Sand Creek Massacre
Sand Creek Massacre: Silas Soule

On November 29, 1864, Captain Soule and his company were with the regiment at Sand Creek, Colorado. A fellow abolitionist, Colonel John Chivington ordered the cavalry to attack Black Kettle’s encampment of Cheyenne and Arapaho there. Soule saw that the Cheyenne were flying the Union flag as a sign of peace, and, when told to attack, he and Lieutenant Joseph Cramer[5] ordered their men to hold their fire and stay put. Most of Chivington’s other forces, however, attacked the camp. The resulting action became known as the Sand Creek massacre, one of the most notorious acts of mass murder in the United States history. Soule described what followed in a letter to his former commanding officer and friend, Major Edward W. Wynkoop:

“I refused to fire, and swore that none but a coward would, for by this time hundreds of women and children were coming towards us, and getting on their knees for mercy. I tell you Ned it was hard to see little children on their knees have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized. … I saw two Indians hold one of another’s hands, chased until they were exhausted, when they kneeled down, and clasped each other around the neck and were both shot together. They were all scalped, and as high as half a dozen taken from one head. They were all horribly mutilated. One woman was cut open and a child taken out of her, and scalped. … Squaw’s snatches were cut out for trophies. You would think it impossible for white men to butcher and mutilate human beings as they did there.”

The massacre sparked outrage and shock around the country. The Army began an investigation into the “battle,” and Soule formally testified against Chivington in a court of inquiry in January 1865. His testimony about the events at Sand Creek led, in part, to the Congress refusing the Army’s request for thousands of men for a general war against the Plains Indians.[7

On April 23, 1865, Captain Soule, just married five weeks earlier to Hersa Coberly, was on duty as a Provost Marshal in Denver, Colorado, when several shots were fired at him. One of the bullets fatally struck him in the head, killing him almost immediately.

It was thought at the time by many that the killers were hired by men loyal to Chivington. One of Soule’s friends, First Lieutenant James Cannon, tracked one suspect, a 2nd Colorado Cavalry soldier named Charles Squier, down in New Mexico and brought him back to Denver to stand trial. Squier escaped, to be never again captured, and Cannon was poisoned. Squier, a veteran of the Civil War, received a hero’s burial when he died in 1869.

Source: Wikipedia

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