Hughes backs Howbert’s support of Chivington
Calls for statue in Bancroft Park
The re-release of Irving Howbert's “Memories of a Lifetime in the Pike's Peak Region” by the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) may have the side
effect of rekindling one of Colorado's earliest controversies.
Several chapters describe depradations by Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes which forced the then-outnumbered settlers to fight back - with one of these occasions resulting in the 1864 Battle of Sand Creek. Although termed a massacre after an ensuing federal investigation, Howbert, who fought in the battle, stoutly defends the actions of other soldiers , himself and his commanding officer, Col. John Chivington.
“Colonel Chivington was a man of commanding presence and possessed marked ability, both as a preacher and an army officer,” Howbert writes, stating that neither he nor his second in command were present at the investigative hearings and alleging that those who spoke against him did so out of personal dislike or professional jealousy.
The new introduction to the book, by Howbert's grandson (also named Irving Howbert), supports this position, noting that “modern residents of the Pikes Peak region often have a hard time relating to the fears those settlers had, in 1864 and 1868, of Indian raids that deprived them and their families of their lives and property. They too quickly dismissed the incidents, such as Sand Creek, as one-sided unjustified attacks on Indians, with little regard to the events which led to the necessity for the Territorial government to send troops and take action against them.”
Dave Hughes, treasurer of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) who has authored an account of Chivington's 1862 Civil War victory - leading Colorado soldiers over a Confederate force from Texas at Glorieta Pass - agrees with the Howberts. Calling Sand Creek a massacre is “political correctness from top to bottom,” he said. “One guy I would take the word of was Irving Howbert. He was there and knew what led up to it. The Indians were killing, stealing and running off horses. The people killed in Black Forest would curl your hair. It doesn't take a lot to realize why people were terrified of the Indians and that it was with good cause.”
But Hughes does not want to stop at mere words. About 30 years ago, he had a concrete slab poured next to the Bancroft Park cabin - where Howbert once fulfilled his county clerk duties - and now Hughes knows whose statue he wants to put there: Chivington's.
“He was the hero of Glorieta and the entire Civil War in the West,” Hughes said.
He knows that a proposal to erect the statue in a city park would raise the hackles of those who believe that the Indians suffered at the hands of the white man. “It will be a knock-down, drag-out with the city,” Hughes said. “But it will be good publicity. And we can invite the Texans to come up here and throw tomatoes at Chivington's statue.”
Westside Pioneer article