. “It was not desirable to let these civilians encounter the Indians. We were holding the crowd back on the south side of the Gunnison, until the Indians had passed 13 miles distant. In three days, the rich land of the Uncompahgre was all occupied, towns were being laid out and lots being sold at high prices.”
On the afternoon of Sept. 29, 1879, after Quinkent and Meeker had lunch together, a group of warriors fresh from the ongoing Milk Creek battlefront stormed the agency. The employees at the agency returned fire but were brutally overcome, while the women and children ran and hid before being taken captive.
Through their own scouts, the Utes got word of the U.S. cavalry mobilizing to the north at Fort Steele near Rawlins. When the contingent of troops started marching toward them, the Utes, many of whom were aware of what happened at Sand Creek 15 years earlier, assumed the worst — and they prepared.