That Day By The Creek

A Novel About the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864

Historical Fiction by John Buzzard

Finalist in the 19th annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.

Set in 1864 Colorado Territory, based on the actual events that led up to the infamous massacre of peaceable Cheyennes and Arapahoes.

At the height of frontier expansion, Joshua Frasier comes West as a missionary to the Cheyenne Indians. He marries into the tribe and then is recruited as chaplain in the Colorado militia to fight on the edges of the Civil War and to deal with the “Indian problem.” Caught up in the military and political conflicts of Colorado’s push for statehood, Joshua’s faith and mettle are tested severely.

This well-crafted story weaves both historical and fictional characters into the fast-paced action. The author balances a heart-wrenching tragedy of the West with human warmth, hope, and universal themes: In a clash of cultures, where do ambition, fear, and violence lead? And how is healing even possible?

Bringing this colorful—but tragic—piece of history to life, John Buzzard reminds us not to allow fear, distrust, and anger to escalate to the place where we would ever again experience such a day as That Day by the Creek!

Paperback / 5.5″ x 8.5″ / 222 pp/ $14.49 / ISBN: 9780989101479

e-Book: Available in Kindle and Nook versions.

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“I loved and hated this book at the same time. I hated the outcome. I hated what happened. I hated that something like this could happen. Yet I loved the story line. I loved that I was in the story with the characters. I felt the love of God and family that Josh had. I felt the pain, fear and anger. No longer is this just a thing that happened in history, now this is a part of me. I won’t forget this for I felt like I lived [it].” –Amanda Hopkins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016

Buzzard shines a much-needed light into this shadowy part of American history and presents to the reader a message of hope and healing: seeming impossibilities given the sheer brutality that fell upon an unsuspecting group of Native Americans just as the Indian Wars were ramping up. This novel is well-crafted … a good story that will challenge you to bear witness to grace-filled possibilities that eclipse despair and hate.” –Jason Dew, professor and author

“In his work of accurate historical fiction, author John Buzzard takes his readers up to, through, and beyond the events which shaped the demonstration of evil against a peaceful tribe of Indians in Colorado’s formative years. It is an easy read…. Armed with written eye-witness accounts of that fateful day in November 1864, U.S. Navy veteran John Buzzard weaves a story through the point of view of a young, idealistic seminary graduate who believes God has called him to minister to the Cheyenne Indians. As the story unfolds, the outcome of the American Civil War remains unclear. The Confederacy has gained major victories and broadened the theater of war. Unfortunately, the federal government leaves the Colorado Territory under the control of ambitious, unethical, and cruel men with an unquenchable lust for power and control…. A chilling tale.” Charles J. Patricoff, author and historian

The story follows the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good: Josh Frazier and Making Medicine; the bad: Col. Chivington and his band of misfits and lowlifes; and the ugly: the horrible massacre at Sand Creek. All these characters (and others) bring together elements such as God, family, love, politics, war, corruption, lies and misguided alliances.–Raymond H. Mullen, Vine Voice on Amazon

“History lovers will enjoy this book. The author does an excellent job of telling the story. He shows how the Indians, the settlers, and the army felt. He includes the actual letters written by Robert Bent, Captain Silas Soule, Lieutenant Joseph Cramer, and Major Edward Wynkoop. The book is an easy read, educational and entertaining.” –Susan Bulanda,


A Conversation with John Buzzard (Interviewed by Christina Slike)

CS:  Hello, John. I keep wondering what inspired you to write a novel based on the events of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 Colorado?

JB:  I’ve been interested in the story since I was a child and saw the painting by Robert Lindneux in a book. Even at that young age I could tell something was wrong with Indians displaying the American flag while being attacked by American troops.  About five years ago I read Stan Hoig’s 1961 book, listed in every bibliography of Sand Creek publications. I couldn’t help but wonder what was the reaction of the Christian community in America at the time, especially the missionaries sent to the Cheyenne reservation.

CS: You blend fact and fiction skillfully. What offered you the most challenge in writing That Day by the Creek?

JB: Early on I realized I was writing an incredibly violent story for a Christian publisher and wondered if the climactic event of the massacre would survive the editing process. To Cladach’s credit everything remained intact. The atrocities I describe all came from eye-witness accounts and what is there is only a mere fraction of what occurred. Not to include the horrific acts would not do the story justice.

CS: Well, you weren’t graphic in your depictions. As you say, it is what happened. You balanced the tragedy with lighter fictional characters and scenes. That brings me to my next question: Which fictional character do you wish was real?

JB: Porcupine Pete, of course. It would be great to sit around a campfire some night with family and listen to his tales of living with the Indians and trekking through the Rockies. Surprisingly, he was an easy character to come up with. I didn’t want to just throw Josh out into the wilderness by himself. I don’t think he would have lasted out there too long.  Having a mountain man who is like a fish out of water while around government bureaucrats and politicians, but perfectly comfortable in the formidable mountains, seemed a natural choice. That’s how I came up with Porcupine. I am kind of curious how he survived wrestling that grizzly bear on a cliff edge.

CS: Porcupine Pete is my favorite character, too! What fun it would be to listen to his stories. … Then, of all the historical characters in That Day by the Creek, which would you choose to talk with, and why?

JB: I have two answers to that question. First is Making Medicine. During my research I found his biography, a real gem. I would love to hear his story and look at his artwork. Second is Silas Soule, even though he had a tragic end. Anyone who has been in the military knows what a serious offense it is to disobey an order from a superior officer, especially in the heat of battle. He was essentially ordered to murder women and children, and he refused, and ordered the men under him to do likewise.  In the end it cost him his life.

CS: Did you bring any of your own life experiences into this novel?

JB: I wasn’t sure how to describe the wedding between Josh and Sunflower, so I used details from my own. My wife Eva and I had a simple Catholic wedding in the Philippines at the hotel where we were staying. Afterwards, friends and family members brought in dishes of food and we had a real nice potluck.

CS:  Do you have plans to write more novels?

JB:  Of course. I’m about four chapters into a historical novel about the Pleasant Valley Cattle War that took place in central Arizona in the 1880s.

CS: Sounds great. Here’s another question: Where do you write? Describe your writing space. What helps you focus and stay inspired?

JB: I have a spacious office at the house here in Tucson, aka “the man cave.” A large, L-shaped desk holds my computer and other accessories. Shelves are filled with books, CDs and DVDs. One shelf holds Bibles and concordances. The room also has a TV, stereo, and a hide-a-bed couch for overnight guests. Often the stereo is tuned to K-LOVE to keep a sense of spiritual peace in the room. The door to the rest of the house is always open, so my wife Eva or our German shepherd Rocky can enter at any time. I can’t stay focused on a writing project that starts to get boring. If it’s boring for me to write, it will be boring for someone to read. When the pace starts to slow, I add another element to keep things interesting, which usually keeps me inspired.

CS: Do you have any upcoming author appearances online?

JB:  Yes, I recently gave an in-depth interview to fiction writer Faith Parsons on her blog.

CS: Thanks, John. Readers can know you a little better now. We look forward to further stories and inspiring plot twists coming out of your time in the writer-man cave!


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