Ft. Lyon, C. T.
December 19, 1864
This is the
first opportunity I have had of writing you since the great Indian Massacre, and
for a start, I awill acknowledge I am ashamed to own I was in it with my Co.
Col. Chivington. Came down here with the gallant third known as Chivington
Brigade, like a thief in the dark throwing his Scouts around the Post, with
instructions to let no one out, without his orders, not even the Commander of
the Post, and for the shame, our Commanding Officer submitted, Col Chivington
expected in camp below the Com---- but the Major Comd'g told him all about where
the Indians were, and volunteered to take a Battalion from the Post and join the
Well Col. Chivington Got in about 10 a.m., Nov. 28th and 8
p.m. we started with all of the 3rd parts of "H", "O" and "E" of the first, in
the command of Lt. Wilson Co. "K", "D" and "G" in the commanding of Major
Anthony. Marched all night up Sand, to the big bend on Sandy about 15 or 20
miles. Above wherer we crossed on our trip to Smoky Hill and came on to Black
Kettle's village of 103 lodges, containing not over 500 all told, 350 which were
women and children. Three days previous to going out, Major Anthoy gave John
Smith Lowderbuck of Co. "G" and a government driver permission to go out there
and trade with them, and they were in the village when the fight came off, John
Smith came out holding up his hands and running toward us, when he was shot at
by several, and the word was passed along to shoot him. He then turned back and
went to his tent and got behind some Robes, and escaped unhurt. Lowderbuck came
out with a white flag, and was served the same as John Smith, the driver the
same. Well, I got so mad I swore I would not burn powder, and I did not. Capt.
Soule the same. It is no use for me to try to tell you How the fight was
managed, only that I think the Officer in Command shoud be hung, and I know when
the truth is known it will cashier him.
We lost 40 men wounded, and 10
killed. Not over 250 Indians mostly women and children, and I think not over 75
bucks. With proper management they could all have been killed and not lost over
10 men. After the fight there was a sight I hope I may never see
Bucks, women, and children were scalped, fingers cut off to get
the rings on them, and this as much with Officers as men, and one of those
Officers a Major, and a Lt. Col. Cut off ears of all he came across, a squaw
ripped open and a child taken from her, little children shot while begging for
their lives and all the indignities shown their bodies that was ever heard of,
(women shot while on their knees, with their arms around soldiers begging for
their lives). Things that Indians would be ashamed to do. To give You some
little idea, Squaws were known to kill their own children and then themselves,
rather than to have them taken prisoners. But enough! For I know you are
disgusted already. Black Kettle, White Antelope, War Bonnet, Left Hand, Little
Robe and several other chiefs were killed.
Black Kettle said when he saw
us coming, that he was glad for it was Major Wynkoop coming to make peace. Left
Hand stood with his hands folded across his breast, until he was shot saying,
"Soldiers no hurt me - soldiers my friend." One Eye was killed; was in the
employ of Gov't as spy; came into the Post a few days before, and reported about
the Sioux, were going to break out of Ft. Learned, which proved
After all the pledges make my Major A— to these Indians and then
take the course he did. I think as comments are necessary from me: only I will
say he has a face for every man he talks. The action taken by Capt. Soule and
myself were under protest. Co. A– was going to have Soule hung for saying there
were cowardly Sons of B-s; if Soule did not take it back, but nary take aback
with Soule. I told the Col. That I thought it murder to jump them friendly
Indians. He says in reply; Damn any man or men who are in sympathy with them.
Such men as you and Major Wynkoop better leave the U. S. Service; so you can
judge what a nice time we had on the trip. I expect Col. C- and Downing will do
all in their power to have Soule, Crossitt and I dismissed. Well, let them work
for what they damn please, I ask no favors of them, If you are in Washington
from being a Bri'g Genl. Which he expects. I will send you the Denver Papers
with this. Excuse this for I have been in much of a hurry.
Your Well Wisher
John Smith was taken prisoner and then murdered.
One llittle child 3 months old was thrown in the feed box of a wagon and brought
one days march, and left there on the ground to perish. Col. Tappan is after
them all for that is out. I am making out a report of all from beginning to end,
to send to Gen'l Slough, in hopes that he will have the thing investigated, and
if you should see him, please speak to him about it, for fear he has forgotten
me. I will write him nothing but what can be proven.
Major I am ashamed
of this. I have it gloriously mixed up, but in hopes I can explain it all to you
before long. I would have given my right arm had you been here, when they
arrived. Your family are all well
(signed) Joe A. Cramer
Web Page Sept., 1997
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