On the morning of November 29, 1864, a 700-man contingent of Colorado militia under the command of John Chivington, a Methodist pastor in civilian life, fell upon an unsuspecting camp of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho. Ignoring a white flag of surrender, the militia slaughtered hundreds of Indians, most of whom were old men, women and children, as the most able men were out hunting. (Chivington himself later testified “I judge there were five hundred or six hundred Indians killed” but estimates vary widely.)
The militia scalped its victims, mutilated them, and stuck the women’s genitals on poles. Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. Chivington and his men dressed their weapons, hats and gear with scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia. They also publicly displayed these battle trophies in Denver’s Apollo Theater and area saloons. A local newspaper (“The Rocky Mountain News”) praised the militia for its “brilliant feat of arms,” saying that the soldiers “covered themselves with glory.”
Why did all this happen, you may wonder? There was gold in them thar hills…. Glory, indeed.