On This Day: In 1865 Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapahoe attacked and successfully defeated the US soldiers at Fort Rankin, Colorado. After the massacre at Sand Creek, the survivors fled north to the Republican River where the main body of Cheyenne were camped. The Cheyennes sent a messenger to the Sioux and Arapaho inviting them to join them in a war on the settlers.
In early January 1865, as many as 2000 Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho warriors shifted their camps closer to the South Platte Trail where it cut through the northeast corner of Colorado. Just before sunrise the majority of the Dog Soldiers and their allies concealed themselves in some sand hills a short distance from Fort Rankin and Julesburg while the Cheyenne chief Big Crow sneaked up to the fort. At first light he rushed the sentries stationed outside the walls. A sixty man cavalry troop quickly emerged from the gates to give chase and as soon as they were clear of the fort they were cut off from their base as more than a thousand warriors dashed from the sand hills. All but a few were killed. As the remaining garrison prepared to defend the fort, the Natives raced up the Platte to the undefended Julesburg where they plundered at will while the soldiers at Fort Rankin could only watched and harmlessly fire their howitzers. The Fort and the town of Julesburg were on lands that had been guaranteed to the tribes through the Treaty of Fort Laramie 1851.