After a brief honeymoon, the neutrality of the Guard became hopelessly compromised, and it degenerated into little more than a strike-breaking force (Sunsieri 1972). This occurred for a number of reasons, including the financial straits of the state and the sympathies of the Guard leadership. The Militia commander, General Chase, a Denver opthamologist, had been involved in suppressing the 1904 Cripple Creek Strike (Jameson 1998). Following the pattern set at Cripple Creek, Chase essentially declared martial law in the strike zone. Highlights of this period of unofficial martial law included the suspension of habeas corpus, mass jailings of strikers in "bullpens," a cavalry charge on a demonstration of miners' wives and children, the torture and beating of prisoners, and the demolition of a striker tent colony at Forbes. Chase also enlisted a considerable number of mineguards as militiamen.
General Chase

Guard camp

Colorado National Guard

Louis Tikas funeral

Funeral and coffins

"The Death Pit"

As the cost of supporting a force of 695 enlisted men and 397 officers in the field bankrupted the state, all but two of the militia companies were withdrawn after six months. The militia companies that remained were made up primarily of mine guards. On April 20th, after the miners at Ludlow celebrated Greek Easter, at about 9:00 AM gunfire broke out at the colony. The exact circumstances are uncertain. Those miners who were armed (we don't know how many this was) took positions in a railway cut and in prepared foxholes to draw fire away from the colony. The militia sprayed the tent colony with machine-gun and rifle fire. By the end of the day the force facing the miners consisted of 177 militia, including two machine guns. In the evening the arrival of a train between the militia and the tent colony permitted most of the people to escape. By 7:00, the tent colony was in flames and the militia was looting the colony. The leader of the Greeks in the colony, Louis Tikas, and two other miners were captured and at some point shot and killed by the militia. The known fatalities at the end of the day were 25 people, including three militiamen, one uninvolved passerby, and 11 children. During the battle, four women and ten children took refuge in a pit dug beneath a tent. All but two, Mary Petrucci and Alcarita Pedregone, suffocated when the tent above them was burned. The dead included Mary Petrucci's three children and Alcarita Pedregone's two children. This pit became infamous as the "Death Pit."

Ruins at Ludlow

Strikers at Beshoar

Strikers at Beshoar

When news of Ludlow got out, the striking miners at the other tent colonies went to war. For ten days they attacked and destroyed mines, fighting pitched battles with mine guards and militia along a 40-mile front from Trinidad to Walsenburg. The fighting ceased when the desperate governor of Colorado asked for Federal intervention. After Ludlow and the 10-day War, the strike dragged on for another seven months, ending in defeat for the UMWA in December 1914.
Camp Beshoar

Federal troops

After the strike ended, mass arrests were made of the miners, 408 in total, with 332 being indicted for murder, including the main strike leader, John Lawson. These trials dragged on until 1920. All were eventually quashed, with most never coming to trial. In contrast, 10 officers and 12 enlisted men were court-martialled for Ludlow, by the Colorado National Guard, and exonerated.

Although it ended in the defeat of the union, the Ludlow Massacre focused national attention on the conditions in the Colorado coal camps, and in labor conditions throughout the U.S. (Gitelman 1988; Adams 1966). John D. Rockefeller Jr. was singled out and excoriated in the press and in a spectacular series of public hearings before the Commission on Industrial Relations. In addition to its seminal role in labor history, Rockefeller's campaign to rehabilitate his image led to Ludlow having a special place in US history as the birthplace of professional public relations (Gitelman 1988).

Ludlow Monument
The UMWA evidently bought the 40 acres surrounding the site of the Ludlow colony before 1916. A memorial was officially proposed for the site at the 1916 UMWA convention by President White. The convention passed the proposal. Later that year, several hundred coal miners met at the site of Ludlow and joined the union. Regular commemorations have been held at the site thereafter. The monument was finally dedicated May 30, 1918 (UMWJ 1918). The Death Pit was also preserved, and consists of a concrete pit into which people can walk today.
Ludlow Monument

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