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The letters of Silas Soule and  Sand Creek! The Letters of Silas Soule by Bruce Cutler

Juniper Book #55, Two Long Poems by Judson Jerome and Bruce Cutler,1991, Juniper Press   1310 Shorewood Drive  La Crosse, WI 54601

From time to time I see reference to one of Silas' letters. I am excited at first, then realize it is part of Bruce Cutler's poetic work. Bruce used Silas' letters as a starting point to present a picture of the Sand Creek massacre. He did not intend the letters to be taken as fact, but others have so interpreted them.  Here are two examples of a letter of Silas compared with Cutler's version.


Example 1


"Oct 7 1863

 Dearest Mother,

             How proud you'd be to see your eldest son! [Silas was the youngest]. I'm acting Adjutant General for Colonel Chivington, inspection tours, reports, the works! You and Sis both write that I should be a Christian. Not be so wild.  Well how about a Methodist preacher for a boss?  It's true my lips are innocent of rum and fine-cut chew, I get along like I was seventeen again."  p. 38



 "Fort Lyon C.T. July 26th 1864

 Dear Annie

             Yesterday at Dress parade the Major Comdg Post had orders read to the Battalion complimenting my Company on their military appearance and discipline, referring to them as an example for the troops at this Post. So you see I get along very well.  I am the same Boy, Annie, as I used for to be. In fact I imagine that I am only 17 years old....You and Mother write for me to be a Christian and not be wild &c but the Army don't improve a fellow much in that respect and you know I never was much of a Christian and am naturally wild, but I have seen so much of the world and are (sic) not much changed.  I think there is not much danger of my spoiling.  Our Col is a Methodist Preacher and whenever he sees me drinking, gambling, stealing or murdering he says he will write to Mother or my sister Annie so I have to go straight."


Example 2


"to Walt Whitman, c/o Thayer, Eldridge, Hinton, etc. November 28, 1861

Dear Walt,

When you think you've seen all the world and you want to get up another book, first you come out second-class as far as Kansas... "
 p. 22


"Messrs Thayre Eldridge Hinton &c   Coal Creek, May 9 1860

Dear Sirs

 ...Tell Walt that when he wants to get up another book and thinks he has seen all the world he must take second class ticket to Kansas...."


You can see from the above examples that Cutler uses phrases from Silas' letters, jumbles time, paraphrases, rearranges and invents dialogue for his own purposes. I do not fault him for this. He is writing fiction.  The objection is quoting Cutler's letters as if they were fact.

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