Those that know me well know that Colorado history is something that fascinates me to no end. The history, legends and myths of the Rocky Mountain frontier can be found sprinkled about in all my fictional novels and in a lot of my poetry. I take pride in that I can use a bit of history to tell a fictional tale. I base the poem below on the true story of the Bloody Espinosa’s. I used this true tale as the basis of my first novel “Rocky Mountain Reckoning”. With my literary license that fiction grants me I changed the last name to the Verdugo’s. I hope you enjoy this true tale in my poem and if you want to read my fictional accounting of the story here is a link.
In 1863 back in the eastern US – it was brothers against brothers,
The Civil War raged, but in Colorado folks worried about others.
This tale is of the Bloody Espinosa’s reign of terror in Colorado,
As they left mutilated corpses within the Rocky Mountains shadows.
Felipe Espinosa and brother Vivian hailed from El Rito, New Mexico,
A treaty caused their home to be no longer in Mexico—it was quite a blow.
Becoming reluctant Americans in Southern Colorado in the San Luis Valley,
Feeling robbed of their homeland, against the Anglos they began to rally.
Felipe and Vivian were poor and hungry and became Banditos and outlaws,
Waged a war against America and were not they going to obey US laws.
It was clear they hated all Americans—insatiable was their quest for blood,
Their plague of robbing, rape, and murder rolled across Colorado in a flash flood.
They caused the horrible death of many Coloradoans roaming across the landscape,
Mutilating their victims that summer their reign of horror began to take shape.
Soldiers once cornered and fought them near the village of San Rafael, Colorado,
They made their escape into Sangre de Cristo Mountains into the night shadows.
From Felipe Espinosa journal, “They ruined our family-they took everything.”
Last page of the journal, “We have killed 32!” he was now the outlaw king.
Never staying in one place the Espinosa’s moved into the area of South Park,
Posse surprised them—Vivian dead from a headshot – a bullet found its mark.
At sunset Felipe slipped away again into the encroaching mountain shadows,
As his brother laid dead on the high mountain plains of South Park, Colorado.
His brother now dead Felipe’s 14-year-old nephew Jose Vicente he did recruit,
The Bloody Espinosa’s murderous reign of fear took another mountain route,
Colorado Governor John Evans turned to trapper and mountain man Tate Tobin,
Tate was an adventurer, tapper, bounty hunter, and assassin as the stories spin.
Tobin was as brutal and ruthless as the Espinosa’s—not one to shy from killing,
Tate a man known for his murderous ways and $5500 bounty was more than willing.
In a dogged pursuit Tate found the Espinosa’s trail, and he became relentless,
Felipe’s reign of murder, rape, and mutilations end would become momentous.
Not knowing he had to been found Felipe was shot from ambush and fell into his fire,
Jose the nephew tried to flee as he was shot in the back by Tobin the man for hire.
Felipe wounded, pulled himself from the fire and watched Tobin approach with dread,
Tobin with two strokes of his Bowie Knife stabbed and sliced and cut off Felipe’s head.
The head of Jose meet the same fate of his uncle’s and ended up in a flour sack,
The heads of the Bloody Espinosa’s as proof of the bounty – Tobin headed back.
The heads of Felipe Espinosa and nephew Jose were pickled in a jar’s of alcohol,
The pickled heads travelled around Colorado and were shown at county fairs to all.
Kurt James © 2019
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