Portrait of John M. Chivington

On November 29, 1864, when John M. Chivington ordered an assault (later known as the Sand Creek Massacre) that resulted in the death and mutilation of 150 to 200 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, most of whom were unarmed women, children, and elderly people. [Wikimedia Commons]

John Milton Chivington - Facts

January 27, 1821 - October 4, 1894

Key facts about John M. Chivington, an ordained Methodist minister and Union officer known as the "Fighting Parson."

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Full Name:

  • John Milton Chivington

Birth Date:

  • January 27, 1821

Birth Location:

  • Lebanon, Ohio

Parents:

  • Isaac and Jane (Runyan) Chivington

Education:

  • Rudimentary

Occupation:

  • Methodist minister
  • military officer

Career Summary:

  • Colonel (USVA)

Spouse:

  • Martha Rollason (1839)

Nickname(s):

  • Fighting Parson

Place of Death:

  • Denver, Colorado

Date of Death:

  • October 4, 1894

Place of Burial:

  • Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado

Significance:

  • John M. Chivington was one of six children born to Isaac and Jane Runyan Chivington, four of whom survived infancy.
  • John M. Chivington’s father was a farmer and lumberman who fought against Tecumseh and the British at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812.
  • John M. Chivington spent much of his youth tending to the family farm and helping with the lumber business.
  • Although a bright lad, John M. Chivington attended the local school on an irregular basis, receiving much of his education at home.
  • John M. Chivington married Martha Rollason on July 24, 1839. Their marriage produced three children before Martha passed away in 1867.
  • John M. Chivington was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1844.
  • In 1853, John M. Chivington served as a missionary to the Wyandot Indians in Western Missouri.
  • The Civil War erupted while John M. Chivington was serving as Presiding Elder of the Rocky Mountain District of the Methodist Church.
  • In 1861 Colorado Territorial Governor William Gilpin offered John M. Chivington a commission as a chaplain, but Chivington declined because he wanted to serve in a combat role.
  • John M. Chivington was commissioned as a major in the 1st Colorado Volunteers, on August 26, 1861, serving under Colonel John P. Slough.
  • On March 10, 1861, John M. Chivington arrived at Fort Union, New Mexico with 950 soldiers of the 1st Regiment of Colorado Volunteers to reinforce the existing garrison of 850 men.
  • On March 26, 1861,  nearly four hundred Federals, commanded by John M. Chivington, defeated approximately three hundred Rebels, led by Major Charles L. Pyron at the Battle of Apache Canyon.
  • On March 28, 1862, commanding two infantry battalions, totaling nearly 400 men John M. Chivington destroyed a Confederate supply train during the Battle of Glorietta Pass.
  • Due to his success at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, John M. Chivington was promoted to colonel.
  • John M. Chivington was promoted to Commanding Colonel of the Military District of Colorado in November 1862.
  • John M. Chivington was nominated for an appointment as a brigadier general in the volunteer army in Washington DC. In February 1863, the appointment was withdrawn, or Chivington declined it, perhaps because of his political aspirations to become the first U.S. Representative from Colorado when the territory achieved statehood.
  • On November 29, 1864, when John M. Chivington ordered an assault (later known as the Sand Creek Massacre) that resulted in the death and mutilation of 150 to 200 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, most of whom were unarmed women, children, and elderly people.
  • A report by the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War concluded that “Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity” . . . John M. Chivington . . . “deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the veriest savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty.”
  • Despite the outrage over John M. Chivington’s role in the Sand Creek Massacre, he escaped any punishment.
  • John M. Chivington resigned from the Volunteer Army on January 4, 1865.
  • John M. Chivington’s military career and political aspirations were ruined by the Sand Creek Massacre.
  • In 1883 John M. Chivington was an unsuccessful Republican candidate from Warren County for a seat in the Ohio General Assembly.
  • John M. Chivington died from stomach cancer on October 4, 1894 while living in Denver.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Milton Chivington - Facts
  • Coverage January 27, 1821 - October 4, 1894
  • Author
  • Keywords John Milton Chivington
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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