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Full text of "Recollections of the Sioux massacre : an authentic history of the Yellow Medicine incident, of the fate of Marsh and his men, of the siege and battles of Fort Ridgely and of other important battles and experiences : together with an historical sketch of the Sibley Expedition of 1863"

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In 2nd line, page 24, read "Sergeant Prescott instead of Sargeant Trescott." 

In 10th line, page 39, read -"tered into the service for active duty in the 

In 12th line, page 91, read "afforded, and the short distance of the protecting. 

In 1st line, page 101, figure in parenthesis after 4th word should be 8 in- 
stead of 3. 






Yellow Medicine Incident, of the Fate of Marsh 

and his Men, of the Siege and Battles of 

Fort Ridgely, and of Other Important 

Battles and Experiences. 

Together with a Historical Sketch of the 






Copyright 1908 
By O. G. WALL. 

Printed at 

" The Home Printery," 
Lake City, Minn. 

By M. C. Russell, Prop'r. 



AS rise the glorious achievements of man upon 
the ruins of convulsed Nature, or upon the 
landscape desolated by war, so out of that night of 
blood that hung like a pall over the Minnesota fron- 
tier in that fateful month of August, 1862, has grown 
in all essentials except form of government, a 
mighty empire. 

Before the Sioux tragedy was enacted, the pioneer 
had come, and on the borders founded his home in 
a land of promise. Clustered about him were dear 
ones who, in this land of freedom and health, shared 
the joys and hopes that pervaded every breath in- 
haled. Here was the opportunity for willing hands 
and honest hearts the one place where the shack- 
les of poverty could never enslave those willing to 
work. Gradually the " covered wagon " gave way 
to the ** shack " as a temporary abiding place, and 
the latter to the more comfortable yet modest home 
of the settler. 

Small fields gave forth bountiful harvests ; gard- 
ens were rich with their treasures, or aglow with 
fragrant flowers ; schools were being founded, and 
churches organized, though widely scattered ; herds 
were increasing from small beginnings, and for the 
first time in life the dream of an independent home, 
with its comforts and promises, was being realized. 

But intrigue had secretly and systematically laid 
the foundation of wrongs which should overthrow 


these bright hopes ; which should rob these new 
homes not only of all their possessions, but of life 
itself, and leave blackened ruins, the skulls and 
cross-bones of erstwhile happy homes, where, at in- 
tervals over vast prairies, the new dwellings had 
glistened in the golden sunlight. The grafter in 
the Indian department, entrusted with power and 
authority, was willing to imperil the whole frontier 
for the sake of plundering the Indian, who was no 
match for the conspirators acting as the servants 
and servants 7 servants of the government. 

Thus the Indian was taught to look upon the 
white race as his conniving, secret enemy, willing 
to violate sacred pledges and solemn obligations, 
and ready to take, under one pretense or another, 
the lion's share of the sums pledged to him by the 
government. In fact for these acts of bad faith and 
the repeated disappointments resulting, the govern- 
ment itself had come to be regarded by the red man 
as unworthy of confidence. Worst of all, white peo- 
ple indiscriminately had been brought under the 
ban by the misdeeds of government employes and 
avaricious traders, who had sown the wind that rip- 
ened into the whirlwind with which the border was 
swept without distinction. 

But the savage tide was turned back by force of 
arms, and was so broken and scattered in the cam- 
paigns that followed, that confidence was for all time 
restored along the frontier. 

The " prairie schooner " set sail again, and a tide 
of humanity followed in the wake of the soldiery, 
until at length perfect civilization marked, not alone 
the wilds of western Minnesota, but the vast plains 


that now constitute the Dakotas as well ; and, what 
a transformation to be witnessed in a single life- 
time ! 

A member of Captain Marsh's company, stationed 
at Fort Ridgely, at the time of the massacre in 1862, 
and in the service in 1863, on the Sibley expedition 
throughout what is now that portion of North Da- 
kota east of the Missouri River, I witnessed, from 
beginning to end, the stormy scenes attending the 
outbreak and its suppression, and from contact and 
observation became very familiar with the history 
of the Sioux Massacre. But even these facts were 
but a slight incentive to assume the arduous task 
of preserving to Northwestern annals, many inci- 
dents forever lost, unless passed to the pages of 
history ere the final departure of the rapidly vanish- 
ing participants in those scenes of nearly fifty years 
ago ; for assuredly the waves of time must soon for- 
ever close over the unspoken and unwritten of that 
tragic period. 

Though yet in my " teens," I kept faithfully each 
day a diary of events, getting information when 
necessary, from the highest sources of authority, 
and no day was allowed to pass without the record 
being preserved. No matter what my tasks, I would 
keep my diary. I had no special future purpose in 
this, and placed no value upon the book after being 
mustered out of the army and reaching home, but 
carelessly left it with other relics and memories of 
a by-gone day, and in the changes that followed, 
never saw it again for over twenty years, when, on 
a visit to my mother, she presented it to me, hav- 
ing carefully preserved it. I had supposed it lost, 


and never regarded it as of enough value to merit 
an inquiry as to what might have become of it. In 
the light of the mature present, however, I find its 
pages full of interest and an ample reward for my 

In addition to this I had a messmate and intimate 
companion during the campaign of 1863, John Mc- 
Cole, who originally belonged to and was an officer 
of the Renville Rangers, and whose acquaintance 
I made during the siege of Fort Ridgely in 1862. 
Only a few days before the outbreak he had enlist- 
ed at Redwood, having up to that time for several 
years been a clerk and an accountant in one of the 
stores of the Agency. He knew personally and well 
nearly every Indian on both the Upper and Lower 
reservations, and spoke the Sioux language fluent- 
ly. He knew intimately all the Indian scouts, over 
sixty in number, on the Sibley expedition of 1863, 
and through him I had several extended interviews 
with the scouts, and particularly with Chaska, be- 
tween whom and McCole there was a strong bond 
of friendship. Chaska had throughout remained 
loyal to the whites, even at the risk of his own life ; 
yet he knew the history of the massacre from the 
standpoint of the Indians, and was most interesting 
in his narrations, and particularly interesting in ex- 
plaining how lack of discipline caused Little Crow's 
plans to miscarry immediately after the massacre 
at the Agency, to the great advantage of Fort Ridge- 
ly and the whites generally. 

Forty-seven years having elapsed, and no one thus 
far having cared to incur the expense and risks or 
assume the labor necessary to publishing much of 

interest thus far unwritten, and which is an import- 
ant part of Northwestern history, and possessing 
an accumulation of matter and information as stated 
herein, I give to the public without apology or fur- 
ther excuse, the succeeding pages, conscious that 
among other things they contain the only detailed 
historical account of the Sibley Expedition of 1863 
ever published. 

O. G. W. 



The Sioux Massacre of 1 862 

Cause of the Outbreak. 

HE impositions perpetrated on the Indi- 
ans, if not by the government agents, at 
least by their approval, were monu- 
mental. The Indians, instead of being 
put in possession of their own, and given 
protection, were plundered on every 
hand, and the gross injustice inflicted as inevitably 
adjusted itself at the doors of the government offi- 
cials as the detached leaf adjusts itself to the law 
of gravitation. 

A thousand lives having been blotted out by meth- 
ods horrible to contemplate, and a vast area of beau- 
tiful country having been made barren and deso- 
late, friends sought to mitigate the sins of derelict 
officers when the angry clouds of responsibility 
gathered about their heads, and strove to break the 
force of the awful consequences of their official sins, 
by belittling troublesome truths and pointing alone 
to the depravity of the savage race ; but that the 


Sioux massacre of 1862 was due to official chicanery 
there is little doubt, and fortunate was the official 
whose good name saved him blameless for acts open 
to suspicion or criticism. To merely perpetuate 
these facts, is not the object of their recital in this 
book. My preference was to omit this chapter ; but, 
to judge the Indian fairly, and by the standard we 
ourselves would be judged, a hint at the great 
wrongs done the Sioux, should live in the ages to 
come, along with the history of their revengeful 

To go to the beginning of corruption and intrigue 
in the Indian department, would be to penetrate the 
dim and dusty mists of the musty past, which is no 
part of the mission of this book. We need turn no 
farther than to the treaty of Traverse des Sioux 
(Saint Peter) of 1851, to have our eyes opened to 
the methods in which the Sioux massacre had 
its conception and in which, continued, it had its 

The crimes committed against the red race, in 
what assumed to be honorable treaties, and in the 
carrying out of the terms of those treaties, would 
not have been tolerated for a day by white men. 
The whites would have put the treaty-makers and 
treaty-breakers to flight or to death. With treaties 
fairly obtained, and their terms honorably adminis- 
tered, there would, it is reasonable to assume, have 
been no Sioux massacre. 

When the Traverse des Sioux treaty was consum- 
mated it was supposed by the Indians they would 
receive the purchase price of their lands, but to 
their consternation the traders gathered like vul- 


tures and presented claims for goods sold to the In- 
dians on credit for nearly $400,000, or a sum consid- 
erably in excess of the amount the Sioux were to 
receive, and the monstrous claims of the traders 
were recognized by the Indian authorities. Added 
to these were charges for removing the Indians 
from the lands they had ceded by treaty to within 
new boundaries. 

Claims for depredations upon traders or settlers 
by lawless Indians had been filed with the Indian 
department, and on ex-parte evidence or none at all, 
were allowed, and the amount ordered deducted 
from the sum total of payments to be made, thus 
robbing the law-abiding to make good for alleged 
offenses committed by lawless Indians. The policy 
was first to secure the signatures of the chiefs to a 
sale of tribal lands, frequently by doubtful methods, 
in payment for which hundreds of thousands of dol- 
lars were provided from the United States treas- 
ury; but the enormous sums of gold were swept 
from the pay-table by questionable claims, and the 
Indian found himself possessed of neither land nor 

The indignation of the Indians was such that vio- 
lence to the officials of the government in attend- 
ance, was imminent. Hon. Alexander Ramsey, as 
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and a member of 
the Treaty Commission, in attendance at the great 
council of December, 1852, at Traverse des Sioux, 
sought to discipline Red Iron, chief of the Sisse- 
tons, because of his indignation at what he pro- 
nounced high-handed methods on the part of repre- 
sentatives of the government. Gov. Ramsey de- 


posed Red Iron from his chieftainship, and had him 
arrested by the soldiery in attendance, and brought 

before the commission in 
irons, when the following 
coloquy took place, Red 
Iron being" commanded to 

Gov. Ramsey, with a 
sternness for which he was 
noted, addressed the de- 
posed chief as follows: 
" What excuse have you for 
not coming to the council 
RED IRON. w hen I sent for you ?" 

Red Iron, stately in stature and in the maturity 
of middle age, nonchalantly met the issue without 
a suspicion of embarrassment, amid the profound 
silence his calm demeanor commanded, with not 
even a scowl, fixing his eye sternly on his interlo- 
cutor, he replied : " I started to come, but your 
braves drove me back." 

Governor Ramsey : " What excuse have you for 
not coming the second time I sent for you?" 

Red Iron : " No other excuse than I have given 

Governor Ramsey : "At the treaty I thought you 
a good man, but since, you have acted badly, and 
I am disposed to break you ; I do break you." 

Red Iron, with emphasis : " You break me ! My 
people made me a chief. My people love me ; I 
will still be their chief. I have done nothing 

Governor Ramsey: "Red Iron, why did you get 


your braves together, and march around here for 
the purpose of intimidating other chiefs, and pre- 
vent them coming: to the council ?" 

Red Iron : " I did not get my braves together ; 
they got together themselves to prevent boys going 
to council to be made chiefs to sign papers, and to 
prevent single chiefs going to council at night to be 
bribed to sign papers for money we never received. 
We have heard how the M'dewakantons were served 
at Mendota that by secret councils you got their 
names on paper and then took their money. We 
don't want to be served so. My braves want to come 
to council in daytime, when the sun shines, and we 
want no council in the dark. We want all our peo- 
ple to counsel together, so that we can all know 
what was done." 

Governor Ramsey: u Why did you attempt to 
come to the council with your braves when I had 
forbidden your braves coming to council ? n 

Red Iron : " You invited the chiefs only, and 
would not let the braves come too. This is not the 
way we have been treated before ; this is not ac- 
cording to our customs, for, among the Dakotas, 
chiefs and braves go to council together. When 
you first sent for us there were two or three chiefs 
here, and we wanted to wait until the rest would 
come, that we might all be in council together, and 
know what was done, and so that we might all un- 
derstand the papers, and know what we were sign- 
ing. When roe signed the treaty the traders threw blankets 
over our faces and darkened our eyes, and made us sign papers 
we did not understand, and which were not explained or read to 


us. We want our Great Father at Washington to 
know what has been done." 

Governor Ramsey : " Your Great Father has sent 
me to represent him. What I say he says. He 
wants you to pay your old debts in accordance with 
the papers you signed when the treaty was made 
[the papers signed when the Indians were blind- 
folded] , and to leave that money in my hands to pay 
these debts. If you refuse to do that I will take the 
money back." 

Red Iron : " You take the money back. We sold 
our land to you and you promised to pay us. If you 
don't pay us I will be glad, for we will have our land 
back if you don't give us the money. That paper 
was not explained to us. We are told it gives about 
$300,000 of our money to some of the traders. We 
don't think we owe them so much. We want to pay 
our debts. We want our Great Father to send three 
good men here to tell us how much we do owe, and 
whatever they say we will pay," and, turning to his 
assembled people, " that is what these braves say. 
Our chiefs and all our people say this." u Ho, ho," 
responded the chiefs and braves. 

Governor Ramsey : "That can't be done. You 

owe more than your money will pay, and I am ready 

. now to pay your annuity, and no more, and when 

you are ready to receive it the agent will pay you." 

Red Iron : " We will receive our annuity, but we 
will sign no papers for anything else. The snow is 
on the ground, and we have been waiting a long 
time to receive our money. We are poor. You have 
plenty. Your fires are warm ; your tepees keep out 
the cold. We have nothing to eat. We have been 


waiting" a long time for our moneys. Our hunting 
season is past. A great many of our people are sick 
from being hungry. We may die because you won't 
pay us. We may die, but if we do we will leave 
our bones on the ground, that our Great Father may 
see where his Dakota children died. We have sold 
our hunting grounds and the graves of our fathers. 
We have sold our own graves. We have no place 
to bury our dead, and you will not pay us for our 

Red Iron was removed under guard and locked 
up, and the $300,000 treaty money was paid to the 
traders. The Indians were wild with indignation, 
and it was with difficulty they were restrained from 
slaughtering the officials and the traders. 

Thus the seeds of hatred were newly sown, and 
offenses revived and set ablaze. Time rolled on. 
The policy was perpetuated. The offenses of the 
officials and the traders were made the offenses of 
the whole white race. If the servants of the people 
were the enemies of the red men, was it not evident 
by this same token that the power that created 
these officials, the white race, was an enemy? So 
these simple people reasoned. 

One of the claims allowed by these officials out 
of the treaty fund at this council was that of $55,000 
to Hugh Tyler, a man utterly unknown to the Indi- 
ans, "for assisting to get the treaty measure through the Unit- 
ed States Senate, and for necessary disbursements." Thous- 
ands of dollars were thus absorbed, as history test- 

Referring to these crimes and the resulting mas- 
sacre of 1862, the Right Reverend Bishop Whipple, 


a man of temperate language and a high authority, 
spoke as follows after the Minnesota frontier had 
been made desolate : 

u There is not a man in America, who ever gave 
an hour's calm reflection to the subject, who does 
not know that our Indian system is an organized 
system of robbery, and has been for years a dis- 
grace to the nation. It has left savage men without 
governmental control ; it has looked on unconcerned 
at every crime against the laws of God and man ; it 
has fostered savage life by wasting thousands of 
dollars in the purchase of paint, beads, scalping- 
knives and tomahawks ; it has fostered a system of 
trade which robbed the thrifty and virtuous to pay 
the debts of the indolent and vicious ; it has squan- 
dered the funds for civilization and schools ; it has 
connived at theft ; it has winked at murder, and at 
last, after dragging the savage down to a brutishness 
unknown to his fathers, it has brought a harvest of 
blood to our own door." 


Yellow Medicine. 

In accordance with the terms of the treaty of 
1851, the Indians concerned in that treaty assem- 
bled at the Yellow Medicine Agency about the first 
of July, 1862, to receive their annuities. 

As a precautionary measure, in view of the thou- 
sands of Indians to be assembled, fifty men of Co. 
C, of the Fifth, stationed at Fort Ripley, were sent 
forward by Captain Francis Hall as a reinforcement 
to Co. B, which constituted the garrison at Fort 
Ridgely. This detachment left Fort Ripley under 
First Lieutenant T. J. Sheehan, June 19, 1862, march- 
ing by way of Elk River, Henderson, etc., for want 
of a good road more directly connecting in that day 
the two forts. Lieutenant Sheehan's march covered 
a distance of two hundred miles, his destination be- 
ing reached on the evening of the ninth day, or 
June 28th. 

There were three companies of the Fifth station- 
ed on the frontier B at Fort Ridgely, C at Fort 
Ripley, on the Mississippi River, and D at Fort Ab- 
ercrombie, on the Red River of the North. The de- 
tachment from Co. C, and a like number from Co. 
B were dispatched on the 30th day of June, 1862, to 
Yellow Medicine, where the payment was to be 
made, leaving Fort Ridgely under command of Lieu- 
tenant Sheehan as ranking officer, the command ar- 
riving at the Upper, or Yellow Medicine Agency, 
on the 2d day of July. 


All was expectancy among the thousands of Indi- 
ans, and added to anticipation were the combined 
elements for making 1 the occasion a heyday most 
enjoyable. The seasons had unfolded their wealth 
of luxuries ; the redolent hills and plains, with their 
wild flowers and carpet of native green, were little 
less than enchanting, even to other than the " chil- 
dren of Nature ;" the wooded glens of the beautiful 
streams that near this spot unite their waters, were 
suggestive of happiness ; Nature had solved the 
baffling enigma that gave the world once more, with 
its varied species, hues and forms, the tranquil 

Each day witnessed the influx of large bands of 
Indians, until all had reached this modern Mecca. 
The great gathering was a sight to behold, with its 
confusion of strange humanity, wolf-eared dogs and 
pot-bellied ponies, and its vast array of tepees that 
sheltered the six thousand or more nomads. 

Dreaming not of disappointment, happiness 
reigned throughout the great throng. But a single 
foreboding disturbed the spirits of these wanderers 
of the plains, and that was, that the hated, grasping 
traders would intervene to rob them of their annui- 
ties. The trader, who always " stood in " with the 
agents and other Indian officials, was the bogie of 
the red man. As the anticipated day of payment 
drew near, the Indian dread of his time-honored en- 
emy increased, this dread finally manifesting itself 
in a request that Lieutenants Sheehan and Gere, 
the latter of Co. B, meet the chiefs and braves in 
council. The lieutenants acceded to the request, 
and entering the council circle, were regaled with 


Indian oratory and the formality common to such 
councils. Confiding their misgivings to the young 
officers, they besought their intervention at the 
making of the payment. The speeches were all of 
one purport, prefaced with a bit of self-agrandize- 
ment, and then they impressively proceeded to re- 
mind the officers that the traders were always al- 
lowed to sit at the pay-table and take the money of 
the Indians ; this the council implored the officers 
to prevent, and the savages were manifestly disap- 
pointed when told by the officers that the soldiers 
were powerless to restrain the traders without au- 
thority to do so from the Agent. 

Days ripened into weeks, but the promised annu- 
ities came not. The civil war was at white heat. 
Gold was in great demand, and paper money fifty 
per cent, below par. Indian . superintendents and 
agents were not above temptation. There was a 
fortune in the clever conversion of the gold provid- 
ed, into paper, or more familiarly, greenbacks, and 
it was said the gold was converted into currency 
at a handsome profit. The treaty called for spe- 
cie payment, and as the Indians knew nothing of 
paper, it was pointed out they would scorn it with 
disappointment and indignation. Re-conversion, 
the story ran, was attended with much loss of time, 
as well as financial sacrifice which the parties to 
the transaction sought industriously but unsuccess- 
fully to avoid, as gold was constantly seeking the 
coffers of hoarders, while paper money was contin- 
ually depreciating in value. That the fatal delay 
in making the Indian payment was due to specula- 
tion, was oft asserted, never denied and generally 


believed at the Fort and the Agencies. To this de- 
lay, whatever may have been its cause, was the out- 
break largely attributable. 

Hunger hears excuses impatiently at best. Bro- 
ken promises and hunger together, when an Indian 
is the victim, will undo more confidence in a day 
than many earnest missionaries could inspire in a 
year. The assembled Indians were kept in waiting 
for several weeks, during which time hunger be- 
came widespread, and starvation actually threaten- 
ed. In fact famine was only averted by the kill- 
ing of dogs and ponies, and the digging of roots 
with which to stay this hunger. Indian chil- 
dren were actually reported to have starved to 
death as a result of the dalliance in making the pay- 
ment and issuing the provisions. 

While authorities assign various reasons for the 
Sioux massacre of 1862, no doubt had the gold pay- 
ment been promptly made in good faith at the ap- 
pointed time, the murdered settlers and the hapless 
traders would have been spared to work out the or- 
dinary problems of life undisturbed. 

On the 14th of July a tour of inspection was made 
of the monstrous Indian camp to ascertain if it was 
true, as rumored, that a large number of Sioux were 
present who were not entitled to annuities. The ru- 
mor was well-founded, there being several hundred 
Yanktonais and Cut-heads, who were merely hopeful 
visitors. Such a gathering of Sioux has never since 
taken place on Minnesota soil, and its like will never 
be witnessed again. This city of the plains number- 
ed seven hundred and seventy-nine lodges, and was 
imposing both for its vastness and for the thousands 


who made up the aggregate of its inhabitants. 

The policy of dalliance went heedlessly on. The 
Indians were known to be destitute. The surround- 
ing country had been swept bare of nearly every 
available living creature which would serve them 
as food. There were provisions in abundance in 
the Government warehouse, belonging to the Indi- 
ans, but they were withheld to be delivered at the 
time of payment. It would not do to go through 
the farcical form of making the annual payment and 
have the money swept from the pay-table by the 
traders with no provisions on hand with which to 
appease the wrath of the disappointed Indians ; so 
these provisions must be held. It would be safe to 
sweep the pay-table if only at the opportune moment 
the hungry stomachs of the Indians could be flat- 
tered with enough bacon and flour for a few meals. 
Not to observe this precaution might be hazardous 
to the hopes of men to whom longevity had its fas- 

On the 18th the Indians reported their condition 
unendurable from lack of food. Starvation, they 
said, was in their midst. Agent Galbraith thought 
there was no occasion for alarm, but Lieutenant 
Sheehan, reasoning from the temper of a hungry 
man, sent to Fort Ridgely, fifty-two miles away, for 
a second twelve-pound mountain howitzer. 

Lieutenants Sheehan and Gere, conscious that 
conditions existed that should be logically met, from 
at least a humanitarian standpoint, advised the issu- 
ing of provisions to the famishing people assembled 
in such vast numbers. On the 21st of July Agent 
Galbraith assured these officers he would arrange 


to count the Indians, issue the provisions and send 
the assembled Sioux back to their hunting-grounds. 
On the 26th of July the Indians were counted, more 
than twelve hours being required in which to make 
the enumeration. Even up to ten days after this 
preparatory enumeration no provisions had been 
issued. At last starvation forced a crisis. On the 
morning of August 4th two Indian messengers en- 
tered the little military camp and informed the sol- 
diers the Indians were coming down to make a dem- 
onstration ; that they would come armed, but they 
wished the soldiers to understand there was no pre- 
meditated hostility in this visit. A moment later 
there came like the wind a thousand warriors, firing 
their guns wildly and yelling like demons.* No or- 
acle was needed to warn the little band of soldiers, 
just one hundred strong, that a climax had at last 
been reached, and that their lives were in peril. 
The hundreds of horsemen were but little in ad- 
vance of the fleet warriors on foot. They complete- 
ly encircled the little military camp, and could have 
crushed it at a single blow. The clicking of their 
gun-locks showed they were ready, with pieces 
cocked, should a soldier fire a shot. The starving 
Indians had come, not to make war, but to forcibly 
take what they had peaceably pleaded for in vain 
for nearly two weeks provisions, of which they 
knew there was an abundant supply, belonging to 
them. Mah-ka-tah, the chosen leader of the raid, 
rushed to the warehouse and struck the door a ring- 
ing blow with his tomahawk. Like clockwork the 

* It was precisely two weeks from this very hour that the massacre began at 
the Redwood Agency. 


soldiery was brought into line with a promptness 
that even the Indians contemplated with a look of 
envy. But the Indians themselves had acted with 
a promptness and coolness in carrying 1 out their de- 
sign, as unexpected as it was daring. It became 
apparent their demonstration was made with a view 
of overawing the soldiers while a party of warriors 
should break down the warehouse door and take 
possession of the stores. They quickly effected an 
entrance to the building and were removing flour. 
Lieutenant Gere ordered his men to remove the tar- 
paulin that sheltered the howitzers, and quickly 
trained a gun on the warehouse door. If there is 
anything for which an Indian shows a wholesome 
respect, it is a cannon. Those who were removing 
the sacks of flour were warned of their danger, and 
glancing at the big gun, fell back to the right and 
left in haste and confusion, leaving an opening down 
through which Lieutenant Sheehan and Sergeant S. 
A. Trescott marched with a squad of sixteen men. 
Lieutenant Sheehan proceeded to the office of Agent 
Galbraith for a conference. Trescott, a man of res- 
olution and coolness (who, by the way, was killed at 
the ferry just two weeks from this date, whither he 
had gone with Captain Marsh on the ill-fated march 
to the Lower Agency), cleared the warehouse of the 
Indians. He and his men having accomplished this 
task, stood defiantly at the entrance of the building. 
Every fibre of manhood was now at its extremest 
tension. The Indians were wrought to the highest 
pitch of excitement and determination. A spark 
would have exploded the savage wrath that had at 
last reached the limit of suppression. The miracle 


is that the massacre that was deferred just two weeks 
to a day was not here and now begun. Two of Sar- 
geant Trescott's men were stationed at the ware- 
house entrance, one on either side of the door, with 
their guns crossed to bar entrance to the build- 
ing. The ejected Indians hurled themselves back 
at the entrance, and in an instant the gun of James 
Foster, one of the guards, was covered from lock to 
muzzle with the hands of the warriors who sought 
to wrest the weapon from him. In this struggle the 
gun was discharged, but fortunately without injury 
to any one. All eyes were on this struggle, and it was 
plain the discharge of the musket was accidental, 
though the men, red and white, were writhing in an 
encounter of desperation which threatened instant- 
ly to involve every element present. 

On the one hand were officers of courage, judg- 
ment and coolness, with men at their command as 
true in pluck and discipline as were ever lined up. 
On the other hand were savages tortured with hun- 
ger, and whose families were in distress, but who 
were determined not to be the first to shed blood in 
open conflict if avoidable, be it said to their credit. 

Realizing the gravity of the situation and the dire 
consequences of the step from which there could be 
no recession, there was mutual relaxation in defer- 
ence to reason at an instant when the taking of life 
seemed inevitable. 

The chiefs plead the necessities of their people, 
and urged that the provisions stored in the ware- 
house belonged to the Indians, and that they were 
unjustly withheld from distribution at a time of 
great suffering. The officers, now that a lull had 


succeeded the white-heat of excitement, advised the 
Indian Agent to make an issue of provisions. He 
hesitated, explaining that he doubted the effect up- 
on the Indians from a disciplinary point of view, 
but realizing 1 the moment was one of great danger 
he acted upon the suggestion, but the issue was 
wholly inadequate to the occasion, and the Indians 
did not disperse until the military assumed a threat- 
ening attitude by forming a line of battle for the 
protection of the warehouse. There was now left 
to the Indians but one of two alternatives that of 
beginning hostilities or withdrawing peaceably to 
their camp. They chose the latter, but sullenly. 

The Indians were displeased and angry, and held 
a stormy council after their withdrawal to their 
lodges. A widespread feeling of hostility prevailed, 
and excitement was again in the ascendant, fiery 
speeches calling forth the approving " Ho, ho," on 
every hand. Delay, hunger and broken promises 
had disarmed those chiefs who had preached the 
virtues of patience and forbearance, and they re- 
ceived scant courtesy in this turbulent conclave of 
maddened warriors. 

Among those who stood for peace and forbear- 
ance was Standing Buffalo, chief of one of the Sis- 
seton bands. The decision of the council favored 
immediate hostilities, amid the wildest excitement, 
the entire council being committed by the action of 
the majority. Under the license of such a vote it 
is a matter of wonder the massacre was not at this 
time precipitated. That it was not was due to the 
dogged persistence of Standing Buffalo and his 
friends and supporters, whose course, though un- 


popular, had a restraining influence over chiefs and 
warriors of the more conservative type, who, in 
turn, after the decision of the council, were non- 
concurrent, even if silent. 

The council at an end, Standing: Buffalo repaired 
to the military camp and reported that war had been 
decided upon ; that he had opposed the result, but 
having- participated in the deliberations of the coun- 
cil, was bound by the decision. He warned the mil- 
itary to be on the alert. 

The troops were put in the best possible condi- 
tion for defensive purposes, while the citizens at 
the Agency, together with all available means of 
defense took refuge in the Government warehouse. 
There was a feeling of the greatest apprehension, 
with good reason for it. As a result of this appre- 
hensiveness Lieutenant Gere was dispatched to 
Fort Ridgely on the 5th, to confer with Captain 
Marsh. This young officer was at all times equal to 
the demands made upon him. Means for convey- 
ance were not of the best, but leaving Yellow Med- 
icine at four o'clock in the afternoon, and passing 
through the Redwood Agency at midnight, he 
reached Fort Ridgely at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing of August 6th, where he called Captain Marsh 
from his slumbers, and acquainted him with the 
dangerous condition of affairs at the Upper Agency. 
After a brief conference Captain Marsh joined Lieu- 
tenant Gere, and they set out at once for the Yellow 
Medicine Agency, which they reached at 1:30 o'clock 
in the afternoon of August 6th. After the arrival 
of these officers, the hand of violence having been 
stayed, a council of the Indians was secured by 


Agent Galbraith and Captain Marsh, at which it was 
agreed that the stock of annuities, consisting of 
provisions and other stores, should be issued at 
once ; that the Indians should repair, after receiv- 
ing their allotments, to their homes or to the great 
hunting-grounds to the westward, to be recalled 
again on the arrival of their money. The issue be- 
gan on the afternoon of August 7th, and continued 
for two days thereafter, the Indians breaking camp 
as rapidly as they could be reached in regular order, 
so that by the time the last of the supplies were is- 
sued, the great camp had disappeared. 

Never was calamity more narrowly averted ; and 
did not the success attending this adjustment lead 
Captain Marsh into the very jaws of death ten days 
later ? 

Smarting under their hardships and the long suc- 
cession of broken promises and disappointments, 
the Indians spread away to repeople the vast plains, 
but they were filled with wrath. 

The military detachment withdrew from the 
Agency on the llth of August, and arrived at 
Fort Ridgely on the evening of the next day, and 
nothing being heard of the Indian Superintendent 
and the long-promised money, Captain Marsh is- 
sued an order for the return of Lieutenant Sheehan 
and detachment to their company headquarters at 
Fort Ripley. Lieutenant Sheehan set out on his 
march on the 17th, the very day upon which oc- 
curred the massacre at Acton. He was unconscious 
of this fact however, until a courier, dispatched af- 
ter him by Captain Marsh on the 18th, overtook him 
at dusk of that day as he had gone into camp be- 


tween New Auburn and Glencoe. He had made 
forty-two miles in the two days' march from Fort 
Ridgely, but immediately struck camp and retraced 
his steps with great energy, marching all night and 
covering the forty-two miles' distance by the early 
forenoon of the next day, his continuous march from 
the morning of the 18th until the morning of the 
19th, being over sixty miles, without rest. The bat- 
tle at the Redwood ferry had been fought, and Cap- 
tain Marsh and a large number of his men had gone 
down to death. Lieutenant Sheehan thus became 
the ranking officer, and hence the commander of 
Fort Ridgely. 


Beginning of the Outbreak. 

From what frivolous acts matters of the gravest 
consequence may flow, was well illustrated by the 
folly which immediately precipitated the Sioux 
massacre. Lack of mental breadth and the absence 
of fundamental principles upon which to found 
character, charitably interpose themselves as an ar- 
gument of extenuation in behalf of the vagabond 
savage. There was lurking in the Indian heart a 
vengeful spirit. He had been wronged and he knew 
it. He had been robbed by the traders through the 
connivance of dishonest agents. He had this year 
been called from his hunting-grounds to receive his 
annuities, and after being kept in waiting until star- 
vation invaded his lodges, was turned back to the 
plains empty-handed and gaunt. Stung with bitter 
disappointment he nursed his wrath sullenly. He 
believed his people the victims of premeditated 
fraud, and judged the whites as a race by those with 
whom he had come in contact about the agencies. 
Notwithstanding all this, the Sioux massacre might 
have been avoided but for a senseless controversy 
over the trivial matter of a few eggs. It was not 
likely that up to this time the killing of a settler 
had been resolved upon. There were vicious Indi- 
ans who delighted at all times in doing lawless 
things. They were always a source of trouble 
among their own people, even on ordinary occa- 
sions, just as there are " black sheep " in nearly ev- 
ery white community, who are pestilential. 


A nest of eggs and the bad disposition of one of 
these Indians proved to be the touch-and-go that 
fired the whole Minnesota frontier, resulting" in a 
thousand murders and horrors indescribable. 

In the fall of 1861, while hunting along the Crow 
River, near Forest City, Meeker county, Chief Mak- 
pe-ya-we-tah, of one of the Lower Agency bands, 
purchased a sleigh of George Whitcomb with which 
to return to Redwood, having been caught in wint- 
erish weather. The chief was unable to pay for the 
sled, but left his wagon to secure the debt. On the 
10th of August, 1862, with a party of twenty Indi- 
ans, the chief started to Forest City, intending to 
redeem his wagon and spend a season in deer-hunt- 
ing. Nearing their destination, the chief and four 
members of his band separated from the main body 
and proceeded on to Whitcomb's, several miles 
northeastward, the fifteen stopping, intending to en- 
gage in hunting. Among the latter were some of 
the most notorious malcontents of the Lower Agen- 
cy. Some six miles from Acton a member of this 
latter party found a hen's nest, and proposed to eat 
the eggs. It was urged by a law-abiding Indian that 
he had no right to do this ; that the eggs were those 
of a white farmer, and should not be taken or de- 
stroyed, as such an act might get them all into trou- 
ble. The law-abiding Indian was accused of cow- 
ardice, and with the accusation the finder of the 
nest destroyed the eggs. The Indian of conscien- 
tious scruples denounced this act as contemptible, 
and as showing neither courage nor good sense. 
His courage questioned, the malcontent drew up 
his rifle and shot an ox, boasting of this as an act of 


defiance confirming his courage, but the law-abiding 
Indian remonstrated in stronger terms than ever, 
and denounced the breaking of eggs and the shoot- 
ing of oxen as very cowardly. By this time the 
whole party was rent with dissension. Four of 
the Indians stood up for the whites and good order, 
while the other eleven became more contemptuous 
as the quarrel progressed. Each party accused the 
other of cowardice, the eleven claiming the four 
feared the whites, while the four ridiculed the elev- 
en for their acts. Violence among themselves 
seemed imminent, when they finally separated, the 
eleven saying they would show that they were 
brave, for they proposed to kill a white man. 

Singularly, after the quarrel and separation, the 
four who stood for law and order were the first to 
kill a white man and bring on the crisis. Not long 
after the parting they heard the ring of the rifles of 
the eleven some distance away in the settlements. 
They felt sure this meant that the whites were be- 
ing killed, and that now their valor would be forever 
questioned unless they joined in the horrible work. 
Two of the four still protested against violence, and 
even yet all might have turned favorably except for 
an unwise and ill-timed quarrel precipitated by a 
white man, who was noted for bad temper and not 
the best for good faith in his dealings with the In- 

This man was Robinson Jones, at whose house 
the four Indians called near the middle of the day 
of Sunday, August 17th. The Indians here asked 
for liquor, not an uncommon thing to do, but were 
refused. Jones was a man of powerful physique, 


and was courageous and aggressive. He thought 
he recognized in the quartet an Indian who had bor- 
rowed a gun from him some months previously, that 
had not been returned, and took the suspected de- 
linquent hotly to task. The Indian positively de- 
nied the accusation. A quarrel ensued and Jones, 
in his violent way, drove the Indians from the house. 
They went to the home of Howard Baker, eighty 
rods away. 

At Baker's house were a Mr. Webster and wife, 
who had just arrived that day in their immigrant 
wagon from Michigan, seeking a home on the Min- 
nesota frontier. At Baker's the Indians asked for 
water and tobacco, and were accommodated. They 
drank, and filling a pipe sat down and smoked. 
They were friendly and good-humored. Unfortu- 
nately however, Jones and his wife came to the Ba- 
ker home, Baker being a son of Mrs. Jones by a 
former husband. Here Jones renewed his quarrel 
with the Indian about the gun. The Indians finally 
grew very angry, and Mrs. Baker, in her alarm, 
asked Mrs. Jones if they had given the Indians 
liquor. She replied that they had not, and that 
44 they had no liquor for such black devils as these." 
This added fuel to the flame, for the Indians appar- 
ently understood the language, and the spirit in 
which it was uttered. Here, without question, was 
the shedding of blood first fully decided upon. The 
Indians bantered the white men to shoot at a mark 
with them, Jones replying with an oath that he was 
not afraid to shoot 44 with any damned redskin." 
Having emptied their guns, the Indians reloaded, 
but the whites, not believing the Indians dared to 


commit an act of violence, or premeditated it, did 
not reload their pieces. This was the opportunity 
for which the Indians had made their play, and they 
fired, Jones, his wife, Baker and Webster each re- 
ceiving: a shot, the last three being: killed or mor- 
tally wounded. Jones attempted to escape to the 
cover of timber, but was felled by another shot. He 
clung: to life tenaciously, and died in g:reat ag:ony, 
having:, in his final struggle, filled his mouth with 
handsful of earth, and dug: holes in the compact 
ground with his boot-heels. The Indians could not 
have inflicted, had they tried, greater suffering: upon 
the man they intensely disliked, than he endured 
until mercifully relieved by death. Mrs. Webster 
was in their covered wag:on getting: some thing:s to 
pass out to her husband when the Indians opened 
fire, and was not soug:ht out or disturbed. Mrs. 
Baker, shocked and unnerved at what had occurred, 
stumbled and fell down cellar with a child in her 
arms, both escaping: uninjured in the fall ; nor were 
they molested by the Indians, who immediately re- 
paired to the house of Jones, upon which they seem- 
ed to center their vengeance, where they killed a 
Miss Clara D. Wilson, a young: lady whose home 
was in the Jones family. 

Having: inaugurated the horrible Sioux massacre, 
in the town of Acton, Meeker county, the four Indi- 
ans hastened to a neighbor of the Jones family, a 
Mr. Eckland, where they took two horses and fled, 
mounted double, for the vicinity of the Redwood 
Ag:ency. They reached their own camp, four 
miles above Redwood, near daylight on Monday 
morning:, August 18th. Rousing: their tribesmen 


and relating what had happened, all was consterna- 
tion. A council was called, and it was immediately 
foreseen that the four Indians must be turned over 
to the white authorities, or the whole band of Rice 
Creek Indians, to which the four belonged, be held 
as accomplices in the crimes committed. There 
was but little time in which to choose a course. 
Many of the band were opposed to making war on 
the whites. Only the previous evening in fact it 
had been decided at a meeting to start on Monday 
morning (this fatal Monday morning) for Fort 
Ridgely to make a demand for their annuities, and 
if unsuccessful, then to proceed on to St. Paul. In 
view of this previous plan and of the aversion of 
friends and relatives to surrender the four to be 
dealt with for the murder of the whites at Acton, it 
was decided to hasten down to the Lower Agency, 
lay the matter of a decision before Little Crow and 
other Agency Indians. 

To portray the wild excitement and frenzied con- 
dition of the Indian village in the early dawn of that 
August morning is not a pen-possibility. Only on 
the previous night, be it remembered, the wrongs 
of the agents and traders had been rehearsed, and 
the disappointments and the sufferings of the Indi- 
ans dwelt upon. Longer patience had ceased to be 
a virtue. Disappointment had been piled upon dis- 
appointment until the limit of endurance had been 
reached, and a final trip, first to the Fort, and then 
to St. Paul if necessary, for redress, had been 
planned for this very morning. In this acute con- 
dition of mind the news of the outbreak at Acton 
produced consternation, and discussion only in- 


flamed the excited minds of the warriors. While it 
was decided ostensibly to hasten to Redwood for 
consultation and advice, the war flame was fanned 
at every turn. There were constant accessions to 
the party as it wildly and excitedly rode to the 
Agency, and each accession was fuel to the flame. 
Every tepee and wicky-up along: the way contribu- 
ted to the hellish legion that poured out naked, with 
hair streaming to join the wild cavalcade and catch 
and echo the war-cry. The hills of the Minnesota 
rang with yells as through the blinding dust rushed 
the ever-growing stream of frenzied warriors. Ex- 
planations by the way were unnecessary. The war- 
cry was sufficient, and it is not probable human 
eyes ever witnessed a wilder scene than was this 
flight of demons along the trail that resounded with 
the throbbing footfalls of beasts inspired to their 
utmost endeavors by their frenzied riders, who fast 
and faster came as the murderous resolution of their 
hearts spurred them madly on and blinded them to 
all thought of right or reason. The earth trembled 
as the thundering cavalcade pressed on in its wild 
flight, the hideous war-cry echoing savagely along 
the broad valley of the Minnesota, rousing Sioux 
braves from their slumbers and thrilling their hearts 
with emotions transforming them at once into mad- 
dened demons. It was small wonder Little Crow 
was swept from his poise by this frenzied horde 
and hurried into the bloody torrent that bore him to 
his ruin. But the blood of Acton had fired the 
hearts of this crazed legion, that fell upon the Red- 
wood Agency like a pitiless storm, awakening the 
whole frontier in one horrifying shriek from its con- 


fiding stupor. 

Little Crow lived in a brick house about two miles 
above the Agency. He was still in bed when the 
head of the column of warriors reached his place, 
and was shocked to hear the familiar war-whoop 
that roused him from his slumbers. He sat up with 
his blanket about him and heard the startling story 
of the spokesman of the party. Soon his house was 
packed to the limit of its capacity, with scores un- 
able to gain admission, and the excitement was in- 
tense. The wild ride had dispelled every thought of 
a peaceful solution of troubles real and fancied. Ev- 
ery voice was for war, and the demand that the fa- 
mous chieftain should lead the savage hosts was 
unanimous and emphatic. Beads of perspiration 
gathered upon the forehead of Little Crow, who no 
doubt dreaded the ordeal, wisely understanding the 
great hazard that attended a war upon the whites. 
But he had lost popularity with his people of late 
years, and now was offered an opportunity to rein- 
state himself. There was, too, a dream of long- 
cherished and far-reaching results. He yielded to 
the demands of the frenzied and impatient horde, 
and without breakfast joined in the plans for the 
massacre of the traders and others at the Agency, 
upon which the warriors had already fully determ- 
ined, and hastened away at the head of the wild 
horde like a flying demon. 









First News of the Outbreak at Redwood. 

A garrison was never more tranquil than was that 
of Fort Ridgely on the morning of August 18th. 
Midsummer quietude was all-pervading. Lieuten- 
ant Sheehan and his fifty men had just departed 
homeward after a month and a half of service and 
companionship with Company B. The Renville 
Rangers, a party of some fifty men t who had spent 
a day or so at the Fort, had just gone on their jour- 
ney to Fort Snelling, where they were to be mus- 
tered into these rvice for active duiy in the south. 
Accompanying them were a number of members of 
Company B. 

The Indian payment incident at the Yellow Med- 
icine Agency, which had furnished the only diver- 
sion of the season, was apparently closed, and with 
the absence of so many who had helped to infuse 
animation into the routine duties of frontier garri- 
son life, a Sabbath-like stillness had settled down 
upon the post. There was nothing to suggest activ- 
ity. There was nothing upon which to found the 
hope that there was anything in store for Company 
B but hum-drum garrison duty. The youthful offi- 
cers and men who in the main made up the com- 
pany, were impatient for an order to go south, and 
could they have ordered their destiny in this mat- 
ter by ballot, there would have been a unanimous 
vote, with cheers and a throwing of caps in the air, 
to move within an hour. 

But this could not be, and with patience and for- 


titude the soldiers, whose companions had just left 
them, and whose only diversion of the summer had 
terminated with the Yellow Medicine event, relaxed 
into enforced quietude, without the remotest sus- 
picion that before night more than one-fourth of 
their number would be called upon to meet death 
in one of the fiercest and most merciless combats 

At about 10 o'clock in the forenoon, August 18, 
1862, came, like the lightning's flash from a clear 
sky, the startling news of the horrible massacre be- 
gun three hours previously at the Redwood Agen- 
cy. Down from the northwest, nearing the Fort, 
was seen the approach of people in great haste. The 
attention of the garrison was generally attracted to 
the unusual spectacle, but without once suspecting 
the cause of it. J. C. Dickinson was in the advance 
and was the first to enter the Fort. He had scarce- 
ly told in a few words of the uprising when a team 
immediately following him entered under the lash, 
with a load of refugees, among them a wounded 
man, who had made his escape after being shot at 
the Agency. That savage wrath had burst like a 
flame was at first inconceivable, but the testimony 
that the seal ping-knife had flashed from its sheath 
to follow the deadly work of the gun was all too ev- 
ident to be questioned. The soldiers gathered 
around the refugees whose tales were told in shock- 
ing, dramatic detail. Captain Marsh did not delib- 
erate, but ordered the assembling of the company 
at once. Charles M. Culver, the drummer boy, for 
the first time sounded with meaning emphasis the 
long-roll. Thrilled with the story of the massacre 



and the clamor of the drum, men were quickly in 
line to receive orders. With a haste that seemed 
imperative a detail of forty-six men was made at 
once to proceed to the scene of carnage, under the 
belief that the situation was yet controllable, and in 
any event demanded the presence of soldiery at the 
Agency. It was simply a matter of moments be- 
tween the receipt of the news of the outbreak and 
the departure of Captain Marsh and his detail for 
the scene of the bloody work thirteen miles away. 

These were the men to whose lot it fell to gfo on 
this expedition : 

John S. Marsh 

Peter Quinn 

R. H. Findley 
S. A. Trescott 
J. F. Bishop 

J. S. Besse 
W. E. Winslow 
T. D. Huntley 
C. H. Hawley 

Charles Beecher 
Charles R. Bell 
W. H. Blodgett 
John Brennan 
Levi Carr 
E. F. Cole 

Privates (cont'd) 
W. B. Hutchinson 
Chris Joerger 
Durs Kanzig 
James H. Kerr 
Wenzel Kusda 
Henry McAllister 
John Me Go wan 
James M. Munday 
James Murray 
Wenzel Norton 
J. W. Parks 
M. P. Parks 
John Parsley 
Thomas Parsley 
H. A. Phillips 
N. Pitcher 
A. Rebenski 
Ezekiel Rose 
J. Serfling 


Marsh and his men (cont'd) 
James Dunn H. A. Shepherd 

J. W. Foster C. W. Smith 

C. E. French N. Steward 

A. Gardner S. Steward 

J. Gardner W. A. Sutherland 

J. A. Gehring O. Svendson 

John Holmes S. VanBuren 

At the command, " Forward," the men moved out 
with elastic step, the very embodiment of splendid 
soldiery. Teams were hastily hitched up, and car- 
rying light supplies of ammunition and provision, 
followed and soon overtook the command. Captain 
Marsh and Interpreter Quinn were on mule-back, 
and the men now climbed into the wagons that more 
haste might be made in reaching the Agency. 

Fort Ridgely was now practically deserted, Lieu- 
tenant T. P. Gere remaining in command of the post 
with fewer than thirty men. The situation had sud- 
denly become one of the keenest anxiety, and this 
was increased by the constant accessions of refu- 
gees, whose tales of horrible deeds gave evidence 
of the rapid spread of the frightful work of carnage 
started at the Agency in the morning, but now 
sweeping over the adjacent settlements. Fugitives 
who came in over the Agency road, and who had 
met Captain Marsh and his men, pronounced the 
expedition to the ferry one destined to end in the 
greatest disaster. This was neither reassuring nor 
comforting to the remnant of the company left in 
command of the Fort, and was rendered less so be- 
cause the convictions expressed were those of men 
of keen discernment, who were well informed on 


the deplorable situation. In fact these fugitives, 
when meeting Captain Marsh, cautioned him of his 
danger, and advised him, if he would not turn back, 
at least not to enter the valley of the Minnesota 
River, which he must do three miles from the 
Agency if he persisted in reaching the ferry. 

Before Captain Marsh had covered half the dis- 
tance to the Agency his command had witnessed 
buildings aflame and corpses by the wayside to 
warn him of the danger that threatened him, and 
the whole frontier as well. There was no time to 
deliberate. To march into the jaws of death, as 
seemed imminent, might make the fall of Fort 
Ridgely a certainty, and thus expose the frontier 
settlements to annihilation. On the other hand, if 
a brave and almost superhuman effort could yet 
stay the savage hand dripping with blood, incalcu- 
lable loss of life could be prevented. Captain 
Marsh knew his men. He had no doubt of their 
splendid courage. The fleeing refugees warned 
them that to enter the valley was almost certain 
death, but all this was met with a stoical determin- 
ation to do faithfully and bravely the duty pointed 
out to them by their commander, who believed the 
great good possible to be accomplished was worth 
the hazard the undertaking involved. 

While this march was being made on that quiet 
summer day, hearts were beating anxiously at the 
Fort. As the men passed out to the northwestward 
in the forenoon, they were watched for a mile or so, 
and disappeared, with a bon voyage, below the inter- 
vening prairie-ridge, entering, as it proved, on the 
threshold of eternity. Refugees came in in increas- 


numbers, and pointed to the distant columns of 
smoke as those of burning homes. Some of these 
people were wounded, and all were fatigued and 
terror-stricken. There were increasing evidences 
of the approach of the savage horde throughout the 
western and northwestern settlements. 

There were none so dull as not to realize that 
the situation was profoundly critical. Marsh and 
his little detail were well within the environment of 
the savages. That they would stay the bloody hand, 
or even extricate themselves from their perilous 
predicament, became hourly more doubtful. There 
was no reserve force to go to their assistance. The 
Fort itself and all in it must fall if vigorously at- 
tacked. This was self-evident. Its hope was not 
in its ability to resist an onslought, but in the great 
good fortune that should delay an attack until bet- 
ter preparation should obtain. 

When within six or seven miles of the Agency 
Captain Marsh, seeing evidences of danger on ev- 
ery hand, ordered his men to abandon the wagons 
and resume their former order of march. The pace 
of the men was quickened, and believing the Lower 
Agency the center of disturbance, and that once 
there cool and wise heads could be conferred with 
and a stop put to the hellish work, the command 
hurried with a zeal worthy of a better fate than 
awaited the brave detachment. Reaching the top of 
Faribault hill, three miles from the Agency, a view 
of the Minnesota valley presented itself. Sicken- 
ing scenes had been witnessed by the wayside, and 
there was little else than desolation to be seen from 
this hill-top. Only men of the rarest courage and 


of the most perfect discipline would have entered 
that valley of death in the face of all that was 

At the Fort the horrible condition at the Agency 
had now been fully detailed, striking terror to ev- 
ery heart and sealing the doom of Marsh and his 
men. Among the refugees who arrived in the af- 
ternoon from the Agency was Rev. J. D. Hinman, 
an Episcopal missionary, stationed at Redwood. 
Having arisen early to start on a journey to Fari- 
bault, he was out in the tranquil morning that gave 
no suspicion that the curtain was about to rise on 
one of the most appalling massacres, at his own 
door, ever known to American history. He was 
ready for his departure between six and seven 
o'clock, when unusual signs for the hour among the 
Indians attracted his attention. The Indians were 
almost naked, and carried their guns. Their num- 
bers increased, and people began to wonder at their 
unusual appearance, which some interpreted to 
mean that a raid was to be made on some Chippe- 
wa band known to have invaded the neighborhood. 
The Indians squatted nonchalantly on the steps of 
the various buildings, their demeanor betraying no 
sign of hostility. 

Now a signal gun broke the silence in the upper 
part of town. Even this was doubted to be a sign 
of hostility until other shooting up the street and 
the hasty fleeing of people towards the bluff over- 
looking the river began to be alarming. White Dog 
ran past Mr. Hinman at this juncture, and to an in- 
quiring word replied that " awful work had been 
started." He was no doubt himself taken by sur- 


prise, though later in the day his cunning and his 
treachery played an important part in the betrayal 
of Marsh. Little Crow also passed Mr. Hinman 
about this time, but with a scowl declined to an- 
swer an inquiry of the missionary, though they 
knew each other well, and the chief, now sullen, had 
always been polite and friendly. The firing had 
now become a fusilade, and people were being shot 
down on every hand. The traders were the first ob- 
jects of hatred to fall, riddled with bullets. As the 
bloody work progressed the savages grew wild and 
furious, their hideous yells, the crash of their guns, 
work of the torch, the shrieks of their helpless vic- 
tims, begging vainly for mercy, creating a scene 
horrifying in the extreme. Rev. Hinman fled be- 
fore the spreading tide of death had reached him, 
and gaining the river, fortunately found a skiff with 
which he hastily crossed, making good his escape 
to the Fort. 

With this additional information from so high an 
authority, what could the fate of Captain Marsh and 
his detail be? Every heart-throb echoed this in- 
quiry ; every glance betrayed the awful misgivings 
that tongues hesitated to utter. 

Night began to gather its unwelcome folds around 
the distraught garrison. Refugees, principly wo- 
men and children, had swarmed in with sickening 
tales, to increase the burdens now illy proportioned 
to the garrison's defenders. Lieutenant Gere, who 
now commanded the Fort, though but twenty years 
of age, had combined within him soldierly ability, 
courage of the highest order, and discretion beyond 
his years. His bearing was an inspiration, and he 


possessed the perfect confidence of what remained 
of Company B under his command. The gloom 
of night had added its dangers to the situation, 
with no tidings from the brave men who were 
last reported as they were descending into the val- 
ley near the Agency. The men under Lieutenant 
Gere maintained a courage and loyalty equal to any 
sacrifice. Whatever fate willed, they would reso- 
lutely meet. Dispositions were made for the night 
to guard as far as possible against a night surprise, 
and with the few men widely dispersed, the garri- 
son settled down to a death-like stillness, when 
the first tidings came of the fate of Marsh and his 
men. Privates James Dunn and William B. Hutch- 
inson were the first to arrive with the story of the 
frightful disaster at the ferry, they having been 
dispatched by Sergeant John F. Bishop, who 
was in command of the only known remnant of 
Company B to escape the merciless slaughter at the 
ferry. The little party were carrying a badly 
wounded comrade, while Bishop himself was wound- 
ed. Their progress being thus impeded, Bishop 
dispatched Dunn and Hutchinson to apprise the 
garrison of the disaster, himself and party reaching 
the Fort at ten o'clock at night. 

Now the thrilling story was told in detail. Marsh's 
slender detachment descended into the Minnesota 
valley at Faribault hill at about midday, and 
marched across a bottom for three miles over a 
road not unfavorable to a treacherous foe, grass of 
a rank growth affording shelter on either hand. 
When within a mile or so of the ferry the Captain 
halted his men for a moment's needed rest. Resum- 


ing his march the men were moved in open order 
by single file to minimize the danger from exposure, 
and in this order continued to the ferry-house, situ- 
ated on the east side of the road, ten or twelve rods 
north of the ferry. Just two weeks previously to a 
day most of these men were actors in the dramatic 
incident at Yellow Medicine, when, on the 4th of 
August, they were surrounded by nearly a thousand 
armed warriors, when the Government warehouse 
was attacked. Coolness and courage won the day 
for these same soldiers on that occasion. May they 
not now overmatch the red-handed savage and yet 
bring order out of chaos ? There must have been 
this lingering hope, though conditions were so 
changed as to make the hope chimerical. 

Along the river at the ferry were clumps of wil- 
lows and other brush, together with a rank growth 
of weeds and grass, with here and there a sandbar 
deposited by the river in flood-time. Knowing the 
stealthy nature of the Sioux, and that war. had been 
inaugurated, the surroundings were such as any 
American soldier, willing to meet his foe in the 
open, would feel ill-at-ease in. 

On the high bluff just across the river was the 
Redwood Agency, the objective point of Captain 
Marsh, and where he had hoped to meet prominent 
Sioux chiefs, and through their co-operation restore 
order. He apparently could not realize that the 
Agency had been blotted out, and that every soul 
who had made up its white citizenship lay prostrate 
where he fell, shot to death and mutilated beyond 
recognition. The slope leading from the river to 
the brow of the Agency hill was studded with a 


thick growth of brushy timber. The disemboweled 
and acephalous body of the ferryman had already 
been found, with the ferryboat on the north side of 
the river, ready for the soldiers to enter upon, as 
the Indians had no doubt carefully planned, divin- 
ing that Marsh would seek to cross to the Agency 
side. Indians there were in plenty, but they kept 
themselves well concealed. A few warriors on 
horseback revealed themselves indifferently on the 
prairie south of the Agency, and at considerable 
distance from the ferry, their evident purpose being 
to attract attention from the forces masked in the 
region of the ferry. Near the ferry landing on the 
opposite or Agency side of the river, was a lone In- 
dian, chosen for a conspicuous part in the tragedy 
to be enacted when the plans of the cunning Indi- 
ans were matured. This was recognized to be no 
less a personage than White Dog, who himself was 
clearly taken by surprise by the outbreak as his de- 
meanor to Rev. Hinman revealed in the early morn- 
ing. White Dog was a prominent Indian at the 
Agency, having been president of the Indian Farm- 
ers' Organization, and his selection as a man likely 
to inspire confidence in Captain Marsh was neither 
spontaneous nor accidental. Through Interpreter 
Quinn Captain Marsh addressed White Dog, who, 
in reply, suavely invited Marsh to cross, assuring 
him that the Indians did not wish to fight the sol- 
diers, and that if Marsh would cross to the Agency 
a council would be called to meet and confer with 
him. Two soldiers who went to the river's brink to 
obtain water as this conversation was being carried 
on, discovered in concealment on the opposite side, 


near White Dog, many Indians. However, Captain 
Marsh ordered his men forward from the ferry- 
house to the ferry-landingr, purposing to cross, his 
men halting at a front along the river. Sergeant 
Bishop having stepped to the water's edge for a 
drink as the ferry ropes were being adjusted, saw 
evidences in the roily condition of the water that 
the Indians were crossing up-stream with a view to 
a rear attack. This conviction expressed to Captain 
Marsh, was intuitively grasped by White Dog, who 
knew the moment was critical, and now doubted 
that Marsh would enter upon the ferry. He there- 
fore fired the signal gun, as was his part in the trag- 
edy, to which Quinn, the white-haired interpreter, 
sensing its meaning instantly, in his last breath, 
cried, " Look out !" A deadly volley came from the 
ambuscade on the opposite side of the river, killing 
many a brave soldier who had had no opportunity 
to defend himself. Quinn was among those to fall 
at the first volley, riddled with no less than a dozen 
bullets. The volley was high and mainly passed 
over the heads of the soldiers. Marsh and Quinn 
stood nearly side by side when the volley was fired, 
but the Captain was unscathed, and instantly order- 
ed his men to fall back to the ferry house. Now 
came the awful realization of Bishop's prediction, 
for with deafening yells there rose from ambush in 
the rear, and within short range, a legion of naked, 
frantic devils who poured a merciless volley into 
the already staggered ranks of Marsh. The effect 
was deadly. Now the men fought for their lives, 
and to extricate themselves from their perilous pre- 
dicament. The losses were already so great that 


to attempt a stand would be simply to blindly chal- 
lenge fate. [As stated by Chaska in 1863, when re- 
ferring to this bloody incident, White Dog gave the 
death-signal prematurely, for which he was bitterly 
assailed by Little Crow and other prominent lead- 
ers in the massacre. The signal was not to have 
been given until the savage cordon had been so ex- 
tended as to prevent the escape of a single man of 
Marsh's command, in event the soldiers could not 
be gotten upon the ferry and there annihilated.] 

The Indians had secured possession of the ferry- 
house by this time. The righting now was of the 
most desperate character, being hand to hand or at 
the range of a few paces. The soldiers made dead- 
ly work in the ranks of the savages, who were no 
match for the trained infantrymen in open combat ; 
but realizing they could not withstand the already 
overwhelming and constantly increasing numbers, 
Marsh gave the order to gain at all hazards the 
thicket along the river, of which the savages had 
not yet secured possession. This was accom- 
plished under a furious fire, fifteen out of the origi- 
nal number, after fighting like demons, reaching the 
sheltering copse. To reach the Fort over an un- 
known country, pathless, and beset with a desper- 
ate enemy, was the only hope of the brave comman- 
der and his shattered force. The thicket was raked 
with the guns of the savages, but the men were now 
fighting from cover with a deliberateness of aim 
that kept the enemy well at bay. Covering their 
retreat carefully, the men fought their way down 
through the brush until they apparently must soon 
expose themselves to Indians seen out on the Fort 


road, who were believed to be moving" eastward to 
intercept the re treat ing 1 detachment. Captain Marsh 
believed safety lay alone in crossing to the south 
bank of the river, and led in an effort to accomplish 
this end. This was at about 4 o'clock p. m. The 
Minnesota River at this point was fifty yards or 
more in width. Lifting his sword and revolver 
above his head the Captain waded successfully two- 
thirds of the way across. Getting: beyond his depth 
he could no longer retain his weapons of defense, 
and dropping them, attempted to swim. In this he 
was unsuccessful, and called to his men for assist- 
ance. Brennan, Dunn and VanBuren, all men of 
heroic mould, hastened to the rescue of their com- 
mander, but he was doomed by the treacherous wa- 
ters, and though seized by Brennan's strong arm, as 
he was sinking the second time, and brought to the 
surface, and although the Captain grasped the 
shoulder of the athletic hero daring all to save him, 
the hold of the officer and that of the soldier were 
broken in the struggle, and Captain Marsh disap- 
peared beneath the merciless waters to rise no 

Now the command devolved upon Sergeant John 
F. Bishop, than whom there was no better or braver 
soldier. Beset with calamity, dogged with disas- 
ter and wounded besides, with one of his men, pri- 
vate Svendson, so seriously wounded that he must 
be carried by his comrades, Bishop was put to a 
test summoning all his tact, courage and endurance. 
He at once decided to keep the north side of the 
river, instead of crossing it as Captain Marsh had 
designed, and this decision no doubt saved the lives 


of Bishop and his fourteen men, as the Indians, be- 
lieving the soldiers to have crossed the stream, 
themselves crossed to ambush the men on the south 
side. While the Indians were lying in concealment, 
awaiting the approach of the would-be victims, the 
little command, under cover of a favoring hill on 
the south bank of the river, passed successfully to 
safer and better protected ground down stream. 
Stealthily, cautiously, vigilantly the wearied and 
persecuted men pressed onward, not unmindful that 
their enemy's plan of warfare always embraced the 
deadly ambush. 

Night was fast approaching. Whether its protec- 
tion in an unknown and pathless country was pref- 
erable to daylight and exposure, was difficult to de- 
termine. With nothing to eat and bearing a wound- 
ed soldier in need of surgical treatment, there could 
be no thought of halting, not with the certainty that 
Fort Ridgely could be but a few miles distant at 
most. But did the Fort exist ? Had not the des- 
perate enemy, flushed with success and drunk with 
frenzy, pressed on tb overpower and annihilate 
the well-nigh defenseless garrison ? Surely it was 
within his power to accomplish this result. 

When, after nightfall, Sergeant Bishop sent the 
sturdy soldiers, Dunn and Hutchinson, forward, 
there was ample reason to feel the Fort might have 
fallen, though no cannonading had reverberated 
through the valley to indicate an attack; still, known 
conditions were such that a fierce and sudden at- 
tack on the garrison might be successfully made in 
a manner to preclude the use of artillery. Ser- 
geant Bishop felt, as he was justified in doing, that 


Dunn and Hutchinson were men to be relied upon 
to successfully learn and apprise him if the Fort 
had fallen. But the two soldiers found the garrison 
in the hands of Lieutenant Gere, and made a suc- 
cessful entry, as did Bishop and the remainder of 
his men an hour later, twelve hours from the time 
of their departure under Captain Marsh in the fore- 

The garrison was well prepared in mind from 
what had filtered to it, for the news of the disaster ; 
yet it was stunned to speechlessness when the list 
of casualties was announced. 


Captain John S. Marsh (drowned) 

Interpreter Peter Quinn 

Sergeant Russell H. Findley 
Solon A. Trescott 

Corporal Joseph S. Besse 
Privates Charles R. Bell Edwin F. Cole 

Charles E. French John Gardner 
Jacob A. Gehring John Holmes 
Christian Joerger Durs Kanzig 
James H. Kerr Wenzel Kusda 

Henry McAllister Wenzel Norton 
John Parsley Moses P. Parks 

John W. Parks Nathaniel Pitcher 

Harrison A. Phillips Charles W. Smith 
Henry. A. Shepherd Nathan Stewart 

Sergeant John F.Bishop 
Privates William H. Blodgett Ezekiel Rose 
Win. A. Sutherland Ole Svendson 


Early on the morning: of the 20th, William A. 
Sutherland and William H. Blodgett arrived at the 
Fort, after experiences and endurance almost un- 
believable. These men were shot down in the en- 
gagement at the ferry. Their escape, their suffer- 
ings and their heroic struggle for life can scarcely 
be matched in history. Sutherland was shot in the 
breast, the ball passing through the right lung, and 
out near the point of the right shoulder-blade, at 
his back. 

The wound rendered him unconscious for a time, 
and while in this condition the Indians took from 
him his gun, cartridge-belt and box, his cap, coat 
and shoes, leaving him destitute of clothing, save 
his shirt (saturated with blood from his wound), and 
his trousers. The mystery is that he was not 
scalped, but his escape was no doubt due to a dis- 
tracted state among the savages who were rent with 
dissension over the personal effects of their victims. 
Sutherland fell near the river, where he lay for sev- 
eral hours. Returning to consciousness, he found 
himself crazed with pain and thirst. Lifting his 
head cautiously, he looked about him, half stupe- 
fied, yet curious to learn whether his comrades, who 
were in action when he fell, had been annihilated. 
While the savages had completed their hellish 
work, they were still in the vicinity, and he could 
hear their voices not far away, and the firing of 
guns far and near warned him of the havoc being 
wrought upon the settlements of the vicinity. He 
determined to crawl to the river and slake his burn- 
ing thirst, even though to do so should cost him his 
life. He tested his strength in an effort to turn 


over, having 1 fallen on his face when shot. He found 
he could move his body, and down through the high 
grass and weeds he dragged himself to the water's 
edge, leaving a trail stained with blood to betray 
him should an Indian cross his path. He was much 
refreshed with copious draughts of water, and 
crawled back into the weeds, where he meditated, 
and wondered if escape was a physical possibility. 
He reasoned that no attempt at escape should be 
made before nightfall. Thirst compelled him to 
make several visits to the river. Near his drinking 
place was a skiff, lodged against the river's bank, 
and partially filled with water. The waterlogged 
boat suggested a possible means of escape, and he 
resolved that if not discovered and slain before 
dark he would make a superhuman effort to save his 
life. At about ten o'clock at night, after all the 
savages had joined in the hideous orgies of the 
scalp-dance on the Agency side of the river, he felt 
that now if ever he must carry out his resolution. 
He crept cautiously to the water's edge, removed 
as much water from the boat as possible with his 
hands while the craft lay on its edge, and pushing 
it into the stream, got in. There was no seat in the 
boat, no oars, no paddle, and nothing with which to 
bail out the water, of which there was a consider- 
able quantity at the outset. He sat down in this in 
the bottom of the boat, hatless and without clothing 
to protect his shattered body from the penetrating 
chill of night, with no nourishment of any kind. 
Thus he began his solemn journey, dependent whol- 
ly upon his boat and the current of the sluggish 


As he drifted silently away under the southwest- 
ern hills, the hideous din of the scalp-dance, con- 
ducted but a matter of rods away from where he had 
lain for hours, became less and less distinct, until 
croaking frogfs or an occasional bittern alone broke 
the silence of night. In this hapless plight, this 
country boy of twenty summers, who had left all 
the comforts of a happy home, tenanted with loved 
ones, to enter the army and serve his country, be- 
gan a voyage under conditions seeming to challenge 
fate and which fiction, in all its reckless extrava- 
gance, would scarce attempt a parallel. 

All that night, all the next day, and all the fol- 
lowing night until nearly dawn, this ghostly figure 
drifted silently along, now backwards, now side- 
wise and now for an hour or so whirled helplessly 
in an eddy. The nights were gloomy and solemn, 
but not more so than the light of day, that revealed 
the pall of death on every hand. Sutherland was 
seized with a delusion that haunted him against rea- 
son, from the outset of his journey. He felt that he 
was helplessly being carried in the wrong direction 
that he should go up stream instead of down, and 
this fantasy gave him no end of trouble. He was 
shot on Monday afternoon. He entered his boat 
Monday night, and there remained until the break 
of day Wednesday morning. He knew his progress 
had been very slow, but he felt that if the boat had 
carried him in the proper direction, he must be in 
the vicinity of the Fort. At all events he found 
that he must abandon the waterlogged boat, for he 
had become so stiffened he could scarcely move. 
Against his better judgement, the bewildering de- 


lusion that had been his pursuing nemesis, impell- 
ed him to land, by paddling with his hands, on the 
wrong side of the river, or on the side opposite the 
Fort. Benumbed and weakened, but stimulated 
with the hope that he would soon reach the garri- 
son, he picked his way through a jungle of under- 
brush, and out of the valley and up the wooded hills 
until he reached the open prairie on the highlands. 
He saw Indian cabins that were strange to him, but 
no trace of the garrison or of any familiar object. 
His heart sickened, and despair overwhelmed him, 
and he sank to the earth. But his great will-power 
triumphed, and he rose to his feet again. The sun 
had now risen to flood the earth with its exhilarat- 
ing light. Sutherland realized that he must return 
to the shelter of the river valley, as he was in 
great danger of being discovered; and as he 
turned his face to the northeastward, to his amaze- 
ment and joy he beheld Fort Ridgely in the favor- 
ing light of the morning sun, on the hills beyond 
the river, the colors flying at full-mast, assuring 
him that without doubt the Fort had not fallen. He 
now knew he had abandoned his boat not far above 
the road crossing the river by a ferry, and leading 
to the Fort. He set out to reach the river at the 
ferry-crossing, but on his arrival at the stream a 
new disappointment awaited him. The rope span- 
ning the river had been cut and the ferry was gone. 
There was but one alternative : he must swim the 
river or perish in the attempt to do so. He lost no 
time, but got down into the water, which was soon 
beyond his depth, compelling him, while suffering 
excruciating pain in the effort, to exert himself to 


keep from sinking. By the assistance of the 
current he landed on the opposite side, where, 
having been carried several rods down stream, he 
experienced great difficulty in pulling" himself up 
the abrupt and brush-grown river bank. He ac- 
complished all this, however, and walked a mile, 
most of the way up-hill, and reached the Fort, a 
gaunt, bent, blood-stained, half-naked specter, as if 
risen from the dead to affright his surviving com- 
rades. He arrived at the garrison between 8 and 9 
o'clock of Wednesday morning, August 20th, and 
an hour later the Indians came in swarms over the 
road by which he had barely made his escape. 

But Blodgett's escape was even more miraculous. 
It would not be rash to say that it has no record- 
ed parallel. He was shot through the abdomen, the 
bullet penetrating the intestines. He lay conceal- 
ed from 2 o'clock in the afternoon until between 9 
and 10 o'clock at night, without aid, comfort, water, 
nourishment or the knowledge that a soul of the 
command beside himself had survived the battle. 
For an hour after the engagement the savages were 
busy all about him, scalping his fallen comrades, 
whose cries for mercy he heard, as the cruel knife 
was applied, or as the deadly war-club fell upon 
their heads. The savages were once within ten 
feet of him, but a distracting quarrel between the 
Indians who were conducting a search a few feet 
away, and which ended in a physical encounter for 
the possession of a gun, diverting their attention 
from his concealment, no doubt made his escape 
possible. When the wild orgies of the savages were 
at their height at nightfall on the Agency side of 


the river, and when he felt sure the Indian guards 
had been tempted to the exciting" scenes in celebra- 
tion of their awful deeds of blood, Blodgett arose, 
and although in agony scarcely endurable, started 
down stream along the river's bank, first having re- 
freshed himself with a drink of water, to make the 
Fort if possible. Man's endurance was never put to 
a severer test. With no food since breakfast, without 
water for hours and crazed with thirst, and the suf- 
ferer from a wound almost invariably mortal these 
were the conditions under which this young soldier, 
determined to reach his comrades, set out in dark- 
ness, without path, guide or a knowledge of the 
country, at times feeling that consuming pain would, 
in spite of his endeavors, thwart his strong will. 
After struggling along for a few hours, during which 
he had made about three miles, he found he could 
go no farther in the darkness through the vines and 
brushwood which at every step seemed to be tear- 
ing his wound open anew, and he lay down and 
rested as best he could until morning, tortured un- 
mercifully throughout the night by swarms of mos- 
quitoes. When daylight came he carefully picked 
his way, at all times keeping himself under cover 
of the trees near the river, so as not to expose him- 
self to the Indians, in which manner he advanced 
about six miles before nightfall. After the dark- 
ness came on he realized that he must abandon all 
hope of saving himself, unless he could reach the 
highway on the prairie uplands to the north of the 
river, as his strength was too rapidly failing him to 
stem the jungle of brush, brambles and tangled 
grass. He therefore resolved to cross the bottom, 


climb the hill, and gain the highway if possible, 
though he would thus be much more liable to disov- 
ery by the savages. Having pushed along over the 
pathless ground in the darkness of night for an 
hour, he reached the Fort road, and started slowly 
on his way to the garrison. When he arrived at the 
Three-Mile House (three miles from the Fort), he 
entered it, and finding a match, lit it, and was in 
the act of searching for something to eat or drink, 
when he was startled by a man's voice on the out- 
side, saying, " If there are any whites in there, let 
them come out and go to the Fort, for I just passed 
an Indian camp in the valley, only a short distance 
away." Blodgett suspected this to be the ruse of 
an unfriendly halfbreed, who was simply attempt- 
ing to betray him into the hands of the savages ; 
but he could lose nothing by making himself known, 
and stepping out, called in the darkness to the un- 
known spokesman, who proved to be John Fanska, 
a German of New Ulm, who had gone to the Agen- 
cy on business just before the massacre, who was 
frightfully wounded by an arrow which had been 
fired into his back during the outbreak at Redwood 
on the 18th, and who had thrown a blanket over his 
head and escaped to the timber near the river in 
the excitement. The arrow-head had completely 
buried itself in his back, and reaching shelter, 
writhing in agony, he attempted to withdraw the 
arrow, but only made matters worse by breaking 
the shaft off where it was attached to the cruel 
barb. But one thing could be worse than this tor- 
ture, and that would be to fall into the hands of the 
savages. This greater dread made the sufferings 


of the wounded man endurable, though the point of 
the arrow-head had penetrated his right lung. Like 
Blodgett, he had thus far eluded the Indians, and 
was endeavoring to reach the garrison. Blodgett, 
with his new-found companion, reached Ft. Ridgely 
at 2 o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, August 
20th, thirty-six hours after receiving his frightful 
wound still undressed, and with nothing to eat since 
breakfast of Monday morning, covering a distance 
the way he came, of fully eighteen or twenty miles.* 

Ezekiel Rose made his escape, wounded, from the 
ferry disaster by night, and fearing the Fort had 
fallen, made his way through the country to Hen- 

In the terrible conflict at the ferry, the fighting 
assuming an almost hand-to-hand stage, the ranks 
of the soldiers became shattered, and when Cap- 
tain Marsh gave the order to seek shelter in the 
brush below the ferry road, a number of men were 
so far detached to the northward from their com- 
rades, and were so engaged in the fierce struggle, 
with their ranks being decimated to the bounds of 
extermination, that they fought their way out along 
the road upon which they had entered the death- 
trap, and their guns becoming too hot for service, 
fell in the combat, or took to shelter individually, 
wherever they could find it. Six, beside the two 
wounded men, Blodgett and Sutherland, thus mirac- 
ulously escaped with their lives, and returned to 
the Fort under the cover of night. Those who es- 

* Blodgett survived his frightful experience, and resides (1909) in San Jose, 
California. Sutherland recovered and served with his company in the South 
until the close of the Civil War. 


caped with Captain Marsh, and were taken into the 
Fort by Sergeant Bishop, after the drowning 1 of 
Captain Marsh, were : 

John F. Bishop William E. Winslow 

Truman D. Huntley Charles H. Hawley 
John Brennan Levi Carr 

James Dunn William B. Hutchinson 

John McGowan Antonie Rebenski 

John Serfling Samuel Stewart 

Ole Svendson Stephen VanBuren 

James Murray. 

Those who became detached and for lack of am- 
munition or on account of the non-servicable con- 
dition of their guns were forced to seek individual 
shelter, and who thus escaped to the Fort in the 
night, were : 

James W. Foster Thomas Parsley 

James M. Munday Ambrose Gardner 
Charles Beecher* Ezekiel Rose 

*Beecher did not reach the Fort until Wednesday forenoon, just in time for 
the first day's fight. Rose escaped to Henderson. 

[ NOTE After the preparation of these manuscripts, learning that Blodgelt 
was believed to be living, I instituted a search for him, covering a period of 
nearly a year. Through the western pension agencies I persisted in my search, 
and was finally rewarded through the San Francisco agency. Though I had 
never met Blodgett since the close of the war, I wrote the account of his ex- 
perience as in the foregoing as he related it to me at the time of its occurrence. 
Locating him, I asked for a statement for this volume, and received from him 
under date of January 4, 1908, the following account, hitherto unpublished. 

O. G. W.J 

The company at once fell into line, and 46 men were detailed 
to go with Captain Marsh to the scene of disturbance, each man taking forty 
rounds of ammunition. * * I was one of the 46 men to go with Captain 
Marsh. Starting out, we were soon overtaken on the march by four mule teams. 


As an illustrative incident, the experience of Jas. 
W. Foster and Thomas Parsley, above, is related. 
Foster's gun becoming: so hot a cartridge could no 
longer be forced home with the steel rammer, and 
finding himself quite alone, he dropped and crept to 
the sheltering screen of a vine that grew over a 
plum-tree. The ghastly work he had witnessed was 
burned into his brain, and he was so utterly de- 
fenseless, save the protection a clubbed-gun might 
afford him for a brief moment, that he hailed with 
delight the opportunity his concealment gave him 
for an instant's reflection. He had no belief that 
he would not be discovered and dispatched, but to 
reveal himself was certain death. He therefore 
coolly resolved to take the needed rest his shelter 
.was affording him, allow his gun to become useful 
again if possible, and sell his life dearly if he must. 
The last man having apparently fallen, the savages 
now nothing to fear, rushed in with their clubs, the 
crunching blows of which Foster could plainly hear 

We got into the wagons and were hurried along. When out about eight miles 
from the Fort we came to a house that had been fired by the savages. Here 
we saw a murdered man lying by the roadside. We saw several more dead 
bodies as we passed along. About two miles from the ferry (at the Lower 
Agency), before going down th hill to the bottom land, we could see mount- 
ed Indians pursuing parties on the other side of the river, and in many cases 
they were overaken and slain. We descended to the river valley, which was 
covered with a rank growth of grass and weeds. On the left were some small 
thickets of wild plum and willow. On the right were some trees and stumps. 
The river was a few rods from and nearly parallel with the road we were on. 
As we approached the ferry the river made a sharp turn and ran nearly east for 
a short distance. Just at the turn a small creek came in, and the point of land 
between the creek and river was covered by a thick growth of willows. While 
going through this part of the road, it was thought best by some to throw out 
skirmishers to learn if there was likely to be any trouble; but Captain Marsh 


on the heads of his helpless, pleading comrades. 
The savage demons were plainly seen by Foster in 
their fiendish contortions of exultation as they dis- 
patched and mutilated the fallen men who had gone 
down in the open. Back and forth the ground was 
hunted over, but the running fight with Captain 
Marsh and the remnant of men in the thicket below 
the ferry road attracted many of the savages to that 
scene, though the ground where Foster and others 
had fought was guarded until darkness made it no 
longer possible to observe the movements of the 
savages. By 10 o'clock at night fires were burning 
on the Agency hill across the river and it was plain 
the awful work of the day was the occasion of great 
joy in the camp of the savages. Night indeed was 
made hideous by the frightful revels of this scalp- 
dance, where the naked bodies of the savages, with 
jerking cadence, crouched and swayed, and writhed 
and leaped around the central fire, in the light of 
which could be seen as they bore them aloft, the 

thought the Indians would not dare to molest the soldiers, and that probably 
the disturbance was caused by a few Indians who had by some means obtained 
liquor. As we approached the ferry, which was on our side of the river at 
the time, we saw an Indian dressed very gorgeously in feathers and war-paint. 
He was standing on a log on the opposite side of the river. He at once be- 
gan talking with Mr. Quinn, the Interpreter, telling him to have the soldiers come 
over and smoke the pipe of peace. Mr. Quinn said to the Captain that the 
Indian was a chief named White Dog, and did not belong there, and tlhat he 
feared his band was also there, and that he feared the trouble was general. He 
also advised the Captain not to venture on the boat. While this conversation 
was going on, one of the men [John F. Bishop O. G. W.J went down to the 
river and dipped up water to pass to the men in ranks. The water was roily, 
as though recently disturbed. He mentioned to the Captain that he thought the 
Indians were crossing the river above, and that they would cut off our chance 
of retreat. I was standing second from the right of the company, in the front 


bloody trophies of the awful slaughter, each fiend 
in his turn seeking: to make more hideous the occa- 
sion by hisses, howls, groans and yells than his fel- 
lows had done. Foster reasoned that this scene 
must have proven irresistible to the undisciplined 
Indian sentinels about him, and that this was his 
opportunity for escape. He arose with caution, 
and in silence moved with measured step northeast- 
erly. He had gone but a dozen paces through the 
weeds and vines when he was startled by stepping 
upon a human form. No sound came from the body 
at his feet. Nothing could be heard in the deathly 
stillness except the beating of his own heart. Bend- 
ing low, and in a whisper, he asked : " Is this one 
of the boys from the Fort ?" Feeling the body was 
not that of a dead man, he again whispered : " If 
this is one of the boys of Co. B, get up and let us 
go to the Fort." No answer came, but as he stright- 
ened up to proceed on his journey alone, the pros- 
trate form moved, and there came from it in a low 

rank, and on looking to the right saw several Indians moving on the point of 
land between the creek and river. I at once told Orderly Sergeant Finley. At 
that moment that terrible blood-curdling war-whoop of the Sioux, that no white 
man has ever succeeded in imitating, was sounded. At the came time White 
Dog discharged his gun and jumped back off the log. I felt a sharp pain in my 
side and back, and began to sink down. I first thought one of the boys had 
accidentally hit me with the butt of his gun. Then I heard a general discharge 
of guns and a chorus of yells, and saw two or three other boys fall. I put my 
hand to my side and found a bullet-hole through me. I then tried to get up, 
but to do so was obliged to take my cartridge-belt off. While lying on the bank 
of the river many balls struck near me and threw sand in my face. I at last suc- 
ceeded in getting up. I started back along the road we had just come in over. 
The grass seemed to be full of Indians as I ran back. I ran into the ferryman's 
house. While in there the balls pattered through the house and the window. 
The building was deserted, and I saw it would not do to stay there, so I ran 


tone: " Is that you, Jim?" u Yes," said Foster, 
"and let us get out of here at once." The man whom 
Foster thus came upon proved to be Thomas Pars- 
ley, who, when his gun became useless, disarming: 
him, fell, and like Foster, concealed himself and 
thus escaped. Indian pickets had been posted with- 
in a few yards of him until their whereabouts could 
no longer be determined in the darkness of night, 
but he feared to leave his concealment until a later 
hour, and as many half-breeds were on the war-path 
with the Indians, and as these were known to speak 
English well, and not suspecting a member of his 
company had survived, Parsley, though he believed 
he recognized Foster, even in a whisper, hesitated 
to disclose himself until assured in his own mind 
by this incident that he was not the sole survivor of 
Marsh's detachment. 

In the midst of peace, repose and daydreams a 
demon had awakened from his slumber, to pile 
event upon event, tragedy upon tragedy, with start- 
out and across the road to the barn. Here I found Comrade John Parks, ly- 
ing badly wounded. I tried to help him up, but he could not stand. As I 
could do him no good I ran on into the brush and tall grass. I saw three of 
our boys standing with their backs to a tree, each facing a different direction, 
and shooting as fast as they could load their guns. I ran toward them, intend- 
ing to take the other quarter of the tree, thinking it possible that four of us 
might be able to make a stand, but just as I reached the tree the last one of 
them fell. I looked in the direction from which I thought the balls had come, 
and saw an Indian in the act of reloading his gun. I took a quick aim and 
fired, and had the satisfaction of seeing him fall. I then loaded my gun from 
the ammunition of Corporal Joseph Besse, and once more started for the brush. 
As I ran, Comrade Edwin F. Cole came into the path in front of me. I told 
him to run faster. He said, " I cannot ; I am wounded." I asked him where, 
and he held out his left hand, which appeared to be shattered. Lifting his left 
hand turned him into a path to the left. I took the path to the right. Just 


ling: swiftness in the making of Northwestern his- 
tory. The day's tragedies were appalling indeed, 
and it is hoped that another such bloody page as that 
written upon this date will never again stain the an- 
nals of Minnesota. 

The morning of August 19th dawned after a sleep- 
less night at Fort Ridgely. Lieutenant Gere, grasp- 
ing the wide scope of responsibility he had suc- 
ceeded to as the ranking officer of the garrison, left 
nothing to luck or chance from the outset. One of 
the last official acts of Captain Marsh on the morn- 
ing of the 18th, before starting for Redwood, was to 
write an order for the return of Lieutenant Sheehan 
and his fifty men who left on the 17th on their re- 
turn to Fort Ripley, this order being placed in the 
hands of Corporal James C. McLean, fitted by cour- 
age, tact and endurance for such an assignment. 

As the night of the 18th approached, with its rap- 
idly-increasing number of refugees, and its harrow- 
then I heard a racket in front. I dropped down and began crawling into the 
grass. My feet were still in the path, when Ezekiel Rose, our fifer, ran over 
my feet with two Indians in hot pursuit, but by some means Rose escaped. 1 
then concluded to hide. I crawled under some wild morning-glory vines and 
reached back and straightened up the grass. Just then I heard Comrade Cole 
cry out as if in great pain, and heard two Indians laugh and call him a squaw. 
He continued to beg, so I concluded they were torturing him in some way. At 
first I thought to get up and try to help him. Then reason came to me, and I 
knew I could not save him, even if I gave my life for him. While these 
thoughts were running through my head, I heard the most sickening sound im- 
aginable. It was a blow with a tomahawk, and poor Cole was no more. Had 
I made a move in his defense it would have only added one more to that aw- 
ful slaughter. The Indians then lit their pipes and sat down to smoke. I could 
distinctly smell their " kinikanic." They could not have been more than ten or 
twelve feet from me. They soon left, and all became quiet. * * 


ing tales from the settlements, and, finally, with the 
first tidings of the frightful disaster to Captain 
Marsh and his men, the garrison found itself in des- 
perate straits. Lieutenant Gere dispatched a mes- 
senger in the person of Private William J. Sturgis, 
on the best horse at the post, with a message to the 
commandant at Fort Snelling and to Governor Ram- 
sey at St. Paul, apprising them of the massacre and 
condition of affairs, and asking them to render 
promptly such assistance as the dangerous state 
demanded. Sturgis was also ordered to apprise 
Lieutenant Culver and Indian Agent Galbraith, then 
on their way to Fort Snelling with the Renville 
Rangers and urge their hasty return to Fort Ridgely. 

With savages spreading over the country, the 
sending of messengers was attended with no little 
risk to those who were assigned to this duty, but 
Sturgis, like McLean, could be trusted to proceed 
alertly and execute faithfully. 

With his twenty-odd men, Lieutenant Gere must 

The battle at the ferry began at about 1:30 o'clock p. m., and lasted about 
20 minutes. There were 22 killed outright, and 5 were wounded who escaped 
and reached Fort Ridgely between that time and 2 o'clock a. m. of the 20th. 
* * * I lay concealed in the grass from near 2 o'clock p. m. until dark. 
It was a very warm day (August 1 8th) and I suffered from thirst. I could hear 
an Indian boy or squaw occasionally, not far away, and knew it was not safe 
to show myself. When it grew dark I attempted to get up, but was so stiff 
and sore it was all I could do to rise, and I was obliged to leave my gun in the 
grass. I started toward a small lake to get a drink, but I was so sore and the 
ground was so uneven I moved with great effort. My feet would catch in some 
vine or root and cause me to stumble and almost fall, and every jar caused me 
great pain. I was obliged to go very slow, and feel my way carefully. I at 
last succeeded in reaching the lake. After quenching my thirst I concluded to 
lie down and wait for daylight before attempting to go farther. The mosqui- 
toes were very troublesome all night. At times I think I mus have lost my rea- 


make judicious dispositions. Nearly the entire ef- 
fective force were posted as pickets, Gere person- 
ally placing the men at dark, with full instructions 
as to their duty. This was indeed a thin and slen- 
der line for the defense of the garrison and the two 
to three hundred refugees gathered in the buildings 
of the Fort. The refugees realized this fact, and 
were in a constant state of nervous tension, need- 
ing but the sound of a gun to precipitate a panic, 
as was illustrated during the night when one of the 
outer pickets fired at some obscure object and ran 
in, shouting " Indians !" The scene that followed 
beggars description. The alarm was accepted as 
the awful realization of the expected, for conditions 
strengthened the feeling among these terror-strick- 
en people that Nature's last penalty was to be in- 
flicted, and, too, without any compensating qualifi- 
cations, such as instant death, or death at the hands 
of a civilized foe, even. These refugees were 
massed in the wooden buildings, forming the east 

son. I could not sleep much, and would rouse up and find myself talking to 
Jack Fauver of our company, who drove the ambulance, but who of course was 
miles away, if alive. I would thank him for coming after me, or ask him not 
to go and leave me. Then again I would keep still and think I was hiding 
from the Indians. Morning came at last, and as soon as it was light enough, 
I once more got up by the aid of a tree and started for Fort Ridgely, which 
was still twelve miles distant. I dared not go out into the open road, or show 
myself in the open grass land, but kept in the brush. It was very slow, and 
hard work to get along, so about the middle of the afternoon I ventured out 
into the wild meadow, there havimg been no signs of Indians, and was getting 
along better; but on looking around I saw four Indians. I was first attracted 
to them by the tinkling of little bells on their ponies. They were on the road 
on the hill, about a quarter of a mile away. They had just passed a thicket, 
and come in sight of the open space I had entered. I dropped into the grass, 
which was waist-high, and at once ran to the lake, which was only a few yards 


and west sides of the square of the Fort. With a 
view to their greater safety Lieutenant Gere had 
ordered the removal of all these fugitives to the 
long stone barracks building at the north side of 
the square. The crouching, cringing, praying, 
grief-stricken mass was cowed into inactivity by 
the reign of terror that had swept the settlements 
and put them to flight, but the firing of the shot 
and the alarm accompanying it set the affrighted 
mass into a pell-mell scramble for such security as 
the stone building might afford. The value of dis- 
cipline was never more forcibly illustrated than on 
this occasion Among the fugitives were not a few 
men, and many of these lost their heads in the mad 
rush for the barracks, the windows of which they 
crushed to facilitate ingress, while numerous great 
double doors yawned to receive with ample facility 
the entire motley throng. But they were terror- 
stricken, and not the hindmost in the scurrying 
bedlam that made night hideous. On the other 

distant. I jumped in and swam along the bank until I found some overhang- 
ing brush and vines. I crawled up under them and waited, for I was almost 
sure they had seen me. After waiting some time and hearing nothing, I crawl- 
ed up the bank, and this time I kept out of sight. Soon after I saw the Indians 
going up the hill about two miles away. Several times during the day I went 
into the river and bathed my wound, which had become very troublesome, as 
I was obliged to stoop and bend my body in order to get through the brush. I 
lay down once near noon and slept about an hour. At about 5 P. M. there 
came up a thundershower, and it rained nearly an hour. It then turned colder, 
and I was very uncomfortable, with cold, hunger and a bad wound. I found 
a few bunches of wild grapes which I ate. At dusk that night I had covered 
but four miles, and now I was obliged to climb a high, hard bluff. It was a 
hard undertaking, and three times I lay down and said I could not make it, but 
after lying a while I got cold, and then would say "well, if I do not try again 
I will surely die here," so I sought another bush and pulled myself up once 


hand the soldiers were self-reliant and the per- 
sonification of composure, taking their assignments 
for a heroic defense of the garrison. 

If Indians were responsible for the alarm, they 
were merely a reconnoitering party, for no attack 
was made on the Fort, and the pickets were again 
posted, remaining without relief or sleep through- 
out the night, as did all the effectives of the garri- 
son, watchful and in readiness for instant action. 
The night was one of constant vigil by the sol- 
diers, and of supplication, moaning and ceaseless 
wailing in the barracks where the refugees were 
gathered, and daylight, whatever it might bring, 
was welcomed. The great, glorious morning sun, 
whose enveloping flood dispelled the gloom of 
night, had a mollifying effect. The mental and 
physical strain upon the soldiers, and the agonies 
of the fugitives were unchanged, but the sunlight 
of heaven, like a merciful anaesthetic, soothed the 
weary and consoled the distressed. 

more, and gained a few yards. 1 could not get up on my feet without the aid 
of a bush, shrub, or something to take hold of, to pull myself up by my hands. 
After a long and very discouraging effort I reached the top of the bluff. Here 
I saw a house which had been recently fired, and was still burning brightly. I 
stood by a tree for some time but could not see anyone moving, so concluded 
there were no Indians near. I passed the burning house a little to the left, and 
gained the road to the Fort. It must have been nearly nine o'clock, and I had 
nearly eight miles to go. I was very hungry, as I had had nothing to eat since 
breakfast on Monday morning, and it was now Tuesday night, but once in the 
road, I was able to make better time. Once I heard the sound of hoofs 
approaching me. I left the road a short distance and lay down in the grass. 
As the objects came up over a slight knoll I could see against the sky they 
were cattle. I waited until they passed, and returning to the road continued on 
towards the Fort. Near midnight, and when about three miles from the Fort, 
1 came to a house where we had often traded coffee and sugar for butter, eggs 


To the mad revelry at the Redwood Agency on 
the night of the 18th, in celebration of the horri- 
ble deeds of blood of the day, may be attributed 
the escape of Fort Ridgely from a night attack. 
What of the 19th, now unfolding, to be engraven 
with history ? 

The merciless carnage at the Agency had fur- 
nished a scene for the Indians never before dream- 
ed of, and by the side of which their combats with 
their hereditary foes, the Chippewas, were puerile 
and vapid. Wild with the excitement born of riot 
and bloodshed, the Indians were difficult of manage- 
ment by their chiefs, as they ever are, chieftainship 
never carrying with it the right or ability to dis- 
cipline in matters of detail. 

There was such pleasure in torturing, mutilating 
and murdering defenseless women and children, 
and this horrible pastime was attended with such 
.slight risk to the young warriors, that they pre- 
ferred to follow it up, rather than engage in the 

and milk. I went to the door and knocked, but no answer came. I then wen 
to the back part of the house, got in through an open window and found some 
matches. I lit one, and found everything in the house upsidedown and in con- 
fusion. I then went into the pantry to get something to eat if possible, but 
could find nothing but a piece of ham bone, with very little meat on it, but 
what there was tasted good. I was in the house only a few minutes when 
some one began pounding on the door. I dared not move or answer. Present- 
ly a man came to the window and asked if any one was iu the house. I knew 
by the voice that it was some German, so I answered. He said: "We had 
better hurry on to the Fort, as the Indians are coming." I got out. As we 
went along he told me he had been shot in the right shoulder with an arrow, 
on the morning of the first day of the outbreak at the Agency. He had hidden 
himself in a haymow. He had pulled the shaft of the arrow loose, but had 
left the steel point imbedded in his flesh, and the point of it was penetrating hi s 
lung, and he spat blood. His name was John Fanska, and his home was 


more serious tasks of meeting: armed men in battle. 
Murder, plunder, rapine and outrage, were fea- 
tures new to the young: savages, and, when Little 
Crow undertook to bend their energies against 
Fort Ridgely on the morning of the 19th dissension 

While in camp on the Sheyenne river on the 
4th of July, 1863, on the Sibley expedition north- 
ward, the writer, with John McCole as interpre- 
ter, visited the camp of the scouts of the Sibley 
command, and had a prolonged interview with 
Chaska, an intelligent scout well known to Mc- 
Cole, and who had rendered noble service in 
saving the missionaries and other whites, the 
previous year. Chaska only knew the story of the 
savages as he learned it from them after the mas- 
sacre, but related fluently and intelligently many 
things that were matters of but reasonable conjec- 
ture on the part of the garrison. Asked how it hap- 
pened that Little Crow did not attack Fort Ridgely 

in New Ulm. He was at the Agency on business when the Indians began the 
slaughter. He was very weak, and we had to rest often. He could get up all 
right, and would stand and let me pull myself up by taking hold of his clothes. 
When we reached the picket post about half a mile out from the Fort, we were 
challenged by one of the men on guard who happened to be one of those who 
had escaped at the ferry on Monday. When 1 answered the challenge and gave 
Kim my name, he said : " My God, it can't be, for I saw Blodgett fall a sec- 
ond time." We were received, and taken immediately to the hospital, and al- 
though it was 2 o'clock in the morning of Wednesday, August 20th, Dr. Al- 
fred Muller was still up, and dressed our wounds, after first satisfying our hun- 
ger, it having been forty hours since I had eaten. We were put to bed and 1 
fell asleep very soon. I was awakened by the sound of musketry, and there- 
fore must have slept until about 1 :30 in the afternoon. Now I heard those hid- 
eous yells again, and Little Crow had attacked the garrison with his warriors. 
* * * * When the firing began the Doctor, hospital steward and patient* 


on the 19th of August, Chaska replied that such an 
attack was Little Crow's plan, supported by nearly 
all the older Indians, but his forces became so weak- 
ened by dissension among the young men before he 
reached the garrison that he finally was obliged to 
give up the attack for that day, though he left the 
Agency early on the morning of the 19th with a 
force of over three hundred warriors, bound for the 

If Little Crow had not previously repented his 
hasty assumption of command, he now no doubt 
felt that his consent of leadership was a thankless 
task and a grave error. His plan of campaign was 
first to wipe out the Redwood Agency, and then 
forthwith to take Fort Ridgely at the time of its 
greatest weakness. This would give the savages 
freehand in all the settlements north of New Ulm 

"The dissenting Indians spread over the settlements in the direction of New 
Ulm, which afforded a rich field for rapine and murder, and late in the day 
about one hundred made an attack on New Ulm. 

made preparations to vacate the old log hospital back of the barracks, and go 
over to the stone quarters. As the others were leaving, I asked the hospital 
Stewart to help me dress, but he seemed to be in too much of a hurry to reach 
a place of safety to help any one. I managed to get up and dress all but put- 
ting on a hat, and started across the street. It was more difficult for me to 
move after having lain down so long. I was obliged to go very slow. While 
crossing the street or passageway between the log buildings and the barracks, the 
bullets were Hying past, and several times I could feel the wind fan my cheeks. 
When I reached the stone building I passed along the west end, and reached 
the south or front side of the building. Here one of our boys helped me up 
the steps, and said "I thought you would never get across that street." Several 
of our men were wounded in this battle. * * * During the first 24 hours 
I was in the Fort I was allowed to eat as the others did, but after that, and for 
two weeks, my diet was rice-water nothing more. Then I was allowed a 
morsel of more solid food the quantity being gradually increased. The second 


and St. Peter, and the wily old chieftain felt deeply 
no doubt the insubordination that frustrated his 
plans. His judgment from the stand-point of the 
savage, having 1 commenced the bloody work, was 
good, for had he attacked the Fort immediately 
following the slaughter of Marsh's men at Redwood, 
the Fort would inevitably have fallen, as the fewer 
than thirty men in the garrison could not have 
manned all the exposures, and with the fall of the 
Fort Sheehan and his men, with limited sustenance 
and ammunition, would, despite their valor, have 
been annihilated. So also would the Renville 
Rangers, on their way back from St. Peter, have 
been blotted out. The obduracy of the young men 
among Little Crow's command no doubt saved all 
these remnants of soldiery and the lives of hun- 
dreds of settlers who were given time to make 
their way to places of safety, as Crow was averse 
to penetrating the more thickly settled country in 
the direction of St. Peter without first taking Fort 
Ridgely. While he was subjugating the recalci- 
trant warriors to his will, Sheehan reached the Fort 
with his fifty men, and the Renville Rangers like- 
wise came in safely, uniting elements of strength 

morning after reaching the Fort, and while dressing my wound, the Doctor re- 
moved some puss, and mixed with it were some grape seeds, and particles of 
food escaped from the wound in the side for fourteen days. The wound in the 
back, where the ball came out, was very painful, and had to be cauterized ev- 
ery morning. When I was shot, the ball entered between the two lower ribs 
on the left side, and passed out near the spinal column on the same side, mak- 
ing a wound about six inches long. This was said to be the first case of its 
kind on record, and Dr. Alfred Muller made a full report of the case, and it is 
on file in the Surgeon-General's office at Washington, D. C. 

W. H. BLODGETT, San Jose, Cal. 


that could have been destroyed in detail, had he 
followed up with a prompt attack on the Fort. 

The night following: the massacre at the Lower 
Agency, August 18th, as related by Chaska, it was 
determined in council, after the wild revelry and 
dancing over the slaughter with which their hands 
were still red, that Fort Ridgely should be attack- 
ed the next morning, August 19th, Little Crow 
mustering that evening over three hundred warriors 
for the onslought. With no distracting conditions 
prevailing, this programme would have succeeded, 
but a disagreement on the way to the Fort on the 
policy of so soon turning from the defenseless 
settlements for so serious an undertaking as the 
facing of armed men, led to a division of forces, 
which reduced Little Crow's soldiery for the attack 
to about one hundred and twenty-five men. Not- 
withstanding this diminution, the great war chief 
came to within a short distance of the Fort, on the 
morning of Tuesday, August 19th, where, on a knoll 
to the northwestward, in plain view, he held a coun- 
cil of war. The council circle was plainly visible 
from the garrison, and manifestly the deliberations 
were of a serious nature. Through a telescope 
which some one at the Fort fortunately possessed, 
Little Crow was recognized as the chief orator of 
the occasion, standing in the center of the council 
circle. Others than Little Crow also addressed 
the council, but the war chief, always conspicuous, 
was the only Indian to be recognized. 

Serious as was the moment for the little garrison, 
there was something akin to amusement in the 
antics of an Indian who frequently rode around the 


council circle on a spotted pony at break-neck 
speed. What his spasmodic gyrations meant, no 
one could divine, or has ever learned. 

These were moments of great peril for Fort 
Ridgely, whose fate hung by a thread. The garri- 
son was on trial for its life in this council. A vote 
to defer attack meant that Sheehan and his men 
and Galbraith, Culver, McGrew and Gorman and 
the Renville Rangers might reach us in safety ; a 
vote to attack at once meant death to all. 

We watched the deliberations of the Indians with 
profound concern, knowing what an attack on the 
depleted garrison would mean. One-third of our 
company had been annihilated the previous day at 
the ferry, while other members of it were on their 
way to Fort Snelling with the Renville Rangers. 
These facts made the deliberations of Little Crow 
and his warriors of great importance to the garri- 
son. Finally there were signs that the stormy coun- 
cil was about to dissolve, and in a trice the savages 
rose and dispersed from view. Our suspense was 
even greater now than before. The holding of this 
council under our eyes was a bold piece of busi- 
ness, and the garrison had good reason to regard 
it with the suspicion that while our attention was 
visited upon the council a large force was stealthily 
approaching the Fort under cover of ravines and 
woods from the opposite direction. But the Indians 
were having troubles we knew not of, as, naturally 
it was supposable Little Crow had his entire force 
well in hand. 

He likewise, however, was ignorant of our condi- 
tion. He had occasion to believe Sheehan and the 


Renville Rangers were still at the Fort. His speech 
in the council is said to have been substantially 
as follows, eliminating: the gall poured upon the 
heads of those who had failed him for the day : 
4 'We know that for two months there have been 
from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred 
and fifty men at the Fort (Marsh's company and 
fifty men of Company C, called in June to attend 
the Indian payment.) We know we killed half of 
Marsh's company at the ferry yesterday. We count- 
ed them at the river before shooting. We know 
there must be over one hundred soldiers in the Fort. 
We cannot take the Fort with the braves we have 
today. We must take the Fort. Our warriors must 
come tomorrow. We must get all our men together 
and we must attack the Fort tomorrow noon". These 
were, in substance, the conclusions of the council. 
It would be difficult to impress upon the mind 
of the reader the great importance to the frontier, 
of the failure, at a critical stage of the massacre, 
of Little Crow's warriors to obey and support united- 
ly their chieftain. The blood of over three hun- 
dred souls at the Fort would have added to the 
sanguinary river that had already drenched the 
Agency and the surrounding settlements, for bear 
in mind Fort Ridgely was only a fort in name. There 
were no protecting walls or breastworks, no tren- 
ches, no stockade. Desperately as the garrison 
might have defended itself, it would have inevit- 
ably gone down to death in one brief struggle ; 
Sheehan's men would have been ambushed in the 
long, gloomy, wooded defile through which it must 
pass to reach the Fort, if indeed spared to gain that 


point, and the Renville Rangers would have shared 
a like fate, and in addition several hundred settlers 
to the southeastward would have been added to the 
long list whose lives had already gone out in un- 
speakable agfony. It is not too much to say that the 
insubordination of Little Crow's warriors, on Au- 
gust 19th, saved the lives of a thousand people. 

We have all experienced the souPs gratitude, 
when depressed with the gloom of prolonged dark- 
ness, at a rift in angry clouds, through which the 
sun poured forth a flood of golden light, as if bear- 
ing a joyous message from the land of eternal life, 
but a thousand times intensified in comparison was 
the thrill of joy that electrified every soul in the 
garrison when Sheehan and his fifty men, just as 
the Indians were dispersing from their council, 
filed rapidly into the Fort at the end of an all-night 
forced march of forty-two miles. These men had 
been the guests and companions of Co. B for two 
months, and had left us but forty-eight hours before 
for Fort Ripley, receiving a soldier's good-bye and 
a God speed from Captain Marsh and the noble 
fellows who had, since their leaving only so short 
a time before, been slaughtered in the battle of 
Redwood ferry. The meeting of Sheehan and his 
men and the little remnant of Co. B in the garrison 
passes the bounds of description. There was no 
time for demonstration, but fraternal emotion never 
surpassed in heartiness and spirit the hail and wel- 
come of this meeting, which, had Little Crow at- 
tacked the Fort instead of holding a council, would 
never have taken place. 

Courier Sturgis, after an all-night ride over a 


dreary road, reached St. Peter at dawn on the morn- 
ing: of August 19th, with his message announcing 
the dire straits of the Fort and the upper frontier. 
Here he overtook Lieutenant Culver, Sergeant Mc- 
Grew and five other men, all of Co. B, together 
with Indian Agent Galbraith and James Gorman, 
the latter in command of the Renville Rangers, all 
on their way to Fort Snelling. St. Peter was stir- 
red to its foundations with excitement when the 
contents of the message of Lieutenant Gere and 
the verbal report of Sturgis spread with almost 
electric swiftness throughout the town, confirming 
what up to this time had been a rumor, but one that 
did not, in the public mind, portend a general up- 

In this day no railroad had penetrated the valley 
of the Minnesota river; nor was there any tele- 
graphic communication between St. Paul and this 
upper country. 

Men were never more prompt in responding to a 
call than were the brave fellows above named and 
the Renville Rangers, the latter newly-recruited, 
not even mustered into the service, and unarmed. 
Under the inspiration of this call to duty, great 
vigor attended every detail of preparation for the 
return to the Fort. St. Peter was fired with excite- 
ment and activity as never before, and rendered 
promptly every requirement for the out-fitting of 
the men. At 6 o'clock on the morning of .the 19th 
the expedition set out, and without a break in the 
rhythmic step, the noble fellows covered in a forc- 
ed march the distance of forty miles by evening, 
entering the Fort amid wild shouts of joy and wel- 


come, for at last the garrison considered itself on a 
"war footing," not only equal to self-defense, but 
strong enough to stay the bloody hand raised 
against the Minnesota valley. 

Before leaving St. Peter a sufficient number of 
old Harper's Ferry muskets were secured to arm 
the Renville Rangers, each man receiving a beggar- 
ly three rounds of ammunition ; but what might have 
been frightful disaster was prevented by the favor- 
ing fortune that diverted the enemy from the Fort 
road that day. 

Thus, on the eve of battle, Fort Ridgely contain- 
ed, at last, the following military strength : 

Norman K. Culver, First Lieutenant 
Thomas P. Gere, Second Lieutenant 


James G. McGrew John F. Bishop 

Arlington C. Ellis 


David W. Atkins William Good 

Charles H. Hawley Truman D. Huntley 
Michael Pfremer William E. Winslow 

DrummerCharles M. Culver. 


George M. Annis John Brennan 

Charles Beecher Levi Carr 

Charles H. Baker William H. H. Chase 

William H. Blodgett James Dunn 
Christopher Boyer Caleb Elphee 


(Company B, continued) 

Andrew J. Fauver Antoine Rebenski 

James W. Foster Heber Robinson 

Columbia French Andrew Rufredge 

Ambrose Gardner Lorin Scripture 

Elias Hoyt John Serfling 
William B. Hutchinson Ole Svendson 

Levi W. Ives Allen Smith 

John W. Lester Samuel Stewart 

Isaac Lindsey Robert J. Spornitz 

Henry Martin William A. Sutherland 

Arthur McAllister Martin J. Tanner 

John McGowan Jonathan Taylor 

James C. McLean Joel A. Underwood 

John L. Magill Stephen Van Buren 

James Murray Eli Wait 

Edward F. Nehrhood Oscar G. Wall 

Thomas Parsley Andrew W. Williamson 

William J. Perrington Martin H. Wilson 
Henry F. Pray 

In this list are all surviving members of Co. B 
who were in the Fort at this time, including: those 
who were so disabled as to be incapacitated for 
duty, the total number of private Soldiers being 

Timothy J. Sheehan, First Lieutenant. 


John P. Hicks F. A. Blackmer 

John C. Ross 




M. A. Chamberlain Wm. Young 
Z. C. Butler Dennis Porter 


S. P. Beighley 
E. D. Brooks 
J. M. Brown 
J. L. Bullock 
Chas. E. Chapel 
Zachariah Chute 
L. H. Decker 
Chas. Dills 
Charles H. Dills 
S. W. Dogan 
L. A. Eggleston 
Halvor Elefson 
Martin Ellingson 

C. J. Grandy 
Mark M. Greer 
J. P. Green 

A. K. Grout 
Andrew Gulbranson 
Peter E. Harris 
Philo Henry 
James Honan 

D. N. Hunt 

L. C. Jones 
N. I. Lowthian 

A. J. Luther (w'd) 
John Malachy 
John McCall 
Orlando McFall 

F. M. McReynolds 
J. H. Mead 

J. B. Miller 
Dennis Morean / 
Peter Nisson 
Andrew Peterson 
Charles A. Rose 

B. F. Ross 
Edward Roth 

C. O. Russell 
Isaac Shortlidge 
Josiah Weakly 

G. H. Wiggins 
J. M. Ybright 
James Young 

James Gorman, First Lieutenant, commanding. 


Theophyle Richer John McCole 

Warren Carey 



Louis Arner 

Eurgel Amiot 
Joseph Auge 
George Bakerman 
Rocque Berthiaume 
Edward Bibeau 
John Bourcier 
Pierre Boyer 
Samuel Brunelle 
David Carpenter 
John Campbell 
Jaire Campbell 
Antone Chose 
George Dagenais 
Frederic Denzer 
Henry Denzer 
Alexis Demerce 
Francois Demerce 
Carlton Dickinson 
James Delaney 
Louis Demeule 
Joseph Fourtier 
B. H. Goodell 
In addition to the 


Dieudonne Sylvester 
Roufer Beurger 

Richard L. Hoback 
George A. LaBatte 
Frederic Le Croix 
Cyprian Le Claire 
Joseph La Tour 
Medard Laucier 
Joseph Milard 
Moses Mireau 
Theophile Morin 
Charles Mitchel 
A. B. Murch 
Joseph Osier 
Henry Pflaume 
Ernest Paul 
Henry Pierce 
Joseph Pereau 
Thomas Quinn 
Magloire Robidoux 
Charles Robert 
Joseph Robinette 
Francois Stay 
John Wagner 
foregoing troops were: John 

Jones, Ordnance Sergeant, U. S. A. ; Dr. Alfred 
Muller, Post Surgeon, and Benjamin H. Randall, 

The organized forces, now, in the Fort, including 
the disabled, totalled one hundred and sixty officers 
and enlisted men 


The Renville Rangers were recruited for service 
in the civil war, but the Sioux Massacre diverted 
their organization, and following the surrender 
of the captives at Camp Release, the company, 
after rendering three months of service for which 
no adequate reward was or ever can be made, be- 
came disintegrated, the men enlisting singly in 
other bodies or returning to civil life. 

Out of the agitated mass of refugees there came 
to the surface some twenty-five men of sterling 
worth, to whom the garrison, in its day of need, 
was under unspeakable obligations, and whose valor 
and general usefulness contributed in no slight de- 
gree to the successful defense of the Fort. Among 
these were a number of sturdy Germans from the 
surrounding settlements. These, with the one hun- 
dred and fifty-four officers and men enumerated 
above, raised the Fort's defenders to about two 
hundred men. There was no possibility of increas- 
ing thisstrength. All the beleaguered garrison had 
dared to hope for had now been vouchsafed to it. 
If numbers were deficient, there must be the greater 
dependence on valor and tact. 

Stationed at the Fort was one lone representative 
of the regular army, in the person of Sergeant John 
Jones, whose official station was that of ordnance 
sergeant of the post. His years had hardened him 
to ripeness in the art of gunnery. He was over- 
exacting as a drill-master, accepting nothing as 
good enough that was not exactly right. During 
the quiet months of Co. B at Fort Ridgely, artillery, 
as well as infantry drill, was taken up, perhaps not 
so much to increase the efficiency of the men as to 


give them a respite from the manual-of-arms prac- 
tice and infantry evolutions, in which they had be- 
come very proficient. An unexpected emergency 
had now risen in the Indian uprising to put at its 
best the value of this artillery training under Jones, 
for there was no lack of gunners when the artillery 
of the post became a saving factor. Fortunately 
for the occasion also, was the fact that J. C. Whipple, 
who had successfully escaped to the Fort from the 
Redwood Agency, was a trained artillerist, having 
served in a battery during the Mexican war. 

No one can write of the stirring events at Fort 
Ridgely during the latter days of August, 1862, 
without painfully regreting that the names of many 
men who took refuge at the Fort during the mas- 
sacre, became lost to history, for many of these 
unknown men from unknown walks were lion-heart- 
ed, and willing to step into the breach and hazard 
their lives without a murmur, wherever duty called. 
Among these I recall a Mr. De Camp, * whose 
Sharp's carbine became familiar music to the de- 
fenders of the Fort. Then there were the Riekes, 
brave and brawny young fellows, and others, whose 
names should never have been lost to history. 

An eventful day closed when the shadows of 
night on the 19th overwhelmed all in darkness. 
The garrison had known no sleep no rest for 
thirty-six hours; but the strain was so great, the 
events that had rapidly succeeded each other so 
important, and the situation was so pregnant with 
grave possibilities, that sleep had not suggested 
Itself as a necessity. 

*De Camp was later killed at the battle of Birch Coulie. 


Fort Ridgely Viciously Attacked. 

Engagements of A ugust 20 and 22. 
(Figures in parenthesis in following pages refer to plan of Fort on page 37.) 

On the arrival of the detachment of Co. C, Tues- 
day morning, First Lieutenant T. J. Sheehan of .that 
company, by seniority of rank, became commander 
of Fort Ridgfely. If nothing could be gained in 
courage and efficiency in such a change, certainly 
nothing was lost. Brave and resourceful, vigilant 
and aggressive, the garrison, as results proved, was 
ably commanded. Pickets were posted for the 
night, and every precaution taken to guard against 
a night attack, as such an event was among the 
reasonable probabilities, but the long vigil was un- 
disturbed, and the sun rose on the morning of the 
20th in autumn splendor, with its message of good 
cheer. No news came from the outside world, and 
there was no possible means of communication. 
An occasional refugee came in, the number of 
these distressed people in the garrison now reach- 
ing fully three hundred. 

In the very nature of things the Fort could 
not long escape attack. Its period of exemption 
had already exceeded the* limit of expectation ; 
but there was no occasion for disappointment 
or even for any impatience. Scattering bands 


of Indians disclosed themselves from time to time 
during the morning and until midday, in the coun- 
try immediately surrounding, indicating that the 
savages were assembling in the shelter of the 
wooded valleys that headed near the Fort on 
three sides. Plainly there was a general converg- 
ance of hostiles. Just when the attack would 
be launched and just what its plan would be, were 
conjectural matters, but Lieutenant Sheehan's pre- 
paredness, to the limit of his little force, was for 
any emergency, and wisely did he distribute his 
men and resources. 

The reader will find the birdseye plan of Fort 
Ridgely and surroundings presented in this con- 
nection, invaluable, in that it reveals at a glance 
what can be but imperfectly expressed at best in 
words. (See page 37.) 

Having completed his plans and dispositions, 
Little Crow, the wily chieftain and fearless warrior, 
emerged from concealment at about 1 o'clock in 
the afternoon, and rode out into the open beyond 
the picket line to the westward of the Fort, and 
likewise beyond musket range, yet near enough 
to be recognized. No doubt, understanding the 
importance of his capture, he believed a general 
rush would be made to seize him, since he was un- 
attended and unsupported. He feigned a desire for 
a conference with the officers of the post, but de- 
clined with sullen indifference the invitation of 
Sergeant Bishop, sergeant of the guard at the time* 
to come down to the picket line. The ruse was 
shrewd, and the play of the foxy warrior dra- 
matic, but Sheehan was not to be tricked by Indian 


cunning:. Seeing: his plan had failed, the mask was 
thrown off, and the battle opened fiercely by the 
savages under cover of the wooded ravine at the 
northeast corner of the Fort, which extended from 
Fort Creek to within a few rods of the wooden 
buildings north of the barracks. Little Crow had 
reasoned wisely when he planned to draw the at- 
tention of the garrison from the point at which he 
was to deliver his attack on the post, for he had 
massed the main strength of his force at the near- 
est point to the Fort, and in the onrush which was 
a part of his attack, his warriors gained possession 
of the outer log: building's of the garrison. 

When the first shot was fired the clarion voice 
of Lieutenant Sheehan rang out, in ever-memorable 
tones : "Every man to his post !" The challenge 
of the enemy was daringly met, and the savages 
having disclosed their hand, dispositions were 
quickly made that checked with a round turn the 
dashing assault it was believed would prove irre- 
sistible. Lieutenant Gere was ordered to stay the 
attack with a detachment from Co. B, and posting a 
howitzer under J. C. Whipple, which he supported 
under a galling fire, opened with shrapnell at short 
and deadly range. Sergeant McGrew, conspicuous 
for bravery and tact throughout the siege, support- 
ed by a detachment from Co. C, posted a howitzer 
at the northwest corner of the garrison, and open- 
ed vigorously on the enemy swarming from the 
wooded shelter to the northward; but impatient to 
reach the persistent force with which Gere and 
Whipple were hotly contending, and which, under 
shelter of the hill, was perilously near the Fort, he 


ran his shotted gun into the open to the northwest 
of the buildings, and with an enfilading fire swept 
the slope to the grass-roots, calling forth a furious 
volley from the concealed enemy, but driving from 
the slope the desperate savages who were deter- 
mined to force a breach in the defenses at the point 
of original attack. Nor would the savages abandon 
this point, though swept back by Whipple and Mc- 
Grew and their supports, aided by a hot fire from 
the windows of the long barracks building. This, 
it had been well reasoned out, owing to the shelter 
afforded, and the short distance the protecting 
hill and its brushwood covering from the Fort, 
was the vulnerable spot that alone held out hope to 
Little Crow's forces of from five to seven hundred 
men. The savages persisted in their attack on 
this point, but Whipple, with Gere's splendid de- 
tachment, and McGrew and his resolute supports, 
had, by dauntless courage and skillful tactics, be- 
come masters of the key, driving the Indians from 
the wooden buildings they had daringly gained, and 
making the continued near approach of the savages 
at this point too hazardous to be persisted in at 
short range. 

The attack had gradually extended itself well 
around the garrison, seeking a point of vantage, but 
the defense was alert, and presented an unyielding 
front at every turn. 

The hot musketry and cannonading were telling 
seriously on the supply of ammunition at hand, and 
it was found necessary during the fight to withdraw 
men from the defenses to form a detail for the re- 
moval of all ammunition in the exposed magazines 


(22) to the stone barracks (1). To thwart this 
movement the savages must expose themselves to 
the raking fire of McGrew's howitzer, that officer 
having been ordered to cover the men engaged in 
the toilsome task of carrying by hand the heavy 
munitions a distance of two hundred yards, exposed 
to the missiles of the savages, happily at long range. 
The day was hot, and the men bending to their tasks 
in the din of battle and as conspicuous targets, 
found little opportunity to mop their dust-besmear- 
ed and perspiring faces during the hour or more 
required to complete the transfer of the precious 
fixed ammunition to more available quarters. 

His men unable to withstand the withering fire 
that from the start had been poured into their ranks 
at the north, Little Crow executed a move that 
might have been successful with a larger force. 
Sheltering conditions favored the concentration of 
a large force of the enemy at the south and south- 
west of the garrison. This move was executed 
under the personal direction of Little Crow, who 
sought by a bold stroke to so engage the forces of 
Lieutenant Sheehan as to loosen his hold on the 
northeast of the garrison, where the chieftain still 
hoped to enter the Fort. The din of cannon and 
musket, and the wild shouts of the desperate and 
enraged savages, were incessant and at times deaf- 

Sergeant Jones, supported by Lieutenants Culver 
and Gorman and the Renville Rangers, was in 
position at the southwest angle of the garrison, and 
was exposed to the raking fire of the enemy. Jones 
covered the ground over which the savages must 


make their way to an entrance, with a six-pound 
field-piece. Men were diverted as they could be 
spared to the protection of the scene of anticipated 
attack, and the fray was hot and furious, Jones' 
piece working havoc in the ranks of the savages, 
and holding the force in abeyance, while the Ren- 
ville Rangers and other forces dealt effective vol- 
leys among the naked demons, making their repeat- 
ed efforts at a sally and onrush too hazardous for 
Sioux courage. 

The Indians had attacked the Fort with full con- 
fidence in their ability to overpower and take it. 
Little Crow, in a towering rage, urged that the 
Fort must be taken. It was the door which closed 
the Minnesota valley to his red-handed followers, 
and it must be taken. Nagged, brow-beaten and ex- 
horted, his warriors returned time and again to the 
task set for them, eager for the flow of blood and 
the spoils of victory awaiting their triumphant 
breaking of the thin line of defense, but they could 
not stem the storm of musketry and the rain of 
shells that hurled them back, despite their frenzied 
efforts to force a hand-to-hand struggle, in which 
they felt sure of overpowering the Fort's defenders, 
by their vast superiority of numbers. 

By 4 o'clock in the afternoon it was evident they 
had put forth their supremest effort, and had failed 
to force a break at any point. Their disappoint- 
ment and anger found vent in the most hideous 
yells ever uttered by savages. They fought in dis- 
order at all points, and then would concentrate with 
an energy and ferocity entitling them to first place 
among Indian warriors. And so the battle raged 


until nightfall, when the savages withdrew to the 
depths of the dark valleys, full of vengeance, as 
their defiant yells betokened, but worsted in the hot 
game of war for the day.* 

But what of the night? This was the serious 
problem. The officers knew, and so did every sol- 
dier in the garrison, that the foe was not vanquish- 
ed, and that he would return again to the attack. 

With all its exposure, the true American soldier 
prefers to meet his enemy in the open, and in the 
light of day, and in this case, with his greatly in- 
ferior numerical strength, the fear of a night attack 
produced a deeper feeling of dread than was gen- 
erally acknowledged. But the enemy retired poor- 
ly rewarded for his losses and his rough treatment 
generally, and silence profound reigned where for 
hours the din of battle had been almost deafening. 

The silence and solitude of night witnessed no 
change in the garrison, save that in killed and 
wounded we had lost eleven good men. The men 

*A few errors regarding this engagement persist in repeating themselves. First, 
the engagement opened at not later than I p. m. of Wednesday, August 20th, 
1862. Second, the garrison was in no sense surprised by the first or any other 
attack. Even so eminent and accurate an authority as Judge Flandrau, in his last 
and most interesting work, "The History of Minnesota and Tales of the 
Frontier," page 148, repeats the error first given currency in Hurd't History of 
the Sioux Massacre, to the effect that the engagement began at 3 p, m., and 
that the garrison was taken completely by surprise, "the first knowledge of the 
presence of Indians being the firing of a volley by the savages through an open- 
ing between the building*." Pickets were posted well out from the garrison, 
rendering a surprise impossible. The first shots in defense of the Fort were 
fired from the picket line. The precautions of the garrison were such that there 
could have been a surprise at no time, day or night, from the beginning to the 
end of the siege, covering a period of nearly ten days. Third, there was no 
attack at any time on the Fort during Thursday. August 21st. 


about the guns and the force that had manned the 
windows of the barracks and other buildings and 
openings, remained watchfully where they had 
fought. The artillery strength of the garrison was 
increased, Sergeant Bishop being placed in charge 
of a twelve-pounder field-piece, efficiently manned, 
for action. Every precaution having been taken by 
the alert Sheehan, with vigilance everywhere im- 
pressed, the men, weary and worn, settled down to 
a sleepless night. 

Undeservedly brief has history dealt with the 
Renville Rangers, for no men during the massacre 
were put to so rigid a test as they. The company 
was very largely made up of French half-breeds, 
who were born among, had lived with and were 
related to, the very Indians who had risen to de- 
populate and make desolate the Minnesota frontier. 
With a single exception these men were loyal to 
every trust reposed in them, and no braver soldiers 
than they had proven themselves to be in the day's 
battle, ever went into action. It was one of these 
men, Joseph Osier, who fired the first shot from the 
garrison at the opening of the engagement. Anoth- 
er, Geo. Dagenais, brave and athletic, dashed into 
the open and ran to one of the log buildings, of 
which, during the engagement, the Indians had 
taken possession, and firing through a crack be- 
tween two logs, got his man, and running back to 
the barracks amid a shower of bullets, leaped into 
the building at an opening with the exultant : "I 
kill him one, I kill him one." 

Little Crow was born on the banks of the upper 
Mississippi, and spent his childhood, and even early 


manhood, in the valley where Winona, Wabasha, 
Red Wins and other Minnesota towns and cities 
now flourish. For natural beauty the scenes of this 
noted Indian's early life stand almost unrivaled. 
The lofty, majestic hills, the beautiful valley itself, 
and the great river of unsurpassed grandeur, had 
become a part of the very being of this haughty 
savage. Driven from the valley that civilization 
might expand its borders, and knowing, too, that the 
pristine beauty of the country (which was all to 
him) had been marred and desecrated by the white 
settler, still the heart of Little Crow never ceased 
to yearn for the land of his childhood, and the hope 
had ever lingered that some day, by some fortuitous 
stroke, this land might yet be restored to those who 
for ages held it by prowess and sacrifice. It was 
the land where his wild, roving nature had known 
all there was in youthful happiness the land where 
the ashes of his ancestors were scattered. 

Prof. A. W. Williamson, for more than a quarter 
of a century professor of mathematics of Augustana 
college, Rock Island, 111., a member of Captain 
Marsh's company (B) stationed at Fort Ridgely at 
the time of the Sioux Massacre, who was a son of 
the noted Sioux Missionary, Rev. Dr. Thomas 
Williamson, and who was born at Lac qui Parle in 
1836, and therefore thus knew from contact, per- 
sonally, intimately, more of Indian history and 
character than is given to many men to know, stat- 
ed to the writer but recently that through Indian 
sources he was advised at Fort Ridgely that agents 
of the Southern Confederacy were at work among 
the Sioux about the time of and immediately pre- 


ceding 1 the outbreak, in an endeavor to impress up- 
on the Indians the fact that the whole northern 
country was hard pressed in the civil war ; that the 
men had all been impressed into the military ser- 
vice, leaving only a few soldiers to guard the fron- 
tier ; that this was the supreme time for an upris- 
ing, and the driving of the whites back from the 
land of the savages. Prof. Williamson, then a young 
private of Co. B, thought the report of so little im- 
portance that he did not recall that he ever dis- 
cussed it with any one ; and while he never be- 
lieved the rumor to have been well founded, its 
source was such, and it was so consistent with pos- 
sibilities, withal, that the story had never ceased to 
impress him. 

Whatever the truth, it is well known that Little 
Crow believed that Fort Ridgely swept from his 
path he would over-run and repossess the country to 
the mouth of the Minnesota River, if not beyond. 
What impressed him with this belief will never be 
definitely known, but that he possessed it, is beyond 
doubt. The dream of childhood days and of youth- 
ful haunts, and the promise of some mysterious in- 
fluence held out to the war-chief that somehow, some 
day he would lead his people to the home of the 
olden time, were influential factors in determining 
his action when, roused from slumber on the morn- 
ing of August 18th he sat upon his couch, his blan- 
ket drawn about his shoulders, and heard the de- 
mand of his people that he should lead them in a 
war against the whites. Impelled alone by mental 
agitation, great beads of perspiration gathered on 
the forehead of Little Crow, and coursed down his 


face. He struggled with his decision, and relying 
on the hope of far-reaching results, gave his con* 

The die having been cast, the famous war-chief 
was from the outset determined upon a full realiz- 
ation of his hopes, not to be enjoyed with Fort 
Ridgely in his path. 

At midnight of the 20th a dreary rain set in, add- 
ing not only gloom, but discomfort to the situation. 
The resulting darkness was utterly impenetrable 
for even the distance of a few feet, and amid these 
conditions there came a wailing sound from out on 
the prairie, startling in its possibilities, as some of 
the pickets had smelled the burning of kin-nic-kinic 
earlier in the night a sure sign that Indians were 
near. If words were uttered they were unintelligi- 
ble to any one who heard them. The wail was re- 
peated, and believing it the ruse of savages to at- 
tract attention from a movement against the garri- 
son, Lieutenant Sheehan ordered Sergeant McGrew 
to fire a shot from his howitzer in the direction 
from which the sound came, so aiming his piece as 
to injure no distressed refugee, and yet to develop 
if possible, the meaning of the cry. Still the sound 
came as before. Sheehan now ordered a detach- 
ment of soldiers to proceed to the spot whence 
came the wailing, and the men soon found, groping 
in the gloomy darkness, a frenzied woman, lost, ex- 
hausted and crazed with grief and fear, and whose 
harrowing story and frightful experiences were 
sensational in the extreme. 

No other incident disturbed the night. Lower- 
ing skies marked the morning of the 21st, but the 


day passed uneventfully. A large body of Indians 
came within plain view of the Fort, and their pres- 
ence was regarded ominously. They moved by 
and entered the Minnesota valley a mile below the 
Fort, however, and passed down, as was later known, 
to attack New Ulm. Advantage was taken of the 
lull on the 21st to construct a protecting barricade 
for Jones, his gunners and supports. 


Friday morning, August 22nd, after the fourth 
night of sleepless vigil, the sun rose in splendor, 
its welcome rays dispelling the gloom of cloud and 
darkness, and cheering the souls of men who were 
under a strain severely testing their endurance, 
and who, though prone to cheerfulness, gave evi- 
dence of the mental and physical wear to which 
they were subjected, and from which lack of num- 
bers forbade any relief. Except throughout the 
hours of darkness, there were few intervals during 
which the menacing presence of Indians, some- 
where within the scope of vision, did not impress 
all with the necessity of preparedness. 

As the morning hours advanced, portentious signs 
of attack mainfested themselves, for the savages 
were clearly massing under cover of the surround- 
ing wooded valleys. This movement went on 
throughout the forenoon, and it was evident Little 
Crow had vastly increased his numbers for this 

Shortly after noon the hellish legion left its cover 
and came quickly to its work, accompanying its 
approach with yells, such as only those who have 


heard them can appreciate or understand. The 
numbers were three times those of Wednesday's 
attack, and the plan was clearly to intimidate by 
boldness and fierceness of onslought from all sides, 
with a hope of breaking the defenses at some vul- 
nerable point, then to complete the work with 
overwhelming: force. For a time it seemed the tide, 
constantly augmented from the sheltering woods, 
and ravines, must prove irresistible, but the ring- 
ing blasts of Whipple's and McGrew's guns, and 
their supports, as in the first day's fight, staggered 
the savages, and swept them back in spite of their 
numbers, the men, posted identically as before, 
having made the defense of the ground with which 
they had become thoroughly familiar, a matter of 
scientific marksmanship. 

Everywhere on the prairie were creeping savages 
whose heads were wreathed in turbans of grass and 
wild flowers of the prairie, the better to conceal 
their movements in seeking vantage ground from 
which to pour their terrible fire upon the garrison. 
Not only bullets, but the primitive arrow came in 
great numbers, and with furious impulse. With 
the latter it was sought to fire the buildings of the 
Fort, burning punk being affixed to arrow points 
that were fired into many roofs, but the rains that 
had discomfited the garrison now proved to have 
been a blessing in disguise, for had the roofs been 
thoroughly dry, a condition would have resulted 
more dreadful than the bullets of the savages could 

Great pressure was brought to bear on the south- 
southwest of the garrison. The long government 


barn to the south (3) and the suttler store (20) to 
the southwest, fell into the hands of the enemy from, 
inability to extend a line for their protection. These 
building's afforded shelter to the savages who were 
to change their plan of battle by making a furious 
attack, to be followed by an assault on the south- 
west angle of the Fort. McGrew was ordered to 
throw a shell into the suttler store for the purpose 
of firing it, and in this was successful with his 
second shot. The savages themselves about this 
time fired the barn. In furtherance of Little Crow's 
desperate attempt on the south-southwest of the 
garrison, the persistent force at the north-northeast 
which up to this time (about 4 o'clock p. m.,) wag- 
ed an incessant fire, was largely withdrawn out 
across the open country, to the north, to the head 
of a wooded ravine (23) leading from a point half 
a mile west of the northwest angle of the Fort, in 
a southerly direction to the Minnesota river. Down 
this wooded ravine hundreds of warriors passed to 
join forces with those massing for a superhuman 
effort upon the southwest angle (12), which, though 
the savages must subject themselves to far greater 
exposure here than at the northeast, was itself the 
weak spot of the garrison for lack of needed shelter. 
McGrew passing down to the position of Jones, at 
the southwest angle, Jones being in charge of 
the post ordnance, conferred with that officer with 
regard to the movement of the savages on the west, 
and asked permission to use the 24-pound field-piece 
then in park, for the purpose of dropping a shell 
into the wooded valley to the west, in the supposed 
region of the savages. The result was far more 


fruitful of benefit than was anticipated. A second 
shell fell into the camp of the savages where the 
squaws, papooses, dogs and ponies were in hiding, 
and at which place the deflecting savages had, in 
their passage, congregated for a brief halt. The 
detonations of the exploding shell were alone terri- 
fying (as light ordnance was used in the short-range 
engagement that had ensued for hours), but the de- 
structive effects of the shell were also serious in 
the extreme, and produced surprise and conster- 
nation among the Indians. The experiment was re- 
peated, with a sweeping range, to excellent advan- 
tage. Undaunted however, and bent upon his one 
determination to take the Fort, Little Crow concen- 
trated his principal force at the southwest. Jones 
and his support, the Renville Rangers, were under 
a merciless fire from the savages, who had pressed 
forward to so short a range as to literally perforate 
every foot of exposure of the barricade and head- 
quarters building (3), but this fire was heroically 
returned, and with telling effect. The fusillade had 
become general about the garrison again, as the 
preliminary step to an assault at the southwest, and 
when the musketry of the savages had reached a 
furious stage, Little Crow ordered his men to club 
their guns and rush in. This order the half-breeds 
of the Renville Rangers plainly heard and communi- 
cated to their officers. This was the most critical 
moment the garrison had experienced. A charge 
of the overwhelming numbers would have been ir- 

To stagger the enemy at this supreme juncture 
was the only hope of the garrison. Jones had double- 


shotted his gun with canister, and bravely hazard- 
ing his life in the act, dealt a withering blow to the 
massed foe at short range, at the crucial moment, 
mowing: a swath down through their ranks that sent 
terror to their hearts as they were in the act of 
leaping, like wild beasts to the charge. The Ren- 
ville Rangers followed with a galling volley and a 
challenge in the Sioux language, hurled defiantly : 
4 'Come on ; we are ready for you !" 

Bishop had used his gun to good effect at the 
southeast, and the garrison now rose supremely to 
the occasion and dealt its telling blows fast and 
and furious. The savages hesitated, wavered and 
recoiled, and though they fought on until night, 
could not again be nerved to the point of charging. 

But the garrison had reached its last desperate 
extremity. It was on the brink of collapse through 
exhaustion of its supply of ammunition for the small 
arms of the men who had fought so gallantly. The 
guns in use were all muzzle-loading. There was 
powder available by opening spherical case shot, 
and fortunately caps for exploding it, but there 
were neither bullets nor lead of which to make 
them. Human resource was put to its test. The 
limited supply of small iron rods in the Government 
blacksmith shop was resorted to, with which to 
prolong the struggle until all possible means of re- 
sistance should cease. These .rods of iron were 
cut into slugs three-fourths of an inch in length, 
and a corps of nimble-fingered workers under the 
direction of Mrs. Dr. Muller set to manufacturing 
cartridges. With these (and their whistling chal- 
lenge was terrifying,) the fight was continued until, 


as night closed in, the savages withdrew, with a 
howl of rage, but fairly vanquished. 

But had the attack been prolonged, or had the 
foe returned to renew it, the garrison must inevit- 
ably have been lost. 

No mind can justly conceive of, or pen faithfully 
describe, the mental and physical strain endured 
from this hour on by the garrison a strain that 
burned as by a living fire, its burden into every 
soul. No sign of response had been made to the 
call of the 18th for assistance from Fort Snelling 
and St. Paul. The world without was dead to the 
beleaguered Fort. Surrounded, menaced and har^ 
rassed by a desperate foe, all communication was 
extinct beyond the picket-lines. The officers and 
men had fought valiantly, and while their ranks 
were being gradually depleted, they would still bid 
haughty defiance to the hosts of the Dakota chief- 
tain; but the exhaustion of their ammunition, ex- 
cept for ordnance, had reduced them to the last 
straits of desperation. Under cover of night they 
could take the risk of fighting their way to safety 
down the Minnesota valley, but they could not 
abandon, neither could they take along, their burden 
of three hundred helpless refugees. If these must 
perish, then the soldiers must perish with them 
must be the first to fall before the club and the 
knife, for the final struggle must be hand-to-hand. 
This was the firm resolution of the gallant men who 
had repelled heroically the savage foe whose hands 
were reeking with blood, and who placed the taking 
of Fort Ridgely above every other ambition. 

The garrison could not know, unfortunately, that 


Little Crow's retreat into the dark valley as the 
sable mantle of night enveloped his vanquished 
host, signalized his departure from the Fort forever. 
Unfortunately it could not know this, I say. In- 
stead of relaxing, vigil must now, if possible, be 
greater than before, with the defense of the Fort 
depending upon the cannon, the half-dozen rounds 
of slug-iron cartridges per man, and the bayonet. 

And so the strain, testing man's ability to retain 
his reason, continued for still four and a half days 
longer, or for a total of nine days. 

At last, on the morning of August 27th, unherald- 
ed, Col. Samuel McPhail and William R. Marshall 
rode into the garrison at the head of one hundred 
and seventy-five mounted citizen -soldiers, and the 
long siege was raised, the reinforcements coming 
from St. Peter under cover of night, and thus escap- 
ing detection or attack. * 

The defenders of the garrison, who had borne up 
for days from sheer force of will, and who were 
now relieved from the great and long-endured strain, 
had not realized their utterly jaded condition until 
their burdens were assumed by those who brought 
relief, and they soon gave way to the restful stupor 
that stole like a dream over their exhausted senses, t 

* I have searched unavailingly (or the names of the men who raised the siege, 
(or they are worthy o( perpetuation in these pages. 

t Captain Gere, (a lieutenant during the siege, of Fort Ridgely) concluding an 
account of the long siege, has said : "It was a battle on the part of the garri- 
son to prevent a charge by the savages, which, had it been made, could hardly 
have failed, as Little Crow seemed confident, to result in the destruction of the 
garrison and the consequent horrible massacre of its 300 refugees. It is but 
truth to add that no man in the garrison failed to do his duty, and that, worn 


Fort Ridgely Never Surprised By the Sioux. 

Once for all, let it be forever known that Fort 
Ridgely was never surprised by the Sioux. Many 
writers, taking: their cue from some sensationally- 
inclined word-painter of the early day, have pic- 
tured Little Crow's dashing demons in the act of 
taking the Fort unawares. To the credit of the 
vigilance of the officers and men, there was never 
a moment from the day of the beginning of the 
Massacre at the Redwood Agency up to the end of 
the exciting and perilous ten days* siege, when the 
savages could have surprised Fort Ridgely. Pickets 
were at all times posted and a close watch kept up- 
on the movements of the enemy. Little Crow at 
one time sought to draw the forces from the Fort 
by a ruse shrewdly conceived, and in event of suc- 
cess there would have been a possible surprise from 
the opposite side of the garrison, but because of 
vigilance and of the well-known treachery of the 
Sioux, no opportunity for surprise was for a moment 
given. The attacks upon the Fort were no doubt 
intended by the Indians as surprises, insofar as they 
could make them such from the sheltering woods 
and ravines surrounding the Fort except on the nor- 
thern exposure, but they were in no measure sur- 
prises in the sense of taking the Fort unawares/ 

by fatigue and suspense, and exhausted by loss of sleep, to the end every man 
was at his post, bravely meeting whatever danger confronted him. The con- 
spicuous gallantry of the artillerists was the theme of general praise, and the 
great value of their services was conceded by all, while the active and intelli- 
gent support that rendered their work possible, is entitled to no less credit. * 
While the withdrawal of the Indians on the 22nd terminated the fighting at Fort 
Ridgely, the weary garrison could not be aware that such would be the case, 
nor for a moment relax its vigilance ; hence the forces continued to occupy the 
positions to which they had by this time become accustomed." 


Daring Service of Messengers Sturgis and 


In all that has ever been written of Fort Ridge- 
ly's part in the Sioux Massacre, no account has 
heretofore been published of the wild ride of the 
man who bore the dispatches from Lieutenant 
Thomas P. Gere, commandant at Fort Ridgely on 
August 18, 1862, to Governor Alexander Ramsey at 
St. Paul, announcing: the outbreak of the Sioux at 
the Redwood Agency, the disaster to Marsh and his 
detachment the afternoon of that day at Redwood 
ferry, and the terrible deeds already being: com- 
mitted in the surrounding settlements. At the close 
of the civil war William J. Sturgis, the young soldier 
who made the ride for the life of the frontier, dis- 
appeared into the sea of civil life to work out the 
problems the future held for each soldier whose 
calling had been happily changed at Appomattox. 
Sturgis' famous ride was a mere incident in that 
day of great deeds and great achievements, and 
was scarcely thought of, and he finally drifted to 
the region of the Rocky Mountains, where he rare- 
ly if ever met a comrade of his immediate service 
in the army. He was not given to writing for the 
press, and having taken up farming, lived a com- 
paratively retired life. When the writer assumed 
the labor of gathering the scattered fragments of 
history that should be preserved to Minnesota an- 


nals, he searched widely for each surviving member 
of the original Company B of the Fifth Regiment, 
then only a dozen or so in number. This work 
covered a period of two years before the last man 
was found. Locating Sturgis, he was importuned 
for the story of his ride, but while he said the inci- 
dents of it were as fresh in his mind as at the time 
of his flight in the blackness of that August night, 
still he would have to await a period of leisure in 
which to take the matter up. Sturgis was now 
seventy-two years old, and as time was so rapidly 
depleting our ranks, and as much had already been 
lost by no effort having been made to preserve many 
incidents of value, a compliance with the request 
from Sturgis was insisted upon, and on the 4th day 
of January, 1908, he wrote a personal letter in which 
he told to me his story, and while he was in his 
accustomed health at this time, death called him a 
month later. 

Greater stress of circumstances rarely falls to 
human lot than hovered over Fort Ridgely on the 
night of August 18. As darkness set in at the close 
of that day, Lieutenant Gere, a boy of twenty years, 
found himself charged with the gravest of respon- 
sibilities. He had but twenty-four effective men, 
all told. Capt. Marsh had depleted the garrison 
when he marched out in the forenoon with the forty- 
six men, destined to the Redwood Ferry. Helpless 
refugees had poured into the Fort all day, many 
mangled and bleeding, others half-naked and dis- 
tracted with fear and grief, while it was known the 
work of carnage was rapidly spreading in the sur- 
rounding settlements. Great hopes were buttress- 


ed upon Marsh's safe and speedy return with his 
precious detachment. Darkness brought increased 
anxiety. Except in the quarters where the refugees 
were housed, a death-like stillness reigned through- 
out the garrison, waiting, waiting in suspense. 
The crickets, on that summer night, were the only 
cheerful companions of the pickets, posted by Lieu- 
tenant Gere in person to make assurance of proper 
dispositions doubly sure. The gathering pall of 
night had overwhelmed the anxious, expectant gar- 
rison, when an alarm came from the southwestern 
angle of the sparsely guarded picket line, and now 
came the staggering news that Marsh was dead, 
and that Interpreter Quinn and half the noble de- 
tachment of forty-six men had been ambushed and 
killed at the Redwood Ferry. Privates William B. 
Hutchinson and James Dunn, who were of the de- 
tachment and who, with Sergeant Bishop and eleven 
others under him, had escaped with their lives, and 
were on there way to the Fort, were sent ahead by 
Bishop when within a few miles of the post to ap- 
prise the garrison of the disaster, Bishop's progress 
being impeded by the fact that his men were oblig- 
ed to carry a badly wounded comrade, Ole Svendson. 
The news was horrifying, and the bloody work 
had but just commenced. Unmoved by the terrible 
blow that came with the news of the day's disaster, 
or by the perilous predicament in which he found 
himself and those under him in pitiable numbers, 
the boy officer wrote dispatches to Governor Alex- 
ander Ramsey at St. Paul, the commandant at Fort 
Snelling, and incidentally to Lieutenant Culver, ac- 
companied by Indian Agent Galbraith, Lieutenant 


Gorman and Sergeant McGrew, then at St. Peter, 
apprising: all of the predicament, and calling for 

Private William J. Sturgis was asked to impress for 
his use the best horse in the garrison, and to bear 
away these dispatches in all haste, with St. Paul 
as his destination. Responding like a true soldier, 
Sturgis received his dispatches, swung into the 
saddle, and plunged away in the darkness at a wild 
pace. Down through the dark valley, and out on 
the highlands beyond Fort Creek, and away he sped. 
His horse was one driven into the Fort during the 
day attached to the St. Peter stage (the stage that 
brought the 71,000 in gold to the Fort.) The animal 
was thus familiar with the road, and headed home- 
ward, but twelve miles of flight had completely ex- 
hausted him. 

Overtaking a peddler flying for his life, Sturgis dis- 
mounted and joined him, the peddler having a good 
team. The tidings from the Fort put new fear into 
the soul of the tradesman, and his efforts were re- 
doubled. The peddler was making for Henderson, 
while owing to dispatches that must be delivered 
at that place, Sturgis must reach St. Peter on his 
journey. The men separated after an exciting ride 
of ten miles, each going his way. Sturgis remem- 
bered that there was a settler's house at this point, 
where our company, on its march to Fort Ridgely 
several months previously, had halted to rest and 
lunch. He was thus enabled to easily find the house, 
and pounding upon the door soon brought forth from 
his bed a dazed settler, for the disturbance was at 
the dead of night. Sturgis assured the settler of 


the frightful conditions above, and demanded 
he be taken to St. Peter with all possible haste. 
The thoroughly aroused and frightened man re- 
sponded with energy, and soon the dispatch-bearer 
was being hurried pelliiiell over roads' none too good 
at best, and none too visible at night. 

On, on, did the messenger urge the speeding of 
horses, restive under his grave responsibility that 
had to do with human life. Too well, knew he, that 
the breaking dawn would prove the signal to the 
crazed Sioux for extended scenes of carnage. Too 
well knew he, that unsuspecting settlers were dream- 
ing, in ignorance of the butchery that would mark 
their homes ere the drowse of slumber had releas- 
ed them. Every fibre of his body was tense. -Every 
faculty of his nature was alert. 

Aurora's first delicate shades were faintly gather- 
ing along the eastern horizon as Sturgis entered St. 
Peter, at a few minutes past 3 o'clock on the morn- 
ing of Tuesday, August' 19. 

Unbelievable rumors had preceded him, and while 
they were traceable to no authentic source, they 
had been sufficiently sensational to keep St. Peter 
awake and in a state of frenzy all night. Among 
prominent citizens of the place, Sturgis found Lieut. 
Culver, Sergeant McGfew, Lieut. Gorman and Major 
Galbraith up and anxiously awaiting tidings from 
the north. Recognizing the young dispatch-bearer, 
and knowing that his presence among them was of 
the gravest importance, he was quickly surrounded 
by an eager-faced, impatient throng. Sturgis gave 
St. Peter at this moment its first awful news of the 
Massacre. Despite the vague rumors that had fil- 


tered through from above, the town for the moment 
was stricken speechless by the frightful story and 
the impending dangers at which it hinted. 

But the messenger's thoughts were upon the fur- 
ther discharge of his important duty, and he at once 
set about obtaining transportation for the continu- 
ance of his flight. Pandemonium now reigned in 
St. Peter, and he had the greatest difficulty in se- 
curing a horse. Personal safety was the thought 
uppermost in the minds of the inhabitants, and in 
the "to arms, to arms" tumult Sturgis was helpless. 
He sought Sheriff R. W. Tomlinson, appealed to 
him in the name of necessity, and not in vain, for 
the sheriff quickly hitched up his own team, and 
taking Sturgis aboard, drove to Le Sueur, making 
the twelve miles in just one hour. At Le Sueur, 
Sturgis obtained a livery horse, which he rode with 
all possible speed to Shakopee. The exhausted 
animal was here discarded, and another obtained 
which bore him to the Ferry, a well known crossing 
of the Minnesota River in that day. The last horse 
obtained was a poor one, and at the Ferry was com- 
pletely winded. Here, however, Sturgis found two 
men just leaving with a team for St. Paul. His 
horse having failed him, this was his only oppor- 
tunity of proceeding. He stated his case and asked 
to be taken aboard. The men flatly refused to ac- 
cede to him. He repeated his request in the nature 
of a demand, with the threat that he would take the 
team if further refused or delayed. He thus be- 
came an unwelcomed passenger. Recognizing the 
justice of his intrusion however, the men soon yield- 
ed friendship to him, and exerted themselves in his 



Arriving at Fort Snelling on the journey to St. 
Paul at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, after 
a ride of eighteen hours from Fort Ridgely, and one 
testing the metal of Sturgis, the dispatch bearer pro- 
ceeded hastily to post headquarters, where, fortu- 
nately, in addition to the commandant, he found Gov- 
ernor Ramsey and Adjutant General Malmros in 
consultation with the military authorities regarding: 
operations in the south and the rendezvous of re- 
cruits being assembled at Snelling. Sturgis de- 
livered his dispatches with little ceremony. For 
the instant the governor and the commandant were 
stunned with the shocking intelligence of the mas- 
sacre conveyed to them from Lieutenant Gere. 
They compared and reread the dispatches to make 
sure they had not interpreted more appalling dis- 
aster from them than they really contained. The 
visible shock gave way quickly to a determination 
to act, and by 6 o'clock of that evening a part of the 
Sixth Minnesota Vol. Infantry had embarked on a 
steamboat, bound up the Minnesota River, then re- 
gularly navigated. Sturgis accompanied the de- 
tachment as far as Shakopee, where he had left a 
horse. At the supper table in a Shakopee hotel he 
made the acquaintance of two men who had friends 
on the frontier, for whom they had the greatest con- 
cern. These men had horses, and it was agreed 
that the two should mount after supper and proceed 
toward the front. They rode to Henderson, where 
they found much excitement. They resolved to 
form a company of mounted men, and proceed to 
Fort Ridgely with all possible haste. They spent 


the night in perfecting 1 their plans, and by morning 
had forty, resolute men enlisted for a forward move- 
ment. Ex-Indian Agent Joseph R. Brown was at 
Henderson, and dissuaded many of the volunteers 
at the last moment from venturing upon what he re- 
garded as an impracticable undertaking. A num- 
ber withdrew from the organization under his influ- 
ence. This discouraged others, and but six men 
finally remained true to the original determination 
Sturgis, his two acquaintances from Shakopee and 
three determined Henderson men, Sturgis feeling 
the greatest concern for his comrades at Fort Ridge- 
ly. They proceeded, but out on the fort road, four 
or five miles from Henderson, the six resolute men 
met a half-breed just coming in from the Yellow 
Medicine country. He assured the horsemen they 
could never reach Fort Ri4gely alive, and gave a 
graphic account of the horrible deeds he had wit- 
nessed for fifty miles, giving the latest information 
from the scenes of the massacre. Reluctantly the 
men returned to Henderson, and Sturgis proceeded 
back to acquaint Gen. Sibley, in command of the 
reinforcements, with the information he had gained 
from the half-breed. Much to the disappointment 
of Sturgis, who had ridden without rest or sleep in 
the discharge of his duties to hasten the progress 
of assistance, he had to ride back to Belle Plaine, 
so slowly had the movement of troops dragged. 
Finding Gen. Sibley at the hotel in Belle Plaine, 
Sturgis acquainted him with all he had the morn- 
ing of that day learned from the upper country. 
General Sibley asked Sturgis if he could, without 
rest, bear some dispatches to Gov. Ramsey, at St. 


Paul, and was assured by the efficient dispatch-bear- 
er he would do his best. This was at nightfall of 
Wednesday. Sturgis found difficulty in getting 
transportation for his new task, but was finally given 
an order by Gen. Sibley to take the sheriff's horse, 
that officer being then in town. The night was very 
dark and the roads strange, but Sturgis reached 
Shakopee at 4 o'clock on Thursday morning, Aug- 
ust 21. Boats ran regularly as far up as Shakopee, 
and the boat for St. Paul would leave at 6 that morn- 
ing. Leaving orders to be called promptly at 5:30, 
Sturgis threw himself upon a couch and had his first 
continuous hour-and-a-half of sleep since the pre- 
vious Sunday night. He was called in time to eat 
his breakfast and catch the boat. He reached the 
governor's office at the state capitol in St. Paul at 
about 10 a. m., of that day. Delivering this, his sec- 
ond dispatch, the Governor asked in an impatient 
tone as to the progress made by the troops, and rose 
from his seat and paced the floor when told Gen. 
Sibley was still at Belle Plaine the previous even- 
ing, where he had been since the evening of the 
first day out. There were no telephones in that 
day, and, asking Sturgis to remain in his office, the 
Governor sent a messenger out after William R; 
Marshall, who came promptly. There was an ani- 
mated discussion of the situation, in which Gover- 
nor Ramsey expressed himself with much emphasis. 
Marshall seemed to fit the occasion uniquely, and 
the seeds were sown here that matured in his mili- 
tary advancement later. It was the request of Gov- 
ernor Ramsey that Mr. Marshall go to the front as 
his, the Governor's representative, and placing in 


Sturgis' hands dispatches for Gen. Sibley, Marshall 
and himself were shortly away for the front, arriv- 
ing: at Shakopee at night. They drove thence to 
Belle Plaine, over a rough and muddy road, in in- 
tense darkness, arriving" at Gen. Sibley's headquar- 
ters early in the morning of Friday, August 22. 
Sturgis delivered his dispatches to Gen. Sibley, 
and left Sibley and Marshall in consultation. 

The sequel of their conference was not long to be 
waited for. Marshall joined Sturgis, and they sat 
down at the breakfast table in a Belle Plaine hotel, 
and as they ate, the blare of trumpets was heard, 
and before they had finished, the advance guard 
was in motion, moving briskly through the prin- 
cipal street of the town. Marshall and Sturgis re- 
mained together until they arrived at St. Peter. 
Here Sturgis, for the first time since the night of 
Sunday, August 17, or nearly a week previously, re- 
moved his clothing and slept in a bed. He remain- 
ed with the troops, and was with the first detach- 
ment to reach Fort Ridgely on the morning of Wed- 
nesday, August 27, where the beleaguered garrison, 
famished and worn, embattled and oppressed by a 
foe in whose heart mercy was an unknown element, 
received its long hoped for relief. Ten days of 
fighting, vigil and suffering had reduced the garri- 
son to a pitiable condition, and to be among the 
first to raise the siege was a matter of great satis- 
faction to the dispatch-bearer and to have partici- 
pated in the joyous greetings of the besieged garri- 
son and the men who had ridden all night to relieve 
our sufferings, a celebration no one has ever at- 
tempted to describe, was the privilege of a lifetime, 


and reward enough for all the hardships Sturgis 
had endured. 

No less notable than the wild flight of Sturgis, 
was that of Corporal James C. McLain, the mes- 
senger who was sent on a no less perilous ride in 
pursuit of Lieutenant Sheehan, who left Fort Ridge- 
ly the previous day (Sunday) with his detachment 
of fifty men of Co. C, and who was long miles away 
on his return march to Fort Ripley, on the upper 
Mississippi. Bravely and dramatically McLain 
dashed away to perform one of the most gallant 
feats in the history of the massacre, but no account 
of the incidents of his long ride through a country 
overrun by the Sioux was ever preserved, and as 
he was years ago "gathered to his fathers," no ac- 
count is now obtainable of the incidents of his val- 
orous deeds. The order detailing McLain for this 
service was one of the last official acts of Capt. 
Marsh before leaving Fort Ridgely on his fated 
mission to the Redwood Ferry on the morning of 
August 18. McLain's ride was by daylight, giving 
him some advantages, and yet increasing the 
dangers that beset him. He overtook Lieutenant 
Sheehan after a ride of forty-two miles, near Glen- 
coe, and immediately started on the return to Fort 
Ridgely with Sheehan's detachment, marching all 
night and making his eighty-four mile journey with- 
out a moments rest. 


Noble Men and Women Among the Refugees. 

While the refugees who came into the Fort from 
the surrounding: settlements consisted mainly of 
women and children, not a few men were among 
their number, and among these men, as among the 
women, were those of true Spartan courage, and to 
their noble endeavors Minnesota owes a debt of 
everlasting gratitude. There were those who were 
cowed into a state of submissiveness that rendered 
them an impediment rather than a benefit to the 
distressed garrison. But the few of whom this may 
be written had been mentally dazed by the fright- 
ful experiences through which they had passed be- 
fore escaping the blood-stained hands of the Sioux. 
Their peaceful and happy homes, in an hour of un- 
expected danger, had been fallen upon by savages 
who were merciless, and who found their greatest 
pleasure in their deeds of extremest cruelty. It is 
needless to depict what many of these refugees had 
witnessed and experienced ; and the wonder is not 
so much that they lost their virility and combative- 
ness, as that they retained their reason. But there 
were noble specimens of manhood among the ref- 
ugees, whose dogged courage and endurance con- 
tributed much to the successful defense of Fort 
Ridgely, these men, during the hours of conflict, 
without special or separate organization, seeking 
the point where their services as individuals seem- 
ed most required, there to resist heroically and to 


share the dangers of a noble defense. Many of 
these people or their descendants still live in the 
immediate vicinity of the old fort, and have proven 
their worth for sturdiness in civil life as they de- 
monstrated it in the perilous days of the Sioux 
Massacre. The names of these people, men and 
women, will grow brighter as time advances and 
the world the better appreciates their heroic deeds 
for the State and humanity. 

The artist's plate in the camera receives the 
beautiful image, imprinted upon it by the heavens' 
radiant gleam or the lightning's flash, but the image 
itself appears not until time shall have changed the 
conditions. So it is with the character and services 
of the refugees who helped to save Fort Ridgely, 
and for whom reverence increases as the years roll 
by ; and while this book, in its treatment of the 
early stages of the Massacre, has dealt largely 
with the achievements of companies B and C of the 
Fifth Minnesota and of the Renville Rangers, the 
splendid services of Sergeant John Jones of the 
regular army, and of gunner John C. Whipple, it is 
not unmindful of the glorious part the refugees had 
in the triumphant defense of the key to the Minne- 
sota frontier, in an ordeal whose tests will never be 
fully told. 

It is regretable as a matter of history that the 
names of all who sought the protection of Fort 
Ridgely during the Sioux Massacre, were not pre- 
served, but the making of such a record was of little 
moment at a time when the lives of all at the garri- 
son hung tremblingly in the balance. To stay the 
savage tide that surged determinedly for the over- 



throw of Fort Ridgely, was a task of the gravest 
moment. Every hour was one of danger and ex- 
pectancy. Every moment increased the tax laid 
upon human endurance. Those known to have 
reached the Fort, and who nobly participated in its 
defense, are the following : 

William Anderson 
Robert Baker (killed) 
Werner Boesch 
Louis Brisbois 
William Butler 
Clement Cardinal 
M. A. Dailey 
J. W. DeCamp 
Frank Diepolder 
Henry Diepolder 
Alfred Dufrene 
J. C. Fenske (w'd) 
Jo. J. Frazer 
T. J. Galbraith 
E. A. C. Hatch 
Patrick Heffron 
George P. Hicks 
Reran Horan 
John Hose 
Joseph Koehler 
Louis La Croix 
James B. Magner 
John Magner 
Pierre Martelle 
Oliver Martelle 
John Meyer 
John Nairn 

Dennis O'Shea 
Joseph Overbaugh 
B. F. Pratt 
J. C. Ramsey 

B. H. Randall 
John Rcsoft 
Adam Rieke 
George Rieke 
Heinrich Rieke (died) 
Victor Rieke 

Louis Robert 
Louis Sharon 
Chris Schlumberger 
Gustav Stafford 
Joshua Sweet 
Louis Thiele 
Nikolas Thinnes 
Onesime Vannasse 
A. J. Van Voorhes 
John Walter 
J. C. Whipple 

C. G. Wykoff 
Xavier Zolner 

Anna Boesch 
Kenney Bradford 
Elizabeth M. Dunn 


Margaret King Hern Mrs. E. Pereau 

Mary A. Heffron Wilhelmina Randall 

Eliza Muller Valencia J. Reynolds 

Juliette McAllister Mary Rieke 

Mary D. Overbaugh Mrs. R. Schmahl 

Agnes Overbaugh Mrs. Spencer 

Julia Peterson Julia Sweet 

Mrs. E. Picard Emily J. West 


New Ulm. 

The siege raised, our first news came of what had 
transpired about us, particularly at our nearest 
neighboring town, New Ulm, seventeen miles be- 
low. We had surmised an attack on New Ulm. 
We had witnessed during the siege, on different 
days, a movement of savages around the north and 
south of us, like the drift of a mighty river, floating 
as spectral figures over the great prairies for long 
intervals. Where could they be concentrating, ex- 
cept at New Ulm? But beyond this there was noth- 
ing upon which to base a suspicion. 

Now it was learned that Little Crow T s forces who 
had held their council under the eyes of the Fort 
on the morning after the outbreak at the Agency, 
had fallen upon defenseless New Ulm on the after- 
noon of that day, August 19th, producing conster- 
nation, as the town was utterly unorganized and 
wholly unprepared for such a visitation. Fortunate- 
ly Lieutenant Gere's message forwarded through 
Courier Sturgis, reached St. Peter before daylight 
of the 19th, requesting the immediate return of the 
Renville Rangers and confirming the gravest sus- 
picions of a general Sioux uprising. Judge Charles 
E. Flandrau, one of Minnesota's ablest and best of 
the distinguished men who came into the Territory 
from 1845 to 1850, lived about a mile out of St. Peter. 
He was not only able and resourceful mentally, but 
had practical knowledge of Indian character. Learn- 


of the uprising 1 , he set out without a moment's 
delay to organize for relief and defense. Gather- 
ing a company about him, he started to intercept 
the enemy and give him battle as a check to his 
progress while defenses were being more extensive- 
ly organized. When his command left St. Peter 
there was no fixed destination, but both Fort Ridge- 
ly and New Ulm were undoubtedly hard pressed, 
and to one or the other of these points it was ex- 
pected the command would go. Fortunately, New 
Ulm being the nearer, that point was made, Judge 
Flandrau and his men reaching the town while it 
was defending itself at great disadvantage from an 
attack by the Indians, who were not strong in num- 
bers in this attack, but who were numerous enough 
to threaten the taking of the town, a number of 
citizens having been killed and several houses fired 
by the savages. 

Judge Flandrau had never received military train- 
ing, but by the saving grace of good sound sense, 
he was admirably equipped for the great work that 
awaited him at New Ulm. An able lawyer, a keen 
student of human nature, a good organizer, and a 
man of dauntless courage, he met every demand of 
the emergency. Several companies of hastily or- 
ganized citizen-soldiery centered at New Ulm on 
the urgent call sent out by Judge Flandrau, who 
plainly said the town could only be saved by ac- 
cessions from the country south and east. These 
organizations were headed by men well suited to 
the work before them, who ably seconded Judge 
Flandrau in putting the distressed town on a de- 
fensive footing. Little Crow's desperate attack on 


Fort Ridgely, on the 22nd was most fortunate for 
New Ulm, as an indispensable day was grained by 
Flandrau, his lieutenants, and the inhabitants of 
the town to prepare for what must inevitably come 
a second attack by the Indians. The day also en- 
abled Flandrau to send parties into the surround- 
ing 1 settlements, who gathered up scores of people 
whose lives were momentarily in danger, and who, 
had they been left in the settlements, would have 
fallen an easy prey on the following day, to the 
hundreds of marauding savages who raided the en- 
tire surrounding country. The inhabitants of New 
Ulm were almost exclusively Germans, who, char- 
acteristic of their race, were a quiet, industrious, 
peace-loving people, and the unheralded catastrophe 
that had burst upon them so suddenly, had over- 
whelmed them with dismay. But every possible 
defensive precaution had been taken during the 
22nd, so that on the following day the town was pre- 
pared to offer strong resistance to the furious at- 
tack of the savages, which began between the hours 
of 9 and 10 of the forenoon of Saturday, August 23rd. 
The defensive force under Judge Flandrau number- 
ed about three hundred effective men, neither well 
nor uniformly armed, however. The non-combatants 
of the town numbered from 1200 to 1500 people, 
principally women and children of the village and 
of the country immediately surrounding. The at- 
tack of the savages was furious, and made with the 
confident belief that success was to reward their 
efforts. The signs of the morning portending a 
fight, Judge Flandrau moved his forces well out, 
quite encircling the town. Speaking of the open- 


ing-, Judge Flandrau has said:* "At nearly 10 
o'clock in the morning the body of Indians began 
to move toward us, first slowly, and then with con- 
siderable rapidity. Their advance upon the slop- 
ing prairie in the bright sunlight was a very fine 
spectacle, and to such inexperienced soldiers as 
we all were, intensely exciting. When within about 
one and a half miles of us the mass began to expand 
like a fan, and increase in the velocity of its ap- 
proach, and continued this movement until within 
about double rifle-shot, when it had covered our en- 
tire front. Then the savages uttered a terrific yell 
and came down upon us like the wind. I awaited 
the first discharge with great anxiety, as it seemed 
to me to yield was certain destruction. The yell 
unsettled the men a little, and just as the rifles be- 
gun to crack they fell back along the whole line." 
The most unfortunate part of this movement was, 
that in falling back from the open field, buildings 
were passed in the outskirts of town, of which the 
Indians were quick to take possession, and from the 
cover of which they became doubly troublesome 
and effective. Realizing the danger rapidly threat- 
ening, Judge Flandrau and a number of brave fel- 
lows now charged up the hill, down which the forces 
had fallen back, and the movement was taken up 

* Judge Flandrau modestly places the number of Indians in the attack at 650, 
basing his information on reports from unfriendly half-breeds subsequent to the 
engagements. This would mean two to one of Fiandrau's force. A force of 
four to one would hardly have given Judge Flandrau and his brave men a harder 
fight than was the second battle of New Ulm, lasting nine or ten hours ; and 
this is a safer criterion by which to judge of the number* of the enemy than 
would be the solicited estimates of half-breeds who were in the fight with the 
savages. An Indian invariably belies his strength and his casualties. 


with a shout that effectually checked the progress 
the Indians were making:. 

From this on the men fought aggressively and 
confidently, and the contest raged hotly for several 
hours, with varying advantages. The Indians at 
length encircled the entire town, and pressed every 
advantage with great vigor. Their position on the 
bluff was a commanding one, and this they held 
persistently. Getting a footing in the lower part 
of town, the Indians began the firing of buildings 
at the foot of the main street of the village. This 
threatened to be the utter undoing of the noble de- 
fenders of New Ulm. This offensive movement was 
one the defenders could not stay or stem. The 
wind proved an evil element in addition, as it blew 
so as to drive the smoke and flames up the main 
street. Under cover of the smoke the savages push- 
ed their way up the street, and in combatting them 
the forces of Flandrau exposed themselves to a hot 
fire from the enemy on the bluff. The defenders 
now fought inch by inch and foot by foot to gain 
ground that would enable them to check the pro- 
gress of the conflagration, and in this, by indomit- 
able perseverance and hard fighting, succeeded. 

After the conflict had raged for hours the defen- 
ders became hardened to battle, and grew to be in 
every way better soldiers. They had learned the 
tactics of the savages, and had become inured to 
their demonic yells, which at first were terrifying. 
Not only were the lives of hundreds of helpless 
women, children and aged and infirm, in the hands 
of these valiant men, but far-reaching consequences 
to the whole border were involved in the contest, 


and as the conflict lengthened, the defenders more 
and more forced the fighting, until at length, with 
nightfall, the savages withdrew, defeated, for they 
had failed of their purpose. 

This battle was one of the most important events 
in the history of Minnesota, and will ever hold a 
distinctive place among the early day frontier 
tragedies of the state ; and New Ulm's distinction 
is unique, in that it is shared by no other Minnesota 

After dark a new and less extended defensive 
line was formed and barricaded, and all buildings 
outside of this line, some forty in number, were 
burned. Thus the town, for the first time, was in 
good condition to resist attack, and the wisdom of 
this precautionary measure was apparent when the 
savages renewed the attack the following morning, 
only to abandon it definitely by noon. 

Pestilence threatening, and ammunition and pro- 
visions becoming well exhausted, it was resolved 
to abandon New Ulm, and on Monday, August 25th, 
the venture of successfully reaching Mankato was 
made. In addition to the women and children, were 
eighty wounded men. To remove these a train of 
153 wagons was made up, and the procession, which 
Judge Flandrau has described as the "most heart- 
rending ever witnessed in America," set out on its 
sad and perilous mission, reaching its destination 
in safety. Though for a time abandoned, New Ulm 
was not again the scene of conflict or important 
molestation. The moral effect of a strong force 
of troops moving up the Minnesota valley to the 
scenes of the massacre, though the troops were not 


yet within striking distance of the enemy, exerted 
a salutary influence over the Indians, who had been 
roughly handled at Fort Ridgely and New Ulm, 
and who were beginning to sorrowfully abandon the 
hope of re-entering the Mississippi valley. 


Birch Goulie. 

On Thursday morning:, Augfust 28th, Col. H. H. 
Sibley entered Fort Ridgely at the head of a column 
of about 1200 men. These with Col. McPhail's men 
already at the Fort, and accessions that followed 
rapidly, made up an army sufficiently large to war- 
rant offensive operations, though the equipment of 
these troops was grossly, inefficient. 

Preliminary to other operations, a detachment 
was sent out on Sunday, August 31st, with the Lower 
Agency as the .objective point. This was still, as 
of old, the rendezvous of the Indians. Mainly, the 
expedition had for its purpose the interment of the 
men who fell at the ferry and the Agency, and of 
others, and to discover, if possible, the body of 
Captain Marsh. The detachment for this purpose 
was composed of Co. A, Sixth Minnesota Volunteer 
Infantry, Captain Hiram P. Grant, and the Cullen 
Guards, mounted, Captain Joseph Anderson. The 
detachment was under the general command and 
guidance of Major Joseph R. Brown, a noted Indian 
trader and frontiersman, and embraced about one 
hundred and fifty men, exclusive of seventeen team- 
sters, who had charge of as many wagons contain" 
ing equipage. In burying the scores of corpses 
that had been exposed for ten days in a summer's 
sun, the little expedition put in a day of trying ex- 
periences by. the time of reaching; the Redwood 


ferry, and went into camp at night, (having: seen 
no sigfn of Indians) in the Minnesota bottoms, just 
east of the Agency. Monday morning, September 
1st, Captain Anderson crossed the Minnesota, and 
after burying: the dead at the Agfency, proceeded 
up the west side of the river, while Captain Grant 
scouted about the country to the eastward, the two 
detachments rejoining: each other at nigrht at Birch 
Coulie, a location than which there could have been 
nothing: more unfortunate from a military stand- 
point. The site had Major Brown's approval, and 
there being: confidence in his judgment, he having: 
lived for years among: the Sioux, and knowing: every 
rod of ground of the surrounding: country, the men 
bivouacked, knowing: they were in the enemy's 
country, but little suspecting: the frightful catas- 
trophe that awaited them. 

The location of the camp, as stated, was unfavor- 
able in the extreme, being: in a depression where 
in event of an attack the men would be at the mercy 
of the enemy. 

Company B of the Fifth, which for months had 
occupied Fort Ridg:ely, now that so larg:e a body of 
troops had arrived, left the quarters and went into 
camp in tents northwest of the garrison. The writer 
remembers well, while lying: on the ground about 
dayligfht on the morning: of September 1st, of hear- 
ing: the rattle of musketry. This was heard and com- 
mented on by many, and indicated plainly that 
Captains Grant and Anderson were hotly eng:ag:ed 
by the enemy. It was not supposed the firing: could 
be fifteen miles away, as it really was, Mother Earth 
being: a better telephone than she was g:iven credit 


for. A relief column was at once organized to go 
to the assistance of the Grant- Anderson detach- 
ment. This consisted of Col. Samuel McPhail, with 
fifty horsemen. Major Robert McLarren with one 
hundred infantrymen, and Captain Mark Hendrix 
with a mountain howitzer and the necessary gunners 
to man it. The whereabouts of Grant and Anderson 
could only be surmised, as no word had come from 
them since the day of their departure, but they 
could be located within reasonable bounds ; so the 
relief column need not, and did not, go far astray. 
The movements of the relief column in fact had 
been detected by the savages, and a strong force 
of Little Crow's warriors was thrown against the 
McPhail-McLarren forces, to prevent their reaching 
Birch Coulie, which the Indians knew must soon 
fall into their hands if relief could be prevented. 
The relief detachment having a howitzer made ex- 
cellent use of it in many ways besides pouring shot 
into the ranks of the Indians who had thrown them- 
selves across the path of the soldiers. The sound 
of the cannon gave heart to the desperately oppress- 
ed force at Birch Coulie, three miles distant, struck 
terror to the hosts of Little Crow, and admonished 
Col. Sibley that a hot fight was in progress. 

Lieutenant Sheehan, the hero of Fort Ridgely, 
had accompanied the relief column, and as the com- 
mander of the expedition found the savage hosts 
too strong to make farther progress possible, dis- 
patched Sheehan with a request to Col. Sibley for 
reinforcements. Sheehan, of all men in the relief 
expedition, was best fitted by tact, courage and ex- 
perience for the hazardous mission, and while his 


horse was twice wounded by the savages, made the 
ride successfully. 

Col. Sibley, in response, at once put his entire 
force on the march, leaving Fort Ridgely at sun- 
down on Tuesday evening, September 2nd. He 
reinforced the relief column in the night, his own 
cannon, in charge of Sergeant Jones, and that of 
Captain Hendrix, being used for signal purposes 
in uniting the two bodies. The exact location of 
the Grant-Anderson force not being known, and the 
night being very dark, Col. Sibley awaited daylight 
where he found McPhail and McLarren, moving 
his entire force forward at dawn. A march of three 
miles led to the horrifying death-trap that passed 
into history as Birch Coulie, a place that furnished 
one of the bloodiest pages of the Sioux Massacre, 
as well as one of the grandest exhibitions of cour- 
age and endurance, under the most adverse con- 
ditions, ever recorded. 

At dawn onTuesday morning, September 2nd, the 
camp of Captains Grant and Anderson was surpris* 
ed and fiercely attacked at short range under cover 
of the brush and hills surrounding. The effect upr 
on the little command was appalling. The rain of 
bullets dealt consternation and death to the unpro- 
tected camp, throwing officers and men into the 
wildest confusion. The storm increased as the 
savages warmed up to their work, and emboldened, 
forced their way to newer and nearer points of van- 
tage, their yells and shouts and the beating of 
torn - toms adding to the terrifying din, ami4 
which many men and horses went to earth. It 
seemed that not a living creature could long survive 


the almost blinding" cross-fire to which the men 
were subjected. Horses, frightfully wounded, gave 
painful expression to their agonies. There were 
ninety of these noble beasts in the little camp, and 
nearly all were down, dead or groaning in death 
agonies, within thirty minutes after the firing of the 
first shot by the savages. One-fourth of the men 
had already fallen, dead or wounded, and yet the 
fire grew hotter. 

The panorama surrounding the men was such as 
to daze their senses. The belching guns of the sav- 
ages formed an encircling line of fire, while the 
exultant Indians, their writhing bodies swaying 
and leaping, made tame in comparison the "Inferno" 
of Dante. The men must return the fire to prevent 
a charge, which would have swept the little rem- 
nant of soldiery from existence in a twinkling. 

If they would withstand the awful storm of bullets, 
they must dig, for without trenches there was no 
protection, and they JiY/dig, using the three spades 
and one shovel available, and their swords, bayo- 
nets, pocket-knives and fingers, even. But hours 
passed before fairly adequate protection was se- 
cured, many a man's pit proving to be his grave. 
All day long the pitiless rain of shot fell upon the 
helpless men from all sides, imprisoning them in 
their little trenches from which they bravely fought 
beneath a scorching sun without food or drink or 
relief or the ability in any known way to communi- 
cate a knowledge of their distress beyond the cordon 
of savages, that, like the coils of a serpent, held 
them in its deadly folds. 

On and on, hour by hour, the battle raged, until 


darkness relaxed in a degree only, the savage grasp. 
The roar of the howitzer of Captain Hendrix had 
been heard for hours, but its sounds had become a 
mystery rather than a hope. 

Night came none too soon, for the ammunition 
with which to resist longer was practically exhaust- 
ed. The long vigil, surrounded by the dead and 
the moaning, helpless wounded, whose entreaties 
were almost beyond human endurance, ended at 
dawn when Col. Sibley and his men rode into the 
slaughter-pen as the savages fell back among the 
protecting hills and valleys of the Minnesota. 

The scenes that met the gaze of the relieving 
column can only be truly known to those who wit- 
nessed them, for language, in its process of evolu- 
tion, has not as yet arrived at a stage in its de- 
velopment for the faithful portrayal of the uncanny 
spectacle that Col. Sibley looked upon in dumb 
amazement when he entered the camp. Judge J. J. 
Egan, then a boy, a volunteer for the service and 
the occasion, says, in writing of the events in 
which he participated from first to last at Birch 
Coulie : "The scene presented in our camp was a 
sickening one. Twenty-three men, black and dis- 
colored by the sun's rays, lay stark and dead in a 
small space; forty-five others, severely wounded, 
and groaning and crying for water ; the carcasses 
of ninety dead horses lying about, and a stench in- 
tolerable emanating from the whole ground." The 
tents of the camp were literally cut to pieces, while 
the wagons, riddled and splintered, told of the aw- 
ful ordeal through which the survivors had passed. 


Wood Lake and Camp Release. 

Following 1 Birch Coulie came a period of inactivity 
at the Fort, painful to the restless men who felt 
that valuable time was being: wasted; but while 
Col. Sibley would never have gained fame as a 
dashing: Indian campaigner, it is due to say that at 
this time he was poorly equipped for an aggressive 
movement. His men were good, but his equipment 
was poor in the extreme, and his means of trans- 
portation no better. Having as far as possible over- 
come these defects, just one month from the day 
of the outbreak, or on September 18th, the march 
was taken up for an offensive campaign, the entire 
force moving down to and across the Minnesota 
River by ferry, a mile from Fort Ridgely. The 
command proceeded with great caution up the west 
side of the Minnesota, camping below the Redwood 
Agency on the afternoon of the second day. The 
fifth day out, the 22nd of September, Wood Lake 
was reached, a shallow body of water about two 
miles from the Yellow Medicine Agency. The 
following morning, there being no signs of a for- 
ward movement, a party of the Third Minnesota 
started with teams on a foraging expedition, and 
had proceeded nearly a mile in the direction of 
Yellow Medicine when they were fiercely attacked 
by a large force of Indians. Major A. E. Welch, 
commanding the Third, hastened with his remnant 
of a regiment, about 270 men in all, to the rescue of 


the foraging party, and became hotly engaged. The 
fighting Renville Rangers could not keep out, and 
were soon in the midst of the conflict. But all this 
was unauthorized, and instead of supporting Welch, 
he was ordered to fall back to camp. He persisted 
in dealing a hot fire into the ranks of the enemy, 
and instead of retreating, sent word back to Col. 
Sibley that he could hold his ground, and asked to 
be reinforced. Col. Sibley then sent a peremptory 
order to fall back to camp. Welch, reluctantly 
yielding under orders, was hotly pressed by the 
exultant savages, and sustained serious loss in the 
retrograde movement, himself receiving a broken 
leg. In this enforced retreat, made amid bitter 
curses on the part of the soldiers, it was necessary 
to cross a small creek, which flowed through a 
narrow, deep ravine. Taking advantage of this 
confusing hindrance, the Indians poured in a merci- 
less fire, and it was here Welch received his serious 
wound, and that many of his men were killed or 
wounded, but the men, assisted by the Renville 
Rangers, were able to save their wounded from 
falling into the hands of the savages. 

At last the Sixth and Seventh Minnesota men, 
chafing under restraint while their comrades were 
suffering unjustly, as they believed, were put into 
action, with their fighting spirit at fever heat. 
Lieutenant Colonel William R. Marshall, with his 
five companies of the Seventh, joined the Third and 
Renville Rangers in a gallant charge that sent the 
enemy flying. The Sixth and the Artillery render- 
ed effective assistance at various points, once the 
order was given, and all combined, gallantly passed 


the battle of Wood Lake over to history with victory 

The march from Wood Lake was resumed on the 
25th, a day having been ipent at the scene of the 
battle to bury the dead and study the movements 
of the enemy. On Friday, September 26th, the 
command reached the Indian camp nearly opposite 
the point at which the Chippewa enters the Minne- 
sota River. The friendly Indians had secured pos- 
session of the white captives taken by Little Crow 
during the massacre, the warrior chief now finding: 
his time taken up with the serious matter of self- 
preservation. Immediately prior to this date stormy 
times had characterized the life of the savages. A 
powerful and vicious element, steeped in crime and 
dripping with innocent blood, was determined the 
captives, about 250 in number, should be massacred. 
Another strong element, though in the minority, 
bravely stood between the fiends incarnate and the 
helpless women and children who lived in mortal 
fear of annihilation. They had suffered agonies in- 
describable and indignities revolting and unspeak- 
able, by the side of which death would have been 
merciful. The sound of cannon at Wood Lake, to 
them as sweet as aeolian strains, told of the 
near approach of their deliverers, and gave them 
a new interest in life ; but they jrealized their 
increased dangers, now mingled with the first gleam 
of hope, and their suspense and mental anguish told 
frightfully on their endurance. Crushed in pride and 
spirit, exposed to the chill of rains and autumn winds, 
and compelled to live on food revolting to decent 
stomachs, there were no longer brave spirits among 


these unhappy people to encourage the weak, and 
the nearer deliverance came the greater became 
the danger that the whole captive mass would be 
butchered. The red-handed assassins among the 
Indians were determined this should be done. The 
brave men among them, the "friendly Indians," 
who would hazard their own existence in the final 
struggle to save the captives/were favored by the 
anxiety of those who had blotted out a thousand 
lives, to escape to places of personal safety. This 
was indeed a strong factor in saving from annihi- 
lation the helpless captives. The wish of the red- 
handed element was to accomplish the terrible exe- 
cution of these people with gun and club, and then 
hastily escape into the great solitude to the north- 
westward, then known only to adventurous explor- 
ers. They were thwarted only by the courageous 
Paul (ma-za-ku-ta-ma-ne) who had the moral support 
of Standing Buffalo and other influential leaders, 
and who would have fought desperately had the 
final issue been forced. 

Another point never historically developed, was 
the masterful skill by which, without internecine 
violence, the friendly Indians became the dcfaclo 
possessors of the captives. This was not done 
openly or boastfully, but artfully and covertly, and 
while this might not save the lives of the captives, 
it would place them where they would not be the 
first to die. The loyal Indians interposed them- 
selves by a concerted movement between the cap - 
tives and their would-be assassins. 

All plans matured, and the main body of Indians 
who had instigated and prosecuted the war on the 


whites, having pushed northward for personal safety, 
Col. Sibley rode into and took possession of the In- 
dian camps and the captives, who were overwhelmed 
and prostrated when the hour of their deliverance 
finally came. That the power of their captors and 
tormentors had been broken, and that the forbidding 
incubus under which they had lived such wretched 
lives, had been swept away, was too much for their 
dulled comprehension, and they bowed down and 
wept, and then lifted their faces in thanksgiving to 
God, and as they rose and marched away into new 
life the actors in the theatre of war for the nonce 
disappeared from the stage. 


Attack on Fort Abercrombie. 

Like Ridgely, Abercrombie was a fort in name 
only. The post consisted of three buildings bar- 
racks, officers' quarters and comissary. When the 
news of the outbreak reached this distant frontier 
post, steps were taken to hastily put the garrison 
in a defensible condition by the construction of 
earthworks and other barricades. Abercrombie, 
situated on the west bank of the Red River, in what 
is now Richland County, North Dakota, did not 
learn of the outbreak until the 20th of August. The 
post was garrisoned by Co. D, Capt. John Vander- 
Horck, Fifth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. The 
center of attraction of the Indians was on the more 
southern frontier and during the period of quiet at 
Abercrombie Capt. Vander Horck put his post in 
the best possible condition for resisting the enemy, 
and wisely he planned, for the Indians desperately 
attacked the Fort at 5 o'clock of the morning of 
September 3rd, which attack they continued until 
about noon, but they were repulsed by the gallant 
men of Co. D, and retired after sustaining severe 
loss in numbers. The garrison was now confronted 
by several serious problems. Capt. Vander Horck, 
while on a round of the picket line before daylight 
of the morning of attack, was shot and seriously 
wounded by a guard who had seen Indians in the 
vicinity of his post, and who mistook the Captain 
for a foe. First Lieutenant Cariveau was ill, and 


while Second Lieutenant Groetch had commanded 
with ability, it was discovered when this first en- 
gagement was over that but 350 rounds of ammu- 
nition for the old Harper's Ferry muskets, with 
which the men were armed, remained. By mistake, 
cartridges had been supplied to the post of a calibre 
not suited to the guns of the men. A force was at 
once organized to manufacture cartridges, the 
bullets for which were obtained by opening canister 
intended for the howitzers, of which there was an 
abundant supply. Sufficient ammunition was thus 
made for the infantry without seriously depleting 
the supply of the artillery. 

On the morning of September 6th, just at the 
break of day, the Indians launched a furious attack 
upon the Fort with greatly increased numbers, the 
attack lasting ten hours, during which time the 
fighting was at times hot and furious, but aided by 
the howitzers, which were splendidly manned, the 
garrison bad defiance to the enemy and drove him 
from the field with heavy loss. Though reinforce- 
ments did not arrive until September 23rd, over a 
month from the beginning of the outbreak, the Fort 
was not again attacked in force, though the garrison 
was practically in a state of siege for weeks. Co. 
D lost five men, one killed and four wounded, in 
the two engagements. 

The defense of Fort Abercrombie was heroically 
sustained. The mental and physical strain endur- 
ed, severely taxed the officers and men, but they 
proved equal to every demand and every expect- 


Escape of the Missionaries. 

On the night of Friday, Aug. 22nd, after a hard 
day's fight with the savages, and while the enemy 
was yet reasonably supposed to occupy in large 
numbers the woods surrounding Fort Ridgely on 
three sides, Andrew Hunter, son-in-lawof Rev. Dr. 
Thomas Williamson, the well-known Sioux mis- 
sionary, crawled on his hands and knees into the 
Fort to ascertain conditions and the advisability of 
attempting to pilot a party of forty souls into the 
garrison. He told in an undertone the startling 
story of the escape of the missionaries and their 
families from above the Yellow Medicine Agency, 
an escape thrilling and miraculous, made while the 
whole country was lying at the feet of the murder- 
ous Sioux. The missionary party had reached a 
point not far distant from the Fort on the afternoon 
of August 22nd, and plainly heard the storm of 
battle that raged for hours between the garrison 
and the hosts of Little Crow, and as silence succeed- 
ed the din of battle at dark the most intense anxiety 
was felt by the missionaries, as to what the result of 
the fierce engagement had been. Had the Fort 
fallen, and was the reigning silence the silence of 
death and desolation? Thus queried all, and thus 
thought Andrew Hunter as he crept up to and into 
the garrison. The Fort still survived, but it was 
so reduced in ammunition and supplies as to make 
it no longer a safe place of refuge. The hearts of 


the mission band scarcely beat in the hour of anx- 
iety during which Hunter had stealthily, his life in 
his hand, crept to the Fort. Hunter was advised 
that it would be wiser for the missionaries to con- 
tinue their flight, dangerous as it was, rather than 
to enter the Fort in its exhausted condition, for it 
must fall for want of ammunition, if the battle were 
renewed, as was not improbable. 

Thus came to Fort Ridgely the first news receiv- 
ed of the whereabouts and fortunes of the mission- 
aries, the families and associates of the Rev. Dr. 
Williamson and the Rev. Stephen R. Riggs, whose 
mission homes were at Hazlewood, five or six miles 
northwest of the remote Yellow Medicine Agency. 
Great anxiety was felt for these well-known people, 
some of whom had been in missionary work among 
the Sioux of the Minnesota Valley since 1835, but 
no one had dared to hope they had escaped death 
at the hands of the savages, but one noble Indian, 
Chaska, had stood loyally by them ; and with pecu- 
liar instinct had guided them, even through a 
country swarming with savages, by probably the 
only routes that would have made their escape 

Early in the evening of Monday, August 18th, 
Chaska and an Indian companion, Tankanxaceye, 
learning of the bloody work at the Lower Agency, 
hastened to the home of Dr. Williamson, warn- 
ed him the lives of all the whites at the mission, as 
elsewhere, were in peril, and advised preparations 
for flight. Paul and Simon, also full-blood Indians, 
likewise acquainted Rev. Riggs of the conditions 
below as they had just learned them, urged 


flight for safety, and assisted in piloting: the families 
of Rig:g:s, Jonas Pettijohn, D. W. Moore and H. D. 
Cunningham to an island in the Minnesota River 
some distance away, where they remained until the 
following: evening:. During: this time Chaska and 
his Indian companion had conducted Dr. William- 
son and family, and the family of his son-in-law, 
Andrew Hunter, to a place of safety and conceal- 
ment farther down the river. Having: accumulated 
the families at the sawmill, through the kindly 
efforts of the Renvilles, half-breeds, the Rig;g:s party 
set out on the north and east side of the Minnesota 
River on one of the most perilous journeys ever 
undertaken by man. To encounter Indians was 
death. To traverse their country and avoid them 
seemed impossible. Dr. Williamson was slow to 
believe the Indians had risen, en masse, for the slaug:h- 
ter of the whites, and lingered in the region of his 
mission-home hesitatingly ; but the warning^ of 
Chaska were so urgent that discretion admonished 
the ag:ed missionary to seek safety for himself and 
friends without further delay, and well did he reach 
this conclusion. The only available conveyance 
was an ox-cart. This was put to the best possible 
use, Chaska and Lorenzo concealing: the occupants 
of the Cart beneath robes and quilts, and starting: 
on the perilous journey to Fort Ridg:ely, nearly 
sixty miles distant. The Rig:g;s party was over- 
taken the following: day. Now, with the accession 
of three Germans who had escaped from the raided 
settlements through which the refugees must pass, 
the number of souls under the guidance and pro- 
tection of the faithful friendly Indians numbered 



The trail of the missionaries had been taken up 
by the murderous Indians, but fortunately a severe 
thunderstorm intervened, and the torrents of rain 
obliterated the trail ; it was given up, and the 
savages went into the defenseless settlements, to 
ply the work of destruction. 

The movements of the missionaries were unavoid- 
ably slow, and attended with momentary danger. 
Dead bodies everywhere and charred ruins or burn- 
ing homes made manifest the peril of the helpless 
refugees, but their Indian guides were ever on the 
alert, watchful as eagles, and quick to detect the 
slightest signs of danger. Nor were they less alert 
in the matter of choosing: the safer side of any 
dilemma. There was little rest for man or beast, 
and little upon which to subsist. So, day and night 
they trudged along, much of the time through coarse 
grass that lacerated their flesh, or jungles that hin- 
dered their progress. 

Failing to enter the Fort, the weary and worn 
party made its way heavy hearted still many miles 
distant, finally reaching Henderson, Sibley county. 

It was with feelings of deep regret at the Fort 
that these people were advised to continue their 
journey, beset with the greatest of dangers, but the 
garrison was in such peril that this was thought the 
wiser course to pursue. 




An Incident Preceding the Outbreak. 

A few days before the out- 
break a large party of Indi- 
ans came to the Fort, Cut- 
Nose among: the number. 
The object of this visit can 
best be surmised by what 
followed. No outbreak had 
been planned in advance, 
though an uprising: had been 
premeditated as the one 
course left open for redress- 
ing: the wrongs the Indians 
had suffered. The visit of these Indians, as it was 
not uncommon, excited no suspicion on this occa- 
sion until the evening: of the second day. The 
party, embracing: fifty to one hundred people, had 
been unobtrusive and good-natured, but in the even- 
ing before they were to take their departure they or- 
ganized a war-dance west of the garrison thirty or 
forty rods, during which they worked themselves in- 
to a frenzied state. The writer was among a party of 
soldier spectators who sat on a pile of rails near the 
outer edge of the dancing circle. War-clubs and 
seal ping-knives were in the hands of many of the 
dancers, and were flourished with unusual defiance. 
In passing the rail-pile on which the soldiers were 
seated, one particularly offensive savage made a 


pass as if to grab the scalp-lock of a spectator, then 
flourished his wicked knife as if in the act of cutting" 
a throat or lifting a scalp. The spectators, all sol- 
diers of the garrison, were utterly unarmed. At this 
juncture Cut-Nose interposed himself between the 
circle and the pile of rails, and proposed the sale of 
his pipe to one of the soldiers, and while the deal 
was being consummated a general hegira of blue- 
coats was started in the direction of the garrison, 
so that the purchaser of the Cut-Nose pipe with 
surprise found himself deserted by his unarmed 
companions, but lost no time in imitating the dis- 
cretion said to be the better part of valor. 

The threatening demonstrations had by this time 
roused the whole post to the extent of causing the 
leveling of several pieces of artillery, full-shotted, 
upon the frenzied warriors. The wiser heads among 
the red men knew this was not the time and place 
for hostilities, and they were told through Interpre- 
ter Quinn their conduct was becoming displeasing, 
and likely to get them into trouble. They learned 
the guns were trained on them, and ceased their war- 
dance with a suddenness betokening acumen not al- 
ways ascribed to the savage. 

While the unusual conduct of the Indians in their 
dance was the talk of the garrison during the even- 
ing, no one believed it had serious portent, but 
rather thought it merely the result of excitement 
and indiscretion on the part of vagabond individuals. 
In less than a week after that time the whole fron- 
tier was strewn with death and distructior^ and 
these same warriors who had visited us, possibly 
on a tour of inspection, were among the forces that 


desperately attempted to take the Fort ; and the 
hideous-faced Cut-Nose, whose name was derived 
from his having lost the outer part of his right 
nostril in a fight with Other Day in past years, dis- 
tinguished himself in the massacre for some of the 
most fiendish deeds conceivable, and for which he 
paid the death penalty by hanging after the out- 

I recall that among the number on the above visit 
was old Betz, a squaw everywhere renowned for her 
great age, which was said to be at the time of their 
visit, 120 years. No trader's or pioneer's memory 
could recall when Betz was not old. She was not 
very tall of stature, but was quite fleshy. Her at- 
tire was not catchy, and her hair, in appearance, 
had not been combed for years. Betz was a child 
of the simple life. She lived close to nature, and 

*Much was made of this incident by those sensationally inclined, and in a 
history published in 1863, dealing largely with the Sioux Massacre and the 
causes leading up to it, it was stated on the authority of a mysterious somebody, 
a Frenchman, whose name could not be used, that this visit was a part of a 
preconceived plan to precipitate a general massacre of the. whites by taking the 
Fort at this time. Interrogated as to this visit and its significance a year follow- 
ing the massacre, Chaska, Paul and other Indians who were conversant with 
matters pertaining to the massacre, expressed positiveness that there was no plan 
hatched in the "Soldier's Lodge," an Indian organization, for an uprising, of 
which this visit was part. The incident at Fort Ridgely was without any 
special significance, the indiscretion of the band being due to discontent rather 
than to premeditated design upon the Fort, and as for th demonstration at Yel- 
low Medicine on the 4th of August, it was the natural result of hunger and dis- 
appointment, as was well understood by the officers and men of our regiment 
who were at Yellow Medicine at the time to attend the payment, and who 
realizing the seriousness of the situation and the sufferings to which the Indians 
were subjected, urged upon Agent Galbraith the importance of issuing at least 
food enough to prevent starvation, but without avail until the hungry savages, in 
their desperate straits, forced a crisis. 


was an economist. She knew that opulence only 
came to those who were willing: to practice economy. 
She had a hectoring suspicion that there were things 
in the swill-barrel outside the barracks kitchen that 
ought to be stimulating pancreatic activity, and not 
infrequently did she penetrate the mysteries of that 
receptacle to her elbows, in quest of specimens of 
vegetable matter or of discarded samples of the 
baker's handicraft, bearing them away in her short 
skirt, which she deftly gathered into the form of a 
basket for the purpose, and flinging a cold potato 
at the head of the blue-jacket who essayed to eye her 
pastime curiously, emphasizing her effort with the 
one word Betz never got too old to hiss forth in scorn- 
ful accents: "Se-chee!" (bad.) This venerable 
dame had never cultivated the art of "growing old 
gracefully," and was always cross and irritable, 
much to her disadvantage among the soldiers, who, 
though respecting her years, and always kindly dis- 
posed toward her, could not resist annoying her on 
her occasional visits to the Fort. 


Incidents of the Siege. 

Mark M. Greer, Co. C, was the first man killed in 
the Fort, a bullet from the enemy's first volley caus- 
ing 1 his instant death, August 20th. 

William Good, corporal of Co. B, was the first 
man wounded in the first day's fight. A bullet struck 
him squarely in the center of the forehead, pene- 
trating the skull. Good was supposed to have been 
instantly killed, and while he later gave signs of 
life, this manifestation was accepted as merely an 
evidence of the great vitality he was known to pos- 
sess. The bullet could not be removed, but under 
surgical skill not less remarkable than his vitality, 
he recovered to live for several years, a greater 
mental than physical sufferer, however. 

Among 1 the severely wounded, Robert J. Spornitz, 
Co. B, was an early victim in the first day's battle, 
a shot entering one check and passing out at the 
other, tearing: away the roof of his mouth. He, like 
Good, survived for many years. 

Andrew Rufredge, Co. B, one of Lieutenant Gere's 
men at the northeast angle, and a supporter of 
Whipple's gun, was, like Spornitz, the victim of a 
frightful wound in the first day's engagement, the 
ball in the case of Rufredge cutting the lower jaw 
off well back towards the ears. 

One of the most pathetic incidents of the siege 
occurred in connection with the wounding of Ruf- 
redge. One of the Rieke boys, a mere youth of six- 


teen or seventeen years, was assisting in carrying 
and passing ammunition for the Whipple cannon. 
While turned away from the gun in his work, Ruf- 
redge had received his wound, and had fallen upon 
his back, his lower jaw dropping 1 upon his neck and 
breast. When the young German turned to pass 
to the gunners the ammunition he held, Rufredge 
lay at his feet, and the horrible spectacle so shock- 
ed and appalled the boy that he fell, and a few mo- 
ments later died in his sister's arms,while Rufredge, 
under masterful surgical skill, survived. 

Sergeant Frank A. Blackmer, Co. C, received 
what was supposed to be a mortal wound, but cling- 
ing tenaciously to life, recovered.* 

One of the Renville Rangers, a three-quarters 
blood Indian, deserted to the enemy in the night, 
first succeeding in plugging the parked cannon with 
rags, to render them ineffective for quick service. 
The Renville Rangers, who were brave and loyal 
men, felt keenly the disgrace brought upon them 
by this traitor to the cause they were upholding. 

When the siege was finally raised, the great mass 
of refugees for the first time fully realized their 
utterly destitute, helpless and bereft condition. 
The fear that had terrorized their hearts was remov- 
ed. The protecting arm that had shielded them 
during the days and nights of danger at the Fort 
could not follow them into the world; without homes 
to welcome them or friends to comfort them, they 
must turn away in utter destitution. Desperate as 
had been their condition, the crisis was not reach- 
ed until now. The conditions were so exacting 

*In later yean he became a prominent physician at Albert Lea, Minnesota. 


when these unfortunate people came into the Fort T 
and during the siegre, that no attempt could be made 
at keeping: a record of their names, and when relief 
came, it was to a garrison so exhausted that this 
task was quite impossible. The mass of humanity 
finally became assimilated by the world at large, 
leaving no trace of individuality in history. 

On the 18th, the day of the massacre at Redwood, 
the long-looked for funds for the Indian payment 
reached the Fort. The fatal delay had only that 
morning borne its bitter fruit. The sum, $71,000, 
was in gold coin, and was in charge of C. G. Wykoff, 
clerk of the superintendent of Indian affairs, J. C. 
Ramsey, and E. A. C. Hatch. The funds were kept 
under strong guard until after the siege was raised. 
Had Little Crow known this treasure was in the 
garrison, he might, in view of the fact that he had 
already killed the hated traders, who always sat at 
the pay-table, have persisted in attempts to take 
the Fort, which he could have done in the desperate 
straits to which the garrison was reduced. 

Not only in the exhaustion of its supply of ammu- 
nition, was the garrison on the verge of collapse at 
the time of the last attack, but a really more se- 
rious crisis had been reached if possible, in the 
complete exhaustion of the water supply. On the 
day of the outbreak, August 18th, all available 
barrels, tanks, tubs and other vessels, were filled 
by hauling water from the spring, the accustomed 
source, half a mile distant from the Fort, to meet a 
possible emergency. The supply had been con- 
sumed to the dregs, and a replenishment was only 
attempted when the unendurable necessities of the 


garrison, with its refugee mass, compelled it, and 
the obtaining of water was only accomplished 
finally at great hazard and under trying hardships. 

About Losses. 

The story of the Sioux Massacre of 1862, cruel 
and revolting, has never been fully told, and never 
will be. What was essentially descriptive of the 
appalling tragedy enacted along the Minnesota fron- 
tier, was given in brief narratives from individual 
view-points at the time of occurrence, and were 
reasonably accurate and faithful in narration, but 
limited in scope, especially as to the extent and 
consequences of the tragedy. One chronicler who 
went well into details, and practically the only one 
who attempted to write a"history," converts tragedy 
into farce-comedy when he sums up the results of 
the defenders of the frontier by stating seriously 
that the total number of Indians killed by troops 
and settlers during the massacre, from August 18th, 
exclusive of the battle of Wood Lake, was just 
twenty-one. His enumeration of the savages slain 
is as follows : "At the battle of Redwood Ferry, 1 ; 
New Ulm, 5 ; Fort Ridgely, 2 ; Big Woods at or 
near Forest City, 1 ; Birch Coulie ; 2 ; at Battle of 
Acton, with Strout, 1 ; Hutchinson, 1 ; Spirit Lake, 
1 ; at Shetek, by Duly, 1 ; near Omahaw, 1 ; Aber- 
crombie, 4 ; between Fort Ridgely and New Ulm, 
half-breed, 1. Total 21." Serio-comically the his- 
torian assures his readers of the accuracy of his 
figures for two reasons ; first, by asking the Indians 


to give him the number of their losses, and second- 
ly, by verifying their report by hunting: for dead In- 
dians several days after the battles were fought. 

The historian however rendered too much valu- 
able service in compiling historical information to 
be taken seriously to task for his faulty conclusion 
in the matter of Indian losses, which no doubt ex- 
ceeded his figures more than ten to one. During 
the two days' battle at Fort Ridgely a ton of ammu- 
nition was fired. At times the enemy was closely 
massed at short range. One double-shotted charge 
from Jones' gun at the southwest angle of the garri- 
son on the afternoon of the second day's fight, when 
the Indians had moved up in close order, under 
Little Crow's command to club their guns and rush 
in, mowed down seventeen Indians, most of the m 
killed. This was but one shot out of scores made 
under conditions rendering it impossible that the 
enemy could have escaped without great loss. In 
fact had not the fire of the garrison been deadly at 
every point of concentration of the foe, nothing 
would have prevented a charge, the one thing Little 
Crow realized would give him the prize he so earn- 
estly coveted Fort Ridgely. So ineffective a fire 
as the historian suggests would have merited the 
contempt of the savages, and the garrison would 
have been blotted out in short order. On the after- 
noon of August 27th, the post having finally been 
relieved on the morning of that day, of its great 
strain and long vigil, John McCole, of the Renville 
Rangers, and the writer, entered the river valley 
from a quarter to a half mile southwest of the garri- 
son, where we found a small abandoned cellar or 


"dug-out," in which were seven dead warriors, 
partially concealed by earth that had been dug from 
the overhanging embankment to cover them. 
Two other decomposing bodies were found in the 
underbrush near the cellar. It is the custom of In- 
dians to completely bear their dead from the field 
of battle, and entirely beyond discovery, if not over- 
tasked with the burden, or too hard pressed by their 
enemy. The nine bodies above noted were probably 
about one-tenth of the Indians killed during the 
siege of Fort Ridgely, and the casualties sustained 
by Indians in other engagements were proportionate- 
ly large. 

The battle at the Redwood Ferry was desperate 
and at very short range. In fact it was almost 
hand-to-hand, and the few men who fought their 
way out of the ambuscade did so over the dead 
bodies of many of their foe. To say that but one 
Indian was killed in this engagement is to ridicule 
the brave fellows who cut their way through the 
savage cordon in the most desperate battle of the 


Talks of Cruelty as Told by Refugees. 

When we touch the subject of Indian cruelty, as 
practiced on the helpless victims along: the Minne- 
sota frontier during 1 the Massacre of 1862, we enter 
upon a phase of the horrible uprising 1 that rouses 
every feeling of resentment of which human nature 
is capable. How even savages in this age could 
perpetrate or approve such fiendish deeds as were 
committed, passes understanding. Even infants 
were tortured in a manner that would put to blush 
and shame the imps of the infernal regions. The 
stories told by the refugees from the settlements, 
who straggled into Fort Ridgely the first two or 
three days of the Massacre, no one has ever attempt- 
ed to literally repeat. Chapters have been written 
on the Massacre at the Agency and the ferry, and up- 
on the attacks on Fort Ridgely and New Ulm, but 
no writer has ever given to the world an account of 
the awful scenes through which most of these ref- 
ugees passed ; and perhaps it is best that it is so. 
Wounded, persecuted, hunted, they were half crazed, 
their agonies of heart and body uncontrollable, 
while yet their tales of horror would dismay even 
the stoutest-hearted listener. Some had by apparent 
miracle wrested themselves from the very jaws of 
death when the overpowering hand was raised to 
deal the fatal stroke, as was the case of one woman 
whose husband, after felled to rise no more, shot her 
assailant with the gun held in his death-clutch, per- 


ishing: himself, but momentarily dumbfounding: 
their assailants, during: which the wife escaped, 
first into a cornfield near the house, and then by 
concealing: herself in a clump of hig:h weeds a few 
rods distant, where she was compelled to hear the 
heartrending- cries of the man who had defended 
her to the last, and who, for his act in dispatching: 
her assailant, was being: tortured by every conceiv- 
able device to make his death one of prolonged 
agony. When the shrieking: and moaning: of the 
helpless victim would die away, the cruel knife 
would be applied to ag:ain awaken the dying: man 
into new suffering:, until finally silence told the tale 
of death. The screams and shrieks of her two 
children, as if the heart of the poor woman had not 
suffered its full measure of torture, rang: piercingly 
in the ears of the crouching:, cringing: mother, who 
could scarcely keep her hiding:, thougft she knew 
that death by unspeakable means would be the only 
result of her attempt to rescue those being: fiendish- 
ly tortured and mutilated and finally murdered. To 
have been permitted to die a death worthy of a g:reat 
cause, would have been tenfold more acceptable to 
this poor, wretched woman, than to save her own 
life while those near and dear to her were being: 
cruelly put to death, but instinct admonished her 
of the worse than death she would suffer for reveal- 
ing: herself, without being: able to render assistance. 
Death having: stilled the cries of the unfortunate 
victims who had fallen into the hands of the fiends, 
the house was plundered and the torch applied, and 
having: apparently satiated their thirst for blood, 
the savages, loaded with plunder, took the only 


family horse from the stable and made off, without 
farther search for the wife and mother, who had 
escaped with her clothing: half torn from her body. 
Distracted with gfrief and racked with fear, she lay 
in hiding: until after sundown, when, with faltering: 
step, first wildly scanning: the surroundings in fear 
of a concealed savag:e, she ventured to the ruins of 
their smoulding: home, where she found the bodies 
of her children, frightfully disfigured, and that of 
her husband, he having: been scalped and otherwise 
mutilated almost beyond recognition, and his body 
partially charred. 

Before the darkness closed about her, destitute, 
homeless and friendless, she turned her face to- 
ward the only known place of refug:e, Fort Ridg:e- 
ly, which she reached on the morning of Aug:ust 21st, 
more naked than clad, and frenzied with the mental 
and physical strain which had wellnig:h unhinged 
her reason. 

And so the historian mig:ht recount the tales of 
horror of one-half of the three hundred refugees who 
had made their way from the raided settlements to 
the Fort, for such a mass of quivering: humanity ; 
such a collection of maimed, suffering: people ; such 
a gathering: of odds and ends of blasted and oblit- 
erated homes and of half-crazed victims of the most 
diabolical crimes ever devised, was rarely ever be- 
fore brought into one collection. The terror with 
which their souls were stricken had written its tale 
of horror on every face. The refugees had many 
of them come from remote settlements, over a track- 
less country, often without shoes to protect their 
bleeding: feet, or raiment to hide their nakedness, 


every step of the way taken with fear and tremb- 
ling, without sleep, rest or sustenance, and persecut- 
ed by the hideous scenes witnessed in the ravishing , 
slaying and maiming of dear ones of the home circle. 
It is best, I repeat, that the shocking details of the 
sufferings of these refugees were never handed 
down to history. 

What befell their friends and what they narrow- 
ly escaped may readily be inferred from a few ran- 
dom instances of cruelty common to the Massacre 
along the entire frontier devastated. 

Below Yellow Medicine a few miles, on the east 
side of tbe Minnesota River, twenty-seven dead 
bodies were found in one group, the only living 
creature being a babe that had escaped the toma- 
hawk to finally die of starvation at its dead mother's 
breast. In a building near the scene of this ghast- 
ly spectacle were found by Antoine Freniere, Gov- 
ernment interpreter, seven small children, who were 
later burned alive by the Indians, together with the 
house the helpless little creatures occupied. 
Freniere was compelled to fly for his life, and could 
do nothing for the children. 

August 20th a party of Indians visited the home 
of a farmer named Anderson, with whom they were 
acquainted, and whose family had often befriended 
them, in what is now Kandiyohi (then Monongalia) 
county. They asked for favors which were grant- 
ed them, and without a sign of their evil purposes, 
while they were being waited upon, shot down the 
defenseless man who, without suspecting harm, 
was good-naturedly serving them. They had, among 
other things, asked for potatoes, and Anderson had 


sent his boy to dig them, and while the boy engag- 
ed in the task they shot him dead, almost at the in- 
stant his father was murdered. Mrs. Anderson ran 
into the cellar with a small child, and having been 
unobserved, escaped, the Indians having failed to 
burn the house. A daughter, Julia, fourteen years 
of age, seized a sister of ten years, and succeeded 
in hiding in the weeds near the house. These were 
prizes for which the Indians made diligent search, 
and whom they finally discovered. The girls were 
borne away on a pony, but night coming on they 
were taken but a short distance, where the savages 
camped. The girls passed a horrible night. The 
Indians, next morning* discovered their ponies had 
stampeded, and in the excitement incident, hurried 
in pursuit of them. The girls made their escape, 
and although hunted excitedly, succeeded in elud- 
ing their captors. After two days and nights of ex- 
cruciating hardships they reaphed Forest City, hav- 
ing covered a distance of some thirty miles. They 
emerged from the brush into a road in the neighbor- 
hood of their home in their flight, where they stum- 
bled upon the bodies of two neighbors Backlund 
and Lorentson. The heads of both these men had 
been chopped off. Lorentson's scalp had been rer 
moved, and the skin, with the ears attached, had 
been torn from his face. The heads of the two men 
were set up side by side, with their hats on. , Back- 
lund evidently used snuff, for his snuff-box was 
placed near his face, while his severed right hand, 
lying by the side of his head, held between the 
thumb and finger, placed there derisively, a pinch 
of snuff. 


The gratification of lustful passions led to some 
of the most fiendish abuses and cruelties ever re- 
corded, and while the world should know the truth 
as a part of the history of this awful Massacre, 
crimes and cruelties of this nature are too forbid- 
ding 1 to pass to the pages of a book. 

Dr. Humphrey, the Government physician at the 
Lower Agency, a man who had done much for 
the Indians, was overtaken when endeavoring to 
make his escape from Redwood to the Fort with 
his family, and was slain, as were his wife and two 
children, a third child, a boy, escaping by having 
been sent to a spring in a concealed spot for drink- 
ing water, he having heard the shooting a few yards 
away in time to hide. Dr. Humphrey was shocking- 
ly mutilated, his head being severed from his body. 
Emerging from his concealment when all was quiet, 
the boy who went to the spring, cautiously return- 
ed to where he had left the family, only to find his 
father dead and the bodies of his mother and little 
brother and sister burned in the house at which 
they had stopped to rest and get a drink, that of 
Mayner, on the fort road. 

From a murdered family near New Ulm, one little 
fellow, supposed to have been killed, had revived 
and was rescued. The bodies of all the family had 
been frightfully mutilated, and the ball of one of 
the eyes of the little boy who survived, had been 
dug out with a knife, and lay suspended upon his 
cheek, in a state of putrefaction. 

Near New Ulm Wak-pa-doo-ta went to a house 
and looking through a window, saw a sick woman 
lying on a bed. He fired through the window and 


wounded her. At this an old man was seen to make 
his way up stairs. Fearing the old man was after 
a gun, and too cowardly to take any chances, the 
Indians fired the house and burned the occupants 
to death. 

Mauley, the Redwood ferryman, was a mark of 
special vengeance, no doubt because of the fact of 
his having sacrificed every personal opportunity of 
escape to save those whom the Indians had hoped 
would be unable to pass the river barrier; but 
Mauley stood at his post until the last to reach the 
ferry in advance of the savages had been transfer- 
red to the side of possible safety. Highly incensed 
that he should have saved so many from their bloody 
clutches, he was shot down at his post, and before 
life was extinct he was disemboweled, and his 
hands, feet and head were cut off and thrust within 
his bleeding body. 

The Lake Shetek settlement, in Murray county, 
was attacked by Lean Bear, who first attained 
prominence at the council of Traverse des Sioux 
in 1852. Sleepy Eye and White Lodge joined him 
with their bands. The crimes and cruelties per- 
petrated in this settlement were shocking in the ex- 
treme, with but one compensating result the death 
of Lean Bear who fell at the hands of a settler, 
William J. Duly. The wife and two children of 
Duly were taken captives, as were a Mrs. Wight 
and child, and a daughter of a Mr. Everett. The 
prisoners were carried to the Missouri River, the 
tortuous journey covering a distance of seven or 
eight hundred miles. The children were mostly 
murdered in cold blood in the presence of the power- 


less mothers. 

And so might this chapter of horrors be lengthen- 
ed into a hundred pages, with sickening details yet 
untold ; but more than enough has already been re- 
corded, except for the fact that the future has a 
right to know the price paid by the advance-guard 
of civilization for the heritage to be enjoyed by un- 
ending generations. 


Execution of Thirty-Eight Indians. 

After the surrender at Camp Release a commis- 
sion was appointed by Gen. H. H. Sibley, who had 
command of the forces on the Minnesota frontier, 
for the trial of Indians implicated in the Massacre. 
The original commission was composed as follows : 
Colonel William Crooks, of the Sixth Minnesota In- 
fantry Volunteers, Colonel William R. Marshall, of 
the Seventh, Captain Hiram P. Grant, Co. A. and 
Capt. Hiram S. Bailey, Co. C, both of the Sixth, 
and Lieutenant R. C. Olin, Co. B, third Minnesota. 
Of this commission Col. Crooks was president, and 
Lieutenant Olin judge advocate. The commission 
held its first session at Camp Release on the 30th 
of September, and its last one at Fort Snelling Nov- 
ember 5th, 1862, sessions having been held at va- 
rious other points mean time. This commission 
tried 425 Indians and half-breeds on the charge of 
murderous participation in the Massacre, and of 
these 321 were convicted, 303 being sentenced to 
death, while the remainder were sentenced to pay 
lighter penalties. The East set up the cry that 
these people were prisoners of war, and that it 
would be a crime against the nation to permit of 
this wholesale execution. As a result an investi- 
gation was made by the general government out of 
which grew an order from President Lincoln that 
thirty-nine of the condemned Indians be hanged on 
the 26th day of December, 1862, at Mankato, and 


that the remainder of the condemned savages be 
held to await further orders. After thirty-nine of 
the most guilty had been selected, one was pardon- 
ed by President Lincoln, and the thirty-eight were 
executed as ordered, one large scaffold sufficing for 
the entire number. 

Not an Indian was self-convicted. All swore 
positively to child-like innocence, and affected 
amazement that they had been accused. One negro, 
Godfrey, who lived among the Sioux, was among 
those executed. His pica of innocence availed him 
nothing, as he, like Cut Nose, was known to have 
committed some of the most monstrous crimes ever 
charged up to the account of a fiend. 

The final death sentence was promulgated on the 
6th of December, just twenty days prior to the date 
of execution. 

Passing from crime to punishment, the scenes 
that followed the sentence were without a parallel 
in our national history. 

The condemned in the main accepted their fate 
philosophically. They were treated with humane 
consideration by the officials in whose charge they 
were, pending the final act. They were privileged 
to select their spiritual advisers according to their 
individual preferences, and each made his choice. 
The condemned received much comfort from the 
Christian influences thus brought about them. As 
the day for the execution drew near the condemn- 
ed were permitted to receive friends from among 
their fellow-prisoners who had escaped the death 
sentence. Through these, farewells were sent to 
family friends, and many little keepsakes were com- 


mitted to the hands of those present to accompany 
the parting messages. 

The condemned were never too deeply distressed 
to enjoy their pipes, and for the fatal scene upon 
the scaffold arranged their hair and painted their 
faces with painstaking effort. At the appointed 
moment the condemned arose from a sitting or re- 
clining posture and walked with steady step to the 
death-trap, apparently glad the suspense was to be 
ended. There was no lagging. Every wretch was 
self-supporting and active, all chanting the death 
song. William J. Duly, of Lake Shetek, whose 
family had been murdered by the savages, and from 
whom he escaped after a desperate encounter in 
which he killed Lean Bear, was privileged to spring 
the trap that sent the thirty-eight murderers into 
eternity at one stroke. 

Thousands of people witnessed the execution. 
The bodies were cut down after death was pronounc- 
ed, and carted to a sand-bar in the Minnesota river, 
where they were buried in one trench. After a 
term of imprisonment, the convicted savages who 
had escaped the hangman's noose, were placed up- 
on the reservation assigned to their people beyond 
the borders of Minnesota. 



Dr. Alfred Muller. 

The great service 
rendered by Post 
Surgeon Dr. Alfred 
Muller during the 
siege of Fort Ridge- 
ly, has never been 
understood or pub- 
licly accredited. Dr 
Muller was a native 
of Switzerland, and 
had acquired his 
professional knowl- 
edge in the land of 
his nativity. The 
outbreak filled the 
post hospital with 
DR. ALFRED MULLER. many frightfully 
wounded men. Blodgett was shot through the ab- 
domen, the intestines being penetrated ; Sutherland 
was shot through the right lung, the ball passing 
entirely through his body ; Good was shot squarely 
in the forehead, the bullet crashing irrecoverably 
into his skull ; Spornitz was shot through the head ; 
Rufredge had his lower jaw entirely severed on 
both sides ; Blackmer was shot in the head, and 
many wounded were brought in from the Agency 
and the settlements, in addition to others wounded 
at the Fort. The record made in these cases is un- 


surpassed, even in the world-famed Japanese army 
hospital service. Not a man, no matter how seri- 
ously wounded or mutilated, lost his life after reach- 
ing: the care of Dr. Muller, nor was an arm or leg 
amputated. In piling up work for Surgeon Muller, 
events followed each other swiftly under the rain 
of fire of the savages, but the perception of Muller 
was unerring, his execution rapid and thorough, and 
his devotion tireless. His surgical record is ex- 
celled by that of no other, in or out of the army. 
A few years after the close of the civil war, his 
estimable wife having died, Dr. Muller left his New 
Ulm home, in which he had located after his ser- 
vice, for his native land, where he died, at Berne. 
He came out of the unique Mountain Republic of 
Europe like a ray of light in a period of darkness, 
and having performed his mission, returned to pay 
the debt of Nature. Minnesota owes much to his 

*Dr. Muller was born at Berne, Switzerland, in December, 1825, graduating 
from the medical department of the University of Berne in 1851, immigrating to 
America a year later. Coming to Minnesota in 1856, he located at Still watrr, 
where he practiced his profession until 1861, when he was appointed Post 
Surgeon of Fort Ridgely, where he remained until 1867, when he removed to 
New Ulm, having retired from army service. 


A Woman in Battle. 

The storm of battle is likely to strike terror to the 
heart of the true, normally-poised woman. Even 
strong: men, whose profession is war, are often terror- 
stricken with the first shock of battle. The ordeal 
in this case was more than one of warfare. The 
surroundings were inconceivably trying 1 . The hun- 
dreds of refugees added much to the nerve-racking 
trials of the hour. Almost without exception they 
were from homes made desolate by the gun, toma- 
hawk and torch. The father, usually the object of 
first attack while endeavoring to defend his family, 
rarely made his escape, but under cover of his re- 
sistance occasionally some member would fly unob- 
served in the awful encounter to a place of conceal- 
ment. If the home was not wholly taken by sur- 
prise, it would frequently happen that by conceal- 
ment, several members of a family would escape ; 
and of such remnants as these was the body of the 
refugees at the Fort made up. They came, often 
over long stretches of trackless prairie, being guid- 
ed mainly by a general knowledge of the location of 
the Fort, making their way with the greatest caution. 
Whether by day or under cover of darkness, every 
step was taken with fear and trembling. Reaching 
the Fort at length, famished with hunger and thirst, 
and distracted with grief and sleepless vigil, they 
were just so much additional fuel to the flame of 
pandemonium that reigned at the post a condition 


in itself sufficient to unnerve any but the bravest 
and most resolute man. There was no assuaging: 
the grief of these people, some half bereft of their 
reason, others sick and others wounded. Human 
conception is inadequate to grasp the mental and 
physical torture to which they had been subjected. 
They had witnessed scenes no pen can describe, 
and had suffered sorrows that break the heart ; and 
added to all this in the Fort was the startling reali- 
zation that to be defeated when attacked meant 
that the little garrison would become a veritable 
slaughter pen. 

Amid scenes and conditions of this character 
within, and the din of battle without, accentuated 
by hideous yells, increasing in fury as the conflict 
grew fiercer, Mrs. Alfred Muller, wife of Post Sur- 
geon Dr. Alfred Muller, was a notable figure. Mrs. 
Muller was in the prime of womanhood, and was 
well known to all the little garrison, where, with 
her husband, she had her home. In the days when 
danger was unsuspected, and military life at the 
post was of the commonplace kind, Mrs. Muller fill- 
ed her wifely sphere with becoming womanliness. 
She was a native of Switzerland, and a good type 
of her race. She was retiring rather than other- 
wise, but always at ease in her manner. In person- 
al appearance she was of medium build, cheerful of 
disposition and comely in looks. When war was 
precipitated with all its horrors she at once mani- 
fested a personality never to be forgotten, and for 
which she deserves to live forever in the love and 
esteem of the Northwest. 

When the test of battle came there was no shrink- 


ing. No despairing thought revealed itself in her 
modest face. If fate had decreed the garrison must 
fall, she did not shrink from bearing her part brave- 
ly. Not many rifle shots had spoken in startling 
tones when Mrs. Muller had occupation at her hus- 
band's side. She helped to stanch the flow of blood 
and to bind ghastly wounds. She spoke words of 
comfort and cheer to the suffering, and her kind 
heart prompted many acts of gentleness unusual in 
the activity of battle. Wherever she was her 
demeanor was reassuring, and whatever she did her 
adaptability was an inspiration. "What can I do," 
was not a question with her, but rather u What can 
I not do ?" 

After the engagement of August 22nd had con- 
tinued for hours, it was found the supply of musket 
ammunition was exhausted. The depletion of the 
two days of fighting had precipitated a crisis. This 
necessitated the organization of a corps of workers 
for the manufacture of such ammunition as could 
be extemporized. Of this work Mrs. Muller took 
charge, and through her gifted versatility she soon 
became an expert cartridge maker, and taught 
many other hands, now enlisted from among the 
useful women refugees, the art of dextrously turn- 
ing out ammunition, for which there was the most 
pressing need. 

I was detailed late in the day of August 22nd to 
obtain a supply of this newly-made ammunition, 
and found Mrs. Muller and her workers busily en- 
gaged in a little room on the first floor of the bar- 
racks. The face of this truly heroic woman was 
intensely impressive to the glancing eye. There 


was a constant crash of musketry and the resound- 
ing: of artillery all about the little garrison, the din 
being: almost deafening:. Amid this her mental poise 
was perfect, her hand steady, her eye alert, her 
voice g:entle, and her face composed and natural. 
And so this inestimable woman, from day to day 
during: the sieg:e, g:ave evidence of the most sterling: 
qualities. Without price or the thought of reward 
she did well her part in the defense of Fort Ridg:e- 


It is said regretfully that she did not long: survive 
the restoration of peace where the warlike tempests 
had rag:ed that developed her g:reat worth to the 
Northwest, and particularly to Minnesota, and it is 
fitting: that she sleeps in the Fort Ridgfely cemetery, 
where the State of Minnesota has equally fittingly 
erected a monument to her memory. 


The Grand Old Ferryman. 

One of the noblest characters developed by the 
deluge of blood that made crimson the Minnesota 
frontier, was the ferryman, Mauley, at the cross- 
ing: of the Minnesota River at the Redwood Agency. 
Self-preservation is the first law of nature, but 
there are times when some men become more than 
human, and rise superior to this selfish law. Mauley, 
the plodding, unlettered, unobtrusive old ferryman 
was such a man. History is adorned with no grander 
spectacle than was exhibited in this humble, un- 
polished frontiersman, and of all heroes who won 
renown in that conflict, his memory should have 
been the first to be recognized and honored, as his 
was the first great service rendered when the trag- 
edy that came like a fiery bolt from a clear sky, 
overwhelmed the Agency in the early morning of 
August 18th. 

Plain old Frenchman! He was but a grain of 
dust in the world of affairs. Men who regarded 
themselves as of superior mould, hardly had a word 
for him as they passed, his calling was so humble, 
his life so simple and his horizon so limited. But 
sterling manhood abounded within his noble breast, 
and when the terrible calamity befell the Agency, 
he proved a hero without a peer. As was remark- 
ed of him, "This humble man whom nobody cared 
for, suddenly seemed to care for everybody but 
himself." Those who escaped the gun and warclub 
at the Agency, sought safety in flight by way of the 


ferry, where all found the sturdy old Frenchman at 
his post. He could have saved his own life with 
ease and certainty, having: had ample time and 
warning", but he thought only of those who were in 
peril, and to the music of splashing lines and creak- 
ing pulleys he kept his boat plying back and forth 
until the overwhelming wave of savages reached 
the river bank. He had just saved the last to come 
or at least had transferred across the sullen barrier, 
the last to reach the stream, when, in a towering 
rage for having snatched so many from the clutches 
of the swarming demons, he was shot down with 
fiendish glee. 

Here was a man who deliberately gave his life 
that others might live, the most noble sacrifice a 
mortal ever made, and France, the land that gave 
him birth, may well be proud of such sons ; and 
may his memory ever be cherished and perpetuated 
in his adopted country as that of the hero of heroes 
in the fiery ordeal that tried men's souls at Red- 
wood, for there does not exist in history a nobler 
instance of intrepidity or greatness of soul than 
this man exhibited. The rage of the savages knew 
no bounds when they discovered this faithful ferry- 
man had robbed them of many a victim, and they 
avenged themselves upon him with exultant shouts 
arid fiendish cruelty, disemboweling him before life 
was extinct, and then cutting' off his head, hands 
and feet and stuffing them into the bleeding trunk. 


John McCole. 

It was my good fortune in point of satisfaction to 
have made the acquaintance of John McCole during: 
the siege of Fort Ridgely, then second sergeant of 
the Renville Rangers, and a good soldier. Follow- 
ing the Massacre, the Renville Rangers having 
merged themselves into other organizations, we 
served a year together as bedfellows and messmates. 
This service, during 1863, was in the Indian country 
and in Indian campaigns. McCole had for some years 
been a clerk and an accountant in one of the stores 
at the Redwood Agency, and had, only a few days 
before the outbreak, enlisted in the Renville Ran- 
gers, with a view to going south, and thus escaped 
the terrible fate of his former employers and asso- 
ciates who were massacred on the morning of Aug. 
18th. McCole, long since gathered to the realms 
of the great majority, was of unusual intellectual 
burnish, and of a fortunate, gentle disposition, mak- 
ing him a favorite with all who knew him. His pro- 
tracted service in the stpre of one of the leading 
traders had given him a wide acquaintance among 
the Indians, whose language he spoke with great 
fluency. On the Sibley Expedition of 1863 were 
seventy-five Sioux scouts, whom McCole knew fa- 
miliarly, and with whom, at intervals, I was afford- 
ed through him an unusual opportunity to gather 
information regarding the massacre from a source 
not always available. These scouts were selected 


from the Indians who had proven themselves loyal 
to the whites during: the massacre the previous year, 
but who had mingled more or less with their former 
friends and relatives after the surrender at Camp 
Release, were drawn into the maelstrom by 
Little Crow, to the extent of being: participants, 
even if not voluntary ones, of the massacre, and 
thus the scouts had a double knowledge of what 
occurred during the outbreak. The trouble at the 
Upper Agency, August 4th, 1862, when a massacre 
was narrowly averted, was told of with much earn- 
estness, as were the sufferings and disappointments 
leading: up to that event. Many deeds of cruelty 
were related, with a shrug: and with manifest dis- 
approval ; but of these there was the least dis- 
position to talk, information being: vouchsafed when 
asked for as applying: to particular persons, as, for 
instance, to the old ferryman of the Lower Agency, 
the traders and residents of the Agency, etc. One 
of the features of the massacre discussed without 
reserve, was Little Crow's failure to take Fort 
Ridgely when he had first planned to do so the 
day following the massacre at the Agency and the 
ferry. This failure was explained with the facial 
earnestness and artful gesticulations peculiar to 
Indian character, traits that increase the force of 
language by half. 

Only those who have vainly tried, know how diffi- 
cult it is to extract information from an Indian ; but 
McCole had the faculty of unlocking the secret 
springs of reticence of the red men, and securing a 
voluble flow of language when he chose to do so. 


Standing Buffalo. 

One of the great injus- 
tices of the Sioux Massacre 
was sustained by Standing 
Buffalo. (Tatanka Nazin,) 
whom Captain McGrew, 
forty years after the out- 
break, referred to as "the 
noblest red man of all." 
Standing Buffalo was the 
chief of a band of Sissetons 
whose village was on the 
STANDING BUFFALO, shores of Big Stone Lake, 
and was a self-reliant, level-headed man, whose 
friendship for the whites had breadth and depth. 
As the disappointment of the Indians increased, 
and their unrest became more manifest, Standing 
Buffalo, who dissented from proposed radical 
measures, was chided for his fealty to the whites ; 
yet his sturdy character made him a factor of 
strength among the Indians, who had great respect 
for him. 

The trying ordeal through which the Indians 
passed at the Yellow Medicine Agency, while as- 
sembled to receive their annuities, elsewhere fully 
treated, produced widespread and justifiable dis- 
content, and having grown desperate, a council of 
chiefs and warriors was called from among the six 
thousand savages in camp at Yellow Medicine, in 
August, 1862. This council was an extremely 


stormy one, and any man would have been very 
brave who would have dared to stand within the 
council circle and plead for moderation. Standing 
Buffalo stood in the breach as the foremost advo- 
cate of peace and patience. He did not believe in 
all white men, nor had he lost faith in all. He be- 
lieved the white people in the main were friendly 
to the Indians, and wished to see justice done them. 
Other speakers were in favor of violent retaliation 
for the wrongs inflicted on their race, and doubted 
that the white people were any of them honest or 
friendly, since the people chose their officers, and 
these officers were too often dishonest. Six weeks 
of indefensible dalliance on the part of represen- 
tatives of the Government had made the contention 
of Standing Buffalo unpopular, and his predicament 
not in all respects enviable. The council finally 
terminated with a vote in favor of resorting to arms 
as a means of righting wrongs inflicted upon the 
thousands who had been kept in camp for weeks, 
and who were finally at the point of starvation. 
This vote committed all the chiefs, without regard 
to their personal views or preferences. The final 
decision of the council spread throughout the camp 
with great rapidity, awakening intense excitement. 
Standing Buffalo, realizing that trouble was im- 
minent, went at once to the headquarters of the 
troops near the warehouse where the stores 
were locked up, and under guard of the soldiers, 
and related what had taken place in the council of 
chiefs. He stated he had bitterly opposed the 
course adopted, but that he was out-voted ; but in 
the final decision was tacitly bound -by the council's 


action ; but he said he had come to warn the soldiers 
to be prepared and on the alert. 

Here was the Alexander Stephens of the Sioux 
nation. His judgment and sympathies impelled 
him to stand with the whites, and he had been reso- 
lute to the end of the council, but having: taken 
part in the deliberations, he was, under the customs 
of his people, committed to abide by the result of 
the council. Nevertheless, there was no law or 
custom that could restrain him from at once warn- 
ing: the soldiers of their dangler. 

This was characteristic of Standing Buffalo, and 
the same spirit animated him throughout the mas- 
sacre. When, after the massacre, the Indians were 
making northward, pressed by the army, a demand 
was made upon Little Crow by General Sibley for 
the surrender of all the prisoners held by him. This 
demand produced great agitation, and the wonder 
is, that during the excitement and fierce contention 
that resulted, the prisoners were not all slain. A 
great council was held to determine what should 
be done whether the prisoners should be mas- 
sacred or surrendered unconditionally. Standing 
Buffalo, whose people, so far as he was able to con- 
trol them at least, had kept out of the Massacre, 
was in this council, and urged the delivery of the 
white prisoners unharmed, and he took occasion in 
his speech to upbraid, in no uncertain terms, the 
Lower Indians, as those were termed south of the 
Yellow Medicine River, for bringing on the mas- 
sacre, saying in this speech in part : *' I am * young 
man, but I have always felt friendly to the whites, 
because they were kind to my father. You have 


brought me into great danger without my knowing 
of it beforehand (the massacre.) By killing the 
whites is just as if you had waited for me in ambush 
and had shot me down. You Lower Indians feel 
very bad because we have all got into trouble, but 
I feel worse, because I know that neither I nor my 
people have killed any of the whites, but that yet 
we have to suffer for the guilty." 

But Standing Buffalo, notwithstanding his manli- 
ness and friendship for the white race, was ever 
kept in the false light of an enemy. The Sibley Ex- 
pedition of 1863 made its long, toilsome incursion 
into the Devil's Lake and Missouri River regions, 
to either secure the surrender of all the Sioux east 
of the Missouri, or drive them by force of arms 
across that stream. On the 24th of July, 1863, as 
related fully in another chapter, the Sibley army 
overhauled a large body of Indians, who must have 
known a day or two in advance of the approach of 
the expedition, but who were evidently influenced 
not to fly the country, by a conviction that it would 
be best to peaceably surrender and throw them- 
selves upon the mercy of the authorities. But this 
plan, if such it was, was thwarted by a cowardly sav- 
age who shot Surgeon Weiser in the back, killing him 
instantly when he had ridden among the Indians un- 
attended and unsupported. There was no sign of 
approval of this cold-blooded and treacherous deed, 
on the part of the savages, but it had so provoked 
the wrath of the soldiers that hostilities were open- 
ed at once, without an opportunity for explanations 
or redress. Standing Buffalo's band was supposed, 
though not positively known, to have been a part of 


this large group, but it is safe to say the offender 
neither belonged to nor was excused by this chief's 

Here was Standing Buffalo probably again made 
the victim of bad company and untoward circum- 
stances, and placed in a position where, for self- 
preservation and the existence of his family and 
his people, he was forced to fight those whom he 
had never broken faith with, and whom he had al- 
ways befriended and defended in angry councils. 
That he was not made the prince of outlaws by ad- 
verse conditions, is a matter of wonder ; but he was 
not, as no unprovoked cruelty has ever been charg- 
ed to the name of Standing Buffalo, who, though 
never justly appreciated at his worth, was never- 
theless much of a man among men, Indian that he 

On June 5, 1871, Standing Buffalo met a tragic 
death. His life long friendship for the whites, even 
under adverse conditions, made him an object of 
derision among the lawless element of his race. It 
was near the Milk River Agency, in Montana, that 
Standing Buffalo was solicited by the Yanktons to 
join them in a raid on the Gros Ventres and Upper 
Assiniboines. Standing Buffalo urged that he had 
no occasion to join in such an attack ; and further, 
that the whites would be displeased with such a 
wanton raid. This fired the Yanktons, who accused 
Standing Buffalo of a regard for the whites that 
made him unworthy of the respect of his own blood 
and bone, and unworthy of his chieftainship. Tired 
of a life of perplexing conditions whose improve- 
ment, ever, circumstances seemed to forbid, Stand- 


ing Buffalo silently resolved to end all. He an- 
nounced his willingness at last to join the Yanktons 
and lead his warriors against their enemies ; but 
his silent resolution was not one of conquest. He 
announced to his family that he would go on the 
war-path. He then made disposition of his horses 
and other personal effects, giving, with great delib- 
eration, all his earthly possessions to his relatives 
and friends. He counseled his brother and his son, 
and all his people, to keep faith with the whites, 
saying he was going into battle, and that he would 
never return. With a small party of his warriors 
he went forth and met the Gros Ventres and Assini- 
boines in large numbers. It was on an open plain, 
and Standing Buffalo led a wild charge into the 
midst of the superior forces, striking harmlessly 
with his "coo-stick," but never firing a shot. He 
fell from his horse in the midst of the enemy, his 
body pierced with upwards of thirty bullets. 



Little Crow. 

Little Crow, in 
many respects, was 
the most remark- 
able man the Sioux 
nation ever devel- 
oped. He was not 
merely an Indian 
chieftain of the 
hereditary type a 
king by divine fiat, 
but was a man of pe- 
culiar intellectual 
force. In fact, en- 
dowed with educa- 
tion and purgfed of 
cruel instincts, he 
would have taken rank among: able men. Civili- 
zation was no enigma to him. He was a student 
of human-nature, and of all his race was the most 
masterful in diplomacy with the agents of the Gov- 
ernment. He was erratic and overbearing:, and 
was not especially loved by his people, who regard- 
ed him as a tyrant. He did not sway them by rev- 
erence or admiration, but by his indomitable will- 
power. This dominated him, and through it he 
dominated them. Faithful and self-sacrificing mis- 
sionaries who came into Minnesota early in the 
past century, developed some very excellent char- 



acters among the Sioux, who were tribesmen of 
Little Crow, and who had grown up with him from 
childhood. These and many of the sub-chiefs would 
gladly have curtailed Little Crow's influence and 
authority, but the latter was far and away ahead of 
all his race, through craft and intellectual force, 
when it came to dealing with the Government and 
its representatives, and he thus always held the 
whiphand ; this collateral to his will-power making 
his authority supreme. Something of his nature 
may be judged and some of the reasons why his 
people had a dread of him may be appreciated when 
it is stated that he had fought with his brothers in 
earlier life, and had murdered two of them. In his 
violent encounters both of his arms were broken, 
and Indian surgery had not so reduced the fractures 
as to prevent deformity in the appearance of his 
arms when these members were exposed to view. 
It was this known fact that in part led to the iden- 
tification of Little Crow after he was fortunately 
and almost miraculously killed by a farmer near 
Hutchinson, Minnesota. 

Little Crow was a skilled warrior and a man of 
unquestioned courage. He had been impressed 
with civilization, and had adopted many customs 
of the whites ; yet these were all put off in a twink- 
ling when bloody hands were raised against the de- 
fenseless settlers. 

Whatever Little Crow engaged in he excelled in. 
Indians are born gamblers. Gambling is the pas- 
time of Indian life. Men, women and children, with- 
out exception, with one device or another, are inr 
vetcrate gamblers. All are skilled gamblers, but 


Little Crow was an adept in the art. Card-playing, 
in fact, was a science with him. He knew the rules 
of all games, exacted an observance of them of all 
who sat in a game with him, would forecast the 
hands of his adversaries with unerring judgment, 
checkmate every device for his undoing, play with 
the greatest skill where his hands were the poorest, 
and quit when his opponents had nothing more to 
put up. 

After the Indians had received their annuities 
from the Government, professional gamblers would 
flock in like buzzards at a feast, but Little Crow al- 
most invariably pauperized them. Three of these 
professional gamblers, who went to the Redwood 
Agency in the early summer of 1862, taking money 
enough along with them to "start them in business," 
engaged in poker with Little Crow. They wore 
diamonds and fine raiment, and hired a liveryman 
at a good round sum to carry them from St. Peter 
to the Agency, a distance of nearly sixty miles. 
Two or three days later they reached Fort Ridgely 
on foot, on their way back to civilization, destitute 
and dusty, but full of wisdom. They asked the act- 
ing post commissary, A. W. Williamson, to inter- 
cede in obtaining for them a ration of bread and 
coffee, telling him frankly what had happened. 
Williamson detested gambling, but sympathised 
with the hungry. He asked the men if they met 
Little Crow on their trip, and they readily admit- 
ted he was the author of their sorrows. Williamson, 
from his infancy, had known Little Crow, and made 
the fact known with a smile, at which the travelers 
accorded the wily chieftain the distinction of being 


by all odds and in all respects the shrewdest gamb- 
ler they had ever met. 

Not only was the noted chieftain a man of su- 
perior mental mould, but he was physically su- 
perior as well. A remembered feature of his de- 
velopment was, that his front teeth, above and be- 
low, were double. 

Whatever may be truthfully written of Little 
Crow's vices and sins in general, it is to his honor 
that he protested with his warriors against the kill- 
ing of women and children as wrong and cowardly ; 
but his cut-throat followers were none the less cruel 
and merciless. 

Little Crow met a tragic death as related in the 
succeeding chapter. 


The Man who Killed Little Crow. 


Of no other man who achieved notoriety during 
the period of the Sioux Massacre, is there so little 
known or has there been so little, written as of 
Nathan Lampson, the aged farmer who, in company 
with his son, Chauncey, killed Little Crow. Feel^ 
ing: that, for the sake of history, something should 
be recorded of the man who was the principal actor 
in the culminating tragedy of the Indian war, I 
spent two years by correspondence and inquiry in 
an earnest endeavor, after over forty-five years had 
elapsed, to obtain a brief historical sketch of Nathan 
Lampson, and had about given up in despair when 
I located a daughter, Mrs. Francis B. Ide, of Belling- 
ham, Washington, from whom and her husband I 
obtained a brief sketch of the life of her father, 
whose portrait appears in this book, and who was 
the hero of the berry patch near Hutchinson, Minne- 
sota, on the evening of July 3, 1863. In an inter- 
view I found both Mr. and Mrs. Ide, former resi- 
dents of Minnesota, very familiar with the scenes 
where the tragedy was enacted, with the story in 
detail of the killing of the Sioux chief, and with 
the personal history of the victors in that conflict, 
and in possession of a photograph of the principal 

From them I learned that Nathan Lampson was 
born near Bennington, Vermont, September 6, 1800. 


At the age of twenty-one he went to Brattleboro, 
Vermont. From there he went to the State of New 
York, where he married Hannah Bugfbee, who, with 
all their children with a single exception, died after 
a few years. He later married Roxana Chambers, 
and removed to Michigan. Seven children were 
the result of the second marriage. After the death 
of the second wife Mr. Lampson married a Mrs. 
Bigelow, and shortly after removed to McLeod 
County, Minnesota, settling six miles north of 
Hutchinson. Mr. Lampson had always followed 
the occupation of a farmer, and while he had lived 
a retiring life, he was a devoted lover of his country, 
and a strong Union man, and gave to the Union 
army during the Civil War, his sons Nathan, Mar- 
shall, James, Chauncey, J. B., his step-son, Albert, 
and his sons-in-law. John French, Francis B. Ide 
and John Adams, his family thus contributing nine 
soldiers to the Union cause. 

While for safety the Lampson family, like scores 
of others, lived within the Hutchinson stockade 
during the spring and summer of 1863, the father, 
Nathan, and son, Chauncey, spent most of their 
time looking after the farm, six miles north of town, 
though to do so they risked their lives. Provisions 
were scarce, and in the latter part of the afternoon 
of Friday, July 3, 1863, the father and son started 
out with the hope of being able to kill a deer. Hav- 
ing tramped to within an hour of sunset, they struck 
the Greenleaf and Waterville road, which they fol- 
lowed a short distance when they espied two In- 
dians in a wooded clump near by, picking wild rasp- 
berries. Lampson and son had old-fashioned muzzle- 


loading rifles, and the stock of the gun of the father 
was broken and tied up with twine, but the barrel 
was serviceable, and both Lampsons were good 
marksmen. Half a dozen steps from where the 
Lampsons saw the Indians, grew a popple tree, 
about which was entwined a. drooping grapevine, 
under the cover of which Nathan Lampson, level- 
ing his gun on the larger Indian, who stood with 
his side toward him, fired, his bullet passing into 
the body of Little Crow just above the hips. The 
Indians were taken by surprise, and although Little 
Crow went down, he regained his feet, and both 
himself and son sent a volly of buckshot after 
Nathan Lampson, who had dropped upon his knees, 
and not knowing how many Indians there might be 
in the party, was attempting to make his way out 
of the berry patch. One buckshot plowed through 
the surface flesh of his shoulder. Though mortally 
wounded, Little Crow made his way to the road, 
and seeing Chauncey, leveled his gun upon him, 
but Chauncey was equal to the emergency, and 
both he and Little Crow fired at the same instant, 
the bullet from Chauncey's gun killing the famous 
Sioux chief. Chauncey had a close call, but escap- 
ed without a mark. Nathan Lampson had the 
powder-horn, and as Chauncey supposed his father 
had been killed when the three shots were fired, 
and as he himself had no powder with which to re- 
load his gun, he set out for the farm home, which 
he reached completely exhausted, a condition due 
to ill health, the presumption that his father had 
been killed, to the belief that many Indians made 
up the war party, and to the highly exciting experr 


ence he had just passed through. He prostrated 
himself upon the bed, and had lain there but a few 
moments when there came a rap at the door. He 
believed the Indians had followed him, but he was 
exhausted, and his gun was empty. Resigned to 
his fate he responded, "Come in," and to his great 
relief a hunter entered, who prepared supper while 
Chauncey rested. Having been refreshed and re- 
cuperated, Chauncey and the hunter set out for 
Hutchinson, which they reached in safety. 

Nathan Lampson supposing his son had been kill- 
ed by the Indians, went directly from the scene of 
the tragedy to Hutchinson, reaching the stockade 
late in the night, as he did not expose himself until 
the darkness surrounded his movements with safety. 
There to his great surprise and joy he learned of 
Chauncey's escape ; and the father, who for hours 
had been mourned as dead, was welcomed by his 
family as one returned from the grave. 

On the morning of July 4th a team was sent out, 
and the body of the dead Indian was taken to Hutch- 
inson, where it was later recognized as that of the 
great war chief, Little Crow. 

Nathan Lampson died at Wilmot, South Dakota, 
in November, 1896, over 96 years of age, and his 
son Chauncey died in Minnesota in February, 1865. 


Death of Chaska. 

In my diary, under date of August 3, 1863, I find 
the following notation : "Hearts were saddened this 
morning by the report that one of our faithful scouts, 
Chaska, a full-blood Sioux, but an ever-true friend 
of the whites, and one who was largely instrument- 
al in saving the missionaries during the massacre, 
was taken suddenly ill after reaching camp last 
evening, and died during the night." 

This event was a mere incident in the army life 
of that day. Officers and men of the ranks had 
fallen on those wild, desolate plains during our 
operations, to sleep the sleep of death in a land in 
which no mark of civilization had ever been raised, 
and we were compelled to desert their lifeless forms 
in their loneliness, to follow the stern mandates of 
war. When Chaska was seized with the illness that 
terminated his life, we had just completed our 
second day's march, August 2, 1863, on our return 
from the Missouri river, from a point opposite where 
Fort Lincoln was in later years founded. At no 
time on all the expedition were the spirits of the 
soldiers in so high a state of effervescence as now. 
After long and weary marching, fighting, scouting, 
after days, weeks and months of suffering from the 
merciless sun of midsummer on scorching, treeless 
plains, famishing for water and worn with fatigue, 
our faces were at last turned homeward, or at least 
toward civilization, and the influence of the fact 


upon the spirits of the men, is indescribable, and 
particularly was this true of the morning we filed 
out of our Missouri river camp ; and none were more 
highly elated over the hopeful prospects than were 
the sixty Sioux scouts. I saw the scouts that morn- 
ing as they mounted their horses to take the ad- 
vance, and having met and frequently talked with 
Chaska on the expedition, I could not help noticing 
the broad smile on his stoical face, as he lithely 
sprang into his saddle, recognizing us with a nod, 
a smile and the usual "Ho!" The scouts were full 
of the infectious joy that swept over the vast camp, 
and gave expression to their feelings in a low, In- 
dian chant as they rode away, beating time with 
their moccasined heels against the bellies of their 
horses. Chaska had left a wife and children in the 
valley of the Minnesota river, and his thoughts 
were of them, but the fates had unsuspectingly de- 
creed that he should see and welcome the rising 
sun of but one more day. My diary states that our 
first day's march from the Missouri covered a dis- 
tance of eighteen miles, and that the second day's 
march covered fifteen miles. So, if the old trail, 
made by our expedition, is still traceable, the clay 
of Chaska, who saved the missionaries during the 
massacre, may be found near it, thirty-three miles 
east of the Missouri river, and no Indian more truly 
deserved a monument than he. 


Gallant Sons of Fillmore-Freeborn Counties. 


As the processes of time the more deeply etch 
the story of the famous defense of Fort Ridgely, the 
salient facts will become the more prominent, the 
non-essentials dissolving" and the essentials stand- 
ing forth in relief. To students of history who pur- 
sue their investigations, the query will naturally 
propound itself : Whence came the men who bore 
the brunt of the fiery ordeal whose crucial forces 
were converged about the isolated military post, 
now merely a memory ? In the analyzation will be 
found sons of foreign landsmen born under the 
the proud standards of kings and emperors, Eng- 
land, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden, con- 
tributing stalwart defenders to the Fort. Many 
brave civilians took refuge at the Fort at the begin- 
ning of the outbreak, and rendered valiant service, 
but the burden of responsibility and brunt of battle 
fell upon the soldiers. 

Fillmore county, peopled by a brave and hardy 
class of pioneers, who had come into Minnesota 
Territory and founded the first settlements within 
less than a decade previous to the Civil War, had 
the honor, and one of which its appreciation will 
grow as the years roll on, of contributing from her 
noble sons the principal force of soldiers for the de- 
fense of Fort Ridgely and incidentally to the Min- 
nesota frontier in the incipiency of the outbreak. 


Company B of the Fifth Minnesota was almost ex- 
clusively a Fillmore County body in its original 
personnel, and no other company raised in the State 
of Minnesota during: the Civil War, contributed so 
many lives in battle on the sacrificial altar of war 
as did this Fillmore County company of men and 
boys. No company of even the famous First Min- 
nesota, that was in blood from Bull Run to Gettys- 
burg:, sustained so heavy a loss in killed in action 
during: its years of service as did Company B of the 
Fifth, and when Minnesota shall have grown g:ray 
in history, Fillmore County's name, earned at the 
sacrifice of lives in the defense of Fort Ridg:ely and 
the Minnesota frontier, will still live brilliantly and 
imperishably. Than those of Company B who sank 
to earth in the Aug:ust tragedies along: the Minne- 
sota River in 1862, no braver or better men ever 
lived, and no grander tribute was ever paid a state 
or nation than that conferred by Fillmore County in 
the contribution of these heroic men. While all 
parts of Fillmore County contributed to the mem- 
bership of Company B, the enlistments at Chatfield, 
so far as any single locality was concerned, pre- 
dominated, with Preston second in the number of 
men furnished. 

Next to Fillmore, Freeborn County stands envia- 
bly in the lime-lig:ht of history, for Lieutenant Shee- 
han's fifty men of Company C of the Fifth Minne- 
sota, earned a glorious name for themselves and 
their county in their heroic part in the defense of 
Fort Ridg:ely. In nothing: were these men second 
to those of Company B, except in numbers and op- 
portunity. Fortunately they were on the march to 


Fort Ripley when the massacre began, else they 
would no doubt have been sacrificed at Redwood 
Ferry, for surely they would have been taken to 
that disastrous field had they been at Fort Ridgely 
when the outbreak occurred, instead of having start- 
ed homeward the day before. History records few 
more glorious deeds than that performed by these 
Company C men when they made a forced march 
by night of forty-two miles to relieve the distress- 
ed garrison of Fort Ridgely, after having marched 
all the previous day on their homeward journey. 
Lieutenant Sheehan, in all his career, never did 
an act that redounded more to his honor than did 
this memorable feat of twenty-four hours of con- 
tinual marching^ but this accomplishment was mere- 
ly an index to the character of the men as soldiers, 
who covered the name of Freeborn County with 
everlasting glory, by their deeds of heroism, where- 
ever duty called. 

The Renville Rangers, under Lieutenant James 
Gorman, were new recruits, enlisted at the Red- 
wood Indian Agency less than a week before the 
outbreak. The men were seasoned, hardy frontiers- 
men. They were brave and athletic. Their en- 
vironment had familiarized them with Indian char- 
acter, and had made them past-masters in the art 
of alertness. They had not enlisted to fight Indians, 
but their services in the defense of Fort Ridgely 
can never be overestimated. They knew the tricks 
of war at which the Sioux were adepts. They knew 
the Sioux language, which they overheard and re- 
peated to the garrison. They were brave, daring 
and efficient men. They were organized and under 
good leadership. 


These three military organizations, about one 
hundred and fifty strong:, received and repelled the 
shock of battle, kept tireless vigil, inspired the 
weak, consoled the bereaved, and by the aid of 
brave souls from among: the refugees, saved Fort 
Ridgfely and hundreds of lives in and out of the 
gfarrison, dependent upon the valor of these men. 

Miraculous Escape of the Reynolds Family. 

The ordinary imagination is hardly elastic enougfh 
to grasp the condition of the surprised and panic- 
stricken settlers, when without warning, they were 
swooped down upon by the cruel, redhanded Sioux, 
who took extreme delight in their tantalizing, tor- 
menting methods, to be followed by death itself. 

Usually there was but one thing to do, and that 
was for the hapless, helpless settlers to fly for their 
lives. In these attempts hundreds were shot down 
as they ran, but occasionally a poor mortal would 
drop unobserved in the high weeds and grass, or in 
a patch of corn, and escape by hiding. In the ex- 
citement of clubbing, scalping and mutilating the 
fallen victims, and in plundering the buildings, and 
finally in the burning of them, some members of a 
family or party would be lost track of, and would 
make their way under cover of night, to some place 
of safety, usually to the Fort, if not detected on the 
way and murdered. Frequently these escaping 
wretches would walk into the very jaws of death, 
and often, when not entrapped, were beset on every 
hand by dangers that were terrifying. 


Joseph B. Reynolds and wife, Valencia Reynolds, 
were in the employ of the Government as instruc- 
tors at a school back some ten miles from the Red- 
wood Agency, where there were no other whites 
employed or residing. On the morning of August 
18th, Francis Patoile and a companion of Yellow 
Medicine drove up to the Reynolds home and asked 
if they could have breakfast. Mrs. Reynolds repli- 
ed affirmatively, and as the meal was about ready 
she had the men sit down to the table. While they 
were eating Antonia La Blaugh, a half blood who 
resided with a neighboring half-breed, John Moore, 
came to the house and asked to see Mr. Reynolds, 
to whom he stated that Moore had sent him to warn 
him of the outbreak at the Agency that morning. 
Mr. Reynolds sent La Blaugh after Moore, and as 
he departed, the news was broken to the men at 
breakfast, and Mr. Patoile asked to take the family 
to New Ulm, he having a team with him, while Mr. 
and Mrs. Reynolds had but a one-horse rig. In the 
Reynolds family were three girls, Mary Schwandt, 
Mattie Williams and Mary Anderson. These Mr. 
Patoile took into his wagon, together with a Mr. 
Davis and the companion who accompanied him 
from Yellow Medicine. Moore came hastily, and 
warned the people to fly for their lives in the direc- 
tion of New Ulm, and pointed out the way least 
likely to be beset with Indians. Mr. and Mrs. Rey- 
nolds climbed into their buggy, but before they 
were out of the house a party of squaws had reach- 
ed, entered and begun to plunder it. 

Now began a wild chase for life. The parties be- 
came separated after a short distance from the 


house, and were not together again. Mr. and Mrs. 
Reynolds drove to within sight of the Redwood 
Agency, meeting a half-breed by the way whom 
they questioned as to the extent and seriousness of 
the outbreak. They were informed that matters 
could not well be worse, from reports received from 
the Indians themselves. They now met Shakopee, 
near whose village their home was, and asked him 
the meaning of the direful rumors. He said little 
to them, but told them to keep back on the open 
prairie. Indians were seen hastening toward the 
Agency, giving new color to the shocking stories 
that had spread like wildfire over the surrounding 
country. They dropped back to the southwestward 
so as to conceal themselves behind a ridge as much 
as possible. When at the nearest point to the 
Agency behind this ridge Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds 
abandoned their horse and buggy long enough to 
creep to the top of the ridge and peer over it, only 
to discover that a party of Indians were but a short 
distance away, gathering up cattle. They could 
see that the doors of the buildings at the Agency 
were all open, and that the Indians were very nu- 
merous and in great confusion. They now felt con- 
fident the rumors of a general massacre at the 
Agency were too true, and returning to their buggy 
hastily set out for New Ulm, as to reach the Fort 
they must cross the Minnesota River, which was 
not fordable. They took the open prairie instead 
of following the road, and saw many Indians to 
their left, hastening to the Agency. They at length 
overtook the Government carpenter of the Agency, 
who with his family was hastening in a flight for 


life. His wagon was overloaded with his family 
and neighbors, so Mr. Reynolds took two of the 
carpenter's children in his rig:. This was at a point 
very nearly opposite Fort Ridgely. They met two 
parties of Indians, and Mr. Reynolds attempted to 
enter into conversation with one of them, but could 
elicit no word of response. They also met two 
parties of squaws, one of which tried to persuade 
the fugitives to return to the Agency. Getting 
down to the settlement below the reservation, a 
large party of Indians was discovered on the side 
towards the River. This party was about a hun- 
dred rods away, and on foot. There were mounted 
Indians nearer, on either hand, and a naked Indian 
but a few rods to the front of the fugitives, who 
now felt that their doom was sealed. Reynolds 
called to the naked Indian, trusting for some friend- 
ly response, but the savage lifted his gun and snap- 
ped both barrels at Reynolds and his wife, without 
the piece being discharged. In despair Mrs. Rey- 
nolds turned her head, when she saw an Indian 
riding swiftly toward them. He called to them to 
turn back, and excitedly motioned to them to hurry. 
This Indian got between the Reynolds rig and the 
Indian on foot who was trying to recharge his gun 
to get a shot at the fugitives. Now dangers thick- 
ened. The Indian who came to befriend and help 
the fugitives rode a white horse, so that he was 
easily distinguished from all others. He kept all 
pursuers at bay, and the race was a wild one, with 
little hope of escape. After a two-mile ride Rey- 
nolds and wife ran into a large party of squaws, 
accompanied by one man. That they would here 


be detained if not killed, they had little doubt, 
Reynolds, as he passed the Indian in the party of 
squaws, asked him if he intended to kill them, and 
he said "No; go on," and offered no resistance. 
Reynolds and his wife now turned to the Minne- 
sota River, and being: opposite Fort Ridgfely decided 
that their only hope, since they were still pursued, 
was to reach that place of refugfe. Their horse be- 
ing jaded unto exhaustion, they drove to the river 
at its nearest point, and hastily unhitching, Mr. 
Reynolds swam the stream with the horse, it hav- 
ing been agreed that Mrs. Reynolds should conceal 
herself and the two Nairn children and await the 
return of Reynolds, who was to go to the Fort and 
obtain assistance and a boat if possible, with which 
to make a safe crossing. The Indians followed the 
trail to the river, but evidently concluded the 
Reynolds party had escaped safely to the opposite 
side of the stream or had been drowned. Mrs. 
Reynolds wore moccasins, and shrewdly had the 
two children precede her, and she then covered 
their tracks with her own, toeing-in squaw fashion, 
along the soft earth of the river bottom. Owing to 
this forethought on her part the pursuing Indians 
did not follow her trail, and she went into hiding 
and remained in concealment until a party from 
the Fort arrived, and calling to her to come to the 
water, she was taken over and herself and the two 
children safely conveyed to the Fort, more than a 
mile away, and thus saved. Mrs. Reynolds was a 
very capable woman, and rendered great assistance, 
once at the Fort, in caring for the wounded, making 
cartridges, etc. 


The other party that left the Reynolds home with 
Francis Patoile met a sad fate in their flight after 
being separated from Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds on 
the 18th. The Patoile party, after many, frightful 
experiences, reached a point about eight miles 
above New Ulm, when they ran into a large party 
of Indians from which there was, from the first, 
little hope of escape. These Indians had been 
raiding the settlements, and with wagons loaded 
with plunder and their hands reeking with blood, 
were journeying toward the Redwood Agency. 
They had someplace obtained liquor, and many of 
them were under its influence. They surrounded 
the Patoile team and shot its owner, Francis Patoile, 
who fell out of the wagon, dead. The other occu- 
pants of the wagon jumped out and ran for a neigh- 
boring slough. All the men, however, were shot 
down before reaching the high grass of the marsh, 
and Mary Anderson, one of the girls, received a 
bullet which brought her to earth, the missile pene- 
trating her abdomen. She was picked up however, 
and carried and put in a wagon, when the other two 
girls, Mattie Williams and Mary Schwandt, were 
followed into the slough and captured and borne 
away in the wagons. They all reached the Agency 
at night, and went into camp near Little Crow's 
house, where they were kept for several days, sub- 
jected to nameless treatment. With a knife Mary 
Anderson cut the bullet from her body, after Wau- 
couta, an Indian who had tried to assist her, had 
failed to extract the missile. Poor Mary Anderson 
died from her wound and from exposure, but her girl 
companions remained with her to the last, and did 


all their kind hearts and generous hands could 
suggest to the last. She lay in a tepee, on the 
ground, and as it rained hard all night, death claim- 
ed her during the silent hours, while the little cloth- 
ing she had on was saturated and her body cold and 
wet from the flooded earth, and thus her spirit left 
her. Joseph Campbell, a half-breed, directed a 
party of Indians who wrapped the form of Mary in 
a piece of canvas and buried it near where she died. 
Mattie Williams and Mary Schwandt remained in 
captivity, the victims of fiendish outrages, until 
rescued at Camp Release. These girls were told 
by the Indians that Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds were 
killed while trying to escape on the 18th, and it was 
believed among the Indians that this was true, as 
escape seemed impossible. 

Mary Schwandt was released from her cruel cap- 
tivity at the surrender of Camp Release, but only 
to learn that her father, mother, two brothers and 
her only sister had been murdered at their home on 
Beaver Creek at the beginning of the outbreak. 


The Remarkable Experience of a Remarkable 


As far above Fort Ridgely as twenty-seven miles 
was a new, vigorous settlement, an extension of 
that known as the Beaver Creek settlement. All 
along this region the country was most promising, 
the soil rich and responsive to cultivation, the 
natural pastures luxuriant, the water excellent and 
the region in all respects attractive. Hardly a day 
passed, up to the very hour of the massacre, that 
a new family was not added to this promising, happy 
community. Fort Ridgely was known well to this 
and all other surrounding settlements. While none 
dreamed of the hostility of Indians, still all appre- 
ciated they had cast their lot in an Indian country, 
or at least adjacent to an Indian reservation, and 
this fact made the military post seem a place of 
friendly refuge in case of any threatened danger, 
and it thus became associated with every-day life, 
and its location was well in mind as a result of pru- 
dent thought, though comparatively few of the 
settlers had ever visited the Fort. 

The settlements at and above Beaver Creek were 
so earnestly devoted to home-making that little note 
was taken of matters not immediately associated 
with patient industry, and hence the outbreak 
caught the people unawares, with no time for or- 
ganization or preparation when once the gleaming 
knife of the savage was unsheathed. 


On Monday, August 18th, August Fross and 
Eckmel Groundman, of the settlement above Beaver 
Creek, started to the Redwood Agency, ignorant of 
the awful tragedy that had been enacted in the early 
part of that day at that point. When within a few 
miles of the Agency these men were startled to 
find the lifeless forms of a women and her two chil- 
dren by the roadside, every indication pointing to 
the fact that a foul murder had been committed, 
and there were signs that Indians had committed 
the horrible deed. The men were so aroused that 
they resolved to report the discovery to the 
neighbors in the vicinity, and to their amaze- 
ment they found that at the homes of the sev- 
eral settlers which they visited, were stark in death, 
entire families. There could no longer be a particle 
of doubt as to the meaning of all this. The first 
house they visited was that of a Mr. Buss. Here 
they found the husband, wife and three children 
cruelly murdered. The next house was that of a 
settler named Monweiler, and here the family was 
slain. Hurrying to the home of John Rusby, they 
found the entire family, consisting of husband, wife 
and three children, dead, the latters, with their 
skulls split open. The men, filled with horror, now 
realized the danger that not only threatened their 
own lives and those of their defenseless families, 
but also of the entire settlement. They returned 
homeward in great haste, and informed the settlers 
of the impending danger. Hastily word was pass- 
ed from house to house, with a view to assembling 
all who could be reached, for flight. The place 
selected for assembling the neighborhood was the 
home of Paul Kitzman. 


What followed here could not be better told than 
in the language of Mrs. Justina Kreiger, sister of 
Paul Kitzman, who related the facts to the Sioux 
Commission, appointed after the Massacre. Mrs. 
Kreiger said : "It was about 8 o'clock p. m., of Mon- 
day, August 18, 1862, when we all determined to flee 
to Ft. Ridgely. One of the neighbors, Mr. Schwandt, 
(Father of Mary Schwandt referred to in the pre- 
ceding chapter) had not been informed of the raid 
and our intended flight, and on this account a delay 
took place to enable messengers to reach and in- 
form him. When the messengers arrired at the 
house they found Mr. Schwandt's oxen standing 
at the door eating flour. Feathers were seen lying 
around the yard, and the house seemed to have been 
plundered. John Waltz, son-in-law of Mr. Schwandt, 
was lying in the door, dead, shot through with three 
balls, causing, no doubt, instant death. It was now 
dark, and no other dead bodies were then discover- 
ed. The house had the smell of fire, as though 
something had been burning and had gone out. The 
daughter of Mr. Schwandt, encienfe, was cut open, as 
was learned afterward, the child taken alive from 
its mother, and nailed to a tree. The son of Mr. 
Schwandt, aged thirteen years, who had been beaten 
by the Indians until dead as was supposed, was 
present, and saw the entire tragedy. 

He saw the child taken alive from the body of his 
sister, Mrs. Waltz, and nailed to a tree in the yard. 
It struggled some time after the nails were driven 
through it ! This occurred in the forenoon of the 
18th. Mr. Schwandt was on the house, shingling, 
and was there shot, and rolled off, falling to the 


ground, dead. The mother of this boy was taken 
a few yards from the house, into newly-plowed 
ground, and her head severed from her body. Mr. 
Fross, a laborer, was lying dead near Mrs. Schwandt. 
The boy remained in his retreat until after dark, 
when he came over to a settlement three or four 
miles distant, and stopped at a Mr. Suche's house, 
on the prairie. Here he found about thirty dead 
bodies, and a living child, two or three years old, 
near its mother, wounded and unable to walk. He 
took the child and traveled with it toward Fort 
Ridgely. After carrying his burden three or four 
miles, and being exhausted, he placed it in a house, 
promising to come after it the next day. He did 
this to get rid of the child, so that he might possibly 
make his own escape. The child was afterward 
found, a prisoner, at Camp Release, and brought to 
Fort Ridgely, and there died from the effects of 
wounds and the hardships endured among the In- 
dians. The lad, August Schwandt, arrived at the 
Fort, nearly thirty miles from his home, after travel- 
ing four nights and lying by of days. The messen- 
gers returning from the Schwandt home, thirteen 
families, with eleven teams, now started, and mov- 
ed forward as fast as possible toward Fort Ridgely. 
We first made toward the Chippewa River, on the 
prairie, for safety. We journeyed until 2 or 3 o'clock 
of Tuesday morning, the 19th, and then inclined 
our course toward Beaver Creek, heading toward 
the Fort. In this direction we went until the sun 
was some two hours high, and found we had made 
about fourteen miles. Eight Indians, on horseback- 
some naked and some with blankets on, all armed 


with guns now came up with us. In our train were 
eleven men, armed with such guns as they had in 
the neighborhood. Our teams, including the wagons 
and oxen, were so arranged as to afford the best 
protection. The men, at first, determined to fight 
the Indians, but, as they came within about one 
hundred yards, and our men were about to fire upon 
them, the Indians put down their guns and made 
signs not to fire, pretending that they were friendly 
Indians ; and sad to relate, our men, believing them 
to be friends, did not fire. One Indian, with whom 
all were acquainted, who had frequently been at 
my brother's house, and spoke good English, came 
up to us. Paul Kitzman, my brother, stepped out 
from behind the wagons, and shook hands with this 
savage. The Indian kissed my brother, and show- 
ed great friendship. Judas-like he betrayed us with 
a kiss ! This Indian inquired after our concerns, 
and where the teams were going. Paul Kitzman 
replied that * We are in a flight to the Fort, as all 
the people in the neighborhood had been killed by 
the Indians'. The Indian answered that 'the Sioux 
did not kill anybody ', that 'the people had been 
murdered by the Chippewas '; and that 'they were 
now on their way after the Chippewas, to kill them ;' 
and wished our folks to return, as the Chippewas 
were down near Beaver Creek, or toward the Fort, 
and that we would probably be killed if we went on. 
At the same time this pretendedly good Indian 
placed his hand on Kitzman's shoulder, saying, 
'You are a good man ; it is too bad to kill you '. 
Our folks were still determined to go on, and would 
not yet consent to return. This Indian then went 


around and shook hands with all of us, and said he 
would not hurt us, and that he was going to save 
us from harm. Paul Kitzman had great confidence 
in this man. He had frequently hunted with him, 
and thought him a good Indian. 

Seeing now his advantage over us, he beckoned 
to the others to come up. When they came they 
were exceedingly friendly, shaking hands with the 
men and women, and telling the women to quiet the 
children, who were frightened at the sight of the 
savages. All of us were now fully assured that 
they were really friendly. 

Seeing their success, the Indians put up their 
guns into cases kept for that purpose, and the whites 
put up their guns in the wagons. All now joined 
in a friendly meal of bread and milk, and our folks,, 
each of them, gave them some money ; and as they 
had given such conclusive evidence of friendship, 
a return was agreed upon. All the teams were 
turned around, and we began to retrace our steps, 
the Indians traveling in company with us for some 
five or six miles. Our men now asked the Indians 
if they could unyoke the oxen and let them feed. 
The Indians made no objection and seemed pleased 
with the idea. Our pretended friends now wished 
something to eat. We gave them some bread and 
butter and watermelon. They retired about a 
quarter of a mile, and ate their meal alone. 

After dinner they motioned us to go on. Paul 
Kitzman, going toward them, was again requested 
to go on, the Indians saying they would follow di- 
rectly. And again assuring us they would not leave 
us, but would protect us from the Chippewas, and 


see us safe to our homes, we moved on. The In- 
dians coming up, some took position alongside of 
the train, the others in front and rear. This new 
manner caused some suspicion, and the whites talk- 
ed to each other in German, and thought it was best 
to fire on the Indians ; but all the guns were in the 
wagons, and no one dared to touch them, lest the 
motion should be recognized by the savages as a 
commencement of hostilities. Notwithstanding the 
difficulty, all the men, at one time, except Paul 
Kitzman, were determined to fire upon the treacher- 
ous foe. He persuaded them not to do it, as he had 
all confidence in them. 4 Besides,| our guns are in 
the wagons, and each Indian has his in his hand, 
ready to fire in an instant, and every white man 
would be killed at the first shot, before a gun could 
be got out of the wagons. * 

We had now, by various stages, arrived at the 
place where Fross and Groundman had discovered 
the dead bodies on the afternoon of Monday, the 
18th. Our hitherto friendly Indians now showed 
signs of anger, became impudent and frantic, and 
drew in line of battle behind our train, all having 
double-barrelled guns except one. Our enemy 
could make fifteen shots at one round, without re- 
loading. They now came up and demanded our 
money. Our fears, in regard to their real and ulti- 
mate intentions, became a certainty in the minds 
of every one of our party. One savage came forward 
and received the money ; the others all remained 
drawn up in battle-line. I had a pocket-book, and 
my husband came to me for the money. I gave 
him five dollars and kept the rest. He told me at 


this time he was going: to be killed, and gave me a 
pocket-knife by which to remember him. After the 
Indians had received all the money, they started 
off to the settlements where the white people had 
been killed. 

We still went on with our train towards our homes, 
and within a mile and a half of our house we found 
two men dead, who had been recently killed. These 
men were not recognized by any of our folks, but 
had evidently been killed by the same Indians. We 
now all concluded our race was about ended. We 
were to die by these fiends. The men took the guns 
out of the wagons, and concluded if they could 
reach a house, they could protect themselves pretty 
well ; but while going forward toward our house, 
thirteen or fourteen Indians came up behind us, 
when within one hundred yards of the house. The 
Indians immediately surrounded us and fired, all 
the men but three falling at the first fire. It was 
done so quickly I could not see whether our men 
fired at all ; yet I believe some of them did. No 
Indians however, were killed by our party. Mr. 
Fross, a Mr. Gotlieb Zable, and my husband, were 
yet alive. 

The Indians then asked the woman if they would 
go along with them, promising to save all that 
would go, and threatening all who refused with in- 
stant death. Some were willing to go, others re- 
fused. I told them I chose to die with my husband 
and my children. My husband urged me to go with 
them, telling me they would probably not kill me, 
and that I could perhaps get away in a short time. 
I still refused, preferring to die with him and the 


children. One of the women, who had started off 
with the Indians, turned around, hallooed to me to 
come with them, and, taking a few steps to ward me, 
was shot dead. At the same time two of the men 
left alive and six of the women were killed, leaving, 
of all the men, only my husband alive. Some of 
the children were also killed at this last fire. A 
number of children yet remained around the wagons ; 
these the savages beat with the butts of their guns 
until they supposed all were dead. Some soon 
after rose up from the ground, with the blood stream- 
ing down their faces, when they were beaten again 
and killed. This was the most horrible scene I had 
yet witnessed. 

I stood yet in the wagon, refusing to get out and 
go with the murderers, my own husband, meanwhile, 
begging me to go, as he saw they were about to kill 
him. He stood by the wagon, watching an Indian 
at his right, ready to shoot, while another was quite 
behind him, with his gun aimed at him. I saw them 
both shoot at the same time. Both shots took effect 
in the body of my husband, and one of the balls 
passed through his body and struck my dress below 
the knee. My husband fell between the oxen, and 
seemed not quite dead, when a third ball was shot 
into his head, and a fourth into his shoulder, which 
probably entered his heart. 

Now I determined to jump out of the wagon and 
die beside my husband ; but as I was standing up 
to jump, I was shot, seventeen buckshot, as was 
afterward ascertained, entering my body. I then 
fell back into the wagon-box. I had eight children 
in the wagon-bed, and one in a shawl. All these 
were either my own children or else my step- 


children. What had now become of the children 
in the wagon I did not know, and what was the fate 
of the baby I could only surmise. 

All that I then knew was the fact that I was seized 
by an Indian and very roughly dragged from the 
wagon, and that the wagon was drawn over my 
body and ankles. I suppose the Indians then left 
me for a time, how long I do not know, as I was for 
a time almost if not quite insensible. When I was 
shot the sun was still shining, but when I came to 
it was dark. My baby, as my children afterward 
told me, was, when they found it, lying about five 
yards from me, crying. One of my step-children, 
a girl thirteen years of age, took the baby and ran 
off. The Indians took two with them. These were 
the two next to the youngest. One of them, a boy 
four years old, taken first by the Indians, had got 
out of the wagon, or in some other way, made his 
escape, and came back to the dead body of his 
father. He took his father by the hand, saying to 
him, 4 papa, papa, don't sleep so long ! * Two of the 
Indians afterward came back, and one of them, 
getting off his horse, took the child from the side 
of his father and handed it to the other on horse- 
back, who rode off with it. This child was after- 
ward recovered at Camp Release. The other one 
I never heard of. Two of the boys ran away on the 
first attack, and reached the woods, some eighty 
rods distant. One climbed a tree; the younger, 
aged seven, remaining below. This eldest boy, 
aged eight, witnessed the massacre of all who were 
killed at this place. He remained in the tree until 
I was killed, as he supposed. He then came down 


and told his brother what he had seen, and that 
their mother was dead. While they were crying 
over the loss of their parents, August Gest, a son 
of a neighbor, cautioned them to keep still, as the 
Indians might hear them, and come and kill them 

Here these boys remained for three days hiding 
as well as they could from the savages, who were 
passing and repassing. The boys went to neigh- 
boring houses and turned out cattle and horses, and 
whatever live stock was shut up in stables, sheds 
or pens, and in this way occasionally found some- 
thing to eat. On Wednesday morning, the 20th, 
they saw our house on fire. On the third night 
after the massacre, they concluded to go to the Fort, 
twenty-seven miles distant, in reaching which they 
spent eight days and nights, traveling only at night, 
and hiding by day in the grass. They all reached 
the Fort in safety, but had some very narrow escapes. 
They often saw Indians, but were not themselves 

At one time these children, hungry and lonely, 
found a friendly cow, on whose rich milk they made 
a delicious meal. Another time on their journey, 
while lying hid in the prairie grass, they discover- 
ed a team coming on a road near by. It carried, 
most likely, some white family to the Fort. They 
were almost ready to jump up and shout for joy at 
the sight ; and now, when about to run toward the 
team, what an awful shock these little children were 
doomedto experience ! Behold, a company of paint- 
ed savages arose from a clump of grass close by 
them, who ran and captured the team, and, turning 


it the other way, drove off, the screams of a woman 
in the wagon rending the air as long as her cries 
could be heard in the distance ! Thus disappoint- 
ed they hid closer than ever in the grass until night, 
and again took up their weary march to the Fort. 
They knew not how many dangers unseen they had 
escaped. They saw on the route many dead bodies 
of men, women, children and animals. In one place 
seven dead Indians were all placed in a row. This 
was near Beaver Creek, as they supposed. There 
were also many white people dead at the latter 

I must now turn back a moment, to trace the fate 
of my baby. My step-daughter, aged thirteen, as 
soon as the Indians had left the field, started off 
for the woods. In passing where I lay, and suppos- 
ing me dead, and finding the baby near, crying, she 
hastily took it up, and bore it off the field of death 
in her arms. The other girl, my own child six 
years old, arose out of the grass, and two of the 
other children that had been beaten over the head 
and left for dead, now recovered and went off to- 
ward the woods, and soon rejoined eacli other there. 
These last two were also my step-children. I was 
still lying on the field. 

The three largest of the children who went to the 
woods returned to the place of massacre, leaving 
the boy in charge of the six-year-old girl. As they 
came to the field they found seven children and 
one woman, (referred to in a previous chapter as 
found by Freniere,) evincing some signs of life, 
and who had to some extent recovered. These 
children were a son of Paul Kitzman, aged two and 


a half years ; two sons of August Horning:, one and 
three years old ; a son and daughter of Mr. Ground- 
man, the daughter aged four and the son one year, 
the girl having her hand shot off ; two sons of Mr. 
Tille, one and two years old, and a son of Mr. Urban, 
aged thirteen. All these were covered with blood, 
had been beaten by the butt of the gun and hacked 
by the tomahawk, except the girl, whose hand had 
been severed by a gun-shot. The woman found was 
Anna Zable. She had received two wounds a cut 
in the shoulder and a stab in the side. These were 
all taken to the house of my husband by these three 
girls. It was now on the evening of Wednesday, 
August 20th. They remained in the house all night, 
doing all that could be done for each other. This 
was a terrible place ! a hospital of invalid children, 
with no one older than thirteen years to give di- 
rections for the dressing of wounds, nursing the 
infant children, and giving food to the hungry, in a 
house that had already been plundered of every- 
thing of value. 

The children cried piteously for their mothers, 
who were dead, or in a bondage worse than death. 
The poor child with its hand off moaned and sigh- 
ed, saying to its suffering fellows : * Mother would 
always take care of me when I was hurt, but now 
she will not come to me.' Poor child ! her mother 
was already among the dead. 

When daylight dawned, Mrs. Zable, thinking it 
unsafe to remain in this place, awoke the eldest 
girls and on consultation, concluded to leave the 
young children and go into the woods, or into the 
prairie. The girl of thirteen, and principal de- 


pendence of the little company, awoke my two step- 
children, and the one six years old who had taken 
charge of the baby in the woods the day previously, 
and August Urban, aged thirteen. These, taking 
with them the baby, quietly left the house, and 
went to the place of the massacre to look after me, 
as they knew I had been left on the field the pre- 
vious day. As this little company were looking 
over the field, they saw a savage, as they supposed, 
coming on horseback, who turned out, fortunately, 
to be Ant oine Freniere, the interpreter, who was 
riding for life to save if possible his own family. 
These children and Mrs. Zable, after seeing 
Freniere, went about eighty rods from the field of 
the late massacre, and hid in the grass near a small 
creek. They were here but a very short time , when 
the savages from the river, with the ox-teams pre- 
viously taken from the party now dead, came to the 
field, and stripping off the clothing from men and 
women, went toward the houses. They were soon 
seen at our house, gathering plunder ; and when 
this was completed, they set fire to the house, and 
with its destruction perished the seven children 
left there a short time before ! To this awful scene 
the escaping party were eye-witnesses! The In- 
dians departed while the house was in flames, and 
the children came to Mrs. Tille's house near the 
woods, and being very hungry, diligently hunted 
the house over, and found flour and butter, and 
there cooked their dinner. Here, too, they fed the 
baby. They remained in the woods around the 
houses of the settlement for three days. The third 
day they sa\v a body of Indians go to the house of 


August Pros, plunder it of all valuables, and carry 
them away in a wagon. The baby had been left at 
Mr. Tille's house, asleep on the bed, where the 
party had last taken dinner. 

The little girls and Mrs. Zable, being frightened 
by the sight of these Indians, hid themselves in the 
woods until dark. They then started for the Fort, 
and soon passed by our house, yet smouldering. 
They also passed the field of death, resting by day 
and traveling by night. In this way they journey- 
ed eleven days. 

The incidents of this wonderful journey would be 
worthy of a long description. They saw many dead 
bodies, both of white people and Indians. Indians, 
in small parties, were frequently seen prowling 
over the prairie and in the timber. The food of the 
children was principally corn, eaten raw, as they 
had no means of making a fire. They found a camp 
kettle, which they used in carrying water a part of 
the time. They left the baby at the house of Mr. 
Tille, and no further tidings has ever been heard 
of it. 

Our escaping party, when in sight of the Fort, 
did not know the place. They feared it was an In- 
dian camp. Before this, one had come near being 
left for dead. The child six years old, on the last 
day of their travel, had fallen down from exhaustion 
and hunger, and Mrs. Zable advised the eldest girl 
to leave her and go on, but the other children scream- 
ed and cried so piteously at the very idea, that the 
advice was not heeded. The little sufferer, too, 
showed signs of life. They all halted, and the ad- 
vanced ones came back, and being near a creek the 


child was taken to it, and was soon revived by the 
free use of water on its head. Here they remained 
for some time, and, finding: the rind of a melon in 
the road, gave it to the fainting child, and by rest 
and the tender care of the other children, it was 
again able to journey on with the others. 

They had ascended the hill, near the Fort, and 
there sat down to deliberate what to do. Whether 
what they saw was an Indian encampment, or Fort 
Ridgely, they could not readily determine. The 
children believed the discovery to be Fort Ridgely, 
but Mrs. Zable thought it a camp of savages. Fi- 
nally the children declared they saw the troops 
plainly. This turned out to be true, as the troops 
soon came toward them, having discovered this 
little company on the prairie. The five children 
were soon in the wagon brought for their rescue, 
but the doubting Mrs. Zable, supposing the Indians 
coming, made off from the rescuers as fast as she 
could. The troops soon caught her, and all were 
brought into the Fort. They were a forlorn-looking 
company some wounded by hatchet-cuts, others 
beaten by the butts of guns, and others still bleed- 
ing from wounds made by gun-shots, and all nearly 
famished by hunger and thirst, and scantily cover- 
ed by a few rags yet hanging to their otherwise 
naked persons. 

As for myself, I remained on the field of the 
massacre, and in the place where I fell when I was 
shot, until about midnight of Tuesday, August 19th. 
All this time or nearly so, unconscious of passing 
events I did not even hear the boy cry. All that 
part of the narrative covered by this period of time 


I relate upon the testimony of my children, who re- 
ported the same to me. At this time of night I 
arose from the field of the dead, with a feeble abil- 
ity to move at all. I soon heard the tread of savage 
men, speaking in the Sioux language. They came 
near, and proved to be two savages only. These 
two went over the field, examining the dead bodies, 
to rob them of what yet remained upon them. They 
soon came to me, kicked me, then felt my pulse, 
first on the right hand, then on the left, and, to be 
sure, felt for the pulsation of the heart. I remain- 
ed silent, holding my breath. They probably sup- 
posed me dead. They conversed in Sioux for a 
moment. I shut my eyes, and awaited what else 
was to befall me with a shudder. The next moment 
a sharp-pointed knife was felt at my throat, then, 
passing downward, to the lower portion of the abdo- 
men, cutting not only the clothing entirely from my 
body, but actually penetrating the flesh, making but 
a slight wound on the chest, but, at the pit of the 
stomach, entering the body to the intestines ! My 
arms were then taken separately out of the clothing. 
I was seized rudely by the hair, and hurled head- 
long to the ground, entirely naked, How long I 
was unconscious I cannot imagine, yet I think it 
was not a great while. When I came to I beheld 
one of the most horrible sights I had ever seen, in 
the person of myself ! I saw, also, these two savages 
about eight rods off ; a light from the north, prob- 
ably the aurora, enabling me to see objects at some 
distance. At the same time I discovered my own 
condition, I saw one of these inhuman savages 
seize poor Wilhelmina Kitzman, who was my niece, 
and yet alive, hold her up by the foot, her head 
downward, her clothes falling over her head ; while 


holding: her there by one hand, in the other he grasp- 
ed a knife, with which he hastily cut the flesh around 
one of the legs, close to the body, and then, by 
twisting and wrenching, broke the ligaments and 
bone, until the limb was entirely severed from the 
body, the child screaming frantically, 4 O, God, O, 
God. ' When the limb was off, the child, thus muti- 
lated, was thrown down on the ground, stripped of 
her clothing, and left to die ! The other children of 
Paul Kitzman were then taken along with the In- 
dians, crying most piteously. I now lay down, and 
for some hours knew nothing more. 

Hearing nothing now, I tried to get up, and labor- 
ed a long time to do so. I finally succeeded in 
getting up on my left side and left arm, my right 
side being dead and useless. I now discovered, too, 
my clothing was all off. I tried to find some dead 
person, to get clothing to cover me. I could not 
get any, for when I found a dead person with clothes 
yet on, I saw Indian ponies close by, and fearing 
Indians were near, I made no further attempt. I 
then crawled off toward my own house, to hunt 
something to put on me, and, when near the house, 
I discovered something dark, close by, which turn- 
ed out to be my own clothes, which had been torn 
from me. I bound them around me as well as I 
could, and, not daring to enter the house, which 
was not yet burned, I turned my course toward Fort 
Ridgely. It was yet night, but was light, from the 
aurora perhaps ; at least I saw no moon. 

I made first to a creek, some five hundred yards 
from the house, and washed the blood from my 
person, bathed my wounds and drank some water. 


This night I made six miles, according: to my es- 
timate. I here came to a settlement in the timber, 
on some creek that put into the Minnesota River. 
I did not know the name of the settlement. It was 
now near daylight. Here I remained, weak, sick, 
wounded and faint from loss of blood, for three long 
days, drinking water, and this was my only nourish- 
ment all this time. At the end of these three days 
I heard Indians around, and being afraid of still 
other injuries, made my way to the left, through 
the prairie, and thought to find the Chippewa In- 
dians, but I found none. I saw plenty of Sioux In- 

I think it was Saturday, the 23rd of August, I lay 
down and thought I should die of hunger. I then 
took to eating grass, and drank water from the 
sloughs. In this way I traveled at night, and lay 
by during the day. On Sunday night I came to a 
creek and found many dead persons. I turned over 
one of these to see whether he was a white man or 
an Indian, but he smelled so badly I turned him 
down again without ascertaining. He had on a 
white shirt and dark pants, and I suppose he was 
a white man. I saw great quantities of bedding, 
furniture and books scattered and torn in pieces, at 
a creek far out on the prairie. It was not Beaver 
Creek. The same night I crossed this creek. The 
water was up to my armpits, and the cane grass tall 
and thick. Here again I saw more dead persons. 
One woman was lying on her back, and a child near 
by, pulled asunder by the legs. I then traveled 
around on the prairie, saw no roads, had nothing to 
eat. and no water for three days. 


During: my wanderings, early in the morning:, I 
gathered the dew from the grass in my hand, and 
drank it ; and when my clothes became wet with 
dew, I sucked the water from them. This gave me 
great relief from the burning thirst I experienced. 
Finally, at the end of these three days of terrible 
suffering, I came to a road. This road I followed, 
and in a low place found some standing water in 
puddles in the mud, and tried to get it in my clothes, 
but the water was too shallow. I then got down 
and sucked up and eagerly drank the water from 
the mud. My tongue and lips were now cracked 
open from thirst. After this I went on and found 
two dead bodies on the road, and, a few steps farther, 
a number of men, women and children, all dead ! 
On the thirteenth day I came to Bearer Creek, and, 
for the first time found out for certain where I was. 
Here I discovered a house in a field, went to it, and 
saw that everything had been destroyed. The dog 
was alive, and seemed to be barking at some one, 
but showed friendship for me. Being afraid that 
savages were around, I went again into the woods. 
After staying there for a short time a shot was fired, 
and then I heard some person calling, I thought in 
German. I did not answer the call as I did not 
think it was for me. But, after alf was still I went 
on, and passed Beaver Creek, went up the hill, and 
then saw an Indian, with a gun pointed at some ob- 
ject. He soon went off in an opposite direction 
without discovering me. Fearing others were about, 
I went to the woods, and being wearied, lay down 
and slept. I do not know how long I slept, but 
when I awoke it was about noon. 


I was again lost, and did not know where to go. 
I wandered about in the woods, hunting for my 
way, and finally, as the evening star appeared, I 
found my direction, taking an eastern course until 
1 came to a creek again. I now saw I must be near 
the Minnesota River. I went into a house near by, 
took a piece of buffalo-robe, went to the river bot- 
tom and lay down to rest. Here I found wild plums, 
and ate some of them. This night it rained long 
and hard. On the next morning I found that I was 
too weak and tired to travel, and so remained all 
that day and all the next night, wishing that the 
savages might come and put an end to my sufferings. 
It rained all this day. 

Here I felt sure I must die, and that I should 
never leave this place alive. The cold sweat was 
on my forehead. With great effort I raised up to 
take one more look around me, and to my surprise 
I saw two persons with guns, but could not tell 
whether they were white men or Indians. I rejoiced 
however, because I thought they would put an end 
to my sufferings. But, as they came near I saw 
they had bayonets, and knew they were white sol- 
diers, and made signs for them to come to me. The 
soldiers, fearing some trick, seemed afraid to come 
near me. After making sundry examinations they 
finally came up. One of my neighbors, Lewis Daily, 
first advanced, and seeing I was a white woman, 
called to his partner, who also came. They soon 
brought me some water, and gave me a drink, and 
wet my head, washed my face and carried me to a 
house near by. Here they proposed to leave me 
until the other troops came up, but yielding to my 


earnest entreaty they carried me along until the 
other portion of the soldiers arrived. One of them 
went into a house and found a dress, and put it on 
me, the clothes I had on being all torn to pieces. 
Dr. Daniels came along directly, examined my 
wounds, and gave me some water and wine, made 
a requisition for a wagon, fixed up a. bed and had 
me placed upon it. Now the train followed along 
the river bottom some distance, then took to the 
open prairie. Here we found a woman cut into four 
pieces, and two children by her, cut in pieces also. 
They buried these bodies, and passed down from 
Henderson's house in the direction of the Fort. All 
the soldiers seemed to take great care of me. The 
doctor dressed my wounds, and did all that could 
be done for me. The wagon I was in soon came in- 
to company with the burial party who were going 
into camp at Birch Coulie. 

The savages attacked this burial party oh the 
same night after I was rescued by the soldiers, or 
rather on the following morning, Tuesday, Sep- 
tember 2nd. In that disastrous affair (the battle of 
Birch Coulie) it was thought proper to overturn all 
the wagons, as a means of better security against 
the murderous fire of the Indians. When they came 
to the wagon in which I lay, some one said, 'do not 
overturn that wagon, for it contains a sick woman,' 
and they passed by. This was the only wagon left 
standing. Behind the wagons and dead horses, kill- 
ed by the Indians, our men lay on the ground and 
fought the savages with a determination seldom If 
ever equaled. It was victory or death. I was in a 
good position to see and hear all that went on dur- 


ing the battle. I was, too, in a most exposed position. 
The wagon was a fine mark. Standing up as it did 
above everything: else on the open prairie, it afford- 
ed the best possible target for savage marksmen. 
The wagon was literally shot to pieces. Some of 
the spokes were shot off. The cover was complete- 
ly riddled with ball-holes. The cup in which I at- 
tempted to take my medicine during the fight, was 
knocked away from my mouth by a passing rifle ball. 
I did not attempt to reclaim it. The smell of gun- 
powder almost took my breath away. Some five 
slight wounds was all the damage I sustained in 
this awful battle. I saw it all, from the commence- 
ment to the close. Sleep was impossible, and my 
hearing was wonderfully acute. The battle lasted 
all the day Tuesday, and all the night following, 
until about midnight, when the firing ceased for a 
while on both sides. Whether the weary white men 
or the savage Indians slept, I do not know, but I 
could not sleep. About daylight on Wednesday, 
September 3rd, the firing commenced again on both 
sides. Some time in the forenoon I heard our sol- 
diers crying aloud for joy. The shout went up : 
* Reinforcements coming.' 

When the Indians left to go toward the reinforce- 
ments, the doctor and an officer came to look after 
me, supposing I could not have escaped so murder- 
ous afire. They seemed perfectly astonished at 
finding me alive, and unhurt, except by the slight 
marks made by some five balls merely drawing 
blood from the skin. How I escaped must ever re- 
main a mystery to myself and others. The blanket 
given me by a soldier, and in which I was wrapped 


up in the wagon during the battle of Birch Coulie, 
was found, on examination, to have received over 
two hundred bullet-holes during the fight, and yet 
I was not hit except as stated. Who can imagine 
such an escape ? Yet, I did escape, and am now 
(June, 1873,) alive to tell the story. 

When the troops had buried their dead we return- 
ed to Fort Ridgely. Here I was placed under charge 
of Dr. Muller, surgeon of the post. I hardly knew 
whether I was in the hospital or at the doctor's 
home, but I shall never forget the kind care taken 
of me by Mrs. Dr. Muller. The doctor extracted 
some nine buckshot from my shoulders, and the 
other eight are yet there, as they could not be taken 
out. My various wounds did not trouble me much, 
and were soon all healed. 

At the Fort I found four of my children, all ex- 
cept one, children of my first husband. Two of my 
own boys, eight and nine years old, who had escap- 
ed with the thirteen-year-old August Urban, had 
reached the Fort and been sent to St. Paul. At the 
Fort I also found the five girls who came in with 
Mrs. Zable. Three of these were my first husband's 
children, and one of them my own by my first hus- 
band. My children had all been taken to my mother's, 
in Wisconsin, where I hastened, after a few days 
at the Fort, to find them. I later recovered the 
child that had been taken prisoner by the Indians, 
which was delivered to Col. Sibley at Camp Re- 

The heroine of this most remarkable experience 
was a native of Posen, Prussia, born July 13, 1835, 
and was the youngest daughter of Andrew Kitzman, 


who, with his family of fourteen children, immigrat- 
ed to America and located near Green Lake, Mar- 
quette County, Wisconsin, in territorial days. Mrs. 
Kreiger and husband, with a large family of children, 
had taken up their new home in the beautiful Minne- 
sota valley less than ninety days preceding the 
Sioux Massacre. History knows no more thrilling 
experience than that of this remarkable woman and 
her family friends on the Minnesota border. 

Lieut. T. J. SHEEHAN, Commander of Lieut. T. P. GERE, Who Commanded 
Fort Ridgely During Siege. at Fort Ridgely Aug. 18, 1862. 

Sergeant JAMES G. McGREW, Sergeant JOHN F. BISHOP. 

Officers Who were Prominent in the Defense of 
Fort Ridgely. 

Pictures were taken during Civil War, shortly after the Sioux Massacre. 


Who bore the first dispatch to Gov. Ramsey, announcing the massacre. Photo 
taken 43 years after close of Civil War. See page 107. 


Taken just before the outbreak. See foot-note, page 63. 


The man who, with his son Chauncey, killed 
Little Crow. See page 187. 

TA, WHO DEFENDED FORT RIDGELY. 1, Christopher Boyer; 2, O. 
G. Wall: 3, Lieut. T. P. Gere; 4, E. F. Nehrhood ; 5, M. H. Wilson; 6, C. 
M. Culver. On these two pages (4 and 5) are shown the only known living 
members of Company B, Fifth Minnesota Infantry Volunteers, who were defend- 
ers of Fort Ridgely during the Sioux Massacre. Of the 1 2 survivors the six on this 
page were of the party of Lieut. T. P. Gere, who commanded Fort Ridgely Au- 
gust 18, 1862. (Pictures shown in groups are numbered from left to right.) 

FERRY AUG. 18, 1862. 1, Sergeant John F. Bishop; 2, W. H. Blodgett; 
3, Levi Carr ; 4, W. B. Hutchinson ; 5, Ole Svendson ; 6, Stephen Van Buren. 

The six survivors shown above were with Capt. Marsh at the Redwood Ferry, 
August 18, 1862, when 24 out of 47 of Marsh's men were killed. After the death 
of Marsh, a remnant of his detachment was conducted skilfully under great diffi- 
culties to Fort Ridgely by that efficient officer and always capable soldier, Sergeant 
John F. Bishop, of above group. 


BIRCH COULIE and GOOD^INDIAN Monuments at Morton, Minnestoa. 


A frequent visitor of Fort Ridgely up to time of outbreak. Was said to be 
120 years old. See page 148. 

Sibley Expedition of 1 863. 

During the fall of 1862 and 
winter of 1863 an army was 
collected at the various posts 
and temporary stockades of 
the state, preparatory to a 
strong movement into the ene- 
my's country northwestward 
in the early summer of 1863. 
Only a few of the guilty In- 
dians had been apprehended 
and punished in the autumn 
of 1862, hundreds of them 
having escaped to the plains 
lying between the Red River 
and the Missouri, with the up- 
per boundary of their range extending to the Devils Lake 

The Sioux Reservation, at the time of the outbreak, 
extended from a point not far below Fort Ridgely, but 
on the opposite, or south and west side of the Minnesota 
River, to the head of Big Stone or Eah-ton-ka lake. This 
reservation was ten miles in width, and about one hundred 
and fifty miles in length, and was divided by the Yellow 
Medicine River, flowing into the Minnesota. That por- 
tion below the Yellow Medicine was known as the Lower 
Reservation, whose "capital" was the Redwood Agency, 
and was occupied by the M'daywakanton and Wakpakuta 
Indians, and that above the Yellow Medicine as the Up- 




per Reservation, with headquarters at the Yellow Medi- 
cine Agency, occupied by the Sissetons and Wahpaytons. 
It was the lower Indians who precipitated the outbreak, 
and though many of the upper Indians were involved, 
there were, however, many who were kept out of it 
through the influence of Standing Buffalo and other 


northern chiefs. Driven from the scenes of their awful 
depredations, the lower Indians retreated into the land 
of the Sissetons and Wahpaytons, much to the displeas- 
ure of the latter, and particularly to that portion of the 
latter who had refused to stain their hands with the blood 
of the whites. 

A civilized Indian, and one who did great service for 
the whites, when to do it imperiled his own life, gave it 
as his opinion that a very large number of the upper 
Indians resisted the temptations and entreaties of their 
lower brethren to join in the uprising. Some of the up- 
per chiefs and many of the old and better disposed war- 
riors were outspoken against the massacre, and these 
men, though unpopular with the less sturdy element, 
exerted a strong influence during the outbreak and later 
in the delivery to the authorities of the white captives. 

It has always been regretable that all the northern In- 
dians were put upon practically the same basis by the 
Government in the prosecution of the campaigns of 
1863-4. The decades that have since flown permit of a 
rational analysis of that bloody chapter in Minnesota his- 
tory known as the Sioux Massacre. The whole Dakota 
race was under distrust. The Indians who were true at 
heart,, and who against strong pressure from the domi- 
nant element, opposed the heartless massacre, were In- 
dians, and in the inflamed condition of the public mind 
fine distinctions were not drawn. The better element of 
Indians felt this indiscriminate censure, save in a very 
few notable instances. The lawless had brought the entire 
race under the ban. The few loyal and faithful who were 
under the public eye received full credit for their good 
deeds, but not so those who were entirely beyond the 
horizon of the seat of carnage. The great mass whose 
hands were stained with innocent blood, and whose 
monstrous crimes had gone on lightning wings to appall 
humanity in the remotest limits of the globe, spread to the 
plains of the Northwest like a loathsome pestilence, after 
their defeat, to overwhelm with disgrace and contamina- 
tion the bands who had stood aloof. Those whose souls 


were the deepest dyed in crime pushed northward to near 
the British border, where they spent a winter of hard- 
ships (1862-3) that gave them ample opportunity to 
reflect upon the ways of the transgressor ; but they 
dropped southward in the spring and merged themselves 
into all other elements of their race indiscriminately, so 
all were hunted alike and all put upon the same basis in 
whatever punishment was administered. 

The campaign of 1863 was organized by Gen. John 
Pope, the plan being to completely subdue the Sioux 
hordes. Two expeditions were designed to execute the 
plans of the Department Commander, one under Gen. H. 
H. Sibley, organized in Minnesota, and the other under 
the command of Gen. Alfred Sully, the latter organized 
and outfitted at Sioux City, Iowa. 

In the spring of 1863 the troops in Minnesota were 
shifted about from post to post to inure the men to hard- 
ships and exposure. The conditions were indeed trying, 
and may well be illustrated by the experience of one 
company of cavalry, as a sample of what all endured 
through this shifting process. 

Hardships of Frontier Military Service Hauling 
Wagons by Man-power. 

On April 8, 1863, Co. F of the First Minnesota Cavalry 
(Mounted Rangers) left Fort Snelling for Sauk Center 
to relieve a company ordered elsewhere. The weather 
was cold, the ground still full of frost, and lingering 
snow-drifts were visible. The sky was obscured by dull 
clouds throughout the 8th, the first day out, while a pene- 
trating north wind blew a gale. This the men faced. 
At night, instead of turning into the dry bunks to which 
all had been accustomed for months, the soldiers lay upon 
frozen ground with one rubber and one woolen blanket 
beneath them, and a blanket over them, a tent sheltering 
them from the night wind. The next day's march was 
under partially clear skies, but in weather full of chill. 
The wind had sufficiently abated by night to make it 
possible to extract comfort from a camp fire, but sleep- 


ing with comfort was quite out of the question. In the 
latter part of the night a tempest sprang up from the 
northeast. Breakfast was prepared in a blinding snow- 
storm and howling wind. There was no shelter for the 
fires, and nothing of which to make a successful shelter. 
Coffee could not be brought to the boiling point, and 
was "good" only in the degree of warmth to which it 
had attained. A pelting storm continued throughout the 
day's march, rain and snow alternating at intervals. 
There was not a dry thread in the company, and the 
men were benumbed with cold. St. Cloud, then an un- 
pretentious village, was reached late in the afternoon, and 
the village of St. Joseph at night. Capt. Joseph R. 
Daniels requested the citizens of the latter place to open 
their houses to the men, but they absolutely refused to 
do so. The people were utterly dead to sympathy or 
feeling. In fact, there appeared a general anti-Union 
spirit, heightened by the presence of soldiers. The re- 
quest being met with a negative on all sides, Capt. Daniels 
ordered his men to take possession of all the barns in 
the village, if needs be turning out everything they con- 
tained. The people heard the order with a sullen scowl, 
and started for their stables in several instances to pre- 
vent the execution of the order; but they were swept 
aside by the wet and shivering men, who only needed a 
tip of authority from their commander, for a refusal of 
a reasonable request for their comfort under the cir- 
cumstances had angered the men to the limit of endur- 
ance. The same all-day storm still raged at night, mak- 
ing it impossible to start or maintain fires. The men, 
drenched to the skin and benumbed, took care of their 
horses, and in the darkness that had gathered climbed 
into the haymows to lunch off the cold rations fished 
from their haversacks. 

The skies were more auspicious on the morning of 
the fourth day, April 11, but the roads were bad in the 
extreme. The company, however, reached its destina- 
tion and found warm and dry quarters awaiting it with- 
in the Sauk Center stockade. Later it was ordered to 


Fort Ridgely over roads incomparably bad, by the way 
of Forest City, Hutchinson, etc. Much of this region, 
owing to heavy spring rains and lack of drainage and 
bridges, was a mere bog, in which mule-teams were ut- 
terly useless, and cavalry horses, even without their 
mounts, were gotten through with difficulty. The won- 
derful efficiency of man-power was well illustrated on 
this trip. When the soft spot to be crossed was more 
than two or three rods wide, the teams were unhitched 
and the animals separately gotten across in the most con- 
venient way possible. A long line was attached to a 
wagon and sixty to eighty men would bend to the task 
of pulling it through. At times the sloughs to be crossed 
were twenty to forty rods in width. Across these one 
heavily-loaded wagon was taken at a time, mired now 
and then to the hubs. The long line made it possible, 
however, for some of the men to be at all times on fairly 
decent footing, and human intelligence made it possible 
to take advantage of every favoring foothold. The load 
men will thus move over otherwise impassable roads is 
scarcely believable: but the days devoted to this sort 
of service told heavily, for not only was the service itself 
arduous, but the men were in mud and water to their 
hips for hours at a time, for usually the sloughs were 
only separated by narrow ridges. Add to this march- 
ing, scouting and guard duty, and the reader has a basis 
for forming an idea what frontier military service con- 
sisted of. 

Assembling an Army for the Sibley Expedition. 

Early in June the process of assembling an army in 
the valley of the Minnesota, three or four miles above 
the mouth of the Redwood River, began. This place 
of rendezvous was designated Camp Pope, in honor of 
the major general commanding the department. From 
all the military posts of the state, including the many 
frontier villages where stockades had been erected, every 
available man was drawn, leaving only a force sufficient 
for garrison and patrol duty. The army thus assembled 


consisted of the following organizations: The Sixth 
Minnesota under Col. William Crooks; nine companies 
of the Seventh Minnesota under Lieutenant Colonel Will- 
iam R. Marshall; eight companies of the Tenth Minne- 
sota under Col. James H. Baker ; one company of Pio- 
neers under Capt. Jonathan Chase ; nine companies of the 
First Minnesota Cavalry, or Mounted Rangers, under 
Col. Samuel McPhail ; eight pieces of artillery with one 
hundred and forty-eight men under Capt. John Jones; 
seventy-five Indian scouts under Maj. Joseph R. Brown, 
George McLeoud and Major Dooley, in all 4,075 men. 
There was a train of 225 six-mule teams, as there was 
no point in the wild country to be penetrated during the 
all-summer campaign at which supplies could be re- 

Camp Pope Personnel of the Army. 

Of this expedition Gen. H. H. Sibley was placed in 
command, with the following staff: Assistant Adjutant 
General, R. C. Olin; Brigade Commissary, William H. 
Forbes; Assistant Commissary and Ordnance Officer, 
Atchison; Commissary Clerk, Spencer; Quartermaster, 
Corning; Assistant Quartermaster, Kimball; Aides-de- 
Camp, Lieutenants Pope, F. J. H. Beever, A. St. Claire, 
Flandrau and Hawthorn; Chaplain, Rev. S. R. Riggs. 

The campaign to be entered upon would unavoidably 
be an arduous one, and men were selected very largely 
for their general fitness for the duties to be performed 
and the hardships to be encountered. Many of the 
men had for months done duty along the border that 
constantly brought under their observation the blackened 
ruins of homes destroyed the previous autumn, as a part 
of the work of the massacre, and were anxious to pene- 
trate the enemy's country beyond these grim reminders 
of crimes and wickedness never to be atoned for. The 
ruined and abandoned fields of the settlers, the bloated, 
blackened and mutilated corpses of men, women and 
children, the deserted farms along a frontier of two 
or three hundred miles in length, with their crops rotting 


where they had grown, were scenes that clung to the 
minds of all who had witnessed them the previous fall, 
like a repulsive nightmare. 

Camp Pope was in the heart of the country occupiecf 
by those who had blighted with gun and torch as fair 
a land as the sun had ever kissed. Charred ruins were 
visible from its site, awful tragedies had been enacted 
within hearing of the spot, their agonies still echoing 
from fresh graves. There was, in fact, something 
sepulchral about this whole valley region, and the men 
longed for new fields of operation. 

June 16, 1863, A Memorable Day How Small 
Pox Restored Quiet 

On the morning of June 16, 1863, the "Sibley Expedi- 
tion," as it was widely known, started on its long mis- 
sion. On the previous night, after the heat of the day 
had .subsided, a detachment of infantry moved out on 
the highlands to the westward to take the advance the 
following morning. The night of the 15th was ideal. 
The gentle zephyrs were laden with the incense of wild 
flowers. Overhead the sky was serene and star-bedecked. 
The earth, warmed into new life, had sent into banish- 
ment many of the perplexities incident to military life 
in the open. The day had been warm, and along the 
southwestern horizon lightning flashes danced fitfully in 
a distant embankment of clouds, whose outlines were 
distinctly revealed by the quivering, shimmering electrical 
gymnastics, reflected by the glistening armor of the in- 
fantry detachment that filed up the western slopes of the 
valley in the dusk of evening to assume its place for 
the morrow. Those who witnessed the beautiful spec- 
tacle have probably never forgotten it. Under benign 
conditions the camp was unusually merry on the night 
of the 15th, only, however, to receive a shock that pro- 
duced a profound sensation. The surgeons had discov- 
ered a well defined case of smallpox, and the news of the 
discovery swept over the vast camp like wildfire. Men 
had expected to be shot at had enlisted, in fact, with the 


full understanding that they would be called upon to 
pose as targets for an unscrupulous and careless enemy, 
but both the parties of the first and second parts had 
utterly forgotten to mention smallpox in the original 
contract, and the omission led to serious reflection and 
eloquent silence. Fortunately the disease did not spread. 

General Sibley's Habits of Early Rising Our First 
Day's March The Mules and the Blues. 

Gen. Sibley was a man of pronounced habits, and not 
the least among these habits was that of early rising. 
The rose tints of early dawn were never an unfamiliar 
sight to his men. The blare of trumpets woke the echoes 
of the Minnesota valley at 3 o'clock on that beautiful 
morning of June 16, 1863. At 4 o'clock one of the 
grandest military pageants ever witnessed in Minnesota, 
before or since, filed out with the precision of clock- 
work, and wending its way for a time among the mam- 
moth granite boulders of the valley, gradually ascended 
the hills to the westward. The head of the column had 
reached a distance of nearly six miles on its journey ere 
the rear guard could move. Four thousand men do not 
constitute a very large army, but here were all the trap- 
pings and equipments of war, and not caparisoned for 
review, for there was not a soul in the desolate valley to 
witness the spectacle except the soldiers themselves. The 
artillery, ambulances and wagon train covered a distance 
of nearly four miles. A part of the column, and one 
the soldiers regarded with jealous interest, was George A. 
Brackett's large herd of beef cattle, taken along under 
contract to supply the army during the months it should 
campaign in the northwestern wilds. 

We had now entered upon one of the most interesting 
phases of human experience. Savage hordes had made 
their last supreme effort to stay the advance of civiliza- 
tion. Minnesota was but partially peopled, and Dakota 
Territory (now North and South Dakota) was utterly un- 
inhabited by the white race, save a settlement at Yank- 
ton; and one might journey, as our command did in 1863, 


for weeks and even months in the vast territory now 
covered with flourishing cities and thousands of rural 
houses without, beyond our own numbers, once seeing 
the face of a white man. 

A hot June day tested the mettle of the infantry the 
first day out, and jaded the animals not a little. The 
.weather was dry and the process of evaporation active, 
and as a result the column was enveloped in a cloud of 
dust, with no favoring wind to bear it away. While the 
long summer's campaign was one of unremitting hard- 
ships, this was perhaps the most trying day the expedi- 
tion as a whole experienced during the season, and man 
and beast welcomed the opportunity to go into camp in 
the late afternoon, where a bountiful supply of excellent 
water and an abundance of good forage for the animals 
were found. A great white city sprang up on a beautiful 
plain ere the purple had succeeded, the gold in the west, 
the vast camp covering more than a square mile in ex- 

Many grim ruins, the scenes of blasted hopes, cruelty 
and death, were witnessed during the day's march. Out- 
side of the expedition itself not a sign of life was visible. 
The hardy pioneers east of the Minnesota had perished 
during the massacre, while on the Reservation side the 
picture of desolation could not have been more complete 
had the whole region been transformed into a desert. 
Where a building had graced the wild wastes on the 
reservation, a deserted, blackened ruin, mute and for- 
bidding, remained to tell of the hatred that had attached 
to every mark of civilization. The whites had everywhere 
been slain, and the murderers had gone, leaving desola- 
tion in their wake. Many men in the command had lost 
friends and relatives during the massacre, and they con- 
templated the prevalent signs morosely. 

But the spell was broken at supper time, for then 
it was that several hundred mules, scattered throughout 
the vast camp, apparently discovered for the first time 
their strange environment, and the tale of the discovery 
was wafted back and forth until even the grave Gen. Sib- 


ley for an instant lost his grip on a facial composure al- 
ways suited to the sanctuary on solemn occasions. The 
incident was not without its value, for it cut off all re- 
treat to moodiness. 

Camp on the Battlefield of Wood Lake. 

Five o'clock on the morning of June 17th found the 
head of the column in motion, although the rear guard 
did not move for three hours later. Nature was at its 
best. The fresh green that carpeted hill and dale had 
reached the prime of luxuriance. The bending blades of 
grass sparkled with their jewels of dew, while every- 
where were new-born roses that, but for ourselves, were 
"born to blush unseen." A short march of eleven miles 
sufficed for the day, Gen. Sibley selecting the Wood Lake 
battle ground as the location of our camp. It took little 
stretch of the imagination to repeople with savages and 
soldiers the plains about, and Col. Marshall of the Sev- 
enth Minnesota pointed out the place of the charge and 
graphically described the action itself, which won the 
day at Wood Lake on the 23rd of the previous Septem- 
ber, and where he received his baptism of fire as a soldier. 

The Desolate Yellow Medicine AgencyCamp at 

On the morning of the 18th, after an hour's march, 
we reached the Yellow Medicine Agency, dismal and for- 
lorn. The buildings that had been spared were aban- 
doned to the elements. The windows had been smashed 
and the doors burst open, while unsightly weeds grew 
where active feet had borne proud and ambitious souls 
in better days. Nothing could disturb the reverie of the 
men who rode or walked over this historic spot that 
beautiful June morning, for here were the final seeds 
sown the previous year out of which grew the discontent 
that ripened into the massacre. Here it was the six 
thousand Sioux were assembled in July, 1862, and kept 
in waiting for weeks for their annuities, until starvation 
invaded their lodges. The march was short again today, 


the expedition going into camp at "Hazlewood," the 
home and mission of Rev. Dr. Thomas Williamson, five 
miles northwest of the Yellow Medicine Agency. Here 
the general remained in camp during the 19th. To those 
with an inquiring turn of mind this was a spot absorb- 
ingly interesting. Dr. Williamson had come into the 
wilds of Minnesota before the majority of the men on 
this expedition were born had come years before the 
founding even of a territorial form government, and out 
of his faithful labors had come, for an hour of calamity, 
such characters as Other Day, Chaska, Paul, etc. The 
mission buildings were wrecked and desolate. Doors 
had broken from their hinges in the wind, windows had 
succumbed to gun and arrow practice, the premises were 
grown up to weeds, the garden fences were broken down, 
and general dilapidation ruled where order had reigned. 
This had been a social and spiritual oasis in a desert of 
savage life, but alas for the decrees of Fate, it had gone 
the ways of Tadmor, stricken to earth by those who 
owed it most. Rev. Dr. Williamson and his co-worker, 
Rev. Dr. S. R. Riggs, together with their families and 
friends, escaped with their lives by what seemed little 
less than a miracle. 

Camp Release A Cold June Day. 

An early hour of June 20th found the expedition in 
motion, still traversing historic ground, passing Camp 
Release among other points of interest. We indulged in 
an uncomfortable experience today. The sky was ob- 
scured by cold, leaden clouds, with a cold north wind 
blowing stiffly. The men, and particularly the cavalry 
and artillery, suffered from _the benumbing cold, and all 
gladly sought the shelter of tents or the comforts of 
sheltered camp-fires after a march of fourteen miles. 
Fuel and water were plentiful here, and we remained 
in camp over the 21st, during which time the scouts 
thoroughly reconnoitred the surrounding country to make 
sure there were no Indians in these their old-time haunts 
to drop back after our passage to disturb the settlements 


to the southward. 

The Beautiful Lac qui Parle. 

The 22nd we crossed the Lacqui Parle River, a stream 
that, from time immemorial, had been almost sacred to 
the hearts of the red race. Its brilliant waters and its 
stretches of woodland appealed tauntingly to Gen. Sibley 
to raise his portable city here, but the distance, after 
the previous day's rest, was not sufficiently great, and 
we pushed on to the "Big Mound" (now "Big Tom"), 
at which we camped for the day. This is a beautiful 
spot and is distinguished from all others in the region for 
its widely-seen promontory 

A Beautiful Country Big Stone Lake. 

The 24th we traversed a beautiful country, camping 
in the evening on the highlands west of Big Stone Lake. 
We found a scarcity of good water on today's march, but 
the country was charmingly attractive. Our camp-ground 
this eve (Camp Marshall, in honor of Lieut. Col. William 
R. Marshall) is one which Little Crow's hosts had occu- 
pied the previous fall, a fact discovered by the finding 
of many pits in which the Indians had cached their cum- 
bersome plunder from the settlements that had been 
raided during the massacre. In these we found great 
quantities of dishes, tinware, harness, chains, straps, pails 
and an occasional piece of furniture, and not a little corn, 
the latter being well preserved and useful. Teamsters 
found numerous "prizes" among the hidden harnesses, 
many of which were of excellent quality. The dishes 
were badly broken, due to lack of knowledge in their 
packing and handling, yet they seemed valuable in the 
estimation of the savages. 

Celebrating a Birthday First Buffalo Hunt. 

We were in the saddle at 4 o'clock on the morning of 
June 25th. The weather was propitious, buffalo were 
sighted off to the westward towards the coteau, and 
there was a troublesome spirit of adventure constantly 


preaching treason to discipline. Our battalion was on the 
flank. I communicated to a good-hearted and companion- 
able officer riding near me that this was my nineteenth 
birthday, and that I would like to celebrate it on a buffalo 
hunt. I was agreeably surprised when he arranged that 
three of us should drop out, one at a time at intervals, 
and join each other when half a mile or so from the 
command and ride out at least in plain view of the first 
herd of buffalo we had discovered, several miles away. 
Following a ravine leading in the proper direction, we 
galloped away until sufficiently distant from the expedi- 
tion, when we rode out on the highlands to get our bear- 
ings. We could plainly discover three horsemen nearer 
the herd than ourselves, and quickened our pace, cautious 
lest we fall into the hands of an enemy, however. The 
other trio proved to consist of cavalrymen on nearer ap- 
proach, and separating a huge bull from the herd we 
secured jointly, after many shots and much wild excite- 
ment, meeting every adventurous requirement, a prize 
worthy of all effort. The three cavalrymen fortunately 
proved to be members of our own company, who had 
fallen victims to the infection that tempted men on the 
left flank that day. We filled our haversacks with choice 
cuts from the loins of the noble beast and hastened to 
join the command, now many miles away, but the loca- 
tion of which we could fix to a certainty by the great 
white cloud of dust that rose from and hung over the 
command like the token that guided the children of 
Israel. We had ridden but a few miles when the cloud 
ceased to exist notice that camp had been established. 
We must now ride to the trail and follow it in. For- 
tunately one of the officers of our party possessed the 
countersign, and we were thus enabled to pass the lines 
on arriving at camp. Every man in our company had a 
ration of buffalo steak that evening, with enough on hanct 
with which to cautiously bribe any powerful superior 
whose influence might be desired in case of trouble. 


Finding of Human Skeletons. 

This camp was near an old trading post. Here were 
found the bleaching skeletons of six men who had been 
killed by the Indians the previous year. Gen. Sibley 
caused the skeletons to be collected and buried. Nothing 
whatever could be found whereby the identity of these 
men could be determined. It is known, however, that of 
the few men at this place Henry Manderfeldt, George 
Loth, John Schmerch and two Frenchmen were killed 
here on the morning of Thursday, August 21st, 1862. 
This was at or near the Myrick store. An Indian came 
and warned the men very early in the morning of their 
danger, and told them to fly for their lives, but they had 
heard nothing of the massacre below and paid little re- 
gard to what the Indian had counselled them to do. 
Only a brief space of time elapsed when a party of In- 
dians were on the trading post in force. They opened 
on the helpless men and only two succeeded in escaping 
by plunging into the timber near at hand. One of these, 
Hilliar Manderfeldt, was pursued a short distance and 
killed, while the other, Anton Manderfeldt, made his 
way to the settlements after twelve days of almost un- 
paralleled hardships. 

This was Camp Jennison, named in honor of Lieut. 
Col. S. P. Jennison of the Tenth Minnesota. On scaffolds 
supported by four crotches were many Indian dead found 
here, the Sioux method of "burial." These scaffolds were 
eight to ten feet high, the whole structure made of poles, 
and on top of each, wrapped in a blanket, lay a dead In- 
dian, awaiting his or her turn to disappear into and 
become a part of the elements. Not infrequently tfie 
boughs of trees were used to support the dead, and par- 
ticularly the bodies of children, along the border of the 
lake. Big Stone Lake .proved to be an attraction worthy 
of the compliments on every hand bestowed upon it, 
stretching away for a distance, from end to end, of thirty- 
six miles. 


Camp Between Lakes Big Stone and Traverse. 

Breaking camp at 4 on the morning of the 26th, 
amid the usual blare of bugles, we were soon in motion 
on our journey northward. We were now entering a 
region that had suffered from prolonged drought. The 
earth was hot and parched, water scarce on the march, 
grass short and dry and the dust well nigh suffocating. 
In the early afternoon we camped between Lakes Big 
Stone and Traverse, on the site of the B'rowns Valley of 
today. This became Camp McLaren, after Major Robert 
N. McLaren of the Sixth Minnesota. This beautiful 
spot was lavishily endowed with gifts suited to the com- 
forts of an army. Despite the drought that had parched 
the highlands, the growth of red-top between the lakes 
was luxuriant, while there was an abundance of good 
water everywhere. There was, to all, something unique 
about this camp. We were between two lakes, the waters 
of which flow- in exactly opposite directions those of 
Lake Traverse into the Red River of the North, and 
thence on into Hudson Bay, while those of Big Stone flow 
into the Minnesota on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. 
Traverse in that day was fed by numerous great springs 
in the lake bed, as was readily discovered by the men 
who bathed and swam in its waters. We remained in 
this camp the 27th, 28th and 29th, during which time the 
cavalry thoroughly scouted the surrounding country. In- 
dians had occupied the region during the winter and 
early spring, but had pushed off towards Devils Lake. 

Adieu With Regrets to Camp McLaren Buffalo 
"Chips" for Fuel. 

Regretfully did we turn our backs on Camp McLaren 
on the morning of June 30th and set out northwesterly 
on our journey, the Indian guides leading the way into 
an unknown country. We now entered upon a bound- 
less, treeless plain. The earth was dry and compact, 
great cracks an inch or two in width and a foot or more 
in depth scarring the surface of the ground and running 


uninterruptedly for rods. About the scattering shallow 
lakes there was a fairly good growth of coarse grass, but 
on the higher ground the grass was short and lifeless 
though "cured," so as to be relishable to the animals. 
Grasshoppers were numerous, and in some places during 
the marches of the summer had well nigh robbed our 
animals of their needed forage. Finding good grazing, 
conditions considered, the expedition went into camp after 
a march of sixteen miles. Here for the first time we 
became wholly dependent for fuel on "buffalo chips/' the 
excrement of the "cattle of the plains" that in that day 
roamed the prairies in countless thousands. Without 
these chips no expedition could have been maintained on 
the plains of Dakota. This fuel, in the form of thin 
discs, eight to ten inches in diameter, and scattered over 
the parched earth, was as dry and combustible as tinder. 
When it is stated that on a single camping ground enough 
buffalo chips could be gathered to cook the food of four 
thousand men for three meals or more, some idea may 
be had of the innumerable animals that made up the 
herds of buffalo that possessed the country in that day. 
The infantrymen used their bayonets and the cavalrymen 
their sabres in gathering this indispensable fuel, which 
served the expedition exclusively for months. 

No camp was now established that was not thoroughly 
fortified with breastworks made of prairie sod. Hence- 
forth every camp was thus protected, the first duty after 
terminating a day's march being the selection of details 
for work on the trenches and breastworks, the latter of 
which were about two feet high. Gen. Sibley never 
worried about what the enemy might do, but rather pre- 
pared himself well beforehand, and let the enemy do the 

July 1st we marched eighteen miles, the 2nd sixteen, 
the 3rd sixteen and the 4th eighteen miles, going into 
camp at 1 o'clock P. M. after a march of nine hours 
under trying- conditions, in the big bend of the Cheyenne 
River, on the south side of that stream, a few miles 
southeast of what of this day is the flourishing town of 


Lisbon, North Dakota. Gen. Sibley here established 
Camp Hayes, so named after Major Orrin T. Hayes of 
the cavalry. 

July Fourth on the Cheyenne River. 

This was indeed a strange Fourth of July. No man 
in the command had ever before seen one like it. No 
mark of civilization had ever been raised in this country. 
No surveys had been made. No white men had disturbed 
the solitude into which we had entered. Herds of buffalo 
were visible in almost any direction. Aside from these 
nothing was seen but arched skies and boundless plains. 
And the "best girl" and red lemonade, the "prominent 
citizens in carriages and on foot," the brass band, the 
shady grove, the "car of liberty," the orator, the reader 
of the Declaration of Independence how painfully ab- 
sent, and how eloquently silent ! The best girl was prob- 
ably the most missed of all, for during all the months of 
that campaign no member of the expedition ever saw the 
face of a white woman, nor could a letter or any other 
sort of message reach us. 

Late in the day in celebration of the occasion McCole 
and myself visited the camp of the Indian scouts, and 
learned many things regarding the massacre of the previ- 
ous year from the Indian point of view. The Indian 
narrator, once he bends to his work unrestrained by sur- 
roundings, is intensely interesting. My comrade and 
interpreter was intimately acquainted with many of the 
scouts, and knew the art of obtaining a voluble flow 
from the fountains usually concealed beneath a look of 
stoicism. A story once launched, its trend may easily be 
followed by carefully regarding the smiles, frowns, the 
intensity of gesture and the modulations of tone of the 
narrator, for an intelligent Indian is not an artful, but 
a natural raconteur. Some of the more interesting in- 
formation obtained at this interview is made use of in 
an earlier part of this book. One of the narratives, full 
of animation, fiery flashes of the eye and graceful move- 
ments of the hand, accompanied with intensity of expres- 


sion, related to a battle fought on the ground partially 
occupied by our camp. We were principally in the val- 
ley, while the engagement was largely fought on the 
table-land in the southeastern part of our camping ground. 

Story of an Ancient Battle The Indian As a 

The story was that while a large band of Cheyennes were 
camped on the spot where our tents were pitched, a war- 
party of Pottawattomie hunters who had invaded the 
country attacked the Cheyennes. The battle was graphic- 
ally portrayed from beginning to end. The Pottawat- 
tomies came down on the Cheyennes like the wind, taking 
the camp by surprise and producing a reign of consterna- 
tion and terror; but the Cheyennes flew to arms and 
checked the bloody work of their enemy. The Pottawat- 
tomies were driven to the table-land, and the party there 
practically exterminated in a fierce battle that lasted a 
whole afternoon. Asked how long since this battle was 
fought, Chaska counted back twenty-one years, which 
would make the year of the engagement 1842. 

We remained in this camp from the 4th until the llth 
day of July, awaiting the arrival of a detachment from 
Fort Abercrombie. The entire surrounding country was 
explored by the scouts and the cavalry, under various 
officers detailed for the purpose, and during these ex- 
plorations many a choice buffalo and antelope steak found 
its way into camp, although hunting was among the 
things tabooed, theoretically, as dangerous both to hunt- 
ers and military discipline. 

Gymnastic Weather Heat, Cold and Chill. 

On the 9th a hot wind swept up from the south and 
the earth being hot and dry the conditions were almost 
suffocating. Tents were like ovens, and as there was no 
other shelter and as the midsummer sun was torrid all 
suffered in the extreme. The following day the wind 
shifted to the northeast and brought down a volume of 
smoke from burning pine forests many leagues away in 


northern Minnesota, no doubt, that was almost insuffer- 
able. Tents were invisible at a distance of fifty yards. 
Then the weather had still another stunt in store for us, 
for on the morning of July llth the wind was squarely 
from the north and uncomfortably cold. The smoke was 
less dense than on the 10th, but the cold was penetrating 
and drove all but the infantry into overcoats, for we took 
up the line of march again this morning, much to the 
gratification of all, since forage and fuel were becoming 
scarce at Camp Hayes, with no compensating attractions. 
Reveille was sounded at 2 o'clock this morning and the 
command was in motion at 3. At the end of eighteen 
miles Gen. Sibley established Camp Wharton, where we 
remained during the 12th. 

At 3 o'clock on the morning of July 13th the expedition 
was again in motion, traversing a beautiful country and 
establishing camp after a march of twenty miles. 

Beautiful Country Taunt of the Mirage The 
Balm of Air-Castles. 

One of the attractions of the day has been the ever- 
recurring, ever-vanishing mirage, which has lured us on, 
day after day, with its beautiful setting just a few miles 
farther ahead a beautiful apparition that justifies the 
assertion that there is something commendable in air 
castles. Day after day on the treeless plains, when the 
vertical rays of a summer sun revived memories of cooling 
shades and refreshing waters, the mirage would assert 
itself on the horizon and grow from a tiny first view to a 
vast landscape. Were we deluded by this apparition yes- 
terday ? Yes ; but the one now before us is so realistic 
that we know those beautiful groves and that vast, placid 
lake are real, and that we shall camp tonight amid scenes 
such as we have dreamed of since the days of home life 
and civilization. But like the end of the rainbow, the 
taunting landscape was not real, or it would fade away 
gradually, hour by hour, leaving the impression, despite 
the pranks of past delusions, that we had descended into 
a depressed area, and that presently we would mount 


the opposite rim to find ourselves in full view of an ideal 
camping ground. But today's lakes and groves were 
no more real than were yesterday's. A day would then 
pass with no taunting apparition just the dull monotony 
of boundless plain and bending sky. Then gradually 
would come into view again visions of woodland and 
waters that kept men, wearied and worn with travel and 
hardships, in almost childish good humor, so true to 
nature would this beautiful picture rear itself within easy 
range of our vision. Even the wary, who had been so 
often deluded, feeling there must be, somewhere, grove- 
girt lakes, were caught time and again with the convic- 
tion that at last we beheld the real thing wood-girt 
waters. The mirage will ever remain vigorous in the 
memory of the men who gazed upon and discussed it day 
after day, for it was always profuse in its promises, and 
not infrequently was the basis of a wager, involving a 
month's pay, and no less frequently it happened, on ac- 
count of some rare new feature, more promising than 
ever, that the most skeptical were the loosers. Today we 
witnessed the most unusual and remarkable of all mirage 
freaks. Whatever else the mirage spreads before its on- 
lookers on the plains, the grove and lake feature is never 
wanting. In this instance, beyond the lake, which itself 
was apparently distinct, was plainly visible a moving 
animal mass, raised quite above the horizon of the mirage. 
Apparently the mass was crossing a point of high ground, 
with the figures seemingly inverted. The mass came 
within the scope of vision out of nothing definable, and 
disappeared toward the westward at a vanishing point 
apparently above and beyond the mirage proper, but it 
was a part of the phenomenon, and made, for its variety 
and its mysterious transition, a profound impression upon 
the many who witnessed it and speculated upon its cause, 
which was most generally believed to be traceable to the 
fact that a herd of buffalo were crossing a point of land 
embraced within the zone of the mirage. And so I repeat, 
air castles are not without benefits sufficient to justify 
their existence. These, at least, while they made promises 


they never redeemed, made many a man forget his pains 
for a day. 

The weather has become normal again, and we enter 
camp at midday, located between three small lakes, all of 
which afford excellent water, much to the enjoyment of 
man and beast, as poor water is the rule, all being im- 
pregnated with alkali. We saw numerous herds of buf- 
falo today, and, as an every-day occurrence, many bands 
of antelope. 

In the Saddle at 2 in the Morning Tolac Lake 
Beautiful Camp Ground. 

"July 14th. Pretty early in the morning, but the bugles 
ring out brilliantly at 2 o'clock, the disturbance starting 
at Gen. Sibley's headquarters. The aim of the com- 
mander is to be well on our journey before the heat of 
a midsummer day becomes oppressive, and then to enter 
camp about midday. We make eighteen miles today and 
establish Camp Weiser, in honor of Dr. Weiser, surgeon 
of the Mounted Rangers." 

July 15th we made seventeen miles, camping on a 
beautiful lake in the shape of a horseshoe, with the open- 
ing to the westward. The land within the almost com- 
plete circle was sufficiently extensive to accommodate the 
entire command by compactly forming the camp. This 
lake was on the east side of the Cheyenne River and 
could not have been far from the site of Valley City. 
Tolac was the name by which the lake was known to 
the expedition. No maps to be found show its existence, 
and it has no doubt long since disappeared as a result of 
the cultivation of the country in which it was located, as 
its waters were shallow, though apparently permanent, 
for the season of our visit to it had already most severely 
tested its endurance. The waters of Tolac were so im- 
pregnated with alkali that they were almost unendurable 
to man or beast, despite the beauty of the lake. 


Killing an Elk Within the Lines Founding Camp 

The command was out at 2 on the morning of the 16th, 
and made good progress over the pathless plains, the 
early morning being delightfully cool and refreshing. At 
about 9 o'clock in the forenoon the flankers on the west, 
who were riding along the banks of the Cheyenne, started 
an elk out of a clump of brush. The frightened beast 
turned from the flankers, who were near it, and ran 
towards the main column of the expedition. Half a dozen 
flankers charged in pursuit. When the animal was dis- 
covered, bearing down on the solid lines of infantry, dis- 
cipline was severely tested, but not disgraced. Lieutenant 
Ara Barton of Co. F, Mounted Rangers, who had a dis- 
tinguished part in later years as the sheriff of Rice county 
in capturing most of the James-Younger bandits who es- 
caped from Northfield, executed a flank movement on the 
charging elk and with a well-directed shot brought it to 

We crossed the Cheyenne River today about fifteen 
miles north of where Valley City is located, going into 
camp after a march of eighteen miles. On the 17th we 
made eighteen miles ; on the 18th seventeen miles, found- 
ing Camp Atchison, the most northerly point reached by 
the expedition as a body. From this point scouting parties 
were sent to Devils Lake and elsewhere to the north- 
ward. From 7 to 11 o'clock today a drenching rain 
poured down, but the march was uninterrupted and the 
innovation rather enjoyed in fact, for it was most wel- 
come, and especially as the sun came out later to dry 
the clothing and blankets of the men. 

Cowardly Deed of Lieut. Field Furor in Camp. 

Lieutenant Albert R. Field of Co. G, Mounted Rangers, 
created a sensation in the newly-established camp by 
shooting a private soldier. The act was cowardly and 
malicious, and produced a furor of indignation through- 
out the command, which was only allayed by the assur- 


ance that Field should be dealt with promptly. The man 
was not seriously wounded, but that he was not killed 
was due more to poor markmanship than to good dis- 

Camp Atchison was named in honor of Ordnance Offi- 
cer Atchison of the expedition, as was also the beautiful 
little lake on whose shores the camp was established. 
The location of this camp can be more definitely deter- 
mined on the map of today than any other (save pos- 
sibly Camp Hayes, at the first crossing of the Cheyenne) 
east of the James River. Gen. John C. Fremont had 
once visited this region on a tour of exploration and 
had named a beautiful little lake in honor of his wife, 
Jessie, and Camp Atchison was established on a lake two 
to four miles southwest of Lake Jessie. This would make 
its location in township 147, range 60. 

General Sibley's Busy Day A Dash for the 

The 19the of July was Gen. Sibley's busy day. He had 
resolved to make Atchison a permanent camp, to the end 
that a vigorous campaign might be prosecuted in the 
direction of the Missouri River. The Indian scouts were 
satisfied the main body of. Sioux were on the plains west 
of the James. These scouts had extended their observa- 
tions well into the Devils Lake country, and had learned 
enough through their keen Indian discernment to fore- 
cast the movements and location of the body of which 
Gen. Sibley was in search. 

The General called the commanders of his subdivisions 
together and upon their information selected 2,056 men 
for a forced march westerly, the expedition to consist 
of 1,436 infantry, 520 cavalry and 100 artillery and pio- 
neers, with a sufficient number of the best teams to carry 
necessary ammunition and twenty-five days' rations. 
This left the post of Camp Atchison with about an equal 
number of men and at least two-thirds of the cumber- 
some train of wagons. All disabled men and animals 
were left in camp, which was fortified with breastworks 


and made thoroughly defensible. The men slated to re- 
main at the new post were not pleased with the idea of 
being marooned thus, isolated from civilization by hun- 
dreds of miles of distance, in a treeless country entirely 
cut off from communication with the world. Those 
selected for the forced march were to enjoy no privileges 
not accorded their comrades, except that they were to be 
favored with activity a life always preferred by soldiers. 

A Visit from Chippewa Buffalo Hunters Pointers 
They Gave Us Reaching the James River 
Indian Signs. 

Gen. Sibley had littk use for the sluggard. He be- 
lieved every man should so time his habits as to be at 
his best for any duty at an early hour in the morning. 
He placed great value on the early part of the day for 
any mental or physical duty devolving on a man. There 
were other reasons why, on this expedition, excessively 
early rising was practiced, but they were simply in har- 
mony with the habits of this sturdy and generally beloved 
man; so there was no surprise when reveille broke ovei 
the plains at 2 o'clock on the morning of July 20th. A 
southwesterly course was taken up promptly at 3, and 
by noon a distance of twenty miles had been covered over 
the trackless country, when camp was established. At 
evening a large party of Chippewa half-breeds, said to 
be three hundred in number, came into camp, producing 
something of a sensation for a time. Father Andre, a 
Catholic priest, was the spokesman of the party. When 
it was learned the visitors were of the Chippewa nation 
the soldiers viewed the innovation with a different, 
though not an indifferent, interest. The party was com- 
posed of a lot of hardy, swarthy, robust buffalo hunters, 
all mounted and well armed. There was a generous 
sprinkling of full-bloods among them, but the former pre- 
dominated. They were very friendly, and were especially 
so since, like ourselves, they were in the enemy's country. 
They gave Gen. Sibley much valuable information, among 


other things stating that 4,000 to 5,000 Sioux were in 
camp some miles west of the James River, where they, 
too, were buffalo hunting. After a march of eight miles 
on the 21st we went into camp on the James River, the 
location affording a good camping ground, and the Gen- 
eral desiring to "feel" the country to the westward with 
scouting parties, but no Indians were discovered, 

At the usual early hour on the morning of the 22nd 
we were again in motion. The scouts discovered Indian 
signs today. The country is somewhat rough and rolling, 
but we nevertheless covered twenty miles before going 
into camp. 

In the saddle at 3 on the morning of the 23rd, we 
made good progress, though traversing a hil'y and some- 
what difficult country for hasty military operations. At 
2 P. M. we went into camp after a march of twenty 
miles. The Indian scouts manifest a feeling that we are 
in the immediate country of the enemy, though no In- 
dians were seen during the day. Night finds our camp 
well intrenched and well picketed. 

Finding the Sioux Battle of Big Mound Death of 
Dr. Weiser Escape of George A. Brackett- 
All Day and All Night in the Saddle Indian 
Holds Up Stars and Stripes Running Figh t of 
Fifteen Miles. 

The command moved out of camp at 3 o'clock sharp 
on the morning of July 24th. About noon, having cov- 
ered twenty miles or more, the command came upon a 
large body of Indians. The train was at once corralled 
and steps taken to intrench the camp. 

Suddenly, from the right flank, we discovered great 
bodies of Indians gathering in groups on what Gen. 
Sibley named Big Mound, which, however, when we were 
on top of it proved to be an extensive hill, quite bluff-like 
on the north and west, with a considerable table-land on 
the summit, sweeping to the south and southeast. 

The spot was one of the most charming we had thus 


far found in Dakota Territory. The beautiful grove that 
skirted the mound did not dissolve from view on our 
approach, as the taunting mirage had done so many times 
previously, but remained real and substantial. Trees we 
were unaccustomed to see, and to find on this vast, bound- 
less plain like a jewel, this handsome setting, with a back- 
ground of lakes, challenged the admiration of every lover 
of nature, even if we were not permitted to enjoy it in 
peace. Here, at this beauty spot, 5,000 Indians had their 
homes in the midst of great buffalo haunts. 

Standing Buffalo's band constituted a part of this 
nomadic group, and no doubt there would have been a 
peaceful surrender of the Indians without the firing of a 
shot but for the act of a treacherous red in whose mental 
construction there had been no provision made for dis- 
cretion. The Indians swarmed in great numbers on the 
hilltop to the eastward as the expedition approached on 
the plain below along the western base of the mound. 
Dr. J. S. Weiser, surgeon of the Mounted Rangers, and 
whose home was at Shakopee in the Minnesota valley, 
rode up the hill beyond the lines of the expedition, where 
he met and mingled with the Indians, shaking hands with 
many he had known in his home town, of which they 
had in early days been frequenters. Here a cowardly 
Indian stepped behind Dr. Weiser and shot him in the 
back at short* range, killing him instantly. The whole 
proceeding was witnessed by the entire army on the 
plain, as if it had been purposely staged for the occasion. 
The puff of blue smoke and Dr. Weiser's fall, stricken 
with death, was the signal for attack, and the Indians 
were put upon the defensive instantly, with a feeling of 
revenge so intent that even a flag of truce would have 
received scant courtesy for a time, though as an evi- 
dence that the shooting was not generally approved of, 
Dr. Weiser's body was protected from mutilation. 

But this was a declaration of war admitting of no ex- 
planations, had explanations been offered. The cavalry 
was ordered to the scene posthaste, and for its availability 
was quickly engaged under Col. McPhail, though the 


whole body of troops was moved actively, save the Tenth 
under Col. Baker, to whose lot it fell to protect the in- 
trenched camp should it be attacked. The Sixth under 
Col. Crooks and Lieut. Col. Averill, the Seventh under 
Lieut. Col. Marshall and the cavalry under Col. McPhail 
moved up the hill in a battle-front of over a mile in 
length, while the artillery under Capt. Jones and Lieu- 
tenant Whipple took positions to facilitate the movement 
of the troops up the slope. The engagement opened air 
along the line, and from the plain below was said to be 
imposing and dramatic such as would appear a seven- 
day wonder to the peaceful and enlightened North Dakota 
of this age. 

The Indians made a determined stand, realizing the 
advantage of their position, but the troops pressed them 
back steadily until the brow of the hill was gained, where 
the real crux came. The warriors numbered fully fifteen 
hundred, and their entire strength was summoned to stay 
the troops ere they gained the summit, knowing that once 
the hill was lost there was no longer hope of holding the 
expedition in check. While all the forces had not now 
gained the uplands, a sufficient number had done so to 
determine the battle, which had raged for two hours, 
in favor of Gen. Sibley. 

The Indians fell back in great haste, crossing a plateau 
of a mile in extent and making a stand at the brow of the 
hill breaking to the southwestward. Once on the sum- 
mit, Col. McPhail sensed the situation and seeing it was 
the purpose of the Indians to take shelter below the crest 
of the southwestern slope, ordered Lieutenant Barton of 
Co. F of the cavalry to charge the savages at the ex- 
treme left, and Captain Horace Austin, Co. B, to similarly 
charge a body taking shelter farther to the right. The 
cavalry bounded off at full speed with sabres ablaze and 
the parched earth resounding like thunder beneath the 
hoofs of the flying column. The Indians quaked as the 
columns approached them, holding their fire, however, 
and delivering a furious volley before disappearing over 
the hill, down which they were found scampering in great 


confusion. The slope was too steep for the charging 
columns, but the men delivered a fire that brought down 
a number of the fleeing savages. At the sound of the 
bugle these two companies galloped to the position taken 
by Col. McPhail to the right. Inactivity now pervaded 
the whole field for some unknown reason, but because of 
orders it was asserted, while immediately below us, half 
a mile away, at the foot of the long hill, the Indians, men, 
women, children, dogs, ponies and all personal effects, 
were compressed within narrow limits between two lakes 
in a state of panic, bent on escape. A column thrown 
around the westernmost of the two lakes would have com- 
pletely checkmated this, resulting in the capture of the 
entire camp. The cavalry, occupying the most advanced 
position, and the only one in view of the retreating foe, 
were held very unwilling spectators while this move- 
ment was going on. Officers and men were almost un- 
controllable as it became apparent the enemy was suc- 
cessfully eluding the grasp of the soldiery, but Col. Mc- 
Phail, brave and aggressive, counselled obedience. While 
thus lined up a furious thunderstorm broke over us, 
heaven and earth resounding with the echoing thunder. 
A blinding flash of lightning that made every horse 
crouch knocked Col. McPhail's sword from his hand and 
killed Private John Murphy and his horse, of Capt. 
Austin's company (B 1 ), on our immediate right. An 
orderly at this moment rode up and delivered a message 
which Col. McPhail eagerly glanced at. The bugle 
sounded the charge, and the two companies bounded 
away, A and L quickly joining. Now began a spec- 
tacular movement without a rival even in fiction. The 
Indians had successfully escaped beyond their confine- 
ment between the lakes and were a mile on their way 
in the open, headed southwesterly. The progress of the 
cavalry was impeded at the restricting point between the 
lakes, but the force was quickly formed into fours and 
lost little time in making the passage, reassuming again 
a line of battle and sweeping over the plains in pursuit 
of the fleeing savages. 


A supporting column, consisting of the Seventh and a 
portion of the Tenth, and a section of artillery under 
Lieutenant Whipple, was sent forward promptly, but to 
overtake and keep up with the cavalry and the flying 
enemy was a physical impossibility. The Indians, seeing 
they could not escape, put their entire fighting force at 
the rear to protect their retreat, and a running battle, 
covering a distance of fifteen miles, was fought at close 
range. No such spectacle was ever witnessed before in 
Indian warfare, the cavalry pressing hard to force a 
stand and the Indians fighting stubbornly to prevent it, 
and keep up the movement towards the Missouri. Sev- 
eral companies of cavalry (H, J and D) that had fought 
in the earlier engagement dismounted and were thus hin- 
dered in the chase, came up and joined in the running 
fight, though companies A, B, F and L had maintained, 
single-handedly, the running battle for ten miles before 
the reinforcements reached the scene of hostilities. 

Two incidents of this running battle were shocking and 
should never have occurred even in the heat and passion 
of an engagement, though these cavalrymen had wit- 
nessed the unprovoked murder of their surgeon earlier 
in the day. One of these incidents was the appearance 
from the ranks of the enemy of a stalwart, muscular In- 
dian, who had wrapped about him a beautiful American 
flag. He so displayed this that it could not be mistaken, 
evidently intending to meet and deliver himself up to 
his pursuers, possibly with a message asking for terms 
of surrender; but he became the target for a hundred 
shots, and realizing as the column neared him that he 
must fall he began to shoot, bent upon selling his life 
dearly if he must. Though hit many times, with the 
national emblem still about his shoulders, he loaded and 
fired his gun with great dexterity. His weapon was a 
double-barreled shotgun. His mouth was filled with 
buckshot. He poured the powder into the muzzle of his 
piece for his last shot and without wadding spat a charge 
of bullets into the gun, apparently getting but one cap 
on. Raising his weapon, he swept it along, covering half 


a dozen men of the company before he was able to dis- 
charge it, finally exploding the cap and burying the 
charge of buckshot in an overcoat rolled up on the pom- 
mel of the saddle of Private Ezra W. Green. The charge 
was fired at so short a range, not exceeding ten feet, that 
the bullets did not scatter, but buried themselves deeply 
in the rolled coat, thus saving the life of Green. The 
stalwart Indian now clubbed his gun, and with a desperate 
blow very nearly unhorsed Private Andrias Carlson, rid- 
ing next to Green. The Indian had now more than a 
dozen bullet wounds in his body and still fought des- 
perately, and was only finally finished by Private Archi- 
bald McNee, at Carlson's left, who rode out of the ranks 
and killed the savage.* 

The other incident was that in which an old gray-haired 
warrior gave emphasis to the law of the survival of the 
fittest. His years, probably four score in number, had 
made him a noncombattant. He had kept up with his 
people until his frail body had failed him, then dropping 
back helplessly through the lines he kept up his feeble 
trot, but to all appearances exhausted. He was as de- 
fenseless in the matter of arms as he was in the matter 
of age. A soldier rode out of the ranks of Co. B with 
drawn sabre. The old man heard his approach and glanc- 
ing up and realizing his fate pulled his blanket up over 
his head and trudged on until the cavalryman brought 
his sword down with such a blow as only stalwart youth 
can deliver across the back of the old man's neck, which 
must have well nigh beheaded him.* 

Many warriors fell in the running fight, and their 
comrades were too hotly pursued to bear them from the 
field. These were ridden over by the cavalry and most 
of them scalped by those of the soldiers who had a pen- 
chant for bloody trophies. 

*A11 this occurred immediately in front of the set of 
fours in which I rode. 

*These incidents were abhorrent to me, and have al- 
ways seemed inhuman, if not criminal. 


The remarkable fight was continued into the night, and 
until the darkness was so intense the enemy on either 
side only knew the location of his adversary by the flash 
of the guns of pursued and pursuer. At about 10 o'clock 
at night Lieutenant Beever of General Sibley's staff, 
guided by the sound of the running engagement, brought 
a verbal message from the commanding general order- 
ing the return of all the forces to Big Mound. This or- 
der was displeasing to the officers and men, but was 
obeyed.f Five miles back we found the infantry ancf 
artillery, sensibly bivouacked. They fell in and were able 
with their hour of rest to keep pace with our reeling, 
jaded horses. But the night was densely cloudy and 
intensely dark, and with nothing whatever to guide us in 
this strange country we lost our way, running into annoy- 
ing obstacles now and then to impede our progress and 
divert us into greater confusion of mind. The artillery 
was brought into use and several shots fired, but no 
response came. Our wanderings were continued until 
daylight, when, at about 4 o'clock, we got a response 
from a shot fired at that time by Lieut. Whipple. Thus 
guided, we reached camp at 7 o'clock in the morning. 
Rarely are soldiers put to a severer test than that en- 
dured by these men. The cavalrymen had been con- 
stantly in the saddle for twenty-eight hours and a con- 
siderable portion of that time actively engaged in con- 
flict, with nothing to eat and without water since in the 
forenoon of the previous day. The infantry had fared 
but little better, except that, so much, in the nature of 
things, was not expected from that arm of the service. 
The horses were in a pitiable condition, having been 
ridden excessively hard without food, drink or rest. Get- 
ting in, they were watered and picketed out. The camp 
had been broken and everything packed for the march 

fit was insisted by Gen. Sibley this order was in> 
properly delivered by Lieut. Beever. "Bivouac where 
night overtakes you if you can hold your ground; return 
to camp if you cannot," is said to have been the order. 


when we entered it, so the exhausted men fell upon their 
faces on the plain, without waiting to prepare food, and 
with nothing to shelter them slept in the broiling sun 
until late in the day. The chief bugler sounded the as- 
sembly, which was caught and repeated, rousing the men 
from their stupor to again take up the march. Making 
a distance of five miles, the command went into camp 
for the night, and here it was that many a soldier ate his 
first meal and drank his first cup of coffee in forty hours. 
Here the remains of Eh% Weiser and Private John Murphy 
were buried with military honors. Our day's rest and our 
square meal in the evening had fitted us for picket duty 
for the night, which was made anything but pleasant by 
a drizzling rain and a northeast wind full of chill.* 

Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake. 

July 26th we moved out of camp at an early hour, fol- 
lowing the trail over which the cavalry had fought the 
enemy on the 24th. As we reached Dead Buffalo Lake 
at 2 P. M. the Indians revealed themselves across the 

*On the morning of the 24th Lieutenant Ambrose Free- 
man of Co. D, cavalry, and George A. Brackett, beef con- 
tractor, dropped out of the lines for a buffalo hunt, not 
an uncommon thing for officers and men to do, though 
forbidden. They were five miles or more from the com- 
mand, to the left and rear, on the day the Indians were 
encountered, but were cut off by savages while the Big 
Mound engagement was in progress, and Lieut. Free- 
man killed. Brackett had a most sensational experience, 
escaping and returning eastward on foot, his horse having 
been taken at the time Freeman was killed, reaching Camp 
Atchison after five days of wandering, more dead than 
alive and the hero of experiences and" triumphs unparal- 
leled. It was supposed that both men had been slain by 
the savages until meeting a party of Chippewa hunters 
within a day's march of Camp Atchison on our return. 
The Chippewas had visited Camp Atchison and told of 
Brackett's safe arrival there. 


path of the expedition, well in advance. They were at 
long range and Lieut. Whipple's battery was turned upon 
them. They were observant rather than belligerent for 
a time, plotting deviltry as was suspected by those familiar 
with their tricks. Their purpose was later revealed when 
from the cover of a hill on the right a mounted force 
swept down like a hurricane on the hundreds of grazing 
horses and mules that had by this time been picketed 
out. The game was a bold one and would have proved 
a great triumph had it succeeded, but the mere presence 
of the enemy was enough to warn commanders of their 
danger. This bold dash led to a hot fight between the 
savages on one side and the Indian scouts and the cavalry 
on the other. The Indians, as a counter move, attacked 
the left and front, but the Sixth Minnesota handled them 
roughly, with the assistance of the artillery. The battle 
lasted two hours, during which the Indians were worsted 
at every point of the field. The camp was well intrenched 
and strongly picketed for the night, but was undisturbed 
by the savages, and on the following day the command 
after a hard march of twenty miles over a rolling coun- 
try, man and beast suffering greatly for want of water, 
reached Stony Lake. While on this expedition extremely 
early rising was the rule, early retirement was no less 
the practice. Camp was necessarily established with ref- 
erence to grass and water, but these conditions were 
usually found at from 11 A. M. to 2. P. M. 

Battle of Stony Lake Spectacular Scene. 

Stony Lake was a very small body of alkali water 
situated in camp, but immediately south of our line of 

The morning of July 28th was one of exceptional 
beauty. At the usual early hour the command taking up 
its line of march from the lake, surrounding the train as 
was customary, was slowly wending its way up a long 
slope in a westerly course with the rear guard just ready 
to move, when, as if by magic, the plain swarmed with 
savages. The atmosphere was tinted with smoke, as on 


an autumn morning, giving the flood of sunlight now en- 
veloping the earth, a ruddiness that added spirit to one 
of the most picturesque military encounters ever wit- 
nessed. The Indians were naked, except as to the cus- 
tomary breechclout, and were all mounted. Their num- 
bers had been largely augmented from along the Missouri, 
Sitting Bull being among the new accessions, and here 
for the first time "measuring swords" with the white race. 
Fully two thousand warriors were in this spectacular en- 
gagement, dramatic beyond description. As if springing 
spontaneously out of the earth, these scurrying, painted 
demons, hair streaming and bending forward as if to 
accelerate the speed of their flying ponies, completely en- 
veloped Gen. Srbley's little army, with yells calculated to 
make the soldiers "sit up and take notice." The Mis- 
souri was but thirty miles distant, and the expedition must 
be held in check until the families and personal effects of 
the Indians could be successfully transferred to the west- 
ern shores of that river. Hence this was a battle of des- 
peration on the part of the savages, who fought with a 
bravery admired even by their enemies. The engage- 
ment opened around the entire great circle, the object 
evidently being to find a vulnerable point into which it 
was plainly intended to pour a stream of savages at any 
sacrifice, but Gen. Sibley's forces were well disposed and 
fought gallantly, every soldier being engaged. 

The ruddy sunlight gave the naked demons, in their 
desperate assaults, a weird appearance, smacking of ro- 
mance rather than of real human endeavor, and the only 
hardship of which any man could complain was that of 
being required to perform duty while so tragic ancf 
graphic an exhibition was spread along the slope ancf 
over the plains in the depths of that wild, boundless soli- 

Mingled with hideous yells were the rattle of musketry 
and the roar of cannon, amid which, with bounding dashes 
here and there, the savages endeavored to break our lines, 
but these brave endeavors only resulted in increased losses 
to the enemy, and after more than two hours of fierce 


fighting the Indians disappeared as mysteriously as they 
had swooped down upon us, leaving many dead on the 
field, but rescuing by acts of admirable daring most of 
their wounded, whom they bore away on their ponies. 
Lines were now reformed for the march, and the expedi- 
tion covered a distance of over twenty-two miles over a 
difficult country before establishing camp. After the close 
of the morning engagement not an Indian was seen dur- 
ing the day's march. 

Great Quantities of Dried Buffalo Meat Robes 


When the expedition reached Big Mound, where the 
first engagement was fought, the Indians were in camp 
near the foot of the southwestern exposure of the 
"mound." When the battle was precipitated, and the 
Indians finally forced to retreat, this camp was hastily 
broken and movables packed for flight. As the running 
fight warmed up, the flying Indians began to sacrifice one 
impediment, then another, until the path of the fleeing 
savages was easily traced thence to the Missouri River, 
the greater quantities being sacrificed in the first forty 
or fifty miles of the eighty-mile flight. The Indians had 
spent the summer up to the time Gen. Sibley overhauled 
them in buffalo hunting. They had already obtained 
and dried their winter's supply of buffalo meat, and had 
accumulated and tanned great quantities of fine robes. 
These products were surplusage on such an occasion as 
this, and as they impeded the progress of the retreating 
savages were sacrificed by degrees as necessity compelled, 
so that the ground was strewn for miles with the dried 
meat and valuable robes. The soldiers gathered great 
quantities of the dried but unsalted buffalo meat, which 
they carried in their haversacks for lunch on the march, 
not questioning its preparation by hands never washed 
except by accident. The dried meat was very nutritious, 
and, salted, highly palatable. Of the hundreds of robes 
many choice ones were gathered, but being cumbersome 
the soldiers, like the Indians, were obliged, sooner or 


later, to discard them. In packing for the flight, even 
the dogs had been loaded to the limit of their carrying 
capacity. One poor canine, late in the afternoon of our 
running fight of the 24th, fell out of the race with his 
enormous load, which contained, among other things, a 
heavy ax, lashed to his body. A soldier kindly cut the 
thongs with which his load was bound up and fastened 
to him, allowing him to escape and join his friends. 

The Indians had thrown away their entire stock of pro- 
visions in their panic, and the last day or so of their flight 
were compelled to subsist on "bread root," which grew 
abundantly on the hills and which had been dug in great 
quantities, as the freshly-made holes, with some pointed 
instrument, attested. 

Breaking camp early on the morning of the 29th, the 
command took up the pursuit. A numerous body of 
mounted Indians suddenly appeared on the right, left and 
front, but as suddenly disappeared without offering battle, 
and without leading the expedition a wild chase, as they 
had hoped to do, and were not seen again. The Sioux 
are skilled in the art of concealing their movements, even 
in a comparatively open country. 

Entering the Missouri Valley Striking the Missouri 
Death of Lieut. Beaver. 

As we descended into the valley of the Missouri at 
about 9 in the forenoon we could see the massed savages 
climbing the hills on the opposite side of the river, they 
having reached and successfully crossed that great stream 
during the night and early morning by the aid of rafts 
of hasty and rude construction, and even by plunging 
frantically into the turbid river and swimming for life. 
Those who witnessed the scurrying mass as it ascended 
the hills beyond the river, a few miles distant, will never 
forget the spectacle. The slanting rays of the forenoon 
sun were reflected from hundreds of mirrors hung as in- 
dispensable personal trappings to the bodies of these 
strange, wild people, producing an effect of the occasion's 
own peculiar exclusiveness. 


At about 11 o'clock in the forenoon the expedition 
reached the Missouri River at the mouth of Apple Creek, 
about four miles below the present city of Bismarck. 
Above the mouth of Apple Creek a mile or so is the point 
at which the Indians had made their crossing of the Mis- 
souri. The river bottom on the east side was here quite 
heavily timbered, and the Sixth Minnesota, under Col. 
Crooks, was ordered to explore the woods and place of 
crossing. Numerous warriors were concealed in the tim- 
ber, and spirited skirmishing resulted from their presence, 
during which Lieut. Beever* of Gen. Sibley's staff entered 
the woods .with an order to Col. Crooks, which he de- 
livered, but the Lieutenant was ambushed and killed on 
his return. His body was not found until the following 
day, when it was discovered where it had fallen, pierced 
with bullets and arrows. He wore his hair cropped closely 
or was slightly bald, and his murderers removed the skin 
from the lower part of his face, bearing the trimmed 
beard, instead of taking his scalp. His body was interred 
in a lonely grave within the camp-ground, hundreds of 
miles from civilization, as was that of Private Nicholas 
Miller of Co. K of the Sixth, who was also killed in the 

Col. Crooks found about one hundred wagons the In- 
dians had abandoned in their hasty crossing during the 
night, together with camp equipage, all of which he col- 
lected and burned. On the night of the 29th the Indians 
attacked our camp, but retired after firing a volley or two, 
and very properly, for the night was beautiful such as 
would have set the heart of Tom Moore atune with its 
summer breath, full moon and floating clouds too beau- 
tiful for this incivility. 

Here ended the campaign of the Sibley Expedition 

*Lieutenant Beever was an Englishman who had se- 
cured a position on Gen. Sibley's staff at his own request, 
and on the recommendation of influential friends who 
knew him, and was not, it was said, a naturalized citizen 
an( | not an American soldier. 


of 1863. With barely rations enough left to make the 
return to Camp Atchison, and with animals in a state of 
collapse, further pursuit of the savages was out of the 
question. It had been arranged before leaving Camp 
Pope that Gen. Alfred Sully should meet Gen. Sibley on 
the Missouri, if possible, he to proceed from Sioux City, 
Iowa, at least a part of the way by river transports, with 
an army similar to that commanded by Sibley ; but noth- 
ing could be learned of Gen. Sully, he, as was later 
known, having been detained at many points by low 
water. Rockets and the battery were used on the nights 
of July 30th and 31st in the hope that by this signalling 
communication might be established with the Sully ex- 
pedition, but no response came. 

On the Ground Where Bismarck Stands. 

On the 30th and 31st the cavalry and scouts recon- 
noitered the country up the Missouri, riding over the 
ground where Bismarck is located, but in a day when 
that city was not so much as a figment in the mind of 
any dreamer. 

The Indians had been severely punished, while their 
property loss had reduced them to a state of destitution, 
and not the least of their losses was the exhaustion very 
largely of their supply of ammunition, for upon this they 
must depend principally for their subsistence. 

Inkpaduta Not a Leader Lean Bear Dead. 

It has been said recently by a writer that Inkpoduta 
was the "Napoleon" who led the savages from the open- 
ing of the battle at Big Mound until the passage of the 
Missouri, and that Lean Bear was one of his lieuten- 
ants. Inkpaduta was never more than a horse-thief and 
cut-throat, dreaded and despised by the Sioux in gen- 
eral, who were never known to give him any following, 
except from among the outlaws and oucasts whom the 
Indians in general could not tolerate with patience. As 
for Lean Bear, he had been dead nearly a year when 
the battle of Big Mound was fought, having been killed 


August 20, 1862, by a settler named Duly, at Lake She- 
tek, Minnesota. It was one of Inkpaduta's outlaws who 
shot and killed Dr. Weiser, and brought upon the Indians 
the hardships, suffering and losses they sustained from 
that hour on, making Inkpaduta more despised than ever 
before, for without any doubt it was the purpose of the 
Indians as a body to surrender peaceably to Gen. Sibley 
and trust to his clemency. They knew of his presence 
in the immediate country they occupied, but did not even 
move their families, meeting the approach of the general 
when within cannon shot of their great camp, not as war- 
riors, but as spectators, and sending him word by the 
Indian scouts they wished to hold a council with him, 
which would no doubt have taken place but for the treach- 
erous act of a follower of Inkpaduta. 

Turning Homeward Great Joy in Camp. 

I find in my diary, under date of August 1st, 1863, 
this entry: "All is joy this morning, for we turn our 
faces once more toward civilization. At no time has there 
been such rejoicing before, and the boys manifest their 
pleasure in everything they do, and at every turn. Never 
again will the hills of the Missouri echo the strains of 
'Home, Sweet Home' with all the emphasis, feeling 
and meaning they are wafted over the valley this morn- 
ing. And how sad the thought so many have been de- 
prived by death from sharing this jubilee and the fond 
hopes that have inspired it. It is now forty-seven days 
since we saw a mark of civilization, and with our well- 
nigh exhausted animals we can hardly hope to make civ- 
ilization in less than another forty-seven days. Not once 
have we seen the face of a woman during the long sum- 
mer's campaign, and it is the hope of greeting again, 
some day, the kind-faced mother, sister or sweetheart that 
has made so joyful the hearts of the soldier boys today." 

We left camp on the Missouri this morning, our com- 
pany, with another, acting as rear guard, thus lingering 
until the command had taken up the march. But for the 


lonely graves we were leaving the farewell would not have 
been a sad one. 

Death of Chaska A Really Noble Indian. 

We made twenty-two miles on the first day of our 
return march, and fifteen on the second day. On the 
evening of the second day, that of August 2nd, Chaska, 
one of the valued Sioux scouts and a good man was 
taken violently ill and died. He had left a family in Min- 
nesota which he had fondly, and that we had turned back, 
reasonably hoped to see again. 

Crystal Springs Name Given by Gen. Sibley Back 
at Camp Atchison Capture of Little Crow's 

At our camp ground on the 3rd we found springs of 
delicious water the best we had been permitted to enjoy 
since leaving Camp Pope. The Missouri River was not 
accessible to us, and the water of Apple Creek was the 
personification of moisture and alkali. There were no 
empty canteens when we left this camp on the morning 
of the 4th. We reached Big Mound on the 4th. On the 
6th we met a party of Chippewa half-breeds, who had 
been at Camp Atchison, and who informed us George A. 
Brackett, after a heroic struggle, had reached that camp 
on the 29th of July. This was occasion for general re- 
joicing, for there was little hope that Brackett had es- 
caped death. 

We got out of the coteau at 10 o'clock on the fore- 
noon of the 7th, to our great relief, as henceforth we 
should traverse a comparatively level country. On Au- 
gust 10th we marched into Camp Atchison, and were 
given a soldiers' welcome by our comrades, who served 
to us a royal supper of baked beans, fried hardtack and 
coffee, with cream from the milk of human kindness in 
it. This was a royal supper from the fact that we had 
been kept too busy to practice cookery in so high a style 
of the art. The men were impatient for the story of 


our adventures, swapping their stock of information, 
which consisted of that of the capture of Little Crow's 
son by them in our absence, for the tales of an adventur- 
ous campaign. To us the news of the capture of the 
young Indian was equal in interest to any single event 
we could recount, for through the boy was gathered the 
first knowledge we had of the killing of his distinguished 
father by Lampson. The boy was hunted up and curi- 
ously scanned. He was a youth of sixteen, wan and 
slender, and gave his name as Wa-Wi-Nap-a, which he 
pronounced very musically. His father had wearied of 
fighting the whites, and with a small party of Indians, 
fifteen men and one squaw in all, had walked all the way 
from the Devils Lake country to the Minnesota frontier, 
his father's mission being principally to steal horses, of 
which he was in great need. The boy had accompanied 
his father to assist in carrying his "pack." Little Crow 
and his* son were separated from the other members of 
the party. They were five or six miles north of Hutchin- 
son, Minnesota, on the evening of July 3rd, and were 
picking berries, unconscious of the presence of white men. 
Nathan Lampson and son Chauncey as was later 
learned were passing the spot, and discovered the In- 
dians. Both Lampsons were armed, as were all who ex- 
posed themselves on the frontier after the massacre. Lit- 
tle Crow and son were in comparatively open ground, 
while the Lampsons were less exposed. The latter were 
in doubt as to the best course to pursue, not knowing how 
many Indians constituted the party, but the senior Lamp- 
son resolved to creep forward to a tree, and from its 
shelter kill, if possible, the older of the two Indians. 

Camp Atchison Abandoned Homeward Bound. 

On the morning of August 12th, 1863, Camp Atchison 
passed out of existence, the entire command taking up its 
long march to civilization. Here came a parting of the 
ways, too, for those who had so long been associated with 
each other, Gen. Sibley returning with the main body of 
the expedition by our former trail as far as the big bend of 


the Cheyenne, thence to Abercrombie and on to Fort 
Snelling, while Col. McPhail, with companies B, E, F, I, 
and M of the cavalry, was ordered to the southward, 
west of the Cheyenne. This lilliputian offshoot was given 
one piece of artillery and a scant supply of provisions, and 
worst of all, Col. McPhail, knowing the great anxiety of 
the men to again reach civilization, informed his officers 
and men, when camp was established at the end of the 
first day's march, that his orders were to make an expe- 
dition into the Snake River country, and that he felt he 
had been unfairly shunted for such a perilous undertak- 
ing with so small a force. The Colonel betrayed no sign 
of the fact, but he must have suffered in his endeavors 
to suppress his pent-up feelings when he discovered what 
a hit he had made, for the outburst of the wrath of the 
disappointed men pretty nearly set the prairie afire. He 
cautioned moderation and obedience. He expressed ear- 
nest indignation himself, but the personal feelings of a 
soldier was as nothing, he said, when an order to perform 
a duty had once been given. He then repaired to his 

The men were furious. Where was Snake River east 
or west of the Missouri? No one could tell, and for- 
tunately for the Colonel, no map of this region had ever 
been made. Twenty-eight hours of fighting was nothing 
as compared with this outrage, for it was supposed the 
season's campaigning was over, and there was to be a re- 
turn to civilized life ; and now this infamous Snake River 
expedition had been sprung, with five companies and a 
wheelbarrow load of provisions. The old earthen bed 
upon which the men had slept all summer was unusually 
hard that night, but the boys became resigned to their 

Timely Capture of Cattle Old Council Ground- 
On Quarter Rations Capt. Allen Kills Buffalo 
Where Redwood Falls Now Stands. 

On the 14th we discovered and captured six head of 


cattle, of which we made excellent use. They were 
probably from Brackett's herd, though this fact could not 
be established. A buffalo was killed on the 15th, just 
as we were establishing camp about three miles west of 
the Cheyenne River. On the night of the 16th we camped 
where in 1853 was held a monster Sioux council, attend- 
ed by all the Dakotas east of the Missouri, and by many 
from beyond that stream. Our Indian guide could tell 
us little of the council, except that it had some reference 
to the treaty of 1851, with which the Missouri River In- 
dians were dissatisfied. On the 17th we camped on the 
spot on the Cheyenne where Fort Ransom was after- 
wards founded. On the 20th, after completing our 
march, four buffalo passed along the outer edge of our 
camp. A party of men mounted their horses and gave 
chase, killing two of the fine animals, and returning to 
camp loaded with choice steaks. On the 22nd we struck 
our old trail amid great rejoicing. The Snake River 
hoax now positively revealed itself, and for the first time 
really had a funny aspect. The 23rd we had our first 
wood fire since leaving the Missouri, bidding finai adieu 
to buffalo chips. The 24th we camped near Big Stone 
Lake, and were put on half rations. Fortunately a party 
from Capt. Austin's company killed a buffalo just before 
going into camp. A team was sent out and brought in 
the entire carcass. The 25th we camped on the Wheat- 
stone River. The event of the 26th was that of being 
put on quarter rations. A diary notation suggests that 
"this beats Snake River." At the crossing of the Lacqui 
Parle River, on the 28th, we found a great abundance of 
wild plums, the first fruit in any form we had been priv- 
ileged to enjoy for months. The last important event 
before terminating our return march occurred on the 31st, 
when Capt. Dwight W. Allen, of Co. I, killed a buffalo 
near the site of the present little city of Redwood Falls. 
The country had been deserted for a year, and the ex- 
cellent pastures of the region had tempted the "cattle of 
the plains" to repossess themselves of it once more. Our 
camp was on the Redwood River on the night of the 31st. 


Capt. Allen and a companion brought in what steak they 
could carry, and a team was sent out to bring in the re- 
mainder of the animal, which, to the hungry men, was like 
a shower of manna. Passing the abandoned Redwood 
Agency on the morning of September 1st, we arrived at 
Fort Ridgely before noon of that day. 

Behold the TransformationThe End. 

Behold the transformation that followed restlessly in 
the wake of this campaign the evolution of an empire 
from a wilderness in the life-time of hundreds of those 
who assisted in the onerous tasks of wresting from the 
idle and indolent savage, as fair a land as the sun ever 
kissed, or the breath of summer ever caressed, moulded 
now into the magnificent commonwealth of North Da- 
kota, with its cities and its towns, its schools and its 
churches^ its net-work of railroads, its thousands of rural 
homes, many of them in all respects modern, its vast herds 
that have displaced the buffalo and the antelope, and its 
golden fields a great state in a word, subdued, beautified, 
glorified, and made rich from the fertility of its own 
matchless soil. What a privilege to have witnessed such 
a transformation, inconceivable in any but our own won- 
derful country, for such a transition one could not wit- 
ness on the Continent of Europe were he permitted to 
live a thousand years. 

Blessed is the memory when we ranged with free hand 
in the work of reclamation, amid scenes forever vanished, 
or now obscured by the stage-settings of civilization. 

There was ever an inspiration in the vast, rolling 
plains a spirit of freedom never to be purged from the 
blood when once taken into it. Oceans and mountains 
challenge our admiration, and no less do great treeless 
expanses of boundless green, that roll away like the 
bounding billows of an emerald sea, to kiss the bending 
skies of our horizon. So far as the works of man were 
concerned, all was desolation. Buffalo and antelope scur- 


ried over the great, wild pastures in herds and bands in- 
numerable, while the Indian, in all his pride and glory, 
roamed as the undisputed master of the great region that 
to man was merely a solitude of limitless possibilities. 


My Excuse 1 

Sioux Massacre Cause of the Outbreak 9 

Yellow Medicine Incident 17 

Beginning of the Outbreak Desperate Work at Redwood Ferry 29 

Miraculous Escape of Blodgett, Sutherland and Others 55 

Determined to Attack Fort Ridgely 77 

Courier Sturgis Breaks the News to St. Peter, 80 

First Attack on Fort Ridgely 88 

Second Attack on Fort Ridgely 99 

Fort Ridgely Never Surprised by Sioux 106 

Daring Service of Messengers Sturgis and McLain 107 

Noble Men and Women Among the Refugees 118 

New Ulm 122 

Birch Coulie 129 

Wood Lake and Camp Release 135 

Attack on Fort Abercrombie 140 

Escape of Missionaries 142 

An Incident Preceding the Outbreak 146 

Incidents of the Siege of Fort Ridgely 1 50 

About Losses 153 

Talks of Cruelty as told by Refugee* 156 

Execution of Thirty-Eight Indians 164 

Dr. Alfred Muller 167 

A Woman in Battle 169 

The Grand Old Ferryman 1 73 

John McCole 175 

Standing Buffalo 177 

Little Crow 183 

The Man Who Killed Little Crow 187 

Death of Chaska 191 

Gallant Sons of Fillmore and Freeborn Counties 1 93 

Miraculous Escape of the Reynolds Family 1% 

ii INDEX. 

Remarkable Experiences of a Remarkable Woman 203 

Sibley Expedition of 1863. 

Assembling an Army for the Sibley Expedition 242 

Hardships of Frontier Military Service Hauling Wagons by Man-power. . 240 

Camp Pope Personnel of the Army 243 

Jime 16, 1853, A Memorable Day How Small Pox Restored Quiet. . 244 
General Sibley 's Habits of Early Rising Our First Day's March The 

Mules and the Bluet 245 

Camp on the Battlefield of Wood Lake 247 

The Desolate Yellow Medicine Agency Camp at Hazelwood 247 

Camp Release A Cold June Day 248 

The Beautiful Lac qui Parle 249 

A Beautiful Country Big Stone Lake 249 

Celebrating a Birthday First Buffalo Hunt 249 

Finding of Human Skeletons 25 1 

Camp Between Lakes Big Stone and Traverse 252 

Adieu With Regrets to Camp McLaren Buffalo "Chips" for Fuel 252 

July Fourth on the Cheyenne River 254 

Story of an Ancient Battle The Indian as a Reconteur 255 

Gymnastic Weather Heat, Cold and Chill 255 

Beautiful Country Taunt of the Mirage The Balm of Air-Castles 256 

In the Saddle at 2 in the Morning Tolac Lake Beautiful Camp Ground . . 258 

Killing an Elk Within the Lines Founding Camp Atchison 259 

Cowardly Deed of Lieut. Field Furor in Camp 259 

General Sibley's Busy Day A Dash for the Missouri 260 

A Visit from Chippewa Buffalo Hunters Pointers They Gave Us 

Reaching the James River Indian Signs 261 

Finding the Sioux Battle of Big Mound Death of Dr. Weiser Escape 
of George A. Brackett All Day and AH Night in the Saddle- 
Indian Holds Up Stars and Stripes Running Fight of Fifteen Miles 262 

Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake 269 

Battle of Stony Lake Spectacular Scene 270 

Great Quantities of Dried Buffalo Meat Robes Galore 272 

Entering the Missouri Valley Striking the Missouri Death of Lieut. 

Beaver. 273 

On the Grouud Where Bismarck Stands 275 

Turning Homeward Great Joy in Camp 276 

Death of Chaska, a Really Noble Indian 277 

INDEX. iii 

Inkpaduta Not a Leader Lean Bear Dead 275 

Crystal Springs Name Given by Gen. Sibley Back at Camp Atchison 

Capture of Little Crow's Son 277 

Camp Atchison Abandoned Homeward Bound 278 

Timely Capture of Cattle Old Council Ground On Quarter Rations 

Capt. Allen Kills Buffalo Where Redwood Falls Now Stands 279 

Behold the Transformation- The End. 281 


Red Iron 12 

Plan of Fort Ridgely 37 

Two Views of Fort Ridgely 38 

Cut Nose 146 

Dr. Alfred Muller 167 

Standing Buffalo 1 77 

Little Crow 183 

Gen. H. H, Sibley 237 

Officers who distinguished themselves in the defense of Fort Ridgely, and 
other prominent characters, on pages following page 227 properly indicated.