Saturday March 14, 1914
Trinidad, Colorado - Democratic Governor Ammons Allows Militia to Continue Terror
Joe M. Scatterthwaite, editor of the Trinidad Free Press, the union newspaper, reported that the trainmen (J. M. Riley, conductor; T. H. Mitchell, engineer, and J. M. Dean, brakeman) examined Smith's body immediately after he was run over by the train. They found no signs of clubs or stones. The militiamen and company guards did not arrive at the scene until several hours later, and that is when bloody stones and clubs suddenly appeared.
Sixteen strikers from the Forbes colony have been arrested and 48 women and children are now homeless. The militia has not allowed the union to rebuild the colony.
Scatterthwaite recently published the following editorial:
Yesterday, as if to provide proof for the points of Scatterthwaite's editorial, Lieutenant Linderfelt and his men charged their horses onto the platform of the the crowded Ludlow train station. It was just at train time, and some of those waiting for the train were knocked down as others scattered in a panic to avoid being trampled. Witness say the cavalrymen rode straight at them from a rise beyond Ludlow, just as the westbound train pulled into the depot. No doubt, Lt. Linderfelt and his men were hoping to provoke the colonist into retaliating.
HOW LONG, OH GOD, HOW LONG?
Governor Ammons, sitting on his shoulder blades in cushioned chair, replies to complaints concerning the Forbes outrage, that he knew nothing of it- and that it will not happen again.
Of course it will not occur again-and it does not need an anemic, spineless, truckling executive to give that assurance. The thing has been done! The tents are down. The women are in tears, the children are in hysterics, the peaceful colony is scattered. It will not be done again at Forbes. O, No!
But will it be done at some other point? Will Ludlow be the next to suffer? Will the mailed fist fall on Starkville? Will these unrebuked outlaws next attack some other law-abiding band of citizens? These are questions for a kow-towing executive to answer. He does not know what the next order of the coal barons will be, but he knows that he will probably obey that command as he has sniffingly and cringingly obeyed every order that has come to him from the offices of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company and Victor American Fuel Company-his masters. He does not know what his militia will do, for he is fully aware, in his puny heart, that the militia has got beyond his control.
He knows that these desperate men of the gun and bludgeon can no more be checked and held in leash than the imps of hell. He assures the people that there will be no further outrages at Forbes, but he is powerless to say that the heavy hand will not fall on some other community. And so he keeps silent, groveling out his excuses to righteous complaints.
General Chas has issued an order that the 450 militiamen still in the field cannot be sent home. "A clash between the militia and the strikers is expected," the General stated. The militia left in the field are of the worst sort. Linderfelt is a glaring example of the character of the militiamen who have been left in the strike zone. Many of them are company guards, now in the pay of both the military and the coal companies.
The investigating committee from the Colorado Federation of Labor (appointed by Governor Ammons), singled Linderfelt out as an officer unfit for duty, The Labor Committee specifically requested, last January after the Lieutenant's last rampage at the Ludlow depot, that Linderfelt be taken out of the strike zone stating that:
We did not expect to report to you until we had completed the taking of testimony at all camps, but in our judgment the following serious matter should be reported to you at once: Lieut. K. E. Linderfelt, of the cavalry stationed at Berwind, last night [Dec. 30th] at Ludlow brutally assaulted an inoffensive boy in the public railroad station, using the vilest language at the same time. He also assaulted and tried to provoke to violence Louie Tikas, head man of the Ludlow strikers' colony, and arrested him unjustifiably. Today, in the presence of one of our number, he grossly abused a young man in no way connected with the strike, also makes threats against the strikers in the foulest language. He rages violently upon little or no provocation and is wholly an unfit man to bear arms and command men as he has no control over himself. We have reason to believe that it is his deliberate purpose to provoke the strikers to bloodshed. In the interest of peace and justice, we ask immediate action in his case.Governor Ammons, Democrat of Colorado, elected to office with the aid of the Labor Vote, has continued to ignore this request. Lt. Linderfelt remains in the strike zone, camped out with his men at Berwind, near to the Ludlow Tent Colony.
Out of the Depths
The Story of John R. Lawson, a Labor Leader
-by Barron B. Beshoar
(1st ed 1942)
Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre
-by Zeese Papanikolas
U of Utah Press, 1982
Photo: Lt. Linderfelt and Cavalrymen