Season of Terror - The Espinosas in Central Colorado, March-October 1863, by Charles F. Price
I came across this book while doing a book appearance of my own at a local indie bookstore, and it kept my attention long enough for me to buy it. It’s not the sort of semi-academic book I’d normally buy for casual reading, but I have a future writing project in mind set in that time and territory, so I thought it’d be edifying. It is. More so than I had expected.
Three Hispano relatives, brothers Felipe and Vivian Espinosa, and a younger nephew, Jose, took it upon themselves to randomly assault whites in the newly formed Colorado territory, and in the process killed, by their accounting, some thirty whites. The reason for the assaults? The Espinosas were angered at the suddenly imposed white rule, the heavy-handed treatment of Hispanos at the hands of whites, and so they set out to do all they could to run the whites out of south-central Colorado. The end result of their efforts was akin to modern terrorism; news of the killings quickly spread and was magnified by newspapers, setting the white settlers on edge. On edge enough for them to haul in some hapless white rustler and hang him for the shootings. But soon the killers are identified, and the U.S. Army joins the hunt, eventually resulting in the grisly deaths of all three Espinosas.
Author Price spins this true story in scattershot form, allowing us to experience the initial frustrations as the killings mount, the early, fumbling attempts to find the killers, the acrimony and competition between the various Army players in the hunt, and finally the enlistment of a mountain man, Tom Tobin, a friend of Kit Carson, to track down the Espinosas.
Price’s tale is more than detailed, at times a bit tedious, but it’s all there for a purpose, complete with voluminous references and photos.
Season of Terror is a little known tale of the early years of westward expansion, of how the whites trampled on both Native American and Hispano cultures, and isn’t unlike modern incidents of terrorism, in which causes and effects are so interlinked it’s hard to assign complete villainy to any one party. To complicate things further, the Espinosas, were apparently somewhat mentally deranged, were also members of the Penitente sect, which may have played a part in their radicalization.
My rating: 17 of 20 stars
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