The West Old & New December Vol. II Issue XII - Page 8

Other soldiers in Chivington's force, however, immediately attacked the village. Disregarding the American flag, and a white flag that was run up shortly after the soldiers commenced firing, Chivington's soldiers massacred many of its inhabitants. I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces ... With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors ... By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops ... John S. Smith, Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865 Some of the Indians cut horses from the camp's herd and fled up Sand Creek or to a nearby Cheyenne camp on the headwaters of the Smokey Hill River. Others, including trader George Bent, fled upstream and dug holes in the sand beneath the banks of the stream. They were pursued by the troops and fired on, but many survived. Cheyenne warrior Morning Star said that most of the Indian dead were killed by cannon fire, especially those firing from the south bank of the river at the people retreating up the creek. In testimony before a Congressional committee investigating the massacre, Chivington claimed that as many as 500–600 Indian warriors were killed. Historian Alan Brinkley wrote that 133 Indians were killed, 105 of whom were women and children. White eye-witness John S. Smith reported that 70–80 Indians were killed, including 20–30 warriors, which agrees with Brinkley's figure as to the number of men killed. George Bent, the son of the American William Bent and a Cheyenne mother, who was in the village when the attack came and was wounded by the soldiers, gave two different accounts of the Indian loss. On March 15, 1889, he wrote to Samuel F. Tappan that 137 people were killed: 28 men and 109 women and children. However, on April 30, 1913, when he was very old, he wrote that "about 53 men" and "110 women and children" were killed and many people wounded. Bent's first figures are in close accord with those of Brinkley and agree with Smith as to the number of men who were killed. Although initial reports indicated 10 soldiers killed and 38 wounded, the final tally was 4 killed and 21 wounded in the 1st Colorado Cavalry and 20 killed or mortally wounded and 31 other wounded in the 3rd Colorado Cavalry; adding up to 24 killed and 52 wounded. Dee Brown wrote that some of Chivington's men were drunk and that many of the soldiers' casualties were due to friendly fire but neither of these claims is supported by Gregory F. Michno or Stan Hoig in their books devoted to the massacre. Before Chivington and his men left the area, they plundered the tipis and took the horses. After the smoke cleared, Chivington's men came back and killed many of the wounded. They also scalped many of the dead, regardless of whether they were women, children or infants. Chivington and his men dressed their weapons, hats and gear with scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia. They also publicly displayed these battle trophies in Denver's Apollo Theater and area saloons. Three Indians who remained in the village are known to have survived the massacre: George Bent's brother Charlie Bent, and two Cheyenne women who were later turned over to William Bent. The Sand Creek Massacre resulted in a heavy loss of life, mostly among Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children. Hardest hit by the massacre were the Wutapai, Black Kettle's band. Perhaps half of the Hevhaitaniu were lost, including the chiefs Yellow Wolf and Big Man. The Oivimana, led by War Bonnet, lost about half their number. There were heavy losses to the Hisiometanio (Ridge Men) under White Antelope. Chief One Eye was also killed, along with many of his band. The Suhtai clan and the Heviqxnipahis clan under chief Sand Hill experienced relatively few losses. The Dog Soldiers and the Masikota, who by that time had allied, were not present at Sand Creek. Of about ten lodges of Arapaho under Chief Left Hand, representing about fifty or sixty people, only a handful escaped with their lives. To the left is a page of Howling Wolf’s ledger art depicting the battle at Sand Creek in 1864 when he was 15 years of age. He did this later in life. It must have left a strong impression on him. The West Old & New Page 8