Julesburg and Fort Sedgwick
Backstory and Context
The Battle of Julesburg took place on January 7, 1865. The battle was in direct response to the U.S. Army's attack on the Cheyenne and the Arapaho after the two groups pleaded for peace. Colorado and other western states were facing conflicts between settlers and Native Americans. Settlers were taking land, and Natives were retaliating.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho wanted the blood shed to come to an end, but the U.S. Army went into the tribes of Sand Creek and massacred over 150 men, women, and children. The blood bath would later be known as The Sand Creek Massacre and would cause a congressional investigation and outcry throughout the West.
The massacre also prompted retaliation from various Native American tribes in Colorado and Kansas. The Cheyenne and Arapaho joined forces with Sioux to plot a revenge attack against the army. They attacked a wagon trail in January, killing twelve men. The following day, January 7, the Natives attacked Fort Rankin in the early morning.
Captain Nicholas O'Brien led a cavalry of sixty men to hunt down the attackers. However, one thousand Native American soldiers awaited the calvary just three miles from the fort. Some of the younger soldiers prematurely fired upon O'Brien and his men, alerting the cavalry that the Natives were waiting on their arrival. The calvary retreated by to the fort, but the Native American soldiers followed in pursuit.
Calvary men that did not reach the fort in time dismantled themselves from their horses and tried to defend themselves against Native American soldiers. Fourteen soldiers were then killed while O'Brien and the rest of his men made it back to safety. The men prepared for battle, but Native American soldiers moved up the river to the defenseless settlement of Julesburg where they looted the settlement's stage station, stores, and a warehouse.
A month later, Native American soldiers returned to Julesburg to loot the town once again. After rampaging throughout Julesburg, the soldiers burned the town to the ground. O'Brien saw the smoke, and he and fourteen of his men fired upon the Native Americans, scattering them throughout the town and causing them to retreat from Julesburg.
Weiser-Alexander, Kathy. Battle of Julesburg, Colorado, Legends of America. Accessed June 9th 2020. https://www.legendsofamerica.com/battle-of-julesburg-colorado/.