In an ongoing series about the Sand Creek Massacre, last month I told you about Major Ned Wynkoop, commander of Fort Lyon and the man who’d originally been approached by the Cheyenne with a request for peace. Because of his unexpected action to take various chiefs to Denver for peace talks, Major Wynkoop was later removed from his post at Fort Lyon and placed under investigation by one Major Scott Anthony.
Maj. Scott Anthony
Scott J. Anthony was the fourth of twelve children in his family born in January 1830. In his early adulthood, he moved from New York to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he held various positions—from businessman to county clerk to a position as a Leavenworth Ranger, a law-enforcement group in the border state of Kansas leading up to the Civil War.
|Maj. Scott Anthony
Rumors of gold led Scott Anthony west to the Pike’s Peak region of Colorado in 1860. He and a partner set up a mercantile and did some prospecting, though they sold out and returned to Leavenworth later that year. Again, he went west in Spring 1861, but once he reached his destination, he learned the Civil War had broken out. He stayed in Colorado and enlisted in the Army at the rank of Captain. Very quickly he was elevated to Major and served in some of the same campaigns with Colonel Chivington and Major Ned Wynkoop.
Unfortunately, during his tenure in the Army, Anthony’s health took a turn for the worse when he developed scurvy—a disease brought on by the lack of Vitamin C. Aside from bleeding gums and bruise-like spots on the skin, one of Anthony’s more obvious symptoms was that his eyes turned quite red.
Within days of Major Anthony’s arrival at Fort Lyon, orders came to move Ned Wynkoop to Fort Reilly while Anthony took over leadership of Fort Lyon. This sudden and unexpected change bothered the Arapaho Indians who had camped alongside the fort waiting for the promised peace treaty. Especially disturbing was the way Major Anthony immediately demanded all Indians currently within the boundaries of Fort Lyon be rounded up and jailed. As per a previous agreement, they were there to receive rations of food and other supplies. When news of these upsetting changes reached Major Wynkoop, he immediately tried to assist in smoothing the transition between his leadership and Anthony’s. He set up a meeting with the Arapaho chiefs to introduce them to the new major.
To this point, Anthony’s attitude had been hard-nosed and unbending, demanding that soldiers follow every rule to the letter. However, upon stepping into the Arapaho camp, he softened some. While it went against the rules to allow the Indians to receive provisions, he agreed the arrangement could continue with one condition. As long as the Arapaho remained camped within a mile of the fort, they must give up their guns. Chief Left Hand, leader of the Arapaho, agreed and pistols and rifles were turned over.
After that fateful meeting, the Arapaho people discussed the disturbing appearance of Fort Lyon’s new leader and quickly dubbed Major Anthony “Red-Eyed Soldier Chief.” Under Left Hand’s guidance, they continued seeking peace, but Anthony’s blood-red eyes caused no small amount of concern and distrust among the Native Americans.
Anthony continued to cause concern for the Indians when he opened fire on a small group of approaching Indians. The fired-upon braves escaped without harm despite Anthony’s best efforts. After this incident, Anthony ordered the Arapaho people to join their Cheyenne friends along the Sand Creek to wait for the coming peace treaty. The Arapaho, hungry for peace, complied.
Weeks after he was ordered, Wynkoop finally left for Fort Reilly, and within a couple short days, Colonel Chivington rode in with hundreds of soldiers spoiling for a fight. At Chivington’s arrival, the two officers were reported to have gleefully joked about wanting to kill and maim the Native American population and “wade in their blood.”
On the night of November 28, Major Anthony ordered his soldiers from Fort Lyon to accompany the 550 soldiers Chivington brought from Denver to the Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment at Sand Creek. You can read here about the massacre that ensued.
So what happened to Anthony after the massacre? Well, he changed his tune after that experience. When Ned Wynkoop was cleared of all charges and told to begin an investigation of the massacre, he interviewed many of those involved. One who testified was Anthony, telling of the types of atrocities he and others witnessed and participated in. I can only hope that he was so changed by the horror of what he and the others had done that he decided to do what was right during the investigation, although I’m unsure his true motives for testified against the actions Chivington ordered them to take.
Capt. Silas Soule
|Capt. Silas Soule
I also want to shed light on one amazing officer, Capt. Silas Soule, who was there that day along the banks of Sand Creek. Capt. Soule was originally from Maine but moved to Kansas in the late 1850s. A founder of Lawrence, Kansas, he and his family were an instrumental part of the Underground Railroad. He also proved his bravery and moral character when, after abolitionist John Brown was executed, Soule traveled to Harper’s Ferry and attempted to free two of Brown’s followers. Unfortunately, the attempt was not successful.
Like Scott Anthony, the rumors of gold led Silas Soule to the Pike’s Peak area of Colorado. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Soule joined the Army and was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He served in the same campaigns as Chivington and Wynkoop, and once the Confederate forces were repelled, he was promoted to Captain and stationed at Fort Lyon under Major Ned Wynkoop. It was here that he participated in the original contacts with the Cheyenne and Arapaho who came seeking peace. And he, too, accompanied Major Wynkoop and the Chiefs to Denver for the peace talks preceding the Sand Creek Massacre. He’d worked hard, as had Major Wynkoop, to bring about an era of peace with the Indians, so when Colonel Chivington and Major Anthony commanded the troops at Fort Lyon to ride out to Sand Creek and open fire on a peaceful camp, Captain Soule refused.
In an act of utmost bravery and conscience, he made it known he would not raise arms against the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, and he commanded the men under him to follow his lead. Of course, this could easily have led to a court-martial for Soule and any men following his direction. Worse, it is rumored and even referenced in Soule’s post-massacre writings that Colonel Chivington threatened his life.
After the massacre was over, Soule returned to Fort Lyon and penned a letter to Major Wynkoop, detailing the barbarity he’d witnessed. If you are interested, the detailed account he wrote can be read here. When the investigation of the massacre began, Captain Soule boldly testified against Colonel Chivington and his men for their many inhumane actions.
|Memorial marker placed at the site of Capt. Silas Soule's murder
In April 1865, Soule married and moved to Denver, Colorado. Not long after he testified against Chivington, he was murdered on the streets of Denver, and according to this plaque marking the place of his death, his murderers were never brought to justice.
It’s Your Turn: Do you respect Major Scott Anthony for testifying against Chivington and the actions taken at Sand Creek, or is his change of heart a matter of “too little too late”? Why do you think Captain Silas Soule was the only officer to vow not to fire on the peaceful encampment of Indians? Leave your comments along with your email address to be entered in the drawing for an autographed copy of Sand Creek Serenade
Jennifer Uhlarikdiscovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
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SAND CREEK SERENADE
Dr. Sadie Hoppner is no stranger to adversity. She’s fought to be taken seriously since childhood, when her father began training her in the healing arts. Finding acceptance and respect proves especially difficult at Fort Lyon, where she’s come to practice medicine under her brother’s watchful eye.
Cheyenne brave Five Kills wouldn’t knowingly jeopardize the peace treaty recently negotiated between his people and the Army. But a chance encounter with the female doctor ignites memories of his upbringing among the whites. Too intrigued to stay away, tension erupts with the soldiers, and Five Kills is injured.
As he recuperates under the tender care of the pretty healer, an unlikely bond forms. However, their fledgling love is put to the test when each realizes that a much greater danger awaits—a danger they are wholly unable to stop and one which neither may survive.