Fort Fred. Steele on the Union Pacific 
Railroad in Wyoming, was placed in charge of the 
expedition, which left Rawlins for White River 
Agency, September 24. The command consisted of 
two companies, D and F of the Fifth Cavalry, Com 
pany E of the Third Cavalry, and Company E of the 
Fourth Infantry, the officers included in the detach 
ment being Captains Payne and Lawson of the Fifth 
Cavalry, Lieutenant Paddock of the Third Cavalry, 
and Lieutenants Price and Wooley of the Fourth 
Infantry, with Dr. Grimes accompanying the com 
mand as surgeon. Following the troops was a sup 
ply train of thirty-three wagons. 

When the command reached the place known as 
Old Fortification Camp, Company E of the Fourth 
Infantry, with Lieutenant Price in command, was 
dropped from th command, the design of this step 
being to afford protection to passing supply trains, 
and to act as a reserve in case there was demand 
for it. 

Major Thornburgh turned his force towards the 
Indian country in deep earnest, with the balance of 


his command consisting of the three cavalry com 
panies numbering about 160 men. 

Having been directed to use all dispatch in reach 
ing the agency, the Major marched forward with as 
great rapidity as possible. The route selected is not 
well traveled and is mountainous, and of course the 
troops did not proceed so rapidly as they might have 
done on more familiar highways. 

Nothing was seen of or heard from the Indians 
until Bear River, which runs north of the reservation 
and almost parallel with the northern line, was 
reached. At the crossing -of this stream, about sixty- 
five miles from White River Agency, ten Indians, 
headed by two Ute chiefs, Colorow and Jack, made 
their appearance. They were closely questioned, but 
professed great friendliness for the whites and would 
betray none of the secrets of their tribe. They de 
clared that they were merely out on a hunt, and 
repeated that they were friends of the white man and 
of the Great Father's government, and especially of 
the Great Father's soldiers. 

After this parley, which took place September 26, 
Thornburgh sent his last telegram from camp : " Have 
met some of the Ute chiefs here. They seem friendly 
and promise to go with me to the agency. They say 
the Utes don't understand why we come here. I have 
tried to explain satisfactorily ; don't now anticipate 
trouble." The conclusion is that Thornburgh was 
one of the most prudent]and discreet of officers, but 
that he was thrown off his guard by the savages. 

The march was continued and nothing more was 
seen of the Indians, though a close watch by keen- 
eyed scouts was kept up for them, until William's 
Fork, a small tributary of Bear River, was reached, 
when the same ten Indians first seen again quite sud 
denly and very mysteriously appeared. They re- 


newed their protestations of friendship, while they 
covertly and critically eyed the proportions of the 
command. They made a proposition to the Com 
mander that he take an escort of five soldiers and 
accompany them to the agency. A halt was called 
and Major Thornburgh summoned his staff to a con 
sultation. After carefully discussing the matter with 
a due regard for the importance, the advantage and 
disadvantage of the step, the officers' council came to 
the conclusion that it was not wise to accept this 
proffer on the part of the Indians, as it might lead to 
another Modoc trap, and to Thornburgh's becoming 
another Canby. Thornburgh's scout, Mr. Joseph 
Rankin, was especially strong in opposition to the 
request of the Indians. 

Major Thornburgh then concluded to march his 
column within hailing distance of the agency, where 
he would accept the proposition of the Indians. 

But he was never allowed to carry out his designs. 
Here it became apparent how thin the disguise of 
friendship had been, and Thornburgh was soon con 
vinced how fatal would have been the attempt for 
him, accompanied by only five men, to treat with 

The command had reached the point where the 
road crosses Milk River, another tributary of the 
Bear, inside the reservation and in the limits of Sum 
mit County, about twenty-five miles north of the 
agency, when they were attacked by the hostiles, 
numbering, it is believed, between two hundred and 
fifty and three hundred warriors, who had been lying 
in ambush. 

The scene of the attack was peculiarly fitted for the 
Indian method of warfare. When Thurnburgh's com 
mand entered the ravine or canon they found them 
selves between two bluffs 1,300 yards apart. Those 


on the north were 200 feet high, those on the south 
100 feet. The road to the agency ran through the 
ravine in a southeasterly direction, following the bend 
of the Milk River, at a distance of 500 yards. Milk 
River is a narrow, shallow stream, which here flows 
in a southwesterly direction through a narrow canon. 
Through this canon, after making a detour to avoid 
some very difficult ground, the wagon road passes for 
three or four miles. Along the stream is a growth of 
cottonwood trees ; but its great advantage as an am 
buscade lies in the narrowness of the canon. On the 
top of the two ranges of bluffs the Indians had in 
trenched themselves in a series of pits, so that when 
the troops halted at the first volley, they stood between 
two fires at a range of only 650 yards from either bluff. 

The battle took place on the morning of September 
29. The locality of the ambush had been known as 
Bad Canon, but it will hereafter be described as Thorn- 
burgh's Pass. , 

Lieutenant Cherry discovered the ambush and was 
ordered by Major Thornburgh to hail the Indians. 
He took fifteen men of " E" Company for this work. 
Major Thornburgh's orders were not to make the first 
fire on the Indians, but to await an attack from them. 
After the Indians and Cherry's hailing party had faced 
each other for about ten minutes, Mr. Rankin, the 
scout, who is an old Indian fighter, seeing the danger 
in which the command was placed, hurried direct to 
Major Thornburgh's side and requested him to open 
fire on the enemy, saying at the same time that that 
was their only hope. 

Major Thornburgh replied : 

" My God ! I dare not ; my orders are positive, 
and if I violate them and survive, a court martial and 
ignominious dismissal may follow. I feel as though 
myself and men were to be murdered." 


Major Thornburgh, with Captain Payne, was riding 
at the head of the column, Company " F," Fifth Cav 
alry, in advance, Lieutenant Lawson commanding 
next, and " D " Company, Fifth Cavalry, Lieutenant 
Paddock commanding, about a mile and a half to the 
rear, in charge of the wagon train. 

Cherry had moved out at a gallop with his men 
from the right flank, and noticed a like movement of 
about twenty Indians from the left of the Indians' 
position. He approached to within a couple hundred 
yards of the Indians and took off his hat and waved 
it, but the response was a shot fired at him, wounding 
a man of the party and killing his horse. This was 
the first shot, and was instantly followed by a volley 
from the Indians. The work had now begun in real 
earnest, and seeing the advantage of the position he 
then held, Cherry dismounted his detachment and 
deployed along the crest of the hill to prevent the 
Indians flanking his position, or to cover his retreat if 
found necessary to retire upon the wagon train, which 
was then coming up slowly, guarded by Lieutenant 
Paddock's company, D, Fifth cavalry. 

"Orders were sent to pack the wagons and cover 
them, with the company guarding them. The two 
companies in advance were Captain Payne's company, 
F, Fifth cavalry, and Lieutenant Lawson's company, 
E, Third cavalry, which were dismounted and deployed 
as skirmishers, Captain Payne on the left and Lieuten 
ant Lawson on the right. 

From Cherry's position he could see that the In 
dians were trying to cut him off from the wagons, 
and at once sent word to Major Thornburgh, who 
then withdrew the line slowly, keeping the Indians in 
check until opposite the point which his men had, 
when, seeing that the Indians were concentrating to 
cut off his retreat, Captain Payne, with Company F, 


Fifth cavalry, was ordered to charge the hill, which 
he did in gallant style, his horse being shot under 
him and several of his men wounded. 

The Indians being driven from this point, the com 
pany was rallied on the wagon train. Major Thorn- 
burgh then gave orders to Cherry to hold his position 
and cover Lieutenant Lawson's retreat, who was or 
dered to fall back slowly with the company horses of 
his company. 

Cherry called for volunteers of twenty men, who 
responded promptly and fought with desperation. 
Nearly every man was wounded before he reached 
camp, and two men were killed. Cherry brought 
every wounded man in with him. 

Lieutenant Lawson displayed the greatest coolness 
and courage during this retreat, sending up ammuni 
tion to Cherry's men when once they were nearly 
without it. 

Simultaneously with the attack on Thornburgh's 
advance the Indians swept in between the troops and 
the wagon train, which was protected by D Company, 
Lieutenant Paddock commanding. The desperate 
situation of the soldiers in the ravine was at once 
apparent to every officer and man in the 'ambush. 
The soldiers fought valiently, desperately and the 
Indians shrank under the terrible counter fire. A 
more complete trap could not be contrived, for the 
troops were not only outnumbered but exposed to a 
galling fire from bluffs over the edge of which it was 
impossible to reach the foe, as the range of sight 
would, of course, carry bullets clear over the Indian 

Major Thornburgh was here and there and every 
where directing the attack, the defense and later the 
retreat. He was constantly exposed to fire and the 
wonder is that his intrepidity did not win his death 


ere it did. Captain Payne and his company under 
orders from Thornburgh fell back to a knoll followed 
by Lieutenant Lawson and company, the retreat 
being covered by Lieutenant Cherry's command. 
Hemmed in at both outlets of the pass and subjected 
to a steady deathly fire from the hights on either 
side, the troops were melting down under the savage 


Major Thornburgh, seeing the terrible danger in 
which his command was placed from the position of 
the Indians, at once mounted about twenty men, and 
at the head of them he dashed forward with a valor 
unsurpassed by Napoleon at the Bridge of Lodi, 
and made a charge on the savages between the com 
mand and the train. 

It was in this valorous dash that Thornburgh met 
his fate, thirteen of his bold followers also being 
killed, the gallant leader falling within four hundred 
yards of the wagons. 


The remainder of the command then in retreat for 
the train corral, followed the path led by Thornburgh 
and his men. As Captain Payne's company was 
about to start, or had started, his saddle girth broke 
and he got a fearful fall. One of his men dismounted 
and assisted him on his horse, the Captain's horse 
having run away. F Company, Fifth, followed by 
the Captain, he being badly bruised, reached the 
wagon train to find it being packed, and Lieutenant 
Paddock fighting the Indians, and wounded. Lieu 
tenants Lawson and Cherry fell back slowly with their 
companies dismounted and fighting all the way, every 
man doing his duty. 

The stubborn resistance of Lieutenant Cherry in 
covering the retreat gave time for the troops at the 
train to form temporary breastworks of men's bun 
dles, flour, sacks of corn, wagons and dead horses, 
and when the last detachment had reached the Pad 
dock corral the soldiers fought and entrenched, horses 
being shot down rapidly and the foe settling into po 
sition on all the high points about them. Captain 
Payne, who by Thornburgh's death came into com 
mand, drew up eight of the wagons and ranged them 
as a sort of a breastwork along the northern and 
eastern sides of an oval, at the same time cutting 
transverse trenches on the western and southern 
points of the oval, along the line of which the men 
"posted themselves. Inside the oval eight more 
wagons were drawn up for the purpose of corralling 
the animals, and there was also a pit provided for 
sheltering the wounded. Behind the pits ran a path 
to the nearest bend of Milk River, which was used for 
obtaining water. The command held their position 
until 8:30 o'clock that night, when the Indians with 

In the engagement there were twelve soldiers 


killed and forty-two wounded. Every officer in the 
command was shot with the exception of Lieutenant 
Cherry, of the Fifth Cavalry. The Indians killed 
from one hundred and fifty to two hundred mules be 
longing to the government. Surgeon Grimes was 
wounded but was able for duty. The troops had 
about six days' supplies. 

When the roll was called, as the darkness of night 
settled about the beleaguered troops, it was found that 
the following men had been killed or wounded in the 
battle : 


Major Thornburgh, Fourth Infantry. 
First Sergeant John Dolan, Company. F, Fifth Cav 

Private John Burns, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 
Michael Fieretom, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 
Amos D. Miller, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 
Samuel McKee, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 
Thomas Mooney, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 
Michael Lynch, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 
Charles Wright, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 
Dominick Caff, Company E, Third Cavalry. 
Wagonmaster McKinsley. 
Teamster McGuire. 


Captain Payne, Fifth Cavalry, slight wound in the 
arm and side. 

Lieutenant Paddock, Fifth Cavalry, flesh wound in 
the hip. 

Dr. Grimes, flesh wound in the shoulder. 

Sergeant John Merrill, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Trumpeter Frederick Sutcliff, Company F, Fifth 

Trumpeter John McDonald, Company F, Fifth Cav 


Private Just, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Gibbs, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private John Hoaxey, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Emil Kurzman, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Eugene Patterson, Company F, Fifth Cav 

Private Frank Simmons, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Eugene Shiek, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Edouz, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private William Eizer, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Gattlied, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Steiger, Company F, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Nicholas, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Heeney, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Thomas, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Lynch, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 

Private Frederick. Bernhard, Company D, Fifth Cav 

Private E. Muller, Company D, Fifth Cavalry. 

Sergeant James Montgomery, Company E, Third 

Sergeant Allen Lupton, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Corporal C. F. Eichmurtzel, Company E, Third 

Frank Hunter, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private James Conway, Company E, Third Cavalry. 
f Private John Crowley, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private W. H. Clark, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private Orlando Durand, Company E, Third Cav 

Private Thomas Ferguson, Company E, Third Cav 

Private Thomas Lewis, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private Edward Lavelle, Company E, Third Cav 

Private Willard Mitchell, Company E, Third Cav 


Private John Mahoney, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private James Patterson, Company E, Third Cav 

Private W. M. Schubert, Company E, Third Cav 

Private Thomas McNamara, Company E, Third 

Private Marcus Hanson, Company E, Third Cav 

Private James Budha, Company E, Third Cavalry. 

Private James Donovan, Company E, Third Cav 

In the fight twenty-three Indians were killed and 
two severely wounded, how many slightly wounded 
is not known. Among the Indians killed were 
Ouray's nephew, Wattsconavot (meaning Doctor), 
and Catolowop (meaning Fat Man). 








During the early part of the first night of the siege 
under cover of the darkness, while the Indians had 
temporarily ceased their murderous vigil, Joe Rankin, 
the scout who had warned the fallen commander of 
his danger, stole away from the trenches and suc 
ceeded in reaching the open road to the north. His 
mission was to convey the tidings of the battle and 
call out relief for the beleaguered troops. The won 
derful ride of this daring scout has become a feature 
in the history of the war. The distance from the 
scene of the massacre to Rawlins, the nearest tele 
graph point, is one hundred and sixty miles. Ran 
kin started at ten o'clock Monday night on a strange 
horse, his having been shot in the battle, and deliv 
ered the startling tidings at Rawlins Wednesday 
morning between two and three o'clock, he having 
accomplished the distance in twenty-eight hours. 
This man brought the first news of the ambush and 
of the death of Thornburgh and his command. 

The first morning of the siege broke bright and 
clear. It was a glorious day and the romantic scenery 
of the canon never spoke greater glory to Nature. 


But the picture which the rising sun, as it moved 
across the arch, exposed to view, was one which none 
but a hostile could gaze upon and not shudder. 

As the dark mantle of night was lifted and the first 
day of the siege came on, the orb of light was greeted 
by the groans of the dying, the moans of the wounded 
and the wild cry of the disabled horses. The hours 
of the first night had seen the soldiers laboring hard 
to complete their defense as far as possible and se 
cure to themselves all the protection which the des 
peration of a forlorn hope could call upon men to 
devise. The location of the pits and wagons and the 
position of the trenches and wagons have been given. 
There were seventeen pits in all, about seventy feet 
long, two and a half feet wide and two feet deep, with 
breast works ranging from two to four feet above the 
opening and at its sides. In the centre of the pits 
were forty-three wounded men, including a few set 
tlers. One hundred soldiers occupied the pits and 
over two hundred and fifty dead animals surrounded 
the corral. There were two look-outs to each pit, 
making thirty-four men constantly on guard, through 
oddly fashioned loop-holes, in some instances made 
through the body of a horse. 

As day grew on, the alert foe, securely hidden be 
hind the sheltering shelves of the bluffs, renewed 
their fire, watching each exposed point and directing 
aim at man or beast whenever carelessness or neces 
sity brought them in even momentary view. 

Captain Payne, then in command, during the night 
had the wounded horses shot for breastworks, dis 
mantling the wagons of boxes, bundles of the bed 
ding, corn and flour sacks, which were piled up for 
fortifications, so that the troops were fairly protected 
when morning came. The picks and shovels were 
used vigorously during the day for digging entrench- 


ments. All the time a galling fire was concentrated 
upon the command from all the surrounding bluffs 
which commanded the position. Not an Indian could 
be seen, but the incessant crack of their Sharps and 
Winchester rifles dealt fearful destruction among the 
horses and men. 

The groans of the dying and the agonizing cries of 
the wounded told what terrible havoc was being made 
among the determined and desperate command. Ev 
ery man was bound to sell his life as dearly as possible. 

About mid- day a great danger was seen approach 
ing at a frightfully rapid pace. The red devils, at the 
beginning of the day, had set fire to the dry grass 
and sage-brush to the windward of the position of the 
pits, and it now came sweeping down towards the 
trenches, the flames leaping high into the air and dense 
volumes of smoke rolling on to engulf the troops. 
It was a sight to make the stoutest heart quail, and 
the fiends were waiting ready to send in a volley as 
soon the soldiers should be driven from their shelter. 
It soon reached the flanks, and blankets, blouses and 
empty sacks were freely used to extinguish the flames. 
Some of the wagons were set on fire, and it required 
all the force possible to smother the blaze. No water 
could be obtained, and the smoke was suffocating, but 
the fire passed, and the men still held their position. 

All this time a constant fire was poured upon the 
pits, Captain Payne being wounded for the second 
time and First Sergeant Dolan, of Company F, killed 
instantly; McKinsley and McKee killed and many 
others wounded. But the greatest danger was past. 
The men had now nearly covered themselves, but the 
poor horses and mules were constantly falling under 
sharp fire. 

And so passed the first day. That night a second 
courier was sent out with despatches up to the hour 



of his leaving. There was great danger in breaking 
from the shelter of the trenches even under cover of 
the darkness, but the men who volunteered for this 
service knew no fear and were skilled in the intrepid 
feats they essayed. During the second day the 
bodies of the dead men and animals began to become 
offensive, and every opportunity afforded by a brief 
relaxation in the firing of the Indians from the heights 
which might indicate a temporary cessation of watch 
ing, the breastworks which crested the trenches would 
be increased in dimensions by the added body of a 
dead soldier or horse. Over these bodies dirt was 
thrown, and by this means the corpses were poorly 
buried and at the same time additional protection 
afforded the survivors of the fight. Thus had been 
erected three breastworks formed by the dead bodies 
of horses, while one was formed of dead soldiers piled 
one above the other and covered with earth. 

Many were the earnest councils held as to the pos 
sible means by craft or daring of escaping the terrible 
pen in which the soldiers were. The hours were 
counted it would take the relief in which to reach the 
trenches, in case the couriers got through safely. 
There seemed no way but to wait the coming of the 

Just about sundown this day a charge was attempt 
ed, but repulsed, the Indians trying to drive off some 
of the horses that had broken loose. The attack 
ceased at dark, and pretty soon every man was at 
work enlarging the trenches, hauling out the dead 
horses, caring for the wounded and burying the dead. 
And so came on the third night. In the history of 
the siege this was the most uneventful night. Several 
trips were made for water, which brought no warning 
shot from the bluffs. The wounded were cared for 
and the protections made more secure. 


The sun came up on the third day of the siege, 
shooting its rays upon the horde of dead, wounded 
and alive alike. How succor was prayed for; how 
the speed of the couriers was urged by the despairing 
soldiers as they contemplated their desperate, almost 
hopeless condition, rendered ten-fold wretched by the 
presence of their dead comrades and the sufferings of 
their wounded companions. But while yet the be 
leaguered troops were praying for the safety of their 
messengers and the hurrying forward of their relief, 
an outlook shouted alarm, and preparations were 
made for an attack from the foe which had been ex 
pected for hours. Every man jumped to his post 
ready to give the red devils a warm welcome. Even 
the wounded who were able to do so, grasped rifles 
and made ready to defend themselves, shattered as 
they were. But it was a relief, entirely unlocked for, 
but welcome beyond expression. It was the famous 
colored cavalry under command of Captain Dodge, 
who had been intercepted by a Rawlins courier and 
had ridden to the support of their white brethren in 

The Dodge command had arrived at the entrance 
to the pass wherein the troops were entrenched before 
a note of their proximity had been conveyed to the 
Indians or the men in the pits. Here a halt was 
made, and Gordon, the mail carrier, and Sandy Mel- 
len, from Middle Park, the guide, were sent forward 
toward the rifle pits to announce the arrival. The 
three men were challenged as they came in, and 
answered, "A company of cavalry." "That's a 
damned lie ; it's an Indian ruse look out," was the 
response from the pits. One of the advance then 
shouted, " I'm John Gordon," and the voice being 
recognized, they were directed to "come on in." 
When the men in the pit,s heard that Dodge's com- 


pany was near and that their couriers had probably 
reached Merritt, the poor fellows sent up a great shout, 
which was a sufficient signal for the colored boys to 
come on, and the command made a dash for the pits. 
The shouting of the Payne men had aroused the In 
dians, and one or two shots from the heights were 
followed by a heavy and continuous volley in the 
direction of the pits. The dash was over a distance 
of 600 yards, and not a man was struck. Reaching 
the corral, the horses of the negro cavalry were 
quickly tied and unsaddled, and the men sank into 
the pits with their besieged comrades. 

A soldier with Payne thus speaks of the arrival of 
Dodge and his colored company : 

" We were getting pretty d d tired about that 

time. It was the third morning after we were cor 
ralled, and of course we didn't know whether any of 
our messengers sent out from camp had struck help 
or not. Suddenly that morning in the dusk we heard 
a noise. Even by that time some of us had begun to 
fear that the Indians would charge us, and we all then 
supposed it might be Indians. If it hadn't been for 
the voice of John Gordon, the scout, who was riding 
in the advance, we might have poured in a volley at 
them ; but you bet your life there wasn't no volley 
except cheers when Gordon rode in with five or six 
darkies alongside of him. Pretty soon he told us 
what was up and what to expect, and when Captain 
Dodge came up at a canter, leading the rest of his 
men, we didn't take much account, except to wonder 
a little at the color of their faces. We forgot all about 
the danger of exposing ourselves, and leaped up out 
of the pits to shake hands all around. Why," con 
tinued this soldier with curious naivete, " we took those 
darkies in right along with us in the pits. We let 'em 
sleep with us, and they took their knives and cut off 
slips of bacon from the same sides as we did." 


Captain Dodge threw up pits to the east of the 
others, the work being accomplished very quietly be 
fore moon-up on the night following their arrival. As 
soon as Captain Dodge arrived the spirits of the be 
leaguered troops revived, and they became rather gay, 
and said if Merritt was coming no thousand Indians 
could take their pits. At night regular details had to 
make a sortie for water from the river, about one hun 
dred and fifty yards away. The Indians would fire at 
random, but only two men were struck during the 
entire six days, and these only scratched. The Indians 
were in seven pits on the heights surrounding the little 
valley in which the troops lay hidden, and during the 
six days' siege became very skillful marksmen, doing 
sharpshooting that would do credit to the Creedmore. 
A soldier would take his hat, and placing it on a 
sword or stick, hoist it above the pits, and in five sec 
onds it would be riddled with bullets sent from all 
directions. The soldiers got very few chances at the 
Indians, as they were well hidden, and so high up that 
good range was impossible. Most of the Indians seen 
at a distance wore citizens' clothes, hats and all, many 
wearing uniforms taken from the bodies of the dead 
soldiers. On the second day of Dodge's rest in the 
pits, and the fifth day of the siege, a charge was ex 
pected from the Indians, as the soldiers had fired few 
shots the previous day, and the Indians evidently 
thought their ammunition was exhausted. But night 
came and went and no charge was made. During the 
two days that the colored relief were in the trenches 
the only events to chase the monotony away were call 
ing the hour, and an occasional shot at an exposed 
Indian. Little effort was made at jest or story-telling, 
as the presence of the dead and wounded chased away 
any desire for sport, and the stench from the dead 
animals and men was insufferable. One man by the 


name of Hogan essayed to make light of the situation, 
but the laughter was feeble and forced. 

In this way, unwashed, unkempt, illy fed, at a time 
when even night, illumined by stars, refused its cus 
tomary shield of darkness, the men of Payne's (white) 
and Dodge's (colored) commands awaited further suc 
cor. They were not only beleaguered by savages, 
who kept a cross-fire on them from two commanding 
bluffs, but were listeners to constant insults, uttered in 
English and seeming to come from some white man 
quartered with their savage foes. When a horse or a 
mule fell a taunting voice from the bluffs would come, 
saying : 

"Better go out and harness him again for your 

Again : " Lift up your hats and give us a mark." 

Still again: "Come out of your holes, you , 

and fight. square." 

This last from the renegade ensconced with the 

The situation was chiefly horrible from the con 
stant wounds and death-struggles of the poor animals, 
which they could in no way protect from the Indian 
fire. "Every few minutes," says one, "you heard the 
dying gurgle of a horse or a mule, and although we 
fastened them as securely as possible at night, their 
pangs were such that they would often break away 
after being hit, threatening the men's lives in the 
trenches. Once a wounded horse leaped in his agony 
right into the pit we had dug for the wounded, where 
Lieutenant Paddock and seven men were lying at the 
time. It was a miracle, almost, that he did not 
trample them to death. As it was, we all opened a 
terrific fire on the bluffs, so as to make the Utes stop 
firing, and under cover of this fusilade a lot of our 
boys jumped up and hauled the horse out of the 


trench. We had to watch out continually to give 
dangerously wounded horses and mules their quietus. 
If they got cavorting after receiving an Indian bullet, 
and we could see that they were maimed or fatally 
injured, the soldiers would take aim and finish them. 
It was awfully hard once in a while. A friend of 
mine got three flesh wounds in trying to save his 
horse's life. Finally, the horse was shot through one 
of his iorelegs. Instead of writhing around like the 
others, he came hobbling up to the edge of the pit 
where Joe and I were and looked down at Joe, as if 
to say, "Help me, for God's sake!" Joe turned to 
me and said, "You'll have to finish him, Hank; I 
can't do it; by God, I can't!" I watched my chance 
as the horse turned and put a ball in right behind his 
left ear, and dropped him. That night we hauled 
him outside with the rest." 

There were several pet dogs in the camp, among 
them a beautiful greyhound, belonging to Lieutenant 
Cherry. " I used to let him out of my pit occasion 
ally," says the Lieutenant, "to run down to the water. 
One night he came back with one of his paws shot 
off. It turned out that he had been fired on by one of 
our own sentinels, who mistook him for a crawling 
Indian. There was nothing to do but kill the poor 
old fellow to save him misery." 

One morning a soldier of Payne's command, 
wounded in the arm and so ill that he had had no 
appetite for two days, turned to a negro soldier close 
by him, saying, " Here, pard, stop shooting at them 
bluffs, and for the Lord's sake make me a little coffee." 
The colored hero thus addressed answered not a word, 
but set to work. There was no coffee in the pit, but 
there was some in the next one which was tossed over. 
But how to make a fire without wood, that was the 
question. The colored man calculated the chances, 


made a break for the sutler's wagon, snatched a loose 
side of a provision box and came back with a bullet 
hole in the board, which was meant for his own body. 
Then he made a fire in a corner of the pit and pre 
pared the coffee for his patient. 

The sutler's wagon was a fair target, and the sutler 
himself was hit in the leg while making an incautious 
approach to it. It had a limited supply of provisions, 
the regulation hard tack and raw bacon, and a little 
liquor, which was of great service to the _ wounded. 
Another vehicle which "saw service," and will 
doubtless be preserved at Fort Steele as a pet relic 
of siege -history, is the ambulance taken down by 
Major Thornburgh. It stood out with the wagons 
near the centre of the oval space occupied by the 
troops, and is ventilated by some thirty bullet holes. 
Rankin, the scout, got under it one day for a nap and 
was awakened by a ball which struck one of the 
spokes within two inches of the top of his head. 

The horses of Dodge's soldiers were left standing, 
but before two mornings had dawned nearly every 
one of the animals was lying dead, three deep. All 
but four of the Dodge command's horses were picked 
off by the Indians and these four were badly wounded. 
It was better to have them killed than for them to be 
taken by the Indians. 

Had the heights been accessible, Captain Dodge 
would have charged them with his company, while 
the others, including the wounded, covered him from 
the rifle pits, but this being utterly impossible, the 
ascent being nearly perpendicular, all that could be 
done during the day was to keep a good lookout from 
the loop-holes and return the fire when any Indians 
showed their heads. This, however, was a very rare 
occurrence, as the Indians had rifle-pits and loop 
holes. A very fortunate thing for the soldiers was 


that the Indians left them unmolested at night with 
the exception of an occasional shot to make them 
scatter to their pits. They were able, at great risk, to 
haul off the dead animals every night ; otherwise the 
stench would have been intolerable. A sally was 
made every night for water, a distance of two hundred 
yards from the entrenchment. 


The sixth night of the siege Private Eizer, of Com 
pany F, was shot in the face while out with a party 
after water. The Indians were only a few yards away, 
and were driven off by a volley from the guard and 
trenches. This night no courier could be got off 
owing to the constant firing of the Indians into the 
pits, but the troops determined to hold out if it took 


a month for succor to reach them. But they were 
confident that General Merritt, whose name was upon 
the lips of every one, was on the road to rescue them. 

On the morning of the 5th about five o'clock, just 
as the grey streaks of day were penciling the Eastern 
sky, the bugles of Gen. Merritt's advance sounded the 
officers' call, which is the night signal of the Fifth 
Cavalry. The men in the pits heard the glad notes 
with rejoicing, and impetuously turned out of their 
safety quarters to welcome the advancing rescuers. 

As soon as the Indians saw Merritt's little army 
coming they fell back, and it is supposed held a coun 
cil as to what to do. In the meantime firing had 
ceased entirely, and the men in the pits swung their 
hats, and danced and pranced and ate like gluttons. 
General Merritt headed his command as it advanced 
to the pits. When he saw the wreck and carnage, the 
dead and wounded, and viewed the signs of massacre 
on every hand, he turned aside and wept like a child. 
This evidence of feeling on the part of the commander 
brought out cheers on every side, and while not un 
mindful of their dead comrades, the hour was one of 
rejoicing over the raise of the siege. 

Several witnesses describe the arrival of Merritt 
and his troops, and say that when the General met 
Captain Payne, the two threw their arms around each 
other, and that tears were shed. That is not unlikely. 
Both men were exhausted, Payne by his wounds and 
anxiety, Merritt by his long march. As for the rest, 
there is no concealment about the tears. There was 
such a scene in that wretched corral for five or ten 
minutes as few men witness twice in a lifetime, or 
want to. 

A company of fresh men was ordered forward to 
the scene of the battle, about eight hundred yards 
south of the pits. In making this trip a lively skir- 


mish took place with a band of concealed Indians, 
during which a considerable number of shots were 
exchanged, but only two men were killed and five 
wounded. In the midst of the skirmish, and to the 
surprise of every one, Brady, the white courier from 
Ouray and his Ute chiefs, stepped out from the brush 
on the mountain side, waving a flag of truce. Merritt 
permitted the courier to advance, and held a brief 
parley with him, in which the message to Douglass 
that the troops would go to the agency was delivered. 
While the talk was in progress firing ceased. Finally 
Merritt told Brady to " go back where he came from. 
He would not talk with him." The truce party then 
withdrew, and no more was seen or heard of the hos- 
tiles by the soldiers around Thornburgh Pass. 

Lieutenant Hughes was one of the first to see 
Thornburgh's body, as it lay where it fell on the field 
of battle. The Lieutenant says there were five or six 
wounds in the body, and that the scalp from the 
crown back was removed the only scalp taken in 
the fight or in isolated murders. Thornburgh was 
stripped, and lying on his back, and on his breast 
was a photograph of the young Chief Wammaniche. 

It was discovered in visiting the battle field after 
the siege that during the stampede of the wagon 
train by the Indians the trunk of Lieutenant Cherry, 
who covered the retreat and brought off the wounded, 
was secured by the Indians and broken open. They 
took everything of the contents but a bible, and left 
Lieutenant Cherry's picture in the trunk with the 
scalp of the likeness carefully cut out. 

The force at the pass after General Merritt's arrival 
numbered all told 800 men thirteen companies. 
The troops remained in camp three days, when Gen 
eral Merritt went south to the agency while Captain 
Dodge and his company acted as escort for the body 


of Captain Thornburgh and the wounded to Rawlins, 
which point was reached on the eighteenth. 

In writing the account of the siege, which closes 
with the preceding paragraph, the arrival of the Dodge 
relief party and of Merritt's rescuing army is included. 
The exploits performed by these two commands and 
their wonderful marches to the trenches in the pass, 
present two of the most extraordinary events in the 
military service. 

The courier who brought the news of the Thorn- 
burgh fight came direct to Rawlins and by 3 o'clock 
on the morning of his arrival, October ist, the intelli 
gence had been flashed to Fort Omaha. General 
Williams in less than a quarter of an hour was at 
work giving orders, consulting General Crook, who 
was in Chicago, and ordering matters forward. General 
Merritt, at Fort D. A. Russell, Cheyenne, was tele 
graphed to and ordered to the command of the expe 
dition. The message was carried by the operator who 
received it at the latter place, to the General at his 
headquarters on horseback at break-neck speed. 
General Merritt at once began preparing for the expe 
dition. The same was true of the arrangements at 
Camp Douglass, Salt Lake, and no time was lost, but 
everything perfected at short notice at Forts McPher- 
son and Sanders. This activity was also displayed 
by the Pacific Railroad. Though called to do almost 
extraordinary things it worked in harmony with the 
military, and the troops were all en route to Rawlins 
in a few hours, from which point succor was to be 
sent out. A special train of four cars of troops from 
Camp Douglass left Ogden at 2 p. m. of that day for 
Rawlins. Three hundred men and six hundred 
horses left Cheyenne the same hour for Rawlins. 
One company left Fort Sanders and two companies 
of cavalry left Fort Steele. The latter had their 


horses, baggage, etc., with them. Troops were 
ordered forward from Forts Fetterman and Robinson 
to leave for the seat of war as soon as they might 
reach the railroad, by special train. General Merritt, 
to whom the command of the expedition was given, 
was considered one of the best Indian fighters in the 
country, and his troops have accomplished wonderful 
things. At 11:45 ^e morning of the ist, he tele 
graphed to General Williams that he would be ready 
and start at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 2nd 
with a force of nearly five hundred and fifty men and 
animals, and provisions in plenty. 

Early on the morning of the 2nd, General Mer 
ritt, at the head of four companies of cavalry, three 
hundred men, left Rawlins for the rescue, closely fol 
lowed by five companies of infantry, two hundred and 
fifty strong, in wagons. Merritt was accompanied by 
Scout Rankin. On the 6th, Colonel Gilbert, of Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota, who had been placed in charge 
of Merritt's supporting column, left Rawlins with six 
companies of the Seventh Infantry, three companies 
of the Third, and three of the Fifth Cavalry ; in all 
four hundred and forty men. Merritt's march to the 
rescue will be memorable as one of the most eager, 
energetic and rapid on record. The distance from 
Rawlins to the rifle pits is one hundred and sixty 
miles, and Merritt made the distance in forty-eight 
hours, transporting five companies of infantry in 
wagons. " Old Wesley," it was said, would " come 
with a whirl," and he did. 

The experience of the Dodge command, while a 
small body of men, was none the less thrilling and 
exciting, and the intrepidity of their ride to the relief, 
after learning of Payne's situation, has been honorably 
mentioned by General Sherman. 

The company, forty-three strong, under command 


of Captain Dodge, Lieutenant Hughes being next in 
command, left Fort Garland August 4, under orders 
to proceed to Middle Park and remain there as dis 
cretion directed, to prevent any collision between the 
settlers and the Indians. Camp was struck ten miles 
below Hot Sulphur Springs on the iQth of August 
Here the command remained until the 2/th of August, 
when the troops proceeded to Peck's crossing of the 
roads leading to Rawlins and the agency. A halt of 
two days was made at this point for advices from the 
agency, when the command started back, as the 
rations were out. On the return route a communica 
tion was received to proceed to the agency to assist 
in the arrest of Indians* under authority of the Agent. 
The command secured rations at Steamboat Springs 
and then took up the line of march for the agency. 
On the I Qth of September, Mansfield the courier 
from the agency was met. He bore the second of 
the three messages sent by Agent Meeker. On the 
2Oth, the command started in quick time for the 
agency. The morning of the following day a slip of 
white paper was found attached to a bush by the side 
of the trail, with the injunctionMn large characters to 
hurry on the troops, as the soldiers at the agency had 
been massacred. This word, it was afterwards learned, 
had been left by a man named Clark, a ranchman. 
The Dodge command pushed on to Bear River, about 
ten miles further on, and here it was discovered that 
ranches had been deserted, and fleeing ranchmen who 
were met declared that the soldiers would be slaugh 
tered if they proceeded. These messages and indica 
tions of the uprising only hastened the movements 
of the company and on they pushed. While waiting 
on Bear River for the wagons to close up, Mansfield, 
the courier, again appeared, this time in company 
with Gordon, the freighter, whom he had met, and 


who bore messages from Captain Payne. The word 
conveyed was that the troops were corralled, with 
forty wounded men, and sorely pushed. Gordon was 
the third courier sent out from the beleaguered com 
mand, and Captain Dodge knew from this that the 
other two had gone on their errand to Merritt. Gor 
don himself bore a message to General Merritt, but 
it fortunately fell into Dodge's hands, at the same 
time assuring all that the two other messengers had 
gone on safely. After the receipt of this advice 
Dodge proceeded eleven miles, it then being dark, 
and pitched camp. It was the belief that they were 
watched by Indians, and they planned to go into 
camp as if intending to remain all night, and then 
during the darkness to steal away in their march to 
Payne's rescue. Gordon and Mansfield and a mail 
carrier from Middle Park, who had acted as guide, 
were with the command and aided in directing the 
ruse, and the course of the troops. An hour after 
the night was on them, camp was broke, and the com 
pany, at first as quietly as possible, but soon after 
with abandon, rode as hard as possible in the direc 
tion of the Thornburgh ambush. The company rode 
all night, the wagons being sent to Fortification from 
Peck's, and just before daybreak, about half-past four 
o'clock, the command reached within hailing distance 
of the besieged troops. The ride thus accomplished 
was one of the bravest on record, not so much from 
the daring or exposure, as from its rapidity and the 
fact that every moment an ambush was looked for. 
The distance from the spot where the news of the 
Thornburgh massacre was received to the rifle pits 
was eighty miles by the trail followed, and it was 
accomplished in twenty-three hours. 






Dispatches sent out from Rawlins on the nth of 
October, based upon information which had been 
brought through from the front, stated that, having 
reached Milk River and relieved Payne's command, 
and recovered the remains of Major Thornburgh, 
General Merritt found himself unable to proceed fur 
ther south, thus increasing tenfold the suspense felt 
concerning the fate of the people at the agency. It 
was stated that the Indians still occupied their for 
midable position on the bluffs overlooking the road, or 
trail, to the agency, and it was known that they had 
built fortifications and were prepared to resist an ad 
vance while taking very little risk upon themselves. 
Having no artillery General Merritt found that it 
would be almost impossible to dislodge the enemy. 
They occupied a position covering and commanding 
the only road passing through the Milk River Canon. 
To illustrate the advantage of position occupied by 
the Indians, it is stated by those who were in the 
siege that an Indian, from his position in the bluffs, 
lying behind his breastwork, entirely safe and yet 


commanding a full view of the fortifications, killed 
forty horses belonging to Payne's and Dodge's com 

Information had already been received, through 
Indian runners employed by Chief Ouray at Uncom- 
pahgre agency, that the Agent and the employes of 
the agency had fallen victims to the relentless knives 
and bullets of the so-called noble red man. It was 
also ascertained from the same source that the women 
had been made captives by the savages, and while 
every assurance was given that Mrs. Meeker, her 
daughter Miss Josephine, Mrs. Price and her two chil 
dren, were entirely unharmed, there was still much 
room to doubt these stones, and every reason to fear 
the worst, while the best was hoped for. The report 
of the massacre of the male members of the agency 
was generally credited, but nothing certain was 
known. The greatest suspense prevailed upon all 
hands ; hence the disappointment felt when the news 
was spread broadcast over the land that General Mer- 
ritt would be unable to proceed to the agency until 
Colonel Gilbert, then at Fortification Creek with four 
hundred soldiers, should arrive to reinforce him. 
Twelve days had already elapsed since the massacre, 
and no news, except the unsatisfactory reports gath 
ered from Indian runners, had been received. 

But while the world at large was discussing this sad 
situation of affairs, General Merritt was solving the 
problem. In fact, he had really marched on to White 
River, and had become fully informed of the condition 
matters were in, before the news of the resistance of 
the Indians had been telegraphed abroad. The In 
dians remained in their fortifications until the runner 
left carrying the news above referred to, but deserted 
them soon afterwards, on the loth. It is a well- 
known fact that they employed spies, who watched 


the progress of troops from the north, and who were 
thoroughly informed as to the steps taken to reinforce 
Merritt and supply him with provisions and ammuni 
tion. Seeing and appreciating resistance would be in 
vain, the hostiles suddenly withdrew, leaving the field 
to General Merritt, who lost no time in taking advan 
tage of the situation and of pushing on to the agency. 
He accordingly took up his line of march and reached 
White River Agency, or the site of the agency, on the 
nth of October, the very day on which the news that 
he would not be able to proceed had been given out. 

The story which his march revealed is a sad one. 
It is a genuine frontier tale, as startling and pathetic 
as any of the works of fiction to which American 
border life has given birth. Sadder, because true. 
The people of Colorado have tried in vain, when 
perusing the blood-curdling narratives as they have 
appeared from day to day in the newspapers, to imag 
ine that they were reading stories which had had their 
origin alone in the hot-house brain of some sensational 
Indian story-teller. But we all knew "Father" 
Meeker, as the good old Agent was called. He was 
universally known, and his family and the employes at 
the agency were widely known of. The facts were 
facts; disagreeable but stubborn, and self-assertive. 
Hard as it was, we were forced to see that Colorado, 
a new, but one of the most prosperous and progress 
ive States of the Union, had sustained an Indian 
massacre within her borders. General Merritt had 
not proceeded far on his march before he discovered 
this unpalatable fact. 

When Mr. Meeker went to the agency at White 
River, he set about to make it in every way respect 
able, and being a man determined to do what was 
right by the Indians and the government, he was nat 
urally anxious to surround himself with people in 


whom he could place implicit confidence. He accord 
ingly selected as employes at the agency men, most 
of them unmarried, whom he had known at Greeley, 
all of them sober, industrious and intelligent. The 
white people at the agency were : 

Agent N. C. Meeker. 

Mrs. N. C. Meeker. 

Miss Josephine Meeker. 

Frank Dresser. 

Harry Dresser. 

Ed. L. Mansfield. 

William H. Post. 

Mr. and Mrs. Price. 

May Price, aged 3 years. 

Johnnie Price, aged 18 months. 

Fred. Shepard. 

George Eaton. 

Young Thomson. 

Of the males of this party, only Mr. Mansfield, if 
we except Mrs. Price's little boy, survives. He owes 
his life to the fact that he was sent out with messages 
just previous to the massacre. 

Signs of the work of the savages met the command 
at every turn after they left the scene of the siege. 
They left behind them the dead bodies of comrades 
in arms to find the corpses of the unfortunate men 
who had attempted to serve the government in a dif 
ferent capacity. The road was literally strewn with 
the nude and decaying remains of white men, whom 
chance had thrown in the way of the savages. The 
carcasses of innumerable horses were found, and the 
remains of one soldier passed lying by the roadside. 
The poor soldier had been stripped of all his clothing. 
On his left forearm was worked in India ink a star and 
shield, and on the right forearm the initials "A. B." 
In Fifteen- mile Canon the ruins of several small trains 


employed in forwarding agency goods, notably the 
train of which George Gordon, of Rawlins, had charge, 
were passed. His loads consisted mainly of various 
sorts of agricultural appliances, hoes, spades, picks, 
shovels, and several sorts of wire fence. To the fence 
the Utes are reported to have objected strongly, be 
cause their ponies injured their feet and legs on coming 
into contact with it, and they warned Mr. Meeker that 
he would not be permitted to put up any more of it. 
At this point Gordon, the freighter, and two of his 
train employes were killed, names unknown, and the 
bodies rest in one grave, marked with a rough board. 
A few miles further south are to be seen the charred 
remnants of a thresher and separator, and piles of 
broken crockery ware, while about the same distance 
north the Utes destroyed a wagon loaded with coffee 
and sugar, and at two other points are to be seen the 
remnants of burned trains. 

The soldiers had marched but a few miles when the 
advance guard came upon another body, the remains 
of a white man, when, as the story was told to a cor 
respondent of the Denver Tribune, who was on the 
ground, a conversation, of which the following is a 
report, occurred : 

"What have we here ?" asked one soldier of a com 

" It looks like the body of a man ; and it is." 

" It's a white man, too." 

"To be sure it is, and terribly mangled and muti 
lated. The red devils have got in their work on some 
unfortunate fellow. " 

Investigation revealed the fact that the body was 

that of Isaac Goldstein, an Israelite who was called 

' The Jew, " and whose proper name was known to 

but very few. Fortunately there was one soldier in 

the command to whom the old man had confided the 


secrets of his heart, and among others his great 
secret, the history of his own life, which though con 
taining material for a volume may be related here in 
a few words and without marring this narrative, 
indeed as properly a part of it. Old Isaac was be 
tween fifty and sixty years of age but, he looked 
to be seventy. He was ever sad and uncommunica 
tive, seeming to bear about with him a burden which, 
while it weighed him down, he did not care to share 
with others. But becoming friendly with this soldier, 
a private in General Merritt's ranks, he gradually con 
fided the story of his romantic career to him. In 
his early manhood Isaac Goldstein had loved a fair 
daughter of Israel as he loved not his own life. They 
lived in an eastern city, and a few months promised 
to see them united as man and wife. This young lady 
had a brother who had gone to California among the 
first who were attracted to the gold coast. At first he 
prospered and was cheerful and hopeful in his letters. 
At last he lost his health and was low spirited and 
despondent. His sister, whose name was Rebecca, 
determined at once to go {x> her brother to comfort, 
and, if possible, cure him. She had an opportunity 
to, and did, join the unfortunate party in its overland 
trip which perished at Mountain Meadow at the 
hands of the Mormons and the Indians combined. 
Isaac waited a long, long time for tidings of his love. 
At last the sad news of the massacre came. He at 
once came west to investigate the matter, and has 
here remained since. He was never convinced that 
his Rebecca had been killed, but believed her to have 
been made a captive by the Indians. He determined 
to seek her out, and for many, very many, long years 
he had been searching and searching in vain for her, 
going from tribe to tribe, and gaining the confidence 
of the Indians that he might the more successfully 


prosecute the search. That the Utes now of Colorado 
took part in the Mountain Meadow affair is estab 
lished almost beyond dispute. And thus, according 
to the story related by the soldier over the remains 
of the long, grey bearded old man as they lay on the 
hard sand-stones of the bottom of Milk River Canon, 
came " The Jew " to be engaged in trading with 
Douglass's Indians. 

The few auditors who gathered around the surviv 
ing friend of the old Jew, listened with interest and 
attention to the narrative. It was received with a sigh 
by all and derision by none. A few moments more 
and the remains of "The Wandering Jew" were hid 
den away in a trench dug for the purpose, and covered 
with earth, and the following legend appears on the 
simple stone grave mark : 


Killed by Indians 

Sept. 29, 1879. 

About two hundred yards from the spot where the 
body of old man Goldstein was found, the body of his 
trading companion, Julius Moore, a young man from 
Bainbridge, Mass., was also discovered, stripped of all 
clothing, and decaying, on the mountain side. Both 
Goldstein and Moore had been shot through the 
breast, and in the breast of each there were two bullet 
holes. Moore's body was badly hacked and mutilated. 
It also was buried. 

Passing on a short distance the command came 
upon a coal mine, the mouth of which opened upon 
the canon. Looking into this they discovered another 
body, which from papers found upon the person, was 
judged to be the body of Harry Dresser. He bore a 
letter from Agent Meeker, which read as follows : 

" WHITE RIVER, September 29, i o'clock P. M. 
" Major Tkornburgh : 

" I will come with Chief Douglass and another chief 


and meet you to-morrow. Everything is quiet here, 
and Douglass is flying the United States flag. We 
have been on guard three nights, and will be to-night 
not that we expect any trouble, but because there 
might be. Did you have any trouble coming through 
the canon ? 

" United States Indian Agent." 

The bearer of this message had crawled a short dis 
tance into the mouth of the shaft, where he was found 
dead, with his shirt bundled up for a pillow and under 
his head, he having died in that condition after having 
been shot in the head. 

The soldiers also discovered in the fortifications of 
the Indians, the 'body of an unknown white man sit 
ting in a squatting posture, with his gun in his hands 
as if ready to shoot. He is believed to have been a 
renegade who after fighting with the Indians, had 
been shot by them out of pure deviltry on the eve of 
their departure for the south. 

A few hours march carried the command to the 
site of the agency. Of course every member was on 
the tip-toe of expectation all anxious to discover 
what was to be found, and still all fearful to do so, 
because the worst was feared. The view which 
greeted their anxious gaze was one not to be for 
gotten. White River gurgled quietly on and seemed 
to be the only living object left. There was not 
even a breeze blowing to stir the tops of the trees 
which line the hill-sides surrounding the beautiful 
Powell Bottom in which the agency was located. 
Everything was dead. The quiet of the grave 
reigned. The soldiers felt instinctively before reach 
ing the actual location of the agency buildings that 
they were in the region of the lifeless. 

So they were. The story of the finding of the 


nude and mutilated bodies of Father Meeker and 
those who had cast their lot with him among savage 
men and women, has already been printed in almost 
every newspaper in the land, and the sickening, but 
necessary details dwelt upon until the reader has been 
almost surfeited with the narrative. We will not 
linger over a picture so sad and disagreeable a pic 
ture of the utmost loneliness, desolation, and death a 
picture which has no bright side, not one pleasant 

All the buildings except one, the house which had 
been built for Johnson, had been burned to the 
ground. The Indians had taken everything except 
the agency flour and decamped. The women and 
children were missing, and nothing whatever could be 
found to indicate what had become of them. It was 
evident that they had either been murdered and 
buried or else taken away as hostages. 

The Indian Agent, N. C. Meeker, was found lying 
dead about two hundred yards from his headquarters, 
with one side of his head mashed. An iron chain, 
the size of which is commonly known as a log chain, 
was found encircled about his neck, and a piece of a 
flour barrel stave had been driven through his mouth. 
When found his body was in an entire state of nudity, 
and was lying on the back. A bullet hole through 
the head indicated plainly the cause of death. The 
dead body of Mr. W. H. Post, Father Meeker's assist 
ant, was found between the buildings and the river, a 
bullet hole through the left ear and one under the 
ear. He, as well as Father Meeker, was stripped en 
tirely naked. Mr. Price, the agency blacksmith, was 
found dead with two bullet holes through his left 
breast. The Indians had taken all his clothing and 
he was found naked. Thomson's remains were found 
burned to a crisp. His gun was found by his side. 


E. W. Eskridge was found about two miles north of 
the agency. He was stripped to an entire state of 
nudity, and had his head mashed in as if he had 
been struck over the head with some heavy appliance. 
Eaton was found dead. He was stripped naked, 
and had a bundle of paper bags in his arms. His face 
was badly eaten by wolves. There was a bullet hole 
in his left breast. Frank Dresser (a brother to the 
one found in the coal mine, as was at first supposed), 
was found badly burned. He had, without doubt, 
been killed instantly, as a bullet had passed through 
his heart. 

The bodies were all buried and proper inscriptions 
placed over their graves. They will be allowed 
to remain where they now are until next spring, 
when they will be removed to the town of Greeley, 
where their friends and relatives will be allowed to 
drop a sympathetic tear upon their coffins, and their 
bones be permitted to rest among those of their kin 
dred, and not in a strange and savage land. 










This is the bloody chapter of our little history 
the story of the butchery of the agency people by the 
Indians, the one great crime of the record. We have 
already seen that the savages had become greatly dis 
satisfied with Agent Meeker and anxious for a change. 
Their savage nature had not accepted with good grace 
the gentle manners and other reforms which he made 
an effort to introduce. The Agent had commenced 
early in the spring to prepare for a good crop of 
wheat and corn. He had planted potatoes and onions 
and beans; had fenced the ground, dug wells and 
built irrigating ditches. But the Indians made serious 
complaint at these innovations, and did not hesitate to 
express their displeasure, not more in word than in 
deed. They made frequent protests to Mr. Meeker, 
and at last sent a delegation of four, which was headed 
by Captain Jack, one of the White River chiefs, to 
Denver, to lay the complaints of the Indians before 
His Excellency Governor Pitkin. While in this city 
these commissioners from the Indian nation made no 


threats, but many complaints, bewailing bitterly that 
the Agent should attempt to plow the ground and his 
daughter to teach the young Indians the English lan 
guage and the ways of the white man. They gave 
the Governor to understand that they thought their 
civilization much superior to that of the white man, and 
said that they much preferred that the Agent would 
give them their food and leave them to live their own 

During the entire summer, complaints were, being 
made of the hostile demonstrations of the Utes along 
the line of their reservation, north, east and south, and 
constant fears were entertained of an outbreak and 
massacre, at almost any small mining settlement in 
North Park, or along the Grand, Eagle, Gunnison, 
Dolores or Animas, while apprehensions were also 
felt for the fate of the stock raisers along the Bear 
and Snake rivers and in Middle Park. Two miners 
who ventured across the Indian line on the Blue Riv 
er were shot down like dogs and other parties were 
fired upon for crossing over, and this at a time when 
the Indians were coming and going, hunting and 
camping and stealing, as suited them, on the white 
man's side of the line. During almost the entire 
month of July, the country was on fire. From the 
Wyoming line to the New Mexico boundary, the 
great Continental Divide was a blaze of fire. Thous 
ands of acres were burned over, and millions of dollars 
worth of timber on the reservation and off of it were 
destroyed, and game of all kinds driven out and 
burned. This the savages were not loth to acknowl 
edge they did to spite the whites. 

In this connection we cannot do better than to quote 
again from the account of Colonel Steele's visit to the 
agency, written since the horrible scenes of September 
29th. Colonel Steele says : 


"Early in July last I was called to Rawlins, Colo 
rado, to look after the mail route from that point to 
White River Agency. I remained at Dixon, on Snake 
River, several days. While there, Indians belonging 
to the Ute chief, Colorow's outfit, frequently came to 
Dixon to trade buckskin and furs for Winchester rifles, 
ammunition and other supplies. I learned that they 
were camped on Snake River, Fortification Creek and 
Bear River, from fifty to one hundred miles from their 
reservation. The'Indians seemed to be quiet, but set 
tlers complained that the Indians were burning the 
grass and timber, and occasionally killing their cattle 
and doing much damage to the country. I also heard 
much complaint from the mining district near Hahn's 
Peak and Middle Park ; that the Indians were burn 
ing the timber, and had burned the houses of several 
settlers and killed one man. Smoke was at that time 
plainly visible from large fires on the head-waters of 
the Snake and Bear rivers. On completing my busi 
ness on the mail route, I returned to Washington. 
The first week in September I was called, (by distur 
bances on this mail route) to visit it again. Arriving 
at Rawlins, Mr. Bennett, the sub-contractor for the 
route told me that he had attempted to establish his 
line of mail carriers on the route; that he had gone as 
far south as Fortification Creek, where he was met by 
Utes belonging to Colorow and Ute Jack's band ; that 
three Indians stopped him and told him that he must 
go back; that he parleyed with them and finally went 
on as far as Bear River, where he was met by more 
Indians of the same tribe, and though he fully explain 
ed his business to them, he was so violently threaten 
ed that he returned to Rawling without establishing 
the mail route. Bennett has freighted Indian supplies 
to the Ute reservation for several years, and knows 
many of the Indians. He was accompanied by a man 


who has lived among the Utes for years, and with 
whom they have heretofore been friendly. Both ad 
vised that it would be dangerous to attempt to go to 
the agency. On the night of September 4th, I 
arrived at Snake River, and on the 5th went to Bear 
River, meeting no Indians on the way, but finding the 
grass and timber destroyed by fire all the way along 
the route. I remained at Bear River several days en- 
endeavoring to find parties to carry the mail to the 
agency. Many -of the settlers were alarmed by the 
hostile actions of the Utes. Others anticipated no 
trouble, but all complained of the burning of the grass 
and timber. On the morning of September loth, I 
started with two mail carriers for the agency. We 
rode over the route followed by Major Thornburgh's 
command, and at noon rested at the mouth of the 
canon where the battle has since taken place. Here 
at a tent occupied by an Indian trader, and two miles 
from the reservation, we met a number of Utes, one 
of whom asked where I was going. I told him to the 
agency. After a short talk with other Indians, he 
told me we must go back. I mac^e no reply, but 
leaving one of the carriers at the tent, I proceeded up 
the canon in which the Indians laid the ambuscade 
for Major Thornburgh's command, toward the agency. 
The Indians followed us to the agency. I afterwards 
learned that they belonged to Ute Jack's party. 

" On the return trip to Bear River I met many 
Indians going to the agency for the issue of rations. 
Several of the bucks hailed me, but I hadn't time to 
stop. At the trader's in the canon I found several 
Indians purchasing supplies. At the crossing of 
Howard's Fork, thirty miles from the agency, I met 
three Indians, two of whom I saw at the agency the 
night before. They stopped me and inquired for 
ammunition for Winchester rifles. I replied, 'No 


sabe. ' After detaining me for nearly one-half hour I 
persuaded them to let me pass, and reached Rawlins 
without further incident worthy of mention." 

Having written this account of his experiences, 
Colonel Steele adds an opinion or two of his own, 
which are all the more forcible for coming from a 
government employe : 

" Eastern papers, the Secretary of the Interior and 
others are seeking some provocation for this out 
break. It was not the encroachment of miners, for 
there are none nearer than Hahn's Peak, one hundred 
miles away. It was not settlers, for there are none 
nearer than Bear River, fifty miles from the agency ; 
they are few and scattered, and their only safety for 
life and property has been in retaining the friendship 
of the Utes. On the other hand, these Utes have 
since early summer been off their reservation from fifty 
to two hundred miles. They have destroyed all the tim 
ber and grass they could, have destroyed the property 
of miners near Hahn's Peak, and burned the houses 
and hay of settlers on Bear River ; they have killed 
cattle belonging to settlers on Bear and Snake Rivers, 
and terrorized that whole region. They complained 
only that Father Meeker urged on them the benefits 
of civilization. I knew that these Indians meant war. 
Early in the summer they occupied the territory over 
which troops must pass to reach them. Slowly they 
retreated toward the agency, burning the grass to 
render it difficult for cavalry to operate against them. 
They purchased arms and ammunition of the most 
improved pattern and in large quantities. Within six 
weeks of the outbreak one trader sold them three 
cases of Winchesters and a large amount of ammuni 
tion, and the last Utes I met inquired of me for more. 
They gathered disaffected bucks from the Uncom- 
pahgre and Uinta agencies, and got mad because the 


agent at White River would not feed them. When 
everything was ready they assaulted Agent Meeker 
and shot at his employes to provoke an attack by the 
troops, and when the troops approached, with peace 
ful intent, to adjust the difficulty and right the wrongs 
of all parties, they laid an ambuscade and prepared to 
annihilate the whole command." 

The trade in guns and ammunition with the Indians 
was unusually active during the entire summer. The 
post office for the Snake River settlement is at Dixon, 
about seventy miles south of Rawlins, and here there 
is a general Indian trader named Perkins, who is 
reported to have done more trading with the Utes 
this season than in five years before, and it is natural 
to suppose from recent accounts, that the bulk of it 
has been in war material. It is also said that the 
trader on Bear River (Peck) and Taylor, on Milk 
Creek, have had similar experience in this business 
with the Utes. Just the day before the Thornburgh 
fight it is reported that a party of Utes, headed by 
Jack, visited one of these traders and possessed them 
selves forcibly of a case of Winchester cartridges, 
saying they expected to fight the white soldiers on 

All of this goes to prove that the White River 
Utes were expecting and preparing during the entire 
summer to fight, and had perhaps, long before the 
massacre occurred, determined to kill the Agent. 
That they were no longer in doubt as to the course 
they meant to pursue after they ascertained that the 
soldiers were coming in, we are forced to believe. 
The assertion of Jack quoted above is proof sufficient 
of this. The note found on the body of young 
Dresser, whose body was found in the coal shaft as 
above described, is another indication of this fact, 
though we are told that Douglass was flying the 


American colors. Mr. Lowry, the Snake River set 
tler, who was among the killed in the Thornburgh 
disaster, on Sunday previous to the fight made his 
way to the agency, found the Indians in their war 
paint, dancing and about ready to massacre Meeker 
and family and the other whites there. He succeeded 
in arguing them out of their intention, however, by 
assuring them that there would be no trouble, and, 
having effected this, started back with difficulty to 
Thornburgh's command, reporting to the Major 
that if he pursued his march towards the agency the 
Utes would doubtless carry out their original inten 
tions and massacre the agency people. The Major, 
however, said he must obey orders, and his command 
was headed toward the agency when the bloody events 
transpired of which the reader has already had aft 

On that same day Miss Josephine Meeker wrote a 
letter to her sister at Greeley saying that all was quiet 
and peaceable again. Johnson had apologized to her 
father for his conduct, and expressed himself sorry for 
what had happened. She felt quite as safe there as in 
Greeley. The Indians had removed their women and 
children, and instead of there bfcing one hundred and 
fifty tepees in the vicinity now there were only four. 
The military were expected every day, and Mr. 
Meeker had sent two Indians and a white man to 
meet them, but the Indians soon returned much 
alarmed. Mr. Dresser of Greeley also received a 
letter of the same date from his son Frank, who 
expressed himself similarly as to the safety of all at 
the agency. He said the only fear they had was that 
some of the Indians might set fire to some of the hay 
belonging to the agency, and to guard against this 
some of the boys mounted guard at night, otherwise 
they slept as soundly as in Greeley. 


Before these letters had passed out of the Indian 
reservation, the massacre of the Agent and employes 
and the burning of the buildings had been consum 
mated. The Indians had been preparing, but secretly, 
for the worst. The removal of the squaws, which 
Miss Meeker seems to have regarded rather favorably 
than otherwise, was a very bad omen. The fate of 
the agency people was sealed then. The savages 
had already doubtless determined in council of war 
what plan to pursue, and could have foretold to an 
hour the fate of the few whites among them. 


The dreadful day gradually approached. Thorn- 
burgh was expected to reach the agency on Tuesday 
at noon with the troops. The Indians, who at first 
were angry, brightened up, evidently at the thought 
of getting Thornburgh to Milk River Canon. Doug 
lass sent two Indians, with one white man, Mr. Esk- 
ridge, to meet Thornburgh. 



On the morning of the massacre Douglass came to 
the agency and spoke of soldiers coming. Mr. 
Meeker said : 

" Let them crime. They will not hurt any one. 
But we will send for all the chiefs and head captains 
and hear their complaints and talk the matter over. " 

Douglass did' not say much and went away. The 
Indian Paveetz, husband of the notorious Jane, asked 
Mrs. Meeker on Saturday, Sunday and Monday if she 
was afraid. She said, " No, " and each time he 
received the reply with a "knowing" look which it 
has since been very easy to translate into a warning 
or hint of the fate of the agency people. 

Secretly the Utes were preparing for the massacre. 
Just before Eskridge left with the Indians, a runner 
was seen rushing up to the tent of Douglass with, as 
was afterwards learned, news of the soldiers fighting. 
Half an hour later twenty armed Indians came to the 
agency from the camp of Douglass and began firing. 
They seem to have marched quietly down from their 
camp to the agency quarters and without any extra 
" ado " began to deliberately shoot down the employes 
wherever found. Mr. Eskridge, who had been sent 
out with a second message to Thornburgh, was killed 
two miles from the agency, and the others were killed 
about the buildings, with the exception of Frank 

The firing began about half-past one, immediately 
after dinner at the agency. Douglass, the chief to 
whom so many good qualities were attributed before 
the outbreak and who has since proven himself to be 
one of the most cruel and heartless, as well as one of 
the most hypocritical of the savages, had eaten din 
ner with the employes. After the meal had been con 
cluded he staid about the table, joking in a lively 
manner with Mrs. Meeker, Miss Josephine and Mrs. 


Price. He drank a little coffee and ate some bread 
and butter. Suddenly he turned around and went 
out doors. Mr. Price and Mr. Thompson and Frank 
Dresser were working on the building a few steps 
from the house and the chief joined them. He seemed 
to be in very good spirits and was joking with the 

A few minutes afterwards the firing began. Mrs. 
Meeker and her daughter were washing dishes in one 
of the houses and Mrs. Price was washing some 
clothing at the door when the first report was heard. 
This was quickly followed by another. There came 
a volley of firearms a succession of sharp explosions. 
It was startling and all knew what was coming. Miss 
Josephine and her mother looked into each other's 
faces. Mrs. Price, who was washing clothes at the 
door, rushed in, exclaiming: 

"My God! the Indians are killing everybody; what 
shall we do ? " 

Josephine said, " Keep all together," and the girl 
was as cool as if she were receiving callers in a parlor. 

Just then Frank Dresser, an employe, staggered in, 
shot through the leg. Miss Josie said : 

" Here, Frank, is Mr. Price's gun." 

It lay on the bed. He took it, and just as they were 
fleeing out by the door the windows were smashed in 
and half a dozen shots were fired into the room. 
Frank fired and killed Chief Johnson's brother and 
wounded another Indian who was passing him. 

Then began the great suspense. The windows 
were shot in and the bullets were flying everywhere. 
The first move of the poor women was to get under 
the bed in Josephine's room, to avoid the bullets, 
which were whizzing over their heads. Josephine- 
had the key of the milk house and proposed to go 
there. The bullets were flying like hailstones, but 


the women and children and Dresser succeeded in 
reaching the place suggested, and they locked them 
selves into the house, which had double walls filled 
in with adobe clay, and there was only one little win 
dow. They stayed there all the afternoon, and heard 
no sounds but the crash of the guns. They knew all 
the men were being killed, and expected that the 
Indians would finish the day with the butchery of the 
women. Firing went on for several hours at intervals. 
There was no shouting, no noise, but frequent firing. 
While waiting in this horrid suspense Dresser said he 
had gone to the employes rooms, where all guns were 
stored, but found them stolen. In the intervals of 
shooting Dresser would exclaim : 

" There goes one of the government guns." 

Their sound was quite different from that of the 

The party stayed in the milk room until it began 
to fill with smoke. While in the building they 
barely whispered, and tried to keep Mrs. Price's babies 
still. As the fire was increasing they left the milk 
house cautiously, and Josephine reconnoitred the 

" It's a good time to escape," said she. " The 
Indians are busy stealing agency goods." 

The shouting had ceased when, at about five o'clock 
they began to see the smoke curling through the 
cracks. Mrs. Price said : 

" Josie, we have got to get cut of here ; you take 
May, I'll take baby, and we will try to escape in the 
sage brush across the road." 

Miss Josie took May's hand and they went out, but 
first went into Mr. Meeker's room. It was not dis 
turbed. The doors were open and the books were 
lying on the stand as he had left them. " Pepy's 
Diary " lay open on the table. It was at first thought 


by the party that it would be well to secrete them 
selves in Mr. Meeker's room, but they ultimately de 
cided to try to escape then, as the Indians were busily 
engaged in stealing annuity goods, and as there was 
also a strong probability of their burning the house. 
They had broken open the warehouse and were pack 
ing blankets on their ponies. They started for the 
garden, when Frank said: 

" Perhaps we can hide in the sage brush and 

He ran through the gate in the field with Mr. 
Price's rifle. He was near the field when last seen. 
Mrs. Meeker and Mrs. Price went inside the field 
through the wire fence. The Utes were so busy steal 
ing annuity goods that they did not see the escaping 
party at first. About thirty of them, loaded with 
blankets, were carrying them toward Douglass's camp, 
near the river. The fugitives had gone one hundred 
yards when the Utes saw them. They threw down 
the blankets and went running toward them, firing as 
they went. Bullets were as thick as grasshoppers 
around the fugitive women and poor little babies. 
They tried to shoot Frank Dresser, who had almost 
reached the sage brush, but merely shot to frighten 
the women. However, Mrs. Meeker was hit by a 
bullet, which went through her underclothing and 
made a flesh wound three inches long. 

As the Indians came nearer they shouted : 

"We no shoot! Come to us! No shoot; white 
woman good squaw ; come!" 

Mrs. Meeker had fallen to the ground an easy prey. 
She was taken to Douglass's tepee, while Mrs. Price 
was taken possession of by an Uncompahgre Ute. 
The women and children were dragged across the 
irrigating canal and were wet to the skin when they 
reached the Indian camp. They were quite rough in 


handling their captives, but they said they would not 
hurt them. 

As for the butchery of the employes, no white per- 
Son survived who witnessed it. The women and 
children did not leave their hiding place until late, 
and when they did come out the cruel work had been 
accomplished. All was over. Mrs. Meeker in pass 
ing across the grounds passed the prostrate form of 
her husband, stripped with the exception of his shirt. 
She stooped to kiss for the last time the cold, blue 
lips, which had spoken so many kind and loving 
words to her in their married life of thirty-five years, 
but she was ordered by the brave Douglass to pass 
on. This one last simple tribute was denied hen 
The Indians 'say that most of the men took refuge in 
a house, and that they fired it and ran the white men 
out, killing them as they came. Their bodies were 
doubtless left where they fell, and we tell in the pre 
ceding chapter of how they were discovered by the 

There is one error which may as well be ex 
plained here. It was stated that Harry Dresser's 
body was found in a coal bank about twelve miles 
from the agency ; this proves to have been a mistake. 
Josephine Meeker says that Harry was to have taken 
a dispatch from her father to Thornburgh ; he was 
prevented from going, and when the shooting began 
was among the first victims. His brother Frank, 
after being wounded in the leg, managed to reach the 
house, and Josie gave him Price's gun. They all took 
refuge in the milk house and remained there several 
hours until the smoke drove them to seek shelter 
elsewhere. In the milk house Frank said Harry and 
Eaton were the first shot. Frank and the women ran 
for the sage brush, he being a little ahead. The 
Indians, as soon as they saw them, threw down the 


agency goods they were stealing from the warehouses, 
and started for the fugitives, shooting as they ran, but 
they told the women to stop, they would not shoot 
them. Frank reached the sage brush. At this time 
he had on neither coat nor vest, and no shoes, conse 
quently could not travel over the cactus. He had 
said that he should try to reach the troops that night, 
and must have gone back to the agency after dark 
and taken off the coat, vest and shoes from his 
brother's body, and then tried to reach the soldiers ; 
he got as far as the coal bank, where he most likely 
encountered Indians and was again wounded by them 
and crawled into the shaft to die. 

The bodies of the eight unfortunate men repose in 
a beautiful spot in Powell Bottom, underneath a clump 
of cottonwood trees and near the crystal waters of 
White River. The pines on the distant hillsides sing 
the requiem to the dead, when stirred by the soft 
winds of the valley. All is again peaceful and calm 
on White River. There are no Indians there, and 
nothing but dull, dead stones rise to assert the pres 
ence of the bones of the martyred men. They were 
honest, conscientious men, who died in the interest of 
mankind. They will live in the memory of their 







Merritt and his little army, now swelled by the 
arrival of Colonel Gilbert's detachment, started for 
the south on the nth and went into camp three miles 
above the agency, headquarters being established and 
a supply dep'ot located directly at the agency. The 
strongest company in the gallant regiment hardly 
numbered forty-five men, the smallest numbering 
twenty-seven men. As soon as the camp was located 
and the troops had commenced to recover from their 
hard march and exposure, scouting parties were sent 
out for a radius of fifty miles to ascertain, if possible, 
the camp of the Indians, but in no case were any 
"signs" discovered. As Merritt's orders had been 
simply to go to the agency, the commander made no 
further advance than an occasional reconnoissance in 
the direction the Indians were supposed to have 
retreated. In the meantime, while waiting for dis 
patches as to what course to pursue, reinforcements 
were gathering at Rawlins to be hastened on to Mer 
ritt's support. Nine companies, under command of 
Colonel Brackett, had reached Rawlins, waiting orders 
to go forward. It was generally supposed that the 
hostiles had divided into small bands and scattered to 
different agencies, while the fate of the white women 


was, of course, still in doubt. No orders, except to 
restrain the Indians from violence and keep them at 
the agency, having arrived, General Merritt, on the 
morning of the I5th, at the head of seven hundred 
men, with ten days' supplies and in light marching 
order, started south, leaving Colonel Clifford with two 
hundred and forty men to guard the agency. The 
objective point was the camp of the hostiles who held 
the agency women, which by this time, it was con 
cluded, was located on Grand or Blue rivers. The 
troops had only been on the march six hours when 
dispatches arrived at the agency for the commander. 
A courier at once started in pursuit of the army 
moving south, as the dispatches were of importance. 
They were orders suspending operations against the 
Indians and directing the withdrawal of v the troops 
under Merrit to their proper stations in the Depart 
ment of the Platte, leaving sufficient number of men 
at the agency to guard government property. Gen 
eral Merritt was to remain in command and await 
further orders, either at White or Bear River, as 
negotiations for peace were in progress, and it was 
understood that the hostiles would agree to surrender 
the captives and be made to deliver those warriors 
who had led the outbreak. 

There was general regret felt all over the country 
and especially in military circles, that the outbreak 
was likely to be concluded without the troops chas 
tising the red devils, and a universal feeling of disgust 
at the disgraceful termination of the campaign. If 
the Utes escaped deserved punishment this time it 
was felt that frontier settlers had no guaranty what 
ever that the Indians would not re-enact the same 
terrible atrocities at will. 

And so the soldiers went unwillingly into quarters, 
returning to camp on White River on the i/th. The 


weather was very pleasant. The troops had a nice 
camp and very little sickness among the men. There 
were immense herds of cattle on the surrounding hills 
and the command was in daily supply of fresh beef. 
The flour found on the storehouse floor at the agency 
was issued to the troops. 

It was believed everywhere at this time that no 
further demonstration would be made in the north 
and eyes were turned to the military in the south and 
the peace commission. But on the 2ist two more 
gallant white men were sacrificed on the peace policy 
altar. The circumstances of the death of these two 
men were as follows: 

It must be recollected that General Merritt had 
previously started, with nearly all of his force, from 
the White River Agency across the White River, 
intending to penetrate as far as possible southward 
with his wagon train. It was generally understood 
that no wagons could make their way south of the 
White River, but Merritt was too persistent a soldier 
to be dismayed by the maps and reports of those who 
had preceded him. He made for the White River 
Mountains, below the stream, and failed to find a pass 
for his wagon train. Almost at the moment when his 
wagon master reported to him the impossibility of 
making headway through the mountains, Merritt was 
handed by a courier, who had ridden from Rawlins, 
the dispatch peremptorily ordering him to halt. Mer 
ritt, however, had his own reasons for ascertaining 
the state of affairs all around and below his command, 
in case he should be ordered to move on or in case 
he should be molested. Therefore he dispatched two 
companies of cavalry, under Captain Henry W. Wes- 
sells, Jr., and First Lieutenant William P. Hall, on 
the morning of the 2Oth inst., to effect a reconnois- 
sance in force. A number of scouts, headed by Paul 


Humme, their chief, accompanied the command, whose 
double object was to learn whether the hostile Utes 
had made a permanent departure from the neighbor 
hood and whether there was any perceptible wagon 
road between the White River and the Grand River. 

It appears that when the troops got some twenty- 
two miles below the White River Agency, Lieutenant 
Hall's command was attacked guerilla fashion by a 
body of Utes, who annoyed it till nightfall without 
stampeding it or doing it any injury, although 
the couriers report that two men were wounded. 

First Lieutenant William B. Weir, Chief of Ord 
nance of the Department of the Platte, who was a 
volunteer on the expedition, attached to General 
Merritt's staff, had in the meantime left the com 
mand, along with the chief scout, Paul Humme, to 
hunt deer. Firing was soon after heard by the mem 
bers of the main party, but nothing was thought of it 
until the long absence of the two men suggested the 
advisability of looking for them. After a brief search 
Lieutenant Weir's naked body was found where it had 
fallen, pierced by two bullets from rifles in Indian 
hands. Later on it was learned that he had encount 
ered a war party of twenty savages by whom he had 
been killed and robbed, and at the same time Chief of 
Scouts Humme was killed. The cavalry found 
Humme's body on the 23rd and buried it. Both 
Weir and Humme were shot through the head, Weir 
being shot in the forehead and Humme in the eye. 
Weir's head was mutilated and Humme was stripped. 

The Indian version of the fight is that a party of 
ten Indians had been stationed in the mountains to 
watch the movements of the troops on White River, 
and that on the 2Oth, about noon, a party of white 
men approached them ; that watching the party from 
their places of concealment they allowed it to pass, 


believing it to be merely a hunting party from the 
soldiers' camp ; that two of the party of white men 
fell behind and pursued some deer at which one of 
them shot, and that thereupon one of the Indians 
stepped out to see if the shot had taken effect, where 
upon one of the white men, probably Humme, shot 
and killed him; that several* of the Indians having 
been discovered by the man who had shot one of 
them, he continued to fire upon them, whereupon as a 
last resort they raised the war-whoop, when the rest 
of the party of Indians rushed down from the moun 
tains and attacked the party of six white men in a 
ravine, where one Indian was killed ; that the party in 
the vicinity of the two men pursuing the deer killed 
both of them, and then went to the assistance of the 

On the 23rd a battalion of five companies of the 
Fifth Cavalry, under Major Sumner, went into the 
mountains to the divide between the Grand and 
White rivers, about eighteen miles south from where 
the fight occurred on the 2Oth, to reconnoitre, and 
here, with the troops excited over the butchery of 
Weir and his scout, and expecting another covert 
attack from the Indians at any moment, we leave 
Merritt and his command and pass to the considera 
tion of other events, crowding fast upon each other. 





Thus far in this history little has been said regard 
ing the movements of the troops in the south or the 
condition of affairs at the southern agencies. News 
of the uprising at White River reached Los Pinos by 
runner the same day that Scout Rankin got into 
Rawlins. The day that the outbreak occurred, Chief 
Ouray had started on a big hunt, which was to have 
lasted three months, but the news carried through to 
him by the runner in twenty-four hours caused his 
speedy return to the agency. Ouray had always been 
a firm friend to the whites, and this horrible massacre 
caused him great grief. People everywhere felt 
assured that if any effort of his could save the imper 
illed lives of those at the seat of war they would be 
saved, and his past reputation led all to believe that 
should there be danger of an insurrection among the 
Uncompahgre Utes, the people would be warned by 
him. He called in all the hunting parties which were 
out, intending to keep them under his own eye, and 
not let them have any connection at all with their 
brethren of White River. 

Immediately upon the intelligence reaching the 
Los Pinos Agency, Major W. M. Stanley, Agent, sent 


Joseph Brady to the White River Agency, accom 
panied by a body-guard of fifteen Utes sent by Ouray. 
Ouray sent a positive command to the hostile Utes 
to cease fighting, the order reading as follows : 
" To Chiefs, Captains, Headmen and Utes at White 

River : 

" You are hereby requested and commanded to 
cease hostility against the whites, injuring no innocent 
persons or any others further than to protect your 
own lives and property from unlawful and unauthor 
ized combinations of horse thieves and desperadoes, 
as anything further will ultimately end in disaster to 
all parties. 

" [Signed] OURAY, 

" Head of Ute Nation. " 

Brady, who is a young man and unaccustomed to 
any continuous exertion, stood the terrible ride nobly, 
not one halt being made between the two agencies. 
It required a great deal of courage to start out imme 
diately upon hearing the horrible news from White 
River, and go there with no other protection than a 
band of red men directly allied to the assassins, with 
the noble hope of trying to save the lives of the 
remaining whites ; and this is exactly what this young 
man did. On his return from his mission he spoke 
in the highest terms of Sapavanaro's kindness to him 
on the journey, and said that nothing would induce 
him to believe anything but that this chief was a 
warm friend of the whites. " Give the devil his due.'' 

Following the dispatching of this order came start 
ling rumors from the south to the effect that Ignacio, 
at the head of one hundred bucks, had left for the 
north, and that Chief Ouray was powerless to con 
trol his young men. It was reported that three hun 
dred Southern Utes were on the war-path, and the 
inhabitants of the frontier settlements became greatly 


alarmed for the safety of themselves and homes. 
The militia of the south was organized, arms were 
sent to them and General D. J. Cook, of Denver, was 
placed in charge of the State troops below the 
Divide. At the same time application was made to 
General Pope for regular troops to be sent to the 
southern agencies. 

Likewise in the west came daily rumors of the 
proximity of Indians. At Fairplay, Alma, Breckin- 
ridge, Eagle River, Twin Lakes and other points, 
citizens and settlers prepared for an attack from the 
hostiles, it being generally feared that the White River 
tribe, after being repulsed by Merritt's advance, would 
scatter and fall down in small bands upon the exposed 
and more isolated settlements and camps along the 
main range. General Joe C. Wilson was placed in 
charge of the State troops in the South Park and 
Gunnison countries, and reported within two days that 
he could send out nearly any number of men required 
for the defense of the people and towns along the 
carbonate belt. A large amount of arms and ammu 
nition were forwarded to Leadville, where General 
Wilson established his headquarters. Chapters could 
be written on the different "scares" which sprang up 
from this direction. 

The most extravagant reports of danger came also 
from Middle Park and that section, and campers, 
herders, and prospectors " came in " in a hurry. Gen 
eral W. H. Harnill was ordered to the command of the 
militia in this section, and with arms forwarded from 
Denver went from Georgetown to Middle Park and 
armed all the people on the frontier and within the 
line of possible attack. State companies at George 
town, Central and other points, were placed under 
arms and a system of scouts and runners established, 


which would assure the earliest news of any danger 
at remoter points. 

It may be as well to state here as anywhere in this 
work that only one or two stray Indians were even 
seen, and that no loss Of life or property transpired in 
the Eagle River, South Park or Middle Park coun 
tries during or succeeding the White River uprising. 

But while the condition of affairs at the northern 
agency and the fate of the women captives were in 
doubt and uncertainty, public attention was attracted 
to proceedings in the south, where the utterances and 
opinions of Head Chief Ouray were eagerly watched 
for, and weighed as having the deepest significance. 
The well-known friendship for and loyalty to the 
government of this old chief gave to many the as 
surance that' what he said might be relied upon, and 
what he prophesied might safely be anticipated. 
Numerous stories came from the southern agency, 
or credited in their source to that point, that Ouray 
could not control his people and had warned the set 
tlers in the south to be on their guard; that many of 
Ouray's immediate followers had forsaken him, and 
that bands of New Mexico Indians were swarming 
into the Uncompahgre country to form conjunction 
with the red raiders of the north and declare general 
war. As these reports came to the more thickly set 
tled sections, and were taken up by the press of the 
State, the numbers of Indians engaged or in sympathy 
with the revolt increased gradually, until it was cur 
rently stated and generally believed that fully two 
thousand Indians were on the war-path, with acces 
sions gathering from Utah tribes, the Northern 
Arapahoes, Bannocks, Shoshones and other nations. 
As a large part of the Ute nation was located in the 
vicinity of the San Juan country, and as two influen 
tial chiefs lived in that section, actual developments 


from the south were awaited with deep anxiety, espe 
cially as it was believed that the rapid hurrying of 
troops toward the Los Pinos and Uncompahgre agen 
cies would have a tendency to precipitate any threat 
ened uprising among the southern bands. 

The first really authentic information as to the ac 
tual situation of affairs among the Indians of the 
south; the sentiment of the head men and the posi 
tion of the principal chiefs, reached the capital of the 
State in the shape of a letter from the clerk for the 
Agent at Los Pinos Agency, received October Qth, in 
which he said : 

"Chief Ouray was at the agency this morning, 
accompanied by a special messenger from Chief 
Douglass, of the White River Utes. The messenger 
left on the evening of the 2d inst., with instructions to 
Ouray to have no fears of any trouble from his tribe; 
that the fight now going on is an affair of their own, 
am 1 do not wish any one to interfere. They propose 
to settle it without any assistance from outside parties, 
and in any event will not trouble him or his people. 
That the three women and three children, one a babe, 
are safe at his house, shall be well cared for and 
released as soon as the fight is over. The money and 
papers belonging to the agency have been turned over 
to the Agent's wife. A messenger sent out by Ouray, 
who arrived at the same time, reports that the troops 
are strongly intrenched and still fighting; that with 
the supply of provisions on hand he has no fears of 
their ability to hold out until reinforcements arrive. 

" I am requested by Chief Ouray to state to the 
people of Ouray and vicinity that they need have no 
fears whatever from the Indians of the Los Pinos 
Agency; that none of his people took any part in the 
affair at White River, and that they are desirous that 

the peaceful relations which now exist shall forever be 


maintained; that in case any danger threatens us he 
will immediately notify the agency and the people of 
Ouray; that he deplores the trouble existing at White 
River, and is extremely anxious that no further fight 
ing or bloodshed shall take place, and will use his 
utmost endeavors to bring about a speedy settlement 
of the present difficulties. Any information he may 
receive will be immediately communicated to the 
agency and promptly forwarded to Ouray City. 

"Ouray's word is 'legal tender' in this valley, and 
I trust it will have its effect and quiet, in a measure, 
the excitement which now exists. 

"Yours, respectfully, 


General Edward Hatch, commanding the depart 
ment of New Mexico, was ordered to assume charge 
of the forces in Southern Colorado, which promptly, 
on application to General Pope, of Fort Leavenworth, 
were rapidly concentrated at and below Alamosa. 
General Hatch remained in command of the Southern 
Colorado troops until the appointment of the Investi 
gation Commission spoken of in the succeeding 
chapter, when he withdrew, and General McKenzie, of 
San Antonio, Texas, was appointed in charge. Troops 
were located before the outbreak at Forts Garland and 
Lewis, where permanent posts were established. 
These were at once ordered to prepare for march and 
to await commands from headquarters. Troops were 
ordered from San Antonio and Fort Clark, Texas, 
Fort Hayes. Kansas, and Fort Union, New Mexico, to 
Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, to pro 
tect the settlements and advance the war in Colorado, 
and at the same time to frustrate the hostile demonstra 
tions of the Indians in New Mexico. By these move 
ments quite an army of regular troops were formed 
for march to the frontier in the south, their plan of 


operations being to protect settlements, check uprising 
and co-operate with Merritt in the north. 

When this sub-department or column was placed in 
charge of General McKenzie after the recall of Gen 
eral Hatch, at which time its maximum strength was 
reached, the force numbered one thousand men and 
was officered as follows: General McKenzie com 
manding; John F. Guilfoyle, Ninth Cavalry, Assistant 
Adjutant General; Second Lieutenant Charles W. 
Taylor, aid. 

Battalion of four companies of the Twenty-second 
Infantry, Major A. L. Hough, commanding. 

Company H, Fifteenth Infantry, Captain J. W. 

Detachments of Companies I and B, Fifteenth In 
fantry, First Lieutenant George A. Cormick. 

Battalion of mounted troops, Captain James H. 

Company G, Nineteenth Infantry, Captain James 
H. Bradford. 

Company K, Ninth Cavalry, Captain Charles Parker. 

Surgeons, Dr. J. H. Collins and Dr. x F. H. Atkins. 

The positions assumed by the troops were arranged 
so as far as possible to cover as wide a scope of 
country, and, at the same time, have the column as 
compact as such a plan made practicable; the main 
body, or rather the largest body of troops, proceeding 
to a point in the vicinity of the Indian villages near 
Animas City, from which point by trail and road it is 
but eighty miles to Ouray. The troops from here 
could strike the Dolores trails readily, and were in a 
position to cover the settlements and strike quickly 
and hard, should the Indians make a break. 

In this condition affairs in the south, like those in 
the north, remained passive for some time. Merritt 
at White River guarded that frontier ; the State mili- 


tia, armed and equipped, protected settlements ; Gen 
eral McKenzie and his forces swarmed along the 
frontier in the south. It was well known at this time 
that the Indians engaged in the White River massacre 
were on Grand River, and in probable possession of 
the white women. The hostiles were hemmed in on 
three sides and had but two alternatives : to surrender 
or take flight along the valley of the Grand to Utah, 
and seek refuge in the wilderness in the southern part 
of that territory or the protection of their relatives, 
the Uintas. 










On the evening of October 14, General Charles 
Adams, Special Agent for the United States Postoffice 
Department, received, at Denver, telegraphic notifica 
tion that at the request of Secretary Schurz he had 
been detailed for special work as representative of the 
Interior Department among the Indians. A second 
dispatch from Washington gave General Adams spe 
cific instructions as to his mission and how to proceed. 
His principal, overshadowing duty was the rescue of 
the captive white women. The appointment was re 
garded with great favor. General Adams was Agent 
for the White River Utes in 1870-1, and was the first 
Civil Agent of the Los Pinos tribe, acting in that 
capacity during the years 1872-3-4. His intimate 
knowledge of the Indian character, his bravery, energy 
and sagacity, it was felt, would be equal to any de 
mands his errand might make upon them. 

The General said very little as to his plans, and the 
people at large were ignorant of his intentions or 
movements until he commenced to act, when the his 
tory of his course became public. This much was 
understood, however: that he was to proceed directly 


to the hostile camp and demand the immediate sur 
render of the women, if in camp, and that the hostiles 
lay down their arms. If these demands were not 
acceded to, General Adams was to at once withdraw 
and notify the Department and the military. The 
tenor of Secretary Schurz's pronunciamento left no 
doubt as to the contingent proceeding on the part of 
the government; the Indians then had to be brought 
to justice and by the military. The troops would 
take care of the hostiles, while General Adams would 
endeavor to keep at peace those Indians who were not 
engaged in the Meeker-Thornburgh butchery. In 
the event of the acquiescence of the Indians in Gen 
eral Adams' demands, it was not understood that they 
were to be accorded leniency. The General was to 
hold out no promises except the general one that their 
good conduct would be reported at Washington, and 
prompt compliance with the demands would be taken 
into consideration by the government. 

General Adams left Denver October i$th for Los 

Two days after he was followed by W. J. Pollock, 
United States Indian Inspector, who was to officially 
investigate affairs at the southern agencies. Major 
Pollock was accompanied by Ralph Meeker, a son of 
Agent Meeker, who, armed with special authority from 
the Interior Department, hoped to assist in the recovery 
of his mother and sisters. Messrs. Pollock and 
Meeker expected to join General Adams, but were 
prevented from so doing and proceeded to Los Pinos, 
where they remained. 

General Adams arrived at Chief Ouray's camp on 
the night of the i8th, where he had a long conference 
with the head of the Ute Nation, and with his aid 
and advice perfected his plans for the trip to the Grand 
River one hundred miles north, where the captives 


were then known to be. The following day General 
Adams arrived at Los Pinos and began active prepa 
rations for his perilous and important journey. Ouray 
accompanied the General to the agency and assisted 
him in arranging for his departure. 

On the morning of the iQth General Adams started 
north for the Grand River country. His escort con 
sisted of three chiefs and ten Indians. The chiefs 
were named Sapavanaro, Shavano, and Young Colo- 
row. He was accompanied by Count von Doenhoff, 
Secretary of the German Legation at Washington, an 
intimate friend of Secretary Schurz, by a special cor 
respondent of the Denver Tribune, and Captain Cline, 
an old scout and frontiersman. There were also two 
white men along to drive wagons and take care of the 
camping outfit. 

A provision wagon and buck board were taken 
along, in order that the ladies might be spared the 
fatigue of a long return journey on horseback. With 
great thoughtfulness, Ouray had sent along his own 
tent for the use of the ladies. 

The route taken was the wagon road, built by John 
son's army in 1859, to Utah, which was followed for 
forty miles beyond the Gunnison River, where the 
wagons were left, and the remainder of the journey 
performed on horseback. 

The party secured an early start and traveled 
forty miles, to the crossing of the Gunnison River, 
on an old Mormon trail, the first day. Here two run 
ners were sent ahead by Sapavanaro to inform Chief 
Douglass of their approach, in order that he might 
collect his head men and consult with them before 
the arrival of the envoy. The next day they reached 
Whitewater Creek, thirty miles further, arriving there 
about two o'clock. A halt was made until sundown 
when the ride was resumed, and they got to 


Grand River that night. At noon that day two 
Indians met them. .They were Cojoe and Henry Jim. 
They were from the hostile camp, and told the party 
where the camp was, and that the women were all 
safe. The Indians also told where the women were 
kept and in whose tents they were. The next morn 
ing, the 2 ist, the General and his escort left Grand 
River and struck the hostile camp about ten o'clock. 
It was twenty miles distant from the river. Shortly 
before they reached there one of the two Indians 
sent ahead returned and said that, after a whole night's 
council, the Indians had concluded to let them come 
in. Douglass and some of his men, they said, would 
meet them. When they got to the camp General 
Adams discovered that the women were in a small 
camp on Plateau Creek. The main camp was at the 
mouth of Roon Creek, on the Grand River. Adams 
went to the small camp, composed of about fifteen 
lodges, and proceeded to the further end. There were 
three tents, and in each tent a prisoner. 

"Ugh! Ute house; pretty soon see white squaws," 
said Sapavanaro. 

So at last they had arrived at their goal in just six 
calendar days from the time General Adams left 

The General, who was in advance, rode first toward 
the farthest group of tepees, and stopping at one, in 
the doorway of which stood a squaw, asked if the 
white squaws were in there. 

" Katch," (no), was the reply, and General Adams 
started for the other tent, when, " Hold on, General," 
exclaimed Captain Cline, excitedly, "I see one of 

"Good," said the General, "keep an eye on her," 
and rode off to the other tent. This was entirely 
empty, and he rode back to the first. 


The lady whom Captain Cline had seen, in spite of 
the efforts of the squaw to conceal her by standing in 
the door, then came out, exclaiming: 

"Oh, have you come for us? I am so glad." 

She then said she was Miss Josephine Meeker; 
that this was the camp of Chief Johnson ; that her 
mother, and Mrs. Price and little boy, were in the 
other tepee, Josie having the little girl with her. After 
a few moments conversation, General Adams told her 
that he would return in a short time, and rode off to 
the other tents. One of these was empty, and the 
other entirely closed, save a small opening in the 
door-way. Before this the party dismounted, and 
then began an excited colloquy between Sapavanaro 
and the occupants of the tent, he seeming to speak 
angrily and indignantly, and the other speakers, who 
afterward proved to be Captain Billy and Waro, both 
Uncompahgre Utes, answering in a sulky way. 

Presently Sapavanaro turned to General Adams 
and told him in Spanish that, seeing them coming, 
the women had been hid, and that only the unlooked- 
for move of his in riding to the fartherest tent first 
had prevented them from hiding Miss Meeker. 

They had sent for Douglass, whose camp was about 
sixteen miles distant, and nothing could be done until 
his arrival. Upon this information, saddles were un- 
cinched and horses were picketed for a stop. While 
waiting the party had a fine opportunity to observe 
the camp and its surroundings. 

The plain upon which the tents were pitched was as 
fine pasture land as Colorado contains, and extended 
in three directions as far as the eye could reach, 
mountains rising on the other side, and a small creek 
flowing within fifty yards of the tents. Upon a small 
stand set up between the tents hung a non-commis 
sioned officer's sash and a cavalry sabre, topped by a 


uniform coat ; several army saddles were piled in front 
of the tents; mules and horses with the United States 
brand on them were grazing on the mesa, while gov 
ernment blankets, bags of flour, etc., were scattered 
all around. 

The escort, the Uncompahgre Utes, save only 
Sapavanaro and Shavano, who stood aloof, mingled 
freely with their white brethren, and were soon laugh 
ing and talking loudly. 

After perhaps an hour's waiting, a short, ungraceful 
Ute rode up, followed by two others. Though com 
monly dressed, yet a brightness of face about him 
and the hushed talk of the Indians around prepared 
the party to be told that that was Douglass. 

Dismounting from his horse he spoke to General 
Adams, shook hands with him and the rest of the 
party, and then turned away and became absorbed in 
a consultation with Shavano and his two head men. 

This lasted a short time, when Douglass went up 
to General Adams, who, seated on the ground, had 
been quietly waiting for him to open the negotiations, 
and kneeling on the ground, drew a map of White 
River and the surrounding country with his finger. 
He then explained that the troops were continually 
advancing and his men retreating before them ; that 
neither he nor his men wished to fight, and concluded 
by requesting the General to go to White River and 
tell the soldiers to stop their advance. 

To this General Adams replied that he had been 
sent by the government to tell him that it wished for 
no war; but that the "white squaws must be returned 
to their friends." 

"I give you white squaws, you go to White River?" 
asked Douglass. 


"White squaws stay here till you come back?" 


"No," replied General Adams, "white squaws start 
to-morrow home. I go to-day to White River." 

Douglass thought a moment, then, rising, said to 
the General : 

"You come in," and went into the tepee, which had 
during the conversation become filled with Utes. 
General Adams followed, and seating himself, there 
began a council which lasted for five hours. 

General Adams furnishes the following account of 
the proceedings council tepee: 

"There were about fifty chiefs in the tent. I was 
supported, as you might say, by Chiefs Sapavanaro 
and Shavano, who were under my charge at the 
southern agency, and there was also present Sawawic, 
a chief whom in 1870 I nursed for three months in 
my own house at the southern agency. I formally 
made my errand known, and then one chief after 
another spoke, nearly all of them refusing their con 
sent to the surrender. The pipe was passed around, 
but I refused to smoke with them, and so did Sapa 
vanaro until they had consented to a release. Finally 
Shavano became angry and discouraged and arising 
from the council told me it was useless to parley fur 
ther, and left the tent. At this Sapavanaro stepped 
into the circle and made a most powerful and deter 
mined speech, more of a threat, than an appeal. Dur 
ing his great talk there was considerable excitement 
and pow-wow in the council, but I learned later that 
the chief said that he bore the mandate of Ouray. 
The Indians must surrender the captive women to 
General Adams or they would not be recognized by 
Ouray. They would be shut off from communication 
with their head chief; not allowed to come to his 
camp, and Ouray would join with the white soldiers 
and force the surrender or drive the rebellious Utes 
from the country. 


" This speech had a deep effect, and an old Uintah 
chief who was in the council held private conversation 
with Chief Douglass, evidently urging him to obey 
Ouray as the politic course. Douglass then arose, 
and after endeavoring to get me to go with the troops 
first and then return for the prisoners, but being again 
refused, he finally yielded an ungraceful assent. 
Then one after another of the opposing chiefs followed 
suit and the agreement became nearly unanimous. 

" I saw Cojoe, an Uncompahgre, in the council. 
He wore Lieutenant Cherry's dress coat and his watch 
and chain. I think this chief had three or four men 
in the camp. There were probably ten or twelve 
Uintahs in the camp. Of these latter there had 
undoubtedly been many more at first, but they fled to 
the west when the message from Ouray was received." 

At the close of the council the long pipe was passed 
around, and General Adams came out, saying to his 
company that the ladies had been sent for and would 
be here in a few moments. 

Presently there came toward the white men an old 
lady leaning on a stick, whom they knew at once to 
be Mrs. Meeker. Mrs. Price followed her, her little 
boy being carried behind in a blanket, Indian fashion. 
They shook hands cordially with Adams and the 

" We are so thankful you have come," they said. 
' Yesterday a runner came in, and a little while after 
we were told that Washington would be here to-mor 
row ; but the Indians had so frequently told us things 
of that kind to torment us that we hardly believed. 
But now we can't help believing it. When are you 
going to take us away ? " 

" Very soon," said General Adams. " I have ar 
ranged everything so you can start to-morrow." 

" We are so glad," said Mrs. Price. " When the 


Indians came to our tent and made us go into that 
brush we didn't know what was going to happen to 
us ; but we had become so hopeless that we didn't 
care much." 

In a few moments General Adams rode off with 
Douglass, Sapavanaro, and Shavano. He was to go 
to the camp of Douglass that night, and in the morn 
ing start for White River. Count von Dcenhoff 
accompanied him. Before he left, Douglass ordered 
Miss Meeker and the little girl to be brought over to 
where the rest were ; and when they came there was 
a joyful reunion on the part of the ladies. 

One of the tepees was prepared for their sleeping 
accommodation, and they early retired to rest to pre 
pare for the necessarily early start next morning. 

After the women had been given up, and in com 
pany with the twelve southern Utes who had accom 
panied the envoy to Grand River, had started south, 
General Adams took a guard of twenty-five White 
River Utes and, in company with Chiefs Sapavanaro, 
Shavano and Sawawic, started for Merritt's command, 
to stop their march south. When about twenty miles 
below the agency the party were discovered by Mer 
ritt's scouts, who reported, as was afterwards learned, 
that a band of Indians were approaching. Before 
Adams was aware of his proximity to the soldiers the 
party were surrounded, and, as he believes, escaped 
fire by a moment by their discovery of Adam's flag of 
truce, which he at once raised. The Indians were 
positive he had been treacherous, and showed every 
manifestation of anger and bitter resentment. But 
the faithful Sawawic exhibited his confidence in the 
General, and re-assured the others by dismounting 
and proceeding forward alone. Adams sent word to 
the soldiers and the bugle call was sounded. The 
Indians had clambered up the mountain side and were 


waiting developments, and the General turned back 
for them. Just as he had prevailed upon Shavano to 
come to his side, a squad of soldiers, who had not 
heard the bugle sound, rode up, when Shavano with a 
yell again bounded away, and it was some time before 
Adams could get his escort together again. The 
party proceeded to the agency, and General Adams 
told General Merritt what he had accomplished and 
promised. Merritt at once withdrew his advance, and 
Adams and escort returned to the Grand River camp, 
the escort reporting what Adams had done, which was 
satisfactory evidence that he had fulfilled his agree 

General Adams proceeded next day towards Los 
Pinos, and arrived at that agency October 29th. 




During this time we have left the women, Mrs. 
Meeker, Miss Josephine and Mrs. Price, and Mrs. 
Price's babies, in the hands of the hostiles. Twenty- 
three days have elapsed since they were made captives, 
and they have passed through an experience which 
seems in every way incredible. That they should 
have borne up under the trying ordeal of this time is 
the wonder of the day. The experience at the 
agency, the imprisonment, the massacre, the treat 
ment they received at the hands of the savages, the 
dread and anxious state of mind which must 
have been continual with them from beginning to 
end, were sufficient, it would seem, to break down the 
strongest organizations. During all this time thous 
ands, millions, of anxious eyes have been turned 
towards the western border of Colorado, peering into 
the wilderness and the mountains, to discover some 
trace of the captives. An occasional glance which 
was only sufficiently plain to strengthen hope and 
create doubt was afforded, thus heightening rather 
than lessening the suspense of the nation and in 
creasing the sympathy and anxiety felt for the poor 
wanderers in a strange land among a wild and sav 
age race. Once in a while there came state 
ments from the Indian runners, who were constantly 


plying between the camp of Chief Ouray and that of 
the hostiles, saying that they were safe in the hands 
of the White River Utes at a spot some hundred 
miles north of the Uncompahgre, or Los f.Pinos, 
Agency. But the statements of the Indians were not 
considered strictly reliable, for, while it was thought 
they were held as captives, it was doubted whether 
they had been treated with any respect or indeed 
whether their lives would be spared. 

The story as told by the rescued captives is a 
pathetic and an absorbingly interesting one. It is a 
strange and peculiar story a new picture of Indian 
life and of the Indian land, full of light as well as of 
shadow, abounding in bright and sunny spots, we are 
pleased to say, as well as in dark and gloomy corners 
in streaks of sunlight as well as in thunder storms. 
It is a revelation, a new account of the life and man 
ners of the aboriginal American, the noble red man 
of the Rocky Mountains. The stories of the captives 
' as told to General Adams, and as afterwards related a 
hundred times over by the captives to their friends 
and the press, give glimpses of Indian life more 
curious and instructive than anything which has ap 
peared in the press or in literature for the last thirty 
years. A great deal of picturesque Indian life is 
painted in Cooper's novels, but that is either fiction or 
facts so embellished and heightened as to be undis- 
tinguishable from the veriest romance. In the reports 
we have had of the incessant Indian wars in recent 
years, the barbarities of the native tribes have made a 
great figure, but there have been few relieving 
features, and little light has been shed on the kind of 
life which the Indians lead among themselves. These 
are narratives of thrilling interest which lift the 
curtain and disclose phases of savage humanity as it 
exists in the far-off western wilds, and enlarge our 


'knowledge of Indian character as it exists at present. 
Public attention has been chiefly fixed on the massa 
cre and the rescue, but since the women and children 
who were carried off are out of danger, a singular 
interest attaches to what happened to them while they 
were in the power of the savages and to the knowl 
edge they gained while in that hapless condition. 
The minute and interesting recitals of Miss Meeker, 
Mrs. Meeker and Mrs. Price, form the most valu 
able contribution, to our knowledge, of the interior 
life of the Indians which has been made in this 
generation. It is better than anything in the Leather 
Stocking series because it is authentic, and does not 
fall below anything in those celebrated fictions in 
pictorial interest or curious illustration of Indian 
traits. During their captivity of twenty-three days 
these ladies had opportunities to observe the charac 
ter and the strange antics of their captors such as 
have not before occurred in our time, and, it is to be 
hoped, will never occur again to persons of their sex. 

To begin with the beginning, we must retrace our 
footsteps, and ask the reader to return with us to 
White River. We will not stop to listen to the moan 
ing of the winds, the lowing of the agency cattle as 
the sun descends on that sorrowful day, or to moralize 
over the ashes of the agency buildings or the dead 
bodies of good " Father" Meeker and his faithful fol 
lowers. For the present we leave these things to 
those who have not the living to care for. We leave 
the dead to bury the dead, while we pursue the cap 
tives on their wild course into the mountains. 

Having massacred the men at the agency and 
burned all the buildings but one, the savages set 
themselves to work to secure the plunder and carry it 
away. As we have already seen they had removed 
their women to a place south of the agency, that they 


might be out of danger in case the soldiers should 
push through and attack them. To the squaws' camp 
later in the day they repaired. 

When the women rushed out of the burning build 
ing, driven from their hiding place like foxes from 
their dens by the sportsman, and made the one 
despairing dash across the open field, hoping to cover 
themselves in the chapparal and the sage brush, and 
thus hide until they could be protected by the dark 
ness of the approaching night they discovered the 
Indians at a distance busily engaged in packing mules 
and horses with agency supplies. They were so oc 
cupied piling on the blankets and guns and stowing 
away the meat and flour that they did not see Dresser 
and the women and children until they had almost 
reached their goal. A wild yell, which came simul 
taneously from a score of throats, a mad rush and 
the discharge of firearms followed. Mrs. Meeker fell 
when struck by a ball, while Dresser, for whom the 
shot was most likely intended, bounded on and was 
lost in the dense growth. 

The women could do nothing but place themselves 
at the mercy of the savages, who promised protection 
and security. However little confidence they may 
have had in this guarantee, no alternative but to ac 
cept and go along with them was left them. Their 
friends were all dead. They were helpless and in the 
hands of the slayers. Mrs. Meeker had scarcely 
fallen to the ground when a big buck, holding a gun 
in his hand, stood over her, his face illumined by a 
ghastly savage grin. " Me no hurt white squaw," he 
said; "Ute no hurt squaw, good squaw. Come to 
Douglass." Mrs. Meeker followed, limping after the 
red scoundrel, who had taken what money she had 
some $30 and went to the camp of Douglass with 
him. She was then delivered over to the considerate 


care of that " good " chief, who rewarded her captor 
by giving him two silver dollar pieces which he had 
taken from the old lady. Mrs. Meeker has related in 
her own language what next transpired, and as in that 
is included a pathetic incident, which is all the more 
affecting as related by her, we repeat her words : 


" I told Douglass that I must have some blankets. 
He sent an Indian named Thompson to the burning 
building with me, and I got a hood, a shawl and one 
blanket. I handed around bedding, etc., among the 
Indians, rather than have them destroyed. The In 
dians took them, and I afterward saw them in camp 
when I was suffering for the want of blankets to keep 
me warm. I went back to Douglass and said that I 
wanted my medicine and my 'spirit book.' I had 
doctored Douglass and his family. He said, 'Go'; 
so I went back a second time and got a large copy of 
'Pilgrim's Progress' and a box of medicines. The 
box was so heavy that an Indian refused to carry it. 
It was lost, but he took the book. When I got back 


to Douglass and told that chief the Indian had said 
that the medicine chest was too heavy to carry, Doug 
lass looked disappointed and sorrowful, and asked 

"'Couldn't you have split the box a little, so you 
could have brought part of it?' 

" In going back this last time I saw the body of my 
husband stretched out on the ground in front of the 
warehouse; all the clothing was gone but the shirt. 
The body was not mutilated. The arms were ex 
tended at the sides of the head. The face looked as 
peaceful and natural as in life, but blood was running 
from the mouth. I stooped to kiss him, but just as 
my lips were near his I saw an Indian standing stone 
still, looking at me, so I turned and walked away. 
Douglass afterward said that my husband was shot 
through the side of the head." 

Mrs. Price surrendered to an Uncompahgre Ute, 
Cojoe by name, and Miss Josephine was made the 
captive of a subordinate chief or head man called 
Persune, whose name has become known to the out 
side world because- of his gallant bearing toward the 
Agent's daughter " The pale white squaw who grieve 
much." When taken Miss Josephine was in charge 
of Mrs. Price's little girl May, while Mrs. Price still 
retained possession of Johnnie. 

An incident worthy of note, to which doubtless the 
captives owe much of their fair treatment during the 
three weeks that succeeded this dreadful day, occurred 
a few minutes after the women and children had fallen 
into the hands of the barbarians. When Miss Jose 
phine first went to the agency she was an object of 
much curious interest and of attention on the part of 
the Indians. Young, rosy-cheeked, bright, cheerful 
and vivacious, she charmed the savage eye and won 
the red man's heart. During her stay of over twelve 
months in their midst she was loved and wooed by 


fully a dozen braves, many of whom occupied first 
rank as chiefs. They made all kinds of offers to her, 
those that were married agreeing to put away their 
other wives, and those that were not swearing that 
their love and admiration for the white maiden should 
never be dimmed or diminished by affection for any 
other woman, wild and untutored or gentle and edu 
cated. One moccasined lover had hardly been sent 
away until another succeeded in his plea at the shrine 
of love. Douglass had himself become a victim to 
Miss Meeker's superior charms, and hesitated not to 
speak his admiration to the daughter of the Agent. 
Persune, a younger and handsomer, and withal a bet 
ter Indian, had also avowed his passion and his desire 
to possess "the white lily." 

As was naturally to be expected there was a gen 
eral anxiety to hold this treasure, now in the hands of 
the tribe. Persune had been alive to the situation, 
and while the other Indians were engaged in securing 
the agency goods, he was pursuing the fleeing charm, 
which he captured. He did not prove in all respects 
a gentle lover, and when in conducting his captive 
back to the Indian headquarters, he came to an irri 
gating canal, which had been constructed by the 
Agent for the purpose of watering the valley, over 
which there was no means of crossing, he rudely 
dragged her through the water, which was quite deep, 
wetting her to the skin, so that when our heroine 
came up on the opposite bank, she was not in ball 
room plight. Little May suffered the same indignity 
offered her protector, and also came out of the pool 
looking more like a clothes-line appendage than a 
piece of mortality. 

Persune had scarcely more than emerged from this 
watery pathway than he came upon the great chief 
whom the whites call Douglass, but whose Indian 


cognomen is Quinkent, who no sooner discovered 
that Persune had made a captive of Miss Josephine,, 
upon whom he had turned his own eye, than he en^ 
tered an objection. It was plain to be seen that he 
had been drinking, for he swaggered and swore: 
Miss Josephine, who had seen only the better side of 
Douglass's character, was disposed to request him to* 
take her, as she thought he would protect her. But 
second counsel with herself prevailed, and she decided 
to let the savages settle the matter among themselves, 
especially as she had little hope of influencing the re 
sult. She therefore held her tongue while the braves 
quarreled over the possession of her. They came 
near to blows, and the young lady thought at one 
time that the day which had been so eventful and 
which had seen the spilling of so much of the blood! 
of the white man, might yet see the letting of some 
of the extra supply of an Indian, or perhaps two. 
Little May clung close about her protector while the 
Indians disputed over the possession, seeming to 
assert that, let whomsoever might take her away, they 
two would not be parted. 

Persune was not, however, in the least daunted by 
Douglass's braggadocio. He told him that the captive 
was his, and that he meant to retain possession of her, 
and after parleying for a while with the chief, and 
exchanging a few uncomplimentary epithets, alluding, 
among other things, to Douglass's connection with 
the Mountain Meadow massacre, he pushed the White 
River chief to one side and passed on with his cap 
tives, leaving Douglass to his own cogitations and 

The Indians told the women that they must now 
get ready for a long march, for they had a great way to 
go that night, to the squaws' camp, far away toward the 
Uncompahgre country. But this warning was almost 

THE UTE WAR. 1 03 

unnecessary, as there were no preparations for them 
to make. Their clothing, except what they wore, 
had been burned with the other agency effects. The 
day had been warm, and as the ladies considered 
themselves out of the sight of all but "home folks," 
they had dressed themselves as scantily as they could 
for protection against the heat. They wore only their 
calico dresses,. and neither shoes nor stockings. Thus 
they rendered themselves comfortable during the 
warmth of the day; but towards evening, in the 
mountains, when the sun begins to disappear, the air 
grows chill, and wraps and fires become comfortable. 
Darkness had come upon them while in this unprotect 
ed state, and the prospect of having to ride horseback 
during a long and cold night opened before them. 
They shuddered at the thought, and because of the 
cold. It was a case of mingled prospect and reality. 
The present was an indication of what the future, 
might be. 

The Indians had finished their plundering and 
packing and were now ready to leave the agency 
and the agency ashes. The women were told 
to mount. Mrs. Meeker was set upon the bare 
back of a horse, behind Chief Douglass. Miss 
Josie was placed on a pony, and little May was lashed 
on behind her. She was provided with a saddle, but 
with no bridle, the Indians depending upon driving 
her horse as they desired it to go, rather than upon 
her guiding it. The Uncompahgre Ute who had 
captured Mrs. Price spread a blanket over the saddle 
of a pony and told her to mount. She crawled upon 
the animal's back, her baby boy was handed to her, 
and the Indian threw himself on behind. There were 
about twenty Indians in the party, all mounted, and 
with quite a number of annuity goods strapped on 
pack-mules. The Indians had attired themselves 


quite picturesquely before beginning the massacre, 
having assumed their feathers and their war-paint. 
These decorations they still retained. 

The cavalcade started directly southward, taking 
the Indian trail to Grand River, which led gradually 
into the mountains. ' The sight was a peculiar one 
as wild as weird and as weird as can well be imagined. 
The Indians and the women appeared in costumes which 
on the streets of any city would attract the gaze of 
all who might catch a glimpse of them. It would 
have made a fine picture, and the artist present would 
have lacked nothing to complete the view. Moun 
tains, valleys, trees, streams, figures, Indian hilarity, 
female sorrow, the dark back-grounds of the agency 
and its recent scenes all lighted by a full moon,, 
which had just risen over the mountains to the east,, 
and fitly and graphically described by Bret Harte's- 
pretty little word painting 

Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting ; 

The river sang below; 
The dim sierras far beyond uplifting 

Their minarets of snow. 

These were terrible times for the poor women. 
What thoughts must have crowded their brains ! what 
phantoms taken shape! what pictures must have 
formed on the camera of the imagination ! A day of 
terror such as mortal seldom experiences succeeded 
by a night among wild and drunken men, in fastnesses 
in the heart of the Rocky Mountains unexplored by 
men of their own race and color. Having, as we may 
say, witnessed the massacre of husbands, fathers and 
friends ; having been cooped up all day in a hole, for 
self-protection ; having seen the buildings which had 
afforded them shelter crumble to the ground as the 
savage flames mounted to the skies ; having almost 
been dragged over the dead bodies of their dead 

THE UTE WA&. 105 

friends by their murderers, they were now, alone and 
without protection, trusting only to Providence for 
relief, in the hands of these barbarians, and were 
doomed to spend not only a night, but perhaps an 
eternity with them. 

We draw the curtain over the scene. 









The trail was a well defined pathway, giving evi 
dence of having been traveled for many a day by man 
and beast.' It was tortuous and narrow, winding 
about on the hillsides and descending into the hol 
lows, sometimes ascending an abrupt point and at 
others leading through a deep canon with the moun 
tains looming up, it seemed, well nigh to the skies, 
and cutting out all but the faintest shadows. But 
for the continual jabber of the Indians, the down-cast 
and sad-hearted women might have easily imagined a 
hundred armed warriors concealed behind as many 
pillars of stone and pine trees, ready to march stealth 
ily forward and take possession of and murder them. 
The Indians seemed in excellent spirits, and, whether 
they marched up hill or down, laughed and talked 
continually, generally among themselves, but some 
times addressed their conversation to their captives. 
Their naturally wild and uncouth characters were 
brought out in bolder relief by the use of whisky 
with which they seemed to be abundantly supplied, 
and which they used without stint. Each one carried 
a well filled bottle, which found its way to his mouth 


at short intervals. They had robbed the medicine 
stores at the agency of all the liquor to be obtained 
there, and were also evidently well supplied before they 
had begun their plundering. They drank and laughed 
continually. In fact, to use a common expression, 
they were gloriously drunk. But, as may well be 
imagined, their hilarity was in sad contrast to the feel 
ings of the despairing women and frightened children. 
Relating her experience Mrs. Meeker says : 

" Douglass's breath smelt strongly of whisky. He 
said : 

" ' Your father dead ; I had a father once ; he too is 
dead. Agent no understand about the fight Indians 
make. ' 

" The other Indians all took out bottles of whisky, 
which they held up between their eyes and the moon 
as they drank so as to see how much was left. 
Douglass as he rode along sang what seemed to be 
an obscene song to a pretty melody in slow measure. 
When he had finished he asked how I liked it. My 
limb ached so terribly that I could scarcely sit on the 
horse. Douglass held it a while; then he strapped it 
in a kind of a sling to his saddle. 

" I asked if I should see my daughter, Josephine. 
Douglass replied, ' Yes. ' * 

" As we rode a villainous looking Indian trotted 
alongside and slapped me on the shoulder and asked 
how I would like to be his squaw, and he made inde 
cent proposals. Chief Douglass listened and laughed. 
He said the Indian was an Arapahoe, and I would kill 
Utes if I married an Arapahoe. " 

Mrs. Price relates that she was treated quite civilly 
by the Uncompahgre Indian who had made her a 
captive and who rode behind her. He pulled a watch 
out of his pocket and asked her if she recognized it. 
It proved to be a gold time-piece taken from Mr. 


Post, the agency clerk, and a valued family relic. 
The Indian, who evidently did not appreciate the 
value of the property, put the guard over Mrs. Price's 
head and strung it around her neck, saying it was her 
watch. She states that the road at times ascended 
such steep hills that she was almost unable to hold 
on, while Mrs. Meeker, who rode behind Douglass, 
was compelled to cling to him with all her strength 
to avoid falling off behind. 

Persune early began to display towards Miss Jose 
phine the gallantry which characterized him in all his 
dealings towards her. He rode alongside of her, 
driving his two pack-mules in front, and was not in 
the least rude or presuming. When she complained 
of thirst, he went to the river and brought her a drink 
in his hat. To illustrate the different degrees of po 
liteness among savages, it may be related that Mrs. 
Price had also asked her Indian for some water, being 
also very thirsty. He gave it to her also out of his 
hat, but before handing it to her, drank himself. This 
Persune did not do. 

The Indians traveled at a rapid trot for three or four 
hours and at last left the trail, and soon entered a 
small ravine, where they camped for perhaps half an 
hour, the prisoners being separated. Here the pris 
oners were told to dismount, and obeying instructions, 
they were carefully searched by the Indians, even to 
their shoes and stockings. They found on Mrs. 
Meeker's person a pocket-book, which was full of 
needles and a handkerchief. Thjs last piece of prop 
erty was taken by the ten-year-old son of Douglass, 
whose full name is Frederick Douglass. He is a boy 
ten years old, who had received special care at the 
hands of the women at the agency. He had been 
taught to read and to speak English to a degree. 
His instructors were much encouraged at his progress, 


and thought, until they saw him in his real character, 
unrestrained by conventionalities, that he was a bright 
and shining contradiction of the prevailing opinion 
that the Indian could not be civilized. Now, how 
ever, that there were no restraints about him, and that 
his savage nature was at liberty to assert itself, it did 
not fail him. Like Mark Tapley, he came out strong. 
He not only stole Mrs. Meeker's handkerchief, but he 
abused her to the greatest extent possible with the 
words which had been taught him at the agency. He 
also taunted and jeered and poked fun at Miss Jose 
phine and Mrs. Price, and teased and tormented the 
babies until they cried. 

In doing these things the young Douglass only 
followed the example set by his illustrious sire and 
others of the tribe. Of all the Indians the house of 
Douglass seems to have proved on this occasion the 
most conspicuous. Miss Josephine had scarcely dis 
mounted from her horse when this villain approached 
her in an indecent and threatening manner. She had 
lain down upon some blankets to take needed rest 
while stopping. 

Chief Douglass addressed her as "white squaw," 
laughed at her, and then made her a speech, upbraid 
ing her father, reciting his wrongs, and ending with a 
threat to kill her. He was greatly excited and used 
many gestures while speaking, representing what had 
been done what he thought and felt quite as much 
by actions as by words. He began with the story of 
his own grievances, which were many and trivial. 
He said the massacre (he had not yet heard of the 
Thornburgh fight, though they knew of his ap 
proach southward) occurred because Major Thorn- 
burgh, whom he knew not by name, but who was 
perfectly described, told the Indians that he was going 
to arrest the head chiefs, take them to Fort Steele and 


put them in the calaboose perhaps hang them. He 
said Agent Meeker had written all the letters to the 
Denver papers and circulated wild reports about what 
the Indians would do, as set forth by the western 
press, and that he was responsible for all the hostility 
.against the Indians among the whites in the west. 
He manifested a perfect knowledge of what had been 
said in the papers, and quoted largely, almost word 
for word, from them. 

He said, furthermore, that pictures of the Agent 
and all his family, women and children, had been 
found on Thornburgh's body just before the attack on 
the agency, and the pictures were covered with blood, 
and showed marks of knives on different parts of the 
bodies. The throats were cut The one of the 
Agent had a bullet hole in his head. Josephine was 
represented in one of the pictures as shot through the 
breast. Douglass said Father Meeker had made these 
pictures, representing the prospective fate of his fam 
ily, and sent them to Washington, to be used to 
influence the soldiers and hurry troops forward to 
fight the Indians. 

This remarkable statement, strange as it may seem, 
was afterward repeated to the captives by a dozen dif 
ferent Indians, and the recital and the particulars were 
always the same. 

While Douglass was telling this he stood in front 
of the captive girl with his gun, and his anger was 
dreadful. Then he shouldered his gun and walked 
up and down before her in the moonlight and imitated 
the employes, who had kept guard at the agency for 
three nights before the massacre. He mocked them, 
and sneered and laughed at them, and said he was " a 
heap big Indian." Then he sang English songs 
which he had heard the agency employes sing in their 
rooms. He sang the negro melody, "Swing Low, 



Sweet Chariot," and asked Josephine if she under 
stood, which she easily did, because he had the words 
and tune perfectly committed. He said the Agent 
had always been writing to Washington. He always 
saw him writing when he came to the agency. It 
was write, write, write all day, he said. Then he 
swore a fearful oath in English, and said if the soldiers 
had not come and threatened the Indians with Fort 
Steele and the calaboose and threatened to kill the 
other Indians at White River, the Agent and em 
ployes would not have been massacred. 


Then the brave chief, Douglass, who had eaten at 
the family table that very day, walked off a few feet, 
returned and placed his loaded gun to Josie's forehead 
three separate times, and asked her if she was going 
to run away. 

She told him that she was not'afraid of him nor of 
death, and should not run away. 


When he found his repeated threats could not 
frighten her, all the other Indians turned on him and 
laughed at him, and made so much fun of him that 
he sneaked off and went over to frighten her mother. 
She heard her cry " Oh ! " and supposed that she 
thought some terrible fate had befallen her daughter, 
who shouted to her that she was not hurt ; that she 
need not be afraid ; that they were only trying to 
scare her. The night was still, but she heard no res 

What happened to Mrs. Meeker is related by her. 
She says : 

" They talked indecently to us and made shameful 
proposals. They were drunk, and their conversation 
was loud with ribaldry. They even threatened me 
with death if I did not submit to their bestiality. 
Fortunately I escaped outrage, but had to submit to 
terrifying threats of violence and death. Douglass 
went through the burlesque of imitating the employes 
in keeping guard at the agency. He mocked the 
soldiers, walking up and down with a gun on his 
shoulder, and sang. 

" As I lay on the ground, not knowing when I 
should be butchered, I thought of my young daughter 
Josephine, who was not far away, and wondered if she 
had already been slaughtered. My face was partly 
covered, but suddenly I heard Douglass's voice. I 
turned and saw Chief Douglass standing close by me, 
with the muzzle of his gun pointed directly at my 
face. I involuntarily cried out. Josephine heard me 
and her voice came out of the night, saying : 

" * I am all right, mamma , don't be afraid ! ' 

" Douglass lowered his gun, raised it again and 
took aim. I said nothing and he walked away. An 
Indian standing near said : 


" ' Douglass no hurt you. He only playing sol 

After half an hour of this exhibition all hands took 
a drink around Josie's bed ; then they saddled their 
horses, and Persune led the young lady's horse to 
her and knelt down on his hands and knees for her to 
mount from his back. He always did this, she says, 
and when he was absent his wife did it. 'She saw 
Persune do the same gallant act once for his squaw, 
but it was only once, and none of the other Indians 
did it at all for the other white women or their 

They urged their horses forward and journeyed in 
the moonlight through to the Grand Mountains with 
the Indians talking in low tones among themselves, 
having greatly quieted down. The little three-year- 
old May Price, who was fastened behind Josephine, 
cried a few times, for she was cold and had had no 
supper, and her mother was away; but the child was 
generally quiet. 

It was after midnight when they made the second 
halt in a deep and sombre canon, with tremendous 
mountains towering on every side, where the squaws 
were camped. Mrs. Meeker was not allowed to come 
up where her daughter was. Douglass kept her with 
him half a mile further down the ravine. Mrs. Price 
was kept away from both of the other ladies, all being 

Mrs. Meeker's rough treatment, which continued 
during the entire captivity, began here. She says 
that when she reached the Ute women's camp, 
Douglass ordered her roughly to get off the horse. 
She was so lame and in such pain that she told him 
she could not move. He took her hand and pulled 
her off, and she fell on the ground, because she could 
not stand. An Indian and a squaw soon came and 


helped her up and led her to a tent. When she went 
to bed Douglass and his wife covered her with 
blankets, and she was more comfortable that night 
than at any other time during her captivity. 

Relating her experiences of that night and the next 
morning, Mrs. Price says: 

"When we arrived at the camp that night, a squaw 
came and took my little boy from the horse and cried 
over him like a child. I dismounted and sat down in 
Persune's camp. I wasn't at all hungry, and when 
they offered me coffee, cold meat and bread I could 
not eat. After a while the squaw got over her weep 
ing, when they talked and laughed. All I could 
understand was when they repeated the soldiers' 
names and counted what number of men they had 
killed at the agency. They said they had killed nine. 
At first they said ten, and I told them differently, as I 
thought Frank had escaped. They asked me how 
many, and seemed to accept my statement as correct. 
They spread some blankets for me to lie on, but I 
could not sleep. The moon shone very brightly and 
everything looked ghastly. In the morning I went 
to Persune's tent and sat by the fire. I was cold, for 
I had nothing to wear except a calico dress. I sat 
there weeping I could not help it with my little 
boy in my arms. The squaws came around and 
talked and looked at me, and laughed and made fun 
of me. I didn't understand what they said, only 
occasionally a word. After a time some of the men 
came in and talked to the squaws, and looked at me 
and laughed. " 

Persune had plenty of blankets, which were stolen 
from the agency. He spread some for Miss Jose 
phine's bed, and rolled up some^for her pillow and 
told her to retire. Then the squaws came and 
laughed, and grinned and gibbered in their own grim 


way. When she hacTlain down on the blankets two 
squaws, one old and one young, came to the bed, and 
sang and danced fantastically and joyously at her feet, 
piercing the wild mountain midnight air with their 
yells. The other Indians stood around, and when the 
women reached a certain part of their recitative they 
all broke into laughter. Toward the end of their 
song Persune gave each of them a newly stolen gov 
ernment blanket, which they took and then went 
away. The young lady relates that the strangeness 
and wild novelty of position kept her awake until 
toward morning, when she fell into a doze, and did 
not awake until the sun was shining over the moun 


By this time the Indians were all astir, and Miss 
Josephine opened her eyes upon a wild and exciting 
scene. It was all understood when Douglass an 

" Runner just come; Indians killed heap soldiers; 
Douglass go to front; gone five days." 


It was evident that an Indian runner had followed 
close upon their heels the night before, bringing the 
news of the fight with Thornburgh, and that he had 
arrived early in the morning. The Indians were now 
off for the front, to assist their brethren in the resist 
ance to the invasion of their country by the soldiers. 
The runner reported that Thornburgh had been killed 
and his troops forced to retreat to a point where they 
could be easily picked off by the Indians. The 
women were left with the squaws, and the bucks all 
took their leave for the scene of battle, Cojoe strap 
ping a cartridge belt about him and going with the 
White River Utes. 

At this juncture the story of the women becomes 
more interesting, as told in their own language, than 
in any other shape : 

"On Tuesday, after most of the men had left the 
camp," says Miss Josie, " mother came up to see me, 
in company with a little Indian girl. On Wednesday, 
the next day, Johnson went over to Jack's camp and 
brought back Mrs. Price and her baby to live in his 
camp. He said he had made it all right with the other 

" We did not do anything but be around the various 
camps and listen to the talk of the squaws, whose hus 
bands were away fighting the soldiers. On Wednes 
day and on other days one of Supanzisquait's three 
squaws put her hand on my shoulder and said: 

'"Poor little girl, I feel so sorry; you have no 
father, and you are away off with the Utes so far from 

"She cried all the time, and said her own little' 
child had just died and her heart was sore. When 
Mrs. Price came into camp, another squaw took her 
baby, Johnny, into her arms and wept over him, and 
said in Ute that she felt very sorry fdr the captives. 



" Next day the squaws and the few Indians who were 
there packed up and moved the camp ten or twelve 
miles, into an exceedingly beautiful valley, with high 
mountains all around it. The grass was two feet 
high, and a stream of pure soft water ran through the 
valley. The water was so cold I could hardly drink it. 

" Every night the Indians, some of whom had come 
back from the soldiers, had councils. Mr. Brady had 
just come up from the Uncompahgre Agency with a 
message from Chief Ouray, for the Indians to stop 
fighting the soldiers. He had delivered the message, 
and this was why so many came back. 

"On Sunday, most of them were in damp. They 
said they had the soldiers hemmed in a canon, and 
were merely guarding them. Persune came back, 
wearing a pair of soldier's blue pantaloons, with yel 
low stripes on the legs. He took them off and gave 
them to me for a pillow. His legs were protected 
with leggings, arid he did not need them. I asked 
the Indians before Brady came where the soldiers 
were. They replied that they were "still in that cel 
lar," and the Indians were killing their ponies when 
they went for water in the night. They said : 

"'Indian stay on mountains and see white soldiers; 
soldiers no see Indian; white soldier not know how to 

" About an hour after supper of the day the Indians 
left, " says Mrs. Price, " an old squaw ordered me to 
go with her to another tent to sleep, so I went to 
Henry Jim's tent, where I sat down. They had no 
fire, but soon made one, and the squaws crowded 
around. Henry asked me a few questions. He said 
he felt very bad for me. He said he told the Utes 
not to murder the people at the agency. He had 
been assisting the issuing clerk and acted as interpre 
ter. He said they were friendly and he liked them 



very much. He said the Utes told him he was noth 
ing but a little boy for refusing to kill the white men 
at the agency, but when they called him a boy he 
said it was too much for him. He had no more to 
say after that. He asked me if I was going to stay 
all night in his tent. I said the squaw had brought 
me over there to sleep. He said, 'All right; you 
stay here all night. ' So his squaw made me a very 
nice bed of about ten blankets. I went to bed and 
she tucked me in quite nicely. I slept well, got up, 
washed myself, combed my hair and felt pretty well. 
Henry's squaw cooked breakfast. She made bread 
and prepared some coffee and fried venison, and there 
was another squaw who brought in some fried pota 

" I ate breakfast with my little boy in my arms, and 
presently Chief Johnson came in, looking very angry 
and troubled. He said gruffly, ' Hallo, woman ! ' and 
shook hands. He sat down and presently three more 
Utes came in. Johnson got out his pipe and they all 
had a smoke around, and they talked about the sol 
diers and their big battle. 

" Henry said to me : ' You go now with Johnson 
to see your little girl, who is with Josephine.' So I 
mounted the horse behind Chief Johnson and rode 
about five miles, and when I came up to Douglass's 
camp I first saw Mrs. Meeker, and I went up to her, 
shook hands and kissed her, and felt very badly for 
her. She said : 

" ' Don't make any fuss. ' 

" Josephine and my little girl had been to a brook 
to get a drink. We sat down and had a nice talk 
until the squaws came and told me I must go to 
Johnson's tent and the little girl to Persune's. Miss 
Josie went down to Johnson's tent, where they put 
down Mrs. Meeker's comforter for me to sit down on, 


and asked if I was hungry. I told them yes, and 
they went to work and cooked some dinner for me. 

" The next day we moved from that place to another 
camp. It was a very nice place, with grass two feet 
high, a nice brook of clear, cool water flowing 
through it. The Indians had killed many soldiers 


and were prancing around in their coats and hats, 
putting on airs and imitating soldiers, and making fun 
of them while going through a burlesque drill, and 
making believe they were the greatest warriors in the 

"They took a great fancy to^rny little child and 
wanted to keep him. They crept into the tent after 


him, and when they found they could not steal him 
they offered three ponies for him. 

" In the afternoon, about two o'clock, they cut a lot 
of sage brush, piled it up and spread over it the 
clothes they had stolen from the soldiers. Four of 
the Indians then began to dance around them, and at 
intervals fell on their knees before them and thrust 
their knives into them and went through a mimic 
massacre of soldiers. Other Utes kept joining the 
party that was dancing until a ring was made as big 
as a good sized house. They would first run away, 
then turn and dance back the other way, yelling and 
hollowing like frescoed devils. They had war suits, 
fur caps with eagle feathers, and they looked strangely 
hideous. They wanted Miss Josie and me to dance 
with them. We told them we could not. ' We no 
sabe dance.' 

" That afternoon Mrs. Meeker came over and we 
had an old-fashioned talk. She told us her troubles. 
They harl threatened to stab her with knives, she said. 
Charley, Chief Douglass's son-in-law, soon came 
around in a very bad humor, and as he could speak 
good English we didn't dare to talk much after he 
appeared. Mrs. Meeker said she felt as though she 
might be killed any night ; that they treated her very 
meanly. Josephine seemed down-hearted, though she 
was plucky. I tried to cheer her all I could. 

" The Indians would not let us go alone any dis 
tance from the camp. They asked me if I had any 
money,. and I told them I did not, as it was all burned. 
We asked them where the soldiers were, and they 
said they were down in that cellar, meaning the en 
trenchments. They said the Indians would lay around 
on the mountains and kill the soldiers' horses. The sol 
diers would not appear at all in the day time. At 


night they would slip out, only to be shot by the 

" They threatened if I attempted to run away they 
would shoot me. Johnson put a gun to my forehead 
and told me he would kill me. I said : 

" ' Shoot away. I don't care if I die ; shoot- if you 
wan't to. ' 

" He laughed then, and would say : ' Brave squaw; 
good squaw ; no scare. ' 

" They also said Josephine would very soon die, as 
she drank no coffee and ate very little. I told them 
it was the same at the agency, that she ate little and 
drank no coffee. They talked it over among them 
selves and said no more about it. They made fun of 
Mrs. Meeker, and said 'maybe the Utes will kill her.' 
I said to them : ' No, don't you kill my mother ; I 
heap like her. ' ' All right, ' they would say. ' Pretty 
good mother; pretty good mother.' Cojoe pointed 
his gun at me and 'threatened to kill me many times. 

' The Indians held considerable conversation with 
each other in regard to the massacre and tried to get 
information from us. They told various stories how 
the fight occurred and who were concerned in it. 
From all that I heard of their talk I think Antelope 
or Pauviets shot the Agent. Chief Johnson said he 
shot Thornburgh in the forehead three times with his 
pistol, and then got off his pony and he went to him 
and pounded him in the head and smashed his skull 
all in. They took some of his clothes off, but I did 
not see any of them worn in camp. The Indians 
Ebenezer, Douglass, Persune, Jim Johnson and Char 
ley Johnson were at the agency massacre. Jack was 
not there. He was fighting the soldiers. Johnson's 
brother lata was killed by Frank Dresser. Washing 
ton was on the ground. They all had guns and 
helped to shoot. Josephine said she saw an Indian 


named Creep there. I did not see any of the bodies 
at the agency. I only heard the firing and saw the 
Indians shooting toward the buildings where the men 
were working. 

" The Utes said they were going to kill all the sol 
diers, and that the women should always live in the 
Utes' camp, excepting Mrs. Meeker. Douglass said 
she could go home by and by, when she would per 
haps see Frank Dresser, who, the Indians thought, 
had escaped. They made me do more drudgery than 
they did Josephine. They made her cook and made 
me carry water. They told me to saddle the pony, 
and I told them I didn't know how. 

Mrs. Meeker's story covers many points of interest 
not touched upon by either her daughter or Mrs. 
Price, and we reproduce it also. She says: 

" Douglass's squaw treated me very well for one or 
two days ; then she began to ill-use me, and gave me 
nothing to eat for one day. While Douglass was 
gone his son-in-law told me frightful stories. He said 
the Indians 'no shoot' me, but would stab me to 
death with knives. One squaw went through the 
pantomime of roasting me alive at least I so under 
stood it. Josephine told me that it was only done to 
torment me. If Douglass had got killed, I would 
probably have been punished. A row of knives was 
prepared, with scabbards, and placed in the tent for 
use. Then Douglass's son-in-law, Johnson, came to 
me and asked if I had seen the knives being fixed all 
day. I said ' Yes.' He replied that ' Indians perhaps 
stab ' me and ' no shoot ' me. ' You say Douglass 
your friend ; we see Douglass when come back from 
soldiers.' Many of the squaws looked very sorrow 
ful, as if some great calamity were about to happen ; 
others were not kind to me, and Freddie Douglass, 
the chief's son, whom I had .taken into my house at 


the agency, and washed and taught and doctored and 
nursed and made healthy, came to me in my captivity 
and mocked me worse than all the rest. The Doug 
lass blood was in him, and he was bad. He said I 
was a bad squaw and an old white squaw. He tried 
to steal the old wildcat skin that I slept on, and he 
stole my handkerchief while I was asleep and jeered 
me during my imprisonment. 

" Douglass returned from fighting the soldiers on 
Saturday night. On the next day his wife went back 
to the agency for the cabbages raised by the cultiva 
tion the Indians professed so much to despise. 
Douglass was morose and sullen, and had little to say. 
He did not seem to be satisfied with the military sit 
uation, but thought the Indians would annihilate the 
soldiers. Large numbers of head men and captains 
came to consult Douglass. They were in and out 
most of the night, making speeches and discussing 
things in general, as though the fate of the universe 
depended on their decision. Douglass often asked us 
where the Agent was. I said that I did not know. 
Douglass rejoined that neither did he know. Mrs. 
Douglass treated me spitefully, and her chief was not 
much better, though he . gave me enough to eat. 
When he was gone, very little was cooked." 

On Sunday night Jack came to camp and made a 
big speech, as also did Johnson. They said more 
troops were coming, and they recited what orders 
they said had been brought from Chief Ouray. They 
were in great commotion, and did not know what to 
do. They talked all night, and the next morning 
they struck half their tents and put them up again. 
Part were for going away, part for staying, and being 
undecided they remained. Jack's men were all day 
coming up into camp, and all left on Tuesday morn 
ing before daylight for Grand River and they had a 

124 THE UTE WAR - 

long ride. The cavalcade was fully two miles long. 
The wind blew a hurricane, and the dust was so thick 
that Miss Josephine says she could not see ten feet 
back on the line, and she could write her name on her 
hand in the dust. Most of the Indians had had no 
breakfast, and they traveled all day without food or 

" It was," says Mrs. Meeker, " a very long and ter 
rible journey that I made that day. I rode a pony 
with neither saddle nor bridle nor stirrups. There 
was only a tent cloth strapped on the horse's back, 
and an old halter to guide him with. It was the most 
distressing experience of my life. Not a single halt 
was made, and my pain was so great that the cold 
drops stood on my forehead. I could only cling to 
the pony by riding astride. We traveled rapidly, 
over mountains so steep that one would find difficulty 
in walking over them on foot. The dust was suffo 
cating, and I had neither water nor dinner. Josephine 
and Mrs. Price rode a f head. One of the mountains 
was so steep that, after making part of the ascent, 
Douglass's party had to turn back and go around it. 
This incident shows what hardships delicate women 
on bare-back horses had. to endure. We reached a 
camping ground half an hour after dark and pitched 
our tents in- the valley. I was so faint that I could 
not get off the horse nor move until a kind woman 
assisted me to the ground. I was too ill and exhausted 
to eat, and I went to bed without any supper." 

The camp that night was in the sage brush. The 
following morning (Wednesday) they moved five 
miles down the river. 












The Indians, Johnson apparently in charge, re 
mained on Grand River with their captives until Sat 
urday. While there Miss Josephine sent a note to 
the Uintah Agency in Utah by Uintah Utes, who were 
with the hostiles, requesting that it be forwarded. It 
read as follows : 

" GRAND RIVER, 40 to 50 Miles from Agency, 

"Oct. 10, 1879. 

" I send this by one of your Indians. If you get it 
do all in your power to liberate us as soon as possible. 
I do- not think they will let us go of their own accord. 
You will do me a great s'ervice to inform Mary 
Meeker, at Greeley, Col., that we are well and may 
get home some time. Yours, etc., 

"United States Indian Agent's daughter." 
The note was written with a lead pencil on the 
back of a piece of paper which had formerly done 


service as a dry goods label. It reached Washington 
on the 3Oth of October, after the captives were liber 
ated, and was not then of the service it might have 
been under different circumstances. 

The mountains were very high, and the Indians were 
on the peaks with glasses watching the soldiers. They 
said they could look down on the site of the agency. 
Johnson had field glasses and all day he was watching 
the soldiers, and would only come down'to his supper. 
The Indians took turns watching during the night, and 
during the day they covered the hills and watched 
the soldiers through their glasses. Runners came in 
with foaming steeds constantly. On Saturday morn 
ing the programme was for twenty Utes to go back 
to White River, scout around on the mountains and 
watch the soldiers ; but just as they were about to de 
part there was a terrible commotion, for some of the 
scouts on the mountains had discovered the troops, 
ten or fifteen miles south of the agency, advancing 
toward the camp. The Indians ran in every direc 
tion, the horses became excited, and for a time hardly 
a pony could be approached. Johnson flies into a 
passion when there is danger. This time his horses 
kicked and confusion was supreme. Johnson seized 
a whip and laid it over the shoulders of his youngest 
squaw, named Cooz. He pulled her hair and re 
newed the lash until she cried and screamed. He 
then went to help his other squaw, Susan, Chief 
Ouray's sister, pack up. They put Mrs. Price and her 
baby on one horse, and strapped little May in a 
blanket behind Josephine. Johnson was very mad 
and pointed his gun at Mrs. Price and Miss Jose 
phine. Mrs. Price told him to shoot away, and asked 
him to shoot her in the forehead. He said : 

" No, good squaw ; no scare. " 



They then started for another camping place south 
of the Grand River. 

The next day was Sunday, and the camp and Miss 
Josephine were again moved twenty-five miles south 
to a point on Grand River; but Mrs. Meeker and 
Mrs. Price did not come up for three or four days. 
The rain set in and continued two days and three 
nights. Miss Josie*did not suffer, for she was in camp, 
but the other ladies and the baby, who were kept on 
the road, were soaked each day. Johnson, who had 
Mrs. Price, went beyond the camp in which Miss 
Meeker was left, and all the other Indians behind 
camped with Johnson. 


Johnson's oldest wife is the sister of Chief Ouray, 
and he was kinder than the others. His wife cried 
over the captives and made the children shoes. 

The Indians said they would stay at their camp, 
and if the soldiers advanced, they'would get them in 
a canon and kill them all. They said that neither 
American soldiers nor American horses understood 


the country. The Utes were now close to the Un- 
compahgre district, and could not retreat much farther. 
Colorow made a big speech, arid advised the Indians 
to go no farther south. However, they were removed 
one day's ride to Plateau Creek, a little stream empty 
ing into Grand River from the south. Eight miles 
more travel on two other days brought them to the 
camping ground where General Adams found them. 
This was near to Plateau Creek, but high up, and not 
far from the snowy range. 

After this last place was reached, Douglass permit 
ted Josephine to see her mother every day, and the 
long hours were more endurable. " The courage of 
the brave girl and her words of hope," says Mrs. 
Meeker, "cheered me very much. My life would not 
have been safe had it not been for her influence with 
the Indians. She could speak some of their language, 
and she made them cease terrifying me with their 
horrible threats and indecent stories. She finally 
forced Douglass to give me a saddle, so that in the 
last days of journeying I had something besides a 
bare-back horse to ride upon. It gave me great joy 
on one of the evenings of those terrible first days to 
have her, as we passed each other in the moonlight, 
sing out cheerily : 

"'Keep up good courage, mother; I am all right; 
we shall not be killed." 

The last evenings of the stay among the red devils 
were devoted to songs and merry making by those 
who were not away on the mountains watching the 
soldiers. Mrs. Price joined in some of the choruses* 
because it helped the captives and made the Indians 
more lenient. They told a great variety of -stories 
and cracked jokes on each other and on the white 
men. They had dances and medicine festivals. 
Speaking of these trying times Mrs. Price says : 


" In regard to my days of captivity I can only say 
the Indians were at times lively and joked with us, so 
that I was forced to laugh a good many times at their 
strange humor when I did not feel like it. It seemed 
to please them very much. They would say ' Biiena 
momets ' (good woman). When Josephine came in 
they would say she was cross. She was very much 
grieved, and when her blood was up she talked to 
them in a lively strain and made them treat Mrs. 
Meeker better. After Johnson and Mrs. Meeker had 
talked together about the Agent, Mrs. Meeker came 
to Johnson's to stay. He treated her with great care. 
Previously she was not welcomed. The meanest 
thing they did to the poor little woman was to fright 
en her with their knives and horrible grimaces and 
bad stones. They tried to scare us all out of our 

The children also took part in their festivities and 
sang as gleefully and loudly as if real papooses, thus 
increasing their favor with the Utes, until before the 
captives left the savages made Mrs. Price an offer of 
ten ponies for them. 

The singing of the medicine song is always resort 
ed to when an Indian is sick, and Miss Josephine was 
favored with several opportunities to witness these 

As a usual thing no whites are admitted to the 
tents while these songs are in progress, but she being 
considered one of Persune's family, was allowed to 
remain. When Persune's child was sick his family 
asked Josephine to sing with them, which she did. 
The Medicine Man kneels close to the sufferers, with 
his back to the spectators, while he sings in a series 
of high-keyed grunts, gradually reaching a lower and 
solemn tone. The family join, and at intervals he 
howls so loudly that one can hear him a mile ; then 


his voice dies away and only a gurgling sound is 
heard, as if his throat were full of water. The child 
lies nearly stripped. The doctor presses his lips 
against the breast of the sufferer and repeats the 
gurgling sound. He sings a few minutes more, and 
then all turn around and smoke and laugh and talk. 
Sometimes the ceremony is repeated all night. Miss 
Josie assisted at two of these medicine festivals. 
Mrs. Price's boy became expert at singing Ute songs, 
and the children sang to each other on the journey 
home. The sick bed ceremonies were very strange, 
and Miss Meeker says weird, and more interesting 
than anything she saw in all her captivity of twenty- 
three days. 

Frequent war dances were also witnessed. One 
of their favorite amusements was to put on a negro 
soldier's cap, a short coat and blue pantaloons, and 
imitate the negroes in speech and walk. The captives 
could not help laughing because they were so accu 
rate in their personations. On Sunday they made a 
pile of sagebrush as large as a washstand, and put 
soldiers' clothes and a hat on the pile ; then they 
danced a war dance and sang as they waltzed around 
it. They were in their best clothes, with plumes and 
fur dancing caps, made of skunk skins and grizzly 
bear skins, with ornaments of eagle feathers. Two or 
three began the dance, and others joined, until a ring 
as large as a house was formed. There were some 
squaws, and all had knives. They charged on the 
pile of coats with their knives and pretended that they 
would burn the brush. They became almost insane 
with frenzy and excitement. The dance lasted from 
two o'clock until sundown. 

In these war dances, the grotesque and horrible 
form a dreadful accompaniment, which even to a sav 
age mind can be excused only by the dread uncertainty 



of the war to follow the uncouth ceremony. The 
devil is particularly materialized for the occasion, and 
the enemies of the tribe turned over to his domain, 
while the wild bull of the happy hunting grounds is 
propitiated, in the hope that his prototypes in the op 
posing camp will become the loot of the victors. 

Notwithstanding these hilarities, however, the In 
dians were troubled and anxiQus about the troops. 
Runners were constantly coming and going. The 
least rumor or movement of the soldiers threw the 
Indians into a flutter. Chief Douglass began to real 
ize the peril of the situation. Colorow advised them 
to go no farther south, though the troops were moving 
down from the north. "They had better fight," he 
said, " and defend their camps, than retreat." Chief 
Ouray, the friend of the whites, ^did not want the 
White River Utes on his domain. Douglass spoke of 
the agency as gone forever. He said it would have 
to be built up again. The Indians had lost all, and 
with a sigh he exclaimed: 

" Douglass a heap poor man now." 

When he had time he fell to abusing the Agent, 
and said that if he had kept the troops away, there 
would have been no war. 

The Indians, when in camp, spent their time mold 
ing bullets from lead which they carried, singing, 
drinking, dancing, holding councils to discuss the 
state of affairs, and in referring to the scenes of the 
few preceding days. They told over and over again 
the story of the White River massacre, alleging gross 
provocation suffered from Meeker, the delay of the 
government in paying them what it owed, and the ad 
vance of the troops, as excuses. They said that 
Colonel Thornburgh and many of his soldiers were 
intoxicated at the time of the battle on Milk Creek. 
They also denied mutilating the bodies of their vie- 


tims. They repeated and re-repeated the assertion 
that Agent Meeker was a bad man ; that he lied about 
them, and would not issue supplies to them unless 
they would work ; and that when they refused to work, 
he threatened to bind them with handcuffs and chains 
and hang them. They said that he told them that 
Thornburgh had chains with him, and that upon his 
arrival he would help to bind and hang them. [This 
probably accounts for their binding Meeker's body, 
as at the agency, where the body lay, when first seen a 
chain was found around his neck.] They said that 
they interviewed Thornburgh at Bear River and on 
Williams' Fork before the fight on Milk River, when 
he appeared haughty and would not afford them any 
explanation or satisfaction, saying that he was a big 
warrior, too, and would go to the agency with his 
whole command, and not a few men only, as they 
asked him to do, and that he was their best friend 
when fighting them ; that they were his best friends 
when fighting him, although they might kill him; 
and that, while so talking, he held a loaded carbine 
ready in his hands and seemed to want to fight; that 
thereupon, they determined to resist his march 
through the canon, and stationed themselves on Milk 
River, at the mouth of the canon, to await his arrival 
and show their determination. Colonel Thornburgh 
persisted in pursuing his march toward the agency, 
and the fight ensued September 29th on Milk River, 
Colonel Thornburgh being one of the first to fall, the 
Indians losing twenty men in the first day's fight and 
thirty-four in all during the irregular fight of six days 
with Thornburgh's command, two of the thirty-four 
being killed in the skirmish with Merritt's men Sun 
day morning, October 5th, upon the arrival of the 
relief column. 

The arrangements for a fight with Merritt's com- 



mand they said were most complete. Two hundred 
Arapahoes, according to account, had joined Jack, 
and many others from the neighboring tribes, and had 
it not been for the timely arrival of Chief Ouray's 
order to cease fighting the name of Merritt and his 
command would have passed into history by the side 
of Custer, with the same epitaph "Annihilated by 

They seemed especially to despise Agent Meeker 
and the efforts which had been made to improve and 
civilize them. One day a squaw said to Mrs. 
Meeker : 

"What could you expect? The Indians had to 
kill the whites, because neither they nor the Agent 
would do as the Utes told them to do. " 

Many of the Indians during those times made con 
fessions which may well be used to their detriment in the 
investigation now in progress. Chief Johnson, while 
speaking of the battle with the troops, avowed him 
self to be the one who fired the shot which killed 
Colonel Thornburgh, and Mrs. Price in relating her 
experience says : ' While Douglass was drunk he 
told me a lot of things that he don't know of now. 
If he had ever remembered, he would have killed me. 
He arranged the whole thing, and the soldiers coming 
has made him afraid, and he is trying to get out of it 
now. He's the smartest and meanest of them all. " 

They generally agreed that Jack led the fight at 
Milk River, while Douglass conducted the massacre 
at the agency. 

Washington expressed himself freely. " Meeker 
heap fool," he said speaking of the Agent. " Me no 
likum work. Make Washington heap tired. Me 
shoot ; me no work. Me killum black tail. " Wash 
ington did not like Ouray, and was not especially 
friendly towards Douglass. He said that Ouray had 

THE UTfi WAR. 135 

sold Indian land and put the money which he had re 
ceived for it into his own pocket. In fact Washing 
ton did not seem to like any Indian except himself. 
He was a good Ute liked the white man, never 
troubled the whites, wouldn't lie or steal, and so on. 
After a eulogy on his virtues he took carefully from 
his vest pocket a soiled envelope, from which he took 
a piece of legal cap paper, which he handed to his 
white auditors with much satisfaction of manner. It 
was a " character " and read about as follows : " The 
bearer, George Washington, is a good Ute. He will 
not steal the white man's horses, nor anything else 
from the white man." The signature was a scrawl, 
which meant nothing. When the paper was returned 
to him he put it away as carefully as if it had been his 
last dollar bill and he a thousand miles from home. 
It is needless to add that Washington is a sneak and 
a scoundrel. 

While remaining here, awaiting the arrival of Gen 
eral Adams on his mission of mercy, it will not be out 
of place to give the reader the tradition of the Indians 
in regard to tfoe geological history of their country, 
the scene of the tradition being laid very near where 
the Indians were then encamped. This legend is to 
the effect that the forefathers of the tribe, long years 
ago, lived near a vast warm lake northeast of the Big 
River; that the country was warm, full of big trees 
and big deer and big oxen with white horns; that big 
fishes and snakes as long as an hundred lodge poles 
abounded in this lake; that one day all the big oxen 
began to roar together, and that they raised such a 
steam from their nostrils that the earth reeled and the 
sun was obscured; that suddenly the lake fell, and 
continued falling for three moons, and then became so 
much reduced that they knew it not any more, but 
that the big lake they found had been drained away 


to the south, and that its warm water had gone out 
through the mountains, the present canon of Green 
River and of the Big River (the Colorado); and that 
his old bed in the Toom-pin-to-weep, as they call the 
stream, is where the lake waters were drained. They 
also say that the story goes on that all the big deer 
and the big oxen with white horns strayed away east 
ward, and all perished in the mountains from cold or 
by the arrows of the Ute hunters; that soon after a 
big flood formed Grand River Canon, and after this 
flood came a small race of people who had skin ca 
noes, and who brought seed corn of a small kind, 
called in Spanish chiquito maze; that these people 
were almost white, and that they taught the Utes how 
to make good spears and bows and earthenware ; that 
they built stone houses in the cliffs, and cultivated 
pumpkins, corn and beans; that they had silver and 
gold in abundance, and iron tools that they had ob 
tained in the mountains to the northeast; that after 
wards, from the northwest, came big red Indians over 
to this country and killed and drove off the little 
people, who finally all went south, as we'll as the big 
red men, who are the Apaches, Navajoes and Kiowas. 
They also say that the big oxen with white horns, the 
grande lagarios (probably alligators), were found down 
among the Apache and Navajo Indians, but that by 
and by the country became dryer and colder, and the 
Utes only were left on the Big River and its branches; 
that melted rocks were poured out everywhere and 
left the country desolate, and that the little people had 
told their forefathers that where they came from were 
big waters, and in these waters were men with bodies 
like a fish. They say that in this old river bed is 
plenty of gold, but that it is sure death for any one to 
go into the canon to get it. 

And while we are speaking of the formation of the 


land it will not be out of place to refer to it now, es 
pecially as there are good grounds for hoping that it 
will now be opened to settlement by the removal of 
the Indians. Speaking of the nation from an agricul 
tural point of view, General Adams says : 

" It is good for nothing. There is room for two or 
three good cattle ranches, but nothing else. The 
elevation is 8,500 feet, and nothing but potatoes will 
grow there. Out of the 12,000,000 acres in the entire 
reservation, perhaps 25,000 in the Uncompahgre val 
ley could be cultivated. I rode one hundred miles 
along the Grand River and did not find in the whole 
distance feed for my horse. One year the govern 
ment supported a farmer on the reservation at $60 a 
month. Besides this he had his living. He raised as 
the result of this year's work twelve potatoes, three 
heads of lettuce and two bunches of radishes. Ex 
cept the Uncompahgre Valley there is no country 
worth anything for farming." 

The Uncompahgre Valley of which General Adams 
speaks is a lovely strip of land running through the 
southern portion of the reservation. Settlers have 
already squatted upon portions of it, which yield 
splendid crops of all cereals, corn, garden vegetables, 
including potatoes, turnips, etc. This river empties 
into the Grand, which is also skirted" by pretty valleys 
as are many of the other creeks and rivers. In Powell 
Bottom, on White River, Agent Meeker was making 
excellent progress in growing wheat and potatoes. 
There are doubtless many valleys besides the Uncom 
pahgre which would produce well; and as for the 
grazing, it is unexcelled. The cattle on Bear River 
are always in better condition than those on the 
plains, and the agency herd at White River were in 
excellent shape when the massacre began. There is 
no conjecture concerning the existence of mineral 


wealth. Iron ore and splendid coal were found in the 
greatest abundance near White River Agency. In 
deed Mr. Meeker opened up five or six coal mines 
within a few miles of his location. On Anthracite 
Creek, a branch of the North Fork of the Gunnison 
River, on the reservation, Mr. Richard Irwin has 
opened up a bed of anthracite coal which is unex 
celled anywhere in the world. The best coking coal 
in the west is found here. 

In this same neighborhood placer gold has been 
found in large quantities, and most miners believe that 
quartz lodes of both gold and silver will be found 
whenever they shall be afforded an opportunity to 
search for them. 

Climatically the country is during most seasons of 
the year more pleasant than that on the east side of 
the mountains. 

The scenery is beautiful. Any one who has visit 
ed the wonderful land which lies " over the range " 
knows how impossible it is to put on paper a descrip 
tion which will give the reader anything like a real 
izing conception of the country. The immense 
height of the hills and loftier crags and peaks, the 
seemingly immeasurable depth of chasms and canons, 
the wonderful expansion of distances, the color and 
character and density of brush and timber, all unite 
in forming a veritable terra incognita totally unlike 
anything which lies beyond the Missouri River. The 
fantastical contortions of the earth's surface are 
chiefly due to volcanic action, of which evidences ap 
pear at every turn. Great cliffs of lava ridge the 
parks, and the same substance is found intruded be 
tween strata of other rock, split asunder by the con 
vulsions which made these mountains untold centuries 
ago, and he who is venturesome enough to climb the 
giddy heights will every now and then come upon the 


well defined crater of an extinct volcano. Fossils 
unmistakable sea shells have been dug from heights 
ten or eleven thousand feet above tidewater, unques 
tionably put there by the upheaval which lifted these 
lofty ranges from depths below the sea. From two 
hundred miles east from the White River Agency, 
extending north into the British possessions, south 
far down into Mexico and westward almost to the 
Pacific, a net work of ranges, whose peaks tower from 
ten to fifteen thousand feet above sea level from two 
to six or seven thousand feet above the rapid rivers 
which wind through the narrow valleys between them 
are the Rocky Mountains. Although the great 
" divide " which parts the waters flowing into the 
two great oceans is termed " the Snowy Range," it is 
not proper to speak of the Rockys as a " range " in 
the sense that the term may be applied to the Green 
Mountains or the Alleghanies. They are rather a 
succession of interwoven ranges, extending north and 
south the whole length of the Continent, and almost 
a thousand miles from east to west. 

It may be doubted if the fiftieth part of the ter 
ritory included within their boundaries is capable of 
tillage, to say nothing of climatic difficulties. But 
the whole region abounds with the best imaginable 
hiding places for thousands of fugitives, and almost 
insurmountable obstacles to invaders. The most 
available passes between the peaks are of some eleven 
thousand feet elevation, while many others, which 
must be crossed to reach certain districts, are much 
higher ; and all of them impassable for six or seven 
months of the year except on snow shoes. As the 
sun advances higher and higher north of the Equator 
these great snow barriers are gradually dissolved, and, 
running down the steep declivities in thousands of 
mountain rivulets, are gathered in the valleys in 


foaming torrents, tearing through numberless inacces 
sible canons unbridged and unfordable, except at rare 
intervals. A maze of trails webs the whole region, 
perplexing and misleading the stranger, but as familiar 
to the roving aborigines as the streets of New York 
to the native gamin, who roams all over the island 
without ever looking at the signs at street corners, 
which he could not read if he did. There is hardly 
any level ground, scarcely one acre in a hundred. 
The whole country is up and down, with such steep 
ascents and sharp declivities as cannot well be ima 
gined by those who have not seen them. 

Short, nutritious, wild mountain grasses grow in 
profusion in the valleys and on the hills, and even 
cover the lofty mountain tops, far above timber line, 
wherever they happen not to be naked rock. These 
grasses, unlike those of lesser altitudes, cure on the 
ground, and after their life goes out retain the proper 
ties of hay. Subsistence for animals is, therefore, 
abundant so long as it is not covered with snow or the 
country be not burned over; in that case the trans 
portation of forage becomes one of the most serious 
and expensive obstacles to invasion. 

But this wonderful and inaccessible country so 
full of peril and hardship to the white man is the 
home of the Indian. He has climbed those crags 
from childhood and knows every trail and ford. He 
has learned to measure those heights and distances 
with eyes which can see an approaching enemy miles 
and miles away, while the observation is unsuspected 
and the signals which telegraph his coming from peak 
to peak are little dreamed of. He is as familiar with 
every nook and corner of this rough, wild maze for 
hundreds of miles in every direction from his agency 
as any farmer's boy of sporting proclivities is with the 
woods and glens and thickets which lie within ten 


miles of his paternal acres. The light air has no de 
pressing influence upon his powers and endurance, for 
he has run and leaped and climbed and hunted in it 
all his life. He does not suffer from the cold and 
snow, for he has learned to endure and protect him 
self against them winter after winter. He clothes 
himself in furs, and goes forth fearlessly in the rough 
est weather, or wraps himself in buffalo or bear skins 
and sleeps warm and comfortable when the mercury 
is out of sight. Practice has taught him to go for 
days without eating, and if it is not convenient to 
cook the game he lives on, he will take it raw with 
equal relish. For all practical purposes there is no 
limit to the number of his ponies, strong of limb and 
sure-footed, fleet as the wind, tough and hardy as 
their master, accustomed to carry him one hundred 
miles in a day whenever called upon, to climb those 
steeps and swim those torrents, and to subsist and 
grow fat on mountain grass, summer and winter, paw 
ing, when necessary, through the snow to find it. 

On Monday night the captives were told that a 
white man, whom they called Washington, and who 
proved to be General Adams, would come soon. At 
last an Uncompahgre Ute came from Chief Ouray 
and spoke very kindly, and as he sat by the fire, 

" To-morrow five white men coming and some In 

Among them would be "Chicago man Sherman, a 
great big peace man." General Adams and the In 
dians were going to have a talk and the captives 
would go home. The Uncompahgre said that a 
wagon would be waiting at a certain place below the 

Relating the arrival of the Adams party, Miss Jo 
sephine says : 



" The next day, about eleven o'clock, while I was 
sewing in Persune's tent, his boy, about twelve years 
old, came in, picked up a buffalo robe and wanted me 
to go to bed. I told him I was not sleepy. Then a 
squaw came and hung a blanket before the door, and 
spread out both hands to keep the blanket down, so I 
could not push it away ; but I looked over the top and 
saw General Adams and party outside on horses. 


The squaw's movements attracted their attention, and 
they came up close. I pushed the squaw aside and 
walked out to meet them. They asked my name and 
dismounted; said they had come to take us back, if 
we cared to go. I -showed them the tent where mother 
and Mrs. Price were stopping, and the General went 
down, but they were not in; for, meanwhile, Johnson 
had gone to where they were washing, on Plateau 
Creek, and told them that a council was to be held, 



and that they must not come up until it was over. 
Dinner was sent to the ladies, and they were ordered 
to stay there. About four o'clock, when the council 
ended, General Adams ordered them to be brought to 
him, which was done, and once more we were all to 
gether in the hands of our friends." 

We now quote Mrs. Meeker : 

"When I first saw General Adams I could not say 
a word, my emotion was so great. We had borne in 
sults and threats of death, mockery and ridicule, and 
not one of us had shed a tear, but the sight of General 
Adams, Captain Cline, Mr. Sherman and their men 
was too much for me. My gratitude was greater than 
my speech. We owe much to the wife of Johnson. 
She is Ouray 's sister, and, like him, she has a kind 
heart. Ouray had ordered us to be well treated and 
that we should be allowed to go home. 

" The council was a stormy one. Various opinions 
prevailed. The war party wanted us held until peace 
should be made between the Indians and the govern 
ment. They wanted to set us against the guilty mur 
derers, so as to save them through us. After a few 
hours of violent speeches, Mrs. Johnson burst into 
the lodge, in a magnificent wrap, and demanded that 
the captives should be set free, war or no war. Her 
brother Ouray had so ordered, and she took the as 
sembly by storm. She told the pathetic story of the 
captives, and advised the Indians to do as Ouray re 
quested and trust to the mercy of the government. 
General Adams said he must have a decision at once, 
or he would have to leave. That settled it, and we 
were set free. 

" Next morning, when we were about to start for the 
wagon, which was a day's journey to the south, Chief 
Johnson, who was slightly cool toward us, threw out 
a poor saddle for me to ride upon. His wife Susan 


caught sight of it and was furious. She flung it away 
and went to a pile of saddles and picked out the best 
one in the lot. She found a good blanket, and gave 
both to me. Then she turned to her chief and poured 
out her contempt with such effect that he was glad to 
sneak away. 

" So long as I remember the tears which this good 
woman shed over the children, the words of sympathy 
which she gave, the kindness that she continually 
showed to us, I shall never cease to respect her and 
to bless the goodness of her brother, Ouray, the 
Spanish-speaking chief of the south. I trust all the 
good people will remember them." 

All the ladies agree that Susan was uniformly kind 
and pleasant. Mrs. Price says : 

"Johnson's wife was very kind. She treated me 
just like a mother, though sometimes when tired she 
would order me to get water. She treated my little 
girl very kindly, made moccasins for her, and she 
grieved over her and my boy as if they were her 
own. She said the Utes had killed the child's papa ; 
' Utes no good. ' She was for peace. She was Chief 
Ouray 's sister, and Ouray was friendly to the whites, 
and had sent messages to her to see that the whites 
were not abused and should be returned soon. " 

In this connection a story coming from the lips of 
Major Whitely, who was for several years Agent at 
White River, will be found of great interest. The 
Major relates that while on his way to the Hot Sul 
phur Springs, in Middle Park, he was overtaken by a 
messenger from Governor Evans, who informed him 
of the rescue of a Ute squaw from the Arapahoes and 
Cheyennes by the officers of the United States Army 
at Fort Collins. These Indians had captured this 
squaw in some of their raids, and, while encamped 
near the mouth of the Cache La Poudre, had deter- 


mined to burn her at the stake. The commanding 
officer at Fort Collins hearing of this, took a detach 
ment of troops, and by alternate threats and promises 
obtained her release, after she had already been tied 
to the stake and the fires lighted. This squaw was 
forwarded to Major Whitely, and after her arrival at 
Hot Springs was sent by him to her people, being ac 
companied by U. M. Curtis, the Major's interpreter, 
and delivered to them after a journey across the west 
ern portion of Colorado into the border of Utah, to 
the camp of the Indians on the Snake River, where 
she was received with every demonstration of joy by 
the tribe. Major Whitely gave this squaw the name 
of Susan, which she has borne ever since. A remark 
able coincidence in this story is that the rescued 
Meekers came from Greeley, which is the identical 
spot where Susan herself was saved from burning by 
the whites. 

The rescue party found the captives picturesquely 
attired in woolen blanket dresses made by themselves 
with needles and O. N. T. Miss Josie's costume was 
the most striking. Her dress was made of an Indian 
blanket, plain skirt and long jacket waist with tight 
sleeves. The blanket stuff was dark brown, the broad 
yellow stripes in the goods acting as a border around 
the bottom of the dress and the flowing waist. Her 
feet were encased in moccasins, and on her head was 
a broad white sombrero. Miss Meeker, though by no 
means a handsome young lady, is bright and attrac 
tive in appearance. She rs a blonde and naturally of 
fair complexion, though now sun-burned. Her hair 
is cut short to the neck, a sacrifice she made after 
becoming a captive on account of the vermin which 
swarmed everywhere. Mrs. Price is a young lady 
yet. Though but twenty-three years of age, she has 

been married eleven years. She is a neutral, natural- 


ly bright and active, but just now the death of her 
husband and her terrible experience has saddened 
her. Mrs. Price was dressed in a plain woolen dress, 
which she wore when taken captive. She, however, 
exchanged it for a "blanket" dress similar to that 
worn by Miss Meeker. She also wore a sombrero. 
The two little children, May and Johnnie, wore their 
agency clothes, sadly tattered and torn. 

Relating her experience in the camp Miss Meeker 
says : " In camp I worked all the time and so did 
Mrs. Price. We baked and sewed and kept busy and 
as cheerful and indifferent as we could. Besides 
making myself some clothes I made a lot of clothes 
for the young Indians, at which they were pleased. 
The Indians said we would be kept there all winter, 
and so while I expected that such would not be the 
case, I concluded to make some clothes for myself, 
especially as those I had were all banged up. " 

After they were released they stopped all night at 
Johnson's camp, and started early the next morning 
on ponies for the wagons, which had been left at the 
end of the road, about forty miles south toward the 
Uncompahgre River. General Adams had left them 
and gone to see the soldiers, so Captain Cline was in 
charge of the party and the escort to the wagons on 
the way back. The Indian escort which had accom 
panied them for a time, left them, and Captain Cline 
grew suspicious. He was an old pioneer, had served 
in the army, and had fought the Indians in New 
Mexico, and traveled over ' the western country so 
much that, although a great friend of Ouray and his 
Indians, still he was suspicious of these savages, and 
thought that while the escort had been with the 
White River Indians they had become corrupted. So 
when he saw that they had left them he put spurs to 
his horse and rushed on ahead of the party to where 


the wagons were. He was afraid that they would cut 
the harness to pieces or do some mischief to prevent 
the captives from leaving immediately. This would 
keep them in the neighborhood, so that in case Gen 
eral Adams failed in stopping hostilities by a general 
pow-wow they could recapture them and 'hold them 
as hostages for a further treaty. 

Captain Cline reached the wagons in a short time 
and, as he suspected, found the Indians seated around 
the wagons in a body with most of the blankets lying 
on the ground already divided among them. They 
had also got hold of the boxes of provisions and 
canned fruit which General Adams had brought from 
Los Pinos for the captives. They had burst them 
open and were eating the contents. Captain Cline is 
personally acquainted with many of the Indians, and 
he completely astonished them. Jumping off his 
horse he threw the reins on the ground, and, rushing 
forward in great anger, he shouted : " Chief Ouray 
shall hear of this, and will settle with you !" 

The Captain then picked up an axe and began to 
split kindling wood to prepare for the captives. His 
object was to keep the axe in his hand and be master 
of the situation until the main party should arrive. 
He feared treachery, and, putting on a bold front, he 
made it pretty li\ ely for the Indians. They fell back, 
got off the blankets and gave up the canned fruit. 
Captain Cline threw the blankets on the wagon with 
what canned provisions there were left. Shortly after 
this occurrence the party arrived with Major Sher 
man. They then traveled on to Chief Ouray's 

Captain Cline was met by Ouray at the gate. The 
good chief looked at him a moment and said : 

" Captain, tell me how you found things when you 
reached the wagons; " 


The Captain was surprised, but narrated the facts 
as stated. Ouray listened a moment and, grimly 
smiling, said : 

" Yes, you reached the wagons at such a time and 
you found Utes around the wagons eating fruit. I 
know all about it. Ouray not a fool. I had good 
and true Indians in the mountains around the wagons. 
They look down and see bad Indians, and then when 
wagons start safely the good Indians run back to 
Ouray on fast horses ^nd tell Ouray, and Ouray make 
up his mind about it. Bad Ute can't fool Ouray. " 

The chief said this in broken English to the Cap 
tain, but when he spoke to Mr. Pollock he conversed 
in eloquent and melodious Spanish, for he had been 
educated among the Spanish Mexicans of Taos, down 
on the border, and his words are always delivered 
with great fluency. 

Ralph Meeker, son of the Agent, Inspector Pollock 
and Dr. J. H. Lacy, the agency physician, came down 
to meet the ladies within a few minutes after their ar 
rival. Ralph Meeker's meeting with his mother and 
sister was exceedingly affecting, Mrs. Meeker giving 
way entirely to her emotion. 

They were well treated at Ouray's house. It had 
Brussels carpet, window curtains, stoves, good beds, 
glass windows, spittoons, rocking chairs, camp stools, 
mirrors and an elegantly carved bureau. They were 
received as old and long-lost friends. Ouray 's wife, 
Chapeta, wept for their hardships, and her motherly 
face, dusky, but beautiful with sweetness and compas 
sion, was wet with tears. They left her crying. * 

From this point the party, now headed by Ralph 
Meeker, took the United States mail coaches, with 
fleet horses and expert drivers. The journey, over 
lofty mountains for three days and one night, brought 
them out of the San Juan country to the swiftly flow- 


ing Rio Grande. The Indian reservation was seventy 
miles behind them. Two ranges of mountains lay 
between them and that land of captivity and terror. 
They could not forget the noble Ouray and his true 
friends who lived there, yet it made their tired hearts 
beat rapturously when they saw the steam cars at 

At Alamosa they remained two days, the guests of 
Judge C. D. Hayt. Coming on to Denver, they re 
mained two days, and then passed on to Greeley. 
They were received everywhere most cordially, and 
were welcomed back in words of love and warmest 



It may be added that the captives are rapidly re 
covering from the bad effects of their trying experi 
ences. Mrs. Meeker and Mrs. Price and her babies 
are at home at Greeley, and Miss Josephine has begun 
a lecture tour which promises to yield her a rich 
harvest. She relates her thrilling story in plain, but 
strong language. Up to this time she has lectured 
once in Greeley and twice in Leadville. At the latter 
place she was rapturously received, and after the close 
of her first lecture the following series of resolutions, 
offered by Lieutenant Governor Tabor, were adopted 
by a unanimous and rising vote: 

WHEREAS, The citizens of Leadville have assembled 
this evening to listen to the recital of the foul murder 
committed on one of the leading citizens of the State 
at the White River Agency ; and 

WHEREAS, These Utes occupy the finest and richest 
portion of Colorado, and utterly refuse to cultivate the 
soil and allow others to do so, 

- Resolved, That the whole so-called Ute Reservation 
is not worth the life of their best friend, whom they 
so foully massacred on the 2Qth of September. 


Resolved, That we condemn the Indian policy of 
the United States government, in allowing our citizens 
to be murdered by the Indian fiends. 

Resolved, That the Ute Indians must and shall be 
removed outside the border of our State, or that it 
will, be our duty to make them peaceable Indians. 

Resolved, That we heartily applaud the resolution 
and courage of Miss Josephine Meeker in telling the 
story of the outrages and sufferings endured by her 
self, her family and associates, and we commend her 
to the friendship and courtesies of those who desire 
to know the true inwardness and want of principle of 
the noble red man. 







A few words, we are sure, in regard to the careers 
of those who have figured in this history, will be ac 
ceptable to the reader, and render the book all the 
more complete. 

First, as regards Agent Meeker: The annals of 
Indian crime do not contain mention of a darker deed 
than the murder of Hon. Nathan C. Meeker Father 
Meeker, as he was called throughout Colorado, a 
name which had taught many who had never seen 
him to love him. In the death of Father Meeker, a 
good man has passed away. He was kind and good 
to all, and to none more than to the Indians. When 
Mr. Meeker was appointed Agent at White River the 
Indians were really suffering for want of the food and 
clothing which the government had failed to furnish 
them. Some of the preceding Agents had utterly 
neglected their business. The new Agent went to 
work with his accustomed energy, and with that dis 
play of conscientiousness which characterized him in 
all his undertakings and in all of his dealings with his 
, fellow-beings, to make the agency satisfactory both to 
the government and the Indians. He labored ever so 
hard, and pursued an honest, even course. 


Mr. Meeker was about sixty-four years old. He 
was born in Euclid, Ohio, near Cleveland. The place 
is now known as Callamer. At an early age he began 
to write poems and stories for the magazines. When 
he was still in his boyhood he traveled on foot most 
of the way to New Orleans, where he arrived without 
money or letters of recommendation. He succeeded 
in getting work on the local staff of one of the city 
papers, which barely gave him a living. In a year or 
two he returned to Cleveland, and taught school until 
he could earn enough to pay his way to New York, 
whither he went with the friendship of George D. 
Prentice, whom he had met during his southern 
travels. In New York he was encouraged by N. P. 
Willis, and he contributed poems and sketches regu 
larly to the New York Mirror, a literary journal 
edited by Willis, and .which attracted considerable at 
tention from good writers of that day. The young 
man's style was quaint and somewhat melancholy, 
and his poems were copied, but he could scarcely 
earn bread to eat and his sufferings were so great that 
he abandoned poetry for the rest of his life. He 
managed to raise money enough to enable him to 
proceed on foot to Pennsylvania, where he taught 
school and continued his literary studies. Afterward 
he returned to Ohio, and in 1844, when about thirty 
years old, married the daughter of Mr. Smith, a 
retired sea captain, at Claridon, and took his bride to 
what was known as the Trumbull Phalanx, which was 
just being organized at Braceville, near Warren, Ohio. 
The society was a branch of the Brook Farm and the 
North American Phalanx, of which Hawthorne, Cur 
tis and Greeley were leading members. The Ohio 
Phalanx was composed of .young and ardent admirers 
of Fourier, the socialist. There was no free love, but 
the members lived in a village, dined at common 


tables, dwelt in separate cottages and worked in the 
community fields together, and allowed the proceeds 
of all their earnings to go into a common fund. 
Manufactories were established, the soil was fertile, 
and prosperity would have followed/had all the mem 
bers been honest and the climate healthful. Fever 
and ague ran riot with the weeds, and the most 
selfish and avaricious of the Arcadian band began to 
absorb what really belonged to the weaker ones, who 
did most of the hard labor. Mr. Meeker, who was 
one of the chief workers, was glad to get away alive 
with his wife and two boys, the youngest of whom 
was born shaking with the ague. Mr. Meeker was 
the librarian and chief literary authority of the com 
munity, but he lost most of his books, and when he 
reached his Cleveland home he had but a few dollars. 
In company with his brothers he opened a small store 
and began business on a " worldly " basis ; and he 
prospered so that he was invited to join another com 
munity, the disciples and followers of Alexander 
Campbell, a Scotch-Irishman, the founder of the reli 
gious sect the members of which, are sometimes 
called " Campbellites." General Garfield is a follower 
of this faith, and he became a fellow townsman of 
Mr. Meeker. The " disciples " were building a large 
college at Hiram, Ohio, and Mr. Meeker moved his 
store thither and received the patronage of the school 
and church. While there he wrote a book called 
"The Adventures of Captain Armstrong." In 1856, 
when the great panic came, he lost nearly everything. 
Then he moved to southern Illinois, and, with the 
remnants of his goods, opened a small store near 
Dongola, in Union county. For several years his 
boys " ran " the store, while he worked a small farm 
and devoted his spare hours to literature. His cor 
respondence with the Cleveland Plaindealer attracted 


the attention of Artemus Ward, and the result was a 
warm and personal friendship. When the war broke 
out he wrote a letter to the Tribune on the southwest 
ern political leaders and the resources of the Missis 
sippi Valley. Horace Greeley telegraphed to A. D. 
Richardson, who was in charge of the Tribune at 
Cairo, this dispatch : 

" Meeker is the man we want." 

Sidney Howard Gay engaged him, and, after serving 
as a war correspondent at Fort Donelson and other 
places, at the close of the war Mr. Meeker was called 
to New York to take charge of the agricultural de 
partment and do general editorial work on the Tribune. 
He wrote a book entitled " Life in the West," and his 
articles on the Oneida Community were copied into 
leading German, French and other European journals. 
In 1869 he was sent to write up the Mormons, but 
finding the roads beyond Cheyenne blockaded with 
snow he turned southward and followed the Rocky 
Mountains down to the foot of Pike's Peak, where he 
was so charmed with the Garden of the Gods and the 
unsurpassed scenery of that lovely region, where 
birds were singing and grasses growing in the moun 
tains, that he said if he could persuade a dozen 
families to go thither he would take his wife and girls 
to live and die there. Mr. Greeley was dining at the 
Delmonico when he heard of it. 

"Tell Meeker," exclaimed he, "to go ahead. I 
will back him with the Tribune. " 

A letter was printed, a meeting held, subscriptions 
invited, and $96,000 were forwarded to the treasurer 
immediately. Mr. Meeker was elected president of 
the colony and Horace Greeley made treasurer. So 
many applications were sent in that it was thought a 
larger tract of land would be needed than seemed to 
be free from incumbrance at Pike's Peak. Several 


miles square of land were bought on the Cache-la- 
Poudre River, where the town of Greeley now stands, 
and several hundred families were established in what 
had been styled " The Great American Desert. " 
Horace Greeley's one exhortation was : 

" Tell Meeker to have no fences nor rum. " 

On this basis the colony was founded. To-day 
Greeley has 3,000 population, a hundred miles of irri 
gating canals, a fine graded school, and it is the capi 
tal of a county 160 miles long. 

He was one of Colorado's Commissioners to the 
Centennial Exposition, and soon after Mr. Hayes be 
came President, Mr. Meeker was appointed Agent at 
White River. Mr. Meeker's plan was to have the 
Indians raise crops and support themselves in an im 
proved way. He encouraged them to live in log 
houses, and have some of the miscellaneous conven 
iences of civilization. It was an experiment and had 
worked well until the beginning of the past season. 
A large and effective irrigating canal was built by the 
Indians, and many acres ploughed by these red farm 
ers. One of the bands favored this new system, and 
their chief helped to make peace at the first outbreak. 
More real agricultural work was accomplished at this 
agency than at any of the others. The ploughing 
was done for the benefit of the agency and for the 
Indians, and not for the Agent, as has been reported. 

Speaking of appearances at the agency under Mr. 
Meeker's management, Mr. R. D. Coxe, who visited 
the place just previous to the outbreak, says: 

" The agency had been moved since any of the 
party had been there, and as we came in sight of it, 
it presented a pretty picture to our eyes. The White 
River valley at the agency is some half or three- 
quarters of a mile in width, and is splendidly adapted 
to agriculture, as well by the ease with which it can 


be irrigated as by the natural qualities of the soil. 
Facing the agency buildings, under fence, was a field 
of fifty acres, in which were growing corn and garden 
truck, and from which a good crop of wheat had been 
harvested. Around were the signs of a practical 
farmer, and under the sheds of the agency were the 
latest improvements in agricultural implements. Here, 
thought I, is the model farmer. Another generation 
will find our dusky neighbors tilling their ranches and 
pursuing the peaceful avocations of civilization, and 
the blessing will, rest upon the head of N. C. Meeker. 
But a herd of horses skirted the fenced field, and it 
seemed to me they looked with jealous eye upon the 
growing crops. On the hills upon the other side of 
the river were large herds of cattle, and everything 
.looked pastoral and quiet. 

" It needed no introduction to tell us that the tall, 
angular, grey-headed man who welcomed us to the 
agency was Father Meeker. To look at him was to 
see the plows, and harrows and fence wire. He told 
us to unsaddle at the corral, and after an eight hours' 
ride over a rough trail, we were not unwilling to 
do so." 

Mr. Meeker went to the White River Agency with 
his wife and youngest daughter, Josephine, who 
taught the young Indians and was a general favorite. 
Mr. William H. Post, of Yonkers, was his "boss 
farmer" and general assistant. Mr. Post had been a 
competent and very popular Secretary of the Greeley 
Colony. He was at the agency at the time of the 

Mrs. Meeker is sixty-four years old, with black 
hair, now partly tinged with gray, and blue eyes. 
She is small in stature, her weight being only ninety 
pounds. She is the daughter of a sea captain, and 
was born in Cheshire, Connecticut. She moved with 


her parents, when a child, to the Western Reserve in 
Ohio, when the country was a wilderness, and was 
reared as a pioneer's daughter, with many sisters and 
brothers. She taught school for several years, and 
was married at the age of twenty-nine to N. C. 
Meeker, in Clariden, Geauga county, Ohio. She is 
the mother of five children. 

Miss Josephine Meeker is twenty-two years of age, 
a blonde, with blue eyes and light hair, and is tall in 
stature and vivacious in manner and conversation. 
She was a teacher at the agency and a great favorite 
among the Indians. She taught the boy of Chief 
Douglass, and had half a dozen offers of marriage 
from the Ute braves. 

Mrs. Meeker is one of the gentlest and most moth 
erly women, with a heart large enough to embrace all 
humanity. Her kindly disposition and gentle manner 
should have protected her from the assault of the 
veriest brute. 

' Miss Josie seems to have inherited much of the 
force and enthusiasm of her father. She appears to 
have overcome the feeling of disgust, which savages 
must inspire in any lady, and to have entered on her 
duty of teaching with the highest missionary spirit. 

Around this family were gathered, as help, people 
peculiarly genial and calculated to win by kindness 
the regard of the Utes, and whose names have already 
been published. It may here be stated that the 
Christian name of Mr. Thompson, which has not yet 
been given, was Arthur. He was a son of one of the 
leading citizens of Greeley. The agency was well 
cared for. Comfortable buildings were erected and 
fine avenues were laid out. One of these, the main 
street, which ran as straight as a line from the canon 
to the agency, was named after Chief Douglass. Mr. 
Meeker was preparing to plant mountain evergreens 


on both sides of it. The government Indian farm 
was enclosed with a neat wire fence, and it produced 
all kinds of crops. The Indians until the mutiny 
helped to cultivate the soil. They raised potatoes, 
beets, turnips, and other vegetables. The white em 
ployes planted the wheat. In the agency yard Mrs. 
Meeker had some flowers, such as verbenas, mign 
onette, petunias and others of a more common sort. 
The Indians seemed to like the improvements, and 
they admired the flowers. On ration days their chil 
dren were to be seen with bunches of flowers in their 
hands. A large irrigating canal was built by the In 
dians under the Agent's direction. It afforded water 
for the whole valley. A good table was set for the 
employes, and they were only charged $3.50 per 
week, which is much less than is charged at the other 
agencies, where it is $4.00 and $5.00. The best pro 
visions were used and bought at Rawlins. Mr. 
Meeker refused to have any Indian blankets or Indian 
goods in the house, so as to be free from all irregu 
larities or charges of corruption. The Indians fre 
quently ate at his private table, and the chiefs came 
and went when they pleased. They were treated 
kindly, but not allowed to take charge of the place, as 
they sometimes wanted to do. 

Among the losses sustained by our troops in the 
Milk River fight, the most serious was the death of 
that veteran Indian fighter Major Thomas T. Thorn- 
burgh, of the Fourth Infantry. This gallant officer 
was born in Tennessee, from which State he enlisted 
as a private in the Sixth Tennessee Regiment of 
Volunteers in September, 1861. He was in the ser 
vice from that time until August, 1863. During this 
term he served for the first five months as a private, 
for two months as Sergeant- Major, and for the re 
mainder of his term in the service as Lieutenant and 

THE UTE WAR. 1 59 

Adjutant. He took part in the battle of Mill Springs, 
was with our army when General Morgan made his 
celebrated retreat from Cumberland Gap to the Ohio 
River, and participated in the battle of Stone River, 
September ist. He was entered at the United States 
Military Academy of West Point, and was one of the 
class of '63 graduates from there June 17, 1867. He 
was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Second 
Artillery, June 17, 1867. After three years' service 
upon the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, he was regularly 
promoted, Aprjl 21, 1870, and as First Lieutenant of 
Artillery was appointed Major and Paymaster, April 
26, 1875. In this capacity he served upon the staff 
of Brigadier-General George Crook, with station at 
Omaha; but tiring of the inactivity of the life, he 
sought and effected an exchange with Major G. H. 
Thomas, Fourth Infantry, May 23, 1878. By this 
transfer Major Thornburgh stepped above no less 
than two hundred and fifty captains of infantry and 
many lieutenants of that corps, whose original com 
missions antedated his, and procured the command of 
Fort Fred Steele, in Wyoming Territory. 

In the fall of 1878 he was placed in charge of the 
troops assembled at Sidney, Nebraska, to intercept 
the Cheyennes. The latter crossed the Union Pacific 
Railroad near Julesburg, and a few hours later, 
having been conveyed to this point by a special train, 
Thornburgh's column was in hot pursuit. The 
Cheyennes forded the treacherous Platte, with whose 
shifting quicksands they were familiar, and took 
refuge for the night in an adjacent canon. Thorn- 
burgh followed, but his preparations for an immediate 
attack were foiled by a dense fog, which rose from 
the river and enveloped it. In the early morning 
smouldering fires revealed their late proximity, but 
the Cheyennes had dispersed. Their trail led fan- 


shaped into and through the dreaded sand hills. 
Thornburgh followed, and during the day accom 
plished not less than eighty miles. For forty-eight 
hours he wandered through this terrible waste, and 
was only relieved from extreme hunger and thirst by 
the timely arrival of Major C. H. Carlton, Third Cav 
alry, and a battalion of that regiment. By many his 
failure was attributed to excess of caution, but per 
haps he only avoided then the disaster that has so re 
cently overwhelmed his command. Major Thorn- 
burgh was shot in the breast and instantly killed. He 
was a man of splendid physique, and if not a brilliant 
soldier, a very earnest, brave, ambitious, and conscien 
tious officer, and a genial, whole-souled gentleman. 
He was an excellent horseman, and the finest shot in the 
army. He hunted prairie chicken and grouse with an 
ordinary Springfield rifle. When Dr. Carver made 
his superb score with glass balls at Omaha, Major 
Thornburgh, at the solicitation of his numerous 
friends, followed and almost equalled it. Immediate 
ly subsequent to the fruitless chase after the Chey- 
ennes, a council was held with Red Cloud, Young- 
man-afraid-of-his-horses, and other prominent Sioux 
chiefs at Fort Sheridan. At its termination the In 
dians were in an unusually amiable mood, and face 
tiously compared the battered carbines in the hands 
of our cavalrymen to their own handsomely mounted 
Winchesters. Major Thornburgh, seizing at random 
one of the former arms from a soldier, challenged the 
group of dusky boasters to a trial of their vaunted 
weapons. Silver half and quarter dollars thrown into 
the air, or even nickels, were rarely missed ; and the 
coins being too soon exhausted, they insisted on 
tempting his unerring aim with potatoes, which, 
although they grow particularly small in the rugged 
northwest, he invariably cleft in their flight. The 


braves stood aghast at such wonderful dexterity, and 
conferred upon him a euphonious sobriquet in their 
own language, meaning " The-chief-who-shoots-the- 
stars. " 

Major Thornburgh was a brother of the ex-Con 
gressman of that name from Tennessee. He leaves a 
wife (daughter of Major R. D. Clark, paymaster, and 
niece of Pay master- General Alvord, U. S. A.) and 
two children, a boy and a girl, who are now at 
Omaha, where his remains were buried with becoming 

Lieutenant Weir, who was killed south of White 
River, was the younger son of Robert W. Weir, a cele 
brated painter and for many years professor of draw 
ing, etc., at West Point. The latter retired with the 
pay of Colonel July 25, 1876, being then over sixty- 
two years of age. The Lieutenant's elder brother, an 
artist, now in Europe, has won a reputation equal to 
his sire's. Lieutenant Weir was hardly thirty years 
old. He had a fair face, gray eyes, a light mustache, 
light brown hair, a pleasant smile, a gentle manner 
and a cheerful disposition, and he is bewailed by so 
many of his acquaintances among the troops at Raw- 
lins as to indicate a general grief at his fate. Lieuten 
ant Weir was a native of New York and a graduate of 
the West Point Military Academy, which he entered 
as a cadet July I, 1866. He was appointed a Second 
Lieutenant in the Fifth Artillery, but was transferred 
to the Ordnance Department November I, 1874, re 
ceiving a commission of First Lieutenant. 

Of the Indians, the greatest interest centers in 
Ouray (pronounced U-ra), the head chief or king of 
the Utes, who has come prominently before the coun 
try during the time covered by this history and who 

was, by no means, unknown before. He is, in many 

1 62 THE UTE WAR. 

respects indeed, we may say in all respects a re 
markable Indian; a man of pure instincts, of keen 
perception, and apparently possesses very proper ideas 
of justice and right the friend of the white man 
and the protector of the Indian, ever standing up and 
boldly asserting the rights of his tribe, and as contin 
ually doing all in his power to create favor for the 
white man with the Indians. 

Ouray, in telling the story of his life, says that he 
was born in Taos Valley, N. M., near the Pueblo village 
of that name, in 1839, His tribe of Utes were in the 
habit of spending much of their time in the Taos 
Valley, and San Luis Park, and along the Sangre de 
Cristo Mountains. Down in this region they were 
accustomed to meet the Apaches, who came up from 
the north. It is a very common thing for the women 
of a tribe of Indians to marry out of their tribe. 
Ouray's father married an Apache woman ; hence the 
epithet which is so often sneeringly applied to Ouray 
by those of the Indians who dislike him, of being an 
"Apache papoose." The Indians became so accus 
tomed to associating with the Mexicans that some of 
them began to adopt the customs of this people, and 
when Ouray's father and mother came to the conclu 
sion that they wanted to be married, they quietly 
marched .up to the little adobe church which stands on 
the hill, in the village at Red River crossing, and had 
the priest perform the ceremony, just as any good 
Catholics would. And when Ouray was born, they 
took him to the same adobe building and had him 
baptized into the Catholic Church the only instance 
on record of the kincj. 

Ouray had three brothers and two sisters, but he sur 
vives all of his brothers, while both of his sisters still 
live, one of them near the home of the chief on the 
Uncompahgre and the other is Susan, the wife of Chief 



Johnson, of the White River Tribe, who so signally 
distinguished herself in her kindness to the Meeker 
women and Mrs. Price while they were captives among 
the tribe. 

Ouray has long been a chief among the Utes, but 
is more renowned for his wisdom than his bravery. 
During his young manhood, however, he was accus 
tomed to lead the Ute braves to battle and was a very 

(Head Chief of 
the Utes.) 

brave as well as successful fighter. He generally 
planned well and fought bravely. During these times 
the Utes were engaged in a deadly encounter with the 
Arapahoes, Cheyennes and Sioux. It was a war be 
tween the plains Indians and the mountain tribes, be 
tween Highlanders and Lowlanders. Ouray entered 
into the spirit which characterized his race with a will, 
and soon became a renowned warrior. He soon was 


famed for wisdom, and his counsel was sought by the 
Utes far and near. When the white men first began 
to settle what is now Colorado, they found Ouray 
chief of the Tabequache or Uncompahgre tribe, the 
largest band of the tribe and in great favor with the 
members of other bands, so that while he was not 
head chief, he was a man of the greatest influence 
and power among his people. He was also disposed 
to be friendly towards the white settlers and soon be 
came known as a mediator between the two races. 
He continued increasing his authority and influence 
among his people until, as he expresses it, " the year 
after Lincoln's death," he was recognized as head chief 
by the Indians. In 1873 ^ e acted as interpreter be 
tween the Indians and Commissioner Brunot, in the 
conference looking to the cession to the government 
of the San Juan country, and in recognition of his 
services at that time and in the past, the government 
settled an annuity of $1,000 upon him, which he has 
since continued to draw regularly. He made his first 
trip to Washington during the same year that he was 
made head chief. 

The Utes have had five wars with the Arapahoes, 
and Ouray states that during some of these he led as 
many as seven hundred warriors to the battle-field. 
The second war occurred about 1858, and some of 
the battles were fought just above where Denver 
stands. Ouray had but thirty men with him, while 
the Arapahoes numbered seven hundred. They came 
upon the Utes in the morning, just before daylight, 
and took the mountain Indians completely by sur 
prise. However, Ouray rallied his few warriors, and 
they hurriedly formed in a square, after retreating a 
short distance, and after a fight which continued four 
teen hours, repulsed the Arapahoes. 

It was during this fight that Ouray lost his little 


boy the only son that has been born to him. 
He says that when he saw the Arapahoes coming, he 
threw water in the face of the child, then six years of 
age, for the purpose of awaking him, but failing in 
this, he threw covering over him and left him to go 
and fight the invaders of the camp. But the entire 
day passed before he could extricate himself from the 
entanglements involving him, and when he did get 
away and have an opportunity to return to his tepee, 
his boy had disappeared and has never since been 
seen by his father. This incident is still vividly re 
membered by Ouray, and he never refers to it without 
manifesting the greatest sorrow over it. He professes 
to believe his boy is dead, though he knows he is not. 
He is still with the Arapahoes, and as Ouray heartily 
despises the Arapahoes, he would prefer the death of 
his son to the disgrace implied in being an Arapahoe. 
This feeling on his part most likely explains the rep 
resentation of the matter as made by the old chief. 
Ouray has never been able to get his boy back, though 
he has made every effort to recover him. The gov 
ernment, too, has done all in its power to restore 
Ouray's son to him. Mr. Brunot himself made a 
strong effort. But the boy declines to go back, or to 
be talked to upon the subject. It seems that he has 
imbibed Arapahoe ideas, and that he utterly despises 
the Utes. This is really what most hurts old Ouray. 
His family pride is injured. He thinks his son has 
been utterly disgraced. The boy is a good-looking 
Indian. He is now about thirty years old. He has 
been adopted by Chief Friday, and, it is said, stands 
a good show of becoming chief, whenever that re 
nowned warrior shall "cross the range." 

Ouray has lived at his present home on the Un- 
compahgre and in that vicinity during the past 
twenty-three years, having resided, previous to estab* 

1 66 THE UTE WAR. 

lishing himself at that point, in New Mexico. Cho- 
peta, his present wife, is his second, his first having 
been the mother of his boy and also of a girl child, 
now dead. Ouray lives in good style. He owns a 
farm, which is a real garden spot, of three hundred 
acres. Of this he cultivates about a hundred acres, 
raising all kinds of cereals and vegetables. He lives 
in a neatly built and commodious adobe house built 
for him by the government and neatly furnished and 
carpeted. He owns great numbers of horses and a 
good many cattle and sheep, and. when he goes out 
rides in a carriage which was a present from ex- 
Governor McCook. He hires laborers from among 
the Mexicans and Indians, and also expects his wife 
to do her share of the farm work. Ouray 's present 
wife, Chopeta, is kind-hearted and very much like 
Ouray in her nature, being kind and well disposed 
towards the whites. The Chief has become very 
much attached to his present manner of living, and it 
is said is disposed to remain on his farm and surren 
der the reins of government to some younger man. 
Speaking before the Commission, of which he is a 
member, now investigating the present trouble, at Los 
Pinos, on the i6th of November of the present year 
he said : 

" I do not want to be a chief. I grow old and am 
tottering. Let some young man with the fire of 
youth in his veins take my place. I have my farm, 
which I would rather cultivate and watch the seed 
planted by me grow up to maturity than to be head 
chief. They all come to me with their troubles. I 
know everything and have all their burdens to bear. 
Washington no want me to give up my position, 
wants me to stay and govern Utes. I want only to 
be. known as Ouray,, the friend of the white man." 

So far as the present difficulty is concerned, Ouray 

THE UTE WAR. 1 67 

has continued from first to last friendly to the whites 
and an advocate of peace. As soon as he learned of 
the Thornburgh fight he sent runners to White River 
ordering that hostilities cease. He also did every 
thing in his power to secure the surrender of the cap 
tive women, and when there was a prospect of the 
southern Utes breaking out, he sent timely warning 
to the white settlers near. He has pursued a straight 
forward and manly course and deserved the honor 
which the government conferred upon him in making 
him a member of the Commission. 

Although baptized into the Catholic Church, Ouray 
does not profess the white man's religion. Senough- 
Ibase is the Ute god, and in him Ouray believes. He 
says that when good people die they will go to a 
delightful place like a beautiful valley, with a clear 
stream of water running in it, there to meet with the 
friends and the spirits of friends who have gone 
before. They will all meet there friends, brothers 
and parents. He speaks with much tenderness of his 
father and mother. He also believes there is a bad 
place where bad people cannot meet their friends who 
have preceded them. 

One little instance may be related as going to show 
the character of Ouray and the manner of his dealing 
with his inferiors. Since he became head chief he 
has promoted Sapavanaro, Shavano, Waro and Billy 
to chieftainships under himself among the Uncom- 
pahgre Utes. He has made Ignacio head chief of 
the Southern Utes, and Pavisatch second chief of the 
Southern Utes. As is often the case with people 
making greater pretensions to civilization, most of 
these fellows scorn the hand that feeds them. Ignacio 
has grown unfriendly to Ouray, and Waro and Billy 
seem to have deserted him for the White River Utes. 

Cojoe, who has figured extensively in this narrative 

1 68 THE UTE WAR. 

already, was in favor at Ouray's court at one time, 
being the chief medicine man of the Tabequache 
tribe. He, and not Ouray, as has frequently been as 
serted, was the man who killed the young brave 
Osepah, during the summer of 1878. Osepahwasan 
ambitious young man, and was working hard to secure 
the coveted prize, a chieftainship. He saw that a 
number of the tribe were displeased with the farming 
operations of Ouray, and his notorious friendship to 
the whites, and thought that by making himself the 
mouthpiece of the tribe, he would acquire great re 
nown and their admiration. Consequently, he rode 
to Ouray's house, meeting the chief on his way to 
the agency. Cojoe had just come in from a hunt, and 
with his rifle slung on his shoulder, was accompany 
ing Ouray. Osepah stopped them, and dismounting 
from his horse, laid before Ouray the fact that he was 
wanted no longer as their chief; that he was a white 
man at heart, and ought to join the whites, concluding 
with a perfect tirade of abuse, in which he called the 
chief " a squaw," the most degrading epithet that can 
be applied to an Indian, and one which he is generally 
quickest to resent. Ouray took no notice of the 
speech, regarding it as the insane utterances of a hot 
headed young man; but not so Cojoe. Waiting until 
Osepah had mounted his horse and ridden several rods 
away, he unslung his rifle, took deliberate aim, and 
Osepah fell dead with a bullet through his brain. For 
this offense Cojoe was expelled by Ouray from the 
tribe and went to White River, most probably being 
concerned in the murder of the employes there. He 
now is arrayed in a dresscoat, with two gold chains 
dangling from his pocket. Ouray says that he will 
never again return to the agency, his conduct having 
given him more trouble than that of all the rest of his 


Captain Billy has generally professed friendship for 
the whites, though he has been a great deal among 
the White River Utes since the troubles of which we 
write began. He paid a visit to Washington in the 
fall of 1878. Bill is a brother of Jack, though much 
more kindly disposed. He really looks like an in 
offensive Indian, but he has plenty of Indian fire in his 
brain. At one time he boasted that no lead could 
kill him, and when one of the tribe said he would like 
to try, Bill stood up, folded his arms, and said, " Fire ! " 
The bullet went through his left side below the ribs. 
Bill laughed, and said, " I told you lead no kill me. " 
He was laid up about two weeks, and came out all 

During the present disturbance Douglass and Jack, 
both White River chiefs, have attracted more atten 
tion than any other two Indians. They are quite in 
telligent fellows, though very different in appearance, 
stature, physique, temperament and manner. Doug 
lass is rather short about five feet six or seven 
inches in height of medium build, about fifty years 
of age, and with a decidedly German cast of counte 
nance. His complexion is rather darker than most of 
his tribe. Mr. A. D. Coxe, formerly of Middle Park, 
now residing in Quincy, 111., who visited White River 
Agency, describes Douglass as follows : 

" As we approached the corral a figure came toward 
us from the direction of the river, that I gazed at with 
increasing interest as it approached. Dressed in what 
I should call the fall attire of a workman in the 
States, I set myself to solve the problem of what 
nationality. White, red or black ? Once it was a 
sunburned white man, then a " nigger, " but when it 
reached us the inevitable red smear betrayed it. It 
was an Indian, and, moreover, an Indian who spoke 
respectable English. There was something I should 


describe as a reserved force in his manner (not matter) 
of speaking. Our conversation was trivial. I had 
put my estimate on him, and it was that he had 
grown civilized enough to doff the blanket (emblem 
of the aboriginee) and to become generally no ac 
count. Imagine my surprise when the sheriff turned 
to me and told me our visitor was Douglass. I had 
expected to find the great chief in a mud palace, ex 
acting the reverence .and homage of all comers. In 
stead, he is an Indian who would be taken for a res 
pectable negro church sexton in Kentucky, and he 
keeps up the likeness by his grave reticence and res 
pectful curiosity as to what our mission is. Douglass 
is about five feet seven inches in height, medium 
stature and outrageously bow-legged. The most 
noticeable thing about him is that he shaves, but 
manages to escape an iron-gray growth of moustache 
on the sides of his mouth in that operation. In his 
dress he made no pretence to the gaudy was satis 
fied with the substantial." 

Douglass was made a chief among the White River 
Utes in 1869, and been considered a friend of the 
whites. He has ever professed the warmest regard 
for his pale face brothers, and when Agent Meeker 
first went to White River was among the first to man 
ifest a friendly feeling towards the old gentleman. 
He sent his boy to school when Miss Josephine estab 
lished her institution for teaching the young Indian 
how not to shoot, and seemed in every way satisfied 
with his lot and surroundings. But it now appears 
that he has all this time been merely simulating 
friendship, and that all the while he has harbored a 
deep-rooted feeling against the Americans. His treat 
ment of Mrs. Meeker and her daughter, the part he 
took in the massacre and his confessions to Mrs. 
Price are proof positive of his bad feeling. It has also 


been recently charged that he took a prominent part 
in the Mountain Meadow massacre. The Indians 
themselves assert that he did, but Douglass when 
questioned concerning this accusation replied : 

" No ; me no fight. Me no chief then ; papers 
heap lies." 

Even to the most unobservant, he displayed great 
agitation, which, in an Indian, is extremely uncom 
mon, while speaking, and it would not be at all sur 
prising, if the facts can be obtained, that this maltreater 
of helpless women and coward as well, should prove 
to have been concerned in this massacre. Mrs. Price's 
characterization of him as "the smartest and meanest 
of the Utes " may be classified as accurate. 

Ouray being asked about Douglass could not be 
brought to tell much of the history of this chief, say 
ing that Douglass was not a very brave man, but great 
in the council. His speeches are always eloquent, 
generally to the point, and always convincing. 
Through his tongue, he has acquired about the same 
influence over his band that Jack has through his 
bravery, and when a question is hanging in suspense 
in one of the Ute councils, that voice turns the bal 
ance. He speaks English very imperfectly, but 
appears to be good natured, though decidedly taci 
turn and thoughtful. Even to his own people he says 
little, and what he says is in a low tone and in short 
paragraphs. He impresses one as having considerable 
ability, though not as being as intelligent as Jack. 
This, however, may be due to the different manner of 
his Lieutenant, and the fact that the latter has traveled 
as far east as Boston, while Douglass has never crossed 
the Missouri. 

Jack is far more the typical Indian than his leader. 
Some five feet ten or eleven inches in height, straight 
and slender, but strong and sinewy. He has a narrow 

172 . THE UTE WAR. 

forehead, prominent, hooked nose, protruding cheek 
bones, large, black eyes and an immense mouth. His 
complexion is that of a bright mulatto. His straight 
black hair falls is profusion over his shoulders and he 
wears large hoop earrings and a silver medal about 
three inches in diameter, which was presented to him 
by the government and of which he is very proud. 
One edge of it is deeply indented, he says, by a 
bullet fired at him by Piah. His eyes flash when he 
speaks of this little experience, and he suggests a pur 
pose of returning the compliment whenever a suitable 
opportunity shall offer. Another article which he 
particularly prizes is a pipe of polished red stone, 
which he says was captured from the Sioux. He car 
ries it in an ornamented buckskin case and cleans it 
with the utmost tenderness every time it is smoked. 
He usually dresses in a complete suit of buckskin, 
but wears a black slouch hat. He is something of a 
dandy and had a good deal of ornamental work on 
his clothing as well as on his pipe and gun cases 
embroidered with colored porcupine quills and beads. 
He is generally armed, even in time of peace, with a 
first-rate Winchester rifle and his belt is full of cart 
ridges. His pose and manner are dignified and grace 
ful, and he is exceedingly jovial in disposition; though 
a serious, thoughtful look comes into his eyes when 
he is at business. He knows more of the world than 
his fellows, and consequently respects and fears the 
whites more. He talks English quite well and likes 
to talk. 

"Jack," Ouray says, "was always a brave man. 
When he was a boy he was taken by a white family 
to Salt Lake City, as a sort of page, and was petted 
greatly by them. He resided there about a year, and 
probably learned what English he knows at that time. 
Being taken to task by his mistress one day about 


some trivial offence, Jack then threw a knife at her, 
cutting her severely in the head, and started for Col 
orado. He has had two duels with members of his 
own tribe, and in each came off victorious, in the last 
one, after disabling his opponent by a stab, lassooing 
him and dragging him at his horse's tail until nothing 
was left save a mangled mass of flesh. The Utes all 
know of Jack's bravery, and know his great influence 
over his band. " Said Ouray, " Jack will fight three 
white men ; but he no hide and shoot them when they 
come past. When Jack say to white man, ' You my 
friend, ' all right. When he say, ' You no stay here, ' 
white man better go. " 

Previous to this present outbreak Jack was consid 
ered friendly to the whites. He was about Denver a 
great deal, and received considerable attention from 
the people here. But he objected strongly to the inno 
vations which Father Meeker attempted to introduce, 
and when it came time to take up arms he headed the 
hostiles. Previous to this he said it was useless for 
the Indians to fight the white man, for they would 
certainly get the worst of it in the end. And he fully 
appreciated what he said. He had witnessed the 
great extent and power of our people, and seemingly 
profited by what he saw. He went so far as to invite 
the whites to settle on the reservation saying that 
they and the Indians should be great friends. 

Johnson gained his chieftainship by a daring act of 
valor in the last war of the Utes with the Arapahoes. 
One day their scouts having reported none of the 
enemy near, Johnson, then a stripling, and two com 
panions started out on a hunt. They had gone about 
twenty miles from their camp when they were at 
tacked by eight Arapahoes. Johnson's two friends 
were killed, and he only escaped by leaving his horse 
and concealing himself in a river or stream flowing 


near. The Arapahoes took all three horses and start 
ed for their camp, Johnson following them on foot. 
When they camped for the night Johnson crept up, 
stabbed the sentinel and the other seven, took their 
scalps and horses, and returned to his friends to tell 
the story. For this instance of prowess he received 
the chieftainship of the band which he now com 
mands. Although a brave Indian, Johnson differs 
from Jack in that he will, if he can, take an unfair ad 
vantage of an enemy, and should he bear one a 
grudge, will not hesitate to ambuscade and shoot him. 
His wife, Ouray's sister, was given to him as a further 
recognition of his services against the Arapahoes. 
Johnson is also the best shot among the Utes, with 
both the bow and rifle, and his tepee, after a hunt, 
contains more game than any of the rest. Johnson 
has recently acted as chief medicine man at White 
River, and he figures in Mr. Meeker's letters as Dr. 
Johnson. He is about forty-five. 

The next most noted of the hostile chiefs is Colo 
rado, pronounced and generally spelled Colorow. He 
is a bully and a coward, and commands the loathing 
and the disrespect of both white man and Indian. 
He is a renegade among the White River Utes, and 
at one time had attained considerable influence among 
this band, rising to the chieftainship of a quite re 
spectable number. But he was deposed from power, 
for which result ex-Governor McCook is highly re 
sponsible. Formerly, the State government was made 
in some way responsible for the care of the Indians. 
During McCook's administration, Colorow and a band 
of Utes came to this city and camped on the out 
skirts. One day the chief sent word that he wanted 
a new tent. McCook dispatched an agent to see in 
what condition Colorow's tent was, and the report was 
that he did not need a new tent, and McCook accord- 



ingly refused him. In the afternoon, while the Gov 
ernor was in his office, Colorow came in half drunk, 
with a revolver in his hand, and came over where 
McCook was writing and sat down. The Governor 
took in the situation at a glance, but did not look up. 

"McCook, liar!" said Colorow. 

The Governor went on writing. 

" McCook, dam liar!" said the chief. 

Still McCook continued. with his work. 

" McCook, heap d m liar!" said Colorow, reach 
ing a climax. 

Nevertheless, McCook would not look at him. 


By this time Colorow had concluded that there was 
no fight in the Governor and allowed the hand con 
taining the revolver to drop to his side. The move 
was a fatal one. In an instant McCook seized his 
wrist, knocked the weapon away from him, and, catch 
ing the astonished Indian by the neck, kicked him 


down stairs and out into the street, where there were 
a number of Utes standing about. With great tact 
McCook pointed to the prostrate and humiliated form 
of Colorow, and turning to the Utes, said: "No man 
to lead braves. Colorow old woman. Get a man 
for a chief." Then turning on his heel, he walked up 
stairs. The next day the mortified Utes deposed 

Colorow still, however, boasts a considerable fol 
lowing among the worst of the Utes, if such a distinc 
tion is allowable. He is old and chubby, and pre 
sents the worst appearance of all the tribe. 

Piah is the chief of the Middle Park Utes. He is 
a clever fellow enough, but very deceitful. He has 
been to Washington, New York and Boston, as have 
some of the others. Piah says he got shaved in 
Washington, which accounts for the few hairs on his 
chin, of which he is very proud. In conversation 
with him, he said, " Washington heap big, heap big 
houses ; New York heap big, big houses, big boats ; 
plenty white men ;" and so of other Eastern cities ; 
but at the end he says, " White man heap no good, 
heap lie. Indian no lie." Upon being asked what 
the great white father said to him, his answer was: 
" White father at Washington said Indian must make 
potato, cabbage, and work. I tell white father no 
make potato, cabbage, no work; Indian hunt, fish. 
No hunt, no fish, Indian fight and die. Me great war 
rior. Warriors no plow. Me go to Washington and 
see John Grant. (The Indians all call Grant "John.") 
John Grant great warrior. He no work. Me see 
John Grant's squaw. She no work, either, too. Great 
warriors no work. Tell you what do. You say to 
John Grant he come here and go with me. We go 
out and fight 'Rapahoes and Cheyennes, and kill 
plenty braves, and get plenty squaws. Then squaws 

THE UTE WAR. 1 77 

work and me and John Grant have bully good time. 
No work ; no plow ; no nothing." 

Washington is another chief supposed to have been 
engaged in the recent fighting at any rate, in the 
depredations committed along the frontier. He is get 
ting to be an old Indian, and is remarkable for the ex 
treme low cunning of his countenance and his stove 
pipe hat, which has long ago seen its best days. 

Describing the appearance of this chief, Mr. Coxe, 
whom we have above quoted, says : 

"I think that Washington is about as ugly a bipe'd 
as we have at present on the continent, and what 
homeliness of face he lacked, he had attempted to 
supply by dress. I am not a good hand at descrip 
tion of dress, but I shall endeavor to tell you how 
Washington was attired. His head was surmounted 
by a soft hat, turn-down rim, which was ornamented 
by a band of calico. He had on a red flannel shirt, 
soiled and torn, and about as poor a pair of pantaloons 
as the law allows. But the leggings, the one article 
of the dress of equestrians which the Indians make 
better than the whites, were handsome. An old and 
ragged pair of boots protected his feet. As he came 
up I saw he was cross-eyed, and that the 'whites' of 
his eyes had become 'browns/ as well as bloodshot." 

There are, of course, many other chiefs among the 
tribes, but those which we have described are the 
most noted, and most of them have taken prominent 
part in the late outbreak. 



It remains to be stated that at the present writing, 
November 25, 1879, there is a commission in the field, 
appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, the Hon. 
Carl Schurz, to investigate the recent troubles with a 
view to bringing the guilty to justice and arriving at 
some means of settling the Indian difficulties in Col 
orado. This commission consists of General Edward 
Hatch, of the army; General Charles Adams, special 
agent of the postoffice department, and Chief Ouray. 
The meetings of the commission are held in a log 
hut, built for a stable, at Los Pinos, or Uncompahgre 
Agency. Ouray early sent a message to the hostile 
Indians, ordering them to meet the commission at his 
agency. All the leaders except Jack came to the 
agency. Douglass, Johnson, and Sewerwick were 
examined, and all appeared before the commission 
with sullen countenances, "armed to the teeth," and 
all declared unequivocally that they knew nothing. 
At one time the commission seemed in imminent 
danger of losing their lives. Even Ouray veered 
about, put on his Indian clothes, and appeared thought 
ful and ferocious. General Hatch had previously sent 
for a detachment of soldiers as an escort, who appear 
ed, most likely, in time to be of good service in fright 
ening the Indians and preventing ill treatment of the 

Ouray has made a proposition to have a delegation 
of the hostiles sent to Washington to treat with the 
Secretary, but the Secretary has virtually declined to 
grant them this privilege, whereat the Indians are 


greatly displeased. Thus the matter stands. The 
hostiles have gone back to their mountain retreats 
and probably expect to remain there during the win 
ter. It is probably not well to make predictions in a 
book which may so soon as is the prospect in this case 
be verified or prove unfounded, but we feel perfectly 
safe^in saying that if the Indians are to be punished 
for their past offences the army will yet be compelled 
to take the matter in hand, either this winter or dur 
ing the coming spring. 

We have refrained in our narrative from burdening 
it with opinions of our own 'concerning the events 
which we have related, believing that the facts speak for 
themselves and that the more boldly they are allowed 
to stand forth in their own natural ugliness, the more 
apt they will be to impress upon the reader the true 
condition of Indian affairs in Colorado. Our position 
is not a half-way one. We join in the chorus that 
comes^up from the entire State, from the entire west, 
alike from the plains and from the mountains, and 
the gist of which is that the Indians must go. In this 
State we^conftne ourselves to the Utes. They have 
been a hindrance and a drawback to Colorado's pro 
gress, occupying a third of the area of the State. 
Standing in the way of the march of civilization, for 
bidding schools, preventing settlement, keeping out 
railroads, they are a pest and a nuisance. More than 
this, they are murderers and thieves criminals of the 
worst character, malicious towards the whites and 
bent upon doing all they can to annoy and injure the 
race. So far as their rights are concerned, they have, 
if they ever had any, forfeited them by their own con 
duct. They have robbed the white people, burned 
the forests, destroyed the game and murdered a hun 
dred men. They are savages because they will not 


become civilized. They lie and steal and murder 
because they prefer doing so to adopting the customs 
and manners of the white people, and not because 
they do not know that it is wrong and against the law 
of the land to do these things. The people of the 
west will never be satisfied until the murderers of 
Thornburgh and his soldiers and of Agent Meeker 
and the agency employes, atone for these deeds with 
their own blood. The death of one or two or a dozen 
will not be sufficient to satisfy justice, but all who 
took part in the bloody work must be punished. 
And the other Utes should be accommodated at some 
other place. It will be better for them and better for 
the whites. The opinion prevails throughout the 
State that the land now occupied by the Indians is 
rich in mineral. There are ten thousand prospectors 
along the border, casting wistful eyes to the land 
beyond which they believe to abound in mineral treas 
ure. Many have ventured over and have found what 
they sought. 

All who have crossed the line have determined to 
return, and their reports have decided many others 
to follow them. It may safely be predicted that three 
thousand prospectors will invade the Ute reservation 
land next spring. These men can not understand 
why gold and silver should exist right under their 
noses, though it be on an Indian reservation, lying 
there like capital buried, and they not be allowed to 
dig it out and put it to use. We agree with them. 
The mineral is there, and the miners and prospectors, 
upright to a man, who are courageous and hardy 
enough to undertake to get it, should have it. 
Frontier life in the mountains is hard enough and 
perilous enough at best. Bad roads, the distance 
from home and the necessities of life, and hard cli 
mate, are sufficient of themselves, without adding 


danger from Indians. These frontiersmen, whether in 
Massachusetts or Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky, Wis 
consin or Missouri, Colorado or the Black Hills, in 
whatever part of the continent they may go, have 
opened up the way for the advance of the white man 
and civilization. To them the present prosperity and 
extent of the country are due. To them the existence 
of North America is wholly due not to any presum 
ing Secretary of the Interior or Boston Tract Society. 
These noble men should be protected in their work. 
Though, of course, self-interest is with most of them 
the impelling motive, they nevertheless do mankind 
a vast service in their advances into the new and wild 
lands, opening up new sources of wealth and new 
places for homes. But the prospectors expect to 
explore the western border of Colorado next year, 
whether it be pleasant to a half-dozen men at Wash 
ington, who know really nothing about the matter 
which they control, or attempt to control, or not; or 
whether the Indians are there or not. If the Indians 
are not removed, conflicts are inevitable, and many 
valuable lives, not only those of prospectors but those 
of families in settlements off the reservation, are sure 
to be sacrificed. 

What Colorado asks is : 

That the Utes who took part in or inspired the 
Thornburgh fight and the agency massacre, be exe 

That the remaining members of the tribe be re 
moved to some reservation outside the bounds of 
the State. 

What the West asks is : 

That the Indians of all tribes and nations be gath 
ered at one place, Indian Territory for example. 

That they be made to earn their own living as 
other men and women are, or allowed to starve. 

1 82 THE UTE WAR. 

That the control of them be left to the army as a 
police force to preserve and compel order, and not to 
contrive devices to induce the Indians to be good to 
coerce them into proper habits. 

The following resolutions, adopted by a mass meet 
ing of the people of Greeley, the town founded and 
guided to prosperity by Mr. Meeker, we consider a 
fit conclusion of this volume of frontier history : 

Resolved, That while paying tribute to our de 
ceased friends and neighbors, we would gladly cher 
ish a hope that this awful sacrifice may somehow 
serve to lessen the volume of atrocity incident to our 
Indian policy. 

Resolved, That the government be called upon 
through our representatives in Congress to^make full 
compensation for all private property destroyed by 
this outbreak, and to suitably pension all persons who 
were dependent for support upon our friends and 
neighbors who were killed. 

Resolved, That we heartily commend the prompt 
and diligent efforts of Governor Pitkin to protect the 
citizens of the State from Indian ravages ever since the 
hostile attitude of the Utes became apparent. 

Resolved, That we mournfully deprecate the great 
apparent neglect of Mr. Meeker's touching appeal for 
relief made as early as the loth of September last. 

Resolved, That we indignantly denounce the grace 
less insinuations and gratuitous assertion of some 
eastern papers that this defection among the Utes is 
the result of bad faith on' the part of the Agent and 
people of Colorado, as wholly unfounded in fact, and 
made in a fault-finding spirit among people entirely 
ignorant of the situation, and of the Indian character. 

Resolved, That the idea so often offered by Con 
gress that the Indian is the ward of the government, 
merits the application of a policy more analagous to 


the humane principles of the common law of " Guar 
dian and ward " than any hitherto adopted by the 

Resolved, That, conceding the embarrassment inci 
dent to the proper solution of the Indian question, we 
insist that the constant breeding of a horde of savages 
in the central part of the continent, maintaining them 
in idleness as wards of the government, without re 
stricting 'influences, providing them with the best 
weapons of destruction, appears, after so many years 
of experience, like a special invention of evil genius 
to make savage warfare and atrocities inevitable and 

Resolved, That so long as the most romantic por 
tions of our domain are to be especially dedicated as 
nurseries of barbarism, we insist that, so fast as the 
Indian is thus bred up, equipped and fitted for his 
treacherous warfare, and found hostile and determined 
to kill and murder; he be certainly slain, and no more 
fed and petted as a ward. 

Resolved, ^That all efforts to civilize the Indians 
must prove futile as long as they ar.e permitted to re 
tain their tribal relations, indulge in barbarous prac 
tices, taught to regard themselves as independent 
nationalities, to be treated with, upon an equal foot 
ing, like a foreign country, and as such, pampered 
with the idea of a sovereign right to make war against 
the government for any fancied grievance. 

Resolved, That the first requirement in the process 
of civilizing the Indian, is to teach him a sense of 
responsibility to the government, which supports and 
protects him ; whereas, under the policy which has so 
long obtained, he derives no such lesson, but, on the 
contrary, is habitually impressed with the idea that 
the government owes him a living, and has no right 
to his loyalty or obedience in return, he should either 


be accorded the same rights as a citizen, or should be 
regarded as irresponsible and dangerous, and rigidly 
kept in restraint. 

Resolved, That while the Indian is allowed to remain 
within the limits of a State, he should be subject to 
the police regulations of the State and governed and 
punished by its law and authority. Finally, be it 

Resolved, As the sense of this people, that the In 
dians within the limits of our State are a hindrance to 
its proper development, and a constant menace to the 
safety of the people ; that by their recent unprovoked 
and inexcusable depredations they have forfeited all 
claims to remain among us ; and we insist as our ulti 
matum in this matter that the death penalty be inflict 
ed upon the fiendish murderers of our friends ; and 
that the Utes be speedily removed beyond the bor 
ders of Colorado. 

Two hundred thousand people pray for this result. 

1 86 















All testify that they know nothing of the Massacre or the Thorn- 
burgh Fight ; if there was any fight, it was Jack that did it. 


them Qm mj 


Tfre Wentwortft Mouse* 

j&~ za:. I^ISTIES, x=roprie-tor. 


Rates, S2.OO and $3.OO per day. Day Board, $6.00 per week. 
Special Contracts made to parties and families. Weekly 
rates from $8.OO to $2O.OQ, according to 
location of room. 

The proprietor offers to the public his present new facilities with the full 
assurance that he has the most elegant and complete hotel building to be found 
in this or any other city of the west. Fifteen years' experience in hotel life 
convinces him that the people want less nonsense and more of real comforts, 
and the new Wentworth will be found especially arranged and adapted to the 
real demands of the traveling public. Special rates will be given families. 
Rooms in my cottages and the old Wentworth are still at the command of guests 
at same rates as formerly. Thanking my rrtany friends and the public generally 
for past favors, I shall endeavor with present facilities and reasonable prices to 
merit a long continuance of their patronage. A, H. ESTES, Proprietor. 




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