Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek
by Carol Turner, The History Press, Charleston, S.C., 2010, $19.99.
The Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864, is the darkest moment in Colorado history. Colonel John M. Chivington’s bloody raid against Cheyennes and Arapahos camped peacefully on a creek 40 miles north of Fort Lyon horrified people nationwide, although Denver citizens applauded it. In the aftermath, no white settlers were applauding; Cheyenne Dog Soldiers and other Indians struck through Nebraska, Kansas and Indian Territory, killing settlers as revenge for Sand Creek. Carol Turner portrays, in short biographical form, individuals who were at Sand Creek or otherwise associated with that horrific event.
Not all of the people Turner profiles have been forgotten, of course. Chivington remains one of the West’s best-known “villains.” Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, whose village Chivington struck at Sand Creek, remains one of the West’s most famous Indian “victims.” Major Ned Wynkoop, who advocated peace with the Cheyennes, is today often regarded as a hero. The lesser-known Captain Silas Soule refused orders to fire on the Indian encampment. Another of the more interesting not-so-well-known characters Turner profiles is the respected Cheyenne One Eye, who died at Sand Creek and whose daughter, Amache, would later marry Colorado rancher John Prowers. Unfortunately, Indian agent and interpreter John Simpson Smith is left out. He was almost killed trying to stop the soldiers on November 29, and the next morning soldiers killed his half-blood son. Still, Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek has much to offer all history buffs.
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.