By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
A movie concerning the injustice of the Sand Creek Massacre in October 1864 will be coming out this summer. One face on the screen that may be familiar is that of Jim Kimberling, a former Imperial resident.
Kimberling said he plays the Army general who orders the massacre, which left about 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho dead, mainly women and children.
The purpose of “Soul of Silas” is to make people aware of the real story behind the massacre, he said.
The Sand Creek Massacre occurred near Eads in Kiowa County, Colo. Tragic and unnecessary, it impacted federal-Indian relations and created the circumstances for years of warfare.
Cheyenne and Arapaho peace chiefs, influenced by assurances of peace at the Camp Weld Conference, reported to Fort Lyon throughout October 1864. The fort’s commander told the leaders to await a peace delegation at their camp on Sand Creek and to fly the U.S. flag to indicate their peaceful intent.
However, on Nov. 29 the U.S. Army attacked the village, killing about 200 of the 700 people in camp. Two-thirds of the dead and mutilated bodies left on the ground were women and children.
Boasting of his victory and downplaying Army casualties, Col. John Chivington paraded the body parts of dead Cheyenne and Arapaho through the streets of Denver.
However, not all of his officers and men agreed with his actions, one of whom was Silas Soule, a captain who’d ridden with Chivington.
He refused to participate in the massacre, and testified before Congress. Soule was murdered on the streets of Denver in April 1865.
Kimberling noted Monday that a number of streets in Denver are named for the Army officers, “made out to be heroes and are butchers.” He added that there has been some resistance to the movie’s release.
Kimberling auditioned for the movie with many other people, he said, who came from all over the U.S. He enjoyed filming his part in Fairplay, at the courthouse in Pueblo and even in Evergreen, where he now lives.
The 1967 Chase County High School graduate has lived in Ogallala, Las Vegas, Reno, Tucson and even back in Imperial for awhile since leaving after graduation.
The trailer for “Soul of Silas” can be seen on youtube.com.