Sheriff Robertson was asked to call for troops, but refused, saying he could and would control the situation.15 He agreed however to appoint deputies of the mine owners' choosing and did so in sufficient number to station from three to five men at every mine. Telegrams were sent by a number of the mine owners to the governor, and a lengthy message was sent by the mine owners in common, which declared a reign of terror to be imminent, and the sheriff's office unable to handle the situation, and demanded state protection. Mayor French of Victor also sent messages asking for troops.16
DEPORTED MEN BEING DRIVEN ACROSS THE NEW MEXICO STATE LINE. ANTONITO MOUNTAIN IN THE DISTANCE.
Next day Governor Peabody appointed a commission composed of Brigadier General John Chase,17 Attorney General A. C. Miller, and Lieutenant T. E. McClelland,18 to investigate conditions. The commission left at once for the district. On the same evening the governor and General Bell held a conference with President Colburn and Treasurer Bainbridge of the Mine Owners' Association. As the result of the conference the governor agreed to call out the troops, but insisted that the mine owners should provide funds for the expenses of the campaign, accepting state certificates of indebtedness payable in four years.19 The commission arrived at Victor at about nine o'clock at night, and held a conference with Mayor French, and others. It then proceeded to Cripple Creek, where it met members of the Citizens Alliance and Mine Owners' Association, Sheriff Robertson, and Mayor Shockey. Mayor Shockey refused to sign a request for troops, and Sheriff Robertson insisted that he had the situation well in hand, and that there was no need for troops. The commission left on a special at four o'clock in the morning, having been in the district less than eight hours, and from Colorado Springs telegraphed their opinion of the urgency of the situation.20 The governor a few hours later issued an order calling out the troops.*
There has been considerable difference of opinion as to the necessity for sending troops to the district at this time. The only call for them had been by the mine owners or those closely connected with them, and the local authorities were practically a unit in denouncing the act as an outrage. It must not be forgotten in this connection how thoroughly the police officers of the county were in sympathy with the unions, but from two of the most unprejudiced and non-partisan sources, the Mayor of Cripple Creek, and the Board of County Commissioners, there came from the former a refusal to call for troops, and from the latter a protest of no uncertain sound.21 There had been no riot in the district, nor any such condition of general lawlessness or disorder as is usually considered necessary for the calling out of troops. There had been individual assaults, however, and unquestionably the owners were being thwarted in the effort to open their mines by the fear upon the part of the men of physical violence. No one who knew the history of the Western Federation of Miners but would expect violence to accompany the opening of the mines, and in this doubtless lies the real reason for the presence of troops. They were called out to protect the owners in opening their mines, and to relieve the fears of the men who hesitated to return to work.
Pursuant to instructions Adjutant General Sherman M. Bell issued orders to the first regiment, and other companies of infantry, cavalry, and artillery of the Colorado National Guard, to proceed to the Cripple Creek District.22 On Sept. 4th, they arrived, in number about 700, and went into permanent quarters at Camp Goldfield, among the largest mining properties of the district, near the town of Goldfield.23 Subsidiary camps were located at Camp Bull Hill near Altman, Camp El Paso near the El Paso Mine, Camp Golden Cycle in the town of Goldfield, Camp Elkton in the town of Elkton, and Camp Cripple Creek in Cripple Creek. Additional troops continued to arrive, until by Sept. 30th. their number reached over one thousand.24 Guards were placed at all the large mines, and in all the towns and cities of the district, and sentinels were placed upon the public highways.
The signal corps proceeded to put into operation a most complete system of communications. At headquarters, lines of the Western Union and Postal Telegraph Companies, and of the Colorado Telephone Company, gave direct connections with points outside the district. The Colorado Telephone Company provided local service throughout the district, with a special switchboard, and in addition an entirely independent system was established directly connecting the military camps and departments. Signal stations were located on the tops of the principal hills, and kept in constant operation, and a searchlight moved from one vantage point to another flashed over the district by night. A more complete system would hardly have been established had an actual military campaign been in progress.25
On Sept. 10th the military authorities began a series of almost daily arrests 'of union officers and men known to be strongly in sympathy with the unions. The old wooden jail at Goldfield was surrounded with a high stockade, and used as a military prison, and became commonly known as the "bull pen". Here the men were confined for varying periods, without trial or preferment of charges, and discharged with threats of rearrest if they failed to conduct themselves in future according to the wishes of the military. Sept. 10th Chas. Campbell, H. H. McKinney, and three other men, were arrested. Next day James Lafferty, one of the union leaders, was added to the number. At midnight on the 12th a squad of soldiers entered the home of Sherman Parker, Secretary of the Altman Union, searched the house, and forced Parker to dress and accompany them to the jail. On the 13th a squad of 20 men stationed themselves at the Victor Union Hall and made a search for "W. B. Easterly, President of the Altman Union, but failed to find him. Numbers of other officers and influential members of the unions were put under detention throughout the month.26
But the militia did not stop with the arrest of union leaders. On the 14th W. C. Reilley, a justice of the peace of Independence, was arrested and thrown into the "bull pen."27 No charges were made against him, but it was understood that he had shown himself too friendly to the unions. Joe Lynch, City Marshal of Independence, was arrested and told that he had been talking too much. The chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, P. J. Lynch, was arrested by a file of 22 men and taken to headquarters. He was accused by General Chase of making remarks derogatory to the militia, and of advising the men not to return to work, and was then released, with the threat that he would be rearrested and kept if he did not change his attitude.28
Sept. 29th the militia arrested the working force of the Victor Record. The Record was the morning paper, and the local organ of the Federation. It was not inflammatory in its tone, but had published the official statements of the unions, and freely criticised the acts of the militia. A detail of 45 men marched to the office in the early evening, arrested the editor, George E. Kyner, and the four employees found there, and took them to the "bull pen." The business manager and the press man arrived soon after the arrests had been made. Mrs. Langdon,29 a linotype operator, having heard the news, came with all haste to the office. The doors were barred and admittance refused to a new squad of soldiers, and working with might and main this remnant of the force put out the issue at the regular time in the morning. At the head of the first page appeared the legend: "Somewhat disfigured but still in the ring." Mrs. Langdon then went up to see her husband, who was one of the employees arrested, and being refused admittance presented the guards with scarcely dried copies of the morning edition. The Record force was kept imprisoned for 24 hours, and then, under orders from Governor Peabody, was turned over to the civil authorities charged with criminal libel.
Whatever difference of opinion there may have been as to the need for troops, there could be none as to the effect of their activity once upon the scene. The fact that the campaign expenses were being borne temporarily by the mine owners could not but have its effect.30 The military leaders were from the first in the closest sympathy with the mine owners, and the efforts of the troops were devoted not so much to the simple preservation of order, as to the crushing of the activity of the unions. General Bell expressed himself very simply on this point: "I came," he said, "to do up this damned anarchistic federation."31