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Frank Skimmerhorn

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Frank Skimmerhorn is the villain of the episode "The Massacre" of the 1970s miniseries Centennial, based on James A. Michener's novel. He's based on John Chivington and his actions in the episode are a fictionalization of the Sand Creek Massacre. Skimmerhorn was played by Richard Crenna.

Skimmerhorn was a farmer in Minnesota when his entire family, apart from himself and his son John, were massacred by Sioux Indians. The incident was responsible for giving Skimmerhorn a pathological hatred of all Native Americans. He further justified his hatred by grounding it in religion, claiming that the Indians were "Lamanites" rejected by God.

During the Civil War, Skimmerhorn comes to Colorado, convinced that he's on a mission from God to commit genocide against all Native Americans. There, he leads an attack on a defenseless Arapaho village, slaughtering men, women, and children without mercy. After the "battle", Skimmerhorn has Captain John McIntosh, who refused to take part in the atrocity, court-martialed for disobeying orders. During the trial, the truth comes out and all charges are dropped, but Skimmerhorn is not punished because the Army doesn't have the authority to punish members of the territorial militia.

Meanwhile, Major Maxwell Mercy, a longtime friend of the Natives, tries to make peace with the "half-breed" Pasquinel brothers, who have been leading Indian raids against the settlers. Skimmerhorn sends white men disguised as Indians to shoot and injury Mercy, creating the impression that the Indians are a real threat and will attack even the white people who trust them. The scheme works and the settlers rally around Skimmerhorn again.

It's at this point that Skimmerhorn's son John arrives in Colorado. With John tagging along, Skimmerhorn and a mob of militiamen find Jake Pasquinel and summarily hang him. John is horrified by his father's behavior. Sometimes later, Skimmerhorn is telling a newspaper reporter in Denver about this "victory" when Mike Pasquinel enters the city, carrying a white flag of truce and hoping to get a fair trial from the Regular Army. Skimmerhorn sees Mike Pasquinel and instantly shoots him in the back, killing him in the middle of the street. With this cowardly action, public opinion is firmly turned against Skimmerhorn.

Maxwell Mercy, who was also a half-brother of the Pasquinels, challenges Skimmerhorn to a duel, but Mercy's friend Levi Zendt puts an end to the duel before Skimmerhorn is killed. John tells his father that he's not wanted in Colorado anymore and Skimmerhorn is outraged that his son wouldn't be against the Indians after what the Sioux did to their family. John replies that his father has done worse and Skimmerhorn leaves the Colorado Territory for good.

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