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Poncha Pass

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. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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

29 April 1855; Poncha Springs, Colorado: As Kit Carson guided part of Col. Thomas T. Fauntleroy's expedition east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Fauntleroy led the rest-two companies of regulars and two companies of volunteers-out of Fort Massachusetts and picked up an Indian trail to the north. It led up to Poncha Pass, the 9,000-foot-high gap between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains.

Ute chief Blanco had let down his guard. He and his 150 warriors were holding a war dance by a bonfire. The soldiers crept up on two sides of the camp and were within 150 yards before the Indians' dogs began to bark. Fauntleroy ordered his men to open fire. A semicircle of gun flashes illuminated the night and "swept the enemy like chaff." The startled Indians fled into the darkness, abandoning their camp, provisions, and winter clothing. The soldiers burned everything.

Fauntleroy lost one man and two were wounded, while the soldiers killed 50 Indians. After the defeat, the Utes finally began to lose their defiance.

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