The strikers held a meeting at Victor late Friday evening and the suggestion was made that they go down the road and attack the 100 deputies who had withdrawn from town. This idea was met with favor, and at 2 o'clock 300 men seized a construction train and started in pursuit of the enemy.
When near Wilbur the strikers left the train and moved cautiously forward. The deputies under Veatch had pickets out and they saw the scouts advancing in the early morning light.
The pickets opened fire and gave the alarm. The miners fired in return. They belched forth from all directions. The pickets dropped in behind rocks, the miners following to within forty feet, when they saw their mistake.
Veatch and his lieutenants, Dunnington and Newmeyer, had their men together, and poured forth volley after volley in the air. The miners retreated. Their ruse was not a success.
Seeing this, the Denver contingent assumed the aggressive and gave chase. Slowly and sullenly the miners retreated, firing all the time. The light was bad, however, and the enemy protected by the natural situation.
As they were falling back their leader, Hiram Crowley, fell mortally wounded. A shot pierced his cheek, the bullet passing through the lower part of the neck and fracturing the spinal cord. All but a few of the miners ceased firing. They assembled around their leader and carried him away.
After Crowley fell most of the miners broke in confusion, making their way to their train. It was at this time that the Veatch forces made a capture of six of the strikers' scouts.
Some three hours after the encounter, the Denver pickets found William Rabideau, one of the deputies, lying cold and dead. He had been shot three times. One of the bullets passed through his heart.
The honors of war were even. Each side had killed one man. John Todd of the miners and ex-Policeman Padget of the Denver army were each slightly wounded.
The deputies sent their prisoners to Colorado Springs.
The miners returned to Victor. They have no idea of giving up the struggle unless by force of arms. A muster roll Saturday morning showed 571 bearing Winchesters and probably 100 more with shotguns and other arms. In the afternoon a report was circulated that 300 men were on the way to capture the mines, and in a few minutes the hills were black with men running to the post to be ready for action. The rumor was false.
It having been reported that three men were entombed in the Strong mine, a party of strikers went down the shaft to investigate. The three men consisting of Sam P. McDonald, the superintendent, Charles Robinson, foreman of the mine, and John Baggett, the engineer, were found uninjured and were brought to the surface.
Late Saturday afternoon Governor Waite, as commander-in-chief of the state troops, issued an order to the adjutant general to order the First and Second regiments, Colorado National Guard, to report at the different armories as speedily as possible and proceed to Florence. The next, morning, however, the governor changed his mind, deciding that it was not necessary to send the troops until further hostilities took place.
The 250 deputies in the vicinity of Florence were sent to Colorado Springs early Sunday morning. From there they were sent over the Midland to Divide, where they went into camp. They will remain there until the result of the attempt at arbitration is known.
An attempt was made Saturday to arbitrate the difference between the owners and the miners. A committee headed by President Slocum of Colorado College was sent from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. On behalf of Mr. Hagerman and other mine owners he offered to grant an eight-hour day and to arbitrate the wage question.
The miners after conferring decided Monday that they must have $3 per day and no non-union man would be allowed to work. Mr. Hagerman absolutely refused to consent to this arrangement. This seems to end all hope of a peaceful ending of the strike.
The miners began to prepare anew for hostilities. They sent men to gather up all the firearms in the various camps, usually given receipts for them. Large stocks of provisions were laid in also. Scouts were sent all around the districts of which Victor and Altman are the centers informing the people that every able bodied man who remained there would have to fight should an attack be made on the miners and a good many left and took up their temporary residence in the town of Cripple Creek. They did not wish to take sides either way.
Saturday morning the owners of the Raven property Cripple Creek applied to Judge Hallett at Denver for an injunction against the striking miners to prevent them from interfering with their mines. Judge Hallett refused the injunction. His opinion closed as follows:
"I must say that it is my opinion that the peace and good order of society in this state is committed entirely by the constitution of the United States and by the constitution of this state to the authority of the state. If the government of the state has fallen into the hands of socialists as it certainly has, or of imbeciles, as is probably true, that is our misfortune, but we do not thereby acquire the right to assume control of affairs on the part of the federal government."
On Monday Samuel McDonald and his two companions, who were taken prisoners from the shaft house of the Strong mine the day after it was exploded, were exchanged for three strikers captured by the Denver contingent of deputies during the skirmish of Saturday morning.
The deputies were still at Divide Monday night. They were drilling and waiting for reinforcements. They were being closely watched by the strikers, who were evidently seeking an opportunity to capture the cannon that the deputies have.
Various rumors were afloat. One was that the strikers were to be reinforced by miners from Leadville and other points. Another was that the governor would be asked to call out the militia.
Governor Waite sent his private secretary, Mr. Lorentz, to Cripple Creek to study the situation and report. The news that the possibility of settlement by arbitration had passed caused the greatest excitement at Victor and vicinity.
Various sensational rumors were also afloat, which served to aggravate the condition of the men of the town, which almost amounts to emotional insanity.
The miners have turned the high, rocky point known as "The Crag" into the strongest kind of a fortress. This crag is directly above and west of the Victor mine. It required but little work from the miners to prepare this natural fortress for their protection, and now one man with a Winchester could keep off a whole army of men, as it is accessible only from one point.
This fortress is well provided with food and water, and a long siege could easily be endured by the miners.
On the summit of the hill, which is smooth, open, steep and long, the miners have thrown up earthen breast-works that would afford them protection from any leaden messenger. Only by storming the place with shell could they be dislodged or driven from their point of vantage.
A large party of miners, variously estimated at from 200 to 400, arrived in the camp from the south Monday night, passing through Lawrence shortly after midnight. They came from Leadville and were heavily armed. They were escorted to Bull Hill and Battle Mountain. In addition to the arms the men also brought in well-filled commissary wagons. It was also said that the Fremont coal miners would come to the strikers' assistance if needed.
The strikers have secured a lot of horses for cavalry use and have taken possession of Baldwin's livery stable at Altman.
It was stated Tuesday night that the force of deputies at Divide had been increased to 600 and that 200 more were expected. It was reported in Denver that deputies were being constantly enrolled for service at Cripple Creek.
It is stated that non-resident mine owners would appeal to the federal courts for injunctions against the strikers. Such injunctions, if issued, would be served by marshals backed by soldiers.
The chief event of Wednesday was the advent of Governor Waite in the camp. He reached Victor at 1:30, after a slow and rather perilous ride over the Florence & Cripple Creek railroad. Heavy rains had made the track dangerous. The governor was at once escorted to Altman through a snow storm.
Here he held a conference with President Calderwood and a dozen other leaders of the miners. It was agreed that Calderwood should go to Colorado Springs with Governor Waite and make another attempt to secure a peaceful solution of the contest.
Just what terms would be demanded is not known, but it was said that Calderwood might recommend some modification of the miners' demands.
Governor Waite then addressed all the miners who could be crowded into the Altman school house. He opened by expressing sympathy for the men. Then he proceeded to scold them. He said that they had violated the law of the state by assembling under arms, taking prisoners and shooting officers in the sheriff's employ. The men had a perfect right to strike, hold meetings and use boycott, but they must not build forts, rob citizens or murder county peace officers. If they persisted in this he, although their friend, must wash his hands of them.
The dignity of the state must be preserved at all hazards. He, as governor would see that it was done, even if he had to call out the troops once more.
Waite and Calderwood left at 10 p.m. via Florence for Colorado Springs. There does not appear to be much hope that the miners will consent to any modification of their former demands and it is certain that the mine owners will grant no concessions.
On Wednesday the strikers held up the stage that runs to Canon City with passengers and mail. They relieved the passengers of their arms and then allowed the stage to proceed. The government may take action on this obstruction of the mails.
The deputies at Divide were complaining Wednesday of the lack of food and comforts. It had rained forty-eight hours.The deputies at Divide were complaining Wednesday of the lack of food and comforts. It had rained forty-eight hours.
The commissioners of El Paso county have issued a statement of their position. They are determined to protect the owners of mines.
The men of Colorado Springs have organized a home guard to protect the city from attack and the mine owners from being kidnapped by striking miners.
Numerous recruits to the sheriff's force are being signed at Denver and other points.
The owners of Raven mine have again applied to the federal court for aid in operating its mines. This time the ground taken is, that the government is interested, as the company is buying these mineral lands from the general land office.
Judge Riner, who is sitting for Judge Hallett, will answer on Thursday.
The deputies are said to have ordered a Gatling gun from Chicago. George Carver and another man were taken from Barry by the strikers and carried to Bull Hill Tuesday morning. They were supposed to be unfriendly to the strikers.
There were no new developments Thursday. Governor Waite was stranded between Victor and Florence by washouts. The majority of the strikers on Bull Hill thought that nothing would come of the governor's attempt to settle the dispute. They were not disposed to grant any concessions.
The deputies were in better spirits as the rain had ceased and additional supplies were sent up to them.
Judge Riner refused to grant the injunction asked by the Raven company.
A close adviser of Governor Waite says if the governor fails to secure a peaceful settlement of the miners' controversy he will send the militia to Cripple Creek and place the entire district under martial law. Governor Waite succeeded in getting through to Florence Friday afternoon and was reported to have gone to Salida, as the tracks below Florence were washed out.
Things remained in status quo at Cripple Creek and Divide. Large forces of deputies, recruited in all parts of the state, were reported ready to proceed to Divide as soon as the roads were opened. At least 1,000 will be in line on the 3rd.
The Raven mining company has appealed its application for an injunctions against the striking miners to the court of appeals. They will endeavor to secure from this court a temporary injunction while waiting for the case to be taken up in the usual way.