|1865 - Accusations, recrimination & murder . . .
Early January, 1865 – Captain Soule, who just days before the massacre requested a furlough, returns to Denver with
Cramer and other soldiers scheduled to muster out of service. Soule may muster out if he wishes, but Colonel Moonlight
offers Soule the option to be retained in the Veteran’s regiment. Deciding he has few job prospects as a civilian, Soule
January 8, 1865 – John Chivington musters out of the army, and Colonel Thomas Moonlight takes command of the
Denver Military District. Although Chivington has been technically a civilian since September of ’64, he is now officially out of
the reach of military prosecution for his conduct at Sand Creek.
On this same day, Captain Silas Soule writes a letter to his mother stating:
reported. There was not more than one hundred and thirty killed, but most of them were women and children
and all of them scalped. I hope the authorities at Washington will investigate the killing of those Indians. I think
they will be apt to hoist some of our high officials. I would not fire on the Indians with my Co. and the Col. said he
would have me cashiered, but he is out of the service before me and I think I stand better than he does in regard
to his great Indian fight . . .”
The Letters of Silas S. Soule – Recounting His Experiences in the Colorado Territory - 1861-1865. Western History/Genealogy
Dept., Denver Public Library.
January 10, 1865 – A bill is passed in Washington by the House of Representatives, directing the Committee on the
Conduct of the War to initiate an investigation into the Colorado Third Cavalry’s attack on the Cheyenne Indians camped at
January 11, 1865 – Chief of Staff Maj. General Henry W. Halleck officially orders General Curtis to investigate the conduct
of Chivington’s command at Sand Creek:
command towards the friendly Indians has been a series of outrages calculated to make them all hostile.”
(United States, Congress, Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, "Massacre of the Cheyenne Indians," Report of the Joint
Committee on the Conduct of the War at the Second Session Thirty-eighth Congress, Volume III, Part VI., Washington, Government
Printing Office, 1865. p.74.)
January 12, 1865 – General Curtis replies to Halleck:
children; although, since General Harney's attack of the Sioux many years ago at Ash Hollow, the popular cry of
settlers and soldiers on the frontier favors an indiscriminate slaughter, which is very difficult to restrain. I abhor
this style, but so it goes from Minnesota to Texas. I fear that Colonel Chivington's assault at Sand creek was
upon Indians who had received some encouragement to camp in that vicinity under some erroneous supposition
of the commanding officer at Lyon that he could make a sort of "city of refuge" at such a point. However wrong
that may have been, it should have been respected, and any violation of known arrangements of that sort should
be severely rebuked. But there is no doubt a portion of the tribe assembled were occupied in making assaults
on our stages and trains, and the tribes well know that we have to hold the whole community responsible for
acts they could restrain, if they would properly exert their efforts in that way.”
January 14-15, 1865 – Wynkoop arrives at Fort Lyon and immediately initiates his investigation. He wastes little time,
and sends back a report that details the true events of the massacre, severely criticizing Chivington and calling him an
Read the full transcript of Wynkoop's report . . .
Although Colonel Chivington is officially a civilian and immune to military court-martial, the army nevertheless orders a
special military commission to gather evidence and call witnesses in its own investigation into the Sand Creek affair. In
addition to the hearings ordered by the War Department and the House of Representatives, the existing Joint Special
Committee of Congress initiates a third inquiry shortly thereafter. The Joint Committee had been established before the
Sand Creek attack for the purpose of monitoring the general treatment of all Indian tribes by military and civilian entities.
January 20, 1865 – Captain Soule appointed Assistant Provost Marshal in Denver by Colonel Moonlight. Among his first
duties is to investigate reports that the stock captured at Sand Creek, along with much of the stock procured from local
ranchers to be put in service of the 3rd Regiment, is unaccounted for. Accusations run rampant that many 3rd Regiment
officers and soldiers, as well as some 1st Regiment men, have either kept the stock for themselves, or sold it. As word
spreads that Soule is among the contingency of “high officials” that reported the atrocities at Sand Creek, his authority to
investigate the 3rd Regiment rankles Chivington supporters in Denver.
January 21, 1865 – Fearing that he will be left holding the bag for the massacre at Sand Creek, Major Scott Anthony
resigns his commission and musters out of the army. He, too, is now immune from military court-martial.
February 1, 1865 – Colonel Moonlight officially convenes the military investigation into the Sand Creek Massacre. He
appoints the three highest-ranking officers of the Colorado 1st Regiment that were not present at Sand Creek to preside over
the hearings. Ironically, Lt. Colonel Samuel Tappan, Chivington’s most ardent critic and foe, outranks Captain Edward
Jacobs and Captain George Stilwell, and he will preside over the hearings.
Denver City is dividing into two camps. Indian war parties are escalating unprecedented winter attacks in reprisal for the
Sand Creek Massacre, further proving that Chivington has lied about killing over 500 Cheyenne warriors. The majority of
citizens now realize that Chivington’s attack at Sand Creek did more harm than good. Some of the “Bloody Thirdsters,”
however, believe Soule, Wynkoop and Sam Tappan are the architects of a conspiracy to ruin their hero Chivington.
February – May 1865 – The military commission takes testimony in Denver and at Fort Lyon from officers, soldiers,
officials and civilians involved in the affair at Sand Creek. Colonel Moonlight stipulates that the hearing is not a trial, but
rather an investigation into charges that the 3rd Regiment massacred Indians under the protection of the government; and to
fix responsibility and ensure justice to all. Chivington is allowed to present evidence and witnesses, and to cross-examine
witnesses introduced by the army. Chivington enlists the services of a Denver attorney and Major Jacob Downing (an
attorney and one of the key officers who led the Sand Creek attack). On the eve of the hearings, Chivington publicly
announces that he will personally pay $500 to anyone who kills an Indian or those who sympathize with them.
The hearings are heated and contentious. With few exceptions, all evidence and testimony against Chivington comes from
1st Regiment officers and soldiers, and Chivington’s defense witnesses are officers and soldiers from the 3rd Regiment.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, the defense continues to insist that hundreds of Indian warriors were killed at Sand
Creek, very few women and children were killed, and no scalping, mutilating and other atrocities occurred.
The most damning testimony against Chivington is given by Major Wynkoop, Lieutenant Cramer and Captain Soule. Both
Wynkoop and Soule, once regarded by Chivington as his most trusted officers, are severely chastised on the stand by
Chivington and Downing in an attempt to deflect the mounting evidence against Chivington.
Throughout February, March and April, Captain Soule receives anonymous death threats, and several unsuccessful attempts
to assassinate him are made. Assistant Adjutant General George Price will later testify that Soule told him he believed, if he
is killed, Chivington will attempt to attack his character in order to nullify his testimony in the hearing.
March 15-18, 1865 – Committee on the Conduct of the War takes testimony in Washington from Governor Evans, Jesse
Leavenworth, John Smith, Scott Anthony, Samuel Colley and several soldiers and Denver officials.
April 1, 1865 – Captain Silas Soule marries Hersa Coberly in a private ceremony in Denver. The couple takes up
residence in town.
April 9, 1865 - Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court
House in Virginia.
April 14, 1865 - The Stars and Stripes is ceremoniously raised over Fort Sumter. That night, Lincoln and his wife Mary see
the play "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater. At 10:13 p.m., during the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth shoots
the president in the head. Doctors attend to the president in the theater then move him to a house across the street.
April 15, 1865 - President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the
April 23, 1865 – Around midnight, Captain Silas Soule investigates gunshots fired near his home. Soule is assassinated
by Private Charles W. Squier, 2nd Colorado Cavalry, on present-day 15th St. between Lawrence and Arapaho in Denver.
Squier, although shot in the hand by Soule, escapes with accomplice William Morrow.
It’s speculated that Squier murdered Soule both for Soule’s testimony against Chivington and his investigation into missing
stock and equipment believed stolen by members of 3rd Colorado Cavalry Volunteers. Squier had been convicted of the
attempted murder of mountain man Mariano Medina six months earlier, but the conviction was later overturned due to a
jurisdictional “technicality.” Although never proven, many speculated that Chivington sanctioned Soule’s murder.
April 26, 1865 – Captain Soule is buried with full military honors in Denver. The funeral is attended by Cramer, Anthony,
Evans, and a large contingency of 1st Regiment soldiers (Wynkoop not present due to his assignment at Ft. Lyon).
Chivington, who once regarded Soule like a son, is conspicuously absent. The ever eroding support of Chivington has now
dwindled to just the hard-core Indian haters. Although many Denver citizens were puzzled by Soule and Wynkoop’s betrayal
of Chivington, the witty and likeable Soule was regarded a true military hero. As the rumors of Chivington’s involvement in
Soule’s murder flourish, Denver City’s patience with the “Fighting Parson” is running out.
May 1865 – After Soule’s assassination, his ominous remarks to George Price months earlier come true. Chivington
presents witnesses at the military hearing who attempt to implicate Soule in a conspiracy with John Smith and Sam Colley to
profit from the Indian war with the Cheyennes. Soule is accused of cowardice, drunkenness and thievery. The
commissioners angrily dismiss Chivington’s transparent ploy.
May 30, 1865 – The military investigation into the Sand Creek Massacre concludes. Transcripts are submitted to the
War Department. Although all three government investigations resulted in the severe censure of Chivington and Anthony, no
legal action was taken against them. Governor Evans, however, was blistered with criticism that would soon result in his
removal from office.
Read the full transcript of the Sand Creek Massacre military Inquiry . . .
Read the full report of The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War . . .
Chivington responds . . .
Early June 1865 – Acting on a tip from locals, Private Charles W. Squier is arrested in Las Vegas, New Mexico by
Lieutenant James Cannon, a New Mexico soldier who was present at the Sand Creek Massacre. Cannon gave damaging
testimony against Chivington at the military hearing.
June 12, 1865 – Lieutenant Cannon brings Private Squier to Denver. Squier will face court-martial for desertion and the
murder of Captain Soule.
June 14, 1865 – Lieutenant Cannon is found dead in his hotel room in Denver. A postmortem examination reveals
Cannon died of a lethal mixture of liquor and morphine. Cannon was seen drinking and gambling at a Denver saloon before
his death, and witnesses reported hearing a struggle in his room later that night. Many soldiers of the time were addicted to
alcohol and morphine, but the timely and coincidental circumstances of his death fuel speculation that Chivington's
“Thirdsters” poisoned him. No evidence is ever produced to prove that Cannon was murdered, however.
July 18, 1865 – Secretary of State Seward sends letter to Evans, recommending his resignation:
Territory would be acceptable. Circumstances connected with the public interest make it desirable that the
resignation should reach him without delay."
(Colorado State Archives)
August 1, 1865 – President Johnson removes Governor Evans from office, replaced by Alexander Cummings.
October 5, 1865 – Just days before the commencement of his court-martial trial, Private Charles W. Squier escapes from
the Denver jail with the help of three conspirators. Over the years, several alleged sightings of Soule’s murderer are
reported, but Squier will never be brought to justice. Squier, who was harbored by his elder half-brother and noted
archaeologist, E.G. Squire, drifted for a number of years in the East until his death in 1869 from injuries suffered in a railroad
accident in New York.
Sand Creek Aftermath
1865 -1869 – The Dog Soldiers and their Sioux and Arapaho compatriots went on a bloody rampage throughout Kansas,
Nebraska and eastern Colorado in reprisal for the Sand Creek Massacre. They were finally defeated in the Battle of Summit
Springs, Colorado in 1869. The surviving Dogmen scattered and joined the Northern Cheyenne and Sioux warriors above
the Republican. Before the hostile Indians were eventually subdued in the late 1870s, this alliance scored one final victory at
the Little Big Horn River in 1876, where they annihilated General George Custer's 7th Cavalry, under the leadership of Sioux
chiefs, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse . . .
November 27, 1868 - Nearly four years to the day, then Colonel George Custer’s 7th Cavalry kills Black Kettle and his
wife in a surprise dawn attack on his village at the Washita River (present day Oklahoma). Black Kettle, disgraced in the
eyes of his people after Sand Creek, never managed to bring the Dog Soldiers under control. He nevertheless tirelessly
campaigned for peace between the Cheyennes and whites, and participated in subsequent treaty negotiations. He was
camped at the Washita under orders of the U.S. military.
September 12, 1891 – Edward W. Wynkoop dies in Santa Fe, NM.
After being fully exonerated in the Sand Creek affair, Wynkoop was promoted and served for several years as Indian Agent to
the Cheyennes and Arapahos. Wynkoop was instrumental in arranging treaties and agreements to compensate the
families of those killed at Sand Creek, but all government promises to the Indians were eventually broken. Wynkoop angrily
resigned when Black Kettle and his wife were killed at Washita. He moved to Pennsylvania for a time to join in the family iron
business, which later fell on hard financial times. Wynkoop then ventured back to the west in government service, and
eventually ended up in New Mexico, where he was warden of the federal penitentiary. Wynkoop forever harbored bitter hatred
for Chivington, not only for the Sand Creek Massacre, but for the murder of his dear friend Silas Soule, whom Wynkoop
insisted was killed by order of Chivington. Wynkoop died at the age of 55 of Bright’s Disease, a malady stemming from
numerous injuries and wounds suffered on the rugged prairie as a young man.
October 4, 1894 – John M. Chivington dies in Denver, CO.
Chivington’s political career ended after his attack at Sand Creek. He resigned as elder of the Methodist church and
wandered for several years, with stops in California, Nebraska, Canada and Ohio. In the interim, his wife and son died, and
he made scandalous headlines in 1868 when he married his son’s widow in order to make a claim on his son’s freighting
business. He soon thereafter abandoned his daughter-in-law bride, and was arrested several times on charges ranging
from forgery to assault. Chivington was later soundly defeated in another attempt to enter politics in Ohio. Chivington
returned to Denver in 1883, where a few of his old army cronies welcomed him. He was soon elected as Sheriff of Arapahoe
County, and later assigned to the Denver coroner’s office. Scandal continued to follow Chivington for the rest of his life, as
he was once charged with perjury as sheriff, and later arrested when, as Denver Coroner, he admitted to stealing $800 from
the pockets of a corpse. Upon his death to cancer in 1894, the Rocky Mountain News called Chivington “one of Colorado’s
greatest heroes.” At his funeral, the Methodist minister, Reverend Dr. Robert McIntyre, said of Chivington:
are here to honor . . . We shall not look upon his likes again.”
(Rocky Mountain News, October 8, 1894)
July 3, 1897 – John Evans dies in Denver, CO.
Evans quit politics after his removal from office in 1865, but for a time he mounted a campaign to defend his actions before
the massacre. He said that, although he knew Chivington planned to mount an attack on the Indians before leaving the
service, he was not privy to which Indians would be attacked, nor did he condone the atrocious massacre of the women and
children at Sand Creek. Had he left the matter there, history might have been more sympathetic to his involvement, but
Evans continued to defend Chivington and maintain that he and the Colonel were victims of a vast political conspiracy to ruin
their careers. Evans remained in Denver, forever attached to Chivington and the Sand Creek Massacre, but he helped found
the University of Denver, numerous churches and businesses, and was instrumental in the development of the Denver
Tramway Company and major western railroad lines. Despite the positive contributions that John Evans made to Denver,
his reputation was forever diminished by the stain of Sand Creek.
Fate of others involved in the Sand Creek affair:
Major Scott Anthony – After leaving Denver after Sand Creek, Anthony later returned and worked first in real estate, and
then for Evans’ Denver Tramway Company. He bitterly condemned Chivington in the years following Sand Creek, but - ever
the noble hypocrite – Anthony was among those who hailed the return of the Fighting Parson in 1883, and he proudly served
as a pallbearer at Chivington’s funeral. Anthony died at Denver in 1903.
Bent Family – Perhaps the best friend of the Cheyennes and Arapahos, St. Louis trader William Bent’s efforts to maintain
the peace with whites unraveled after the Sand Creek Massacre. Bent’s Cheyenne wife was soon thereafter killed by Union
Soldiers, and Bent died alone of pneumonia in 1869. His youngest son, Charley, survived the Sand Creek attack, but
became a murderous renegade and was killed by Pawnees in 1868. Oldest son Robert Bent continued to work as an army
interpreter and scout until his death in 1889. Middle son, George Bent, survived the massacre and joined the Dogmen raids
until their defeat in 1869. He married Black Kettle’s niece, and lived peaceably on a reservation until his death in 1916.
George became the best known of the Bent family, eventually compiling a half-century of Cheyenne history published by
historian George E. Hyde.
Dog Soldier Chief Bull Bear – The only Dog Soldier leader who supported Wynkoop’s effort to make peace went into
a rage after Sand Creek. He joined numerous war parties that brought devastation to the Plains in the five-year reprisal for
Chivington’s massacre. After the Dogmen were defeated in 1869, Bull Bear surrendered and moved his family to the
Darlington Agency reservation in Oklahoma, where he became a Christian and peaceably lived among the whites until his
death in 1904.
Lieutenant Joseph Cramer – Resigned from the military and became sheriff of Dickinson County, Kansas. He fell ill
from complications of injuries received in military service and died in 1870 at the age of 31.
Major Jacob Downing – Amassed a fortune in cattle and horses in Denver. Was the major developer of north Denver
and present-day Lakewood, CO. He died in Denver in 1907.
Arapaho Chief Left Hand – Mortally wounded at Sand Creek, the Arapaho leader died several days later with the
Dogmen and Sioux at their Smoky Hill camp.
Arapaho Chief Little Raven – Continued to campaign for peace with the whites. He visited President Ulysses Grant
and received a peace medal before his death at Oklahoma in 1889. In a belated but sincere gesture, the City of Denver
named a street in 1994 to honor the great Southern Arapaho Chief.
Colonel George Shoup – Went on to become first Governor and then Senator, representing the state of Idaho. He died
at Boise, Idaho in 1904.
Samuel Tappan moved to New York City after Sand Creek, and became a political activist in the Indian reform movement,
serving many years on the Indian Peace Commission. Tappan adopted one of three Indian children who survived the Sand
Creek Massacre, but the young girl died while attending a school in New York just a few years later. Tappan died in
Washington D.C. in 1913, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
List of known casualties in the Sand Creek Massacre
By the very nature of ancient Indian culture, most historical data predating the 20th Century is provided through the
interpretation of white historians, for Indian history was related by storytellers and passed on in the oral tradition prior to the
1900s. It is impossible to identify every Cheyenne and Arapaho person who died at Sand Creek, particularly the women and
children. The following list was compiled from Gary Roberts’ Sand Creek – Tragedy and Symbol, official military records,
and the 1982 issue of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal News, which provides a partial list of Cheyenne and Arapaho casualties
at Sand Creek:
Army casualties at Sand Creek, compiled from the Colorado State Archives:
We'll never forget
Civil War ends
|Go to list of soldiers killed and
wounded as reported in:
Burlington Weekly Hawk Eye
Denver Daily News
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Official 1865 Congressional Report