Eayre Attacks Cheyennes, Kills Lean Bear, 1864

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

In May, 1864, Colonel John M. Chivington ordered Lieutenant George S Eayre into Kansas from Denver, with an eighty-four man detachment to burn villages and kill Indians after the murder of a family near Denver by Northern Arapaho. They came upon a large Cheyenne buffalo hunt on the Smoky Hill River led by Lean Bear. This chief had visited with Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D. C. a year earlier. When the troops were spotted, he and another Cheyenne named Star rode out with the intention of displaying a letter from the president stating that they were friendly Indians but as they approached Eayre's command they were gunned from their ponies. It was the people of Kansas, not Colorado, who suffered the repercussions for this murder as the Cheyennes struck transportation lines and settlements throughout the state that summer.

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