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Sand Creek
     

Sand Creek

4.5 9
by Kevin Cahill
 

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At dawn on November 29, 1864, a volunteer Denver militia swept down on a sleeping Cheyenne and Arapaho village camped on the Big Sandy River in southeastern Colorado, exacting brutal revenge for a year-long campaign of terror waged by tribal warrior societies on the Kansas and Colorado plains. When the smoke cleared, Colonel John M. Chivington's troops returned to

Overview

At dawn on November 29, 1864, a volunteer Denver militia swept down on a sleeping Cheyenne and Arapaho village camped on the Big Sandy River in southeastern Colorado, exacting brutal revenge for a year-long campaign of terror waged by tribal warrior societies on the Kansas and Colorado plains. When the smoke cleared, Colonel John M. Chivington's troops returned to Denver, waving Indian scalps and body parts to an adoring crowd that hailed the conquering heroes as saviors of the territory. Chivington claimed his militia decimated the entire Cheyenne and Arapaho nations - some five to six hundred warriors among them, including the fearsome Cheyenne Dog Soldiers. His actions prompted the Rocky Mountain News to hoist Chivington among the greatest American military leaders of the time, an endorsement that would surely catapult the former Methodist preacher to lofty political office.
But the Dog Soldiers were still alive. In fact, none of the warriors guilty of the violent depredations on the Plains were anywhere near Sand Creek when the civilian militia attacked. Union soldiers accused Chivington of conducting a wholesale massacre of Indian prisoners camped under the protection of the army, claiming the majority of the 160 killed were women, children and elderly. Within months, Chivington's renowned "Battle of Sand Creek" descended into a broiling kettle of accusation and recrimination, turning soldier against soldier, and Indian against Indian.
Sand Creek dramatically reassembles the labyrinth of power, politics and controversy that ignited the most notorious event in the history of the American West. Kevin Cahill's spellbinding narrative examines the massacre at Sand Creek, from its early roots in the Civil War, to the subsequent government investigations that entangled both soldiers and Indians in a web of political deceit and murder. Cahill's insightful resurrection of the true-life Indians, soldiers and settlers provides a poignant perspective on the monument

Editorial Reviews

Colorado Country Life Magazine, November 2011 - Julie Simpson
"Brilliantly written and thoroughly researched historical detail comes to life with novelistic flair in Kevin Cahill’s Sand Creek. Informative without being boring or dry, this novel is remarkably unbiased in presenting the story of the Sand Creek Massacre, revealing in detail how fear, misunderstanding and a few violent men on both sides led to so many lives being lost."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781420870435
Publisher:
AuthorHouse
Publication date:
07/28/2005
Pages:
488
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.09(d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Cahill is the author of "Sand Creek," "The Last Cafe," "Knights of Harvest," and "Letters to a Rose."

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Sand Creek 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Sand Creek Massacre was one of the darkest moments in the history of the American West, but until now, no one had tackled a historical novel that accurately depicted the complicated political machinations surrounding the tragic morning when Colonel John M. Chivington¿s Colorado militia ambushed and butchered 160 Cheyenne and Arapaho prisoners camped under the protection of the U.S. Army. Colorado native Kevin Cahill¿s SAND CREEK may technically fit the genre of historical fiction, but the book is long on history, and satisfyingly short on fiction. Although Cahill takes necessary dramatic liberties to build a compelling western novel, he carefully weaves literary narrative and dialogue around the reams of Sand Creek historical documentation that can otherwise make for some tedious reading. Indeed, the real story surrounding the Sand Creek Massacre played out like a well-scripted movie, but until now only a few feeble novels have been written about the tragedy ¿ and bad ones at that. Other novels and films (most recently Into the West) allude to the incident, leaving a trail of distortions, inaccuracies, and cartoon-like characters that resemble the real Sand Creek Massacre in name only. Such, at long last, is not the case with SAND CREEK. This skillfully crafted novel deftly captures the tragic tale of cultural misunderstanding and racial intolerance that fueled a titanic political power struggle raging within both the United States government and the Cheyenne Nation ¿ volatile components that ultimately triggered the1864 Sand Creek Massacre. Most non-fiction accounts both in books and the media focus primarily on Colonel John Chivington¿s attack on a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians that had surrendered to the military, leaving approximately 160 Indians dead, the majority women and children. The attack preceded a barbarous frenzy of scalping and dismemberment of the bodies by Chivington¿s volunteer militia, which returned to Denver and claimed they decimated the renegade Cheyenne Dog Soldiers that were conducting a murderous campaign of terror against white settlers on the Kansas and Nebraska plains. SAND CREEK, although nearly 500 pages long, spends a relatively small and mercifully tasteful amount of time on the Sand Creek carnage itself, focusing rather on why this despicable event ever occurred in the first place, and what happened to the soldiers and Indians in its bloody wake. Cahill traces the Sand Creek Massacre back to its genesis in the 1850s, when white gold-seekers stormed the Plains, swallowing up land and encroaching on government-protected Cheyenne and Arapaho land reserves in eastern Colorado. The intricate Cheyenne political hierarchy, until then united in its effort to maintain a peaceful relationship with the white settlers, began to unravel and drive a wedge between the militant Cheyenne Dog Soldiers and the peaceably inclined Cheyenne and Arapaho populace. By 1863, the Union Army was fully embroiled in the Civil War, leaving white settlers in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado vulnerable to the alarmingly growing number of hostile Indian attacks. Chivington¿s militia of 500 civilian volunteers, with 250 Colorado First Regiment soldiers improperly commandeered by Chivington, ravaged the Sand Creek Indians, who had willfully surrendered to Major Edward Wynkoop as prisoners under the protection of the U.S. flag. Although Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle and Arapaho Chief Left Hand had offered to help Wynkoop¿s meager Fort Lyon garrison fight marauding Kiowa, Sioux, and Dog Soldier bands, Chivington denounced Wynkoop¿s truce and attacked the unsuspecting village, using the militia that was raised to protect Denver (over 250 miles away). The disorganized and vengeful militiamen killed the most vulnerable of the estimated 500 Indians in the village, and then went on a barbarous rampage of dismembering and disemboweling the dead, while many First Regiment soldiers who refused to att
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