The Sand Creek Massacre 1864

The Sand Creek massacre, also known as the Chivington Massacre, took place on the 29th November 1864.

By 1864 tension between the settlers and the Native Americans of the plains was running high. Some of Native American chiefs had made friendly treaties with the authorities, however others were still engaged in hostile skirmishes with the army and settlers.

On the 29th Colonel John Chivington leading 600 men of the Colorado Militia attacked the Sand Creek Camp. The camp was made up of the Cheyenne and Arapaho and was led by Black Kettle.

Chivington and his men launched an attack on the camp of unsuspecting Native Americans, scattering and hunting down men, women and children. None of Chivington’s men were killed but 148 of the Native Americans were slaughtered. Many were women and children who were killed and their bodies mutilated.

In the press at the time the massacre was often portrayed as a victory against the Cheyenne but eyewitness discredited Chivington and his men when it became clear that they has perpetrated a massacre. This incident further increased tensions in the West between the US Army and the Native Americans.

A hand-coloured woodcut showing Colonel John Chivington leading US Cavalry massacre of Chief Black Kettle and a village of friendly Indians at Sand Creek 1864.
Colonel John Chivington leading US Cavalry massacre of Chief Black Kettle and a village of friendly Indians at Sand Creek 1864 (Hand-coloured woodcut of a 19th-century illustration)