Photo of John Chivington
John Chivington

Quick Facts

Significance:
Colonel
Place Of Birth:
Lebanon, OH
Date Of Birth:
June 27, 1821
Place Of Death:
Denver, CO
Date Of Death:
October 4, 1894
Place Of Burial:
Denver, CO
Cemetery Name:
Fairmount Cemetery

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, John Chivington, an ordained minister, was offered a commission as chaplain by Colorado territorial governor William Gilpin, but declined it, deciding to fight instead, and was commissioned a major in the 1st Colorado Infantry. In March 1862, he served in the New Mexico campaign, destroying the Confederate supply train at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, forcing the Confederates to retreat despite their victory in the battle.

On November 29, 1864, Chivington, now a colonel, led two regiments of cavalry against a friendly Cheyenne camp along Sand Creek, in Colorado Territory. Despite the U.S. flag flying from the camp and a white flag that was flown soon after the attack started, Chivington's 700 men destroyed the encampment, killing and mutilating an estimated 70-133 Indians, about three quarters of whom were women and children. This attack, known as the Sand Creek Massacre, was investigated and condemned by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, though no charges were brought against Chivington or his men. The Sand Creek Massacre effectively ended both Chivington's military career and his post-war political aspirations.

Last updated: June 18, 2015