“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself,
who foils the signs of false prophets
and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
and turns it into nonsense,
who carries out the words of his servants
and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
and I will dry up your streams,’
who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
- Isaiah 44:24-28
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the Lord.
They keep saying to those who despise me,
‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’
And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts
they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’
But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord
to see or to hear his word?
Who has listened and heard his word?
See, the storm of the Lord
will burst out in wrath,
a whirlwind swirling down
on the heads of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
until he fully accomplishes
the purposes of his heart.
In days to come
you will understand it clearly.
I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message;
I did not speak to them,
yet they have prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
they would have proclaimed my words to my people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.
- Jeremiah 23:16-22
“Five days after Thanksgiving in 1864 several hundred US soldiers surrounded and attacked a Cheyenne Indian village on the banks of Sand Creek in extreme eastern Colorado. A fierce battle erupted, and when the shooting stopped a little more than seven hours later, a great number of Cheyennes – possibly as many as several hundred – and about a dozen soldiers lay dead or dying. …
“The John Chivington of Glorieta Pass is portrayed as a brilliant, charismatic, dynamic, God-fearing frontiersman who chose to face overwhelming odds and probable death to defend truth and righteousness. The John Chivington of Sand Creek is seen as a bumbling bloodthirsty coward who fought against women and children – women and children who had surrendered.
“Clearly, both of these portrayals cannot be right. Somewhere, somehow, either John Chivington or recorded history has gone awry. After spending more than a quarter century researching the John Chivington of Civil War fame, the author became convinced that the commonly accepted version of the tragedy at Sand Creek is at least tainted, if not downright inaccurate.”
- Bob Scott, Blood at Sand Creek
Isaiah and Jeremiah talk of false prophets. The kings, especially in Jeremiah’s case, preferred the prophets that gave them good news. Let’s face it, we hate looking at the wrong person in the mirror. We prefer the face that is on the right track, and we love hearing flattery. Yet, wisdom is listening to the truth, and the Truth is found in God.
As for a battle that some said led to the Indian Wars of the Great Plains, there is enough evidence to prove what is in most textbooks to be inaccurate, even downright a pack of lies. Besides, the Native Americans had been fighting long before this battle.
Colonel John Chivington had been an ordained minister when given a commission as an army officer in the war between the North and South (whatever name you ascribe to it). He was considered a hero at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico. At Glorieta Pass, his men discovered a supply train, unloading supplies for the South. In attacking the train and destroying the cargo, Chivington turned the balance of power in the battle and the South was in a full retreat in the West, similar to the Battle of Gettysburg in the East.
But two years later, while the war was still raging in the eastern half of the US, there was trouble with the Native American tribes in the West. The author spends a great deal of time trying to tie the “organized” Native American attacks to Confederate strategy of having the Native Americans open a second front for the North, drawing troops west and straining supply lines. There is some evidence that after the war, many Confederate soldiers joined the Native American tribes, refusing to surrender, many into the group known as the Dog Soldiers (part of the Cheyenne), but creating the Native Americans as an official ally to create another front may not be well supported as an official policy of the CSA.
Yet, there were a few southern sympathizers who were half white-half Cheyenne who were part of the Dog Soldiers who were at Sand Creek. These men were some of the chief witnesses who portrayed Chivington as a coward and a murderer of women and children, who had already surrendered. In truth, the women and children either fought or they reloaded and passed weapons to the braves who fought, actively taking part in the battle that all reliable sources said started with weapons fired by the Native Americans.
In one place in the book, the author states that virtually all the official story is fabrication. They cannot even get an accurate count on the number of casualties, from about 100 to over 700, including several chiefs who were notorious for raids on settlers and military units.
How can history become so wrong? It was not history, but the controversy that was raised by false accusations after the battle that shaped history. Chivington was charged for having massacred women and children, who had already surrendered, with no military intelligence that any valuable military assets were in the village at Sand Creek.
Subsequent attacks on Chivington’s record showed that lesser rank officers were given greater credit for the Glorieta Pass battle. These were West Point graduates, where Chivington was an appointee. From my experience, the West Point protection association (unofficial, but mighty) could easily have changed a few citations here or there to get some of their own consideration for promotion (allegedly).
In this case, the author, once he focuses on the battle and the aftermath investigation, uses recorded interviews, witness statements, and other records to show that Chivington acquitted himself well at Sand Creek. Instead of only women and children, there were, at Sand Creek, several warrior groups that were leading the charge against the settlers and military in the region.
Who were the witnesses against Chivington? Primarily, two brothers, Charles and George Bent, who were Dog Soldiers and Confederate sympathizers (whose father, William Bent, was loyal to the North) and a “cold-blooded murderer, horse thief, armed robber, con man, bigamist, and liar,” Jim Beckwourth. It is well-documented that Beckwourth was paid for his testimony, yet everything about the man should tell you that he was a pathological liar. As for the bigamy, he traded with the Native Americans picking up a chief’s daughter in each village and then abandoning the woman when it became convenient without ever getting an official separation. There was no record as to how many “wives” he had. They believed these three for the official story instead of military and even Native American survivor testimony.
Yet, someone in power wanted the hero of Glorieta Pass to be dishonored. The overwhelming evidence supported Chivington’s actions, but the courts supported three witnesses who had their own personal agendas, none in support of the USA. As I have said many times, follow the money – but the author left that trail in the air. Chivington was starting to make moves in Colorado in the political arena, but this killed those plans. He was disgraced. He went to California but could not get a start as a preacher or in the military. He then went back to his native Ohio, preaching for a while – yet, unsuccessfully. He ended up back in Denver, Colorado, in sheriff’s office, where everyone said he served the community well as an under-sheriff.
And even with the book, did the author have an agenda? Could he have not looked at all the evidence? They say that history is written by the winners of the battle. In this case, Chivington won the battle, but lost in the history books.
The Battle at Sand Creek was a tragedy, but we must not fool ourselves. A lot of what we think we know never really happened as it is portrayed.
And from the Scriptures above, there were false prophets in Old Testament times. The Apostles Paul, Peter, and John warn us in their epistles against false prophets in New Testament times that continue to this day.
As for our history, each country may have good and bad bits of history. There may be things that we would love to sweep under the rug, but the Bible tends to spell out the good and bad of our Biblical heroes. Samson had his women troubles, as did David and Solomon. King Saul got too big for his britches, ignoring God’s law. And from their mistakes, we can learn a lot. We can learn what not to do, and we can learn that God is sovereign. We can learn to obtain trustworthy counsel instead of false prophets. And we can learn that God forgives.
We must trust in God and hope that if anything is said of us in the history books that it reflects our love of Jesus and our devotion to Him.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.