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Minnesota erupts in violence as desperate Dakota Indians attack white settlements along the Minnesota River. The Dakota were eventually overwhelmed by the U.S. military six weeks later.
The Dakota Indians were more commonly referred to as the Sioux, a derogatory name derived from part of a French word meaning “little snake.” They were composed of four bands, and lived on temporary reservations in southwestern Minnesota. For two decades, the Dakota were poorly treated by the Federal government, local traders, and settlers. They saw their hunting lands whittled down, and provisions promised by the government rarely arrived. Worse yet, a wave of white settlers surrounded them.
The summer of 1862 was particularly hard on the Dakota. Cutworms destroyed much of their corn crops, and many families faced starvation. Dakota leaders were frustrated by attempts to convince traders to extend credit to tribal members and alleviate the suffering. On August 17, four young Dakota warriors were returning from an unsuccessful hunt when they stopped to steal some eggs from a white settlement. The youths soon picked a quarrel with the hen’s owner, and the encounter turned tragic when the Dakotas killed five members of the family. Sensing that they would be attacked, Dakota leaders determined that war was at hand and seized the initiative. Led by Taoyateduta (also known as Little Crow), the Dakota attacked local agencies and the settlement of New Ulm. Over 500 white settlers lost their lives along with about 150 Dakota warriors.
President Abraham Lincoln dispatched General John Pope, fresh from his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, to organize the Military Department of the Northwest. Some Dakota fled to North Dakota, but more than 2,000 were rounded up and over 300 warriors were sentenced to death. President Lincoln commuted most of their sentences, but on December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were executed at Mankato, Minnesota.
READ MORE: Native American History Timeline
The US-Dakota War of 1862
The causes of the US-Dakota War of 1862 were many and it remains one of the most important events in Minnesota history. The effects of the war can still be felt today. To learn more about the war itself, visit the US-Dakota War of 1862 website.
Fort Snelling played a central role in the war and its aftermath. In early August 1862, recruitment of the Sixth through Eleventh Infantry regiments meant for service in the Civil War had commenced. When news of Dakota attacks reached St. Paul, Governor Ramsey appointed Henry Sibley a colonel in the state's military forces and commander of the army that would march against the Dakota. Sibley led four hastily armed companies of the Sixth Infantry Regiment from Fort Snelling to St. Peter. Over the next few days, a trickle of supplies and detachments from the other partially recruited infantry regiments and militia units left Fort Snelling to join Sibley.
The state's military forces came under federal control on September 16, when Major General John Pope assumed command of the newly created Military Department of the Northwest. Sibley, just appointed a brigadier general of US Army volunteers, directed the US forces in the decisive Battle of Wood Lake on September 23, defeating the Dakota. Many of the Dakota combatants moved westward into Dakota Territory, while others went north to Canada, but many of the men who had fought stayed with their families, who could not move swiftly enough to escape. Numerous Dakota who had not participated in the war, as well as some who had, met Sibley's army at a place that came to be called Camp Release. When he arrived, Sibley took the Dakota into the custody of the US military.
Over the course of three weeks, a military commission tried 392 Dakota men for their participation in the war and sentenced 303 of them to death. Some of the trials lasted no longer than five minutes. At the time, and ever since, the legal authority of the commission and the procedures it followed have been questioned. After the trials, General Pope ordered that the convicted Dakota be removed to Mankato, and the Dakota non-combatants be removed to Fort Snelling. Sibley put Lieutenant Colonel William R. Marshall and 300 troops of the Eighth and Fifth Minnesota Infantry in charge of the forced removal of the Dakota from the Minnesota River Valley to Fort Snelling. The Dakota who traveled to Fort Snelling beginning November 7, 1862, numbered 1,658. The vast majority were children, women, and elderly.
– All images True West Archives –
The mid-1880s were strange years in a strange land for blue-blooded New Yorker Theodore Roosevelt.&hellip
Sioux War Dispatches Other than Mark Kellogg at the Little Big Horn, no newspaper correspondents&hellip
What was the 1862 Dakota War?Tom RedmondDelano, Minnesota It was a tragic conflict of cultures,&hellip
Book Review: Massacre in Minnesota
Gary Clayton Anderson, the author of a dozen books about American Indians and U.S. history, shares a new perspective on events leading to the 1862 Dakota War (aka Sioux Uprising) in Minnesota. Researching and documenting the treaties of 1851 and 1858 between the Dakota Sioux and the federal government, the author concludes both pacts failed, and he places the blame primarily on the corrupt practices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Only a fraction of the money Congress sent to the Indians ever reached them. Lack of money led to a lack of food, accompanied by famine and, finally, uprising and the war.
Anderson also refutes the longstanding belief Little Crow was the prime mover of the Dakotas’ decision to attack the whites, his stance in fact being more moderate. “Rather than a symbol of butchery—there is no evidence that Little Crow ever killed anyone—he was the ultimate example of the tragic nature of the Minnesota-Dakota War,” the author writes. Blamed for the uprising at the time, the chief suffered humiliation that did not end with his death. His killers became heroes and received a $500 reward, while Little Crow’s scalp, skull and forearms resided in the Minnesota Historical Society archives until repatriated to South Dakota for burial in 1971.
The author lavishes considerable attention on the dilemma President Abraham Lincoln faced regarding the fate of Dakota prisoners after soldiers finally crushed the uprising. Ultimately, instead of executing 303, as the Army wanted, the president ordered the execution of only 39, subsequently whittling it down to 38. Even then, it represented the largest mass hanging in American history.
Anderson lets the Indians relate their perspective, drawing on three dozen Dakota and mixed-blood narratives published in Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862, a collection he edited with Alan R. Woolworth more than 30 years ago.
Massacre in Minnesota provides a balanced understanding of how that state’s experiment with coexistence between Indians and white settlers failed. Readers interested in the history of the Indian wars stand to learn more about the Sioux’s bloodiest single conflict in this insightful book.
Dakota History in the Faribault Region
Chief Hushasha of the Wahpekute Dakota in front of his tipi while imprisoned at Fort Snelling, Minnesota in 1862, after the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 (Dakota War).
The Wahpekute Dakota were the original occupants of the region around Faribault, along with some of their Mdewakanton Dakota relatives. 1 Minnesota itself comes from the Dakota word for Mni Sota, the waters that reflects the sky. The main Wahpekute village was situated along the northwest shore of Medatepetonka, "Lake of the Big Village," now known as Cannon Lake.
The Wahpekute lived in a peaceable alliance with the other six peoples that make up the the Oceti Sakowin, the Lakota/Dakota Sioux, but competition for lands and resources stepped up with westward migration by Ojibwe from the shores of Lake Superior, bearing French firearms and exacerbated by the United States. With time, many of the Lakota/Dakota moved into what is now South Dakota and Nebraska, while the remaining communities settled in southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and eastern Wisconsin. After the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862, the vast majority of Dakota were forcibly exiled outside Minnesota, though always maintaining connection to their homelands. Today, the Prairie Island Indian Community near the mouth of the Cannon in Red Wing, is the nearest Dakota nation.
Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, “Timeline,” accessed 20 April, 2013, http://www.faribault.org/history/Timeline.htm. ↩
Access Genealogy, “Wahpekute Indian Tribe History,” accessed 20 April, 2013, http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/siouan/wahpekutehist.htm. ↩
This tall, white sandstone rock formation located in what is today known as Castle Rock, was the namesake for the present day Cannon River, which the Wahpekute named Iyan Bosndata ("The Standing Rock River”) .
The Wahpekute split into two groups, with one settling in northern Iowa near Spirit Lake, and the other, along the Upper Cannon Valley. The latter were the first recorded residents of the Rice County area (then unnamed). They settled first in villages along the Cannon River, which they named Inyan Bosndata ("The Standing Rock River”) after a tall, white sandstone rock formation located in what is today known as Castle Rock, Dakota County, Minnesota. 10 Later, at Alexander Faribault’s persuasion, they moved into the existing site of Faribault. There were about 600 Wahpekute in the area by the early 1850s.
Chief Hushasha (Red Legs) of the Wahpekute Dakota was imprisoned in the Dakota internment camp at Fort Snelling, Minnesota after the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 . Hushasha converted to Christianity and is understood to have been baptized by the Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple, the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota who founded the Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior in Faribault. Many of Hushasha's descendants have identified themselves as Episcopalians. 11
Shannon Sleeth, “Wahpekute Dakota Sioux, Rice County Minnesota,” last modified October 2009, http://www.oocities.org/heartland/estates/5418/indian.html. ↩
Fox, Donald Whipple. "Chief Hushasha in Front of His Tipi While Imprisoned at Fort Snelling (Minnesota) in 1862." Beliefnet Community. February 9, 2009. http://community.beliefnet.com/hushasha40. ↩
F. W. Frink, A Short History of Faribault, (Faribault: Press of the Faribault Republican, 1902)↩
Historical accounts of U.S.-Dakota War change through years
Historians agree that the U. S. - Dakota War of 1862 was one of Minnesota's most momentous events.
The war's history has been documented and shared by people who have a range of perspective and accounts of it have changed over time.
Historian William Lass has reviewed 13 histories of the war, and he recommends reading, "The Dakota War of 1862," for several reasons.
"Well, first of all, it's short."
The book, with illustrations, comes to 102 pages.
Besides its brevity, Lass adds that the 1961 book, first titled, "The Sioux Uprising of 1862," by newspaperman Kenneth Carley is still the most balanced and factual account. Carley later became editor of the Minnesota Historical Society's quarterly magazine, Minnesota History.
As the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War approached, William Lass, professor emeritus of history at Minnesota State University Mankato, assigned himself the task of reviewing 13 accounts of the conflict.
Lass was a farm boy, born and raised in South Dakota by descendants of German settlers similar to the immigrants arriving in Minnesota in the 1850s and ❠s. He taught history for more than 40 years and at 83, he continues to research and write about the U.S. - Dakota conflict.
The books Lass reviewed were written by Americans of European descent — 12 men and one woman. The first three histories were published right after the war when emotions ran high.
The writers then and even more recently wrote what Lass calls popular history, inventing or embellishing quotes and descriptions.
"In this way you write something that's lively reading. It's fast moving. It keeps you on the edge of the page," Lass said. "But it can also be a misrepresentation."
Lass says early histories of the war reflected the prevailing views of the time: that white people had a God-given right to the land, and that native people were pagan savages.
One of the first and most unusual accounts of the conflict was written by a Minnesota icon, Harriet Bishop, a St. Paul resident who started the city's first school. Her account would not meet today's scholarly standards.
"Her only explanation of what caused the war and how the war was conducted was divine intervention," Lass said. "Her only explanation for the Indians going to war was they had fallen in league with the devil."
Another early history mentioned the deceitful nature of the treaties the U.S. government signed with the 6,300 Dakota who resided in what would become Minnesota.
But overall, the first accounts of the war focused on the brutality and the atrocities committed by the several hundred Dakota who took up arms.
Lass said those first histories of the war were riddled with inaccuracies, reported falsehoods as facts and embellished eyewitness testimony of settlers.
It would be 45 years before an account of the war attempted to explain the Dakota side of the story.
That history was "The Indians' Revenge, or Days of Horror, Some Appalling Events in the History of the Sioux" written by Alexander Berghold, a Catholic priest in New Ulm, and published in 1891.
Berghold noted the swindles, starvation and ill treatment of the Dakota which laid the groundwork for a new assertion." Lass said.
"What the Indians did was justified," Lass said, speaking of a viewpoint that would have been widely unpopular just after the war.
But by the time Berghold's account was published, people and times had changed, Lass said. Many of the white settlers who were alive in 1862 had passed away. The state's population had exploded and many new residents had no knowledge of the war.
The first history to include an interview with a Dakota fighter was written by newspaper reporter Return Holcombe in 1908.
"So, this is an insider look from the other side," Lass said. "Consequently you have a new strain of evidence."
He uses the word ɾvidence' intentionally.
By 1900, history writing had undergone a revolution. Among the changes, authors had to use facts that could be verified by others, Lass said, and writers needed to be much more vigilant about the use of adjectives.
"Consider what you can do with such a word as courageous or unscrupulous. You're painting a word picture that you are planting in someone's mind," he said.
Lass' review and a listing of the 13 histories he surveyed is in the current issue of the Minnesota Historical Society's Minnesota History quarterly magazine.
New documentary remembers largest mass execution in US history
The largest mass execution in U.S. history occurred 148 years ago, when 38 Dakota warriors were hanged from a single scaffold in Mankato.
The shock waves of that mass execution still reverberate today among the Dakota people. A new documentary film remembers the 38, and also a group of Dakota who ride on horseback each year at this time to Mankato to commemorate the executions of Dec. 26, 1862.
The U.S.-Dakota War played out along several all too familiar themes of U.S. history: broken treaties and unfulfilled promises. The war started in August of 1862 and when it was over six weeks later, hundreds of Indians, settlers and soldiers were dead along the Minnesota River valley.
Filmmaker Silas Hagerty said his introduction to the war came five years ago. At a traditional sweat lodge ceremony, an Indian spiritual leader told Haggerty about his dream.
Hagerty said the dream was of a journey.
"Riding on horseback across South Dakota and Minnesota, and arriving on the bank of a river in Minnesota, which he later discovered was Mankato," Hagerty said. "And in his dream he saw these 38 Dakota warriors, all hanged at the same time."
The dream inspired an annual horseback ride from the Missouri River in South Dakota to Mankato to remember those executed. That journey, in turn, inspired Hagerty and his colleagues to honor both the modern day riders and those hanged in 1862.
"We want to distribute the film as a gift," he said.
Dakota 38 documents the ride to Mankato in 2008. It was a memorable trek, filled with blizzards but also warm greetings from small town residents along the way. In the movie, Indian spiritual leader Jim Miller describes his painful dream and its hold on him.
"I tried to put it out of my mind," Miller said. "But it was one of them dreams that bothers you night and day."
That moment captures the spiritual burden of the 1862 war for the Dakota. It's a burden that dominates the film.
The conflict began over broken promises of food and other goods that the United States government made the Dakota in exchange for land. The fighting included battles at Fort Ridgely and New Ulm.
When it was over, hundreds of Dakota fighters were arrested and sentenced to death, charged mainly with killing civilians. After pleas from Bishop Henry Whipple and others urging leniency, President Abraham Lincoln spared most of the accused, except for the 38 eventually hanged.
The Dakota were evicted from Minnesota, sent to live on reservations in Nebraska and the Dakotas. Some ended up as far away as Canada. Hagerty said those events left scars.
"There's a lot of historical trauma and it's talked about in the film," he said. "Where a lot of the Dakota men on the ride speak of this genetic depression that's passed from one generation to the next."
The problems are evident in alcohol and drug addiction, suicides and family breakdowns among Native Americans. The film confronts the viewer with the damage those issues cause.
At the end of Dakota 38, the filmmakers reveal that one of the young men featured in the film recently committed suicide.
Dakota 38 co-director Sarah Weston, a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, said the suicide is part of what she calls the 'historical grief' left over from the traumatic collision in the 1800's between Native Americans and white settlers.
One of the film's messages, Weston said, is that the Dakota and other Indians should take a simple but difficult step: forgive the misdeeds of the past.
"The past is really, really traumatic," Weston said. "But we're going to reach our hand out and say that we forgive. Because when you're not in a forgiveness place, you're linked to that person or that trauma for the rest of your life, all day long. And so by forgiving we're no longer linked to that."
Weston and her colleagues hope the film will be finished and released next year. Right now they have a rough cut in hand, and they've been previewing it at several locations throughout the region, including along the route of this year's ride to Mankato.
Dec. 26, 1862: Mass Execution of Dakota Indians
Little Crow, a chief of the Mdewakanton Sioux Vannerson, Julian lead his people in the Great Sioux Uprising in Minnesota 1862.
On Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota Indians were executed by the U.S. government during the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Dakota Uprising).
Minnesota was a new frontier state in 1862, where white settlers were pushing out the Dakota Indians—also called the Sioux. A series of broken peace treaties culminated in the failure of the United States that summer to deliver promised food and supplies to the Indians, partial payment for their giving up their lands to whites.
The Indians responded in the Santee Sioux uprising, killing 490 white settlers. The Dakota were executed for their role in the war of self-defense. As Wiener notes,
[President Abraham] Lincoln’s treatment of defeated Indian rebels against the United States stood in sharp contrast to his treatment of Confederate rebels. He never ordered the executions of any Confederate officials or generals after the Civil War, even though they killed more than 400,000 Union soldiers.
To learn more, we recommend the U.S. Dakota War website and an edition of This American Life, Little War on the Prairie, by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen says, nobody ever talked about the most important historical event ever to happen there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers. John went back to Minnesota to figure out what really happened 150 years ago, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it much after.
Find a description of the segment with teaching resources in a blog by Debbie Reese on American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Andrew Jackson and the “Children of the Forest”
Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow.
A lesson in which students develop critical literacy skills by responding to Andrew Jackson’s speech on “Indian Removal.”
Standing with Standing Rock: A Role Play on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, Bill Bigelow, and Andrew Duden. Article by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. 15 pages. Rethinking Schools.
A role play helps students recognize the issues at stake in the historic struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People
Book – Non-fiction. By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz adapted by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza. 2019. 244 pages.
The original academic text is fully adapted by renowned curriculum experts Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, for middle-grade and young adult readers.
Native American Activism: 1960s to Present
Overview of Native American activism since the late 1960s, including protests at Mt. Rushmore, Alcatraz, Standing Rock, and more.
Unlearning “Indian” Stereotypes
Slideshow on DVD. 1977, updated in 2008. Rethinking Schools and the Council on Interracial Books for Children.
Native American history through the eyes of Native American children.
American Indians in Children’s Literature
Website. By Debbie Reese.
Critical perspectives of Indigenous peoples in children’s books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society-at-large.
State of Minnesota
The Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, or Little Crow's War) was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux or Dakota which began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota and ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota.
Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that annuity payments be given to them directly (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders), but in mid-1862, the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit. Thus negotiations reached an impasse as a result of the bellicosity of the traders' representative, Andrew Myrick. On August 17, 1862, five American settlers were killed by four Dakota on a hunting expedition. That night, a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley in an effort to drive whites out of the area. Continued battles between the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota forces. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, but estimates range from 300 to 800. By late December, more than a thousand Dakota were interned in jails in Minnesota, and 38 Dakota were hanged in the largest one-day execution in American history on December 26, 1862. In April 1863, the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota, and their reservations were abolished by the United States Congress.
Chief Taoyateduta (Little Crow)
Little Crow, or Taoyateduta, was the Dakota chief who led the Indian attacks in the 1862 war. He was a reluctant leader. The night before the attacks began, he attempted to talk down the war mood. But the warriors were adamant. They wanted to fight, so Little Crow agreed to lead them.
The grave marker of Little Crow is near Flandreau, S.D. He survived the 1862 war, but was killed the next year near Hutchinson, Minn.
The inscription reads:
Taoyateduta, known as Chief Little Crow of the Mdewakantons.
Died July 3, 1863.
Buried Sept. 27, 1971.
"Tosta nici matekte - Therefore I'll die with you."
When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, representatives of several Dakota bands led by Little Crow traveled to Washington, D.C. to make negotiations about the enforcement of the treaties. The northern half of the reservation along the Minnesota River was lost, and rights to the quarry at Pipestone, Minnesota were also ceded by the Dakota. This was a major blow to the standing of Little Crow in the Dakota community.
Payments guaranteed by the treaties were not made, due to Federal preoccupation with the American Civil War. Most land in the river valley was not arable, and hunting could no longer support the Dakota community. Losing land to new white settlers, non-payment, past broken treaties, plus food shortages and famine following crop failure led to great discontent among the Dakota people. Tension increased through the summer of 1862.
On August 4, 1862, representatives of the northern Sissetowan and Wahpeton Dakota bands met at the Upper Sioux Agency in the northwestern part of the reservation and successfully negotiated to obtain food. However, when two other bands of the Dakota, the southern Mdewakanton and the Wahpekute, turned to the Lower Sioux Agency for supplies on August 15, 1862, they were rejected. Indian Agent (and Minnesota State Senator) Thomas Galbraith managed the area and would not distribute food without payment to these bands. According to legend, at a meeting of the Dakota, the United States government, and local traders, the Dakota representatives asked the representative of the government traders, Andrew Jackson Myrick, to sell them food on credit. His response, apparently, was "so far as I am concerned, let them eat grass."
On August 16, 1862, the treaty payments to the Dakota arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, and were brought to Fort Ridgely the next day. However, it came too late to prevent violence. On August 17, 1862, four young Dakota men were on a hunting trip in Acton Township, Minnesota, where they stole food and killed five white settlers. Soon after, a Dakota war council was convened, and their leader, Little Crow, agreed to continue the attacks on the settlements in an effort to drive them out.
On August 18, 1862, Little Crow led a group that attacked the Lower Sioux (or Redwood) Agency. Andrew Myrick was among the first that was killed as he was discovered trying to escape through a second-floor window of a building at the agency. Myrick's body later was found with grass stuffed into his mouth. Buildings at the Lower Sioux Agency were taken and burned by the warriors however, the time spent burning the buildings provided enough delay for many people to escape across the river at Redwood Ferry. Minnesota militia forces and B Company of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment sent to quell the uprising were defeated at the Battle of Redwood Ferry. Twenty-four soldiers, including the party's commander (Captain John Marsh), were killed in the battle. Throughout the day, Dakota war parties swept the Minnesota River Vally and near vicinity, killing a large number of settlers. Numerous settlements, including the Townships of Milford, Leavenworth, and Sacred Heart, were surrounded, burned, and nearly exterminated.
People escaping from the Indian massacre of 1862 in Minnesota, at dinner on a prairie
Confident with their initial success, the Dakota continued their offensive and attacked the settlement of New Ulm, Minnesota on August 19, 1862, and again on August 23, 1862. Dakota warriors initially decided not to attack the heavily-defended Fort Ridgely along the river and instead turned toward the town, killing settlers along the way.
By the time New Ulm itself was attacked, residents had organized defenses in the town center and were able to keep the Dakota at bay during the brief siege. However, Dakota warriors were able to penetrate parts of the defenses, and much of the town were burned.
By that evening, a thunderstorm prevented further Dakota attacks and New Ulm was reinforced by regular soldiers and militia from nearby towns (including two companies of the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry then stationed at Fort Ridgely), while the population continued to build barricades around the town.
During this period, Fort Ridgely was attacked by the Dakota on August 20 and 22, 1862. Although the Dakota were not able to take the fort, their ambush of a relief party from the fort to New Ulm on August 21 and the manpower expended in defense at the Battle of Fort Ridgely greatly reduced the strength of the American forces. The Dakota also undertook raids on farms and small settlements throughout south-central Minnesota and what was then eastern Dakota Territory.
Counterattacks by Minnesota militia against these raiding parties again resulted in a major defeat of American forces at the Battle of Birch Coulee on September 2, 1862. The battle began when the Dakota attacked a detachment of 150 American soldiers at Birch Coulee, 16 miles from Fort Ridgely. The detachment had been sent out to find survivors, bury the American dead, and report on the location of Dakota fighters. A three-hour firefight began with an early morning assault. Thirteen soldiers were killed and 47 were wounded, while two Dakota were killed. A column of 240 soldiers from Fort Ridgely relieved the detachment at Birch Coulee the same afternoon.
Further north, the Dakota attacked several unfortified stagecoach stops and river crossings along the Red River Trails, a settled trade route between Fort Garry (now Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Saint Paul, Minnesota in the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota and eastern Dakota Territory. Many settlers and employees of the Hudson's Bay Company and other local enterprises in this sparsely populated country took refuge in Fort Abercrombie, located in a bend of the Red River of the North about 25 miles south of present day Fargo, North Dakota. Between late August and late September, the Dakota launched several attacks on Fort Abercrombie which were repelled by its defenders.
In the meantime, steamboat and flatboat trade on the Red River came to a halt, and mail carriers, stage drivers and military couriers were killed while attempting to reach settlements such as Pembina, North Dakota, Fort Garry, St. Cloud, Minnesota and Fort Snelling. Eventually the garrison at Fort Abercrombie was relieved by a United States Army company from Fort Snelling and the civilian refugees were removed to St. Cloud.
After the arrival of a larger army force, the final large-scale fighting took place at the Battle of Wood Lake on Sept 23, 1862. According to the official report of Lt. Col. William R. Marshall of the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, elements of the 7th Minnesota and the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment (and a six-pounder cannon) were deployed equally in dugouts and in a skirmish line. After brief fighting, the forces in the skirmish line charged against the Dakota (then in a ravine) and defeated them overwhelmingly
Among the Citizen Soldier units in Sibley's expedition:
Captain Joseph F. Bean's Company "The Eureka Squad"
Captain David D. Lloyd's Company
Captain Calvin Potter's Company of Mounted Men
Captain Mark Hendrick's Battery of Light Artillery
1st Lt Christopher Hansen's Company "Cedar Valley Rangers" of the 5th Iowa State Militia, Mitchell Co, Iowa
elements of the 5th & 6th Iowa State Militia
Most Dakota fighters surrendered shortly after the Battle of Wood Lake at Camp Release on September 26, 1862. The place was so-named because it was the site where 269 captives of the Dakota were released to the troops commanded by Col. Henry Sibley. The captives included 162 "mixed-bloods" and 107 whites, mostly women and children. Most of the Dakotas guilty of war crimes, however, left before Sibley arrived at Camp Release. The surrendered Dakota warriors were held until military trials took place in November 1862.
Little Crow was forced to retreat sometime in September 1862. He stayed briefly in Canada but soon returned to the Minnesota area. He was killed on July 3, 1863 near Hutchinson, Minnesota while gathering raspberries with his teenage son. The pair had wandered onto the land of white settler Nathan Lamson, who shot at them to collect bounties. Once it was discovered that the body was of Little Crow, his skull and scalp were put on display in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they remained until 1971. For killing Little Crow, Lamson was granted an additional $500 bounty, while Little Crow's son received a death sentence that was commuted to a prison term.
In early December, 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death. Some trials lasted less than 5 minutes, and the proceedings neither were explained to the defendants, nor were the Sioux represented in court. President Abraham Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records, and he attempted to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the United States versus those who had committed the crimes of rape and murder against civilians.
Henry Whipple, the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and a reformer of U.S. policies towards Native Americans, urged Lincoln to proceed with leniency. Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners and allowed the execution of 39 others. One of the 39 condemned prisoners was granted a reprieve. The 38 remaining prisoners were executed by hanging on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota, in what remains the largest mass execution in American history.
The mass execution was performed publicly on a single scaffold platform. Regimental surgeons pronounced the prisoners dead, and they then were buried en masse in a trench in the sand of the riverbank. Before they were buried, however, an unknown person nicknamed “Dr. Sheardown” possibly removed some of the prisoners' skin. Small boxes purportedly containing the skin later were sold in Mankato.
Because of high demand for cadavers for anatomical study, several doctors requested the bodies after the execution. The grave was re-opened and the bodies were distributed among local doctors, a practice that was common in that era. The doctor who received the body of Mahpiya Okinajin (He Who Stands in Clouds) was William Worrall Mayo.
Years later, Mayo brought the body of Mahpiya Okinajin to Le Sueur, Minnesota, where Mayo dissected it in the presence of medical colleagues. Afterward, the skeleton was cleaned, dried and varnished, and Mayo kept it in an iron kettle in his home office. The identifiable remains of Mahpiya Okinajin and other Native Americans later were returned by the Mayo Clinic to a Dakota tribe for reburial per the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
The remaining convicted Indians stayed in prison that winter. The following spring, they were transferred to Rock Island, Illinois where they were held in prison for almost four years. By the time of their release, one third of the prisoners had died of disease. The survivors were sent with their families to Nebraska, who already had been expelled from Minnesota.
During this time, more than 1600 Dakota women, children, and old men were held in an internment camp on Pike Island, near Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Living conditions were poor, and disease struck the camp, killing more than three hundred. In April 1863, the United States Congress abolished the reservation, declared all previous treaties with the Dakota null and void, and undertook proceedings to expel the Dakota people entirely from Minnesota. To this end, a bounty of $25 per scalp was placed on any Dakota found free within the boundaries of the state. The only exception to this legislation applied to 208 Mdewakanton who remained neutral or assisted white settlers in the conflict. In May of 1863, the survivors were forced aboard steamboats and relocated to Crow Creek, in the southeastern Dakota Territory, a place stricken by drought at the time. The survivors of Crow Creek were moved three years later to the Santee Reservation in Nebraska
The Minnesota River valley and surrounding upland prairie areas were abandoned by most settlers during the war. Many of the families who fled their farms and homes as refugees never returned. Following the American Civil War, however, the area had been resettled and returned to an agricultural area by the mid-1870s.
The Lower Sioux Indian Reservation was reestablished at the site of the Lower Sioux Agency near Morton, and in the 1930s the even smaller Upper Sioux Indian Reservation was established near Granite Falls. Although some Dakota opposed the war, most were also expelled from Minnesota, including those who attempted to assist settlers. The Yankton Sioux chief Struck by the Ree deployed some of his warriors to this effect, but was not judged friendly enough to be allowed to remain in the state immediately after the war. However, by the 1880s a number of Dakota had moved back to the Minnesota River valley, notably the Goodthunder, Wabasha, Bluestone, and Lawrence families. They were joined by Dakota families who had been living under the protection of bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple and the trader Alexander Faribault.
Newspaper Accounts of the Massacre
[Also read the story of Minnie Buce Carrigan, captured during the massacre]
The Appleton Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Saturday, August 30 1862
The Indian Massacre in Minnesota
St. Paul, Aug. 23
Parties from Minn. River reached here last night they state that scouts estimate the number of whites already killed by Sioux at 500. The opinion is based on the number of bodies found along the roads and trails. It is believed that all missionaries are killed. The civilized Indians exceeded their savage brethren in atrocities.
Mr. Frenier, an interpreter, who has spent most of his life among the Indians, volunteered to go along, trusting to his knowledge of Indians and disguise to escape detection, dressed and painted in savage style. He arrived at the Upper Agency in the night and fund the place literally a habitation of death. He visited all of the houses and found the former occupants lying dead – some on the door steps, some inside and others scattered in the yards. He went to the house of Hon. J. R. Brown, and recognized every member of his family, 18 in all, murdered. He visited Beaver Creek, and found fifty families killed went to every house and recognized the bodies of nearly all the former inhabitants. Among those he recognized at the Agency were N. Givens and family, Mr. Galbreath and children, Dr. Wakefield and family, John Tadden’s and family, John and Edward Mayner and two Missionaries, Rev. Dr. Williamson and Rev. Mr. Riggs.
Ex. Gov. Sibley, now marching to the relief of Fort Ridgeley, reports Sioux bands united in carrying out a concerted and desperate scheme, and says he will only be too happy to find powerful upper band of Yanktons and other Indians not united with them.
Mr. Frenie writes Gov. Ramsey from Henderson, 21st, that he left Fort Ridley at 5 a.m. There were then 2,000 Indians around the fort and the wooden buildings were burning. He thinks other tribes were joining the Sioux, and they present a formidable array.
A reliable letter dated Glencoe, Aug. 21st, says: “The injury done by the stampede of settlers is immense another such scene of woe can hardly be found in the South as in McHood Mecker and the Northern part of Sibley and other counties. In St. Paul and adjoining country all available horses are being gathered up, and all sorts of weapons will be used by willing hands for the immediate and summary punishment of these audacious and rascally Indians.
Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Saturday evening, August 23, 1862
Mr. A. W. Dexter, formerly of Johnstown in this county, but who now resides at Winona, Minn., and who left there yesterday, called upon us this morning, and confirms the terrible Indian massacre in that state. He says that about 200 persons had been killed, that Fort Ridgely had been taken by the Indians, and most of the two military companies there were massacred. There are but few settlers between the fort and New Ulm, and the Indians appear to be advancing towards Mankato and the more densely settled part of the state. It is rumored that a large number of Indians from the south of Kansas have been instigated by the secessionists to join the Siouxs.
Mr. Dexter saw a woman at Winona whose husband and brother were murdered. He also learned that two Mr. Geers, formerly of Allen’s Grove, in this county, were among the soldiers at Fort Ridgley, and were probably killed.
It is fortunate for Minnesota that the volunteers under the late call from the general government have not left the state. A volunteer regiment located at Fort Snelling is now probably on its way to the scene of the massacre, with such arms as can be got in the country and, as soon as the government provides arms, five regimetns could be immediately sent to exterminate the dastardly savages.
The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio) Thursday, September 4 1862
Letter from A. J. Van Vorhes
Fort Ridgely, Aug. 20th
Editors of the St. Paul Press:
Knowing the intense excitement that must prevail throughout the State in consequence of the Indian outbreaks, and massacres of the past two days, and with the hope that a full knowledge of the facts will stimulate the Government and citizens to prompt and decisive action, I hasten to communicate such items as the excitement of the hour, and the exigencies of affairs as they appear to one on the ground will suggest.
It is well known that dissatisfaction has existed in the various tribes for some weeks past, in consequence of the delay of the Government in making the annual payment but no one dreamed of a well organized and systematically arranged outbreak, embracing tribes which have ever been hostile to each other. This fact, in connection with circumstances that have come to my knowledge within the past few days, convince me that it is a part of the plan of the great rebellion. The Government will be convinced of this fact should it prove that this is a systemized raid all along the border, from Pembina to the Missouri river.
The party attending Mr. Wycoff, acting Superintendent, who was on his way to the Upper Sioux Agency to make the annual payment, met a messenger about six miles from this place, on Monday morning, announcing an outbreak at the Lower Sioux Agency, and the murder of all the whites in the vicinity, except the few who had made their escape. Upon our arrival here we fund the statement confirmed. Upon learning the facts Captain Marsh immediately set out for the Agency with forty-five men of his company – leaving some twenty at the garrison. In the evening seventeen of his men returned.
At the ferry opposite the Agency, Captain Marsh encountered a large body of warriors, who opened fire upon him. – After a few volleys, a large body of Indians ambushed in his rear, also opened fire upon him, immediately killing a number of his men. A retreat was attempted in which it was thought expedient to make a crossing of the river. While in the water, a volley was fired upon Captain Marsh, who immediately went down. Besides the Captain, three sergeants and four corporals are known to be killed, and a large number of his command. Up to this time but four additional soldiers have returned – three of them mortally wounded.
Monday night was a night of anxiety and peril to the little band at this garrison. Every man became a soldier, and every precaution was taken to protect the fort. Lieut. Gero, of Company B, did all in his power, whose efforts were seconded by every civilian. The lights of burning buildings and grain stacks lighted the entire horizon. Escaped citizens came in during the night, giving accounts of horrors too terrible for the imagination to conceive or appreciate. Mothers came in rags and barefooted, whose husbands and children had been slaughtered before their eyes. Children came, who witnessed the murder of their parents, or their burning in their own houses. Every species of torture and barbarity the imagination can picture, seems everywhere to have been resorted to. I am no alarmist, and would not excite the public mind but these things are true, and unless met with the most energetic and thorough resistance by Government and people, God only knows when the end will be. Our entire frontier border will be sacrificed unless immediate assistance is given.
On Monday morning a messenger was dispatched for the company under Lieut. Sheehan, of company C, stationed at Fort Ripley, who had been here some weeks with his command awaiting the payment, but who had been ordered back to Ripley on Saturday. He was overtaken forty-two miles from this place. With commendable promptness he immediately turned back and arrived yesterday morning at 10 o’clock, making a forced march with his gallant men of forty-two miles in the incredibly short space of nine hours.
Never were a set of gallant men received with more heartfelt gratitude than the command of Lieutenant Sheehan. Men and women and children expressed their gratitude with tears and blessing upon them all. The first movement of Lieutenant Sheeban, tired and worn out as he was, was to examine the picket posts and take prompt and energetic steps to strengthen his position. The little squads of Indians who had been skulking about the groves and bluffs adjacent, were immediately shelled and dispersed by Sergeant Jones.
Last evening Major Galbraith, who was on his way to Fort Snelling with fifty recruits, and had reached St. Peter, arrived, having learned the state of affairs, and secured arms at that place. We now have about 250 armed men, and can hold the post against any probable contingency but with this force no assistance can be given the suffering thousands all around us. One or two regiments should be dispatched with proper equipments – otherwise this border will be desolated.
The roads between here and the Agency, and in the direction of New Ulm, are lined with murdered men, women and children. From three to four hundred citizens are now in these barracks, claiming protection, five of whom are wounded (?) of them children of six or eight years of age.
The hospital is already filled. Dr. Muller, the post surgeon, is doing all that his acknowledged skill can suggest for their relief.
P.S. – The enemy is now advancing in force from the North, and the cannon and howitzers are playing upon them.
Yours, in haste,
A. J. Van Vorhes”
As soon as the above and other letters were received yesterday, the Governor ordered the balance of the Sixth Regiment, with Col. Nelson at their head, to repair to the frontier. He also issued a proclamation, which we give below, calling upon volunteer mounted men to report themselves in squads or companies to Colonels Nelson and Sibley, to assit in putting down this murderous foray. The Sigel Guards are to go to Fort Ripley.
Authority was given the Dodge country volunteers, who are at home on furlough, to be mounted and report themselves at St. Peters to Col. Nelson. Col. Robertson was last evening engaged in raising mounted volunteers to accompany the expedition under Col. Nelson, which starts from the Fort today. Arms for the supply of one company were started by express fro Mankato yesterday, and will reach their destination this evening. The Governor has telegraphed the War and Interior Departments of the state of affairs, and asked for authority to raise a regiment of mounted men for the protection of the frontier.
Great activity was manifested in the streets last evening. As many as could get horses were preparing to accompany the expedition tomorrow. A company of about twenty men left Faribault yesterday for the scene of action, and a meeting was held at Owatonna last evening to get volunteers for the Indian war. The people throughtout the State are rushing to arms for the defense of the settlers, and in three days there will be an army of at least two thousand men at Fort Ridgely, one half of them mounted. We hope they will be able to overtake their murderons and cowardly foe, and exterminate them.
PROCLAMATION OF THE GOVERNOR
To the People of Minnesota:
The Sioux Indians upon the Western frontier have risen in large bodies, attacked the settlements, and are murdering men, women and children. The rising appears concerted, and extends from Fort Ripley to the southern boundary of the State.
In this extremity I call upon the militia of the Valley of the Minnesota, and the counties adjoining the frontier, to take horses, and arm and equip themselves, taking with them subsistence for a few days, and at once report, separately or in squads, to the officer commanding the expedition now moving up the Minnesota river to the scene of hostilities. The officer commanding the expedition has been clothed with full power to provide for all exigencies that may arise.
Measures will be taken to subsist the forces so raised.
This outbreak must be suppressed in such manner as will forever prevent its repetition.
I earnestly urge upon the settlers on the frontiers, that while taking all proper precautions for the safety of their families, they will not give way to any unnecessary alarm. A regiment of infantry, together with 300 cavalry, have been ordered to their defense, and with the voluntary troops now being raised, the frontier settlements will speedily be placed beyond danger.
Executive Chamber, St. Paul, Aug. 21
Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Saturday evening, January 3, 1862
The Execution of the Minnesota Indians
The St. Paul Pioneer, of the 28th, has the full details of the execution of the thirty-eight Indians, on the 26th, for participation in the late Indian massacre in Minnesota. The extract we append is a story of the affair from the time of the condemned leaving their cells:
“In a moment, every Indian stood erect, and as the provost marshal opened the door, they fell in behind him with the greatest alacrity. Indeed, a notice of release, pardon, or reprieve could not have induced them to leave the cell with more apparent willingness than this call to death. We followed on behind them, and as those at the head of the procession came out of the basement, at the opposite side of the gallows, and directly in front, we heard a sort of death-wail sounded, which was immediately caught up by all the condemned, and was chanted in unison until the scaffold was reached. At the foot of the steps there was no delay. Capt. Redfield mounted the drop, at the head, and the Indians crowded after him, as if it were a race to see which would get up first. They actually crowded on each other’s heels, and as they got to the top, each took his position, without any assistance from those who were detailed for that purpose. They still kept up a mournful wail, and occasionally there would be a piercing scream.
The ropes were soon arranged around their necks, not the least resistance being offered. One or two feeling the noose uncomfortably tight, attempted to loosen it, and although their hands were tied, they partially succeeded. The movement, however, was noticed by the assistants, and the cords re-arranged. The white caps, which had been placed on top of their heads, were drown over their faces, shutting out forever the light of day from their eyes. Then ensued a scene that can hardly be described, and which can never be forgotten.
All joined in shouting and singing, as it appeared to those who were ignorant of the language. The tones seemed somewhat discordant, and yet there was harmony in it. Save the moment of cutting the rope, it was the most thrilling moment of the awful scene. And it was not their voice alone, their bodies swayed to and fro, and their every limb seemed to be keeping time. The drop trembled and shook as if it were dancing.
The most touching scene on the drop was their attempts to grasp each other’s hands, fettered as they were. They were very close to each other, and many succeeded. Three or four in a row were hand in hand, and all hands swaying up and down with the rise and fall of their voices. One old man reached out each side, but could not grasp a hand. His struggles were piteous, and affected many beholders.
We were informed by those who understood the language, that their singing, and shourting was only to sustain each other – that there was nothing defiant in their last moments, and that no “death song,” strictly speaking, was chanted on the gallows. Each one shouted his own name, and called on the name of his friend, saying in substance, “I’m here! I’m here!”
Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) January 25 1908
United After Many Years
Supposed Victim of Indian Massacre Finds His Family
Lost for forty-eight years and given up for dead as one of the victims of an Indian massacre in 1859, when the other thirty-nine of the party were killed, Alanson X. Lockwood, father of Mrs. I. M. Bennett of 3631 Greenwood avenue, Seattle, has been located in Manton, Cal., and the daughter, now past the half-century mark, left Saturday over the Northern Pacific to meet her father she had supposed to be dead, says a Seattle correspondent of the Winnipeg Journal.
Merest chance has placed the long-separated father and daughter in communication and wrought events in such a manner that the aged father can be brought back to the family long lost to him.
His aged wife, who married again after the report of the massacre of her husband, will basten back to Seattle from Princeton, Ill., where she is now visiting. The second husband, whom she married forty-four years ago, died a few months since, and she will now meet her husband of fifty years ago.
During the gold rush to California in 1859 Mr. Lockwood went from Faribault, Minn., with a party of thirty-nine others to seek his fortune in the gold fields, leaving behind his young wife and daughter of 3 years. By the slow overland route of those days the party reached Boise, Idaho, where they constructed a raft and started down the south fork of the Boise and Snake rivers with the intention of going to Astoria and thence to California.
What became of the party no one ever knew, but the bones and belonging of thirty-nine of them were found bleaching upon the prairies and the report went back to the little Minnesota town that all had been killed by the Indians. Years crept slowly by and the little child became the wife of E. Wickham and the fate of Lockwood passed into the forgot past.
Friends of Mrs. Bennett in the east recently heard of a man by the name of Alanson X. Lockwood, living in California, and the peculiarity of the name aroused their interest. They wrote to Mrs. Bennett and she asked a friend who was going to California to investigate. The result was that after an exchange of letters it was learned beyond all doubt that Mrs. Bennett’s father was still living.
Only meager details of the escape of Mr. Lockwood and his subsequent failure to find his family have been sent to Mrs. Bennett, but that little reads like a chapter from the strangest romance. When the party was set upon by the Indians after leaving Boise, Mr. Lockwood was struck upon the head and the Indians, believing he was dead, threw his body into the river.
How long he remained in the water he does not know. Eventually he made his escape and after many privations reached Lewiston, Idaho. From there he traveled to Astoria, and in time reached California. Meeting with success he sent for his family. But in the meantime the report of the massacre had reached Faribault, and the widow, believing the story, had moved away. Thus when Mr. Lockwood’s letter came there was no one to claim them and no one knew where Mrs. Lockwood had gone.
Mr. Lockwood remained faithful to the memory of the wife and daughter whom he had left behind. He could not forget the memory of the wife and daughter whom he had left behind. He could never account for their disappearance and believed them both dead. He read of the Indian troubles in Minnesota, and supposed his loved ones perished that way. The reunion of the long separated family will take place in Seattle.
Newspaper Accounts Submitted by Nancy Piper
Background Info from wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia
Minnesota in Three Centuries 1655-1908, Volume 3, By Lucius Frederick Hubbard, Return Ira Holcombe, Warren Upham, Frank R. Holmes, 1908.
GREAT SIOUX OUTBREAK
THE formidable and terrible outbreak of the Sioux Indians of Minnesota against the whites, in 1862, was the most remarkable and noteworthy incident of the kind in American history. More white people perished in that savage slaughter than in all the other massacres ever perpetrated on the North American continent. Add the number of white victims of the Indian wars of New England during the Colonial period to the list of those who perished in the Wyoming and Cherry Valleys, and to the pioneers who were killed in the early white occupation of the Middle West and the South, and the aggregate falls far short of the number of the people of Minnesota who were slain by the Sioux in less than one week in that memorable month of August, 1862. And yet a very great majority of the American people, including those who are considered well in formed in the details of our National history, and even including a great majority of the people living in the State, are unfamiliar with the "great Minnesota outbreak," and know nothing of its inception, but little of its progress, and still less of its influence and results. Historians have generally ignored it, for the reason, perhaps, that it occurred at a period of the Civil War when public attention was almost solely directed to that stupendous conflict, and but few records were made of any other events occurring at the time. The American public of 1862 were looking only southward for momentous incidents. The cries of the victims of the Minnesota massacre were lost in the thunders of Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam, and Perryville the smoke of the burnings in the young State was obscured by the powder clouds of these and other Southern battlefields.
Although a number of tragic events, amounting to wars in their character and proportions, have occurred between the whites and Indians, the Sioux outbreak of 1862 resembles none of them, but stands as a thing apart in its general nature. Its immediate origin, the spark that set the blaze, was distinct and unique. The massacre led quickly to a war which lasted fairly over a period of two years. The war changed the map of the State, and the great holocaust of blood and rapine, and all the other events, followed the robbing of a hens' nest.
LOCATIONS OF THE SIOUX BANDS.
In the spring and summer of 1862 the several Sioux bands of Minnesota who had been parties to the Treaties of 1851 and 1858 had, with a few exceptions, all their villages and homes within the young State on their prescribed reservations bordering the Upper Minnesota River.
The band farthest westward and northward was the Sisseton. The sub-band of Sissetons farthest west and north was that of the Charger, or Wa-ah-na-tan, who was half Sisseton and half Yanktonnais, of the Cut-Head branch, and a son of old Wa-ah-na-tan, the noted Sisseton chief. The Charger's band was on the western shore of Lake Traverse, "near the hills, about the middle part of the lake," says Mr. Solomon Two-Stars, and in what is now North Dakota.
Adjoining the Charger's village was the village of Sweet Corn (Wamne-heza-skuya), which was also on the Dakota side. The sub-band of Standing Buffalo was located between the Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse, practically on the present site of Brown's Valley. The band of Scarlet Plume (or Scarlet Eagle Plume, or Wam-bde-pe-doota) was on Big Stone Lake, at "the bend," or about seventy miles northwest of Yellow Medicine Scarlet Plume himself commonly lived at Yellow Medicine. There were five other small bands of Sissetons on the Upper Reservation, but they were intermingled with the four principal bands named. Uniform's band was twenty-five miles west of Big Stone Lake. The band of young Sleepy Eye was located about twenty miles west of Yellow Medicine. Sisseton bands living off the Reservation were Lean Bear's band, whose village was at a place near Lake Benton, called by the Indians "Where we pick up acorns" this was formerly a part of old Sleepy Eye's band the remainder of the old band had for chief a nephew of the noted old chieftain - who died in 1859 - and he had assumed his distinguished uncle's name. Two other Sisseton bands living off the reservation were Limping Devil's (or Thunder Face's) that had its village at the Two Woods, near Lake Shetek, on a small lake, and at a locality called by the Sioux "Where we staked down the Cheyenne Indian."
Of the Wahpaton band, the sub-chiefs were all near the Minnesota, and generally about the Yellow Medicine. The band farthest north was that of the End (Inkpa) on Big Stone Lake. Next east or southeast of him was the band of Extended Tail Feathers (Oope-ya-hday-ya) formerly called the Orphan, and head chief of the Wahpatons. Next to it on the east was Walking Spirit's band. Then, near the present site of the Camp Release monument, on the south side of the Minnesota, in Yellow Medicine County, was the little band of thirty persons under Mah-zo-manne, (or Walks on Iron, often called Iron Walker) although, the chief, a good friend of the whites, and a good man generally, lived at Yellow Medicine he was mortally wounded by accident at Wood Lake. Five miles up the Yellow Medicine from the Agency was Cloud Man's band.
About the Yellow Medicine, or Upper Agency, were other Wahpaton bands. The "Farmers' Bands," composed of Christians, who had adopted the habits of white civilization, was at the Hazelwood Mission, three miles or more above the Agency, and the leader was Simon Anah-wang-manne, (Goes Galloping on), who had succeeded Little Paul. Another "Farmers' band" near the Agency was under the Amazed Man, (E-ne-hah) who was himself a Sisseton, although nearly all of the members of his band were Wahpatons a few of his relatives were located two miles above the Agency. The band of E-yan-manne (Running Walker) had its village about a mile from the Agency. John Other Day and Akepa (Meeting) were the leaders of small bands that were scattered about the Agency.
According to the agent's census of 1861 the combined Sisseton and Wahpaton bands numbered 4,026, and of these 909 were listed as men, and the rest were women and children. The number of warriors was about 900. Many men were too old to fight, but many boys of sixteen were able to go on the war path. The largest band was Red Iron's, Wahpatons, numbering 369 men, women and children, and of these seventy-four were men. Red Iron's band was located about eighteen miles up the Minnesota from the Upper Agency. Near it was the little band of Rattling Moccasin. The largest band of Sissetons in 1861 was Standing Buffalo's, numbering 276 men, women and children, of whom fifty-eight were men
The Yankton Sioux had their principal villages on the Missouri River, in the region where is now located the city of Yankton, South Dakota. When Yanktons and Sissetons intermarried their descendants were called by the whites Yanktonnais, the French originating the term. There were other mixed blood Yankton-Sisseton-Teton people who were called Cut Heads (Pahbaksah), and the Cut Heads, and Yanktonnais, whose combined membership did not exceed 200, had no permanent villages, or stations, but roamed over the prairie country in search of the buffalo upon which they chiefly subsisted. They never came east of Lac qui Parle, and probably never went farther southward or westward than the Missouri, but they often followed the buffalo as far north as the Devil's Lake, and the Turtle Mountain country. Old Chief Charger was part Yanktonnais, and he was recognized by those people, and also by the Cut Heads as their head chief. His son, the Charger of 1862, allowed some of his father's relatives among these outside people to be enrolled as Sissetons and draw annuities, and always at the time of payment the Cut Heads and Yanktonnais swarmed about the Upper Agency to pick up what they could among their tribesmen and other beneficiaries of the pay table, even though they were commonly able to obtain but a few crumbs. Neither the Yanktons, Yanktonnais, or Cut Heads had taken any part in the Treaties of 1851, and were not entitled to any share in the payments thereunder.
Of the two lower bands, the Medawakantons and Wahpaakootas - whose reservation began on the eastern bank of the Yellow Medicine, on the west, and extended down the Minnesota to Rock Creek, four miles below Fort Ridgely - the sub-band farthest to the westward was the Medawakanton band whose leader was the Jug (Mah-kah-zhah-zhah). It was a very small band whose tepees were a few miles below the Yellow Medicine.
The sub-band of Shakopee (Six, commonly called Little Six) was a mile and more west of the mouth of the Redwood River. All about the Lower or Redwood Agency, were the other Medawakanton sub-bands. The old Kaposia village of Little Crow was on the south side of the Minnesota, a little west of the small stream called Crow's Creek, nearly opposite the present village of Morton. Near Crow's village was the band of the Great War Eagle, commonly called Big Eagle (Wam-bde-Tonka) and this had been the band of Gray Iron, of Fort Snelling. Below the Agency was the sub-band of Wah-pahah-sha (meaning literally Red War Banner) who was commonly called Wabasha, and who was the head chief of the Medawakanton band. Near him was the village of Wacouta (pronounced Wah-koota, and meaning the Shooter) who was now chief of the old Red Wing band. In this vicinity was the band of Traveling Hail, sometimes called Passing Hail (Wa-su-he-yi-ye-dan). Old Cloud Man was alive, but old and feeble, and had turned over the chieftainship to Traveling Hail, formerly of Cloud Man's band of Lake Calhoun and farther down the Minnesota, but along the crest of the high bluff bank, was the band of Mankato who had succeeded his father, the historic old Good Road, in the chieftainship of one of the prominent old Fort Snelling bands. The Wahpakootas were reduced to one band, whose chief was Red Legs (Hu-sha-sha) although Pa-Pay was recognized as one in authority. The Wahpakoota village was below Mankato's on the same side of the river. There were a dozen or more of the old band still living about Faribault, that had refused to leave their old homes, and go upon the reservation.
There was another band which deserves particular mention. This was composed of a number of Indians, chiefly of Shakopee's band, who had become dissatisfied with conditions on their reservation, and had crossed to the north side of the little stream called Rice Creek, above the mouth of the Redwood, and nearly opposite Shakopee's village, had established a village of their own. The members were all discontented spirits, of the nature of Adullamites, who had left their bands because of quarrels, strifes, or feuds, or because they rebelled at certain restrictions which had been placed upon them. In defiance of law and order they had established their reservation on white man's land, outside of their own reservation, and they announced that they were willing to defend their intrusion and trespass at all hazards. It will be remembered that the Sioux lost all their land on the left bank of the Minnesota by the Treaty of 1858. By the accession of recruits from the old bands, even from the Sissetons and Wahpaton's, the Rice Creek band had, in the early summer of 1862, about fifty members, with fifteen tepees. They had also chosen a chief, a somewhat noted warrior called Red Middle Voice, (Ho-chokpe-doota) who had belonged to Shakopee's band.
INDIAN CONDITIONS FROM 1858 TO 1862.
When the Treaty of 1858 was made and ratified there were but few of the Sioux living on that portion of the Sioux reservation north of the Minnesota nearly all of them were located upon the south side, chiefly in the timber tracts upon the crests of the high bluff banks bordering the large-wide, trough-shaped valley of the little river.
Charles E. Flaudrau, the agent of the Sioux, held the position but a few months in September, 1857, Joseph R. Brown was appointed in his stead. As might have been expected, no sooner had this great character become installed in his place than he began important reforms. It was he who inaugurated the plan of purchasing the "north ten-mile-strip" of the Sioux reservation - that portion on the left bank of the Minnesota and he carried that plan to completion, by escorting the Indian authorities to Washington and dictating the general terms of the treaty of cession. Major Brown, too, introduced a radical reform in Indian conditions. His predecessors had attempted something in the way of teaching the Indians the arts and methods of civilization, and the missionaries had helped along the work of redemption from barbarism and from sin. But when Brown took charge of the Indians they were nearly all blanketed and wild and living as in the old days. The influence of the new agent among them was vastly more powerful than that of all his predecessors in the aggregate. He had been in Minnesota and among the Sioux for nearly forty years he had married a woman of their tribe, and his children were on the Indian roll, notwithstanding their father was rearing them in a refined civilization, and to became accomplished ladies and gentlemen. He had traded among them for many years they all knew and respected him.
Not long after Major Brown took charge of the Indians, scores of them were wearing the garb of white men, with their hair cut short, their barbaric adornments cast aside, and with hoes or spades or axes in their hands. They were living in houses, cooking their food on stoves, and sleeping on four-post bedsteads, and numbers of them professed to be Christians. The Indian farming operations, the work of building houses, and the other improvements were superintended by white men in the employ of the Government, but in some instances a full blood Indian was instructor in farming for the other members of a band such a character was called a farmer. Oxen for teams, wagons, plows, and other implements were issued by the Government, and distributed among the bands. The annual payments and issues of other supplies were made regularly, and a skilled physician was in attendance at each Agency to minister to the Indians in case of sickness, the medicines being furnished by the Government. The majority of the Indians, however, continued the repose and trust of their faith in the "medicine men" of the olden times, with their rattles, their decoctions, and their charms and amulets, and held their "waukon" things in far greater esteem and reverence than the white doctor's Latin prescriptions and drugs and chemicals.
In the spring of 1861, the Republican party came into national power. Major Cullen, the Democratic Indian Superintendent, was removed, and Clark W. Thompson, of Fillmore County, was appointed in his stead. Joseph R. Brown, agent for the Sioux, was removed, and his place taken by Thomas J. Galbraith of Shakopee. The new agent endorsed the policy and adopted the methods of his predecessor almost entirely. Especially did he endeavor to make the Indians self-supporting. Those who were already "farmers" or "breeches Indians" were favored and encouraged in many ways, and those who were still barbaric and blanketed were remonstrated with, and entreated to enter upon the new life.
The autumn of 1861 closed upon the affairs of the farmer Indians quite unsatisfactorily their crops were light - the Upper Sioux raising little or nothing. The cut worms had destroyed well nigh all the corn fields of the Sissetons, and the same pests, together with the blackbirds, had greatly damaged the crops of the Wahpatons, Medawakantons, and Wahpakootas. Agent Galbraith was forced to buy on credit large quantities of pork and flour for the destitute Indians. Under the direction of Missionary Riggs, who lived among them, Agent Galbraith fed 1,500 Sissetons and Wahpatons from the middle of December, 1861, to April 1, 1862, when they were able to go off on their spring hunts. He also fed and cared for a number of the old and infirm and other worthy characters among the Lower Indians but for the assistance of the Government, numbers of these wretched savages would have starved during that hard winter of 1861 - 1862. The "farmer" Indians were kept at work during the winter, making fence rails, cutting and hauling saw logs to the saw mills at the Upper and Lower Agency, and other work, and in payment received regular issues of supplies for themselves and families.
In August, 1861, the agent hired the farmer of the Lower Agency to plow 500 acres of fallow land, in what was called the public land, or the land cultivated by the Indians in common. The price of plowing was at from $1.50 to $2.00 per acre. At the same season 475 acres of similar land were plowed for the Upper Sioux later the Lower farmers plowed 250 acres and the Upper farmers 325 acres for their individual use The plowing was done at this time to kill the eggs of the cut-worms. In November, 1861, the fine stone warehouse, the walls of which are still standing, was completed at the Lower Agency. At this time there was a good steam sawmill, with a corn grinding mill attached, operated by Government employes, at each of the agencies. In the winter of 1861-1862 the Indians delivered at the Redwood sawmill 650,000 feet of saw logs and 128 cords of shingle blocks, and the Upper mill received from the same class 178,000 feet of logs. The tree tops and other fallen wood from the log timber was cut into cord wood by the Indians, who were paid $2.55 a cord at the Lower and $1.25 at the Upper Agency this wood was used for burning brick. The sawmill supplied the carpenter shops with lumber for repairing sleds and wagons, and other implements, and even for building lumber. The farmer Indians, superintended by the Government carpenters, built stables, pens, etc., for the protection of their horses and cattle and the care of their farming tools. In the early winter of 1862 Agent Galbraith had the plans prepared for fifty new dwelling houses for Indian families, the buildings to cost an average of $300 each, and the farmer Indians were promised thirty more houses. In March he purchased and had shipped to the reservation 472 plows of various sizes, shovels, scythes, grain cradles and other implements four farm wagons and forty-five ox carts for sowing and planting twenty bushels of beans and peas, 285 bushels of corn, thirty bushels of wheat, 3,690 bushels of potatoes and proportionate quantities of turnip, pumpkin and other vegetable seeds. The wheat, corn, and potatoes were purchased from the farmer Indians, and paid for in goods and extra provisions from the Government warehouse. Other supplies furnished the Indians were seventy-nine matched pairs of work oxen, fifteen unmatched work steers, forty-seven cows and calves, eighty-eight sheep, and four "American" horses. In the spring, as soon as the Minnesota was open to navigation, Major Galbraith purchased in St. Paul a large quantity of builders' hardware, several hundred suits of ready made clothing, a set of blacksmith's tools and two sets of carpenter's tools, a great quantity of woodenware and crockery, household and kitchen furniture, etc., and had these things shipped to the Lower Agency on the little steamboats which plied the river. During the winter of 1861-1862 the farmer Indians at the Lower Agency made 18,000 good rails and posts, and those at Yellow Medicine made 12,000. Over 200,000 brick had been burned in the fall of 1861, and 200,000 more were burned by Contractor Ryder in the spring and summer of 1862.
In the spring of 1862 there were planted for and by the Medawakantons and Wahpakootas, on the Lower Reservation, 1,025 acres of corn, 260 acres of potatoes, 60 acres of turnips and rutabagas, twelve acres of experimental spring wheat, and large areas of beans, peas, and other field and garden vegetables. The Yellow Medicine reservation had 1,110 acres of corn, 300 acres of potatoes, 90 acres of turnips and rutabagas, 12 acres of wheat, and field and garden vegetables in proportion. These crops were all well cultivated, plowed, hoed, and weeded, and when the out break came were in much better condition than the fields of many of their white neighbors, only a few miles away.
The amount of transportation over the road from the Lower to the Upper Agency was very large, and traversing this road were numerous sloughs, coulies, brooks, and creeks difficult of passage. Agent Galbraith was forced to pay forty cents per hundred for the transportation of freight between the agencies, a distance of only forty-five miles. In the spring and summer of 1862 he built no less than eighteen substantial and permanent bridges over the watercourses on the Agency road. Seventeen of these structures averaged twenty-five feet in length, (two were fifty feet each) and the truss bridge over Wood Lake Creek was sixty-seven feet in length before the Battle of Wood Lake the Indians fired this bridge and greatly injured it. The bridges were not all completed until August 1, and were not much used prior to the outbreak, but they were of great service to General Sibley's army when it invaded the Indian country.
In June, 1862, Agent Galbraith promised to build for Little Crow a good brick house, with all the then modern improvements, if he would aid in bringing around his young men to habits of industry and civilization, and would himself become a farmer Indian. The chief made the required promise of reformation, agreed to dig the cellar and foundation and haul the lumber to the site of his new domicile, near his then residence, a story and a half frame house, in a conspicuous part of his village. The site has been marked by a granite tablet put up by the late Charles D. Gilfillan. The chief had the cellar partially finished, and much of the lumber hauled, and the contractors had delivered a part of the brick at the time of the outbreak.
By the second week of August (1862) the Indian crops were in fine condition, and everything looked propitious for a bountiful harvest. The worst trouble was with the crows and blackbirds vast swarms and flocks of these birds attacked the corn fields. The grains were in the milk or soft stage, and the strong-billed pests could easily tear open the husk and ruin an ear of corn in a few minutes. The Indian women and children went to the corn fields at dawn and remained until nightfall, busily engaged all day in keeping off the little black-feathered creatures which were capable of doing so much damage. All the Indian corn fields at both Agencies were strongly fenced to keep out the stock, which was allowed to graze at large.
On the fifteenth of August the agent made a careful and conservative estimate of the crops his Indians would harvest that fall. He had inspected the situation himself, and he took the opinions of his superintendents, and others. The lowest estimates were that the Lower Sioux would gather and store 25,625 bushels of corn, 32,500 bushels of potatoes, 13,500 bushels of turnips, 240 bushels of wheat, a large quantity of beans, pumpkins, etc. The Yellow Medicine people were expected to harvest 27,750 bushels of corn, 37,500 bushels of potatoes, 20,250 bushels of turnips, etc. It was believed that all of this great supply would be available for human food, as the Indians had cut and stacked enough prairie hay to winter their stock, and many of them were still at work cutting grass when the devil turned himself loose among them on that bloody eighteenth of August.
TROUBLE ABOUT THE PAYMENT.
Prior to 1857 the payment to the Indians under the treaties were made semi-annually. In that year Superintendent Cullen changed this practice to one payment a year, which, until 1862, had commonly been made about the tenth of June. As has been stated this event was the great red letter day in the Indian calendar. It engaged attention for months before it came it was a pleasant memory for months afterwards. Every beneficiary attended the payment, and many of the Cut Heads and Yanktonnais, that were not entitled to receive anything, came hundreds of miles and swarmed on the outskirts of the camp hoping to get something, however little, from the great stock to be distributed. So there was always a big crowd present at the payment, and a rare good time.
The amount of money in cash, always paid in gold and silver, was about thirty dollars per head the cash value of goods and supplies issued was about twice that amount. As a rule ten days after the payment the money had all been spent, the provisions eaten up, and the other supplies disposed of.
The traders always received a liberal share of the money. For a year the Indians had been buying goods from them on credit, promising to pay in furs at the end of the hunting season. When default was made in the payment, which was invariably the case, the balance was promised in cash "at the payment." The traders were therefore always present near the pay tables, with their books of account, and when the Indian had received his money from the Government paymaster he was led over to his trader and asked to pay what he owed. The majority of the Indians were willing t pay their debts, but there were others who would not pay the most honorable debt if they could avoid it usually the later class owed their traders more than the thirty dollars they had received. Sometimes for some years a detachment of soldiers had been sent up from Fort Ridgely to preserve order.
RESERVATION EVENTS IN 1861.
In 1861 the Lower Sioux had been paid June 27, and the Upper Sioux July 18. On the seventeenth of June the "St. Peter Guards," a newly recruited company, which became Company E of the Second Minnesota, Captain A. K. Skaro and the "Western Zouaves" of St. Paul, which became Company D, of the Second Regiment, Captain Horace H. Western, arrived by the steamer City Belle at Fort Ridgely as its garrison, taking the place of Company B, Captain Bromley, and Company G, Captain McKune, of the First Regiment, which companies had been stationed at the post since May. Captain McKune's company, however, remained at Ridgely until July 6.
About the first of July, the Indians began certain demonstrations indicating that they would make serious trouble if troops were stationed at the agencies and near the pay tables during the coming payments. They seemed to believe that the presence of soldiers on these occasions was to coerce them into paying their debts to the traders, and they were opposed to the idea. They soon organized a "soldiers' lodge" (or a-ke-che-ta tepee) to consider the matter. A soldiers' lodge was composed of warriors that were not chiefs or head soldiers, and who met by themselves and conducted all their deliberations and proceeding in strictest secrecy. Their conclusions had to be carried out by the chiefs and head soldiers. If a war was contemplated the soldiers' lodge decided the matter, and from its decision there was no appeal. Many other matters concerning the band at large were settled by the a-ke-che-ta tepee.
It developed that the soldiers' lodges on the Sioux reservation had determined on armed resistance to the presence of troops at the pay tables. Agent Galbraith and other white people about the agencies became greatly alarmed, and June 25, the agent called on Fort Ridgely for troops to come at once to Redwood. The St. Peter Guards were promptly sent and remained at the Lower Agency until after the payment, which passed off quietly. July 3, Major Galbraith again became alarmed at the Indian signs, and called for a strong force to come to Yellow Medicine. McKune's company of the First Regiment and Skaro's of the Second Regiment were at once started from Fort Ridgely, but ten miles out were turned back. The next day Captain Western's company started for the Upper Agency, and on the sixth was overtaken by Captain Skaro's and the two companies reached the Yellow Medicine on the seventh, to the great relief of the agent and the other Government employes and traders and their families, who were in great fear of the rebellious and menacing Indians, chiefly young men and reckless characters. The payment at the Upper Agency was without disorder the Indians paid their debts, but some of them were heard to say that "this is the last time" they would do so.
July 23, the two companies of the Second Regiment marched back to Fort Ridgely. August 13, detachments of both companies, under Captain Western and Lieutenant Cox, were sent by Lieutenant Colonel George, commanding the post at Fort Ridgely, to the Spirit Lake district, in Iowa, to protect the settlers in that region from the depredations of certain Indians, who, it was feared, contemplated another raid of the Inkpadoota character. The command was absent for two weeks.
About September 1, the Indians at the above Yellow Medicine began turbulent and frightened. On the eighth Company E, Captain Skaro, was dispatched from Fort Ridgely and reached the Yellow Medicine on the tenth. On the fifteenth Lieutenant J. C. Donahower, with twelve men of Company E, was sent to Big Stone Lake as an escort to the Government farmer, who was directed to secure from the Sissetons about the lake some horses which had been stolen by them and the Yanktonnais from white settlers on the Missouri, in Southeastern Dakota. The Lieutenant returned to Yellow Medicine with three of the recovered horses. Lieutenant Donahower had a somewhat perilous experience. The Indians threatened to recapture the horses, and if they had attempted to do so there would have been a fight, with the odds of the Indians against the whites at least twenty to one. The officer was enabled to withdraw his little force in safety largely through the counsel and help of Antoine Frenier, his brave and intelligent mixed-blood scout).
The Sissetons and Yanktons stole about thirty horses that summer from Minnesota and Iowa settlers. September 23, Captain Skaro left Yellow Medicine for Fort Snelling, where he joined his regiment, which, in a few days, was sent to the South.
On the tenth of October, 1861, Companies A and B of the Fourth Regiment, became the garrison at Fort Ridgely. Captain L. L. Baxter, of Company A, was commander of the post until in March, 1862, when the companies with the remainder of the regiment, were sent to the Union Army in front of Corinth, Mississippi.
Upon the organization of the Fifth Minnesota Infantry, March 29, 1862, three of the companies of that regiment were assigned to garrison duty at the Minnesota forts. To Fort Abercrombie was sent Company D, Captain John Vander Horck to Fort Ripley, Company C, Captain Hall to Fort Ridgely, Company B, Captain John S. Marsh. As Captain Marsh had not yet joined the company, and as Lieutenant Norman K. Culver was on detail as Quarter-master, Sergeant Thomas P. Gere led the company on its march, in zero weather, through a deep snow, from Fort Snelling to Fort Ridgely, arriving at the latter post March 25. April 10, Gere became Second Lieutenant, and on the sixteenth Captain Marsh arrived and assumed command of the post. There were then at the fort, in addition to the officers and men of Company B, Post Surgeon Dr. Alfred Muller, Sutler Ben H. Randall, Interpreter Peter Quinn, and Ordnance Sergeant John Jones and a few soldiers' families living in cabins nearby. Sergeant Jones was in charge of the Government stores and of six pieces of artillery of different calibers, the relics of the old artillery school at the post, which had been left by Major Pemberton when he departed for Washington with the last battery organization, in February, 1861.
The Minnesota Indian payments for 1862 were greatly delayed. They should have been made by the last of June, but the Government agents were not prepared to make them until the middle of August. The authorities at Washington were to blame. For some weeks they dallied with the question whether or not a part at least of the payment should be made in greenbacks. Commissioner Dole, Superintendent Thompson, and Agent Galbraith protested that the payment should be in specie. Not until August 8 did Secretary Chase, of the Treasury, order Assistant Treasurer Cisco, of New York, to send the Indians' money in gold coin to Superintendent Thompson at St. Paul. The money - $71,000, in kegs, all in gold coin - left New York August 11, and arrived at St. Paul on the sixteenth. Superintendent Thompson started it the next day for the Indian country in charge of C. W. Wykoff, E. C. Hatch, Justus C. Ramsey, A. J. Van Vorhees, and C. M. Daily, and they, with the wagons containing the precious kegs, reached Fort Ridgely, August 18, the first day of the great outbreak. The money and its custodians remained within the fort until Sibley's army came, and then the money, in the original package as stated, was taken back to St. Paul by the parties named who had brought it up.
Meanwhile there was a most unhappy condition of affairs on the reservation. The Indians had been eagerly awaiting the payment since the tenth of June. On the twenty-fifth a large delegation of the chiefs and head men of the Sissetons and Wahpatons visited Yellow Medicine and demanded of Agent Galbraith to be informed whether they and their people were to get any money that year they alleged they had been told by certain white men that they would not be paid because of the great war then in progress between the North and South. The agent said the payment would certainly be made by July 20. He then gave them some provisions, ammunition, and tobacco, and sent them back to their villages, promising to notify them when the money came of the exact time of the payment. He then went to the Lower Agency and counseled the people there as he had the people at Yellow Medicine, adding that they should busy themselves in cutting hay for the winter and in keeping the birds from the corn. As the Lower Indians had worked unusually well the preceding year, but through no fault of their own found their stock of provisions nearly exhausted, Major Galbraith issued to them a liberal supply of mess pork, flour, salt, tobacco and ammunition to last until payment day.
The foregoing description of conditions and events on the Sioux reservation in the spring and summer of 1862 is given from undoubted authority (Major Galbraith's official report, Reverends Riggs', Hinman's, and Dr. Williamson's printed statements) as evidence that the condition of the Indians immediately preceding the outbreak was as good as that of the average white settlement on the frontier at that day. In many respects the Indians were more comfortable than their white neighbors, the pioneers who had settled outside the reservation. Whatever was to the Indians' discomfort could not be attributed to the bad conduct of their agent or those under him.
But the blanket Indians were not at all happy and contented. They had troubles of their own. There was dissension among them over particular matters, such as adopting the white man's habits and customs, obeying instructions about not fighting the Chippewas, the election of chief speaker of the Medawakanton band. In the spring Little Crow, Big Eagle, and Traveling Hail were candidates for speaker of the band. There was a heated contest, resulting in the defeat of Little Crow to his great mortification and chagrin and that of his followers, who constituted the greater part of the anti-white man's party. His successful opponent, Traveling Hail, was a civilization Indian and a firm friend of the whites.
In June, as the time for the payment approached, a number of the young Medawakantons and Wahpakootas formed a soldiers' lodge, to consider the question of allowing the traders to approach the pay table. Of course, under the rules, the chiefs and head men were not allowed to participate in the deliberations of this peculiar council, although they were expected to enforce its decisions and decrees. After a few days of secret consultation the council sent a delegation to Fort Ridgely, which, through Post Interpreter Quinn, asked Captain Marsh, the commandant, not to send any soldiers to the payment to help the traders collect their debts. Captain Marsh replied that he was to have some of his soldiers present at the payment, but they would not be used unless there was a serious disturbance of the peace, and on no account would he allow them to be employed to collect the debts owing to the traders by the Indians. This reply greatly gratified the Indians and they returned to their villages in high glee boasting of what they had accomplished.
The traders were indignant at the action of the Indian soldiers. They vowed not to sell the Indians any more supplies on credit. "You will be sorry for what you have done," said Andrew J. Myrick, who was in charge of his brother's trading house at Redwood, "you will be sorry. After a while you will come to me and beg for meat and flour to keep you and your wives and children from starving and I will not let you have a thing. You and your wives and children may starve, or eat grass, or your own filth." The traders tried to induce Captain Marsh to revoke his decision in their favor, but he would make them no promises.
In July the Lower warriors convened another soldiers' lodge. This time the subject of discussion was whether or not they should go on the war-path against the Chippewas, who had recently given a lot of trouble. Incidentally the trouble about their debts came up, and it was finally decided that if soldiers guarded the pay tables, and their bayonets were employed as instruments for the collection of debts, the Indians would be forced to submit. This was the soldiers' lodge about whose purpose and plans go many startling and alarming statements were afterwards made by the whites. At the time, too, the whites were afraid. On one occasion the Indians went down to Fort Ridgely and asked to be allowed to play ball (or la crosse) on the parade grounds. Captain Marsh refused to allow this, and it was afterwards printed that on the occasion mentioned the Indians had planned and schemed to get into the fort by stratagem, and then massacre the garrison and every white person in the neighborhood. There was not the least ground for this false and unjust suspicion, say some Indians of 1908.
The Upper Indians were in far worse moods than their brethren at Redwood. In addition to their dissatisfaction in regard to the delay in the payment, - for they needed assistance most sorely - they were incensed against the white authorities who had forbidden them to make war on the Chippewas. The latter made frequent forays upon the Sioux of the upper country. In May a hunting party of Red Iron's hand was at tacked on the Upper Pomme de Terre by a band of Chippewas and chased from the country, losing two men killed. About the twentieth of July the Chippewas slipped down and killed two Sioux within eighteen miles of Yellow Medicine.
These instances stirred the blood of the Upper bands and four days later several hundred of them formed a war party and, stripped and painted, and yelling and shouting, marched by the Agency buildings and the camp of the soldiers and down the Minnesota in the direction of Major Brown's stone mansion and big farm, near where the Chippewas were supposed to be. The majority of the Indians were mounted, but those who were on foot went galloping along by the side of the cantering ponies and kept up with them easily. The Chippewas had retreated and could not be overtaken.
About the fifteenth of August, only a few days before the outbreak, a man and his son of Red Iron's band were killed by the Chippewas, while hunting, a few miles north of the river. Their bodies were taken back to their village and exposed in public for a whole day. Hundreds of Sioux came to see them. A war party of a dozen or more set out after the murderers, followed them up into the Otter Tail Lake country and did not return to the reservation until nearly two weeks after the outbreak. Etay-zha-zha, or Gleaming Face, of Cloud Man's band, was one of this war party. Before the Sisseton Investigation Committee, in August, 1901, he said:
A rush was made to Red Iron's village by the people of the surrounding country, and I among the rest went there and saw this man and his son dead. They had been killed. It made the people feel very bad, myself among the rest, and they had a desire to kill at least one of the Chippewas and have him lay as these men were laying and I, among the rest, felt that way, and that is why I went out there to try and carry out that wish. I was the leader of the party. There were twenty-five of us, and three of us were Yanktonnais. On the return trip we slept three nights between the lake and Yellow Medicine. Certain writers have frequently declared that the outbreak was a long meditated and carefully planned movement of the Sioux and Chippewas in combination that Little Crow and Hole-in-the-Day were in constant communication and engaged in preparing for the uprising for weeks before it occurred. The incidents given of the tragic events, the homicides, and the fights between the two tribes up to the very date of the Sioux out break prove the absurd falsity of the claim that they were engaged as allies in plotting against the whites.
The History of Renville County Minnesota, Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, Vol 2, 1916, page 920, rll
Johann Schwandt and his wife Christina with their five children, their son-in-law John Walz, and a friend of the family, John Frass, started in May, 1862, from Fairwater, Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin, with their household goods, provisions, two yokes of oxen, a few cows and some calves. After an overland journey, which occupied more that a month, they settled on Middle creek in what is now Flora township.
I was then a girl of fourteen and my brother August was ten years of age. We walked the entire distance, driving the stock and picking flowers by the wayside, and when we were tired we would stop and rest and let the cattle eat. Our dear mother would cook the meal and spread the cloth on the grass, and we would all sit around and enjoy the meal more perhaps that the king in his palace eating from golden plates and drinking from crystal glasses. The land which my father settled on was in the wilderness of the Minnesota river bottomlands and the grass was tall and coarse, and the cattle did not like it, but here was on other. My father chose this place because there was timber there, and the first thing the men did was to hew down some trees and peel the bark off of them. They then built a log cabin of two rooms, and, as at first we had no doors, they put blankets at the openings, and covered the roof with grass and bark. After a few weeks, when father went to New Ulm to do some trading, he bought some doors and windows and also shingles. I accompanied him to do some shopping for my mother and sister. It took us four days to go and come back, it being about forty miles from where we lived and traveling with oxen was very slow. After we had some doors and windows in our cabin we lived quite comfortably. The men started to break up the land and cut some hay on father’s place, and as both Mr. Walz and Mr. Frass had taken a claim up on the prairie they all went up there to break the land, and all were happy and contented, but it was not to be for long.
By this time the Indians had started to become troublesome. They would come in parties of six to eight and beg for something to eat, for they were always hungry. Our family was a large one and mother could not give them very much, but I remember she always gave them bread. However, it was meat they wanted and that we did not have very much of ourselves. There was another great pest that bothered us greatly. Our cabin was built about forty feet from the timber that I spoke of, and in this timber there were thousands and thousands of wild pigeons, keeping up a constant cooing from the break of dawn until nightfall. I do not know what has become of them, for they seem to be all gone. I think they left when the country became more settled.
My parents had been on their farm about two months when the most terrible day, the eighteenth of August, came. Out of eight persons there was only one left to tell the story. At noon when the family were just about to eat the noon meal, a party of Sioux Indians came and soon all was over. August, ten years old, was struck on the head with a tomahawk and was left as dead. In the night he revived and crawled into the tall grass and reached the fort. He still has the scar on his head. He now lives in British Columbia, at Vancouver. About three weeks before the outbreak Legrand Davis came to our house and wanted to know if I would go over the river to Joseph B. Reynolds, who kept a stopping place. He wanted a little girl to run errands, dust and so forth, and as they were going to start a school for the Indians I could go to this school at the same time. I needed more schooling and thought this a good chance to acquire it. Mother did not like me to go, but Mr. Davis promised to bring me back in two to three weeks, so she reluctantly gave her consent. Little did I think that it was the last time I would see her dear face on this earth. The Reynold’s treated me very kindly, more like their own child than a servant, and I liked to live there. After I had lost my parents, they wished to adopt me, but I went to live with an uncle in Wisconsin, who also took my brother August. The eighteenth of August came on a Monday. We had just had our breakfast at the Reynold’s and Mary Anderson was just putting on the wash boiler preparing to do the week’s washing. Suddenly John Mooer, a half-breed, came running in and said we should all get away as fast as we could, for the Indians had broken out and were killing all the settlers as fast as they could. Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds got into a buggy and drove off, and Mattie Williams, Mary Anderson and myself got into a lumber wagon with three men that had stopped over night at the house. The team belonged to Mr. Patoile, a Frenchman, who hauled goods for the government from one agency to another. The wagon was filled with things they wanted to save, so we started, Mr. Patoile driving the team. We drove from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon, and were about eight miles west of New Ulm when we met a party of Indians. We all jumped from the wagon and ran, but we did not run very far before they were upon us, dragging us back. By that time they had killed all the men and some were scalping them. Mary Anderson was shot through the abdomen and died on the fourth day after the shooting. My clothes were riddled by the bullets, but none harmed me. A skirt which I wore has seven holes shot through it and is now in the possession of the D. A. R. at the museum at the Sibley house, Mendota. This skirt was made of heavy muslin and was part of the cover of our wagon when we settled in Renville county.
When we came back to the wagons the Indians had already broken open all the trunks and were dividing the contents. They had with them about twelve other wagons and a great number of horses. The wagons were loaded with plunder of all kinds which they had stolen form the settlers. They ordered us into the wagons and started back to the agency. It was almost ten o’clock by the time that we reached Wacouta’s home. It was very dark and there was a tallow candle burning. The house was swarming with Indians. Wacouta chased them out and told us to hide up in the loft and he would bring us water and food in the morning, and we were up there three days and two nights. The wounded girl cried for water, for she had a raging fever. During the second night Mattie Williams and I crawled down and went to a corn field, getting some green corn with which we tried to quench her thirst. On the third night we were told to come down, and were taken to Little Crow’s village. Mary Anderson died during the night. Mattie Williams’ captor took her to his tepee, where he lived with his squaw, and as my captor had no teepee he said he would kill me to be rid of me. When Snana, one of the Indian squaws heard this, she came and looked me over carefully and went away, returning in a short time leading an Indian pony, which she gave my captor, and then took me by the hand and brought me to her teepee. I was adopted into the tribe and had to call her mamma, and she dressed me in Indian clothing and made pretty moccasins for me. She wrapped me in a snow white blanket, which was of course, stolen, but it did not stay white very long. Snana was married to Good Thunder and had two papooses. I had to take care of the baby papoose. I always tried to do all she told me and to please her in all things. There was a bond of sympathy between us because she had just lost her oldest daughter.
After seven weeks of captivity I was released at Camp Release by General Sibley and his army, with the rest of the white prisoners, and as that occasion has been written up so many times I will not mention it here. Mattie Williams was a niece of Mr. Reynolds and was visiting form Ohio. She was highly educated and had a beautiful character. Mary Anderson was a pretty Swedish girl and was to have been married soon to a young man from Shakopee. I was only a plain little German girl who did not know much at all at that time. My Indian mother parted from me at Camp Release and we did not meet again for thirty-two years, but have met many times later, and I received many nice letters from her. She loved me very much, and I have always felt a gratitude towards her which I could not express in words, for she saved me from a terrible fate when she bought me from my captor with her only pony.-By Mrs. Mary Emilia Schwandt Schmidt.
(photo of Mrs. Mary E. Schwandt Schmidt on page 923)