Ace of Spades
       Belonger Genealogy * True History * The Blonger Gang * Sam's Posse       

Alias Soapy Smith

The Battle of Bull Hill.

Union miners and the sheriff's department duke it out on Bull Hill,
with the militia in between.


Even before the Denver City Hall gang — and the gambling community — had been forced to cede control of the police and fire department to the governor, union activists in the Cripple Creek mining district had begun agitating for an eight-hour work day and a pay increase to $3 a day for miners. A strike was called, one of many across the country at the time.

The mine owners, including (certainly) Sam and Lou Blonger, were anxious to keep the ore flowing, but the miners were seven hundred strong, and armed. The mine owners put pressure on El Paso County Sheriff Bowers to call in the state militia to assist deputies in arresting troublemakers, in hopes of breaking the strike, or at least keeping the miners at bay when non-union workers were brought in. Now, probably, the Blongers were keen on the arrival of the governor's troops, where days before they were possibly facing down the militia's gatling guns and cannon on the streets of Denver.

Then someone told the governor that Sheriff Bowers had been killed, that anarchy was rampant, and once again he called on General Tarsney and his militia.

Bull Hill

But upon arriving in Cripple Creek, Tarsney found no violence to confront, only a series of tit-for-tat arrests between the deputies and the unionists. He advised Governor Waite that the military was expected to facilitate arrests, not contain violent miners, of which there seemed to be none, and Waite gruffly recalled them to Denver — promising arms and ammo instead to the mine owners and the El Paso County sheriff's department (Teller County, where the Forest Queen and Cripple Creek are located, was at the time part of El Paso County).

So count the strikes. First, as temporary commander of the state militia, Tarsney faces down the Denver gang as Waite's good soldier, threatening carnage (illegally) in downtown Denver in order to secure control of the police board and reassert the rule of law. He retreats in the face of the overwhelming force barricaded inside city hall, the pols and cops, bunko men, sheriff's deputies and gamblers.

Now, he rebuffs the mine owners — many of Colorado's richest and most powerful men — refusing to assist them in ending the strike so they can get the ore flowing again.

Castle Rock Journal, March 21, 1894

The war in Denver closed just in time to allow the state troops to be sent to Cripple Creek.

The recent disturbances in Denver over a couple of petty city offices are a disgrace to the state and particularly to the party in power.

The union depot at Denver was destroyed by fire Saturday night. Loss $150,000 but it is covered by insurance. It will be rebuilt at once. The cause of the disaster was a badly insulated electric light wire.

According to an exchange the warden of Sing Sing prison when asked what was the prime cause that brought the convicts to that place, promptly replied that it was the lack of parental control at home and the moral training in the schools.

The Cripple Creek strike became so serious last week that the sheriff called upon Gov. Waite for state troops to assist him in keeping order. They were promptly furnished but were recalled without having to be used. The miners say they will respect the law.

Although Douglas county lies between the two seats of war all is tranquil within her borders. We are a peaceable law abiding people and the only occasion for soldiers within the borders of the county is when they are passing to and from Governor Waite's war in Arapahoe county on the north to the miners war in El Paso county on the south.

Creede Candle, March 23, 1894

Shifted From Denver to Cripple Creek— Sheriff Bowers Calls for Aid to Resist the Strikers.
Governor Waite ordered out all of the First Regiment, a portion of the Second, the Chaffee light artillery and the Signal Corps to Cripple Creek. This was done at the earnest and repeated call of Sheriff Bowers, who telegraphed his inability to cope with the stuation. He notified the governor that 700 armed miners were defying his authority and that he deemed the condition of affairs critical in the extreme since the conflict between the miners and deputy sheriffs on Bull Hill the previous night.
The governor hesitated somewhat before sending the soldiers to the camp and after the Denver contingent was far on its way to the scene of the trouble he almost decided to revoke the previous orders. But at the urgent request of the sheriff in the camp the soldiers were permitted to proceed on their way.
The appeal of Sheriff Bowers was caused by the action of a party of miners who, on Friday night, captured six deputy sheriffs and had them arraigned at Altman for carrying concealed weapons. The deputies were discharged by the judge. There was no more trouble of a serious nature, but a spirit of unrest pervaded the town and the surrounding country. The mine operators seemed to think that a fight was on hand, and therefore welcomed the militia. The union miners insisted that there would be no trouble and that the sheriff would have no real difficulty in keeping lawlessness in check. They expressed a determination to do all in their power to keep the peace and prevent trouble.
No acts of violence were committed Sunday in the camp, though there were several exciting occurrences and many alarming romors and suspicions.
At an early hour Sunday morning, the mayor of Altman, M. C. Dean, and the deputy marshal of the town, Dick Dailey, were arrested. Early in the afternoon John Calderwood, the president of the Miners' union, was found by a deputy sheriff and also arrested. The three men were taken to the county jail at Colorado Springs. Later Walter Russell, vice-president of the Miners' union, was arrested at Victor.
It is hoped that the presence of the troops will prevent any outbreaks on account of the mines running on the non-union scale.
Sunday evening a conference took place bewteen General Tarsney and Brigadier General Brooks on one side and delegates from the Miners' union on the other, [saying] that they did not intend to resist the sheriff in serving processes or arresting them of charges of disregarding the injunction of Judge Campbell. They denied in the most positive manner ever having disobeyed the injunction of the court and thereby being in contempt. They said that at the time of the arrest of the deputy sheriffs their union was in session, and not one of them, as a union man, had anything to do with it. The arrests, they claimed, were made by regular appointed officers of the town of Altman, and if these men had made a mistake, they could not, as an organized body of laboring men, be held responsible for it.
Sheriff Bowers wants the troops to remain for several days and they will probably do so.

The Forces Recalled.
The militia sent to Cripple Creek were ordered home by the governor on Monday. At 10 o'clock in the morning he arrived at this decision upon the advice of General Tarsney.
Governor Waite condemned Sheriff Bowers strongly. He charged the sheriff with having misrepresented the situation to him. The sheriff wanted the militia to assist in serving the writs, and the governor said they should not do this nor should they be used in guarding property.
When the order for the return reached Cripple Creek the business men began to protest and a delegation left during the day to visit Denver and remonstrate with his excellency. They reached the capital at midnight and strongly urged the governor to rescind his order, but he was obdurate. In view of this determination the committee asked for arms and ammunition and they were promised them.
The governor was indignant at the officers for the delay in returning to Denver. They finally promised to get away at 7 o'clock on Tuesday morning.
There was no disturbance at the camp Monday. Sheriff Bowers swore out twenty-two more informations against miners and intended to serve them on Tuesday.

Aspen Weekly Times, March 24, 1894

Governor Waite has recalled the militia from Cripple Creek. He did this after a telephone conversation with General Tarsney, in which it was learned that there was no disorder at the camp and that no process of the court had been violated. It was the opinion of General Tarsney that there was no prospect of any trouble at Cripple Creek, which the sheriff could not control. Governor Waite did not order out the troops until after receiving repeated petitions from the sheriff, and not until notice that the sheriff, himself, had been killed. Affairs at Cripple Creek were misrepresented to the governor and undoubtedly for the purpose of getting troops massed to intimidate the miners and give mine owners an opportunity to put non-union men at work. What may happen in the event of an attempt to start the mines on the nine-hour schedule with non-union workmen, is not sufficient ground upon which to base a call for state troops.

The next few days passed peacefully, as the mine owners prepared their next move. The mines would have to be started up again, so scabs would be needed, and protection for them. A special train was run from Denver to Cripple Creek, packed with more than a hundred ex-policemen and firemen — fired after the new board was installed — and other toughs. The men were to be made deputies and guards, along with others recruited at Cripple Creek. Men on both sides would be heavily armed.

On Thursday, guards at the Victor mine were disarmed by unionists, and two men were assaulted in Altman when someone thought they were scabs.

And then the special deputies arrived.

Debarking a mile and a half from Victor, the force from Denver, under the command of J.C. Veatch, ex-police chief of Denver, advanced quietly on the strikers' position. Their scouts were fired upon by the miners. The deputies retreated to Wilbur to await reinforcements.

In Denver, County Detective Leonard DeLue expected to raise a force of some one hundred twenty-five men. Others were brought from Leadville, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, where one hundred fifty men joined up.

DeLue, it should be remembered, eventually introduced Lou to Philip Van Cise — who would surprise DeLue by making Lou's arrest the focus of his short career as district attorney in Denver.

Meanwhile, masked miners took over the Strong Mine, setting charges to destroy the mine. When it was pointed out that the powder stored in the mine would explode as well, leveling the town of Victor, the vandals rushed into the mine as the fuses burned, carrying the powder out and to safety. The mine was utterly destroyed in a powerful explosion, visible to the Denver contingent. The strikers then set fire to the shaft house.

Two armed women entered the bunkhouse of the Independence, getting the drop on the non-union workers inside. A party of strikers followed the women inside and disarmed the others, who were sent packing.

One of the men beaten on Thursday died of his injuries.

Late Friday, strikers in Victor decided to commandeer a train and go after the Denver deputies. Advancing to Wilbur finally on foot, the strikers were sighted by Veatch's pickets, and the firing began. Veatch had his men at the ready, and they fired repeatedly over the heads of the strikers, who drew back momentarily. The deputies then pushed forward.

The strikers' leader, Hiram Crowley, was felled with a shot to the face, at which the strikers ceased firing and carried their leader away. Six strikers were taken into custody. Three hours later, a deputy was found dead on the field of battle, shot three times, once through the heart. The score was even.

On regrouping in Victor, the miners' muster showed nearly 700 armed men.

A party of strikers returned to the Strong mine to search for three men reported missing after the explosion. The three non-union workers were found unhurt inside the mine, but upon being taken to Victor, they found a noose waiting for them, and a raft of angry strikers tending to the body of their fallen leader. Their guard succeeding in protecting them, however, and it was decided to use them as hostages for the return of their captured scouts.

Late Saturday, Waite mobilized the militia, then decided to wait for further hostilities.

Also on Saturday a committee from the Colorado Springs trades assembly took a proposal to the strikers at Altman, offering nearly everything the miners wanted. The offer proposed an eight-hour day, with twenty minutes to eat. There would be no arrests for actions already taken, and no discrimination in hiring union workers. Prisoners would be exchanged, but the issue of pay would be arbitrated later by a balanced committee.

But no. The miners demanded $3 a day, and a ban on non-union hires, the latter to which the mine owners would not agree.

With hope for a peaceful settlement seemingly lost, both sides prepared for battle, the striking miners at Altman, atop Bull Hill, and the deputies camped at Divide. Arms were collected, and supplies laid in. Those remaining in the mining camps either joined those in the fortifications on the Hill, or left for Cripple Creek.

Cripple Creek Mining District

Cripple Creek

Mancos Times, June 1, 1894

At this distance it is hard to judge of the situation at Cripple Creek, but one thing is sure, there is something radically wrong when so many miners go on the defensive. They may be now carrying things with a high hand, but the fact of the armed deputies is a big excuse. It is a shame when mine owners are allowed to hire thugs and toughs and deputize them to act for the law.
The Cripple Creek Sunday Herald give a better idea of the real situation than most papers, and that paper takes the stand that the miners are in the right. We do not believe in lawlessness by any faction, and the throwing of dynamite into the shaft was dastardly, but as yet no proof has been brought forward to prove that the deed was done by the strikers. The situation there is a very serious one, and daily becoming more so. What the end will be no one can say, but unless some pacific measures are taken very soon, blood will flow freely from both sides. The following we clip from the last issue of the Sunday Herald.
This paper condemns any and all unlawful acts. Let lawful authorities present themselves and no resistance will follow.
"It is absurd to hold the union liable for the hasty acts of individuals. It is just as reasonable to hold a church community liable for the indiscretion of one of its members."
"It is a parody on civilization when deputies for $3 a day can be hired to murder their fellow men. Their partners in crime are the British thugs living at Colorado Springs."
"Moffat and his men can answer this question. Which is the most profitable—to pay the miners a little more for their labor or spend $50,000 to coerce American citizens into subjection?"
"No definite proof is forthcoming that it was the miners fired the Strong property. It is not known who were the aggressors. It is possible and probable that the hired deputies did the act. Certainly they are capable of it."

Saturday morning, the owners of the Raven sought an injunction in a Denver court against interference by the strikers. Judge Hallett's denial concluded:

If the government of the state has fallen into the hands of socialists as it certainly has, or of imbeciles, as is probably true, that is our misfortune, but we do not thereby acquire the right to assume control of affairs on the part of the federal government.

Bull Hill

This view shows Altman on the left, refuge of the striking miners, atop Bull Hill. The deputies at Victor are beyond Bull Hill on the left. The Forest Queen is on Ironclad Hill to the right. Cripple Creek is in the valley beyond Ironlad Hill.

So, the deputies trained in the rain, and waited for reinforcements — more hired men from Cripple Creek, Colorado Springs and Denver. Together, they would soon number more than a thousand. Meanwhile, two to four hundred heavily armed miners from Leadville and elsewhere made their way to Bull Hill with wagonloads of supplies.

The strikers had taken advantage of the geography when they chose their stronghold. A high, rocky point above the Victor mine called "The Crag" made a highly defensible position, accessible from only one direction and fortified with earthen breastworks.

Aspen Weekly Times, June 2, 1894

All Quiet at Cripple.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 1.—All is quiet here today. At Divide the deputies are waiting orders to march or to return home. On Bull Hill, quiet expectation reigns. Discipline is now relaxed.

Finally the Governor himself traveled to Altman in a snowstorm to negotiate a deal with union president Calderwood. Failing at this, he brought Calderwood to Colorado Springs. In negotiations, the mine owners conceded the issue of pay at $3 a day, but would not agree to hire union men exclusively. This offer prompted Waite to retort:

"Damn the mine owners; If they want peace they can have it in five minutes."

Threats were made against Calderwood while in the Springs, and Sheriff Bowers followed Waite and Calderwood back to Denver in a feeble attempt to arrest Calderwood.

Finally, in Denver, the governor negotiated a settlement with the mine owners and agreed to it himself, using power of attorney granted by the union in Colorado Springs. He agreed to eight hours work minus twenty minutes pay for lunch, $3 a day, but non-union hires allowed.

To ensure compliance by the miners — who could be expected to object to the provision allowing non-union hires — he once again mobilized the militia under General Brooks. The governor also sought to protect the striking miners from retribution by the deputies. Sheriff Bowers is told to hurry if he wants to "clean them out."

The following slew of articles are from a single issue of the Aspen Weekly Times and give a fairly complete picture of the mess that unfolded over the next few days.

Aspen Weekly Times, June 9, 1894

And Everyone at Cripple Creek Is Again Cheerful and Happy.
Bull Hill and the Surrounding Country—The Rumored Settlement a Reality and Barring the Possibility of Some New Complication the Miners Will March Down From Their Fortification On the Mountain—The Terms of Settlement as Signed By The Parties.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 5.—Flags are flying and everyone looks cheerful on account of the report that in an important conference at Denver last night a compromise was effected between the miners and mine owners that virtually settles the strike. The miners are to be paid $3 for eight hours work, and no discrimination is to be made beween union and non-union men. The news was received here with extravagant joy. Bull Hill, however will be fortified until further notice. The bitterest feeling still prevails between the miners and deputies.
At noon today it is doubtful if the striking miners will except the terms of compromise until a full explanation is received.
Company F Under Orders.
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO., June 5.—Company F received orders today to assemble at the armory to await orders. The second order commands them to report at Sapinero tomorrow.
Settling Peaceably.
DENVER, June 5.—At 8 o'clock last night parties to agreement met and considered various points of difference. No difficulty was experienced till the question of luncheon came up. The miners wanted thirty minutes time, to be included in the eight hours, and the point was finally settled. After signing the agreement Governor Waite issued a proclamation, calling upon the men at Cripple Creek, armed in violation of the law, or unlawfully holding property belonging to others, to disperse, and calling upon the entire state militia to repair to Cripple Creek and aid the sheriff in restoring order.
The Deputies a Thousand Strong Marching to Cripple Creek.
COLORADO SPRINGS, June 6.—A report says that a thousand deputies are moving toward Bull hill. Sheriff Bowers offered to withdraw if the men wanted would submit to arrest. The overture was flatly rejected and a terrible battle is imminent. The coming of the militia is anxiously awaited by the miners who will submit to them but not to the deputies. The wires are cut or operators are guarded to prevent the transittal of news from Cripple Creek. Only one telephone line is open and newspaper correspondents are not allowed to send matter out. A rumor of a fight between the deputies and miners lacks confirmation.
They Plant Their Canon Opposite Bull Mountain Yesterday.
Sheriff Bowers Demands the Surrender of One hundred and Twenty-Five Men For Whom He Has Warrants With a Promise That The Balance Will Not Be Molested—These Overtures Were Flatly Refused The Miners Assert That They Will Surrender to the Military But Never to the Deputies.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 6.—The town was thrown into a state of intense excitement early this morning when positive information was received that the deputies were moving. The latter broke camp about at divide at daybreak. Information was received that the wire cut near Divide was repaired late this morning. Information was received at 9 o'clock that the force has reached Gillett's, five miles from Victor. It is understood that the object of the sheriff is not to give battle but to serve 125 warrants. If resistance is shown there will be trouble.
Have Reached Bull Mountain.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 6.—The deputies have reached the summit mill, opposite Bull Mountain, without opposition. They planted the cannon and are prepared to open fire. The strikers sent word to General Brooks at Colorado Springs, to hasten with the militia and avert bloodshed.
DENVER, June 7.—Governor Waite this morning received a dispatch from Victor, to the effect that the deputies have again broken camp and are moving on Bull Hill. The governor immediately sought to confirm the report and was informed by telephone that the report was true. The deputies were advancing from the surrounding hills a thousand strong and fighting with the skirmish line had already begun.
The militia had not yet arrived but were reported to be below Midland, near Divide. The governor immediately wired the militia to advance with all possible haste.
The wire between Bull hill and Cripple Creek were all down and full particulars were hard to get. At the time this dispatch was received it was impossible to learn the result of the fighting, although it was reported that several were killed on each side. The most intense excitement prevailed and it was the universal opinion that unless the militia arrived on the scene at once the sun would go down on a battlefield red with blood.
It Is Now Certain That a Conflict Has Occured at Cripple Creek.
COLORADO SPRINGS, June 7.—A message just received from Cripple Creek urges those in command of the militia to make all haste in arriving at Bull mountain as the deputies and strikers are now fighting. A report received from Victor a short time prior to the above said that the reported fighting between the miners and deputies was not true; that the report arose from the fact that the deputies were having a target practice.
There seems to be little doubt now but what a conflict has occured, but the excitement there is so intense that conflicting reports are flying about. The militia are somewhere near Divide and will probably reach Bull mountain about 4 o'clock this afternoon.
In a Fight Four Deputies Are Wounded and One Miner Shot.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 7.—Soon after the deputies commenced their march this morning the pickets of the miners engaged the advance guard in a skirmish in which four deputies were wounded and one miner was shot. The firing was kept up for some time during the forenoon between the pickets on both sides, the main body of the deputies have started to advance and a desperate conflict will occur. The militia has not yet arrived, but are expected today.
The Deputies and Miners Must Lay Down Their Arms.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 7.—[3:15 p.m]— The militia are expected to arrive here within the next hour. A telephone message from Colorado Springs says the plan of the militia is to take up a position between the warring miners and deputies, both sides will be commanded to lay down their arms, Sheriff Bowers will be protected in making the arrests of any parties for whom he may have warrants and the mine owners guaranteed the peaceable possession of their property. It is believed here that as soon as the miners are guaranteed protection from the deputies they will march down from Bull hill, give up their guns and abandon their fortification. It is also probable that there will be no resistance on the part of the miners to the service of the warrants now said to be in the possession of Sheriff Bowers.
General Brooks Orders the Sheriff's Forces From Tenderfoot Hill.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 8.—The deputies took up their position on Tenderfoot hill, but were ordered to return by General Brooks. Brooks wished to wait in camp till two companies of militia on the road arrived, but upon the determined action of his men to move, he says he will be on the move today. The militia is now in sight and in full view of Bull Hill and hundreds of spectators. It is thought there will be no move for an hour or two.
Miners Ready to Fight—Deputies incensed at General Tarsney.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 8.—At 10 o'clock a. m. the miners have sounded the call to assemble on Bull Hill to fight. General Tarsney has requested General Brooks to start for Altman with the troops and the bugle call is now sounding. The deputies are incensed at Tarsney, he being the miners' attorney and is doing all he can for them. He has been served with a request to return to Denver. The general disposition of the militia is to join the deputies against the miners and end the strike in short order.
The Miners Have Surrendered to General Brooks.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 8.—[Special]—The miners on Bull mountain this afternoon surrendered unconditionally to General Brooks in command of the militia. They turned over their arms, munitions of war and fortifications to the commanding officer.
Sheriff Bowers was notified of the unconditional surrender and at once set about to serve his warrants but it was soon learned that the principal leaders in the strike and which the authorities were desirous of apprehending, had left the camp.
Everything is quiet here now, the miners being disposed to submit to any legal process in the hands of the sheriff. There is general rejoicing among the people again and further complications at this time seem wholly improbable. General Brooks will remain here until affairs assume their normal condition and the mines once again resume operations. It is also believed that the mine owners will all ratify the agreement signed by Governor Waite on behalf of the miners and Messrs. Hagerman and Moffat for the operators.
Miners and Deputies Lay Down Their Arms.
A Day of Intense Excitement at Cripple Creek Yesterday.
The Timely Arrival of the National Guard Prevents a Disaster.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 7.—[Bulletin 6:30 p.m] —The militia under command of General Brooks has arrived at Bull Mountain and under the guarantee of protection, both sides have laid down their arms and again the great conflict seems to be at an end.
A second dispatch to Louis Weinberg reads:
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 7.—[7:30 p.m] —The militia here; everything quiet.
The Striking Miners Surrender to the Militia Last Night.
The Deputies, Anxious For a Fight, Are Called Off By General Brooks In Accordance With the Governor's Instructions—The Deputies Were Incensed at General Tarsney and Enraged at General Brooks' Orders—Miners Will Submit to Arrest—Leaders Said to Have Left the Camp.
CAMP BEAVER, June 8.—Four of the most desperate miners who were arrested carrying a white flag last night, after an interview with Sheriff Bowers, were given an ultimatum to take back to Bull Hill to the effect that there must be unconditional surrender of the miners this morning. The camp now has under arrest two men accidentally shot this morning, one fatally. [?]
Later—The deputies have gone out in different directions. A force of 300 has gone to Bull Hill to make arrests. Two companies have gone to Victor and then to Cripple Creek. The militia is doing nothing. General Brooks says he will remain here till peace is restored. Governor Waite is angry at the inactivity of the militia and does not deny that he sent them to aid the strikers.
The Leaders Have Fled.
CRIPPLE CREEK, June 8.—The desperate leaders and agitators who stirred up the trouble are fleeing from the country. Miners who were in town last night were very humble and said they were ready to surrender to Generals Tarsney and Brooks. Sheriff Bowers has gone to Altman.

This same issue had several items about labor violence elsewhere, including West Virginia, Indiana and Ohio, the latter two where the militia were also called out.

Now let's review the cast of characters and their dispositions, because it gets complicated:

  • The Governor Governor Waite is a populist and reformer, professing sympathy with the working man, and scorn for the decadent and corrupt. He is not above using the military to influence matters of policy. He threatened Denver's City Hall with cannons, and sympathized with the mine workers' cause. Waite is perhaps most fondly remembered for his proposal to have Colorado silver minted south of the border into so-called "Fandango Dollars". We're kidding. He is not fondly remembered.

  • The Miners On strike for eight hours instead of nine, and $3 a day, the miners are led by union activists who have been known to incite violence in Colorado and elsewhere. The miners are tough, and heavily armed.

  • The Mine Owners Anxious to resume operations, but unwilling to make concessions to the striking workers, they work closely with the El Paso County sheriff's department to get the mines working by any means. The Blongers in this case are guilty by association, by virtue of their successful claim on Ironclad Hill, the Forest Queen.

  • The Sheriff's Department Beholden on some level to the mining interests, Sheriff Bowers is willing to push the envelope on their behalf. Bowers misrepresents the situation to Governor Waite in an effort to have the militia assist in pacifying the strikers and starting up the mines.

  • The Special Deputies Mostly cops, firemen, and others loyal to the old city hall, the hired thugs trucked in from Denver are there at the behest of mine owners like the Blongers. They are aching for a fight with the strikers, but also find themselves dealing with Tarsney and his militia, the force that stood against them at city hall.

  • General Tarsney Also an attorney for the miners union, he is put in command of the militia on the basis of his sympathy with the governor's agenda.

  • The Militia In Denver, the militia face off with the cops, firemen, gamblers and outlaws. In Cripple Creek they are called in to assist the sheriff, on behalf of the mine owners, along with all those newly-deputized ex-cops, ex-firemen, gamblers and toughs — then recalled, then sent in again to disarm the strikers and enforce the deal Waite signed on the miners' behalf, leaving the owners the right to hire non-union workers.

  • A more detailed report on the same timeframe

    Aspen Weekly Times, June 16, 1894

    The Deputies All Lay Down Their Arms At Cripple Creek.
    The Deputies Departed Yesterday Afternoon For Their Homes—The Miltia Remains and the Miners Are All Flocking To Work.
    CRIPPLE CREEK, June 12.—Perfect peace prevails this morning. The deputies all laid down their arms at the court house today and were entertained by the ladies of the town and departed this afternoon for their homes. The militia remains and the miners are all flocking to work.

    And so, the deputies and the strikers spar and talk trash for a few days, the militia arrives, and the strikers surrender. Their leaders — the union activists who constituted the majority of those the sheriff sought — had fled in the night, on to more fertile ground.

    So what's the point? True, the Blongers surely had a stake in these events given their interest in the Forest Queen. But is that it?

    Partly, the idea is to explore and understand the events that might have elicited a display of power on the part of the Sam and Lou Blonger. We don't have the kind of direct link we seek, but maybe the Denver papers have something to say. The Blongers' gambling business was closed down by the new police chief, and the Forest Queen was closed by the strike. But we have no Blonger reference specific to the confrontations in Denver or Cripple Creek.

    By the same token, these are just the kinds of events where favors done and support shown can result in a lifetime of allegiance — a major theme in the Blonger story. The cast of characters in 1894 has much in common with the cast of 1920 — Detective DeLue, Chief Armstrong, and a variety of capitalists, lawyers, cops, sheriff's police, detectives and politicians. It's times like these that forge strong alliances.

    But more to the point, we have arrived here in search of one man, Brigadier General Thomas J. Tarsney of the Colorado State Militia. We saw him at City Hall, and again at Cripple Creek. His role in these events would soon lead to his misfortune, a chilling incident called the Tarsney Outrage. It is here that Lou personally connects with the timeline, in the newspaper citation that led us to both City Hall and Bull Hill in search of the populist attorney and militia commander Tarsney. It is Lou's relationship to the Tarsney Outrage that we want to understand, and to do that, we'll have to get to know the Brigadier.



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