Eayre’s Fight

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

15 April 1864; Flagler, Colorado: In early April, Cheyennes reportedly stole 175 cattle belonging to government contractors Irwin & Jackman. On the 8th, Lt. George S. Eayre set out from Denver after the raiders with 54 men of McLane's Battery of Colorado Volunteer Artillery and 26 men of Company D, 1st Colorado Cavalry, under Lt. Charles E. Phillips.

The party headed southeast, where they picked up a man named Routh, who had been herding the cattle before they were stolen. They went downstream on the Big Sand River, then found a cattle trail and followed it north of the headwaters of the South Fork of the Republican River. On 15 April, near present-day Flagler, Colorado, they found a Cheyenne camp, and Lt. Phillips went ahead with two men to reconnoiter. Within minutes they were galloping back: the Cheyenne noncombatants were fleeing and warriors were coming their way.

As Eayre and his men headed for the river bottom, a Cheyenne approached within 50 yards of the command and shot and wounded a soldier. Eayre ordered a Lt. Beach to pull the artillery out of the draw and organized ten-man squads to fan out. The attacking warriors retreated. Then Eayre rode to the five-lodge camp, which was deserted. Eayre burned it.

The expedition continued northwest the next day. The men burned another deserted village and recovered 19 cattle, but the party's mules were breaking down from the strain of heavy freight wagons. Eayre returned to Denver on 23 April for lighter wagons.

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