Sand Creek Massacre memoir: “all one sided”

Isaac Clarke memoir

Isaac Clarke memoir

page 191

page 191

In September of 2013, we received an amazing gift from Tom Courtney: a 200-page leather-bound handwritten memoir, dated 1892, by Isaac Clarke, a Union soldier who witnessed the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.

Along with the manuscript, we received a 60-page typed “reconstruction” of the memoir, available in full here. See pages 40-43 of the reconstruction (179-195 of the original) for Clarke’s memories of Sand Creek.

Please note: the reconstruction corrects spelling and syntax and frequently paraphrases Clarke’s words, sometimes changing the meaning or emphasis. For example, on page 191 of the original (pictured above), Clarke writes:

…I do think it was the most cowardly act I ever saw and this was what is recorded in history as the grate sand creek Battle and it was a grate battle but all one sided for the indens were all kild an to tell the truth they wear a band of friendley indens and they were all masacread by the hundred day men.”

The reconstruction for this passage reads:

“…It was the most dastardly, cowardly act I ever saw, and this was what is recorded in history as the Great Sand Creek Battle. The truth of the matter was that it was a band of friendly Indians massacred by a regiment of white savages, the hundred day men.”

If possible, therefore, researchers should visit CC Special Collections and consult the original rather than depend solely upon the reconstruction.

4 thoughts on “Sand Creek Massacre memoir: “all one sided”

  1. Jeff C. Campbell

    Dear Archivists: I’m the ex-officio site historian for the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site , Kiowa Co., CO. On behalf of the site I’m inquiring about the possibility of getting a photo-copy of the original journal. Is that possible? We are very interested in reading this soldier’s perspective as a Co. G, 1st Regiment Cavalry, Colorado [U. S.] Volunteers Private, first because he was with 1LT Horace Baldwin’s Battery of two mountain howitzers with the 125 soldiers in MAJ Scott J. Anthony’s “Ft. Lyon Battalion” at the Sand Creek massacre and we know that group was in sympathy with CPT Silas Soule’s Co. D and 2LT Joseph Cramer’s Co. K detachments. Of course we would be able to purchase the copies or pay for scanned copies. Please let me know if this is possible or not or if we need to physically visit the archives. I am also a seasonal Ranger with the Interpretations Division and my supervisor is either Chief of Operations, Karl Zimmermann (719-729-3003, ext. 224 or High Plains Group Supt. Dr. Alexa J. Roberts at Bent’s Old Fort, Thank you in advance for your time. Jeff C. Campbell (alternate email:

    1. ccspecialcollections Post author

      Response coming to you by email. Short version: the journal is too fragile to copy in full, but we have some other options.


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