Excerpts from my book, Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek (June 11, 2010).
Aside from his good friend Kit Carson, William Bent was easily the most famous man in frontier Colorado. From 1833 to 1849, William, his brother Charles, and Ceran St. Vrain ran the only privately-held trading post on the Santa Fe trail. Bent’s Fort was the one oasis of “civilization” between the United States and Santa Fe. Everyone who came west during those years found refuge at Bent’s Fort.
…At the time of the attack on Sand Creek, three of William’s five children were in the camp: George, Charley, and Julia. In an ironic twist, John Chivington had forced Robert Bent to serve as guide for the soldiers, which understandably caused a deep rift among the Bent children. This rift was so deep that Charley reportedly tried to murder his father.