In this Book

Season of Terror
summary
Season of Terror is the first book-length treatment of the little-known true story of the Espinosas—serial murderers with a mission to kill every Anglo in Civil War–era Colorado Territory—and the men that brought them down.

For eight months during the spring and fall of 1863, brothers Felipe Nerio and José Vivián Espinosa and their young nephew, José Vincente, New Mexico–born Hispanos, killed and mutilated an estimated thirty-two victims before their rampage came to a bloody end. Their motives were obscure, although they were members of the Penitentes, a lay Catholic brotherhood devoted to self-torture in emulation of the sufferings of Christ, and some suppose they believed themselves inspired by the Virgin Mary to commit their slaughters.

Until now, the story of their rampage has been recounted as lurid melodrama or ignored by academic historians. Featuring a fascinating array of frontier characters, Season of Terror exposes this neglected truth about Colorado’s past and examines the ethnic, religious, political, military, and moral complexity of the controversy that began as a regional incident but eventually demanded the attention of President Lincoln.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Figures
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Foreword
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xx
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-10
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  1. 1. “Alarming Intelligence and Intense Excitement”: First Murders in the Pike’s Peak Country
  2. pp. 11-32
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  1. 2. “Most Horrible and Fiendish Murders”: The Bleeding of South Park Begins
  2. pp. 33-48
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  1. 3. “There Has Been Considerable Excitement”: The First Colorado Cavalry Steps In
  2. pp. 49-60
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  1. 4. “The People Are Scared Nearly to Death Here”: The Murderers Strike at the Vitals of South Park
  2. pp. 61-74
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  1. 5. “Fallen into the Hands of Hard Men in an Evil Hour”: The Lynching of Baxter
  2. pp. 75-90
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  1. 6. “Glorious News! The Mysterious Murders Unraveled at Last”: One of the Slayers Slain
  2. pp. 91-108
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  1. 7. “Desperate and Lawless Bravos”: The Brothers Espinosa
  2. pp. 109-136
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  1. 8. “Revenge for the Infamies Committed Against Our Families”: Serial Murder as Vendetta
  2. pp. 137-156
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  1. 9. “Malicious Interference was the Cause”: The Scapegoating of Captain E. Wayne Eaton
  2. pp. 157-192
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  1. 10. “Times Have Become Quiet Again”: Panic Recedes in South Park but Murder Moves Elsewhere
  2. pp. 193-206
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  1. 11. “Ready for Any Duty, Untiring, and Full of Energy”: Samuel F. Tappan Takes Up the Hunt for the Espinosas
  2. pp. 207-220
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  1. 12. “If This Woman Is Found Dead, Tell the People the Espinosas of the Conejos Killed Her”: The Attack on Philbrook and Dolores Sánches
  2. pp. 221-238
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  1. 13. “I Drew His Head Back over a Fallen Tree and Cut It Off ”: Tom Tobin Ends the Terror
  2. pp. 239-264
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  1. 14. “The Brightest Success Rewarded Them for Their Toils”: Tobin Brings in the Heads
  2. pp. 265-276
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  1. 15. “Who Is There to Gather the History of This Wretch?”: The Espinosas Remembered
  2. pp. 277-284
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  1. 16. “Times with Me Have Sadly Changed”: Destinies
  2. pp. 285-292
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  1. Appendix A: Location of the Death Site of Vivián Espinosa: Alternative Theories
  2. pp. 293-302
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  1. Appendix B: John McCannon’s Attempt to Claim the Espinosa Reward
  2. pp. 303-308
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 309-322
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 323-331
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