Private Mac: The James Carr Letter

Robert McFarland was a soldier at Sand Creek. He was killed by a Cheyenne Warrior. 

He enlisted as a Private and left his two children with friends when he went to fight. His wife Loana died in January of 1864, several months before he enlisted in the 3rd Colorado Cavalry. 

His children, George and Adella, were left orphaned. 

The short film depicts James Carr twenty years after Sand Creek as he’s writing a letter about his friend and fellow soldier, Robert McFarland. Carr reflects on Robert’s mutilated body and gathering his personal items at Sand Creek. Carr was in charge of the dead and wounded. 

The film was shot at Sand Creek where we believe McFarland was killed. According to eyewitnesses, this skirmish between McFarland and the Cheyenne Warrior occurred a few miles up the creek from the village. John W. Prowers, who testified in the hearings following Sand Creek, said under oath that some of the Indians moved their tipis up the creek prior to November 29, 1864. Prowers was not at Sand Creek, though he had lived among the Cheyenne and Arapaho. 

Morse Coffin, who fought at Sand Creek, wrote in his book, The Battle of Sand Creek, “But what was by common consent considered to be the tragedy of the day in which company D were concerned, took place on the open plain to the east of the creek, and at least four miles from the village, and resulted in the death of Robert McFarland…” (Citation for this is in our book, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site). 

Chuck Bowen found artifacts at a place that fits Coffin’s description, who stated it was four miles from the village. 

From our book:

“In that skirmish area, I found a large number of artifacts in a small area suggesting a fight between an Indian and a soldier. There were Indian items such as arrowheads, cone tinklers, coscojo jingles, and a bracelet. There were soldier items such as four mule shoes close together, percussion caps and tins, Minié balls and other bullets, a pocket knife, canteen stopper, cavalry spur, a ring, plain buttons, and eagle buttons. Morse Coffin mentioned a stubborn mule, perhaps killed so the Indians couldn’t get it and the soldier could ride Mac’s injured horse back, explaining the mule shoes. The buttons, perhaps from the clothing stripped from Mac’s body.“ 

From the Cheyenne Warrior’s campsite depicted in the film: Bormann fuse with holes made perhaps from a punch by the Warrior. The Warrior was in the process of making arrowheads from a water barrel hoop. One square piece shows the rivet from the hoop. Some are scrap pieces. A complete arrowhead is seen underneath the Bormann fuse. A few were still in the process of being made. 
Artifacts from the battle site and filming location: The four buckles in the top left may be from spurs. Below the buckles to the left is the canteen stopper. Next to it are three eagle buttons which may have come from his uniform; ring, pocket knife, bullets, buttons, coscojo jingles, cone tinkler, arrowhead, spoon, bracelet, three mule shoes and a military spur. All of these artifacts would make sense where McFarland was killed by the Indian Warrior. 

Our book includes satellite imagery maps showing where these artifacts were found, from GPS coordinates.

In the opening scene with James Carr in 1864 at Sand Creek, he is seen picking up a small piece and throwing it on the ground. It is a piece of a Bormann fuse, which were used to ignite the 12-Pounder Mountain Howitzer cannonballs. Chuck found it with a metal detector at the site. Another small piece was found near it that matches. The bigger piece looks like it could have been chiseled by the Warrior with a punch for an unknown use. The hole in it is visible in the closeup shot in the video. Another scene shows Carr picking up McFarland’s boots. One has a spur, one doesn’t. This depicts the lone spur that was found. A canteen is shown in clear view and it is missing the stopper. Chuck also found a stopper at the McFarland site. 

Not all items listed are shown in the photos in this blog. Check out our book to see more photos of artifacts found from this skirmish area, as well as from other fight areas, which show how spread out events were at Sand Creek. 

Learn about our Sand Creek book here: Click the Buy the Book tab in the top right of the page or you can also get our book here: WeFoundTheLostSandCreekSite

Follow us on Facebook: BowenHistory 

Don’t forget to comment below and share this blog so anyone that would like to be added to our blog update list can email us at to let us know.

Share this post


  1. Read a lot about Sand Creek w/ J Broome’s book on Indian atrocities in Colo. Didn’t Custer from Ft Wallace chase the Indians down to the Washita in OK in winter?

    1. Custer attacked them at Washita four years later in 1868. If you haven’t picked up our book yet, it explains in great detail how and what happened at Sand Creek, based on physical evidence. A lot of what is said about Sand Creek is based off oral history and not eyewitness accounts or artifacts. We actually showed Jeff Broome and his students where some of our artifacts were found. Thanks for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *