Published on March 11, 2013 by Carol
Following the Meeker Massacre, the Utes ambushed a column of 150 troops under Major Thomas T. Thornburgh on the northern edge of the White River Reservation, approximately 18 miles from the Indian agency. The soldiers had marched south from Fort Fred Steele, Wyoming in answer to Meeker’s plea for help. Forming a wagon corral and sending out a messenger with a call for aid, they held out from September 29 until October 5, 1879. During that time, 35 black cavalrymen, based at Fort Lewis, Colorado, broke through the Indian line to reinforce their comrades-in-arms. A relief expedition of 350 men led by Colonel Wesley Merritt from Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming finally lifted the siege and rounded up the hostiles. Army casualties were 13 dead, including Major Thornburgh, and 43 wounded. The Government imprisoned several of the Ute leaders, and placed the tribe on a new reservation in Utah. The battlefield site is in Moffat County, Colorado on an unimproved road, about 20 miles northeast of Meeker. The battlefield, situated in a brush-lined canyon, appears today much as it did in 1879. A monument bears the names of the dead soldiers.
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