Review: Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage

As I read “Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage” by Tom Bensing I was thinking who would be a good audience for this book? The answers were found in the pages of the book. The book will appeal to a diverse group of readers. The person with an interest in United States history during the 1850s to mid 1860s will walk through those years with snapshots of selected events of the time. The Civil War buff will enjoy a different perspective on the battle of Gloreita. Those with an interest in Colorado before it was a state will get an interesting look at the state.

You get a look at abolition and the Underground Railroad. You see how a passion for abolishing slavery motivated Silas Soule’s family to move to Kansas. You experience what it is like and what happens to people who aided slaves. You will relive the days of bloody Kansas and see firsthand the fallacy of the Stephen Douglas compromise allowing Kansas to decide if it was to be or not to be a slave state.

John Brown is brought to life as we see his actions in Kansas and later at Harper’s Ferry and how Silas Soule participated in an attempt to rescue John Brown’s men after Harpers Ferry.

We see a friendship between Soule and the poet Walt Whitman as well as learning of an interesting connection between Brown and Whitman. We go gold prospecting to Colorado and also get a good picture of the state during the late 1850s to mid 1860s. We make the trek with Silas and the Pike’s Peakers as the head to Glorieta Pass to fight the Texans in the Confederate Army who invaded New Mexico.

We see his moral courage when he not only refused to take part in the massacre of Native American women and children during the Sand Creek Massacre, but was the first to testify against Colonel John Chivington who led the attack. Surprisingly to me, the author gives great detail of Silas Soule’s killer, Charles Squier life.

The book was well researched. It started slow for me, but I’m glad I stuck with it. After making it through the family history and finally getting to Silas Soule, I found a well presented and interesting story. Yes, I recommend the book. Historian Tom Bensing did a good job of presenting “Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage”. The publisher is Dog Ear Publishing.

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