Tuesday, June 28, 2011
INDIANS AND REBELS
Posted by Dave Hughes
June 26, 2011
Old Colorado City
As the Civil War began to heat up in Colorado Territory it produced all kinds of new problems for would be settlers, besides dealing with Indians, grasshoppers, claim jumpers, outlaws or Colorado weather. With at least one fourth of all the 24,000 gold rushers in Colorado by 1862 being southerners, there was bound to be trouble. The majority of those who poured into the Territory via the Arkansas River route, were either just southern sympathizers, outspoken secessionists, or outright armed rebels. Everybody had to be wary of who they were dealing with or encountering on the trail.
Colorado City folk were not immune to the passions inflaming the rest of the country. I already fingered one town founder ‘W.P. McClure’ as a Rebel, who was killed by Osage Indians when he tried to raise a Confederate Regiment. Then there were the shootouts and duels in Denver. The Canon City Times was accused of sympathizing with the Southern Cause. Its editor has to equivocate in his editorials, lest his premises be burned to the ground.
Then came the capture by US Army Captain Otis of the 4th US Cavalry of 42 southern guerillas who were marched to Denver through Colorado City by Company F of the 1st Colorado Regiment to be tried for treason. But all of whom had to be released because Denver didn’t have any place or means to keep them imprisoned. And the 8 man ‘Reynold’s Gang’ which portrayed itself as an actual Confederate unit, but which were far more just plain old robbers and highwaymen.
Then came the incredible 1861 4th of July Community Celebration in Pueblo when there was plenty of food, drink, and hoopla until someone hoisted a Union Stars and Stripes Flag over the gathering. Whereupon the highly organized “Knights of the Golden Circle” who robbed along the Arkansas River in order to send weapons and money to Richmond, took exception to that and wanted instead to hoist the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. Everyone seized their weapons and there was a four hour standoff before the crowd dispersed without a shootout.
There was actually a Treaty signed between Cherokee Indians and a Confederate General Albert Pike, to support each other against the Union. Even after the Civil War was essentially over in the East, Southerners made common cause with anti-Settler Indian Tribes. On one occasion Indians drove off a herd of horses from the Teachout Ranch close to Colorado City. What was called the Simpson Party, 24 strong, set out in pursuit. But by the time they got to Bijou Basin (east of the Black Forest) they found themselves surrounded by Indians. They dug in and were trapped for several days. On one of the days, a fully painted Indian approached just out of rifle range of the embattled whites and he began to curse out the white men in a perfect Texas drawl!
I am not sure the war between the North and the South ever ended.