Sand Creek and Glorieta Pass

The LA Times carries the story of the dedication of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in southeastern Colorado. It tells of the sad story of how Col. John Chivington and his regiment, the First Colorado Volunteers, attacked a peaceful and unprepared village of Cheyenne and Arapahoe under Chief Black Kettle on November 29, 1864. Over 160 Indians were killed in cold blood, mostly women, children and the elderly. Former Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was able to get funding through Congress to establish this memorial. The National Park Service has this website that tells more about the site and its history.

This was of particular interest to me, as my graduate school colleague and friend Doug Scott led the effort to relocate the site and conducted archaeological investigations to prove its identity. Doug co-authored a book on his work entitled Finding Sand Creek. Doug has had a great career doing historical archaeology for the National Park Service. He is best known for his work at the Battle of the Little Bighorn battlefield, where his innovative research totally recast our understanding of the course of the battle. That deserves a post of its own that I’ll get to later.

Chivington and the First Colorado Volunteers are now rightfully remembered in infamy for their inexcusable behavior at Sand Creek. It is an amazing turnabout, as he and his troops had covered themselves in glory two years before in a little known battle in an obscure chapter of Civil War history.

In the summer of 1861, Confederate troops left El Paso, TX and occupied the town of Mesilla, NM. They proclaimed Mesilla the capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona. In February, 1862, a Confederate force under Gen. Henry Sibley invaded the rest of New Mexico Territory, working his way north along the Rio Grande. He outmaneuvered or outfought several Union garrisons, caught asleep and out of the rigors of Civil War campaigns in the East. By March 10, 1862, Sibley had occupied Santa Fe.

Confederate strategic aims were two-fold. First, capture the Colorado gold fields to secure another means of financing the war. Second, set up land communication with California where there were many Confederate sympathizers.

In late March, 1862, Sibley sent troops north toward Colorado. On March 26, the Confederates were met by the First Colorado Volunteers, with Chivington second in command, at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in the mountains northeast of Santa Fe. The Confederates were soundly defeated. This defeat coupled with overextended supply lines led to a complete collapse of the Confederate occupation of New Mexico. By May, all of Sibley’s surviving troops were back to Mesilla and El Paso and their dreams of a Confederate Southwest were at an end.

Bee Crisis

.. and a little barking lunacy just for fun. As anyone environmentally concerned knows, domestic honeybees are disappearing. Here is a detailed and balanced view of the problem.

While I agree that Africanized bees– present here– are overhyped as a danger (and may well be a source of mite- resistant genes) the native pollinators may be under different stresses in some areas. See this fascinating book for details.

And then– well, you can expect madness when Vegans get into the act.

“Even if crops do currently require honeybee pollination, that is no reason to further exploit bees by consuming honey, beeswax, bee pollen, etc. The fact that everything in our society is based on animal exploitation shouldn’t surprise us since Western civilization literally began with the “domestication” (i.e. enslavement) of animals. Dead animals are used to build roads, but this doesn’t justify eating animals.”

That last sentence is never explained…

But at least he likes the Buchmann and Nabhan book.


I hate to dwell on this kind of thing but…

From the LAT:

“One, of course, is the change in the potency of weaponry. Before 1966, the best weapons available to most would-be killers were pistols, rifles, maybe a shotgun. That is no longer the case; today, semiautomatics are all too easily accessible.”

The (semiautomatic) gun below is made by Kimber, but it is of a design commonly known as a “1911”.

Because that is the year when John Moses Browning invented it.

From then to the recent adaptation of the (less powerful) Beretta, it was the US service pistol, available everywhere.

(Also, “potency” has NOTHING to do with whether a weapon is “semiautomatic”. A semiauto pistol can be a .22; a Smith and Wesson .500 is considerably more potent!)

If you want to argue against firearms you’d best at least do your research. I have never seen so much misinformation than in recent anti- gun pieces, from TV to the New Yorker. Apparently if one believes something fervently facts don’t matter.

And while we are kicking this around, read Tam on the alleged “availability” of firearms, a constant irritant to those of us old enough to remember a world before 1968:

“I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again: Never in the history of our republic have guns been more difficult to purchase. Prior to 1968 they could be purchased through the mail. Between 1968 and 1993, all you needed to do was sign a form, in pink crayon if you felt like it, saying you weren’t a junkie, commie spy, or crazy, and you took your gun home with no questions asked. The background check didn’t appear until the passage of the Brady Law in 1993.

“Name a mass shooting that occurred before 1968. How many between 1969 and 1993? How about 1994 and beyond? Folks, whatever the causative variable is here, it is not the ease of purchasing a firearm.”

As she says, liars or just ignorant? I think mostly the second. But if these writers refuse to acknowledge their mistakes–??

Update: more lazy misinformation.

Update #2: Dave Kopel replies to criticism with some interesting statistics.

Virginia: A Few Links

California (of course?) once again considers disarming its citizens. As Reid says, “you can have all the guns you want but no ammo”.

Yale goes further. Shakespeare with nerf bats and boffers? Maybe they can do an adaptation of the Maltese Falcon with squirt guns…

The always thoughtful Steve Browne provides sensible and serious advice, including this interesting comment on guns and women:

“…And I don’t mean anything as simplistic as “buy a gun”. Unless your life is such that the risk factors are considerably higher than that of the average college student, it could be more trouble than it’s worth. (If you’re male that is – like a lot of things we aren’t supposed to talk about, it’s different for women.)”

(Anybody who quotes Kipling as much as Browne does has my attention; but he is also a college teacher (anthropology) and a gun guy who has lived in eastern Europe, giving him some unusual combinations of perspective).

So far Fred the actor is the only politician who has had anything sensible to say.

Guest Post: Dr John on Cal Spay- Neuter

John Burchard writes:

There are many valid reasons for opposing California AB 1634. Perhaps the most
important are these:

1) It won’t work. Mandatory s/n does not reduce shelter or euthanasia numbers.
On the contrary, it makes them worse. It has been tried in many jurisdictions,
always with the same effect: an *increase* in shelter intake and euthanasia
numbers, an *increase* (usually dramatic) in animal control costs, a *decrease*
in licensing compliance and revenues, and a *decrease* in rabies vaccination
compliance, leading to more cases of canine rabies.

2) S/n at or before the age of four months, as prescribed by AB 1634, has many
serious ill effects on the growth, development and health of dogs and cats.

3) the proposed eligibility criteria are illusory … the only people eligible
to obtain “intact permits” for their dogs would be business-licensed commercial
breeders. No dogs or cats can meet the stipulated criteria for competition
animals or police, service or working dogs at the age of four months. So get a
business license, no big deal? Not exactly. In most California jurisdictions
you cannot legally operate a retail-sale business out of your home; instead you
require a kennel license, which prohibits you from operating in a residential
zone and involves setback and other regulations impossible of fulfillment unless
you own significant acreage in a commercial or agricultural zone. That is only
the beginning of the chain of regulations in which you are then embroiled, and
which only a large scale commercial breeder can hope to navigate successfully.
AB 1634 as written prescribes the elimination of non-commercial breeding from

There’s lots more, but perhaps that will do for starters.

Decline and Fall (with Hawks & Pigeons!)

Rebecca sends this item from England. It needs deconstructing. All emphasis mine…

“The mechanical birds — called “Robops” — have been placed on rooftop locations around the British city of Liverpool and will flap their wings and squawk loudly to scare the problem pigeons away.”

Yeah, that’s what falcons do..

“The initiative was launched to deal with the birds who are now considered a nuisance in the city, flying at people and leaving droppings everywhere, Liverpool council said.”

Attack pigeons?

“The pigeon problem has been exacerbated by residents in the city feeding the birds — whose natural diet is seeds and insects — with take-away leftovers. “We need to get the message across that anyone who feeds the birds intentionally, or occasionally with leftovers such as sausage rolls or burgers, is responsible for our streets being so crowded with these birds,” Berni Turner, Liverpool city council’s executive member for the environment, said.”


“The council’s environmental health manager, Andy Hull, said that the scheme was an attempt to improve the health of the pigeons, as their current diet is unhealthy and dangerous.”

Nanny State for pigeons?

And– why not use hawks?

Oh, right, it wouldn’t be good for their health…

A Springtime Run

My friend Jonathan Millican, falconer and Marine helicopter pilot, passed through Baton Rouge last weekend and stopped for a visit.

It was uncharacteristically cold, which is hard to tell from the Springtime look of the field we slipped into for a stroll with our dogs. But days like that are some of my favorites in this part of the country.

Here are a few of the wonderful shots Jonathan took. His young lab, Buck, and my Rina had a fine time.

Spring Snow

We had a couple days of rain early in the week that of course fell as snow in the mountains. That gave a fresh coating of white to Mt. Evans (14,264 ft.) west of us…

and Pikes Peak (14,110 ft.) to our south. We have also been having some wind, which if you look closely you can see whipping snow off of both of these mountains.Tall and remote as Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans seem, you can drive to the tops of both of them in the summer.Mt. Evans is about 50 miles from us and Pikes Peak is about 45 miles away. It’s nice having these long unobstructed vistas again. Thinking of this just reminded me of the passage in Querencia, where a newly arrived Steve tells a native New Mexican that you never get views like this in the East and she asks, “What gets in the way?”

More Dog Food Recalls…

… here. I am disturbed by the refusal to name names– the brand I use contains rice.

Patrick has commented on dog food with his usual curmudgeonly good sense, but I am beginning to wonder if the more sensible versions of the BARF diet might be a good idea, at least for those of us with bulk sources of cheap meat and veggies locally and enough dogs to make the (large) extra effort worth while. I have nothing against Purina except that it uses corn, and I have an old dachsund with sensitivity to corn. (Well, I’m also pretty down on Big Corn and ethanol and such– see Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma— but that is another story; besides, I doubt Big Chinese Rice is any more environmentally sound).

Patrick? Any thoughts?

You should also check out his comments on fat dogs. Our ancient Moritz Dachs is overweight as she steals from the others and the bird, and doesn’t get the exercise she used to.

But our others stay fit.