Captain Silas Soule and Minister John Chivington. Memorial day.

Captain Silas Soule and Minister John Chivington. Memorial day.

SouleMemorial day always strikes me as a good opportunity to remember my dad. A captain in the British Army from 1939 to 1945.  But for him, and those like him, strong, fit anti-fascists motivated by protecting the vulnerable by fighting fire with even more ferocious fire, I would not be free to be what I have become.
Every Country and every war has its idealogues. Who participate in war to end war.
Who volunteer for no other reason than to end war. Who believe the only war worth fighting is the war on war.
Not to participate in War as buffoons played by an elite money motivated government exploiting religion and economic/educational misfortune, to be rewarded with medals for nationalism and forgotten when it comes to health care for their injuries. Unaware that fighting war always leaves mental injury.
I live in gratitude for every one of those who took up arms to prevent those who would take up arms to cause harm to my freedom to choose an enabling lifestyle.
And this year – rather than go on about my dad and WW2 as per every previous memorial day, I am reminded of an American idealogue with a gun and rank. Like my father, he too was a captain. In a different war.
I have been reading about Silas Soule today. And his commanding officer, Col John Chivington. Both of whom served and both of whom were thanked for their service and remembered on memorial days of yore. But only one of whom leaves me inspired by the courage it took to stay true to ideals and the price that cost in a time when those ideals were not fashionable.
Silas Soule,  who recorded the conduct of White Christian American Yankee soldiers under the command of Colonel Chivington, the Christian pastor and soldier in the uniform of the United States thus: Silas_Soule-3

The massacre lasted six or eight hours, and a good many Indians escaped. 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. One squaw was wounded and a fellow took a hatchet to finish her, she held her arms up to defend her, and he cut one arm off, and held the other with one hand and dashed the hatchet through her brain. One squaw with her two children, were on their knees begging for their lives of a dozen soldiers, within ten feet of them all, firing – when one succeeded in hitting the squaw in the thigh, when she took a knife and cut the throats of both children, and then killed herself. One old squaw hung herself in the lodge – there was not enough room for her to hang and she held up her knees and choked herself to death. Some tried to escape on the Prairie, but most of them were run down by horsemen. 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.

Silas-Soule-MarkerSilas ordered his own troops to stand down but records the madness that overcame civilized Christian Americans. He testified at the inquiry that followed a massacre of interest to every American interested in our development as a nation.
Where else would you see a christian man kill a pregnant woman, slice open her belly and scalp the fetus for a trophy, following the command of a leader who is also a Christian minister?
And those were Yankees – not even Confederates, with whom you might be more inclined to associate this level of Christianity.
When Chivington ordered his men to attack the peaceful Sand Creek encampment, the vast majority of which were women, children, and elderly noncombatants, Captain Soule steadfastly refused to order his Company to open fire. Captain Soule’s refusal allowed many, perhaps hundreds, of  Cheyenne and Arapaho to flee the bloody killing field through his Company’s line.While the Sand Creek Massacre was at first hailed as a great victory, Captain Soule was determined to make the horrific truth of the massacre known. Even though he was jailed, intimidated, threatened, and even shot at, Soule refused to compromise himself and made his voice heard through reports that reached all the way from Colorado to Washington, and even to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Even with the bloody carnage of the Civil War, the brutal atrocities at Sand Creek shocked the nation.
During hearings in Denver, Captain Soule’s integrity and unwavering testimony turned the tide against the once popular Chivington and the other men who participated in the massacre and mutilations at Sand Creek. Captain Soule fully realized that telling the truth about the massacre could cost him his life, even telling a good friend that he fully expected to be killed for his testimony.
He was right.

After the war, in April of 1865, Silas Soule married Hersa Coberly, by all accounts a stunner,  and the couple made their home in Denver. Soule gave testimony at the military inquiry into the conduct at Sand Creek. He was one of the first to testify against Chivington during the Army’s investigation in January 1865.
On April 23, 1865, 80 days after testifying, and three weeks after getting married, Captain Soule was on duty as a marshal in Denver when he went to investigate guns being fired at 10:30 pm.  Soule was lured in this way into an ambush where one Charles Squier, a member of the 2nd Colorado Calvary, who was a participant in the Sand Creek mutilations shot him in the head.
It was suspected at the time that Col. Chivington directed the assassination.  Squier escaped the scene before he could be arrested by the authorities. Later, Squier was turned in and  jailed awaiting trial when, curiously, he was able to escape on travel to New York.  To his fathers home.   Once there he held various jobs, and tried to rejoin the Army but was rejected.
Squier then fled to Central America to avoid the law where – possibly – his legs were crushed in a railroad accident and he later died from gangrene in 1869. Despite his crime, he was buried in New York with honors.The citizens of Denver City turned out in great numbers for the funeral of their beloved Captain. He was buried at City Cemetery. A large memorial stone six feet high was erected above his grave. Soule was 27 years old when he died. On April 12, 1867, two years after his death, Capt. Silas S. Soule was brevetted a Major in recognition of his meritorious service to our nation. Possibly this benefited his widows pension as it certainly made no difference to him.
This is  a photo of John Milton Chivington (January 27, 1821 – October 4, 1894)  a former Methodist pastor who served as colonel in the American Civil War.
Chivington gained infamy for leading a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia during the massacre at Sand Creek in November 1864. An estimated 70–163 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho – about two-thirds of whom were women, children, and infants – were killed and mutilated by his troops. Chivington and his men took scalps and other body parts as battle trophies, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia.The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War conducted an investigation of the massacre, but while they condemned Chivington’s and his soldiers’ conduct in the strongest possible terms, no criminal charges were brought against him or them. The closest thing to a punishment Chivington suffered was the effective end of his political aspirations.
Three years prior to Sand Creek, on August 2, 1861, he became the first Grand Master of Masons of Colorado. Several Freemasons, some of whom were present at the Sand Creek Massacre, objected to Chivington’s actions and publicly denounced them, while others supported him. Officially, the Masons in Colorado suspended Chivington until the report from Congress, after which his membership was reinstated.
Chivington lived happily ever after. The Methodist Pastor and Freemason died at 73 in Denver. Quite probably he bequeathed his Indian genitalia trophy’s  to his congregation. To continue enjoying as he had in life.
A man worth remembering on memorial day for his action in the uniform of the United States. Thank you for your service and to your many supporters defending those brave decisions at Sand Creek in 64.  Funny how two men from such opposing ethical standards are both remembered with thanks fro service on memorial day. But should that remain the case? There are monuments named after Chivington to this day.

For me though, it is Silas Soule who I am  remembering on memorial day rather than the pregnant woman murdering baby scalper – whose ideology lives on in Alabama.

For bad men to prevail it is necessary only for good men to do nothing. And if we do not remember those men who did stand up to the evil of dark haters  like this Methodist pastor Chivington, then we risk repeating the same mistakes of history. Food for thought for the current Republican party supporters.

Here is the full letter by Silas Soule of the events in Sand Creek in 1865

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