Friday, July 4, 2014

Biography: John Chivington

John Chivington. Much of this is taken from The Good The Bad and the Mad by E. Randall Floyd.
Reverend John Chivington was not a professional soldier, but he is most remembered for soldiering.  On the positive side, during the Civil War he and his men of the First Colorado Volunteer Regiment were instrumental in turning back the rebel invasion of the West, which hoped to control the gold country.  At that point he was a military hero.
However, it was after another military victory that he became known as a coward.  In 1864, the Native American population, including Cheyenne, were protesting the encroachment of Whites on their society.  Relationships were not good, and having been commissioned by the governor of Colorado, Chivington was set on putting down, and driving the “red devils” out of the state.  His orders, “burn villages and kill Cheyennes wherever and whenever found.”
He came upon a small group of Cheyenne, mostly women and elderly, under the leadership of Black Kettle, who was friendly with the Americans, and flew an American flag over his teepee.  Even though there had been hostilities with other groups, Black Kettle believed the war was over.  He camped at Sand Creek.  On November 29, Chivington sent his men charging through there camp as they slept.  Honoring their leaders orders that no prisoners be taken, “Men women, children and even infants perished in the orgy of slaughter, their bodies scalped and barbarously mutilated.” 
When they returned to Denver, they were welcomed as heroes.  However when word reached calmer heads of the murder of women and children, some tried to repeat Chivington’s words, “nits make Lice,” but after military hearings Chivington was forced form the military.  He was also forced from politics, though he was never punished for his role in the Chivington massacre.

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