Most would assume that there is not much of a connection between Fremont County and the American Civil War. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be. Colorado was far to the west and wasn’t yet a state, just a territory. In fact, it had only been a territory for little over a month before war broke out on April 12, 1861. Colorado was unspecified as being either a free or slave area, a point that was never addressed due to the outbreak of war. By a tiny margin it was primarily pro-Union but did have its share of support from Confederate sympathizers.
The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861 when shots were fired at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. It is estimated that 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease during the course of the war. To date, this is the most Americans to die in a single war. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died during the Civil War. South Carolina was the first state to secede in December 1860 with Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee following throughout 1861.
Even without the title of statehood, the Colorado Territory provided men for both sides of the conflict. Jesse H. Leavenworth was tasked with raising six companies of volunteer infantry for the Union from the territory of Colorado. These, along with the two independent companies of Captain Dodd and Captain Ford and two independent companies of dismounted cavalry under Captain Backus and Captain Sexton, would make up the Second Volunteer Infantry. The independent companies of Dodd and Ford were organized in and around Cañon City. Captain C. D. Hendron and Lieutenant J. C. W. Hall helped Dodd find men to recruit. Captain Dodd’s and Captain Ford’s companies were the first volunteers to leave the territory as companies A and B. In 1861, the Cañon City Times ran an ad to call for volunteers on October 7th:
Volunteers Wanted! For C. D. Hendron’s Company of Colorado Volunteers, to serve for three years or during the war. This company to be stationed at Fort Garland. Only able bodied men; between the ages of 18 and 45, and otherwise filling the requirements of the War Department, will be received. Recruits will be received at Head Quarters in Canon City and at their stations in the mountains:
Lieut. J. C. W. Hall
A group of Confederates sometimes called the Reynold’s Gang after brothers James and John Reynolds, also functioned in the region. This group acted on military orders to disrupt Union supply lines in Colorado Territory.
After the war, veterans from both sides of the conflict settled in Cañon City and the surrounding region. After the destruction of war in the east, the west seemed to offer bright new horizons far removed from the recent brutality. Marshall and Amanda Felch were just a few of these people who built a new life in the west.
Marshall and Amanda met during the war while she was a nurse and Marshall a hospital steward with the 4th Vermont. They were married in Vermont on December 16, 1865, a second marriage for both. During the war Amanda was always known as Mrs. Farnham.
Amanda was a well-known nurse and was at many bloody battles including Gettysburg and worked under Dorothea Dix. After the war, the couple lived on a ranch in Garden Park where Marshall found recognition through his work in paleontology.
Amanda passed in 1893 and Marshall in 1902 and both are buried in Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery.
Are you interested in learning more? Stop by the museum during our open hours Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM – 4 PM, call us at (719) 269-9036, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.