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Civil War Trust

John Chivington

Major
January 27, 1821 – October 4, 1892


In 1861, John Chivington, an ordained minister, was offered the position of chaplain by Colorado territorial governor William Gilpin, but denied it, deciding to fight instead.  Chivington fought in the New Mexico Campaign, where he commanded a detachment of approximately 400 men from the 1st Colorado Volunteers. 

Chivington won fame for his fortune at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in March, 1862.  While waiting for Confederate troops above the Pass, Chivington received information regarding the location of the Confederate supply train.  Moving to the train’s location, Chivington and his troops surprised the Confederate soldiers at the train and captured the train. The attack led the Confederates to retreat after their victory at the Battle of Glorieta Pass due to lack of supplies. 

On November 29, 1864, Chivington attacked Sand Creek, a small Cheyenne-Arapaho settlement in the Colorado Territory, with a force of roughly 700 Federal soldiers.  Having recently signed a new treaty with the federal government, the Native Americans were not expecting the attack.  Most of the warriors were out hunting when Chivington's men arrived.  The Federals massacred the villagers, killing roughly 100 women and children before returning to Denver to display body parts and other gruesome trophies in local saloons and theaters.  Chivington and his men were subject to an official investigation but never brought up on charges for their actions.


 

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