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´╗┐Title: A Thrilling Narrative of the Minnesota Massacre and the Sioux War of 1862-63 - Graphic Accounts of the Siege of Fort Ridgely, Battles of - Birch Coolie, Wood Lake, Big Mound, Stony Lake, Dead Buffalo - Lake and
Author: Connolly, A. P. (Alonzo Putnam)
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Thrilling Narrative of the Minnesota Massacre and the Sioux War of 1862-63 - Graphic Accounts of the Siege of Fort Ridgely, Battles of - Birch Coolie, Wood Lake, Big Mound, Stony Lake, Dead Buffalo - Lake and" ***

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Transcriber Note

Table of Contents added. Text emphasis denoted as _Italics_.

[Illustration: Governor Alex Ramsey, of St. Paul,

The Last of the War Governors.]

                          A THRILLING NARRATIVE


                         THE MINNESOTA MASSACRE

                                 AND THE

                          SIOUX WAR OF 1862-63

                         GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE

                        LAKE AND MISSOURI RIVER_.



                       A. P. CONNOLLY, Publisher,
            PAST COMMANDER U. S. GRANT POST, NO. 28, G. A. R.
                         DEPARTMENT OF ILLINOIS.

                           Copyright 1896, by
                             A. P. CONNOLLY



Thirty-four years ago and Minnesota was in an unusual state of
excitement. The great War of the Rebellion was on and many of her sons
were in the Union army "at the front." In addition, the Sioux Indian
outbreak occurred and troops were hurriedly sent to the frontier. Company
A, Sixth Minnesota Infantry, and detachments from other companies were
sent out to bury the victims of the Indians. This duty performed, they
rested from their labors and in an unguarded hour, they, too, were
surrounded by the victorious Indians and suffered greatly in killed and
wounded at Birch Coolie, Minnesota, on September 2 and 3, 1862. The men
who gave up their lives at this historic place, have been remembered by
the state in the erection of a beautiful monument to their memory and the
names inscribed thereon are as follows:

  John College, sergeant, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Wm. Irvine, sergeant, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Wm. M. Cobb, corporal, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Cornelius Coyle, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  George Coulter, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Chauncey L. King, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Henry Rolleau, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Wm. Russell, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Henry Whetsler, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
  Benj. S. Terry, sergeant, Company G, Sixth Minnesota.
  F. C. W. Renneken, corporal, Company G, Sixth Minnesota.
  Robert Baxter, sergeant, Mounted Rangers.
  Richard Gibbons, corporal, Mounted Rangers.

To these, knowing them all personally and well, I fraternally and
reverentially inscribe this book.


"We are coming, Father Abraham, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND MORE!"

This was in response to the President's appeal for men to go to the
front, and the vast levies this called for made men turn pale and maidens

The Union army was being defeated, and its ranks depleted by disease and
expiration of terms of service--the enemy was victorious and defiant,
and foreign powers were wavering. In England aristocracy wanted a
confederacy--the Commoners wanted an undivided Union. The North responded
to the appeal, mothers gave up their sons, wives their husbands, maidens
their lovers, and six hundred thousand "boys in blue" marched away.

In August, 1862, I enlisted to serve Uncle Sam for "three years or during
the war." In January, 1865, I reenlisted to serve another term; but the
happy termination of the conflict made it unnecessary. I do not write
this boastingly, but proudly. There are periods in our lives we wish to
emphasize and with me this is the period in my life.

The years from 1861 to 1865--memorable for all time, I look back to now
as a dream. The echo of the first gun on Sumter startled the world. Men
stood aghast and buckling on the sword and shouldering the musket they
marched away. Brave men from the North met brave men from the South,
and, as the clash of arms resounded throughout our once happy land, the
Nations of the World with bated breath watched the destinies of this

After four years of arbitration on many sanguinary fields, we
decided at Appomattox to live in harmony under one flag. The soldiers
are satisfied--"the Blue and the Gray" have joined hands; but the
politicians, or at least some of them, seem to be unaware that the war is
over, and still drag us into the controversy.

"The Boys in Blue?" Why, that was in 1866, and this is 1896--thirty years
after we had fulfilled our contract and turned over the goods; and was
ever work better done?

Then we could have anything we wanted; now we are "Old Soldiers" and it
is 16 to 1 against us when there is work to do. A new generation has
arisen, and the men of 1861 to 1865 are out of "the swim," unless their
vote is wanted. We generally vote right. We were safe to trust in "the
dark days" and we can be trusted now; but Young America is in the front
rank and we must submit.

The soldier was a queer "critter" and could adapt himself to any
circumstance. He could cook, wash dishes, preach, pray, fight, build
bridges, build railroads, scale mountains, dig wells, dig canals, edit
papers, eat three square meals a day or go without and find fault; and
so with this experience of years,--the eventful years of 1861 and 1865
before me, when the door is shut and I am no longer effective and cannot
very well retire--to the poor-house, have concluded to write a book. I am
not so important a character as either Grant, Sherman, Sheridan or Logan;
but I did my share toward making them great. I'll never have a monument
erected to my memory unless I pay for it myself; but my conscience is
clear, for I served more than three years in Uncle Sam's army and I have
never regretted it and have no apologies to make. I did not go for pay,
bounty or pension, although I got both the former when I did enlist and
am living in the enjoyment of the latter now. I would not like to say
how much my pension is, but it is not one hundred a month by "a large
majority"--and so, I have concluded, upon the whole, to profit by a
portion of my experience in the great "Sioux War" in Minnesota and Dakota
in 1862 (for I campaigned both North and South) and write a book and thus
"stand off" the wolf in my old age.

When peace was declared, the great armies were ordered home and the
"Boys in Blue" became citizens again. The majority of us have passed
over the hill-top and are going down the western slope of life, leaving
our comrades by the wayside. In a few years more there will be but a
corporal's guard left and "the place that knows us now will know us no
more forever." The poor-house will catch some and the Soldiers' Home
others; but the bread of charity can never be so sweet and palatable
as is that derived from one's own earnings,--hence this little book of
personal experiences and exciting events of these exciting years--1862
and 1863. In it I deal in facts and personal experiences, and the
experiences of others who passed through the trying ordeal, as narrated
to me. As one grows old, memory in some sense is unreliable. It cannot
hold on as it once did. The recollection of the incidents of youth
remains, while the more recent occurrences have often but a slender hold
on our memories; often creeps in touching dates, but the recollections of
August, 1862, and the months that followed, are indeed vivid; the impress
is so indelibly graven on our memories that time has not effaced them.

The characters spoken of I knew personally, some for years; the locations
were familiar to me, the buildings homely as they appear, are correct in
size and in style of architecture and some of them I helped to build.
The narrative is as I would relate to you, were we at one of our "Camp
Fires." It is turning back the pages of memory, but in the mental review
it seems but yesterday that the sad events occurred.

                                                          A. P. CONNOLLY.


  Yours truly,

  _A. P. Connolly_


  Chapter                                                            Page

        I. General Remarks--Death of Dr. Weiser                         11
       II. St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1836 and 1896--Father Hennepin.  14
      III. A Pathetic Chapter--Captain Chittenden's Minnehaha.          20
       IV. Origin of Indians--Captain Carver--Sitting Bull.             27
        V. Fort Snelling.                                               33
       VI. The Alarm.                                                   38
      VII. Some of the Causes of the War.                               43
     VIII. Little Crow at Devil's Lake.                                 50
       IX. Fort Ridgely Besieged.                                       63
        X. Siege of New Ulm.                                            67
       XI. Col. Flandreau in Command.                                   75
      XII. Mrs. Eastlick and Family.                                    78
     XIII. The Missionaries--Their Escape.                              85
      XIV. The Indian Pow-wow.                                          87
       XV. Gov. Sibley Appointed Commander.                             97
      XVI. March to Fort Ridgely.                                      103
     XVII. Burial of Capt. Marsh and Men.                              106
    XVIII. Battle of Birch Coolie.                                     112
      XIX. Birch Coolie Continued.                                     118
       XX. Battle of Wood Lake.                                        128
      XXI. Camp Release.                                               139
     XXII. The Indian Prisoners--The Trial.                            146
    XXIII. Capture of Renegade Bands--Midnight March.                  153
     XXIV. Homeward Bound.                                             156
      XXV. Protests--President Lincoln's Order For the Execution.      163
     XXVI. The Execution--The Night Before.                            169
    XXVII. Squaws Take Leave of Their Husbands.                        176
   XXVIII. Capture and Release of Joe Brown's Indian Family.           178
     XXIX. Governor Ramsey and Hole-in-the-Day.                        185
      XXX. Chaska--George Spencer--Chaska's Death--The "Moscow"
               Expedition.                                             190
     XXXI. The "Moscow" Expedition.                                    195
    XXXII. Campaign of 1863--Camp Pope.                                199
   XXXIII. "Forward March."                                            205
    XXXIV. Burning Prairie--Fighting Fire.                             209
     XXXV. Death of Little Crow.                                       211
    XXXVI. Little Crow, Jr.--His Capture.                              218
   XXXVII. Camp Atchison--George A. Brackett's Adventure--Lieutenant
               Freeman's Death.                                        221
  XXXVIII. Battle of Big Mound.                                        232
    XXXIX. Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake.                                237
       XL. Battle of Stony Lake--Capture of a Teton--Death of
               Lieutenant Beaver.                                      241
      XLI. Homeward Bound.                                             252
     XLII. The Campaign of 1864.                                       257
    XLIII. The Battle of the Bad Lands.                                261
     XLIV. Conclusion.                                                 271



Historians have written, orators have spoken and poets have sung of the
heroism and bravery of the great Union army and navy that from 1861 to
1865 followed the leadership of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Logan, Thomas,
McPherson, Farragut and Porter from Bull Run to Appomattox, and from
Atlanta to the sea; and after their work was done and well done, returned
to their homes to receive the plaudits of a grateful country.

More than thirty years have elapsed since these trying, melancholy
times. The question that then called the volunteer army into existence
has been settled, and the great commanders have gone to their rewards.
We bow our heads in submission to the mandate of the King of Kings,
as with sorrow and pleasure we read the grateful tributes paid to the
memories of the heroes on land and on sea,--the names made illustrious by
valorous achievements, and that have become household words, engraven on
our memories; and we think of them as comrades who await us "on fame's
eternal camping ground."

Since the war, other questions have arisen to claim our attention, and
this book treats of another momentous theme. The Indian question has
often, indeed too often, been uppermost in the minds of the people.
We have had the World's Fair, the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the
discovery of America, the recollection of which is still fresh in our
memories. Now we have politics and doubtless have passed through one of
the most exciting political campaigns of our day and generation; but,
let us take a retrospective view, and go back thirty years; look at some
of the causes leading up to the Indian war of 1862; make a campaign with
me as we march over twelve hundred miles into an almost unknown land and
defeat the Indians in several sanguinary battles, liberate four hundred
captive women and children, try, convict and hang thirty-nine Indians for
participating in the murder of thousands of unsuspecting white settlers,
and if, upon our return, you are not satisfied, I hope you will in the
kindness of your heart forgive me for taking you on this (at the time)
perilous journey.

I will say to my comrades who campaigned solely in the South, that
my experience, both North and South, leads me to believe there is no
comparison. In the South we fought foemen worthy of our steel,--soldiers
who were manly enough to acknowledge defeat, and magnanimous enough
to respect the defeat of their opponents. Not so with the redskins.
Their tactics were of the skulking kind; their object scalps, and not
glory. They never acknowledged defeat, had no respect for a fallen
foe, and gratified their natural propensity for blood. Meeting them
in battle there was but one choice,--fight, and one result only, if
unsuccessful,--certain death. They knew what the flag of truce meant
(cessation of hostilities), but had not a proper respect for it. They
felt safe in coming to us with this time-honored symbol of protection,
because they knew we would respect it. We did not feel safe in going to
them under like circumstances, because there were those among them who
smothered every honorable impulse to gratify a spirit of revenge and
hatred. As an illustration of this I will state, that just after the
battle of the Big Mound in 1863, we met a delegation of Indians with a
flag of truce, and while the interpreter was talking to them and telling
them what the General desired, and some soldiers were giving them tobacco
and crackers, Dr. Weiser, surgeon of the Second Minnesota Cavalry, having
on his full uniform as major, tempted a villainous fellow, who thinking,
from the uniform, that it was General Sibley, our commander, jumped up,
and before his intention could be understood, shot him through the back,
killing him instantly. Treachery of this stamp does not of course apply
to all the members of all tribes and benighted people; for I suppose even
in the jungles of Africa, where tribes of black men live who have never
heard of a white man, we could find some endowed with human instincts,
who would protect those whom the fortunes of war or exploration might
cast among them. We found some Indians who were exceptions to the
alleged general rule--cruel. The battles we fought were fierce, escapes
miraculous, personal experiences wonderful and the liberation of the
captives a bright chapter in the history of events in this exciting year.



As St. Paul, Minnesota, is our starting point, we will pause for a little
and cultivate the acquaintance of her people. The picture represents St.
Paul and Minneapolis about as we suppose they were previous to 1838,
and before a white man gazed upon the natural beauties of our great
country. In the picture you see "one of the first families," in fact it
is the first family, and a healthy, dirty-looking lot they are. They had
evidently heard that a stranger had "come to town" and the neighbors came
in to lend a hand in "receiving" the distinguished guest. The Indian kid
on the left hand, with his hair a la Paderewski, was probably playing
marbles with young Dirty-Face-Afraid-of-Soap-and-Water in the back yard,
when his mother whooped for him to come. He looks mad about it. They all
have on their Sunday clothes and are speculating as to whether it is
best to get acquainted with the forerunner of civilization or not. Their
liberties had never been abridged. The Indians came and went at will,
never dreaming that the day was approaching when civilization would force
them to "move on." As early as 1819 white people were in Minnesota, 'tis
true, but this was when Fort St. Anthony was first garrisoned.

[Illustration: One of the "First Families" of St. Paul in

Anterior to this, however, a zealous Franciscan priest, Father Hennepin,
ascended the Mississippi, by oar, impelled on by its beautiful scenery,
and in August, 1680, he stood upon the brink of the river near where Fort
Snelling now is, and erected the cross of his church and probably was the
first to proclaim to the red man the glad tidings of "Peace on earth,
good will to man." He pointed them to the cross as the emblem of liberty
from superstition, but they in their ignorance did not heed his peaceful
coming, but made him their captive, holding him thus for six months,
during which time he so completely gained their confidence as to cause
them to liberate him, and his name is still remembered reverentially by

Father Hennepin named the Falls of St. Anthony after his patron saint,
and was the first white man to look upon its beauties and listen to the
music of Minnehaha, as her crystal water rolled over the cliffs and went
rippling through the grasses and flowers on its merry way to the bosom of
the "Father of Waters."

Minnehaha, beautiful in sunshine and in shadow; in rain-shower and in
snow-storm--for ages has your laughter greeted the ear of the ardent
Indian lover. Here Hiawatha, outstripping all competitors in his
love-race, wooed his Minnehaha and in triumph carried her away to his
far-off Ojibway home. The Indians loved this spot and as they camped upon
its banks and smoked the peace pipe "as a signal to the nations," dreamed
only of peace and plenty. The Great Spirit was good to them; but the evil
day was approaching, invisible yet, then a speck on the horizon, but
the cloud grew and the "pale face" was among them. Sorrowfully they bid
farewell forever to their beautiful "Laughing Water."

In these early days it was almost beyond the comprehension of man that
two populous cities should spring up as have St. Paul and Minneapolis,
and Pierre Parrant, the first settler at St. Paul, little dreamed that
the "Twin Cities," with a population variously estimated at from 200,000
to 225,000, would greet the eye of the astonished beholder in 1896. They
sprang into existence and grew apace; they met with reverses, as all
cities do, but the indomitable energy of the men who started out to carve
for themselves a fortune, achieved their end, and their children are now
enjoying the fruits of their labor.

There is no city in America that can boast an avenue equal to Summit
avenue in St. Paul, with its many beautiful residences ranging in cost
from $25,000 to $350,000. Notably among these palatial homes is that
of James J. Hill, the railroad king of the Northwest. His is a palace
set on a hill, built in the old English style, situated on an eminence
overlooking the river and the bluffs beyond. The grounds without and
the art treasures within are equal to those of any home in our country,
and such as are found only in homes of culture where money in plenty is
always at hand to gratify every desire.

The avenue winds along the bluff, and the outlook up and down the river
calls forth exclamations of delight from those who can see beauty in our
natural American scenery. In the springtime, when the trees are in their
fresh green garb, and budding forth, and in the autumn when the days
are hazy and short, when the sere of months has painted the foliage in
variegated colors, and it begins to fall, the picture as unfolded to the
beholder standing on the bluffs is delighting, enchanting.

The urban and interurban facilities for transport from city to city
are the best in the world, and is the successful result of years of
observation and laborious effort on the part of the honorable Thomas
Lowry, the street railway magnate; and the many bridges spanning the
"Father of Waters" at either end of the line give evidence of the ability
of the business men of the two cities to compass anything within reason.

Minneapolis, the "flour city," noted for its broad streets and palatial
homes nestling among the trees; its magnificent public library building
with its well-filled shelves of book treasures; its expensive and
beautiful public buildings and business blocks; its far-famed exposition
building, and its great cluster of mammoth flouring mills that astonish
the world, are the pride of every Minnesotian. Even the "Father of
Waters" laughs as he leaps over the rocks and, winding in and out, drives
this world of machinery that grinds up wheat--not by the car-load, but
by the train-load, and--"Pillsbury's Best"--long since a national pride,
has become a familiar international brand because it can be found in
all the great marts of the world. What a transformation since 1638!
Father Hennepin, no doubt, looks down from the battlements of Heaven in
amazement at the change; and the poor Indians, who had been wont to roam
about here, unhindered, have long since, in sorrow, fled away nearer
to the setting sun; but alas! he returned and left the imprint of his
aroused savage nature.



In August, 1862, what do we see? Homes, beautiful prairie homes of
yesterday, to-day have sunken out of sight, buried in their own ashes;
the wife of an early love has been overtaken and compelled to submit to
the unholy passion of her cruel captor; the prattling tongues of the
innocents have been silenced in sudden death, and reason dethroned. A
most pathetic case was that of Charles Nelson, a Swede. The day previous,
his dwelling had been burned to the ground, his daughter outraged, the
head of his wife, Lela, cleft by the tomahawk, and while seeking to save
himself, he saw, for a moment, his two sons, Hans and Otto, rushing
through the corn-field with the Indians in swift pursuit. Returning with
the troops under Colonel McPhail, and passing by the ruins of his home,
he gazed about him wildly, and closing the gate of the garden, asked:
"When will it be safe to return?" His reason was gone!

This pathetic scene witnessed by so many who yet live to remember it, was
made a chapter entitled, "The Maniac," in a work from the pen of Mrs.
Harriet E. McConkey, published soon after it occurred.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Minne-ha-ha Falls Before the White Man Ever Saw It.]

Captain Chittenden, of Colonel McPhail's command, while sitting a
few days after, under the Falls of Minnehaha, embodied in verse this
wonderful tragedy, giving to the world the following lines:

  Minne-ha-ha, laughing water,
    Cease thy laughing now for aye,
  Savage hands are red with slaughter
    Of the innocent to-day.

  Ill accords thy sportive humor
    With their last despairing wail;
  While thou'rt dancing in the sunbeam,
    Mangled corpses strew the vale.

  Change thy note, gay Minne-ha-ha;
    Let some sadder strain prevail--
  Listen, while a maniac wanderer
    Sighs to thee his woeful tale;

  "Give me back my Lela's tresses,
    Let me kiss them once again!
  She, who blest me with caresses
    Lies unburied on the plain!

  "See yon smoke? there was my dwelling;
    That is all I have of home!
  Hark! I hear their fiendish yelling,
    As I, houseless, childless, roam!

  "Have they killed my Hans and Otto?
    Did they find them in the corn?
  Go and tell that savage monster
    Not to slay my youngest born.

  "Yonder is my new-bought reaper,
    Standing mid the ripened grain;
  E'en my cow asks why I leave her
    Wand'ring, unmilked, o'er the plain.

  "Soldiers, bury here my Lela;
    Place _me_ also 'neath the sod;
  Long we lived and wrought together--
    Let me die with her--O God!

  "Faithful Fido, you they've left me,
    Can you tell me, Fido, why
  God at once has thus bereft me?
    All I ask is here to die.

  "O, my daughter Jennie, darling!
    Worse than death is Jennie's fate!"

         *       *       *       *       *

  Nelson, as our troops were leaving
    Turned and shut his garden gate.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Father Hennepin Raised the Cross of His Church on the Bank of the
Mississippi River near where Fort Snelling now Stands in 1618.]



There is something wonderfully interesting about the origin of the
Indians. Different writers have different theories; John McIntosh, who
is an interesting and very exhaustive writer on this subject, says they
can date their origin back to the time of the flood, and that Magog,
the second son of Japhet, is the real fountain head. Our North American
Indians, however, were first heard of authentically from Father Hennepin,
who so early came among them.

At a later date, about 1766, Jonathan Carver, a British subject and a
captain in the army, made a visit of adventure to this almost unknown and
interesting country. The Sioux were then very powerful and occupied the
country about St. Anthony Falls, and west of the Mississippi, and south,
taking in a portion of what now is the State of Iowa.

The country to the north and northeast was owned by the Chippewas. The
Sioux then, as later, were a very war-like nation, and at the time of
Captain Carver's advent among them were at war with the Chippewas,
their hated foes. Captain Carver came among them as a peace-maker; his
diplomacy and genial spirit prevailed, and the hatchet was buried. For
these good offices, the Indians ceded to him a large tract of land,
extending from the Falls of St. Anthony to the foot of Lake Pipin;
thence east one hundred miles; thence north and west to the place of
beginning--a most magnificent domain, truly, and which in Europe would
call for nothing less than a king to supervise its destinies.

A writer, Hon. W. S. Bryant, of St. Paul, Minnesota, on this subject,
says: "That at a later period, after Captain Carver's death, congress
was petitioned by others than his heirs, to confirm the Indian deed,
and among the papers produced in support of the claim, was a copy of an
instrument purporting to have been executed at Lake Traverse, on the
17th day of February, 1821, by four Indians who called themselves chiefs
and warriors of the Uandowessies--the Sioux. They declare that their
fathers did grant to Captain Jonathan Carver this vast tract of land and
that there is among their people a traditional record of the same. This
writing is signed by Ouekien Tangah, Tashachpi Tainche, Kache Noberie and
Petite Corbeau (Little Crow)." This "Petite" is undoubtedly the father of
Little Crow, who figures in this narrative as the leader in the massacre.

Captain Carver's claim has never been recognized, although the instrument
transferring this large tract of land to him by the Indians was in
existence and in St. Paul less than twenty-five years ago. It has since
been destroyed and the possessors of these valuable acres can rest
themselves in peace.

In 1862 the red man's ambition was inflamed, and in his desire to
repossess himself of his lost patrimony, he seeks redress of his wrongs
in bloody war. Fort Snelling at the junction of the Mississippi and
Minnesota rivers was the rallying point for the soldiers and we produce a
picture of it as it appeared then and give something of its history from
its first establishment up to date.

The great Sioux or Dakotah nation at one time embraced the Uncapapas,
Assinaboines, Mandans, Crows, Winnebagoes, Osages, Kansas, Kappaws,
Ottoes, Missourias, Iowas, Omahas, Poncas, Nez Perces, Arrickarees,
Minnetarees, Arkansas, Tetons, Yanktons, Yanktonais, and the Pawnees. It
was a most powerful nation and under favorable conditions could withstand
the encroachments of our modern civilization. The Ahahaways and Unktokas
are spoken of as two lost tribes. The Unktokas are said to have lived
in "Wiskonsan," south of the St. Croix and were supposed to have been
destroyed by the Iowas about the commencement of the present century.
The Ahahaways, a branch of the Crows, lived on the Upper Missouri, but
were lost--annihilated by disease, natural causes and war. The Uncapapa
tribe were from the Missouri, and Sitting Bull, whose picture appears,
although not an hereditary chief, was a strong man among them. He was for
a time their Medicine Man and counselor. He was shrewd and a forceful
diplomat; he was a pronounced hater of the whites, and has earned
notoriety throughout the country as the leader of five thousand warriors,
who annihilated General Custer and his command at the Little Big Horn
in 1876. After the massacre, this huge Indian camp was broken up, and
Bull, with more than one thousand warriors retreated into the British
possessions, from whence he made frequent raids upon American soil. His
band constantly suffered depletion until, in the summer of 1881, he had
but one hundred and sixty followers remaining. These he surrendered to
Lieutenant-Colonel Brotherton, at Fort Buford, and with them was sent as
a prisoner to Fort Randall, Dakota. He was married four times, and had a
large family. He was not engaged in the Sioux war of 1862, but being a
chief of that nation and an important Indian character, I introduce him.
He has gone to the happy hunting ground, some years since, through the
treachery of the Indian police, who were sent out to capture him.

[Illustration: Sitting Bull,

The Chief in Command at the Custer Battle of the Little Big Horn in




On the 10th of February, 1819, John C. Calhoun, then secretary of war,
issued an order for the Fifth regiment of infantry to rendezvous at
Detroit, preparatory to proceeding to the Mississippi to garrison or
establish military posts, and the headquarters of the regiment was
directed to be at the fort to be located at the mouth of the Minnesota

It was not until the 17th of September that Lieutenant-Colonel
Leavenworth, with a detachment of troops, reached this point. A
cantonment was first established at New Hope, near Mendota, and not far
from the ferry. During the winter of 1819-20, forty soldiers died from

On the 5th of May, 1819, Colonel Leavenworth crossed the river and
established a summer camp, but his relations with the Indian agent were
not as harmonious as they might have been, and Colonel Josiah Snelling
arrived and relieved him. On the 10th of September, the cornerstone of
Fort St. Anthony was laid; the barracks at first were of logs.

During the summer of 1820 a party of Sisseton Sioux killed on the
Missouri Isadore Poupon, a half-breed, and Joseph Andrews, a Canadian,
two men in the employ of the fur company. As soon as the information
reached the agent, Major Taliaferro, trade with the Sioux was interdicted
until the guilty were surrendered. Finding that they were deprived of
blankets, powder and tobacco, a council was held at Big Stone Lake, and
one of the murderers, and the aged father of another, agreed to go down
and surrender themselves.

On the 12th of November, escorted by friends and relatives, they
approached the post. Halting for a brief period, they formed and marched
in solemn procession to the center of the parade ground. In the advance
was a Sisseton, bearing a British flag; next came the murderer, and the
old man who had offered himself as an atonement for his son, their arms
pinioned, and large wooden splinters thrust through the flesh above the
elbow, indicating their contempt for pain; and in the rear followed
friends chanting the death-song. After burning the British flag in front
of the sentinels of the fort, they formally delivered the prisoners. The
murderer was sent under guard to St. Louis, and the old man detained as a

The first white women in Minnesota were the wives of the officers of
Fort St. Anthony. The first steamer to arrive at the new fort was the
Virginia, commanded by Captain Crawford. The event was so notable that
she was greeted by a salute from the fort.

In 1824, General Scott, on a tour of inspection, visited Fort St.
Anthony, and suggested that the name be changed to Fort Snelling, in
honor of Colonel Snelling, its first commander. Upon this suggestion of
General Scott and for the reason assigned, the war department made the
change and historic Fort Snelling took its place among the defenses of
the nation; and from this date up to 1861, was garrisoned by regulars,
who were quartered here to keep in check the Indians who were ever on the
alert for an excuse to avenge themselves on the white settlers.

[Illustration: Fort Snelling in 1865.]

Author's Note.

  When visiting Fort Snelling during the occasion of the holding of the
  National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in St. Paul in
  September, 1896, I found such a change.

  The old stone quarters for the use of the rank and file during the
  war days were there, it is true, but are being used for purposes
  other than accommodating the soldiers. I found my old squad room, but
  the old associations were gone; the memories of the war days crowded
  upon me, and I thought of the boys whose names and faces I remembered
  well, but they are dead and scattered over the land. Some few were
  there, and we went over our war history, and in the recital, recalled
  the names of our comrades who have been finally "mustered out" and
  have gone beyond the river.

  The present commandant of the beautiful new fort is Colonel John
  H. Page of the Third United States Infantry. This officer has been
  continuously in the service since April, 1861. He was a private
  in Company A, First Illinois Artillery, and went through all the
  campaigning of this command until the close of the war, when he
  received an appointment in the Regular Establishment, and as Captain
  was placed on recruiting service in Chicago.

  His advancement in his regiment has been phenomenal, and to be called
  to the command of a regiment of so renowned a record as has the Third
  Infantry, is an honor to any man, no matter where he won his spurs.

  Colonel Page is a Comrade of U. S. Grant Post No. 28, Grand Army of
  the Republic, Department of Illinois, and is also a Companion of the
  Loyal Legion. He has an interesting family who live with him in the
  enjoyment of his well-earned laurels.

In 1861, and from that to 1866, the scene underwent a wondrous change,
and volunteers instead of regulars became its occupants. All the
Minnesota volunteers rendezvoused here preparatory to taking the field.
Some years after the war the department determined to make this historic
place one of the permanent forts, and commenced a series of improvements.
Now it is one of the finest within the boundary of our country, and
we find the grounds, 1,500 acres in extent, beautifully laid out, and
extensive buildings with all the modern improvements erected for the
accommodation of Uncle Sam's soldiers.

The present post structures consist of an executive building, 93x64 feet,
of Milwaukee brick, two stories and a basement, heated by furnaces and
with good water supply. It contains offices for the commanding general
and department staff. The officers' quarters: a row of thirteen brick
buildings with all the modern improvements, hot and cold water, and a
frame stable for each building. Minnesota Row: Six double one-story frame
buildings, affording twelve sets of quarters for clerks and employes.
Brick Row: A two-story brick building, 123x31 feet, with cellars, having
sixteen suites of two rooms each, for unmarried general service clerks
and employes. Quartermaster's employes have a one-story brick building,
147x30 feet, containing eight sets of quarters of two rooms each, also
a mess-house, one story brick, 58x25 feet, containing a kitchen and
dining room, with cellar 30x12 feet. Engineer's quarters, school house,
quartermaster's corrals, brick stables, blacksmith shops, frame carriage
house, granary and hay-house, ice house, etc., good water works, sewer
system, and electric lights.



The Indians! The Indians are coming!

How the cry rang out and struck terror to the hearts of the bravest. It
brought to mind the stories of early days, of this great Republic, when
the east was but sparsely settled, and the great west an unknown country,
with the Indian monarch of all he surveyed. The vast prairies, with their
great herds of buffalo were like the trackless seas; the waving forests,
dark and limitless; mountain ranges--the Alleghanies, the Rockies and the
Sierra Nevadas, towering above the clouds; the countless lakes--fresh and
salt, hot and cold; the great inland seas; the gigantic water falls, and
the laughing waters; the immense rivers, little rivulets at the mountain
source, accumulating as they flowed on in their immensity, as silently
and sullenly they wend their way to the sea; the rocky glens and great
canyons, the wonder of all the world. It was in the early day of our
Republic, when the hardy pioneer took his little family and out in the
wilderness sought a new home; a time when the Indian, jealous of the
white man's encroachment, and possessor by right of previous occupation,
of this limitless, rich and wonderful empire, when great and powerful
Indian nations--The Delawares, the Hurons, the Floridas, and other tribes
in their native splendor and independence, said to the pale face, "Thus
far shalt thou go, and no farther." The terror-stricken people were
obliged to flee to places of safety, or succumb to the tomahawk; and on
throughout the Seminole, the Black Hawk and other wars, including the
great Minnesota Massacre of 1862.

[Illustration: Squad Room at Fort Snelling.]

Reader accompany me. The atmosphere is surcharged with excitement, and
the whole country is terror-stricken. The southland is drenched in blood,
and the earth trembles under the tread of marching thousands.

The eyes of the nation are turned in that direction, and the whole
civilized world is interested in the greatest civil war of the world's
history. The levies from the states are enormous, and the stalwarts, by
regiments and brigades, respond to the call for "Six Hundred Thousand

The loyal people of the frontier have long since ceased to look upon the
Indians as enemies, and tearfully urge their husbands and sons to rally
to the colors in the South. What is taking place in the land of the

Their empire is fading away, their power is on the wane, their game is
scarce, and they look with disgust and disfavor upon their unnatural
environments. In poetry and in prose we have read of them in their
natural way of living. They have been wronged; their vast empire has
slipped away from them; they laugh, they scowl and run from tribe to
tribe; they have put on the war-paint and broken the pipe of peace; with
brandishing tomahawk and glistening scalping knife they are on the trail
of the innocent.

"Turn out, the regulars are coming!" were the ringing words of Paul
Revere, as he, in mad haste, on April 18, 1775, on foaming steed, rode
through the lowlands of Middlesex; so, too, are the unsuspecting people
in Minnesota aroused by the cry of a courier, who, riding along at a
break-neck speed shouts: "The Indians, the Indians are coming!" All
nature is aglow; the sun rises from his eastern bed and spreads his warm,
benign rays over this prairie land, and its happy occupants, as this
terrific sound rings out on the morning air, are aroused and the cry:
"Come over and help us" from the affrighted families, as they forsake
their homes and flee for their lives, speeds on its way to ears that
listen and heed their earnest, heart-piercing not, of despair, for the
"Boys in Blue" respond.

The people had been warned by friendly Indians that the fire brands
would soon be applied; and that once started, none could tell where it
would end. They were implored to take heed and prepare for the worst;
but unsuspecting, they had been so long among their Indian friends, they
could not believe that treachery would bury all feelings of friendship;
but alas! thousands were slain.

Go with me into their country and witness the sad results of a misguided
people, and note how there was a division in their camp. The hot young
bloods, ever ready for adventure and bloody adventure at that, had
dragged their nation into an unnecessary war and the older men and
conservative men with sorrowful hearts counselled together how best to
extricate themselves and protect the lives of those who were prisoners
among them. The campaign of 1862 is on.



Lo! the poor Indian, has absorbed much of the people's attention and vast
sums of Uncle Sam's money; and being a participant in the great Sioux war
of 1862, what I write deals with facts and not fiction, as we progress
from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to "Camp Release," where we found and
released over four hundred white captives. But I will digress for a time
and look into the causes leading up to this cruel Sioux war that cost so
many lives and so much treasure. There is a great diversity of opinion on
this question, and while not particularly in love with the Indian, I have
not the temerity to criticise the Almighty because he puts his impress
white upon some, and red upon others; neither shall I sit in judgment
and say there are no good Indians--except dead ones. The Indian question
proper is of too great a magnitude to analyze and treat with intelligence
in this little book; but in the abstract, and before we enter upon the
active campaign against them, let us look at it and see if the blame
does not to a great extent rest more with the government than it does
with these people. The Indians came from we know not where--legends have
been written and tradition mentions them as among the earliest known
possessors of this great western world. The biologist speculates, and
it is a matter of grave doubt as to their origin. Certain it is, that
as far back as the time of Columbus they were found here, and we read
nothing in the early history of the voyages of this wonderful navigator
to convince us that the Indians were treacherous;--indeed we would
rather incline to the opposite opinion. The racial war began with the
conquest of the Spaniards. In their primitive condition, the Indians were
possessed of a harmless superstition--they knew no one but of their kind;
knew nothing of another world; knew nothing of any other continent in
this world. When they discovered the white men and the ships with their
sails spread, they looked upon the former as supernatural beings and the
ships as great monsters with wings. Civilization and the Indian nature
are incompatible and evidences of this were soon apparent. The ways of
the Europeans were of course unknown to them. They were innocent of the
white man's avaricious propensities and the practice of "give and take"
(and generally more take than give) was early inaugurated by the sailors
of Columbus and the nefarious practice has been played by a certain class
of Americans ever since. Soon their suspicions were aroused and friendly
intercourse gave place to wars of extermination. The Indian began to
look upon the white man as his natural enemy; fighting ensued; tribes
became extinct; territory was ceded, and abandoned. Soon after American
Independence had been declared, the Indians became the wards of the
nation. The government, instead of treating them as wards and children,
has uniformly allowed them to settle their own disputes in their own
peculiar and savage way, and has looked upon the bloody feuds among
the different tribes much as Plug Uglies and Thugs do a disreputable
slugging match or dog-fight. A writer says:

"If they are wards of the nation, why not take them under the strong arm
of the law and deal with them as with others who break the law? Make an
effort to civilize, and if civilization exterminates them it will be an
honorable death,--to the nation at least. Send missionaries among them
instead of thieving traders; implements of peace, rather than weapons
of war; Bibles instead of scalping knives; religious tracts instead of
war paint; make an effort to Christianize instead of encouraging them in
their savagery and laziness; such a course would receive the commendation
and acquiescence of the Christian world."

There is not a sensible, unprejudiced man in America to-day, who gives
the matter thought, but knows that the broken treaties and dishonest
dealing with the Indians are a disgrace to this nation; and the impress
of injustice is deeply and justly engraven upon the savage mind. The
lesson taught by observation was that lying was no disgrace, adultery
no sin, and theft no crime. This they learned from educated white men
who had been sent to them as the representatives of the government; and
these educated gentlemen (?) looked upon the Indian as common property,
and to filch him of his money by dishonest practices, a pleasant pastime.
The Indian woman did not escape his lecherous eye and if his base
proposals were rejected, he had other means to resort to to enable him to
accomplish his base desire. These wards were only Indians and why respect
their feelings? "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." The whirlwind came
and oh, the sad results!

The Indians were circumscribed in their hunting grounds by the onward
march of civilization which crowded them on every side and their only
possible hope from starvation, was in the fidelity with which a great
nation kept its pledges. 'Tis true, money was appropriated by the
government for this purpose, but it is equally true that gamblers and
thieving traders set up fictitious claims and the Indians came out in
debt and their poor families were left to starve. Hungry, exasperated and
utterly powerless to help themselves, they resolved on savage vengeance
when the propitious time arrived.

"The villainy you teach me I will execute," became a living, bloody
issue. This did not apply alone to the Sioux nation, but to the Chippewas
as well. These people have always been friends of the whites, and have
uniformly counselled peace; but broken pledges and impositions filled the
friendly ones with sorrow, and the others with anger. The commissioners,
no doubt, rectified the wrong as soon as it was brought to their notice,
but the Indians were plucked all the same and had sense enough to know
it. Our country is cursed with politicians--the statesmen seem to have
disappeared; but, the politician grows like rank weeds and the desire for
"boodle" permeates our municipal, state and national affairs. Our Indian
system has presented a fat field so long as these wards of the nation
submitted to being fleeced by unprincipled agents and their gambling
friends, but at last, the poor Indian is aroused to the enormity of the
imposition and the innocent whites had to suffer. In some instances the
vengeance of God followed the unscrupulous agent and the scalping knife
in the hand of the injured Indian was made the instrument whereby this
retribution came.

There has been a great deal said of Indian warriors--we have read of them
in poetry and in prose and of the beautiful Indian maiden as well. The
Sioux warriors are tall, athletic, fine looking men, and those who have
not been degraded by the earlier and rougher frontier white man, or had
their intellects destroyed by the white man's fire-water, possess minds
of a high order and can reason with a correctness that would astonish
our best scholars and put to blush many of our so-called statesmen, and
entirely put to rout a majority of the men who, by the grace of men's
votes hold down Congressional chairs. Yet they are called savages and are
associated in our minds with tomahawks and scalping knives. Few regard
them as reasoning creatures and some even think they are not endowed by
their Creator with souls. Good men are sending Bibles to all parts of
the world, sermons are preached in behalf of our fellow-creatures who
are perishing in regions known only to us by name; yet here within easy
reach, but a few miles from civilization, surrounded by churches and
schools and all the moral influences abounding in Christian society;
here, in a country endowed with every advantage that God can bestow,
are perishing, body and soul, our countrymen--perishing from disease,
starvation and intemperance and all the evils incident to their unhappy
condition. I have no apology to make for the savage atrocities of any
people, be they heathen or Christian, or pretended Christian; and we can
point to pages of history where the outrages perpetrated by the soldiers
of so-called Christian nations, under the sanction of their governments,
would cause the angels to weep. Look at bleeding Armenia, the victim of
the lecherous Turk, who has satiated his brutal, bestial nature in the
blood and innocency of tens of thousands of men, women and children; and
yet, the Christian nations of the world look on with indifference at
these atrocities and pray: "Oh, Lord, pour out Thy blessings on us and
protect us while we are unmindful of the appeals of mothers and daughters
in poor Armenia!"

This royal, lecherous, murderous Turk, instead of being dethroned and
held to a strict accountability for the horrible butcheries, and worse
than butcheries, going on within his kingdom and for which he, and he
alone, is responsible, is held in place by Christian and civilized
nations for fear that some one shall, in the partition of his unholy
empire, get a bigger slice than is its equitable share.

The "sick man" has been allowed for the last half century to commit the
most outrageous crimes against an inoffensive, honest, progressive, and
law-abiding people, and no vigorous protest has gone out against it.
Shall we, then, mercilessly condemn the poor Indians because, driven
from pillar to post, with the government pushing in front and hostile
tribes and starvation in their rear, they have in vain striven for a
bare existence? Whole families have starved while the fathers were away
on their hunt for game. Through hunger and disease powerful tribes have
become but a mere band of vagabonds.

America, as she listens to the dying wail of the red man, driven from the
forests of his childhood and the graves of his fathers, cannot afford
to throw stones; but rather let her redeem her broken pledges to these
helpless, benighted, savage children, and grant them the protection they
have the right to expect, nay, demand.

"I will wash my hands in innocency" will not suffice. Let the government
make amends, and in the future mete out to the dishonest agent such
a measure of punishment as will strike terror to him and restore the
confidence of the Indians who think they have been unjustly dealt with.
But to my theme.

The year of which I write was a time in St. Paul when the Indian was
almost one's next door neighbor,--a time when trading between St. Paul
and Winnipeg was carried on principally by half-breeds, and the mode
of transportation the crude Red river cart, which is made entirely of
wood,--not a scrap of iron in its whole make-up. The team they used was
one ox to a cart, and the creak of this long half-breed train, as it
wended its way over the trackless country, could be heard twice a year as
it came down to the settlements laden with furs to exchange for supplies
for families, and hunting purposes. It was at a time when the hostile
bands of Sioux met bands of Chippewas, and in the immediate vicinity
engaged in deadly conflict, while little attention was paid to their
feuds by the whites or the government at Washington.



It was in August, 1861, on the western border of Devil's Lake, Dakota,
there sat an old Indian chief in the shade of his wigwam, preparing a
fresh supply of kinnikinnick.

The mantle of evening was veiling the sky as this old chief worked and
the events of the past were crowding his memory. He muses alone at the
close of the day, while the wild bird skims away on its homeward course
and the gathering gloom of eventide causes a sigh to escape his breast,
as many sweet pictures of past happy years "come flitting again with
their hopes and their fears." The embers of the fire have gone out and he
and his dog alone are resting on the banks of the lake after the day's
hunt; and, as he muses, he wanders back to the time when in legend lore
the Indian owned the Western world; the hills and the valleys, the vast
plains and their abundance, the rivers, the lakes and the mountains were
his; great herds of buffalo wended their way undisturbed by the white
hunter; on every hand abundance met his gaze, and the proud Red Man with
untainted blood, and an eye filled with fire, looked out toward the four
points of the compass, and, with beating heart, thanked the Great Spirit
for this goodly heritage. To disturb his dream the white man came, and
as the years rolled on, step by step, pressed him back;--civilization
brought its cunning and greed for money-getting. A generous government,
perhaps too confiding, allowed unprincipled men to rob and crowd, and
crowd and rob, until the Mississippi is reached and the farther West
is portioned out to him for his future residence. The influx of whites
from Europe and the rapidly increasing population demand more room, and
another move is planned by the government for the Indians, until they are
crowding upon the borders of unfriendly tribes.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Little Crow Sitting Meditating on the Banks of Devil's Lake, Dakota,
August, 1862.]

This old chief of whom we speak awoke from his meditative dream, and
in imagination we see him with shaded eyes looking afar off toward the
mountain. He beholds a cloud no bigger than a man's hand; he strains
his eye, and eagerly looks, for he sees within the pent-up environments
of this cloud all the hatred and revenge with which his savage race is
endowed. The cloud that is gathering is not an imaginative one, but it
will burst in time upon the heads of guilty and innocent alike; and the
old chief chuckles as he thinks of the scalps he will take from the
hated whites, and the great renown, and wonderful power yet in store for
him. His runners go out visiting other bands and tell what the old chief
expects. They give their assent to it, and as they talk and speculate,
they too, become imbued with a spirit of revenge and a desire to gain
back the rich heritage their fathers once held in possession for them,
but which has passed from their control. They are not educated, it is
true, but nature has endowed them with intelligence enough to understand
that their fathers had bartered away an empire, and in exchange had
taken a limited country, illy adapted to their wants and crude,
uncivilized habits. This old chief's mind is made up, and we will meet
him again--aye! on fields of blood and carnage.

The government had acted in good faith, and had supplied the Indians
with material for building small brick houses, furnishing, in addition
to money payments and clothing, farming implements and all things
necessary to enable them to support themselves on their fertile farms;
and missionaries, also, were among them, and competent teachers, ready to
give the young people, as they grew up, an education, to enable them to
better their condition and take on the habits and language of the white

But the devil among the Indians, as among the whites, finds "some
mischief still for idle hands to do;" gamblers and other unprincipled
men followed the agents, hob-nobbed with them, and laid their plans
to "hold-up and bunko" the Indians, who, filled with fire-water and a
passion for gambling, soon found themselves stripped of money, ponies
and blankets, with nothing in view but a long, cold, dreary winter and
starvation. A gambler could kill an Indian and all he had to fear was
an Indian's vengeance (for the civil law never took cognizance of the
crime); but if an Indian, filled with rum, remorse and revenge, killed
a gambler, he was punished to the full extent of the law. In this one
thing the injustice was so apparent that even an Indian could see it;
and he made up his mind that when the time came he would even up the
account. The savage Indians were intelligent enough to know that in these
transactions it was the old story of the handle on the jug--all on one

Those of the "friendlies" who were Christianized and civilized were
anxious to bury forever all remains of savagery and become citizens of
the nation, and if the government had placed honorable men over them to
administer the law, their influence would have been felt, and in time the
leaven of law and order, would have leavened the whole Sioux nation. The
various treaties that had been made with them by the government did not
seem to satisfy the majority, and whether there was any just cause for
this dissatisfaction I do not propose to discuss; but, that a hostile
feeling did exist was apparent, as subsequent events proved.

The provisions of the treaties for periodical money payments, although
carried out with substantial honesty, failed to fulfill the exaggerated
expectations of the Indians; and these matters of irritation added
fuel to the fire of hostility, which always has, and always will exist
between a civilized and a barbarous nation, when brought into immediate
contact; and especially has this been the case where the savages were
proud, brave and lordly warriors, who looked with supreme contempt upon
all civilized methods of obtaining a living, and who felt amply able
to defend themselves and avenge their wrongs. Nothing special has been
discovered to have taken place other than the general dissatisfaction
referred to, to which the outbreak of 1862 can be immediately attributed.
This outbreak was charged to emissaries from the Confederates of the
South, but there was no foundation for these allegations. The main reason
was that the Indians were hungry and angry; they had become restless, and
busy-bodies among them had instilled within them the idea that the great
war in the South was drawing off able-bodied men and leaving the women
and children at home helpless. Some of the ambitious chiefs thought it a
good opportunity to regain their lost country and exalt themselves in
the eyes of their people. The most ambitious of the lot was Little Crow,
the old chief we saw sitting in the shade of his wigwam on Devil's Lake.
He was a wily old fox and knew how to enlist the braves on his side.
After the battles of Birch Coolie and Wood Lake, Minnesota, in September,
1862, he deserted his warriors, and was discovered one day down in the
settlements picking berries upon which to subsist. Refusing to surrender,
he was shot, and in his death the whites were relieved of an implacable
foe, and the Indians deprived of an intrepid and daring leader.

There was nothing about the agencies up to August 18, 1862, to indicate
that the Indians intended, or even thought, of an attack. Everything had
an appearance of quiet and security. On the 17th of August, however, a
small party of Indians appeared at Acton, Minnesota, and murdered several
settlers, but it was not generally thought that they left the agency
with this in mind; this killing was an afterthought, a diversion; but,
on the news of these murders reaching the Indians at the Upper Agency
on the 18th, open hostilities were at once commenced and the whites and
traders indiscriminately murdered. George Spencer was the only white man
in the stores who escaped with his life. He was twice wounded, however,
and running upstairs in the loft hid himself away and remained concealed
until the Indians, thinking no more white people remained, left the
place, when an old squaw took Spencer to her home and kept him until his
fast friend, Chaska, came and took him under his protection. The picture
of Spencer is taken from an old-time photograph.

[Illustration: George Spencer,

Who was Saved by Chaska, August, 1862.]

The missionaries residing a short distance above the Yellow Medicine,
and their people, with a few others, were notified by friendly disposed
Indians, and to the number of about forty made their escape to
Hutchinson, Minnesota. Similar events occurred at the Lower Agency on the
same day, when nearly all the traders were butchered, and several who got
away before the general massacre commenced were killed before reaching
Fort Ridgely, thirteen miles below, or the other places of safety to
which they were fleeing. All the buildings at both agencies were
destroyed, but such property as was valuable to the Indians was carried

The news of the outbreak reached Fort Ridgely about 8 o'clock a. m. on
the 18th of August through the arrival of a team from the Lower Agency,
which brought a citizen badly wounded, but no details. Captain John F.
Marsh, of the Fifth Minnesota, with eighty-five men, was holding the
fort, and upon the news reaching him he transferred his command of the
fort to Lieutenant Gere and with forty-five men started for the scene
of hostilities. He had a full supply of ammunition, and with a six-mule
team left the fort at 9 a. m. on the 18th of August, full of courage and
anxious to get to the relief of the panic-stricken people. On the march
up, evidences of the Indians' bloody work soon appeared, for bodies were
found by the roadside of those who had recently been murdered, one of
whom was Dr. Humphrey, surgeon at the agency. On reaching the vicinity of
the ferry no Indians were in sight except one on the opposite side of the
river, who endeavored to induce the soldiers to cross. A dense chaparral
bordered the river on the agency side and tall grass covered the bottom
land on the side where the troops were stationed. From various signs,
suspicions were aroused of the presence of Indians, and the suspicions
proved correct, for without a moment's notice, Indians in great numbers
sprang up on all sides of the troops and opened a deadly fire. About
half of the men were instantly killed. Finding themselves surrounded,
desperate hand-to-hand encounters occurred, with varying results, and the
remnant of the command made a point down the river about two miles from
the ferry, Captain Marsh being among the number. They evidently attempted
to cross, but Captain Marsh was drowned in the effort, and only thirteen
of his command escaped and reached the fort alive. Captain Marsh, in
his excitement, may have erred in judgment and deemed it more his duty
to attack than retreat; but the great odds of five hundred Indians to
forty-five soldiers was too great and the captain and his brave men paid
the penalty. He was young, brave and ambitious and knew but little of
the Indians' tactics in war; but he no doubt believed he was doing his
duty in advancing rather than retreating, and his countrymen will hold
his memory and the memory of those who gave up their lives with him in
warmer esteem than they would had he adopted the more prudent course of
retracing his steps.

At a later date, in 1876, it will be remembered, the brave Custer was
led into a similar trap, and of the five companies of the Seventh United
States cavalry and their intrepid commanders only one was left to tell
the tale.

After having massacred the people at the agencies, the Indians at once
sent out marauding parties in all directions and covered the country from
the northeast as far as Glencoe, Hutchinson and St. Peter, Minnesota,
and as far south as Spirit Lake, Iowa. In their trail was to be found
their deadly work of murder and devastation, for at least one thousand
men, women and children were found brutally butchered, houses burned,
and beautiful farms laid waste. The settlers, being accustomed to the
friendly visits of these Indians, were taken completely unawares and were
given no opportunity for defense.

Major Thomas Galbraith, the Sioux agent, had raised a company known
as the Renville Rangers, and was expecting to report at Fort Snelling
for muster and orders to proceed south to join one of the Minnesota
commands; but upon his arrival at St. Peter, on the evening of August
18, he learned the news of the outbreak at the agencies, and immediately
retraced his steps, returning to Fort Ridgely, where he arrived on
the 19th. On the same day Lieutenant Sheehan, of the Fifth Minnesota
Infantry, with fifty men, arrived also, in obedience to a dispatch
received from Captain Marsh, who commanded the post at Fort Ridgely.
Lieutenant Sheehan, in enthusiasm and appearance, resembled General
Sheridan. He was young and ambitious, and entered into this important
work with such vim as to inspire his men to deeds of heroic valor. Upon
receipt of Captain Marsh's dispatch ordering him to return at once, as
"The Indians are raising hell at the Lower Agency!" he so inspired his
men so as to make the forced march of forty-two miles in nine hours and
a half, and he did not arrive a minute too soon. After Captain Marsh's
death he became the ranking officer at Fort Ridgely, and the mantle
of authority could not fall on more deserving shoulders. His command
consisted of Companies B and C of the Fifth Minnesota, 100 men; Renville
Rangers, 50 men; with several men of other organizations, including
Sergeant John Jones (afterwards captain of artillery), and quite a number
of citizen refugees, and a party that had been sent up by the Indian
agent with the money to pay the Indians at the agency.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Siege of Fort Ridgely, August 20, 21 and 22.

Indians fired the Fort with burning arrows, but were finally defeated by
General Sibley's Column.]



Fort Ridgely was a fort in name only. It was not built for defense,
but was simply a collection of buildings built around a square facing
inwards. The commandant's quarters, and those of the officers, also, were
two-story structures of wood, while the men's barracks of two stories
and the commissary storehouse were stone, and into these the families of
the officers and soldiers and the refugee families were placed during
the siege. On the 20th of August, 1862, about 3 p. m., an attack was
made upon the fort by a large body of Indians, who stealthily came down
the ravines and surrounded it. The first intimation the people and the
garrison had of their proximity was a volley from the hostile muskets
pouring between the openings of the buildings. The sudden onslaught
caused great consternation, but order was soon restored.

Sergeant Jones, of the battery, who had seen service in the British army,
as well as in our own regular army, in attempting to turn his guns on the
Indians found to his utter astonishment that the pieces had been tampered
with by some of the half-breeds belonging to the Renville Rangers who had
deserted to the enemy. They had spiked the guns by ramming old rags into
them. The sergeant soon made them serviceable, however, and brought his
pieces to bear upon the Indians in such an effective way as to teach them
a lesson in artillery practice they did not forget. The "rotten balls,"
as they termed the shells, fell thick and fast among them, and the havoc
was so great that they withdrew out of range to hold a council of war
and recover from their surprise. The fight lasted, however, for three
hours, with a loss to the garrison of three killed and eighteen wounded.
On the morning of Thursday, the 21st of August, the attack was renewed
by the Indians, and they made a second attack in the afternoon, but with
less force and earnestness and but little damage to the garrison. The
soldiers were on the alert and the night was an anxious one, for the
signs from the hostiles indicated that they were making preparations
for a further attempt to capture the fort. During the night barricades
were placed at all open spaces between the buildings, and the little
garrison band instructed, each man's duty specified, and directions
given to the women and children, who were placed in the stone barracks,
to lie low so as not to be harmed by bullets coming in at the windows.
On Friday, the 22d, Little Crow, the then Sioux commander in chief, had
the fort surrounded by 650 warriors whom he had brought down from the
agency. He had them concealed in the ravines which surrounded the fort,
and endeavored by sending a few of the warriors out on the open prairie
to draw the garrison out from the fort, but fortunately there were men
there who had previously had experience in Indian warfare, and the
scheme of this wily old Indian fox did not work. Little Crow, finding it
useless to further maneuver in this way, ordered an attack. The showers
of bullets continued for seven long hours, or until about 7 p. m., but
the attack was courageously and bitterly opposed by the infantry, and
this, together with the skillfully handled artillery by Sergeant Jones,
saved the garrison for another day. The Indians sought shelter behind
and in the outlying wooden buildings, but well directed shells from the
battery fired these buildings and routed the Indians, who in turn made
various attempts by means of fire arrows to ignite the wooden buildings
of the fort proper. But for the daring and vigilance of the troops the
enemy would have succeeded in their purpose. The Indians lost heavily in
this engagement, while the loss to the troops was one killed and seven
wounded. Lieutenant Sheehan, the commander of the post, was a man of
true grit, and he was ably assisted by Lieutenant Gorman of the Renville
Rangers, and Sergeants Jones and McGrau of the battery. Every man was
a hero and did his whole duty. Surrounded as they were by hundreds of
bloodthirsty savages, this little band was all that stood between the
hundreds of women and children refugees and certain death, or worse
than death! Besides, the government storehouses were filled with army
supplies, and about $75,000 in gold, with which they intended making an
annuity payment to these same Indians.

The water supply being cut off, the soldiers and all the people,
especially the wounded, suffered severely, but Post Surgeon Mueller and
his noble wife heroically responded to the urgent calls of the wounded
sufferers irrespective of danger. Mrs. Mueller was a lovely woman of the
heroic type. During the siege, in addition to caring for the wounded, she
made coffee, and in the night frequently visited all the men who were on
guard and plentifully supplied them with this exhilarating beverage. An
incident in relation to her also is, that during the siege the Indians
had sheltered themselves behind a haystack and from it were doing deadly
work. Sergeant Jones could not bring his twenty-four pounder to bear on
them without exposing his men too much, unless he fired directly through
a building that stood in the way. This house was built as they are on the
plantations in the South, with a broad hall running from the front porch
clear through to the rear. In the rear of this hall were rough double
doors, closed principally in winter time to keep the snow from driving
through. The sergeant had them closed and then brought his piece around
in front, and the Indians away back of the house could not see what the
maneuvering was. He crept up and attached a rope to the handle of the
door, and looking through the cracks got the range and then sighted his
gun. Mrs. Mueller, sheltered and out of harm's way, held the end of
the attached rope. The signal for her to pull open the doors was given
by Sergeant Jones, and this signal was the dropping of a handkerchief.
When the signal came, with good nerve, she pulled the rope and open flew
the doors. Immediately the gunner pulled the lanyard and the shell with
lighted fuse landed in the haystacks, which were at once set fire to and
the Indians dislodged. This lady died at her post, beloved by all who
knew her, and a grateful government has erected an expensive monument
over her remains, which lie buried in the soldiers' cemetery at Fort
Ridgely, where, with hundreds of others whose pathway to the grave was
smoothed by her motherly hands, they will remain until the great reveille
on the resurrection dawn.

[Illustration: LITTLE CROW.]



Little Crow, finding himself baffled in his attempt to capture the fort,
and learning from his scouts that Colonel Sibley was on his way with
two regiments to relieve the garrison, concentrated all his forces and
proceeded to New Ulm, about thirteen miles distant, which he intended to
wipe out the next morning. Here, again, he was disappointed. The hero of
New Ulm was Hon. Charles E. Flandreau, who deserves more than a passing
notice. By profession he is a lawyer, and at this time was a judge on
the bench, and is now enjoying a lucrative practice in St. Paul. By
nature he is an organizer and a leader, and to his intrepid bravery and
wise judgment New Ulm and her inhabitants owe their salvation from the
savagery of Little Crow and his bloodthirsty followers. He had received
the news of the outbreak at his home near St. Peter in the early morning
of August 19, and at once decided what should be done to save the people.

His duty to wife and children was apparent, and to place them in safety
was his first thought, which he did by taking them to St. Peter. He
then issued a call for volunteers, and in response to this soon found
himself surrounded by men who needed no second bidding, for the very air
was freighted with the terror of the situation. Armed with guns of any
and all descriptions, with bottles of powder, boxes of caps and pockets
filled with bullets, one hundred and twenty men, determined on revenge,
pressed forward to meet this terrible foe.

Where should they go? Rumors came from all directions, and one was that
Fort Ridgely was being besieged and had probably already fallen. Their
eyes also turned toward New Ulm, which was but thirteen miles distant and
in an absolutely unprotected condition. Its affrighted people were at the
mercy of this relentless enemy. The work Judge Flandreau performed in
perfecting an organization was masterful, for the men who flocked in and
offered their services he could not control in a military sense, because
they were not enlisted. The emergency was very great and it was necessary
to do the right thing and at the right time and to strike hard and deadly
blows, and trusted men were sent forward to scout and report. Hon. Henry
A. Swift, afterwards governor of Minnesota, rendered good service in
company with William G. Hayden as they scouted the country in a buggy.
It was a novel way to scout, but horses were too scarce to allow a horse
to each. An advance guard was sent forward about noon, and an hour later
the balance of the command was in motion, eagerly pushing forward and
anxious to meet the enemy wherever he might be found. The advance guard
which Flandreau sent out to determine whether Fort Ridgely or New Ulm
should be the objective point had not yet been heard from, and, that no
time might be lost, he determined that he would push forward to New Ulm,
and if that village was safe he would turn his attention to Ridgely. He
found his guard at New Ulm, and they had been largely reinforced by other
men who came in to help protect the place. They arrived just in time
to assist in repelling an attack of about two hundred Indians, who had
suddenly surrounded the little village. Before the arrival of Flandreau
and his command they could see the burning houses in the distance, and
by this they knew that the work of devastation had commenced, and the
forced march was kept up. The rain was pouring in torrents, and yet they
had made thirty-two miles in seven hours and reached the place about 8
o'clock in the evening.

The next day reinforcements continued to come in from various points
until the little army of occupation numbered three hundred effective
and determined men. A council of war was called and a line of defense
determined upon by throwing up barricades in nearly all the streets.

The situation was a very grave one and it was soon apparent that a
one-man power was necessary--that a guiding mind must control the actions
of this hastily gathered army of raw material; and to this end, Judge
Flandreau was declared generalissimo, and subsequent events proved that
the selection was a most judicious one. In a few days subsequent to this
he received a commission as colonel from Governor Ramsey and was placed
in command of all irregular troops. There were fifty companies reported
to him all told; some were mounted and others were not. His district
extended from New Ulm, Minnesota, to Sioux City, Iowa. It was a most
important command, and Colonel Flandreau proved himself a hero as well
as a competent organizer. He is so modest about it even to-day that he
rarely refers to it.

A provost guard was at once established, order inaugurated, defenses
strengthened and confidence partially restored. Nothing serious
transpired until Saturday morning at about 9 o'clock, when 650 Indians,
who had been so handsomely repulsed at Fort Ridgely, thirteen miles
above, made a determined assault upon the town, driving in the pickets.
The lines faltered for a time, but soon rallied and steadily held the
enemy at bay. The Indians had surrounded the town and commenced firing
the buildings, and the conflagration was soon raging on both sides of
the main street in the lower part of the town, and the total destruction
of the place seemed inevitable. It was necessary to dislodge the enemy
in some way, so a squad of fifty men was ordered out to charge down the
burning street, and the Indians were driven out. The soldiers then
burned everything and the battle was won. The desperate character of
the fighting may be judged when we find the casualties to be ten men
killed and fifty wounded in about an hour and a half, and this out of a
much depleted force, for out of the little army of three hundred men,
seventy-five who had been sent under Lieutenant Huey to guard the ferry
were cut off and forced to retreat towards St. Peter. Before reaching
this place, however, they met reinforcements and returned to the attack.
The Indians now, in turn, seeing quite a reinforcement coming, thought it
wise to retreat, and drew off to the northward, in the direction of the
fort, and disappeared.

The little town of New Ulm at this time contained from 1,200 to 1,500
non-combatants, consisting of women and children, refugees and unarmed
citizens, every individual of whom would have been massacred if it
had not been for this brave band of men under the command of Colonel
Flandreau. Not knowing what the retreat of the Indians indicated, the
uncertainty and scarcity of provisions, the pestilence to be feared from
stench and exposure, all combined to bring about the decision to evacuate
the town and try to reach Mankato. In order to do this a train was made
up, into which were loaded the women and children and about eighty
wounded men. It was a sad sight to witness this enforced breaking up of
home ties, homes burned and farms and gardens laid waste, loved ones dead
and wounded, and this one of the inevitable results of an unnecessary
and unprovoked war. The march to Mankato was without special incident.
Especially fortunate was this little train of escaping people in not
meeting any wandering party of hostile Indians.

The first day about half the distance from Mankato to St. Peter was
covered; the main column was pushed on to its final destination, it
being the intention of Colonel Flandreau to return with a portion of his
command to New Ulm, or remain where they were, so as to keep a force
between the Indians and the settlements. But the men of his command,
not having heard a word from their families for over a week, felt
apprehensive and refused to return or remain, holding that the protection
of their families was paramount to all other considerations. It must be
remembered that these men were not soldiers, but had demonstrated their
willingness to fight when necessary, and they did fight, and left many
of their comrades dead and wounded on the battlefield. The train that
had been sent forward arrived in Mankato on the 25th of August, and the
balance of the command reached the town on the day following, when the
men sought their homes.

The stubborn resistance the Indians met with at Fort Ridgely and New Ulm
caused them to withdraw to their own country, and this temporary lull
in hostilities enabled the whites to more thoroughly organize, and the
troops to prepare for a campaign up into the Yellow Medicine country,
where it was known a large number of captives were held.

[Illustration: Colonel Charles E. Flandreau,

Who was in command at New Ulm, Minn., during the Siege from August 20th
to 25th, 1862.]



While the exciting events narrated in the previous chapters were
taking place other portions of the state were preparing for defense.
At Forest City, Hutchinson, Glencoe, and even as far south as St. Paul
and Minneapolis, men were rapidly organizing for home protection. In
addition to the Sioux, the Chippewas and Winnebagoes were becoming
affected and seemed anxious for a pretext to don the paint and take the
warpath. Colonel Flandreau having received his commission as colonel
from Governor Ramsey, with authority to take command of the Blue Earth
country extending from New Ulm to the Iowa line, embracing the western
and southwestern frontier of the state, proceeded at once to properly
organize troops, commission officers, and do everything in his power
as a military officer to give protection to the citizens. The Colonel
established his headquarters at South Bend and the home guards came
pouring in, reporting for duty, and squads that had been raised and
mustered into the volunteer service, but had not yet joined their
commands, were organized into companies, and the Colonel soon found
himself surrounded by quite an army of good men, well officered, and with
a determination to do their whole duty. This was done by establishing
a cordon of military posts so as to inspire confidence and prevent an
exodus of the people. Any one who has not been through the ordeal of an
Indian insurrection can form no idea of the terrible apprehension that
takes possession of a defenseless and non-combatant people under such

The mystery and suspense attending an Indian's movements, and the
certainty of the cruelty to his captives, strikes terror to the heart,
and upon the first crack of his rifle a thousand are put to flight.
While cruelty is one of the natural characteristics of the Indians, yet
there are many among them who have humane feelings and are susceptible
of Christian influences. As friends, they are of the truest; but the
thoughtless cry out as did the enemies of our Savior: "Crucify him!
Crucify him!" Other Day, Standing Buffalo, Chaska and Old Betz were as
true and as good people as ever lived, and yet they are held responsible
for the atrocities of their savage brethren. At the risk of their own
lives they warned hundreds of people and guided them by night, and hid
them by day, until finally they reached a place of safety. At the hostile
camp, where they had over four hundred women and children, it was only
through the influence of these and other sturdy friendly chiefs that any
lives were saved. They had to even throw barricades around their tepees
and watch day and night until the soldiers came, giving notice that
whoever raised hand to harm these defenseless people would do it at their
peril. When we know of these kind acts, let us pause a moment before we
say there are no good Indians.

It was a study to look at some of these old dusky heroes, who said
nothing but thought much, and who had determined that, come what would,
harm should not come to the captives. There were statesmen, too, among
them; men wise in council, who had respect for their Great Father at
Washington, who were cognizant of the fact that much dissatisfaction was
engendered among their people by occurrences taking place at the time of
the negotiation for the treaties. They counselled their people, and no
doubt tried hard to induce them to forsake their desire for vengeance
on the whites, and thus retard the progress they were making for their
offspring toward civilization and a better manner of living.

You might properly ask here: "What became of the friendly Indians while
the hostiles were on the warpath?" Some of them forgot their friendly
feelings and, like the whisky victim, when they got a taste of blood,
they wanted more! They were all forced by the hostiles to don their war
paint and breech-cloth, and go with them against the whites, and they
were wise enough to know that it was folly to resist. Their main object
was to prevent the wholesale murder of the captives, for when hostilities
opened, they knew if they did not go, every woman and child in the
captive camp would be murdered; and the friendlies would be blamed as
much as the hostiles themselves.




The note of alarm sounded throughout the neighborhood and without a
moment's warning hurried preparations were made for the exodus. Women
and children and a few household goods were loaded into wagons and a
start made for a place of safety. Indians suddenly appeared and commenced
an indiscriminate fire upon the terror-stricken refugees.

The individual cases of woman's heroism, daring, bravery, cunning and
strong-willed self-sacrifice, could be recounted by the score, and in
some instances are past belief. Their achievements would be considered
as pure fiction but for our own personal knowledge. Many of the real
occurrences would seem like legends, when the father had been murdered
and the mother left with two, three and even five and six children to
care for, and if possible save them from the ferocity of the painted red
devils, whose thirst for blood could seemingly not be satiated. One noted
case was the Eastlick family, and this was only one of a hundred. Eleven
men of the party had already been killed, and Mr. Eastlick among the
number. The women with their children were scattered in all directions in
the brush, to escape if possible the inevitable fate in store for them if
caught. The Indians shouted to them to come out from their hiding places
and surrender and they should be spared. The remaining men, thinking
perhaps their lives might be saved if they surrendered, urged their wives
to do so, and the men would, if possible, escape and give the alarm.
Thus, without a word or a look lest they should betray the remaining
husbands, were these women driven from their natural protectors and
obliged to submit to the tender mercies of their hated red captors. The
supposed dead husbands watched the receding forms of their devoted wives,
whom in all likelihood they never would see again. Burton Eastlick, the
fifteen-year-old boy, could not endure the thought of leaving his mother
to this uncertain fate, and he followed her, but she persuaded him, for
the sake of his fifteen-months-old baby brother, to leave her and try and
make his escape, carrying the little one with him. And how well did he
execute his mission.

The Indians fired upon the little group and Mrs. Eastlick fell, wounded
in three places, and the boy ran away, supposing his mother dead; but she
revived, and crawled to where her wounded husband and six-year-old boy
were, to find both dead. Can you picture such a scene or imagine what the
feelings of this poor mother must be under these awful circumstances?
Sublime silence reigning over earth and sky, and she alone with her dead!

What a parting must that have been from husband and child--death and
desolation complete. Could she look to her God? A heart of faith so
sorely tried, and yet she said: "I am in His hands; surely I must trust
Him, for I am yet alive, and two precious children, Burton and little
baby, are fleeing to a place of safety."

This heroic boy, Burton, seeing his mother shot, and supposed to be dead,
and watching the life flicker and the spirit of his six-year-old brother
pass away, placed the dear little body beside that of his father, and
with a bravery born of an heroic nature he accepted his charge, and with
the injunction of his precious, dying mother still ringing in his ears,
made preparations to start. It seemed an herculean effort, but the brave
boy said: "We may yet be saved!" So, pressing his baby brother close to
his heart, he took a last look upon the faces of his dear father, mother
and six-year-old brother and started.

Ninety miles, thick with dangers, lay before our young hero; but he
faltered not. When tired carrying his little brother in his arms he
took him on his back. The first day he made sixteen miles, and in ten
consecutive days covered sixty miles. He lived on corn and such food as
he could find in deserted houses. At night his bed was the earth, his
pillow a stone, and the sky his only covering, the bright stars acting
as nightly sentinels over him, as weary, he and his little baby charge
slept. If angels have a duty to perform, surely troops of them must have
hovered around. He fed the little brother as best he could to appease
his hunger and covered him as with angel wings to protect the little
trembling body from the chilly night air. Brave boy! The pages of history
furnish nothing more noble than this deed, and if you yet live, what a
consolation, what a proud reflection, to know that there never before was
witnessed a deed more deserving of immortal fame.

"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that
flyeth by day." The resolute mother, badly wounded and left for dead,
revived. She looked upon the face of her dead husband and little boy,
and with sublime courage started for a place of safety. At the risk of
being discovered and murdered--hungry, tired, with wounds undressed and a
heavy, aching heart and deathly sick, she was obliged to lie by for some
time, after which she again started, and for ten days and nights this
poor sorrow-stricken woman traveled on her weary way.

Providence led her in the path of a mail carrier on a route from Sioux
Falls City, in Dakota, to New Ulm, Minnesota. He had formerly known her,
but in her emaciated, jaded, pitiful condition the change was so great he
did not recognize her.

At New Ulm she found her children, where they were being kindly cared
for, having been found in the tall grass nearly dead from exposure and
starvation. Thus the remaining portion of the family were reunited on
earth, and it is proper to here draw the curtain and allow them a few
moments for communion, that the fountain of the heart which had been
dried up by the awful occurrences of the previous few days might unbidden
flow. The mother's heart was nearly crushed with the thought of husband
and child--victims of the ferocious Indians, killed and yet unburied on
the prairie nearly one hundred miles away; but, mother-like, she rejoiced
in finding the two children who had wandered so far and through a kind
Providence escaped so many dangers.




A few miles above the Yellow Medicine were the churches and schools of
the Rev. S. R. Riggs and Dr. Williamson. Both of these gentlemen had long
been missionaries among the Indians and had gained their confidence; and
in return had placed the most implicit confidence in them. But these
good men had been warned to flee for their lives, and they reluctantly
gathered together a few household treasures, and placing themselves and
families under the guidance of Providence, started for a place of safety.
Fort Ridgely was their objective point, but they learned that the place
was being besieged and that it would be unsafe to proceed further in this
direction, so turned their weary steps toward Henderson, Minnesota.

With courage braced up, weary in body and anxious in mind, they went
into camp until the morning. "The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar
of fire by night," guided this anxious band through a most trying and
perilous journey, but they gained the settlement at last and were
among friends. In leaving their little homes, where they had found so
much pleasure in the work of the Master, in pointing the Indians to a
better way of living, they were sorrowful; but, like Abraham of old,
faithful in their allegiance to God, not daring to question His ways in
compelling them to turn their backs upon their chosen work--His work.
The missionaries and teachers formed strong attachments among this dusky
race. In their communion with them they found them ready and eager to
converse about the Great Spirit and to learn of the wonderful things
taught in the Bible. They loved to sing, and the melody of sacred song
found a responsive chord in their souls as they were gradually emerging
from their barbarous condition, and coming into the full light of a
Christian salvation. In conversation with the writer, Mr. Riggs once said
that as he was passing one of their happy little homes he could hear the
squaw mother, in her peculiar plaintive tones, singing to her little

  "Jesus Christ, nitowashte kin
  Woptecashni mayaqu"--
  Jesus Christ, Thy Loving Kindness,
  Boundlessly, Thou Givest Me.

She had become a Christian mother through the teachings of the
missionaries. Her maternal affection was as deep and abiding as in the
breast of her more favored white sister, and her eye of faith looked
beyond the stars to the happy hunting ground, where the Greater Spirit
abides, and with the assurance that some day she and all her race would
stand with the redeemed in the presence of the Judge of all the worlds.
The Christian missionary felt for these people as no one else could; and,
while not trying nor desiring to excuse them for their unholy war against
the whites, yet they could not persuade themselves to believe that they
had been justly dealt with by civilized America.

[Illustration: LITTLE PAUL.]



The Indians of the various tribes of the Upper and Lower Sioux--the
Sissitons, the Tetons, the Yanktons and the Yanktonnais and other tribes
held a pow-wow to try and force a conclusion of the war, and some of
their ablest men, their statesmen, were present, and their views you
have here verbatim. More decorum prevailed among them, and they were
more deliberate than is observed in the average white man's convention.
Little Crow had his supporters present, and a very fluent Yanktonnais
Sioux traced on the ground a map of the country, showing the course of
the Missouri River and the locality of the different forts. He marked
out the mountains, seas and oceans, and stated that an army, great
in numbers, was coming from across the country to assist them. This
gave rise to the unfounded rumor referred to in another chapter, that
emissaries from the South were among them to incite them to war.

John Paul, or Little Paul, was friendly to the whites, and in a speech to
the Indians at this pow-wow said:

"I am friendly to the whites, and will deliver these women and children
at Fort Ridgely. I am opposed to the war on the whites. You say you are
brave men, and can whip the whites. That is a lie--persons who cut women
and children's throats are not brave. You are squaws and cowards. Fight
the whites if you want to, but do it like brave men. I am ashamed of the
way you have acted towards the captives; and, if any of you have the
feelings of men, you will give them up. You may look fierce at me, but I
am not afraid of you."

Red Iron, one of the chiefs of the Upper Indians, was not friendly.
He was one of the principal chiefs of the Sissitons, and at one time
was so outspoken against the whites that Governor Ramsey, who was then
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and was at the agency, had occasion to
rebuke him in a substantial way--he reduced him to the ranks. In other
words, he broke him of his chieftianship. This was in December, 1852.

Red Iron was a handsome Indian, an athlete, six feet in his moccasins,
with a large, well-developed head, aquiline nose, thin lips, but with
intelligence and resolution beaming all over his countenance.

[Illustration: RED IRON.]

When brought into the presence of Governor Ramsey he walked with a firm,
lordly tread, and was clad in half military and half Indian costume.
When he came in he seated himself in silence, which was not broken until
through an interpreter the Governor asked him what excuse he had to offer
for not coming to the council when sent for.

Red Iron, when he arose to his feet to reply, did so with a
Chesterfieldian grace, allowing his blanket to fall from his shoulders,
and, intentionally dropping his pipe of peace. He stood before the
Governor for a moment in silence, with his arms folded, his bearing
betraying perfect self-composure, a defiant smile playing upon his lips.
In a firm voice he said:

Red Iron--"I started to come, but your braves drove me back."

Governor--"What excuse have you for not coming the second time I sent for

Red Iron--"No other excuse than I have already given you."

When the Governor, as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, informed this
proud chief that, by virtue of his office, he would break him of his
chieftianship it appealed to his pride, and he said:

"You break me? I was elected chief by my tribe. You can't break me."

The chief, while surrendering to the powers that be, never felt friendly
to the whites, and during this war of which we write he continued
stubborn and sullen to the end.

Standing Buffalo, hereditary chief of the Sissitons, was a different
type, and counselled living in peace, but desired fair treatment and
honest dealings with his people. He was a handsome Indian, and a man
of rare ability. General Sibley was anxious to know how he felt on
the important question agitating the Sioux Nation, and desired his
co-operation in liberating the captives and compassing the capture of
Little Crow and his followers. At this Indian convention this noted chief

[Illustration: STANDING BUFFALO.]

"I am a young man, but I have always felt friendly toward the whites,
because they were kind to my father. You have brought me into great
danger without my knowledge of it beforehand. By killing the whites, it
is just as if you had waited for me in ambush and shot me down. You Lower
Indians feel bad because we have all got into this trouble; but I feel
worse, because I know that neither I nor my people have killed any of the
whites, and that yet we have to suffer with the guilty. I was out buffalo
hunting when I heard of the outbreak, and I felt as if I was dead, and I
feel so now. You all know that the Indians cannot live without the aid of
the white man, and, therefore, I have made up my mind that Paul is right,
and my Indians will stand by him. We claim this reservation. What are
you doing here? If you want to fight the whites, go back and fight them.
Leave my village at Big Stone Lake. You sent word to my young men to come
down, and that you had plenty of oxen, horses, goods, powder and lead,
and now we see nothing. We are going back to Big Stone Lake and leave you
to fight the whites. Those who make peace can say that Standing Buffalo
and his people will give themselves up in the spring."

They kept their word, and would have nothing to do with Little Crow.

Standing Buffalo was killed in 1863 by an accident.

Other Day, a civilized Indian, in addressing the council at this time,

"You can, of course, easily kill a few unarmed whites, but it would be a
cowardly thing to do, because we have gained their confidence, and the
innocent will suffer with the guilty, and the great Father at Washington
will send his soldiers to punish you, and we will all suffer. I will not
join you in this, but will help defend these white people who have always
been our friends."

Other Day was a true friend of the whites; he looked it. He was a
full-blood Indian, it is true, and the Indians respected and feared him,
but his desire to forsake the barbarous teachings of his father inclined
him towards the unsuspecting settlers.

In 1863 he was General Sibley's most trusted and confidential scout. In
the early outbreak Other Day manifested his loyalty to his white friends
by risking his life in their defense, piloting sixty people through the
river bottoms during the nights to a place of safety. He traveled with
his charge in the night, and hid them in underbrush during the daytime.
He was a true-hearted, kind man, with a red skin, who has gone to his
reward in a land where there are no reds, no blacks, but where all are

Little Crow, who is one of the principal characters in this narrative,
was an Indian of no mean ability. He was the commander-in-chief of the
hostile tribes, and wielded a powerful influence among all the tribes
of this great Sioux Nation. He was a powerful man, and felt his lordly
position; was confident of final success, and very defiant at the outset.
He had a penchant for notoriety in more ways than one. In dress he was
peculiar, and could nearly always be found with some parts of a white
man's clothing. He was particularly conspicuous in the style of collar he
wore; happy in the possession of one of the old-style standing collars,
such as Daniel Webster and other old-time gentlemen bedecked themselves
with. He also possessed a black silk neckerchief and a black frock coat,
and on grand occasions wore both.

He had strongly marked features, and in studying the lineaments of his
face one would not adjudge him a particularly bad Indian. As we had
hundreds of these men in our custody, a good opportunity was offered
while guarding them to try one's gift as a reader of character as stamped
in the face, but Little Crow proved an enigma. It was like a novice
trying to separate good money from bad, an unprofitable and unsuccessful
task. Little Crow said:

"It is impossible to make peace if we so desired. Did we ever do the most
trifling thing, the whites would hang us. Now, we have been killing them
by the hundreds in Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, and I know if they get us
into their hands they will hang every one of us. As for me, I will kill
as many of them as I can, and fight them till I die. Do not think you
will escape. There is not a band of Indians from the Redwood Agency to
Big Stone Lake that has not had some of its members embroiled in this
war. I tell you we must fight and perish together. A man is a fool and
coward who thinks otherwise, and who will desert his nation at such a
time. Disgrace not yourselves by a surrender to those who will hang you
up like dogs; but die, if die you must, with arms in your hands, like
warriors and braves of the Dakotas."

In one of our battles we took some fine-looking bucks prisoners, and the
soldiers were for scalping them at once, but we had a little "pow-wow"
with them, and found them intelligent and well educated; they were
students home on a vacation from Bishop Whipple's school at Faribault,
Minnesota, and said they were forced, much against their will, to go on
the warpath; that they had not fired a bullet at the whites; that they
fired blank cartridges because they felt friendly to the whites, and
had no desire to kill them. There were three of them; we told them they
could take their choice--be shot or enlist; they chose the latter, and
went South with us, staying until the close of the Rebellion, and they
displayed the courage of the born soldier.

[Illustration: Brevet Major General H. H. Sibley,

Commander in the field in 1862 and 1863 against the Sioux Indians.]



While these scenes which I have related were being enacted in the
upper country excitement ran high at St. Paul, and for a time the
great struggle then going on in the South was forgotten. The news of
the outbreak soon reached St. Paul, and couriers, with horses covered
with foam, kept coming in one after another, until the officers at Fort
Snelling were ordered by Governor Ramsey to be in readiness with their
men to move at a moment's notice, and we did not have long to wait.

The Sixth Minnesota, of which I was a member, had just organized, and
was assigned to Hancock corps, Army of the Potomac, but the events
transpiring in the Indian country made it necessary for all available
troops to go there. When I say that the whole country was seething with
excitement it is no exaggeration. The towns, big and little, were filled
with frightened refugees; the rumors that came in were of the most
frightful nature, and the whole state was clamorous for protection.

Governor Ramsey, in his desire to protect the panic-stricken people and
liberate the captives, cast about for a suitable commander for this
important work. Of all the men in and about St. Paul who seemed eminently
qualified for this position, Governor Henry H. Sibley, who at that time
was living in quietude in his home in Mendota, just across the river from
the fort, was his choice.

Governor Henry Hastings Sibley, the hero of these Indian campaigns, was
born in the city of Detroit February 20, 1811. His sire was Chief Justice
Solomon Sibley, of Detroit, and his mother was Sarah Whipple Sproat,
whose father, Colonel Ebenezer Sproat, was an accomplished officer of the
Continental army, and the granddaughter of Commodore Abraham Whipple, an
illustrious commander in the Continental navy. He came from a long line
of illustrious ancestry on both sides, of good Puritan stock, and dating
his lineage back to the Sibleys of William the Conqueror of England in
the fifteenth century.

He was not a fighter; his heart was too tender for that, but he felt
the weighty responsibility he had assumed when he consented to lead
the soldiers and save the lives of the captives. For delaying he
was denounced on all hands. The press denounced him for not falling
immediately upon the Indians; but he knew the enemy better than his
censors. If he had heeded the behests of the clamorous people not a
captive would have been spared; but to-day hundreds live to bless him for
his cautious, conservative movements. Until his death, which occurred
but a few months since, he lived in his beautiful home in St. Paul; and,
although a half century of winters in the far Northwest had whitened
his head, and a great deal more than a half century of time had made
his limbs tremble, neither time nor frost had sapped the citadel of his
mind. He was a member of Aker Post, No. 21, Department of Minnesota, and
the comrades, in deference to his declining years, went in a body to his
beautiful home where he was mustered in. He lived in peace and plenty,
surrounded by his family and friends, who esteemed him for his worth.
He passed away respected and regretted by a host of friends throughout
the land, who knew him as a citizen and a soldier. I knew him personally
and intimately since 1857; and in his death, with others great in our
nation's history, we are reminded that in war the bullet is no respecter
of rank; the commander and the soldier fall together.

Governor Sibley was commissioned by Governor Ramsey as Colonel of
Volunteers, and assigned to the command of the expedition. He was
selected because he had spent many years of his life among the Indians
as a trader, he spoke their language, he knew them personally, and knew
their characteristics. He was a man of large experience, education and
ability, and possessed, withal, a cool head. He knew the Indians, and
they knew him and respected him. He consented to lead the forces against
the Indians when appealed to by Governor Ramsey, upon conditions that he
should not be interfered with by His Excellency, or any one else, and
that he should have adequate supplies of men, stores and transportation.
Colonel Sibley, afterwards Brigadier and Brevet Major-General of
Volunteers, with his staff and Companies A, B, and E, of the Sixth
Minnesota Infantry, embarked on a small steamer then at anchor near the
fort, and steamed up the Minnesota river to Shakopee, distant about forty
miles by water. We started in a furious rain, and after a slow trip up
the narrow and winding Minnesota, arrived at Shakopee, where we found the
frightened citizens ready to receive us with open arms, although all the
firearms we had were worthless and condemned Austrian rifles, without
ammunition to fit them. All serviceable material of war had been shipped
to the South. Our first guard duty was on picket in the suburbs of
Shakopee, and our instructions were to press all teams into the service.
We felt the gravity of the situation, and obeyed orders to the letter as
nearly as we, raw recruits, could. While here the news was spread that
Indians were in the vicinity, and the women and children began to flock
to the vicinity of the soldiers; the alarm was without foundation. As
we were stationed on the various roads leading to and from the town,
the citizens who had been so badly scared seemed to feel comparatively
safe. The news from the upper country, however, was discouraging, and
appeals for protection very urgent. We could not move at once from lack
of transportation, and had no adequate supplies, either of food, arms or
ammunition, for we had been so hurriedly dispatched from Fort Snelling
that only about half of one company had been supplied with even the
worthless muskets spoken of, and the whole command with but two days'
rations. It was necessary, however, to make some quick demonstration to
appease the panic-stricken people. After a delay of one day, by various
routes by land and water, the regiment concentrated at St. Peter, under
command of Colonel William Crooks, where it was inspected and remained
four or five days, awaiting the receipt of suitable arms and ammunition
and also reinforcements.

Our guns were so absolutely worthless that it was necessary to delay
a little, as the Indians, in large numbers, were then besieging Fort
Ridgely, and were well armed with Springfield rifles, while our own arms
were condemned Austrian muskets.

We embarked on a boat at Shakopee and sailed up to Carver, forty miles
above, and there pressed in teams to carry us through what was known as
the "Big Woods." It had been raining for days, and the town of Carver
was literally packed with refugees. There was not an empty building in
it, even the warehouses were filled, and the muddy streets were a sight
to behold. The mud was ankle deep, and you may imagine in what condition
everything was. I cannot describe it.

The frightened people, who had flocked in from all the country round,
told most woeful tales of Indian atrocities. In some cases they were
overdrawn, but later on we saw evidences enough to warrant them fleeing
to a place of safety. There was no safety, however, in coming to these
small towns, for they were without protection.

After loading up the teams, we started through the "Big Woods," and the
roads were in such a horrible condition that we made but slow progress.
However, we had to make Glencoe, twenty-five miles distant, before night
or camp down in the woods in the mud. It became pitchy dark, but we kept
on the move, and in time got through the woods and could see the lights
of Glencoe afar off. This was only a small place, but the twinkling
lights from the houses were a pleasant sight, and when we arrived there
the people were glad to see us. We remained over night, and the next day
started for St. Peter. We could see evidences of Indian devastation in
every direction, among which were the burning buildings and grain stacks
on the beautiful neighboring farms.

On the route to St. Peter, which we reached early in the evening, we
discovered a few dead settlers, and took some families along with us.
Upon our arrival we went into camp with the rest of the command, and were
soon placed under strict military discipline, and in a brief time our
commander, Colonel William Crooks, a West Pointer, brought order out of

Of the preparation and forward march to relieve Fort Ridgely I will
reserve for another chapter.




In the interval the companies were drilled and the command otherwise
prepared to act effectively against the formidable body of hostile
warriors, who were well armed and plentifully supplied with powder and
ball. Colonel Sibley, having looked the ground over with a critical
eye, uninfluenced by the public clamor and fault-finding of the press,
remained firm in the determination not to take the field until assured
of success in his operations. He knew the Indians well, and knew it was
necessary to fight or failure, there would be no adequate barrier to the
descent of the savages upon St. Paul and Minneapolis, and the desolation
of the state generally. The Chippewas on the north were known to be in
secret communication with Little Crow, the head of the Sioux hordes, and
ready to them cautiously if he would succeed, for, in case of defeat
co-operate with him if victorious, while the Winnebagoes were also in
active sympathy with him, for two or three of their warriors were found
among the dead after the battle of Wood Lake, which occurred later on.
Arms, ammunition and supplies arriving, we took up the line of march for
Fort Ridgely, which was then in a state of siege. Our advent at the Fort
was hailed with delight, for the little garrison was pretty well tired
out with the fighting and watching that they had had on their hands for
the eight days previous. Barricades had been erected at all weak points,
but the Indians so far outnumbered the soldiers that they approached near
enough to fire the wooden buildings of the fort proper in many places.

Our march to Fort Ridgely was the first we had made as an entire
organization, and under an able commanding officer we profited by it. On
the way we found the dead body of a colored man from St. Paul by the name
of Taylor. He was a barber by trade, but also quite a noted gambler, and
had been up to the agency to get his share of the money when the Indians
got their pay.

He played one game too many, and lost--his life.

Before we reached the Fort the Indians took alarm and sullenly retreated
upon our approach, after having done all possible damage to men and
property. As we entered, the brave little garrison accompanied by the
women and children turned out to greet us, and a right joyous time we
had. A detachment of thirty men of the Fifth Minnesota, under Captain
Marsh, the commander of the fort, upon receipt of news of the outbreak,
had marched in the direction of the Lower Sioux Agency, distant a few
miles. The Indians, perceiving the advance of this small detachment,
placed themselves in ambush in the long grass at the crossing of the
Minnesota River and awaited the oncoming of their unsuspecting victims,
and, when in the toils, they opened a terrific fire upon them, which
destroyed almost the entire party.

Colonel Sibley hurried forward supplies and ammunition for an extensive
campaign, for, from his knowledge of the Indians, he knew it was no boy's
play. The moving spirit among the hostiles was Little Crow, a wily old
chief, without principle, but active and influential. He had harangued
his people into the belief that the fight going on among the whites in
the South had drawn off all the able-bodied men, leaving none but old
men, women and children. "Now," he said, "is the time to strike for
Minnesota. These fertile fields, stolen from us, are ours; the buffalo
are gone; we have no food, and our women and children are starving. Let
the warriors assemble in war paint and drive the pale-faces from the
face of the earth!" He told his people they could pitch their wigwams
the coming winter in St. Paul and hold high carnival in the legislative
halls. So widespread had the alarm became that it reached St. Paul and
Minneapolis, and "minute men" were on duty on the bluffs adjacent for
several days. In addition to the Sioux, the Chippewas and Winnebagoes
were becoming very restless, and this caused additional uneasiness in the
two cities.

Colonel Sibley, upon his arrival of the fort, sent out scouts to
ascertain the whereabouts of the Indians. The news they brought was that
a large camp of hostiles was located above the Yellow Medicine, where
they held as captives about four hundred white women and children, and
one white man. They also reported that the Indians were preparing to make
a raid on the small towns below the fort.

It was also known that a large number of citizens who had been killed
near the agency were yet unburied, and the fate of Captain Marsh and his
men was in doubt. To this end a small command was organized, as narrated
in another chapter, to go out to bury the dead and relieve Captain Marsh
and his men if they were found alive.



Company "A," of the Sixth Minnesota, together with two men each from
the other companies, were detailed to accompany a burial party, with
instructions to properly bury all bodies found, and, if possible,
ascertain the fate of Captain Marsh and his thirty men, who had gone out
to intercept the Indians at the Redwood Crossing. In addition to this
detail we had a small detachment of citizen cavalry, under Captain Joe
Anderson, to act as scouts.

Our little command numbered, all told, 153--infantry, cavalry and
teamsters--and ninety-six horses, including twenty teams taken along
to carry camp and garrison equipage, rations and ammunition, and to
transport our wounded, either soldiers or citizens. The expedition was
under the immediate command of Captain H. P. Grant, of Company A. Major
Joseph R. Brown, better known as "Old Joe Brown," was in charge of the
scouts. He had a cool head, but no fighting qualities; had been an Indian
trader for many years, raised an Indian family, and knew a great deal
about Indian signs and customs. In this particular case, however, the
Indians fooled Joe. The first day out we found and buried about fifty
citizens, and at night went into camp in the river bottom near Redwood
Crossing. The night was dark and dismal, and particularly sad to us who
had been gathering up the dead all day long. The instructions to the
guard by Captain Anderson were of a very solemn nature, in view of the
surroundings and the probable fighting ahead. This, together with the
stillness of the night and the impression that a lurking foe was near,
made the boys feel rather uncomfortable.

[Illustration: DR. WILLIAMSON'S HOUSE.]

Deep sleep settled upon the camp, but the sentinels maintained a vigilant
watch, however, and the night slowly passed without incident. After
reveille the next morning we found Captain Marsh and his comrades, but
not one of them answered to "roll-call." We found the captain's body and
those of a few of his men in the river, and the rest of the bodies in the
thicket on the river bank, where they had evidently been hemmed in and
fired upon from all sides. Nearly all had been scalped, and were minus
guns and ammunition, for these had been confiscated by the redskins. We
buried the soldiers side by side, with their captain at their head, and
marked the place by a huge cross, so that the bodies might be easily
found and removed, which was subsequently done, when they were finally
buried in the Soldiers' cemetery at Fort Ridgely. After this last service
to our dead comrades, we took up the line of march, leaving the bottom
lands for the prairie above, and it was when passing over the bluff that
a large body of Indians, who were on their way to capture Saint Peter and
Mankato, espied us. What was our subsequent loss was the gain of the two
towns mentioned. Our scouts had crossed the river, making a detour to the
south, and thus missed making the acquaintance of our enemies, who had
their eyes on us.

We went into camp the second night near Birch Coolie, and sixteen miles
distant from Fort Ridgely, about 5 p. m., well tired out with our day's
march. Birch Coolie is a deep gorge running north and south in Redwood
county, Minnesota. What was then a bleak prairie is now a beautiful
farming community, and Birch Coolie a thriving village.

From information gathered by the scouts we felt comparatively safe.

[Illustration: "Chickens for Supper."]

Old Joe said: "Boys, go to sleep now and rest; you are as safe as you
would be in your mother's house; there is not an Indian within fifty
miles of you." At that very moment five hundred Indians were in the
immediate vicinity watching us and impatient for the ball to open, as
they intended it should at the proper time, which, with the Indian, is
about four o'clock in the morning.

After our supper on chicken stew, song-singing and story-telling, we
turned in, well tired out and in a condition to enjoy a good night's
sleep and dreams of home.

The night was warm, the sky clear, with the stars shining brightly, and
a full moon in all her glory. It was a beautiful night--too beautiful
to witness the scene that was so soon to follow. The guard had been
stationed and cautioned to be on the alert for strange sounds; "tattoo,"
"roll-call," "taps," sounded, and the little camp was silent. The low hum
of voices became less and less as slumber came to the weary soldiers, and
all that could be heard was the occasional challenge of the guard: "Halt!
who comes there!" as he was being approached by the officer of the guard.

Soon the soldiers slept, little dreaming that the lurking enemy and death
were so near. The awakening to some was in eternity.



The battle of Birch Coolie was fought September 2 and 3, 1862. It has
never taken its proper place in history, but with the exception of the
massacre at the Little Big Horn, in 1876, it was the hottest and the
most desperate battle fought during the war of the Rebellion or any of
our Indian wars. In comparison to the number of men and horses engaged,
I know of no conflict, the one above referred to excepted, where the
casualties were as great as they were here.

The Indian custom is to make an attack about four o'clock in the morning,
so this relief had been especially cautioned, and soon after the guard
was placed one of them thought he saw something moving in the grass. It
proved to be an Indian, and they were slowly moving in upon us, their
intention being to shoot the pickets with arrows, and as noiselessly as
possible rush in and destroy us in our confusion. The sentinel fired at
the moving object, and instantly our camp was encircled by fire and smoke
from the guns of five hundred Indians, who had hemmed us in. The guard
who fired escaped the bullet intended for him. He said he thought the
moving object in the grass might be a hog or it might be an Indian, and,
hog or Indian, he intended to kill it if he could. The fire was returned
by the pickets as they retreated to the camp, and although there
necessarily was confusion, there was no panic. Quicker than I can write
we were out, musket in hand, but the captain's command to "fall down"
was mistaken for "fall in," which makes a vast difference under such
circumstances. We soon broke for the wagons, however, which were formed
in a circle about our tents, and this afforded us some little shelter.

As this was our baptismal fire, and a most important engagement, I devote
more space to it than I otherwise would. What an experience it was to
inexperienced, peaceable, unsuspecting men! Think of being awakened out
of a blissful sleep by the fire from five hundred Indian rifles--it is a
wonder that we were not all destroyed amid the confusion that naturally
would follow; but we had cool heads among us, and none were cooler than
Old Joe Brown and Captain H. P. Grant, of Company A, who was in immediate
command. I will here refer to two others. First, Mr. William H. Grant, a
lawyer of St. Paul, who still lives in Minnesota. He went out to see the
fun. Well, he saw it, and the "trial" was a severe one. He "objected" and
"took exceptions" to everything the Indians did.

He wore a black plug hat, and this was a good mark for the redskins;
they shot it off his head twice, and it was finally lost altogether.
"Bill" was cool; he did not lose his temper, but laid down very flat on
the ground and gave directions to those about him how to shoot to kill.
We afterward voted him in as a brevet private, and were always ready
to divide grub and "shake." Postmaster Ed. Patch, of St. Anthony, was
another of our citizen escorts. He was a jolly good fellow and "cool as
a cucumber," with a bay window on him like an overgrown bass drum. He
found this excess of stomach very much in the way, in his great desire to
hug mother earth and get out of range of the Indian bullets, and looked
as if he wished he had never been born, or that he had been a disciple of

One of our little thin fellows was lying down alongside of "Ed," and I'll
never forget the expression of his face when he said: "God, bub, I wish I
was as little as you be."

The camp was miserably located, being commanded by the deep ravine on
one side and by a mound on the other, so that the savages were well
sheltered from our fire. Had the instructions given by Colonel Sibley
been followed, which were always to encamp in open and level prairie,
there would have been no such destruction of valuable lives, but the
spot was chosen for our camp because it was near wood and water, and the
Indians were supposed to be fifty miles away. It was a mistake, which we
discovered after it was too late. A brisk fire was opened by the boys,
and soon the cartridge boxes were being depleted. Ammunition was called
for, and upon opening a box, to our dismay we found it to be of too large
a calibre. Other boxes were opened with a like result. In loading up
our ammunition a mistake had been made, and we found ourselves in this
unfortunate dilemma; but no time was to be lost, as we had not more than
an average of twenty rounds to the man, and a hoard of savages about us
who seemed well supplied with powder and ball.

We went to work cutting the large bullets down with our knives, but this
was a slow and unsatisfactory process. We used the powder from these
large cartridges to load our guns with, putting in an extra amount, so
that when we fired these blanks they made a great noise, and thus kept
up a successful "bluff," though doing no damage. A dead silence would
ensue, and occasionally some of our best shots picked off a more daring
redskin simply to remind them that we were awake. We had but one shovel
and one pick; there were others in some of the wagons, or they had been
thrown out in the grass and could not be found. The captain offered $5
apiece for them, but the bullets were too thick to admit of a search, so
we used jack-knives, spoons and bayonets to dig our intrenchments with.
In time we had very good pits dug, and with the assistance of the dead
bodies of our horses had ourselves tolerably well protected.

With the wounded horses rearing and plunging, the men groaning and
calling for help, the hurried commands, and the unearthly yells of the
five hundred red devils about us, this baptismal fire was trying to the
souls of raw recruits, as most of us were. We were encircled by fire and
smoke, the bullets were doing their deadly work, and it really seemed as
though no man could escape death. Our orders were: "Load and fire, but
steady, boys, and give them hail Columbia!"

Upon the first fire of the Indians two men fled from the camp, one a
citizen, who was with us, and the other a soldier. The citizen we found
afterward on the prairie, dead. He was the last of his family, for we
had buried his wife and two children just the previous day, before going
into camp. The soldier, a Swede, returned, but he was so paralyzed with
fear that he was like a dead man during all this memorable thirty-six
hours, and the poor fellow afterward succumbed to sickness. Everything
was improvised for a barricade--camp kettles, knapsacks, wagon-seats,
etc., and it was done in a hurry, for hot work was on our hands. The
word soon went the rounds: "College is dead, Irvine is dead, Baxter,
Coulter, Benecke, King and a score of others are dead, and nearly all are
wounded." It was only a few minutes after the first fire when we realized
all this, and it verily looked as though the little command would be
wiped out of existence. If a head was shown fifty Indians leveled at
it. During all this terrible fire Old Joe Brown walked about seemingly
unconcerned, until a bullet went through the back of his neck. He came to
the ground as quick as if shot through the heart, for it was a bad wound,
but with it all he continued to give instructions. Nearly all the damage
was done before ten o'clock, for up to that time we found ourselves with
sixty killed and wounded, out of 155, and ninety-five horses dead, out of
ninety-six. The horses saved our little encampment. As soon as they fell
their bodies formed a good barricade for us, and this and the overturned
wagons were our only protection. The Indians, occupying higher ground
than we did, had us at a disadvantage. The day wore on, and all we could
do was to assist Surgeon J. W. Daniels with the wounded and keep the
Indians at bay. Dr. Daniels proved himself a cool-headed, brave man,
never flinching for a moment. Where duty called he was found, and he
immortalized himself with the boys. The great fear of the wounded seemed
to be that we would be obliged to abandon them to their fate, for the sun
was extremely hot and the camp had become very offensive from the smell
of decomposing bodies of horses; besides, we had no means of transporting
the wounded, and their fears were not without foundation, for it looked
as though we would be driven by necessity from the camp. We assured and
reassured them that if we went they would go, too. If we died it would be
in defending them as well as ourselves.

The one thing, aside from cowardice on the part of the Indians, that
saved us from assault was the fact of our having several half-breed
scouts with us, who talked back and forth.

The Indians said: "Come out from the pale-faces; we do not want to kill
you, but we want all their scalps."

Private James Auge of our company was the spokesman. He was a Canadian
Frenchman, but had lived among the Indians, knew them well, and spoke
their language, and as he went so would all the other Indians and
half-breeds who were with us.



On the second day, at about sunrise, we discovered a large body of
Indians closing up nearer to us, when one of their number, probably
Little Crow's brother, came within twenty rods of us. He was on a white
horse, and carried a flag of truce. He held a conversation with Auge, our
interpreter, and tried to persuade him to leave us and bring the other
half-breeds with him. When the conversation was interpreted to Captain
Grant, he said: "Well, Auge, what do you fellows intend to do, go with
the Indians or stay with us?" Auge replied:

"Captain Grant, we want nothing to do with these Indians; we will stand
by you and fight as long as there is a man left, and I will now tell them
so." He did call to them, and said:

"We won't come over to you; we will stay with the soldiers, and if you
come we will kill you if we can. You are cowards to kill poor women and
children, and if we catch you we will treat you as you treated them."

We felt relieved to know that our half-breeds were loyal. Auge, after
this, was Corporal Auge, and he went all through the South with us,
making a splendid soldier. I shall have occasion to refer to him in
another place in this chapter.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Battle of Birch Coolie. Minn.

Fought September 2nd and 3d, 1862. Ninety-five horses lay dead within the
camp; 60 men killed and wounded; 500 Indians were under cover in the tall
grass, and concentrated their fire on the camp.]

Captain Grant told Auge to say to them that we had two hundred fighting
men and plenty of ammunition, and that Little Crow and all his dirty
Indians could not take us, and for him to get out with his flag of truce.

It was a game of bluff, for at that time we only had about sixty-five
effective men, and were nearly out of ammunition.

We did not know whether we could trust the half-breeds or not, and were
instructed to fire on them to kill if they made the slightest move to
desert us. Our firing had been heard at Fort Ridgely, sixteen miles away,
and the Colonel dispatched two hundred and fifty men, with one howitzer,
to our relief.

Just at sunset the second day we saw two horsemen come to the edge of
the woods across the Coolie, but the Indians also saw them, and chased
them back. They returned to their command and reported a large body
of Indians, and said they saw a small camp with the stars and stripes
flying, but as they had no field glass, could not make it out. Colonel
McPhail, who was in command of this relief, ordered the howitzer to
be fired to give us courage, if the little camp proved to be ours. A
shout went up at this welcome sound just as the sun went down. Old Joe
Brown, who had been disabled early in the day, called out from his tent:
"Captain Grant, instruct the men to be watchful; we are in a bad fix;
the Indians will hate to lose our scalps, now that they are so near
their grasp; give them a few shots occasionally, assure the wounded men
that we will not leave them, and keep the pick and shovel busy." We
disposed of ourselves for the night as best we could. Every man was on
guard, and nearly all had two rifles fully charged and bayonets fixed.
We clasped our rifles, looked up into the starry heavens, and, asking
God's protection, swore not to yield an inch. We made this demonstration
to encourage the wounded men, who seemed fearful that something more
terrible was in store for them. The prayers and groans of the wounded
and the awful silence of the dead inspired us to do our whole duty. The
watch-word, "wide-awake," went the rounds every few minutes, and there
was "no sleep to the eye nor slumber to the eye-lids," during all that
live-long night.

Out of our ninety-six horses we had but one left. This was a splendid
animal, and had thus far escaped without a scratch. He was feeding about
the camp, unmindful of the fate of his fellows.

The picture of Birch Coolie is an exact reproduction of the situation.
The ninety-five dead horses were all within the enclosure, and the one
who escaped for the time is grazing among them.

Just before midnight the clouds began to gather, and we felt cheered to
think we would soon have rain. We were sorely in need of water, for we
had not tasted a drop since the night before, and the wounded men were
nearly famished with thirst and burning with fever. As the sky darkened
Captain Grant called for a volunteer to go to Fort Ridgely for relief.
Corporal James Auge volunteered to go, and by this act proved himself
a truly brave man, and if it had been successfully carried out would
have gained for him a commission at no very distant day. The fact of its
not being carried out was no fault of his, and, in the abandonment of
the trial, he was declared not the less brave by all his comrades, who
trembled for him while he was preparing to make the perilous journey.
The night was cloudy, and he being conversant with Indian methods and
well posted in the topography of the country, could be successful in
getting through the Indian's lines, if anybody could; but the chances
were ten to one against the success of the undertaking.

The horse was saddled and the Corporal had his instructions. He had his
foot in the stirrup when the clouds rolled back from the full moon like
the rolling back of a scroll, and it was almost as light as noon-day. The
Indians, ever on the alert, saw the preparations and opened fire anew
upon us, and, long before they ceased, our good horse was pierced by six
bullets, and the project was abandoned--we could only wait anxiously for
results. The enemy did not allow us to wait long, for at four o'clock
they opened a terrific fire, which they kept up for an hour. The only
response they got from us was blank cartridges, but we made a great noise
with them, and it answered the purpose very well. We had ourselves so
well protected that in this fusillade they killed but one man and wounded

The early morning dawn and heavy, dewy atmosphere found our eyes heavy
from loss of sleep, so we divided up and some slept while others watched.
We heard nothing of the detachment, and as the day advanced the Indians
became bolder. They had driven the relief back and were closing in upon
us, and we, having so little ammunition, could do them but little harm.
They were puzzled at our silence. Some of the chiefs said it was a trick,
others said we were all killed. At any rate, with them "discretion was
the better part of valor," and we didn't object.

About one o'clock the same day we descried the glimmer of the polished
rifle in the distance. We had no glass, but anxious eyes strained to see
what it was, and the dark outline of a moving mass told us reinforcements
were coming. The chiefs, by waving their blankets and shouts, called off
their warriors. "There's a mile of whites coming," they said. They waved
their tomahawks, shouted, fired, and finally galloped off on the prairie.

A few warriors more daring than the others remained behind for a time
to get a scalp, and some of them came so close we could readily discern
their war paint. Before the main body of the Indians left, however, they
rode very close, and gave us several parting volleys. The wounding of a
few of our men was all the damage they did at this time.

Right joyful were we when the reinforcements arrived. Our camp had been
formed by driving twenty teams in a circle, and it can readily be seen
that it was not large. It was about as large as an ordinary circus
tent, and inside of this we had our horses, men and tents. After the
battle the sight was a sickening one, for with sixty dead and wounded
men and ninety-five horses in such a small space, and all the confusion
arising out of such a siege it was enough to appall the stoutest heart.
Strong men, when they beheld the sight, wept like children. It was our
baptismal fire, and the horror seemed greater to us. Our men, whose
nerves had been on a tension so long and bodies exhausted for want of
food, water and sleep, when the relief came, fell down and slept. Colonel
Sibley was the first to arrive, and when he rode up to our barricade,
and saw the terrible loss of life he looked as though he had lost his
best friends. His heart bled at the sight, and the tears he shed spoke
volumes. A detail was at once made to bury the dead side by side in a
temporary grave, dinner was cooked for the remainder of the command
and the wounded were put in ambulances, tents were "struck," and we
took up the line of march for Fort Ridgely, which we reached sometime
during the night. Our tents had been so completely riddled with bullets
that they were condemned as useless, and were finally sent down to Fort
Snelling and placed on exhibition for a long time. One of them had 375
bullet holes in it, and when the people looked at them they wondered
that any man escaped. The narrow escapes were almost miraculous, and
congratulations were frequently in order. It was not every man for
himself, but a strong fellow-feeling sprang up among us that forever
afterwards cemented our hearts. We shared our shelter and encouraged one
another, and no man shrank from duty. We had determined to die together,
and if ever soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder we did on this bloody
spot, where our nerves and courage were taxed to the utmost. Company A,
so nearly wiped out, was ever afterwards considered the "Old Ironsides"
of the regiment.

Before we left, Colonel Sibley addressed a note to Little Crow, and
placing it on a stick stuck it in the ground so he might find it when he
would visit the battle ground, as he surely would do as soon as we were
out of the way. The note was as follows:

  "If Little Crow has any proposition to make let him send a half-breed
  to me and he shall be protected in and out of my camp.

  H. H. Sibley,
  Colonel Commanding Military Expedition."

To specify the remarkable escapes would unduly lengthen this chapter,
but, as near as my recollection serves me, no man entirely escaped. I'll
specify two--one an escape and the other an incident. Lieutenant Swan,
of the Third Minnesota, now a lawyer of Sioux City, Iowa, was with us on
this picnic. He was not ordered to go, neither was he detailed, but he
simply went, and he had a very narrow escape. During the sharp firing,
and after we had some shallow pits dug, this officer was in one as far as
his long legs would admit. He had a fine gold watch in his fob pocket,
and one of the boys asked him the time of day. He undoubled as well as
he could and got out his watch, but in returning it put it in his vest
pocket instead of the fob. It was no sooner in his pocket than an Indian
bullet struck it squarely in the center. The concussion knocked the
lieutenant over, but the watch saved his life. He keeps it as a valued
souvenir of the occasion.

The incident relates to Private James Leyde, of Company A, of the Sixth.
He was a little fellow who could march longer and eat oftener than any
youngster of his size I ever saw. Jimmy was a splendid soldier, always
ready for drill or guard, and never forgot his manners when he met a
"shoulder-straps." He was a pious little fellow, too, and carried a Bible
his mother gave him.

Well, "after the battle" Jimmy was looking over the wreck with his
comrade, Billy Caine, and in taking up his Bible found a bullet embedded
in it. "Hello, Billy, my Bible got struck!" The ball had gone through
Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, until it stopped half way through
Deuteronomy. Jimmy says: "God, Billy, it didn't get through Deuteronomy

There were many close calls, and it really seemed remarkable that so many
could escape. I could specify scores, but it is not necessary.

Among the incidents on the march before we arrived at Birch Coolie I
might mention the finding of a wounded woman by the roadside. She had
been without food or water for twelve days, and was the only one of a
large party supposed to have been murdered. She did not escape uninjured,
however, for the surgeon took fourteen buckshot from her back. During
our thirty-six hours' siege this poor woman remained in the wagon where
she had been placed the first day, and spent her time in praying for
our deliverance. She sustained a broken wrist in addition to her other
wounds, but after we got to the fort she was among her own people and
soon fully recovered to tell the tale of her twelve days' wanderings and
her marvelous escape.



At this juncture the press and people were clamoring for Colonel Sibley's
removal because of his delay and, as they claimed--lack of energy and
judgment. He lacked in neither, for he knew the foe he had to deal with,
and if he had heeded the behests of the press and people, so far away,
not a woman or child of the captives would have escaped. However, he
dispatched Col. William Crooks to St. Paul to explain the situation in
detail to Governor Ramsey and satisfy the clamorous press that they knew
but little of the situation as it existed at the seat of the Sioux war.

After our return to Fort Ridgely and a few more days of preparation, the
command was put in splendid marching condition, and "forward" was the
word for the rescuing of the captives and if possible the capture of the
renegades. We met the Indians next at Wood Lake and had a sharp battle
with them early in the morning. They had come down in force to annihilate
us, but we were glad to meet them in broad day light on the open prairie
and receive them with "open arms to hospitable graves." We were just
up from a good night's sleep and had partaken of a generous supply of
Old Java and "hard tack," and felt abundantly able to defend ourselves.
Besides we were veterans now, for we had profited by our baptismal fire
and had an old score to settle with "Mr. Injun," and we settled to our
entire satisfaction.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Battle of Wood Lake, Minn.

Fought September 23d, in which the Indians were defeated.]

Our sappers had gone out to repair a bridge that had been burned, and the
temptation was too great for some of the younger warriors. The plan of
the Indians was to surprise us as we were crossing the river--to divide
our attention by having a small body in the rear and one in front, and
then the main body to spring from their ambush, and in our confusion to
destroy us; but the young bucks, when they saw a few of our men, wanted
their scalps so bad they opened fire. The "long roll" was sounded, and
we stood to arms. Little Crow knew that Colonel Sibley was aware of his
tactics, and was determined to remove him if he could by detailing about
eighty of his best warriors to do the work, and at this battle of Wood
Lake they tried hard to reach him, but he was too watchful to be caught
napping. A detachment of the Third Minnesota, under Major Welch, and
the Renville Rangers charged upon the Indians in one direction, and the
Seventh Minnesota, in command of Col. William R. Marshall, in another,
while the battery, under command of Captain Mark Hendricks, did effective
work also. The Sixth Minnesota, under command of Colonel William Crooks,
routed the Indians from a deep ravine on the right flank of our camp and
probably saved Colonel Sibley from being captured by the picked men sent
out for that purpose by Little Crow.

The conflict lasted more than two hours and was decisive. The Indians
offered to surrender if Colonel Sibley would promise them immunity from
punishment, but this was sternly refused. They fled in dismay, not being
permitted to take their dead and wounded from the field. So confident
were they of success that they had brought their women and teams to take
back the pillage after the Indians had loaded themselves with glory and
scalps--but presto, change; they got no glory and lost their scalps.

The soldiers had not forgotten Birch Coolie quite so soon and took great
pleasure in procuring Indian scalps for trophies.

"Other Day," who guided a large party in escaping the massacre, seemed
to have a charmed life, and a little incident here, in which he is the
chief figure, will not be amiss. "Other Day," the same as other scouts,
wore United States clothing. The day before the Wood Lake battle he was
out scouting, and coming to a house turned his pony out to graze and lay
down to take a noon-day nap. An Indian espied the pony and wanted it.
He stealthily came up to the sleeping "Other Day," and putting up some
kind of a sign so he might know a brother Indian had his pony, he rode
off with the animal. "Other Day," considerably crestfallen, came back to
headquarters and reported his loss and the manner of it. The Colonel and
his staff had a hearty laugh at his expense, which rather offended his
Indian sensitiveness. "Never mind," says he, "me get two for one."

Early next morning "Other Day" put on his Indian toggery, paint, feathers
and all, and as the Indians hove in sight the morning of the Wood Lake
battle, he started out on his pony hunt. Our men espied him across the
ravine, and thinking him a hostile opened fire on him. His blanket was
perforated with bullets, even the feathers in his hair were shot off, and
yet no harm came to him. After the battle he came in with two ponies,
and reporting to the Colonel, laughingly said: "Me got two for one."
His wonderful escape was the talk of the camp, and the Colonel had an
order issued prohibiting any one attached to the command, in the future,
wearing anything but the United States regulation uniform.

The battle was a very decisive one and very discouraging to the Indians,
who suffered a loss of 175 in killed and wounded, while our loss was
fifty-seven killed and wounded. The engagement lasted two hours, and
after the dead were gathered up and buried and the wounded cared for
the column was again ready to move. This battle developed the fact that
the Indian forces resisting our advance were composed in part of the
Medawakantons and Wahpekutas of the Lower and Wahpetons and Sissetons
of the Upper Sioux and Winnebagoes, half-breeds and deserters from the
Renville Rangers.

The utmost solicitude was expressed for the safety of the white
prisoners, who knew that the Indians had gone down to fight the soldiers.
They knew the temper of the squaws especially and feared the results of
the battle. They heard the firing of the howitzer away in the distance,
and by noon squaws began to arrive and in a most unhappy mood.

It was immediately after the battle of Wood Lake that General Pope wrote
to General Halleck as follows;

"You do not seem to be aware of the extent of the Indian outbreak. The
Sioux, 2,600 warriors, are assembled at the Upper Agency to give battle
to Colonel Sibley, who is advancing with 1,600 men and five pieces of
artillery. Three hundred and over of women and children are captives in
their hands. Cannot the paroled officers and men of the rifle regiment
(dragoons) now in Michigan be sent here?"

The stay-at-homes, who were loudest in their complaints, were raising the
cry, "On to Richmond," on the one hand, and then again, "On to Little
Crow" on the other. Colonel Sibley stood like a man of iron against these
impatient behests. The "howlers" were not heeded, and in the liberation
of the captives he gained the gratitude of the nation and a merited

The friendly chiefs who had determined at all hazards to protect the
defenseless women and children redoubled their vigilance during the
night; because they, too, knew the temper of a vanquished Sioux warrior.
The position of these poor creatures was truly pitiable.

No less than four different councils were convoked, the Upper Indians
arrayed, in a measure, against the Lower, and a quarrel ensued. Little
Paul, Red Iron, Standing Buffalo, Chaska and a hundred Sissetons
determined to fight Little Crow himself should any attempt be made to
massacre the captives or place them in front at the coming battle. The
hostiles began to fear that judgment was near, and it compelled Little
Crow to assume a spirit of bravado not at all in consonance with his


Colonel Sibley, when he came in sight of the hostile camp, did not do
as the majority of the soldiers thought he ought; viz., march up and
at once surround the camp. This is where his coolness and knowledge of
the Indians served him so good a purpose. He knew if he attempted such
a course that the renegade Indians in the camp would at once take the
alarm and run away, and that probably before they did go they would
attempt to take the prisoners with them, and failing in this would kill
them outright. He was informed of this by one of the scouts and at once
concluded to adopt but one course, to go into camp and pay no attention
to them and thus disarm them of any fear as to his real intention. While
the Colonel did this, and apparently intended to leave them alone, he
was informing himself of the condition of affairs in the Indian camp. He
learned that several of the worst bands had gone farther up north, and he
sent word to them to return and they should not be harmed. Several bands
did come back, but there were those who did not, and after the scouts had
located them, companies of soldiers were sent out to make their capture.
In this way they all came back or were captured and compelled to come,
excepting Little Crow and his immediate followers.

At Camp Release we attended to guard mount, company and battalion drill,
and all other duties incident to a soldier's life. It became necessary to
make a concerted move against the Indian camp in our immediate vicinity
and relieve the white prisoners, and the orders were received one night
for all the infantry to turn out at twelve midnight. It was to be done
noiselessly, and the instructions were so given. The whole command
marched out in single file until the Indian camp was surrounded, and then
we were ordered to close in. After this was done we received orders to
lie down and to remain until daylight, when, at the sound of reveille, we
were to rise up. The Indians, hearing the early bugle call so near them,
flocked out to see what it was and found themselves prisoners.

Negotiations at once commenced for the unconditional surrender of
the white prisoners, and the object about which General Sibley was
so solicitous was accomplished. He knew that he could not attack the
hostiles in the friendly camp without endangering the lives of the
captives, and that the best policy was to appear indifferent about their
presence and thus disarm them of fear. The plan worked admirably, and the
game was successfully bagged.

[Illustration: OTHER DAY.]



Among the attractive and cultivated women found among the prisoners was
a Miss Mattie Williams, of Painesville, Ohio, who at the time of the
outbreak was living with an uncle on the Yellow Medicine River. They
had been surprised by the Indians without a moment's warning, and of
course, in their hurry, had no time to plan for an escape; but each
sought safety as best they could and became separated. Miss Williams, in
her wanderings, was picked up by a Mr. Patwell, who was escaping with a
German girl, who also was fleeing. They were overtaken by the Indians,
Mr. Patwell was killed, the German girl so wounded that she died, and
Miss Williams herself, wounded in the shoulder, was alone with her Indian
captors, who imposed upon her all the indignities born of their hellish
desires. For forty days she suffered as no human mind can imagine, forty
anxious days and sleepless nights in a dirty, smoke-begrimed, leaky tent,
clad in Indian costume and obliged to submit to savage passion. But the
angels listened and the day of deliverance drew near. The women of this
camp were all of one mind--in accord they prayed that deliverance should
come, and that the guiding hand should be directed by a clear head. As
Moses was preserved in the bulrushes and found by Pharaoh's daughter and
educated for a purpose--to lead the children of Israel from out the land
of bondage and through the Red Sea to the wilderness and the promised
land--so, too, was Colonel Sibley raised up to frustrate the designs of
the Indians and liberate these women and children.

On the night of September 25th our heroine, wrapped in her Indian
blanket, laid herself down, not to pleasant dreams, but to blissful
waking visions of release. Nor was she alone in her night vigils; other
hearts, burdened and borne down with unutterable anguish, petitioned God
to so direct the soldiers who were on the way, that their release might
be sure. The soldiers are coming, and are these weary, anxious, fearful
days and nights to end? At the first dawning of the day, September 26th,
the Indian camp was astir and preparations made to receive distinguished
guests. And who were these guests? Colonel Sibley, the big white chief,
and his staff. Extra paint, paint of every hue, and beads, together with
eagle feathers and white flags, were conspicuous throughout this excited
Indian tepee village.

The bright gleam of muskets away in the distance, banners fluttering in
the breeze and the sound of martial music as it struck the glad expectant
ear, was an answer to all their prayers: "Deliverance had come!" Hearts
made glad because the terrible nightmare of weeks had been dissipated,
the anxious days and sleepless nights were at an end, prayers had been
answered, and it was now a time for thanksgiving. Was it ended, this
horrible dream? Yes. But with it all, strong attachments sprang up
between the captive and the captor. They would have been less than human
if it were not so. These sturdy and determined Indian women and men who
protected them had jeopardized their lives, and what greater love can we
show one for the other than that we lay down our lives?

[Illustration: CAMP RELEASE.]

The little children, from one year up to four or five, who had become
orphaned, were adopted by the Indian mother, and these mothers, who
became so under such sorrowful circumstances, and having all the maternal
instincts of her more favored white sister, cared for them as tenderly as
she did her own. The little things were there with their dirty, chubby
faces, just the same as their Indian mates, their faces were painted,
their hair braided and garnished with eagle feathers, and they really
seemed happy and contented amid their changed and strange environments.
When the time came for them to go to our camps they cried and wanted
to stay with their newly found Indian mothers, and the mothers in turn
hugged them and cried over them and hated to give them up. There is
nothing passes a mother's love, even an Indian mother's love.

It was a proud day for Colonel Sibley, and as he looked into the happy
faces of the captives and received their blessings and reverent homage,
his heart was touched and tears coursed down his cheeks. He was yet a
colonel, so far as we knew, and one of his staff officers, in addressing
him said:

"Colonel Sibley, I would rather have the glory of your achievement to-day
than the proudest victory ever won in battle."

The military camp at this point was designated Camp Release, so named
from the nature of our mission in releasing the people from their Indian
captivity. The manner in which they were rescued and the Indians captured
reflects greatly to the credit and sagacity of Colonel Sibley and his
advisers. The impetuous and indignant soldiers, after what their eyes had
beheld in the region where the whites had been murdered, were determined
to annihilate the camp, and it was almost impossible to restrain them,
especially Company A, of the Sixth Minnesota, which had suffered so
severely at Birch Coolie; but wiser counsels prevailed.

After the Indians had been secured, and the captives released, we went
among them and listened to the recital of experiences that would make the
blood of any ordinary mortal boil with indignation, and it was a miracle
that the soldiers did not take the matter in hand and then and there
forever settle the Indian question. The orders were very strict about
guarding the Indians, but on the sly many acts of cruelty were indulged
in by the soldiers that would hardly be warranted, for we should not for
a moment forget the fact that they were our prisoners and we were not
savages and should not indulge in savage propensities.

Colonel Henry Hastings Sibley at Camp Release received a notification of
his deserved promotion, and we shall hereafter speak of him as General

During our stay at Camp Release we were daily drilling by company and
battalion, and perfecting ourselves in all things pertaining to soldier
life. We had a splendid camping place on the broad prairie near the river
bank, but the cold nights reminded us that winter quarters would soon
be more comfortable than the open prairie, and the rations were getting
rather scarce. "Fall in for grub" ordinarily is quite as welcome to the
hungry soldier as is the gong at a fashionable hotel to the fashionable
guest. How we jumped for the haversack containing, not solid silver, but
tin cup, tin plate, knife, fork and spoon, and fell in line according to
our agility to get there, and not according to size, so as to give the
ponies an equal chance with the tall men, whose place is on the right
when in parade. Each received his ration of coffee, hard tack, pork and
beans, irrespective of size, weight or previous condition.

Commissary stores at Camp Release were getting very low and the supply
train was not yet due by several days' march, so it became necessary
to count out the crackers--five crackers to each man for a day, and no
pie or strawberries and cream for dessert. From five we were reduced to
three, and then there was nothing left but the bottom of the barrels.
There was some ear corn, but a guard was placed over that to keep it safe
for the horses and mules. Every mule was honored with a guard during his
meal hour to prevent the "boys in blue" from appropriating the precious
ear for his own use. No coffee, no meal, no hardtack, but there was a
load of potatoes remaining, and when the call to grub sounded, again we
scrambled into line to receive our ration for the day, which was--one
potato. Just after we received this potato ration the commissary train
hove in sight under strong guard with three days' rations, which were
issued to the hungry soldiers, and the indications were that the command
would soon move.



After liberating the captives it became necessary to at once proceed
against the Indians, and to this end the General appointed a commission
consisting of Colonel William Crooks, president; Lieutenant-Colonel
William R. Marshall, Captains H. P. Grant, H. S. Bailey and Rollin C.
Olin and Lieutenant I. V. D. Heard as recorder. The Indians were properly
represented, and through an interpreter understood the nature of the
charges brought against them.

The rescued white captives, as soon as possible, were sent under suitable
escort to Fort Ridgely and then forwarded to their friends. As before
narrated, some of them had formed quite strong attachments for their
dusky protectors.

And it is not to be wondered at. Because a man's skin is red or black it
does not follow that his heart is black. The blackest hearts the world's
history ever recorded beat beneath the whitest breasts.

These friendly Indians were in a very small minority, succeeded in saving
the lives of the captives. It was a watch by day and by night, and
through a bold determination, that the few friendly ones succeeded in
saving, as they did, these captives, and they would be less than human if
they did not form strong attachments for their dusky friends.


After the departure of the white captives, the Indian trial proceeded,
but for good reasons the General concluded to move the camp down to the
Lower Agency on the Red Wood River. The Indian camp, mostly made up of
women and children, had been moved from Yellow Medicine to this place,
where the trial still progressed.

It was really amusing to sit by and listen to the testimony given in by
the Indians through their interpreter. They were nearly all like the
white criminals of to-day--innocent. I will only record a few. Cut-Nose,
for instance, will be a fair example of others, who were as guilty
wretches as ever escaped the immediate vengeance of an outraged people.

The bloody old chief tried to play the innocent by saying he was not in
the battles to hurt anyone. He was most always there, but he was engaged
in some innocent pastime, such as feasting on roast beef and green corn,
while his comrades of the paint and feathers were killing people by the
score. If he fired at all it was at random and nobody was hurt. He would
steal, but that was for the benefit of his wife; she insisted upon his
doing something towards the support of herself and their Indian kids; but
as for killing anyone, oh! no, he could not think of that for a minute.

We have his picture here, and his looks are a "dead giveaway;" and,
besides, twenty-seven murders were traced directly to him, and his
protestation of "me good Injun" all went for nought. He was a notoriously
bad Indian; he was so adjudged by the commission, who condemned him to
death, and he finally dangled at one end of a hempen cord.

[Illustration: CUT-NOSE.

Who killed twenty-seven persons, and was hanged.]

Another one, prematurely gray, thought this ought to be evidence in his
favor, and others protested that they were too weak to face fire; others,
that their lives were threatened and they were compelled to go on the war
path; others, that they slept while their more wakeful companions fought;
and one old man who said he was fifty years old a great many years ago,
thought he might be excused, but a boy swore straight against him and
said, "I saw that man kill my mother," which solemn words settled the
prisoner's fate.

This Indian was "Round Wind," but it was afterwards shown that he was not
there and he was reprieved just before the day set for the execution.

Among the Indian prisoners were some who had been enlisted in the
"Renville Rangers," and had deserted to their friends--our enemies. These
rangers were all Indians and half-breeds, and it was largely from this
fact that the Indians conceived the idea that all the white men had left
the state and that the time was propitious for the Indians to strike to
regain their territory.

It was proven conclusively that these men had been in all the battles,
and at Wood Lake one of them had taken the first scalp, and this from an
old man and a former comrade in his company. For this he received one
of the two belts of wampum which had been promised by Little Crow as a
reward for killing the first white man. These men all offered excuses,
but the evidence was so overwhelmingly against them that they also were
condemned to death.

It was necessary to make an indiscriminate capture of the Indians and
then investigate their several cases to find out the guilty ones,
because, there were many among them who no doubt had been compelled to
participate in the fights we had with them at Birch Coolie and Wood Lake,
and only kept with the hostiles from policy and to save the lives of the
white people. To these and a good old squaw, well known in St. Paul and
other parts of the Union as "Old Betz," over 400 persons owe their lives.

"Old Betz" has gone to her reward in the happy hunting grounds, having
lived over seventy-five years. She was a good woman and a good friend to
the early settlers of Minnesota. Others who were friendly to the whites
and loyal to their great father at Washington were liberated, and the
guilty placed under strong guard.

[Illustration: OLD BETZ.]



General Sibley was apprised by his scouts that there were several lodges
of Indians up around Goose Nest Lake, and also near the mouth of the
Lac-qui-Parle River, and he dispatched Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall with
two hundred and fifty men (having six days' rations) to bring them in.
The little expedition started at midnight. They did not find Indians at
the point designated, but struck across the country, and by a forced
march of forty-five miles, found two lodges. They took the young men
prisoners, but the women and children were placed in charge of the old
men and sent away with instructions to report at Camp Release, which they
did in due time. Colonel Marshall heard of twenty-seven lodges at a place
described as Two Wood Lake, but upon arriving there, found the place
deserted, the enemy leaving behind for the benefit of other Indians, a
sign indicating that they had left two days before. In order to catch
them, the infantry were instructed to follow, while the cavalry, with a
howitzer, pushed on as fast as possible, and about midnight on the 16th
the detachment came up to the Indians, who, unsuspecting, were enjoying
their sleep. The barking of the dogs awoke them, and they realized that
something unusual was about to occur. Peering out through the opening
of their tepees, they saw horsemen and at once suspected they were
soldiers. The half-breed scouts called upon them to surrender and they
would not be harmed. Some of the younger men started to run away, but
they were overtaken and all made prisoners. In their conversation with
the interpreter they said they would have given themselves up, but were
afraid to do so. They said they knew that starvation stared them in the
face, because a cold winter was at hand, their provisions were all gone,
and that for the sake of their families they were glad to be caught. They
said also that Little Crow and some of his immediate followers had gone
farther north, near Devil's Lake.

The game having been successfully bagged, Colonel Marshall hastened with
the prisoners back to Camp Release, where everything was in readiness for
a move down to Red Wood.

Among the Indians was a negro by the name of Godfrey. He had never known
any other people and was totally ignorant concerning his parentage; but
he was among them, taking part in all their battles, and a very active
part, too, for the charge against him was "murder," in that with his
own hand he had killed seven white men, women and children. He said he
was not guilty. It is often thus--guilty men are innocent in their own
estimation. Mr. O-ta-kle (Godfrey), was in his own opinion one of this
sort. Certain it was, he had been enthusiastic over the prospect of
the excitement that would follow a general uprising, for he put on a
breech-clout and decorated his black face and legs in all the gorgeous
hues of Indian war paint. He could "whoop" as loud and yell as fiercely
as the best of them, and when the Indians returned from one of their
raids he was accounted one of the bravest of their warriors. He admitted
that he had killed seven; this he did, however, to his Indian comrades,
when it would, if a fact, add feathers to his coronet and renown to his
cruel record; but, when confronted by the men who could pass judgment
against him if found guilty, he was the most innocent creature in all
the world. In his hesitating, broken way of speaking, he gave a minute
account of his whereabouts. There was no direct evidence against him,
excepting his own confession to his comrades that he was with the Indians
in all their raids and that he had killed seven people. In his earnest
denial of the fact, he had such an honest look, and spoke with such a
truthful tone, that the court, although prejudiced against him, were
inclined to listen to his story with a reasonable degree of favor; yet
he was finally found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, the verdict
being accompanied with a recommendation that his punishment be commuted
to imprisonment for ten years. He did not go to prison, but was sent to
a reservation and compelled to stay there. Who he was, or where he came
from, no one seemed to know, and he could remember nothing beyond his
life among the Indians.



"We start for home to-morrow morning," were the gladsome words passed
around the camp-fire on the evening of the 22d of October. The nights
were getting chilly, and the shortening days indicated that the autumn
was fast passing away, and that warmer quarters than our tents would
soon be an absolute necessity. The contemplation of the homeward march
was a pleasure, for there were ties of friendship there that forbade
procrastination. A sad thought came over us as we remembered the poor
fellows who had given up their lives--their waiting ones at home would
wait in vain.

[Illustration: "Reveille."]

Reveille sounded early one morning, and after a hurried breakfast of
coffee and hard tack, the headquarters bugle sounded "strike tents," and
the city of canvas was soon razed to the ground. With the captives and
prisoners we took up our line of march for Yellow Medicine, where the
commission appointed by the General tried and condemned 305 Indians to

The morning we left Camp Release the sun shone brightly, the sky was
clear, but there was frost in the air; and, as we were on very short
rations and only one blanket each, we were in high glee as we marched out
to the music of the band. I think our steps were more than the regulation
twenty-eight inches, for we were headed towards God's country--home.
About four p. m. the fierce fall wind veered around in our faces, and
coming as it did off the burnt prairie, our faces soon presented the
appearance of men from the interior of Africa. We were black in the
face. At five o'clock we went into camp. It was pitch dark, with the
wind blowing a hurricane, and in the darkness, infantry, cavalry, and
artillery were one interminable mass of troops and order was impossible.
So the orders were: "By company, left wheel, halt;" "stack arms;" "break
ranks," with orders to pitch tents and get under cover. To make fires and
cook supper was impossible, so we supped on raw salt pork, hard tack,
and cold water. The Sibley tents blew down as fast as put up, and in
this condition we crawled under them to get the best protection possible
from the fierce northern blast. Some of the men had found potato cellars
that had been dug in the hillside by the Indians, and taking possession
of them were thus afforded good, warm quarters and plenty of potatoes to
eat. In this respect they were much more fortunate than the rest of us
who were on the outside and had all we could do to keep from freezing to
death. The storm abated somewhat by morning, so we could make our fires,
which we did, and availed ourselves of the Indian potatoes, and with salt
pork, hard tack and coffee made a hearty breakfast and were soon on the
march again.

The exposure of that night gave many of us the rheumatism, and it took
several hours' march to get ourselves limbered up, but the day was bright
and we were homeward bound. We made a good day's march, and pitched our
tents in the valley of the Red Wood.

The Indian camp, consisting principally of women and children, had
been previously removed to this place from Yellow Medicine, where the
quartermaster had erected a large board prison to hold the captive red
men, who had all been condemned by the Commission. The papers had been
sent on to President Lincoln for his final decision, and we were here
awaiting developments.

The condemned Indians were sent under strong guard to Camp Sibley, on the
banks of the Red Wood River. They were chained together and kept in a
structure built for the purpose, and their squaws, who were camped on the
outside, were allowed to cook for them under the supervision of a guard,
to prevent them from smuggling knives or a weapon of any kind on the
inside of the enclosure.

[Illustration: CAMP LINCOLN.]

After a week or ten days we again took up the line of march to a
destination known only to the General and his Staff, but which proved
to be that the Seventh Minnesota, under Colonel William R. Marshall,
should proceed with the prisoners to Mankato, and the Sixth Minnesota,
under Colonel Crooks, should report at Fort Snelling for further orders.
The two regiments marched together until we reached a point some way
below New Ulm. Nothing of importance took place until we reached this
place. The General having heard that the citizens had determined to kill
every redskin regardless of consequences if they could possibly get
hold of them, took precaution against it. It was said that every house
was supplied with hot water, hot soft soap and anything and everything
that ingenuity could invent to inflict sudden and sure punishment, and
death if possible, to those that had brought such woe to them. For this
reason the General changed his course somewhat, and making a detour to
the right, escaped the necessity or perhaps bloodshed, in trying to save
his captives from the hands of this justly furious people. Men and women
turned out en masse and hurling imprecations, flourishing butcher knives,
table knives, and even scissors, axes, pitchforks--in fact, every sort of
weapon--seemed determined to get at them, and abused soldiers and Indians
alike because they were held at bay. They followed us for two or three
miles before they became convinced that the General was determined at all
hazards to uphold the supremacy of the government in protecting these
blood-stained captives from the furies of a people who had suffered so
much at the hands of some of their tribes in the murder of their innocent
women and children.

At a point below New Ulm the command was divided, a portion taking all
the condemned men to Mankato, and the balance of the command proceeding
to Fort Snelling.

At Mankato, as the days wore away and there was some doubt as to what the
final decision of President Lincoln would be, great fear was entertained
that there would be a general uprising of the people, and an attempt
made to override military and civil law by wresting the Indians from
the soldiers and instituting a general massacre of them, irrespective of
their guilt or innocence, but Colonel Stephen Miller, the post commander,
having determined that law and not lawlessness should prevail, used the
utmost vigilance to defeat any such undertaking.



The Indians did not seem to feel cast down; some in fact appeared
rather to enjoy the situation; others, again, were more serious, and
were probably speculating as to the probable outcome of the unfortunate
condition of affairs. The soldiers did not relish the idea of guarding
them, and one night a conspiracy, which I overheard, was formed to create
a false alarm in the camp and in the excitement fall on the Indians
and murder them. The plot leaked out and the plan miscarried, as it
should, for it would have been rank murder to have executed it. Among
the prisoners there were many who really were not guilty, but had been
caught in bad company. The prisoners were arraigned upon written charges
specifying the criminating acts, and these charges were signed by General
Sibley, and with but few exceptions were based on information furnished
by Rev. S. R. Riggs, who had long been a missionary among them. The
majority of the prisoners were condemned to death, and the news reaching
the East, far away from the scene of the outrages, petitions went in from
many New England cities, imploring the President to exercise clemency
toward this unfortunate people. He yielded to the clamor in so far as
only to include the very worst characters among them.

Bishop Whipple said: "There are times when the Christian laborer has
a right to ask for the sympathy, the prayers and the co-operation
of our fellow-citizens, and to make a strong appeal in behalf of
this most wretched race of heathen men on the face of the earth. The
responsibility," he says, "is great, the fearful issues are upon us, and
as we are to settle them justly or unjustly we shall receive the blessing
or curse of Almighty God. Many of these victims of savage ferocity were
my friends. They had mingled their voices with mine in prayer; they had
given to me such hospitality as can only be found in the log cabin of
the frontier; and it fills my heart with grief, and blinds my eyes with
tears, when I think of their nameless graves. It is because I love them
and would save others from their fate that I ask that the people shall
lay the blame of this great crime where it belongs, and rise up with one
voice to demand the reform of the atrocious Indian system, which has
always garnered for us the same fruit of anguish and blood."

Thousands of miles away from the scene of the outrages perpetrated
against the inoffensive white settlers, protests were sent in to the
President from all sorts of humanitarians, imploring him to stay the
sentence that condemned to death so many human beings. The provocation
to indiscriminately condemn and hang was very great, for thousands of
innocents had been ruthlessly murdered; no moments of warning were given
them; no former kindnesses seemed to be remembered by the Indians, and
their hands were steeped in their friends' blood, and there seemed no
palliating circumstances. The enormity of the outbreak and the fiendish
cruelty of the redskins were appalling; the people were paralyzed
with astonishment and fear, and the witnesses, no doubt mistaken and
prejudiced, gave such positive testimony that the commission felt
satisfied in pronouncing them guilty of murder in the first degree; but
would this have been the case if these prisoners had been white instead
of red?


No doubt General Sibley himself was surprised when he learned of the
indiscriminate condemnation of these prisoners, and was glad not to be
held responsible for their hanging.

It is a fact that there were Indians found with arms in their hands in
nearly all the battles, but their object was to protect the women and
children prisoners, and they said they must make a show of fighting
whether they did or not in order to accomplish this. It would have
been a great stain on the fair name of our country if this wholesale
hanging had occurred, and President Lincoln acted wisely in overruling
the recommendation of the commission, which he did to such an extent
as to sanction the execution of thirty-nine of the condemned men, and
the balance to be further held as prisoners until he should designate
a reservation to which they should be sent. During the time the
preparations were being made to carry out the President's order the
people were clamorous. They were not satisfied with the modification of
the President's order, and grave rumors were abroad that there would be
a vigorous effort made to take the Indians from the soldiers and have a
wholesale execution, but the military authorities prevented it.

The President acted wisely in this matter. In fact, the state of the
public mind was such and the pressure within our lines was exercised
to such a degree that the President could do nothing less. If all the
condemned Indians had been executed the impression would have gone
abroad that the great government of the United States was putting to
death its prisoners of war, and this would have done much toward bringing
about a recognition of the Southern Confederacy.

The President's order was as follows:

                                                    "Executive Mansion,
                                            Washington, December 6, 1862.

  Brigadier-General H. H. Sibley, St. Paul, Minn.:

  Ordered, that the Indians and half-breeds sentenced to be
  hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks,
  Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey and
  Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be
  executed on Friday, the 19th day of December, instant.

  The other condemned prisoners you will hold subject to further
  orders, taking care that they neither escape nor are subjected to any
  unlawful violence.

                                                       Abraham Lincoln,
                                             President of United States."

The execution was carried out on the 26th of December, 1862. Thirty-eight
were hanged.



The date of the execution was fixed for December 26, 1862. On the 22d
instant the condemned prisoners were separated from the others, and
on the same day Colonel Stephen Miller (afterwards Governor), who was
in command, through the interpreter, Rev. Mr. Riggs, called upon the
condemned and announced the decision of the Great Father at Washington.
He said:

  Tell these thirty-nine condemned men that the commanding officer of
  this place has called to speak to them on a serious subject this
  afternoon. Their Great Father at Washington, after carefully reading
  what the witnesses testified to in their several trials, has come
  to the conclusion that they have been guilty of murdering his white
  children; and, for this reason, has directed that each be hanged by
  the neck until dead next Friday at ten a. m.

  That good ministers, both Catholic and Protestant, are here, and can
  commune with them for the remaining four days they have to live.

  That I will now cause to be read the letter from their Great Father
  at Washington, first in English and then in their own language.

  Say to them, now, that they have so sinned against their fellow-men,
  that there is no hope for clemency except in the mercy of God,
  through the merits of the blessed Redeemer; and that I earnestly
  exhort them to apply to that, as their only remaining source of
  comfort and consolation.

Rev. Mr. Riggs, the interpreter, had been a missionary among them for
twenty-five years, and he had known them intimately, and it pained him
sorely to be obliged to convey to them as an interpreter the words that
were to condemn them to death. In so doing he said:

  I have known you for many years; I have pointed you to the cross;
  endeavored to prayerfully convince you that allegiance to God, and
  the Great Father at Washington, was your duty. I have with a broken
  heart witnessed your cruelty to inoffensive men, women and children;
  cruelty to your best friends. You have stained your hands in innocent
  blood, and now the law holds you to strict accountability. It pains
  me to inform you that your Great Father in Washington says you must
  die for your cruelty and murders, and I am directed to inform you
  that on the 26th day of February you will be hanged by the neck until
  you are dead, and may God have mercy on your souls.

The prisoners received the sentence rather coolly; some smoking their
pipes composedly during its reading, one of them knocking the ashes out
of his pipe, and another putting in his a fresh supply of kinnikinnick.
On Tuesday evening they held a death dance, accompanied by wild Indian
songs, and there were some fears that the excitement might cause an
attempt to make an escape or create a panic; so, precautionary measures
were taken. The Indians' friends and families were permitted to visit
them and take a last farewell. It was a solemn time even to the white
soldiers, for it was plainly evident that while there was a lack of
such demonstration as would be witnessed among the whites under similar
circumstances, yet to the observant eye only, it was plain to be seen
that deep, deep grief had taken possession of their hearts. There
were few tears; no hysterics, but profound sorrow was depicted on the
countenances as the parting word was said, and messages sent to children
and friends. Some were completely overcome; others in bravado laughed and
joked as if it were an every-day occurrence. One said: "Yes, tell our
friends that we are being removed from this world over the same path they
must shortly travel. We go first."

Many spoke in a mournful tone; in fact, the majority of them desired to
say something, and with one or two exceptions they seemed to be penitent.
Why should they not? Their white brethren under like circumstances are
accorded religious privileges. They repent and accept the invitation,
"Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you
rest." The thief on the cross repented. Could not an ignorant, misguided
Indian under religious instruction receive light and repent?

The night before the execution Colonel Miller received a stay for one of
the condemned, as strong doubt existed as to his participation in the
murders, and he was finally pardoned.

It has been said that in the excitement of the preparations for the
execution that the wrong man was pardoned. He was guilty, but the
innocent man suffered in his stead. The last night was spent by the
prisoners in quite a jolly camp-fire, chatting merrily and smoking to
their hearts' content.

Father Ravoux, a Catholic priest from St. Paul, remained with them all
night administering consolation and communion, and the more serious of
them listened attentively to his words of comfort. In the morning, as
the hour for the execution approached, and while Father Ravoux was
speaking to the Indians, the provost marshal entered and whispered
something to the good priest, who in turn spoke in French to one of the
half-breeds, and he repeated it in Dakota to the Indians, who were all
lying down around the prison. The information he gave was that the hour
had arrived when they were to march to the gallows. In a moment every
Indian stood erect, and as the provost marshal opened the door they fell
in behind him with the greatest alacrity. Indeed, a notice of release,
pardon or reprieve could not have induced them to leave their cells with
more apparent willingness than this call to death. At the foot of the
steps there was no delay. Captain Redfield mounted the drop, at the head,
and the Indians crowded after him, as if it were a race to see who would
get there first. They actually crowded on each other's heels, and as they
got to the top, each took his position, without any assistance from those
who were detailed for that purpose. They still kept up a mournful wail,
and occasionally there would be a piercing scream. The ropes were soon
arranged around their necks without the least opposition being offered.
The white caps, which had been placed on the tops of their heads, were
now drawn down over their faces, shutting out forever the light of day
from their eyes. Then ensued a scene that can hardly be described and can
never be forgotten. All joined in shouting and singing, as it appeared
to those who were ignorant of the language. The tones seemed somewhat
discordant, and yet there was harmony in it. It was not their voices
alone, but their bodies swayed to and fro, and their every limb seemed to
be keeping time. The drop trembled and shook as if all were dancing. The
most touching scene on the drop was their attempt to grasp each other's
hands, fettered as they were. They were very close to each other, and
many succeeded. Three or four in a row were hand in hand, and all hands
swaying up and down with the rise and fall of their voices. One old man
reached out on each side, but could not grasp a hand; his struggles were
piteous and affected many beholders.

Those who understood their manners and language said that their singing
and shouting was necessary to sustain each other. Each one shouted his
own name and called on the name of his friend, saying in substance: "I am
here! I am here!"

The supreme moment arrived, and amid an immense concourse of citizens and
soldiers the drop fell, and thirty-eight human beings, whose hands were
steeped in innocent blood and who had spread such desolation and sorrow
to thousands of happy homes, were ushered into the presence of their

The arrangements were under the immediate supervision of Captain Burt, of
the Seventh Regiment, and they were so complete that there was not the
slightest hitch.

"Positions of honor were given to the most interested. For instance, the
cutting of the rope was assigned to William J. Daly, of Lake Shetek, who
had three children killed and his wife and two children captured, and who
were at this time in the hands of Little Crow, on the Missouri, and were
afterward ransomed by Major Galpin at Fort Pierre."

The quotation I make here is from a book in the public library, and I
found penciled on the margin by one of those persons who take advantage
of the courtesies extended by public libraries, the following:

"So should every remaining Indian be 'elevated'!" Nay! Nay! scribbler.
We cannot tell why one man's face is black and another red, while yours
and mine are white. Would you mete out the same measure to the whites?
Innocency among the Indians, per capita, is not more rare than among
their more favored white brethren, and we are brethren of a different
hue. Punish the guilty, be he white or black, but protect the innocent.

After the bodies had hung for about half an hour, the physicians of
the several regiments present examined them and reported that life was
extinct. The bodies were carried away in United States mule teams and
dumped in one common grave, dug in the sand bar in front of the city, the
half-breeds in one corner of the hole so they might be found by their
friends if they so desired. There may be times and circumstances when a
Christian people can afford to act as we expect the benighted to do; but
it has not arrived yet. No matter what the crime, the penalty has been
paid, and after the spirit has gone to God to be adjudged, it is part
of our civilization to be decent in our conduct toward all that remains
mortal. It is not necessary to make a great display, but that we perform
our duty according to our law. We have taken a life in accordance with a
human law, and in justification of it we quote, "An eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth." No matter how atrocious the deed, after the penalty
has been paid we cannot as a Christian people, apologize for our acts of
barbarism to the inanimate clay.

After the mandate of the President had been executed the telegraph
flashed to Washington the following:

                                     "St. Paul, Minn., December 27, 1862.

  "To the President of the United States:

  "I have the honor to inform you that the thirty-eight Indians and
  half-breeds, ordered by you for execution, were hung on yesterday
  at Mankato, at ten a. m. Everything went off quietly, and the other
  prisoners are well secured.

                                                   "Henry H. Sibley,

With this the curtain drops on this bloody drama, and thus ended the
great Indian campaign of 1862.



The condemned men, and the others who were to be deported after the
execution took place, were called upon to bid good-bye to their wives
and children, who were to be taken down to Fort Snelling. The wives were
allowed a few at a time to go inside the jail and with the children have
words of conversation with the husband and father. After a reasonable
time they took leave of them. There were no hysterics, no sobs, no tears,
but the heart-beats and the thoughts were there. Love? Yes. How deep, no
white on-looker could tell. It was a supreme moment to the poor Indian
and his dusky wife. Their roads were very divergent from this time, and
in low tones they answered in their own tongue. Some of the soldiers made
slighting remarks, but there are those among educated whites who have no
serious moments, no serious thoughts; they have not time to be serious,
and no inclination; but this was a serious time for those poor creatures;
they knew the hour had arrived when they must say good-bye forever on
earth to their red-skinned partners in life's joys and sorrows. No hand
shake; no embrace; no crying; but a sorrowful, affectionate look, and
they turn their back on them forever.

The women and children are taken down to Fort Snelling, and in a camp
prepared for them they are put for the winter, and a strong guard placed
about them to prevent any outrages being committed. The night the news
was carried to them of the execution the wails of the poor creatures
could be heard for a long distance away: "Rachael mourning for her
children and would not be comforted, because they were not."

Much sorrow was expressed for them because we could but feel that they
were unfortunate creatures, endowed with all the attributes of human

The mortality among them was very great and hundreds died before the
winter of suspense had passed away.

In April, 1863, the camp was broken up and the remaining ones were placed
in a steamer for St. Louis, from whence they were to be sent up the
Missouri River to the Crow Creek agency. Some died on the way, and as
they left their homes and looked for the last time on their native hills,
a dark cloud was crushing out their hearts. Soon after landing at Crow
Creek every tepee had its sick and anxious hearts--mothers and children
far away from their dead.

The deported ones joined their families in time, and as the years glide
on they have had time for reflection, and the events, as they undoubtedly
come trooping back to them, furnish food for thought.



We knew Major Brown well. He was known to nearly all early settlers,
because he came to Minnesota when the white people were very few. He felt
that it was not well for man to live alone, a white man especially, and
so he took unto himself a dusky bride. He was in government employ and a
big white chief among his new found wife's people and to whom he was a

As he grew in years his family grew also, and the dusky mother's
household cares increased. Yes, they lived in a fine stone house,
elegantly furnished, down on the Yellow Medicine below the agency,
but which came in the way of his red brother's vengeance, and it was
destroyed. The Brown family lived happily in their rather modern home.
The Major attended to his official duties, and the wife and boys
cultivated the land; but in common with all the others during these sad
days, their only safety was in flight. Their home, including books and
furniture, was totally destroyed. The father was a fugitive and his
family prisoners. They did not suffer as some others did, because the
wife and mother was a full blood and was related to the Sisseton tribe
and had powerful friends among them. Their capture, captivity, and final
release, as related by Samuel Brown, the fifteen-year-old boy, is an
interesting recital. He says:

On Monday, the 18th day of August, I went to Yellow Medicine with my
sister Ellen upon an errand. We met on the way an Indian named Little
Dog, who told us that the Indians had killed a family at Beaver Creek,
and were going to kill the whites as far as St. Paul, and that we must
not tell any one about it, or they would kill us. He said he warned us
at the risk of his own life. This was about noon. Soon after our arrival
at Yellow Medicine an old squaw told us that we had better be getting
away, as there would be trouble. We asked many of the other Indians
about it, but they said they had heard of nothing of the kind. Another
squaw afterward told us that she thought it must be the Yanktonais
who were coming down to take the agency. We left them about half-past
three o'clock. George Gleason had just left with Mrs. Wakefield and her
children for below. When we reached home we told mother what we heard.
She was very much scared and did not sleep any that night. About four
o'clock next morning I heard some one outside calling in a loud voice
a number of times for my mother, and then I heard Charles Blair, my
brother-in-law (a white man), ask what was the matter, and the man, who
was a half-breed named Royer, said that four hundred Yanktonais had
arrived at the upper agency and were killing everybody. We then became
very much alarmed, and had our oxen yoked at once to the wagon, put
everything in we could, and started for Fort Ridgely. We had all the
neighbors warned, and they went with us. They had three wagons, with
ox teams. Four or five white men overtook us on the road, among them
Garvey's cook (Garvey was the trader wounded at the agency, and who
afterward died at Hutchinson.)

When we had gone about five miles we saw some men two miles ahead, near
the bank of the river, but supposed they were farmers. The Yanktonais,
whom we were afraid of, lived above us. We thought nothing about the men
until we saw an Indian on a hill ahead of us. He beckoned to others, and
before we knew it we were surrounded. De-wa-nea, of Crow's band, and
Cut-Nose and Shakopee, three of the worst among the Lower Indians, came
to us first. We were in the head wagon. Mother told them who we were,
and they said we must follow them, and that we were all as good as dead.
De-wa-nea said that the whites had taken him prisoner a good many times
and that it was now his turn. He wanted the rest of the Indians to kill
us all. There was an Indian in the party, John Moore's brother-in-law,
who took our part, and he and his friends saved us from the others. This
Indian had once come to our house when he was freezing and my mother took
him in and warmed him. He told the other Indians that he remembered this,
and that we should live. They insisted that my brother Angus should shoot
one of the white men, but he refused to do so. Each of the Indians had
one of the whites picked out to shoot as they came up. My mother said
they were poor men and it would do no good to kill them. John Moore's
brother-in-law said they should live if she wanted them to. The Indians
made a great fuss about it, and said she ought to be satisfied with what
she had got, but afterwards consented and told the men to start off.
The women stayed with us. After the men had got off a little, Leopold
Wohler, who had a lime-kiln at the agency, came back to the wagon after
his boots, and an Indian told him if he didn't go away he would kill him.
He started off with one boot, and came back again for the other, and
the Indian drove him away again with the same threat. He went a short
distance and came back again to kiss his wife. The Indians then became
very much enraged, and acted so fiercely that he was glad to escape
without further difficulty. There were ten Indians close to us, and
twenty-five or thirty near, running into the houses. They made Angus and
Charles Blair, who were riding horses, give them up. De-wa-nea put on my
sister's bonnet and began singing a war song. He was very merry. He said
the Indians were now going to have a good time, and if they got killed it
was all right; that the whites wanted to kill them off, and were delaying
the payment in order to do it by starvation, and that he preferred to be
shot. We saw three men and a woman on the road terribly hacked up. This
party had committed the murders. The men had been mowing together; their
scythes and pitchforks were lying near by. Cut-nose showed us his thumb,
from which a piece had been bitten near the nail, and he said it was done
by one of these men while he was working the knife around in his breast;
that he was very hard to kill, and he thought he would never die.

Cut-nose afterward went to a wagon and told a Scotch girl who was in
it that he wanted her for his wife, and to get out and follow him. She
refused, and he then drew his knife and flourished it over her, and she
got out and went away with him. That was the last I saw of him until we
got to camp. He was called Cut-nose because one of his nostrils had been
bitten out. This was done by Other Day in a quarrel.

When we reached the camp of the Red Creek Indians, four miles above the
Redwood River, they told us that the Agency Indians had sent word for all
to come down there, and that those who did not come would be taken care
of by the "Soldiers' Lodge." They were then about starting, and an Indian
made Augus and myself hitch up a mule team which he said he had taken
from Captain Marsh's men the day before. He said they had just heard a
cannon at the fort and they wanted to go down and whip the whites there.
This was about noon. We then went down to John Moore's house (this was
where Other Day's horse was stolen), and they put us upstairs, where they
had two or three women captives. We were there about an hour, when three
Indians told us to come up to their camp on the hill, where we were to
stop with John Moore's mother, or grandmother. We followed them, and when
we got halfway up suddenly missed them. We supposed they hid from us, and
we wandered on. We met a German woman who had seven or eight children
with her, all under eight years of age,--two on her back, one under each
arm and two following behind. They came along with us. We went to Moore's
relative, but she said she knew nothing about us and couldn't take us,
and that we had better go down to Crow's Village. We started, not knowing
where to go, when a squaw, who was crying about the troubles, met us,
and took us home with her. The Indians sent our team back to camp. They
gave Augus and I blankets and moccasins, and we put them on and went down
to see Little Crow. He told us to bring our folks down there, and no
one should hurt us. This was Tuesday evening, about seven o'clock. He
was in his own house, and the camp was pitched around it. We went back
and brought our folks down. Little Crow put us up in the top room of the
house, and gave us buffalo robes and everything to make us comfortable.
He brought us a candle as soon as it was dark; he was very kind to us; he
said he would take as good care of us as he could, but he didn't believe
he could keep Charley Blair alive until morning. He gave him a breech
clout and leggings, which he put on.

During the night an Indian or a half-breed came in the room downstairs
where Crow was, and told him that we ought to be killed. We overheard
what they said. The man was very ugly, and said no prisoners ought to be
taken, and that we were related to the Sissetons, and had no claim on the
Lower Indians, and there was no reason why we should be spared. He said
he wanted Crow to call a council about it immediately. Crow told him that
he saved us because we were his friends, and that he would protect us;
that it was too late to hold a council that night, and he compelled him
to leave.

He gave us plenty to eat, and came up several times during the night to
see how we were getting along. We begged him to let Charley Blair go. He
said he couldn't; that the Indians knew he was there, and would kill him
(Crow) if he allowed it. We coaxed him for a couple of hours, when he
consented, and brought an Indian, who took Charley down to the river and
left him in the brush. He made his escape from there to the fort. Crow
told us not to say anything about it, for the Indians would kill him, and
that he did it because he had known our folks so long. He said the young
men started the massacre, and he could not stop them. A week after that
Akipu, an Upper Indian, came down from the Yellow Medicine Agency and
took us up with him. From that time until our deliverance we remained
with our relatives, and were well treated by them.

The foregoing recital is just as the boy gave it, and in subsequent
conversations with the father it was substantially verified.

Major Brown, after recovering his family, lived for a few years, and
did much toward assisting the Government in adjusting the many claims
brought against it by persons who had suffered so much at the hands of
the Indians. He died a number of years ago, but the members of his family
live and are much respected in the community in which they live.



Alexander Ramsey, of Minnesota, is the last of the famous coterie of war
governors; a band that will be immortal. Curtin, of Pennsylvania; Dix, of
New York; Dennison, of Ohio; Morton, of Indiana; Randall, of Wisconsin;
Yates, of Illinois; Blair, of Michigan; Andrew, of Massachusetts; and
Kirkwood, of Iowa;--a notable group, stalwart, rugged patriots with
hearts beating as one. Comprehending the danger that menaced the nation,
confronted with no easy task, these grand old stalwarts pledged their
states to uphold, with men and money, the general government. They
have passed away honored by a grateful country and beloved by the men
who responded to their call. Governor Ramsey alone remains, and in the
National Grand Army encampment held in St. Paul in 1896 he was a central
figure. Passed, as he has, beyond the allotted time of man, measure full
and running over, he saw the salvation of his country, proud of the
part Minnesota's sons took in its restoration, and proud to meet them
after the smoke of battle had cleared away. Governor Ramsey, being in
Washington at the time of the first call for troops, promptly responded
in person to the President, and tendered a regiment from Minnesota, and
it was accepted; and it was the first to be accepted. He immediately
telegraphed to Adjutant General William Henry Acker to at once issue a
call for one regiment of three months men.

[Illustration: HOLE-IN-THE-DAY.]

The companies were soon filled up, and Adjutant-General Acker was
commissioned as captain of Company "C." He was afterwards commissioned as
captain in the Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, and was killed at Shiloh.

Governor Ramsey was elected United States Senator from Minnesota, and
served his state faithfully and well, and was at one time Secretary
of War. At this writing he is hale and hearty, honored by men of all
political faith.

Governor Ramsey's part in the Indian trouble was more than commissioning
officers and sending men to the frontier.

The Chippewas were in a turbulent state of mind, and Hole-in-the-Day,
their chief, did not seem inclined to soften their feelings to the
Government, but rather encouraged them in their desire to break their
compact. He said to his people that "we had all we could manage, with our
brethren in the South, and if they pleased to combine with the Sioux,
their power could not be resisted."

This surely was cause for alarm,--alarm for the safety of the state, and
it required strong measures to curb this uprising among these Indians.
Commissioner Dole lost hope of successfully meeting the demands of the
Indians, and dispatched a messenger to Governor Ramsey asking him to
hasten to his relief. The Governor lost no time, and with two or three
others were soon on the way. He did not go with an army carrying banners,
but quietly and unostentatiously met the Chippewa chiefs, and soon
adjusted all difficulties.

When it became known to Hole-in-the-Day that General Sibley had an
overwhelming force, he was then desirous to befriend the state and assist
in making a treaty of perpetual friendship with the whites, and assist
them in fighting Little Crow. And after the battle of Wood Lake the
Winnebagoes, who were inclined to go to war against the "pale faces,"
concluded it best to court his favor and proclaim war against the Sioux.
Prior to this, all the tribes in Wisconsin had sent their "wampums" to
the Winnebago chief, and a council of war had been fixed for the 28th
of September. There seemed to be indications that an unfriendly white
element was stirring up strife among all our Indian neighbors, and hence
the impression that it was emissaries from the South who were doing it.
It came from high authority that evidence existed to show that "the
Western tribes are going to join the South." It was a critical moment
for this country. Slavery existed yet, and God's hand was laying heavily
upon us. Federal reverses and Confederate successes cast a gloom over the
North, and loyal men trembled, while the copper-head came forth and, with
an exultant hiss, impeded the progress of the Government in its efforts
to bring about an honorable peace. Under these depressing conditions
Governor Ramsey, to whom all looked with so much solicitude, nerved
himself to bring about an amicable settlement with the Chippewas.

In three days from the time of departure, Governor Ramsey returned,
having effected a settlement of all misunderstandings on September 15th,

The public mind was relieved, for nearly every chief of the Nation being
present to sign this treaty of peace, all hostile demonstrations ceased,
and they evinced their further friendship by coming to St. Paul to return
Governor Ramsey's visit, and tender their services to General Pope to
operate against the Sioux.

The Governor assured them he was pleased to know they had not stained
their hands in innocent blood, as the Sioux had done;--that he would
communicate their desire to join the white soldiers to the big chief,
General Pope, and he would send for them. The talk they had with the
Governor so pleased them that they became confidential and talkative.
Their responses thus far had been grunts and "ho, hos," but Chief Berry
Hunter said the words they listened to "went right into his ears, and
they were good," and although he was an old man he had not lost his
reason. That they had come down to show their white brothers they felt
very friendly, and never desired to have any other feeling towards them.

Big Dog, another of their noted chiefs, whose hands were very red, said
he had painted them purposely, so that if he should kill an enemy and
blood got on his hands it would not stain them.

Governor Ramsey extended them an invitation to ride in the "fire wagon"
to St. Anthony (now East Minneapolis).

This meant that he would take them on the train. Railroading in Minnesota
at this time was new to the white people, and the beautiful engines
were objects of delight and admiration to them, and more so to the
Indians, who were much interested in everything they saw in and about the
locomotive, and they expressed great wonder at the steam whistle, and
invariably ducked their heads as its shrill notes broke upon their ears.
They did not wish to appear as cowards, but, like white soldiers dodging
bullets after they had passed, so they inadvertently would "duck" when
the whistle blew, and afterward have a hearty laugh over it.



Chaska and George Spencer were great friends, and there was reason
for it, as you will see. It was in George Spencer's store where the
first shot was fired, and he was the victim. He ran upstairs, but the
Indians surrounded the place and threatened to burn the store, which
they probably would have done but for the fact they wanted the goods.
They could not muster courage to go upstairs to kill him, because they
naturally thought: "What would he be doing while we are trying to kill

An old squaw got him out the back way and secreted him in her tepee, and
the Indians finally burnt the building, and supposed he had perished in
the flames. The squaw turned him over to his Indian friend Chaska, and
when the other Indians, who supposed he was dead already, saw him quite
alive, they were much puzzled, for they had no inkling of his escape.


He was the only white man at the agency who did escape, and can attribute
it to the friendly ministration of those two native Americans, Chaska
and the squaw. It was no miraculous escape, but a plain case of genuine
friendship toward a white man by an Indian. An Indian will avenge a
wrong--that is his nature. It is born in him, and it cannot be blotted
out; so, too, will he remember a kindness with an equal degree of
fidelity, and, under any and all circumstances, will "stick closer than
a brother." Friend Spencer in this case found that the investment he
had made in kindness to this red man was a paying one--it came in good
time--his life was surely in jeopardy, and no miracle, but a faithful
Indian, saved him, and this Indian was Chaska, a chief whom Little Crow
had depended upon to help carry on the war. His friendship for Spencer
was great, and when his friend's life was threatened, he with a double
shooter in his hands would cry out: "Shoot if you like, kill him if you
will, but two of you will come out of your saddles if you do."

Chaska dressed his friend in Indian garb and painted his face. It became
necessary to kite him about, first in one friendly tepee and then in
another, so that the spies could not keep track of him. I remember well
the day I spoke with him. He had been wounded and was suffering from
this, and the long days and nights of anxiety had told on him, but now
that he could throw all this off he said he would soon be on the speedy
round to complete recovery. Chaska was faithful to his friend of former
years. He was desirous of becoming a white man so far as he could, by
adopting their manners and customs. He came to see General Sibley one
morning in his Indian garb, and the General said to him: "I am not
pleased to see you in your blanket."

"Then I will wear it no more," was his reply. He washed off the paint
from his face, trimmed his hair, and dressed as a citizen. He desired
to live in a house rather than a tepee and to have his children attend
school. This was the wish of all the friendly Indians. They instituted
reforms in the social fabric, and in marrying, the rite was performed
by an ordained minister, the same as among their white brethren. Poor
Chaska, I remember well the night he died, for at the time a strong
suspicion pointed toward a member of my own regiment, who was a clerk in
the hospital department, and there never was a doubt but Chaska's death
was by poison administered by this man. George Spencer, his white friend,
said of him: "On the second day of our return from the Missouri, we
rode along talking pleasantly of the future, he telling me how he would
like to be situated on a small farm of land near me, and congratulating
himself that his trouble was over, and that he would soon be restored to
the bosom of his family. Alas, for my friend! He now sleeps tranquilly
near the turbid waters of the Missouri, under the shadow of our
intrenchments. Savage though he was, he was a noble man!"

The night he died he had gone around to his white friend's tent, where
he was always welcome, and supped with him and arranged for carrying in
the commissary wagon, a pack of furs he had captured. He went to his
quarters after taking a dose of medicine and was soon taken ill. He sent
for his white comrade, who went immediately to his bedside, to find him
senseless, dying. In his delirium he predicted a thunderstorm that would
shake the earth and blind the people the day he was put in the ground,
and the prediction came true. He did not once recognize his friend, who
remained with him, closing his eyes with a sorrowful heart. He died at
the age of thirty-two, leaving a wife and two interesting children. He
was faithful among the faithless.

[Illustration: The Sentinel.]



This expedition, well named "Moscow," will be remembered by the
participants so long as they live. The government had decided to remove
all the Indians to Fort Thompson, a military post on the Missouri, and
after it had been done, it was found a little later that they were
in a starving condition. General Pope communicated this fact to the
authorities at Washington, and that the Indian agent had applied to
him to furnish an escort for a supply train, that would be sent from
Minnesota rather than from Sioux City, Iowa. Three companies were
designated to undertake this perilous journey, and placed in command of
Captain J. C. Whitney, of the Sixth Minnesota. It was impossible to hire
teamsters to go, so an offer of twenty-five cents per day was made to the
soldiers in addition to their $13 per month; but the undertaking was too
hazardous and the offer was refused. The bid was raised until it reached
$1.25 per day extra, when a few soldiers agreed to accept. On the 6th
day of November a partial start was made, but one delay after another
occurred until the case became desperate, and the teamsters finally got
two dollars a day extra.

The fact was, the soldiers rebelled, and in order to frustrate the plans
of the contractors the wagons were so disabled that it was impossible
to move. Colonel Crooks, of the Sixth Minnesota, took matters in hand
so vigorously that the soldiers knew that the expedition would have to
move at all hazards, and it was foolish and dangerous to object and
waste any more time. Several arrests of mutinous soldiers were made, but
upon promises of better conduct they were released, and the "Moscow"
expedition was finally and fully launched on the 20th day of November,
1863. The undertaking was hazardous, but the men were supplied with the
best of Sibley tents and blankets in plenty. Under the most favorable
circumstances it was not a picnic, but barring the stinging cold days and
colder nights, with a few frozen noses, no serious mishap overtook the
brave soldier boys of this celebrated "Moscow" expedition.

The return march was by way of Sioux City, Iowa, and the first post in
Minnesota was reached on December 29th, 1863. During the trip the command
encountered severe storms and the thermometer at times fell to 40 degrees
below zero--but thirteen dollars a month in depreciated currency was a
fair compensation.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Camp Pope.

Where the troops assembled for the campaign of 1863.]



In October, 1862, General John Pope had informed General Halleck that
five Minnesota regiments could be sent south by November 1, but local
influences were at work to prevent the transfer of troops, as it seemed
very likely that hostilities would be renewed by the Indians again in the
spring, and the demand that the State should be fully protected against
these roving bands was acceded to, and orders were forthwith issued to
the various companies to proceed at once to points designated on the
frontier and go into winter quarters. Rumors were afloat at all times,
but there really was no danger, and the soldiers had little to do but
attend to a light guard duty and while away the tedious hours as best
they could. The campaign of 1863 was planned by General John Pope, and
General H. H. Sibley, who was in command of the district of Minnesota,
with headquarters at St. Paul, was selected to command the Minnesota
column, and General Alfred Sully to command the column that was to
proceed up the west bank of the Missouri.

These two columns were to co-operate for the final extinction of the
Indians; but the low water of the Missouri prevented the plan from being
carried out.

The rendezvous of the Sibley column was at a point near the mouth of the
Red Wood River, and twenty-five miles above Fort Ridgely. The forces
comprising the expedition organizing at this point were the Sixth, the
Seventh and the Tenth Regiments of Minnesota Infantry, under Colonels
William Crooks, William R. Marshall and James H. Baker; eight pieces of
artillery, under command of Captain John Jones; the Mounted Rangers,
under Colonel McPhail; Indian scouts and other small detachments, which
brought the force up to 3,052 infantry, 800 cavalry and 146 artillerymen.

The camp, named in honor of General John Pope, then in command of the
Department of the Northwest, was situated at the mouth of Red Wood
River, in the vicinity of the place where the outbreak was inaugurated.
The various regiments, composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery,
rendezvoused here. Colonel William Crooks, of the Sixth Minnesota, was
in temporary command, and soon after the troops began to assemble, guard
mount, company and regimental drills were the order of the day.

The land upon which we were encamped was a perfect level, and in order
to attain better discipline, and instruct the men in works of defense,
a complete system of sod breastworks and bastions were erected about
the camp, of sufficient width to admit of the sentinels being placed on
the top of them. It was really a magnificent piece of engineering and
reflected credit on the officer in command. The sentinels were instructed
to "walk the beat" all in the same direction, turn about at the same time
and retrace their steps, so that an enemy could not creep in between
them. This was done to instruct the men in guard duty and keep them out
of mischief, for there really was no danger.

On the 9th day of June, 1863, the monotony of the camp was relieved
by the arrival of General Sibley and his staff. This official family
consisted of Captain R. C. Olin, A. A. G.; Captain Forbes, brigade
commissary; Captain Atchinson, ordnance officer; Captain Edward L.
Corning, brigade commissary; Captain Kimball, A. Q. M.; First Lieutenants
Douglas Pope, F. J. H. Beaver, Joseph R. Putnam and Charles H. Flandreau,
aides-de-camp, and Rev. S. R. Riggs, brigade chaplain.

The cannon, placed across the river on the high bluff, boomed forth the
intelligence that the cavalcade of brilliantly uniformed officers was
approaching, and the General doffed his hat in salute as he rode down
the long line of soldiers who stood at "present arms." General Henry H.
Sibley, who had gained the confidence and universal respect and love of
the soldiers, was again with us.

Soon after his arrival he received the sad intelligence of a beloved
daughter's death. But the responsibilities resting upon him would not
admit of days of mourning; there was no time for communion with grief;
the needs of the hour reminded him of his duty.

While lying at Camp Pope, General Sibley heard that a party of Indians
were on their way down to the settlements, and would cross Red Wood River
at a certain point the next night. He at once gave orders that my own
company, the one that had sustained such losses at Birch Coolie, should
proceed at once to watch for and intercept this band. We received the
orders at midnight, and with three days' rations, and sixty rounds of
ammunition, started out on our mission in charge of First Lieutenant
Harry J. Gillhams. We had no doctor with us; no team; not even an
ambulance. I never thought our General knew of this, for he was a very
careful man, and the question with me was: "If we are attacked and meet
with losses in killed or wounded what shall we do with them in the
absence of any means of transportation?"

We arrived at the point designated the next day about noon and halted.
There was no going into camp, for we had no tents. We simply halted and
waited for night and Indians. I was in hopes that the Indians would
not come, and I got my wish. There were others hoping they would come,
and among those most desirous for them to make their appearance were
our three full blooded Indian soldiers we had captured, and who were
present at the various battles the year before. One of them, Joe Alord, a
powerful fellow, claimed to have a grudge against his own people. He said
they had always treated him badly, and he wanted to fight them, but I was
a little suspicious of him--did not think him sincere. This Alord formed
a strong attachment for me, which endured until he was finally mustered
out. He went south with us and stood the climate, and proved himself a
faithful soldier. I at one time saved him from death by his own hands. He
had been punished by the Colonel for an offense of which he said he was
not guilty. I think myself he had been imposed upon, like "Old Dog Tray,"
by getting into bad company. The Colonel, as a punishment, ordered him to
parade up and down the square with a bag of sand on his back. This was
galling to the Indian, and calling me to one side, he said: "Sergeant, me
kill me mine self; me kill me mine self!"

I tried to persuade him from his purpose, but he seemed determined to
carry out his threat, and I watched him closely. I could see he was very
much aggrieved, for to him the humiliation was galling.

He grabbed a bayonet, and putting it to his breast, attempted to throw
the weight of his body and thus push it through him. I jumped and kicked
it from under him just in time and then put him in a cell until he became
more reconciled. Soon after the close of the war he enlisted in the
regular cavalry, but one morning he was missing. He had deserted, taking
his horse and all his equipments with him; and although he was posted as
a deserter, he was not heard of for many months.

When heard from it was to the effect that he had gone back to the
Indians, taking the horse and all plunder with him. The old grudge
against him was rekindled and intensified on account of the course he
pursued against his people during the Sioux war, and some of the young
bucks, engaging him in a controversy, it resulted in his death.

The Indian soldier Miller was inclined to be pious. He served until the
close of the war, and afterwards was caught on the prairie in a severe
thunder storm, from which he took refuge in a barn, which was struck by
lightning and he was killed. The third was named Walker. At the outbreak
he was home on vacation from Bishop Whipple's school at Faribault, Minn.,
and was taken prisoner. I have referred to these Indian soldiers once
before. Walker was quite well educated and now lives near St. Paul.

These three Indian boys were with us on this midnight expedition, and I
felt they would bear watching, because I could not make up my mind to the
fact that they should want to so suddenly turn against their own people.
About midnight the second night an incident happened that gave us some
alarm for a little while. We were all on duty watching and listening
for Indians. You have heard about the burnt child dreading the fire.
Well, we had been seriously burnt at Birch Coolie, and did not relish
another taste of the same sort of fire, and it is not astonishing under
such circumstances how many Indian sounds there are to the square foot.
Every minute some of us heard an Indian sound, and all at once Joe Alord
skipped out in the darkness, and immediately he was followed by Miller.
I at once thought it was treachery, and the same opinion prevailed among
nearly all the boys. I was but a sergeant then and of course could not
assume supreme authority. If I had been in command I should have held
the remaining one as a hostage. He wanted to go after the other two and
gained the consent of the lieutenant to do so, and away he went out in
the darkness. I expected soon to hear the crack of the rifle, for I felt
satisfied that they had proved false to us. After they were gone half an
hour and returned to our lines with the news that the noise they heard
was not Indians we all felt relieved.

But the half hour was an anxious one, and we were rejoiced to have them
return. The Indians we were sent out to intercept did not appear, and the
next day our little expedition returned to camp.



On the 16th day of June, 1863, with the thermometer 100 degrees in the
shade, all things being in readiness, the column took up the line of
march into the almost unexplored region of Dakota Territory.

This invading army was composed of nearly five thousand men, with a
pontoon train, and an adequate ammunition and commissary train composed
of 225 four- and six-mule teams; and these, with the troops, really
made a formidable army. The big train, five miles long, was necessary,
because the expedition was headed for an unknown and hostile country,
and expected to traverse a territory totally devoid of vegetables of any
sort, and game would probably be very scarce.

The force was well organized, and the appearance of the train alone would
awe the whole Sioux nation. It was a season of drouth such as was never
before known in the West. The prairies were literally parched up with the
heat, the grass was burned up, and the sloughs and little streams were
dry. The fierce prairie winds were like the hot siroccos of the desert,
and great clouds of dust, raised by the immense column, could be seen for
miles and were viewed in wonder. We suffered from the heat, the dust and
the weight of our knapsacks, gun and equipments, for the first day. The
second day was as hot and dry, but the knapsacks were much lighter. Any
one, even at this late date and so far removed from the days of the war,
who thinks that a soldier's life is an easy one, that war is a picnic, is
not endowed with common "horse sense." And yet there are those who thus
express themselves.

The trains were soon being relieved of a part of their load by us drawing
rations, and we had transportation to carry our individual loads.

I cannot in the few pages allotted me follow the daily march of General
Sibley and his hosts; but will, after a hard day's march of eighteen
prairie miles (twenty-five in God's country), with heavy knapsacks, halt,
stack arms, pitch our tents and direct letters from

                              CAMP SIBLEY,

for such it was named, in honor of our commander.

The General had decided to observe Sunday as a day of rest, deeming it
necessary for the welfare of man and beast. There is no doubt but better
service was rendered for so doing, and General Sibley was honored for
this proper respect shown the Lord's day.

The several camps were named after the officers in the command,
the senior officers taking precedence; first, the colonels, then
lieutenant-colonels, etc., etc. Nothing of an unusual nature other than
a prairie fire occurred until we reached camp Atchison, where the forces
were divided, and this will be the subject of a future chapter.

[Illustration: PRAIRIE ON FIRE.]



We started out on an exploring expedition to hunt Indians when we left
Camp Pope. On the prairies there are enemies of various sorts--Indians,
dust, heat and fire. The latter is a most formidable weapon with the
Indian if the grass is plentiful and the weather dry, and they can use it
to great advantage if the attacking party is not cool headed.

Our sentinels were always instructed to report fire at once, no matter
how far off it might appear to be. This enemy came in good time--it
appeared one night when there was a high wind.

The flames spread, becoming one vast sheet, sweeping over the prairies--a
very roaring cataract of fire, the billows of which reached to the
clouds. Coming on at this rapid, relentless rate, it would envelop and
destroy the whole command.

To arms! to arms! we are called, by bugle and by drum, and in face of
this enemy, at a "double quick," we march out to meet it. In case of fire
the animals are frenzied, and it was a question at one time whether there
would not be a stampede.

The only way to conquer this sort of an enemy is to fight fire with
fire, and this is done by burning away from you; so we started our fire,
and as it burned away from us, we took possession of the burnt area as
the fire demon in the rear came roaring on to consume us in his hot
embrace. The red flames roared on high, the dense smoke obscured the moon
and the stars, the atmosphere was stifling and thick with coal black
dust, and the roar, as the fire fiend rolled on towards us, would have
struck terror to the stoutest heart did we not know that his fury would
soon be spent.



We will halt the column for a little and hunt in another direction for
Little Crow. He had not been captured and would not surrender after the
battle of Wood Lake in 1862. Carried away with the idea that he would
receive proper recognition and the confidence of the Indians he started
away towards the British dominions. Devil's Lake was always a favorite
"summer resort" for the Indians, and perhaps we can find him there.

In the State of Dakota, nearly five hundred miles west from St. Paul,
Minn., is the celebrated Minnewakan, or Devil's Lake. It is about
sixty-five miles in length, and its waters are as salt as are those of
the ocean. The immediate shores are part timber and part prairie; but a
mile beyond, the country is one vast rolling prairie, destitute of trees,
and dotted over with little lakes of salt water. This inland sea is a
romantic place, and is well filled with fish, and game quite plentifully
can be found there. Among other things are sea gulls and swan. The shore
of the lake is covered with petrified wood, and the bones of fishes and
animals are in abundance.

To this neighborhood Little Crow and his followers, after the defeat
at Wood Lake, Minn., wended their way and encamped, where they were
joined by nearly all the Minnesota Sioux who had not surrendered or
been captured. There were in all about 4,000 souls, and among them were
Yanktonais. During the winter the chief sent out runners with messages
and presents to many of the Western tribes, and endeavored to enlist them
as allies in a general war.

About the first of June Little Crow went to St. Joseph and Fort Garry to
gain recognition from the British, as well as to obtain ammunition, but
both were refused him.

When at St. Joseph Little Crow had on a black coat with velvet collar,
a lady's fine shawl adorned his head, and another was knotted around
his waist. He had discarded his rifle, and carried a pistol instead,
which latter was one of his trophies from the last summer's raid. He had
learned of the deportation of his friends to the Missouri, of which the
white residents there had as yet received no information. Crow received
the news in advance from an Indian who had outstripped the regular mail.
He and sixty of his braves had a war dance, after which he made a speech,
in which he said that he considered himself as good as dead, but that he
still had plenty of warriors upon whom he could rely, and would not be
caught during the summer. He failed to get the recognition he thought
he was entitled to as commander-in-chief of the Sioux army then in the
field. It is a little strange that he could not be recognized, when
cannibal kings from the islands of the sea can get recognition, and the
devotees of royalty will tumble over each other to pay their respects to
a lecherous, murderous Turk.

Being disappointed in this, he made up his mind to slip through the
cordon of posts that had been established for the protection of the
people, and while General Sibley with his army was hunting for him
away towards the Missouri, he would, single-handed and alone, go horse
stealing down in the settlements.

Alas! How are the mighty fallen! From a commander-in-chief, seeking
recognition of a foreign nation, he at once becomes a vagabond horse

His son, Crow, Jr., was his only confidant, and to him he said:

"I am getting old and cannot fight the white men, but will go below,
steal horses from them for you children, so you may be comfortable, and
then I can go away where they cannot catch me."

The whole party that went with the fallen chief numbered sixteen men and
one squaw.

Crow, Jr., whose Indian name was Wa-wi-nap-a (one who appeareth),
was with his father near Hutchinson, Minn., picking berries to "stay
their stomachs," when they were discovered by a Mr. Lamson and his son
Chauncey. This was Friday evening, July 3, 1863, and the skirmish that
followed between Crow, his son, and the Lamsons prevented the Sioux chief
from celebrating the Fourth of July in any sort of patriotic manner, for
two shots from the trusty rifle of Mr. Lamson sent Crow's soul on its
eternal mission to the happy hunting ground of his fathers. Mr. Lamson
and his son were out in the country and they saw two Indians picking
berries in an "opening" in the woods. The Indians did not discover the
white men, who were taking aim at them. Mr. Lamson had crept cautiously
forward among the vines and rested his gun against a tree and fired. His
first shot took effect, but not a deadly one, as evinced by the loud
yell of his victim, who fell to the ground severely wounded.

With prudence and caution Mr. Lamson retreated a short distance, where he
could obtain shelter from behind some bushes.

The wounded Indian, not to be foiled, crept after him, and thus they were
brought face to face. Another shot from the white man and the Indian was
dead. His companions, his own son and another Indian, mounted a horse and

The Indian's shot, however, had not gone amiss, for it lodged in Mr.
Lamson's shoulder, and he being some distance from his son, was supposed
by him to be killed. The son returned to town to give the alarm. A quick
response brought men to the scene of conflict, where they found the dead
Indian, but Mr. Lamson was missing. A singular thing about it was that
Crow was laid out, his head resting on his rolled-up coat, and he had a
new pair of moccasins on. It would appear as though his son returned to
make sure of his father's death, and finding him dead, he performed this
last deed.[A]

[Footnote A: Brown's Valley, Minn., Nov. 30.--Nathan Lamson, the man who,
during the Indian outbreak in Minnesota in 1862, killed Little Crow, the
famous Sioux chieftain, died to-day on his farm across the line in South
Dakota, aged 96.--[Chicago Times-Herald, Dec. 1, 1896.]

Mr. Lamson's wound was a severe one, but he made his way back to his
home, which he reached about two o'clock the next morning. Little Crow's
body was brought to town, and the coat he had on was recognized as
belonging to a man who had been found murdered some weeks before.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Mr. Lamson Shooting Little Crow near Hutchinson, Minn., in August,

The body of this murderous old chief, after it lay in state on the ground
for a day or two, was dumped into an unhonored grave, and no tears of
regret were shed for him. While this was being done down in Minnesota, a
military train five miles long was in pursuit of him up in Dakota; and
the news did not reach General Sibley for two weeks. The description
given of this Indian was so accurate that the General said it was no
other than Little Crow. This again was corroborated by his son, who was
some weeks after captured in a starving condition.

Thus ended the ignominious life of Little Crow, the great Sioux chief who
had influenced his people to believe that the time had come for them to
reclaim their lost empire.



After the death of Crow, senior, as narrated in the preceding chapter,
his son and heir, Wo-wi-nap-a, becomes an important character in this
chapter, and we will follow him and hear what he has to say about his
father's death.

When he was satisfied that his father was dead he started off he knew not
where. He was a fugitive, a miserable creature, bereft of home, country
and parents--a human being without a country, but with a soul--in a land
where every hand was raised against him; a fugitive from an enraged white
people because of the sins of his father. He hid by day and travelled by
night until beyond the white settlements. He was captured by a company
of soldiers who were out hunting Indians in the region of Devil's Lake,
Dakota. When captured he was in a starving condition and glad to get even
among Uncle Sam's soldiers. He was questioned as to his father and where
he had been. He said:

"I am the son of Little Crow; my name is Wo-wi-nap-a, and I am sixteen
years old. Father said he was getting old and wanted me to go with him
to carry his bundles. He left his wives and other children behind. There
were sixteen men and one squaw in the party that went below with us. We
had no horses, but walked all the way down to the settlements. Father and
I were picking red berries near Scattered Lake at the time he was shot.
It was near night. He was hit the first time in the side, just above the
hip. His gun and mine were lying on the ground. He took up my gun and
fired it first, and then fired his own. He was shot the second time while
firing his own gun. The ball struck the stock of the gun and then hit him
in the side near the shoulder. This was the shot that killed him. He told
me that he was killed and asked me for water, which I gave him. He died
immediately after. When I heard the first shot fired I laid down and the
man did not see me before father was killed.

"A short time before father was killed an Indian named Hi-a-ka, who
married the daughter of my father's second wife, came to him. He had a
horse with him, also a gray-colored blanket that he had taken from a man
whom he had killed, to the north of where father was killed. He gave the
coat to my father, telling him that he would need it when it rained, as
he had no coat with him. Hi-a-ka said he had a horse now and was going
north. He further said that the Indians who went down with them had
separated, and he had not seen them since."

After the death of his father Young Crow took both guns and started for
Devil's Lake. He had no ammunition, but found a cartridge and cut it into
slugs. With this he shot a wolf and ate some of it. His strength gave
out, and twenty-six days after his father was killed he was captured.

The old chief was a great wooer of the fair sex, for his son said of him:

"My father had two wives before he took my mother; the first one had one
son, the second a son and daughter; the third wife was my mother. After
taking my mother he put away the first two; he had seven children by my
mother; six are dead; I am the only one living now; the fourth wife had
four children born; do not know whether any died or not; two were boys,
two were girls; the fifth wife had five children; three of them are dead,
two are living; the sixth wife had three children; all of them are dead;
the oldest was a boy, the other two were girls; the last four wives were

This young savage was cared for and finally sent away to the reservation.
Having found the whereabouts of Little Crow and disposed of him, we will
return to the command.



Camp Atchison was the most important of all the camps on the whole route.
It was here the General was visited by some three hundred Chippewa
half-breeds, led by a Catholic priest named Father Andre, who told him
that the Indians, hearing that General Sully, who was marching up the
west side of the Missouri with a large body of troops, was delayed on
account of low water, were deflecting their course in the hope of being
reinforced by the Sioux inhabiting the country west of the Missouri.

The General, upon becoming satisfied of this, decided to push on as
rapidly as possible after them, and to facilitate the movement he formed
a permanent post at Camp Atchison, which is located about fifty miles
southeast from Devil's Lake, where he left all the sick and broken-down
men, and a large portion of his ponderous train, with a sufficient guard
to protect them if attacked. With these arrangements completed, the
column, with twenty-five days' rations for 1,500 infantry, 500 cavalry,
100 pioneers and artillery, started by forced marches to overtake the
Indians before they reached the Missouri River.

On the morning of July 20th the General, with his selected men and
reduced train, left Camp Atchison to pursue the Indians and engage them
in battle. Attached to the expedition in the capacity of contractor
was Mr. George A. Brackett, who met with an experience, the memory of
which will remain with him during his life. It is most interesting and
exciting, and his own version of it, as narrated at the "camp fire" when
he found his old St. Anthony friends and Captain Chase's company, known
as the "Pioneers," will be read with interest. Mr. Brackett says:

On the fourth day out, in company with Lieutenant Ambrose Freeman, of the
Mounted Rangers, we left the main column for the purpose of adventure
and game. I had my train started and in good hands, and got permission
for the Lieutenant to accompany me. Five miles away, having met nothing
worthy of note, we surveyed the country from the summit of a range of
hills, when we saw several scouts not very far away. We struck a parallel
course, believing we were moving in the same direction as the main
column. While watering our horses in the lake, we espied two other scouts
on the opposite side doing the same thing. We then moved farther on, over
the range of bluffs, covering about three-quarters of a mile. We followed
along parallel, or perhaps a little to the left of the main body, a
distance of three miles. Lieutenant Freeman saw three antelopes, an old
one and two young ones, in the distance. We fired and wounded the old
one, who made off around the bluff. I held the Lieutenant's horse and he
chased her on foot, which took us off our course some distance round the
bluffs. We traversed a section of country bordering a large lake, near
which we succeeded in killing the antelope.

As we were coming down to the lake and while the Lieutenant was creeping
up toward the antelope, I again saw scouts on the opposite side of the
lake, and the train was in sight on the hillside several miles distant.
Instead of taking our course back, we had a curiosity to go around the
lake to where we saw the scouts. On our way around we saw cherry bushes
newly cut and piled up, and I set about to tear them down. Lieutenant
Freeman persisted in saying that they were Indian signs and that Indians
were in the vicinity. In preparation for them we cocked our rifles and
made around the bushes, so as not to put ourselves in a too exposed
position. We took our course, as we supposed, towards the train, or where
the train had recently passed.

Between one and two o'clock we discovered three objects a long distance
off, but between us and the train's course, and making for the train.
This action, as soon as we came near enough to judge, convinced us that
they were Indians, yet we kept on toward them, and they were making
preparations to meet us, one leading and the other two riding their
horses. We got all ready to give them a trial, they creeping around on
one side of the bluff and we creeping around to meet them. I saw one
with a straw hat on rise up and recognized him as one of our scouts. He
beckoned us to come towards him. From all the description I had of him I
supposed him to be Chaska, and the other two were full blood Sioux. Both
had government horses, and armed, one with a Springfield and the other a
carbine. I asked him where General Sibley was. They pointed to a hill,
I should judge, three miles away from where we stood, in the direction
where the train passed.

I saw a large number of men on a bluff, judged to be about two hundred
in number, whom I supposed to be General Sibley's men looking for us. We
all started directly for them, and as we did so, saw what we supposed
to be a guard of cavalry starting towards us. After we had started the
scouts turned to a little lake to water their horses, but the Lieutenant
and myself having previously watered ours, did not go with them. We still
saw the cavalry, as we supposed, about fifteen in number, coming towards

I remarked to Lieutenant Freeman that they must have turned back, as
they had disappeared and were out of sight. We were soon surprised,
however, by seeing fifteen Indians charging upon us as with a flag of
truce; but they were not coming evidently in a friendly spirit, as they
fired a volley upon us. I yelled to the scouts that they were Indians,
and remarked to Lieutenant Freeman that we had better at once join
the scouts, which we endeavored to do. When we got within twenty or
twenty-five rods of the scouts we were riding about three rods apart. One
Indian rode up to Lieutenant Freeman and shot an arrow through his back,
on the left side, and at the same time another Indian dismounted and
discharged his gun at me, but I laid low on my horse's neck, as close as
I possibly could, and he shot over me, and Chaska stepped up to the top
of a knoll and shot this same Indian who had fired at me.


  [Illustration: George A. Brackett Telling the Thrilling Story of His
     Escape to the Members of Capt. Chase's Company of "Pioneers."]


                     THE MINNESOTA MASSACRE OF 1862.

              Price, to any address,  { 60 Cents in Paper.
                       { $1.00 and $1.50 in Cloth.

                       _A. P. CONNOLLY, Chicago._


As Lieutenant Freeman dropped from his horse I asked him if he was hurt.
He replied, "I am gone." He wished me to cut a piece of string which
was around his neck, and supported a part of the antelope which he was
carrying. As I cut the string he changed his position more on his side
and more up hill. He asked faintly for water, which I gave him from my
canteen, and by this time the scouts had mounted their horses and left
us. The Indians were then all around us, and one at the side of the lake;
but as the scouts ran toward them they fell back. Lieutenant Freeman,
by this time being dead, I took his rifle and revolver and followed the
scouts as fast as I could. The Indians mentioned as near the lake, seeing
the Lieutenant's horse, which followed me, left us and started for the
horse, thus enabling me to overtake the scouts. The Indians succeeded in
catching the horse, and the whole crowd again started after us. We rode
for about four miles, when we were overtaken and surrounded by them by
the side of a little marsh. We all jumped from our horses. The scouts
made motions and ran up to meet them, but Chaska motioned for me to jump
into the tall rushes on the marsh. I saw nothing more of the scouts, and
the Indians all rushed down to where the horses were. I cocked my rifle,
and lay in the rushes within ten feet of where they were, and heard them
quarrel about the possession of the horses. They presently settled their
dispute and started off, for fear, as I supposed, of being overtaken by
some of our forces. They took their course around the marsh in which
I lay for an hour; this was about three p. m. A shower came up, and
immediately after it cleared I started on my course, with the sun to my
back, and traveled for two hours. I followed this direction for two days,
stopping in marshes during the night. On the evening of the second day I
struck a river of clear water, about a quarter of a mile wide, running
in a southerly direction. Next morning I started due south, and traveled
until almost night, when I took a westerly course, concluding that the
trail was not in that direction; traveled a little to north of west, and
struck Gen. Sibley's trail the afternoon of the third day, about twelve
miles from where we camped the night before. I left the main column,
and made the deserted camp that night. I started next morning on the
back track for Camp Atchison, and made the painful journey in two days,
arriving there the second night, between eight and nine o'clock, making
the distance of the four camps in two days, bare-headed, barefooted and
coatless. I was obliged to leave my rifle on the last day of my travel,
but I could not carry it any farther, and made up my mind that this would
probably be my last day. It was probably about nine o'clock, and I was
about to give up when I came to a few tents and found them to be those of
the Pioneers (Captain Chase's company of the Ninth Minnesota Infantry),
and fell to the ground faint and unable to rise again. But, thank God!
around that fire were sitting some of my old St. Anthony friends, who
kindly picked me up and carried me to my tent.

I lost my coat, hat and knife in the fight the first day, so I took
Lieutenant Freeman's knife, and with it made moccasins of my boot legs,
as my boots so chafed my feet in walking that I could not possibly wear
them. These improvised moccasins were constantly getting out of repair,
and my knife was much needed to keep them in order for use, as well as
to make them in the first place. But just before reaching the trail of
the expedition on the fifth day I lost the knife, and the loss, I felt
at the time, would have decided my fate if I had much farther to go.
But a kind Providence was in my favor, for almost the first object that
greeted my eyes upon reaching the trail was a knife, old and worn to be
sure, but priceless to me. This incident some may deem a mere accident,
but let such a one be placed in my situation at that time and he would
feel with me that it was given in answer to a prayer made to the great
Giver of Good. On the third day, about ten miles from the river spoken
of, I left Lieutenant Freeman's rifle on the prairie because I became too
weak to carry it longer; besides, it had already been so damaged by rain
that I could not use it. I wrote upon it that Lieutenant Freeman had been
killed, and named the course I was then pursuing. The pistol I retained
and brought with me to Camp Atchison.

While wandering I lived on cherries, roots, birds' eggs, young birds and
frogs, caught by my hands, all my ammunition but one cartridge having
been spoiled by the rain of the first day. That cartridge had a gutta
percha case and was preserved. It was my only hope for fire when I should
need it, or when I dared venture to make one. I had also some water-proof
percussion caps in my portmanteau, which were also put to good use. I
took one-half the powder in the cartridge, with a percussion cap, and
with the use of my pistol and some dried grass, started a fire at which
I cooked a young bird. How did I catch the bird? Well, Providence again
favored me, and as I was lying low and making no noise, the bird wandered
so near that by firing a stick I had with me in such a manner as to make
it whirl horizontally, it struck the bird on the side of the head and
broke its neck. This was on the second night. On the fourth I used the
remainder of the cartridge in the same way and for a like purpose. The
rest of the time I ate my food uncooked. Except some hard bread (found at
the fourth camp mentioned above), which had been fried and then thrown
in the ashes. I have forgotten one sweet morsel (and all were sweet
and very palatable to me), viz., some sinews spared by wolves from a
buffalo carcass. As near as I am able to judge I traveled in the seven
days at least two hundred miles. I had ample means for a like journey
in civilized localities, but for the first time in my life found gold
and silver coin not legal tender. My boot-leg moccasins saved me, for
a walk of ten miles upon such a prairie, barefooted, would stop all
farther progress of any person accustomed to wearing covering upon the
feet. The exposure at night, caused more particularly by lying in low
and wet places, in order to hide myself, was more prostrating to me than
scarcity of food. The loneliness of the prairies would have been terrible
in itself, but for the drove of wolves that after the first day hovered,
in the day time, at a respectful distance, and at night howled closely
around me, seemingly sure that my failing strength would soon render me
an easy prey. But a merciful Providence has spared my life by what seems
now, even to myself, almost a miracle.

The body of Lieutenant Freeman was afterwards found and buried by members
of General Sibley's main force. An arrow had pierced his breast, and the
tomahawk and scalping knife had left bloody traces about his head. He was
buried on the desolate plain, five hundred miles away from his beloved,
bereaved wife and children. After the war closed his body was exhumed,
carried to his late home, and re-interred by loving hands, with all the
honors due a brave soldier. The peculiar circumstances of his death, my
last moments with him, my subsequent days of weary, dangerous wandering,
my suffering, anxiety and happy deliverance have made an impression upon
my memory so indelible that time has not, nor cannot efface them.

My friend Brackett and myself came to St. Anthony, Minn., on the same
day, May 1st, 1857, and we "put up" at the same hotel, and it is most
interesting to hear him relate this wonderful adventure and marvelous
escape. He yet lives to tell the story, and poor Freeman! It seemed sad
to leave him in his lonely grave on the prairie wild, but such is the
fate of war.



A few days after leaving Camp Atchison scouts began to report to General
Sibley that Indians in large numbers were between us and the hills
beyond. Everything indicated this, and the evidences were that we were
soon to have a battle.

We came in sight of the Indians every day, but nothing decisive until
July 24th, when we overtook them. Scouts reported a large body of
Indians, with Red Plume and Standing Buffalo among them, encamped by the
very lake near which the General intended camping. Standing Buffalo was
not there as a hostile, and it was a surprise all around. The General,
satisfying himself that a determined resistance would be offered us,
corralled his train and made such disposition of the troops as he deemed
necessary. It was here where Dr. Weiser, of the First Minnesota Rangers,
was killed while parleying with a delegation from the hostile camp, and
it was treachery, pure and simple. The battle was opened by Whipple's
battery, and while the cannon boomed and sent leaden hail and death
among the fleeing Indians, the artillery of Heaven opened amid a furious
thunder storm, and a private of Colonel McPhail's command was killed.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Battle of Big Mound, Dakota.

Fought between General Sibley's forces and the Sioux, on July 24th, 1863.
The Indians were defeated.]

The Indians in this affair lost eighty-seven killed and wounded and a
vast amount of property.

A portion of our command made forty-six miles that day. My own regiment
was ordered in pursuit, and we followed them for ten miles, after having
already marched eighteen. An order had been sent by an aide for the
pursuing troops to bivouac where they were, but being misunderstood,
instead of camping, as it was intended, we returned, having been on the
march all night. As we came into camp we found that an early reveille had
been sounded, and the troops were about ready to march. The part of the
command that had joined in the pursuit and returned during the night was
so completely exhausted that the whole force was compelled to rest for
a day. This battle was a decided victory, counting heavily in the scale
of advantage, as it put the savages on the run to a place of safety and
materially disabled them from prosecuting further hostilities.

After the battle of the Big Mound, as narrated, the command was compelled
to take one day's rest on account of the over-taxed condition of the
troops. The next day we marched over the same ground, and it was a
comical yet interesting sight to witness the wholesale abandonment of
buffalo robes, camp equipage and "jerked" meat; robes by the thousands
and meat by the tons had been thrown away by the Indians in their hurry
to get out of harm's way. We found dogs that had been harnessed up and
loaded down with cooking utensils, dead;--they had died from sheer
exhaustion. The prairies as far as the eye could penetrate on either side
presented this condition of abandonment by the Indians, of their property
and winter's supply of food. As far as the eye could penetrate on either
hand were evidences of their hasty flight, as if swept with the besom
of God's wrath. The men would "right about" and fight the soldiers, and
then turn, and running towards their fleeing families, urge them to still
greater exertion to get away from the avenging army.

In the sand on the bank of the lake, I found a tiny papoose moccasin, and
could see the imprint and count each separate toe of the little foot in
the sand, as it probably was dragged along by the anxious mother, who was
too heavily laden to carry her little baby. I thought,--poor, helpless
child, not in the least responsible for its unhappy condition, and yet
made to suffer. So with all classes of God's humanity;--the innocent too
often made to suffer, not only with the guilty, but for the guilty, and
in our decisions we should be careful lest we injure innocent persons.
The fresh made graves we found on this trail told their sorrowful
story,--the little Indian spirit had taken its flight,--the body was
buried and the heart-broken mother hurried on to keep up with her people,
and get away from the army.

[Illustration: Ready to Go Into Action.]



After the decisive battle of the Big Mound the Indians made up their
minds evidently that the army and destruction was in their rear, and
their Rubicon must be reached and crossed or annihilation was their
portion, hence activity was apparent among them. The great impediment to
their active work in the field and hasty flight was their families, and
it required good generalship to successfully manage this retreating host.

The next decisive engagement with them was fought on July 26th; known as
the battle of "Dead Buffalo Lake," so designated from the fact that the
carcass of a big buffalo was found on its shores.

This day strict orders had been given that there should be no shooting
within the lines. This was made necessary from the fact of a soldier
having been wounded the day before from the careless use of a rifle in
the hands of a comrade. We were going along at an easy jog, when all at
once a beautiful deer went bounding along. He seemed terribly frightened,
and evidently had been surprised by the skirmishers ahead. All orders
were forgotten, and a general stampede was made for this beautiful deer.
Shots were fired after him, but he made his escape, and it did seem too
bad, for we were hungry for deer meat. The general thought we had met
the Indians again, and aides were sent to the front, with orders for the
proper disposition of the troops. As the Indians were known to be in
large numbers not far ahead, the General was pardoned for his surmises.

We passed their abandoned camp early in the morning, but about noon the
scouts reported a large body of Indians coming down upon us from various
directions. The command was placed in line of battle, and soon the
skirmishers, in command of Colonel William Crooks, opened fire, supported
by Lieutenant Whipple's six-pounder.

The savages came swooping down on us, and it seemed as though they sprang
up out of the earth, so numerous were they.

There were those among them who knew something of the tactics of war,
and they attempted a vigorous flank movement on the left of the column,
which was promptly checked by Captain Taylor and his mounted Rangers.
Another determined attack was made which was handsomely repulsed by two
companies of the Sixth Minnesota, under Colonel Averill.

A running fire was kept up until about three o'clock, when a bold dash
was made to stampede the animals which were herded on the bank of a lake.

This attempt was promptly met and defeated by Wilson's and Davy's cavalry
and six companies of the Sixth Minnesota, under Major McLaren. The
Indians, foiled at all points, and having suffered serious losses in
killed and wounded, retired from the field, and galloped away after their
families, who, a few miles ahead, were hurrying on towards the Missouri
river. Our animals were so jaded they could not stand a forced march. The
reason was very apparent. We had our regular rations, while the horses
and mules were on short rations on account of the hot weather burning up
the grass, and, besides, the alkali water was as bad for beast as for man.

We were obliged to dig wells every night for water before we could get
our supper, for we could not use the water from the alkali lakes. As many
as sixty wells were dug in a night. Think of it,--each company obliged
to dig a well in order to get water for supper, but this was one of the
daily duties of the soldier. It is astonishing how the "boys in blue"
could adapt themselves to every condition and circumstance. I am on a
tender spot now,--"the boys in blue." 'Tis true times are changed; a
few of us are alive yet, and perhaps we are just a little bit "stuck on
ourselves"; but, "the old soldier," as we are now dubbed, cannot forget
"the boys in blue." In a few years more a new generation will have
control of our government, but the wonderful years from 1861 to 1865 will
not be forgotten. If we do not give our government, body and soul, into
the hands of foreigners who cannot speak our language it is possible that
the memory of the "boys in blue" will remain with us for a time yet. They
were a mighty host then, and the tramp, tramp, tramp of their feet as
they marched to defeat and victory will go down the centuries;--but, I
must come back to my narrative.



On the morning of July 28th, just as the command was breaking camp at
Stony Lake, we were attacked by Indians, in full force.

General Sibley had the expeditionary forces so well in hand that the
enemy could not possibly do us any harm. We halted but a moment, as some
of the scouts came riding furiously towards us, followed by Indians
intent on their capture. The boys cheered as they came within our
lines. The battery was ordered to the front, and soon threw a shell
among the Indians, who then galloped around on the flank, while another
squad came immediately upon our rear; but, the whole column, in a solid
square, moved on. The engagement took place on the prairie, and it was
a beautiful sight to see the regularity with which the column moved.
First, two companies of cavalry skirmishers, and at a proper interval
two companies of infantry; the same order was preserved in the rear, and
flankers on the right and left, so as to form a hollow square. In the
center were the reserve troops, stores of all sorts, and the artillery.

The teams were so fixed as to make it impossible to get up a stampede.
The Indians resort to their peculiar tactics to stampede the teams,--they
tried it to its fullest extent on this occasion, but without avail. They
did not impede our progress in the least, and as the column moved right
along, they soon gave up the attempt, and we pressed them so closely they
allowed the killed and wounded to fall into our hands. The casualties
were light, because the shells that were thrown among them did but little

The cavalry in this case was effective, and crowded the Indians, as they
charged them with drawn sabre.

This was the last stand the Indians made in a body, and they hastened
on towards the Missouri river, which they finally crossed at a point
near where Bismarck, North Dakota, now stands. They made a determined
resistance, and had been repulsed in three successive engagements, and
their situation was critical in the extreme,--the victorious army in the
rear and the Missouri in front.

After the Indians had given up the fight and had ridden ahead to urge
their families on, and we had buried the dead and cared for the wounded,
we pushed on after them.

A young Teton chief, who was out on a tour of observation, was captured
by some of the cavalry, and the circumstances and manner in which it was
done are interesting.

Thousands of us saw the strange object, but the men who captured him were
the more interested observers, and the narrator says:

"As the scouts approached it, a dark, motionless object was seen lying
upon the ground. Coming nearer, some one cried out: 'It's an old buffalo
robe'; but, as one stooped to pick it up, it sprang from the earth and
bounded off like a deer, arms extended, and flying swiftly, in a zig-zag
manner. It was a broad mark for the carbines, but where in it was the
motive power? It was impossible to tell. Some thirty shots were fired,
all hitting the robe, but still he kept on with the same zig-zag motion,
so that it was impossible to hit him.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Battle of Stony Lake, Dakota, July 28th, 1863.

Indians defeated and slaughtered in great numbers by General Sibley's

"At last one of the guides reined up near him and, placing a revolver to
his head, fired, but he dodged and escaped the ball.

"He now stopped, dropped the robe, and threw up both hands, in token of

The robe he wore was literally riddled with bullets, but not a scratch
upon the body of the Indian. His gallantry and his lordly bearing won the
admiration of his captors, and placing him behind one of the scouts they
bore him away in triumph, and presented him to General Sibley, to whom
he extended his hand in friendly salute, but which was declined until he
had made his statement, and assured the General that his hands were not
stained with innocent blood. Being thus convinced, General Sibley shook
him by the hand, and they became friends. He belonged to the Teton band,
which is one of the largest divisions of the Dakota Nation. They lived
west of the Missouri, and his information was that they were interested
observers, but had no sympathy with, nor taking no part in, the war.

He and his father, who was one of the head chiefs, were out on a visit
to the Yanktonians, and, learning that they were soon to have a fight
with the soldiers, his curiosity prompted him to go as an observer. His
curiosity was satisfied, and he retired with the balance, but had stopped
in a clump of grass to allow his pony to graze. While here he had fallen
asleep, and the pony was the object that first attracted the attention
of the scouts, which resulted in the Indian's capture, as above narrated.

He was a prisoner with us for five days, during which time he was treated
with some consideration as the heir apparent to the chieftainship of his
tribe. He was about twenty years old; a fine looking fellow, tall and
athletic. He became strongly attached to the General and the staff.

General Sibley afterwards learned of this Indian's death. He had given
the boy, on his departure, a letter to his father, commending him for
refusing to take up the tomahawk against the whites, and in appreciation
of this, that he had kept the son for a few days in his camp and then
gave him his liberty, so that he might return to his own people. It was
good policy, because the letter, being found in his possession, indicated
to the Indians that General Sibley was not responsible for his death.

A few days after his departure, a party of miners, who had been up in
Idaho, were coming down the Missouri river, and at the very place where
our men had reached the river and filled their canteens the Indians were
lying in wait for the descending miners.

The young Teton desired peace, and rushed toward them waving General
Sibley's letter over his head. They, not understanding his signal, shot
him to death, when they were at once surrounded by the exasperated
Indians, and a battle, short and decisive, was fought, and every man of
the miners was killed, but not before twice their number of Indians had
shared the same fate.

This was another sad chapter of this unholy war.

The Indians now approached the river, but, owing to the thick underbrush,
were obliged to abandon all their carts,--their ponies they took with
them, but their winter's supply of meat they abandoned.

Our skirmish line was formed at three paces, but even then it was
impossible to observe a line, so thick were the weeds and underbrush. The
enemy was sighted, and an advance ordered, when the line moved forward,
and after an hour of hard work, we, like De Soto, when he discovered the
Mississippi, gazed in admiration on its prototype,--the Missouri.

After having for weeks drank the brackish water of the prairie lakes, we
drank from this sweet though turbid stream, and were refreshed, as were
the children of Israel, who partook of the cool water from the stricken

While drinking and wading in the stream, we were fired upon from the
opposite shore, although a flag of truce had been raised. The Indians'
bullets fell short of their mark, but the retreat was sounded, and we
marched back for the open prairie, and returned to our camp, which was
situated on a beautiful plateau a few miles below. The brush was so thick
that the Indians were obliged to abandon all of their carts and camp
equipage, with thousands of buffalo robes, and tons of dried meat. The
rout of the Indians and destruction of property was complete.

Our casualties were very light; but, among the killed was Lieutenant
Beaver, an English lord, who came to this country to engage in a buffalo
hunt; but, upon his arrival, learning of the Indian outbreak, tendered
his services to the Government, and was commissioned a lieutenant on
General Sibley's staff, as aide-de-camp. He had been sent by General
Sibley with an order to Colonel Crooks, who was in command of the
advance, and, on his return, he and his beautiful black horse were

Colonel Crooks said to Lieutenant Beaver that the regiment would return
as soon as the skirmishers could be rallied, and invited him to remain
and ride with him back to camp, but the aide, true soldier that he was,
felt it his duty to report to General Sibley at once, and paid the

The Indians, some at least, not being able to cross the river, were in
hiding, and others had re-crossed, and were skulking in the thick brush,
waiting for a chance to shoot with arrows. Lieutenant Beaver had mistaken
the path he came in on, and took one that led him on to some of these
skulking Indians, and he thus met his death.

Colonel Crooks returned, and though Lieutenant Beaver messed with him,
his tent was at General Sibley's headquarters, and his absence from mess
was not noticed until, upon inquiry at the General's tent, it was found
he had not reported. The sudden disappearance of one who was such a
general favorite cast a gloom over the camp.

As soon as it became dark fire rockets were sent up, in hopes that if he
was wandering away, through taking a wrong road, he might be guided back
to camp. The early morning found us astir, for a detail of my regiment
had been made to reconnoiter and to skirmish clear down to the bank of
the river, in order to gain tidings of Lieutenant Beaver, and, also, of
Private Miller, of the Sixth Regiment, who also was missing.

The reconnoissance proved successful, and both bodies were found, as well
as the body of the lieutenant's horse. Lieutenant Beaver had evidently
made a desperate fight for his life, because his two revolvers were
empty, and the indications were that he had made more than one of the
enemy bite the dust.

[Illustration: Sighting the Enemy on the Missouri.]

The bodies were brought to camp and prepared for burial in the trenches
on opposite sides of the camp, and the work was so done as to obliterate
all signs and prevent the Indians from locating the spots and desecrating
the graves. The service was touchingly solemn, and many tears were shed,
as we thought of these lonely graves so far away from the homes of the
living relatives.

Lieutenant Beaver had friends in England who were abundantly able to have
his remains disinterred and removed to a more suitable place of burial.
Money was sent out from England for this purpose, and trusted agents sent
up to the Missouri banks for the purpose of bringing back the remains.
There is a grave at Graceland, in St. Paul, on the top of which rests a
slab of granite, and engraven on this are the words:

"Sacred to the memory of Lieutenant F. J. H. Beaver, who died July 28,
1863. Peace to his ashes."

On the banks of the Missouri is a lonely grave. The winter's storms and
the summer's heat have come and gone. The night vigils of the strange
birds have been kept, the requiem of gentle breezes has been sung over
this lonely grave. Comrade Nicholas Miller, private of Company K, Sixth
Minnesota Infantry Volunteers, sleeps in his lonely bed, and "after
life's fitful fever he sleeps well."



We remained but two days at this Missouri camp, when the reveille sounded
early in the morning of August 1st, and the troops were astir. We were
a long way from home, and on short rations; and, in addition to this,
we felt some anxiety about the boys we left at Camp Atchison, having
heard nothing from them. The sun was very hot the day we left; one of
the kind the boys called "muggy,"--disagreeable in the extreme. At dress
parade the night before, we received the compliments of the General in
orders read, announcing that the purpose of the expedition had been
accomplished. This was, of course, good news to us, and we speculated as
to how early a date would find us taking leave of this far-away camp.

The scouts reported to the General that Indians had been crossing the
river below us all day long, and the indications were that they intended
to make an attack about midnight, in order to steal our teams. With this
information before him, General Sibley ordered one-half the command out
on guard, and the balance to lay on their arms. In an hour or so another
order came, for the balance of the command to reinforce the guard,
because there surely would be an attack, and it did come about twelve
o'clock; but the attempt to capture the teams miscarried; for, after a
few shots, the Indians retired. Having lost nearly all of their wagons
and cured meat, they were in a desperate condition, and a commissary
train would have been a rich prize.

On the morning we left it was astonishing how quickly we got ready, and
how lonesome the canvas city looked after the bugle sounded "strike
tents." We marched out this fine morning with our banners flying, and the
band playing "The Girl I Left Behind Me."

There were no regrets, for the "beautiful Indian maiden" had not made a
favorable impression on us, and we had our own little families at home.

The Sixth Minnesota was in the rear, and we were hardly beyond the limits
of the camp before the Indians had taken possession and commenced firing
on our rear guard. The Colonel gave the necessary commands to bring us
to a "right about," with orders to "commence firing." The orders came in
quick succession, and were such a surprise to the Indians that they took
to their heels with great alacrity. They hovered about us during all the
day, but did not in the least retard us in our homeward march. We were
instructed to supply ourselves with water before starting, because we
must march eighteen miles, to Apple river bend, before we could get a
fresh supply.

The day was excessively warm, and the men became thirsty; but, behold! we
look away, and a beautiful lake appears before us. "Water! water!" cry
the thirsty men, and our canteens were soon empty, in anticipation of
refilling them from the bosom of this beautiful lake before us. We march
and thirst again, and the beautiful lake seems just as far away.

"It's two miles to that lake," says one thirsty soul. We march the
two miles, and yet are two miles away, and the thirst and heat are

"Surely that's water," said another, "but we don't seem to get any nearer
to it."

We marched and marched; but we must be in a valley, for the lake is out
of sight.

"When we get over the ridge we'll see the beautiful lake," comes from
some one in the ranks.

We got over the ridge, but the beautiful lake, in all its refreshing
loveliness, had vanished. Had it evaporated, or had it sunk into the
ground? Neither. We had been deceived,--it was a mirage! The air was hot,
the earth parched, the throats dry, the canteens empty, and we were yet
eight miles from water.

Eight long, weary miles to go before we reach the bend in Apple river,
but there was no help for it, and we bear to it with our soldier load.
"Five miles farther," says the scout, and our hearts almost stop beating,
we are so parched; three miles, and on we march; only one mile more, and
we would run if we could. We reach the bank, and the Colonel commands:
"Battalion, halt!" but the refreshing water is too near, and the
famishing men make a run for it, and do not stop until they are in waist
deep, and then they drink to their fill and replenish their canteens.

On our return march we passed nearly over the same ground as we did
going out. We passed the battlefield of the Big Mound, and went into
camp by the lake where Lieutenant Freeman was killed; this was on the
4th of August. The next day our scouts reported "Indians ahead,"--a
false alarm,--the Indians espied were half-breeds bringing us mail from
Camp Atchison, and also the news that George A. Brackett, who was with
Lieutenant Freeman when he was killed, had made his way, after weary
days and nights of wandering, and in a half-starved condition, to Camp
Atchison, where he fell among friends.

When we arrived at Camp Atchison it took but a day to arrange for our
final departure. Lieutenant Freeman's body had been recovered and buried,
and the place so marked that it was easily found afterwards, when the
body was removed and taken to his home for final interment.

We drew five days' rations of hard tack and bacon, and the side dishes
that go with it; just what they were I cannot now remember. I guess the
dear old army bean was one and desiccated vegetable another; anyway,
we were not troubled with the gout from too much eating of rich food.
The surgeons made proper provision for the transportation of the sick
by placing them in ambulances, and at an early hour the headquarters'
bugler sounded "strike tents," and the canvas city was razed to the
ground;--Camp Atchison was a back number.

The command took up the line of march for Fort Snelling, where we
expected to receive orders to proceed at once to join the Union Army in
the South. We were a jolly crowd, and the march seemed but a pleasant
pastime; we had driven the enemy out of the country, and, save the first
two or three days of our return march, he was giving us no trouble. We
made good time, and the nearer we got home the shorter the miles became.

When we got down to civilization we were accorded an ovation; especially
was this the case at Minneapolis, where the whole city turned out to bid
us welcome.

We arrived at Fort Snelling on the morning of September 12th, after
having made a march of more than twelve hundred miles;--and thus ended
the campaign of 1863.



My active work in the Sioux Indian war ended in the autumn of 1863,
and the regiment went South, but history has made me familiar with the
campaign of 1864, and I thus devote space to it, so as to follow the
troops and Indians to the culmination and final successful closing of the
greatest Indian war of modern times.

The return of General Sibley from the Missouri campaign of 1863 did not
end the Sioux war, because, while the Indians had been defeated in five
pitched battles in 1862 and '63, yet they were known to be in large
numbers, ready to take the field again in 1864, as soon as the weather
would permit. Such being the case, it became necessary to organize
against them.

To this end another expedition was fitted out from the Minnesota side,
which was to co-operate with General Sully from the Missouri side.
General Sully, on account of the low stage of water in the Missouri in
1863, was unable to co-operate with General Sibley, as was intended, and
on August 1st, 1863, and when General Sibley's order for the homeward
march was promulgated, General Sully was one hundred and sixty miles
farther down the river than it was intended he should be. This was the
reason why the Indians were not more severely whipped than they were. It
would have been suicidal for General Sibley to have crossed the Missouri
river at this time, with rations and ammunition as scarce as they were.

The Indians took advantage of the situation and evinced a determination
to take the field again. A cavalry regiment had been authorized by the
War Department for one year and for frontier service. This regiment was
filled to the maximum, and placed in command of Colonel R. N. McLaren.

A battalion had been raised previous to this, known as Hatch's battalion,
and was on duty near Pembina, and by this wise provision confidence was
restored in this part of the country.

The Indians still had undisputed possession of the country west of the
Missouri, and, although they may have been peaceable, it was necessary to
settle the question permanently, and place them on their reservations.

The plan of the campaign of 1864 was very similar to that of the year
previous, excepting in the matter of command, the two columns,--the one
from the Minnesota side and the other from the Missouri side,--were to
combine and become two brigades, under the command of General Sully.

The first brigade was composed of Iowa and Kansas infantry, and they
embarked at Sioux City, Iowa, and proceeded up the Missouri. The second
brigade embraced the Eighth Minnesota Infantry, mounted on ponies,
Colonel M. T. Thomas in command; the Second Minnesota Cavalry, Colonel
McLaren; and the Third Minnesota Battery, Captain John Jones. This
brigade was in command of Colonel Thomas, and left Fort Snelling on June

General Sibley and staff accompanied this brigade of 2,100 men as far as
Fort Ridgely, where he gave them their final orders.

Colonel Thomas, who considered General Sibley a man of ability, thought
him too cautious, and, in response to his final orders, said: "General, I
am going to hunt for Indians; if they will hunt for and find me it will
save a heap of trouble."

It was a beautiful morning on June 5th, and as the first rays of the
morning sun flashed the full light of day, "boots and saddles" sounded in
the clear tones of the bugles, and the column, headed by a magnificent
band, mounted on milk white horses, marched out to the tune of "The Girl
I Left Behind Me."

The General reviewed the column as it passed, and after complimenting the
appearance of the soldiers and bidding good-bye to Colonel Thomas and his
staff, who were starting on a five months' campaign beyond the bounds of
civilization, rode back to the fort.

The column was now under way, and day after day the march went on, in
solid square, so organized that all the Indians in North America could
not disturb it. At night the square closed up, so as to ensure greater
safety and reduce guard duty.

The column moved up the valley of the Minnesota river to its source, and
then took a westerly course, making daily from sixteen to twenty miles,
resting on Sunday.

The scouts, failing to find even signs of Indians, the march became
monotonous until the valley of the Missouri was reached. Here was found
General Sully's trail of the year previous, and soon some of his scouts
came into camp and reported General Sully only one day's march away,
where he was waiting for the fleet of boats on which were supplies for
the troops.

The monotony of the daily march was enlivened by the report that Indians
were hovering around,--they came to reconnoiter, but not to fight yet.
This of itself was encouraging, because the boys began to think they
would not even see an Indian; but there was fun ahead, as we shall see in
the next chapter.



General Sully, an unpretentious man, with clear perception, appeared to
know where the Indians were, and what they would do. His service in the
regular army peculiarly fitted him for this service, and this, with his
genial temperament, made him an agreeable commander.

The boats were unloaded, the command supplied with sixty days' rations
and divested of all surplus clothing and equipments, made ready for a
vigorous march after Indians.

The troops were reviewed by the commanding officer, General Sully,
who, by the way, was at one time Colonel of the First Minnesota,
and afterwards promoted to Major-General of Volunteers and Brevet
Brigadier-General of the regular army. The review of the troops
constituted the celebrating the Fourth of July, 1864.

When the column finally moved, which was on July 19, it marched out into
an unknown and unexplored country, from the white man's standpoint.

[Illustration: Resting Before an Attack.]

What a transformation,--then unknown and unexplored,--no highways, no
railroads, no civilization,--to-day the onward march of our race has left
its imprint by railroads, beautiful farms, busy cities, busy factories,
Christian civilization, education and the "little red school house." But
I am anticipating; turn back the leaves and we are again on the Knife
river, and we snuff a battle, for the Indians are ahead in great numbers.

It was on July 28th, among the foothills of the mountains, that a large
camp of Indians was found. In this camp were no less than one hundred
and ten bands of hostile Sioux, and they meant business, for they had
congregated here for the express purpose of cleaning out the white
soldiers, and they felt confident they could do it.

The Indians, on their horses, were stripped for the fray, and began
leisurely to ride in line of battle toward the white enemy. When within
rifle shot, the soldiers opened fire, and instantly the scene was
changed. The bands concentrated, and, uttering their war cries, they
dashed at full speed on our lines, firing, and, like the wind, whirled
to the rear, loading as they went, when they would again face the enemy,
and, coming within gunshot, fire again.

They were so confident of success that they did not attempt to save their
own camp, which was the objective point of the soldiers; and they did not
realize their dangerous position until they found that their terrific
onslaught on our lines did not in the least impede the progress of the

Soon the artillery was brought up, and the shells were sent thick and
fast among them. By this time they began to realize that retreat were the
tactics now.

There were 1,600 tepees filled with women and children, with the usual
supply of dogs,--not less than two dogs to a tepee, and such a stampede.

It was a grand sight in one sense and sad in another. To see this great,
moving mass of 10,000 or 12,000 souls, with their camp paraphernalia,
including dogs and ponies, rushing over the prairie; the fleeing
multitude spread out as far as the eye could reach on either side,
rushing on in mad haste, as though fleeing from the city of destruction.
It was the sight of a lifetime, but sad to contemplate that the sins
of some were being showered upon the heads of the innocent women and

The loss to the Indians in killed was estimated at 100 to 150; the
wounded they carried off the field. The dead were buried in the night in
large trenches, the earth leveled off, and the troops marched away.

The Indians were not satisfied with the result of this engagement; they
naturally would not be. They claimed that the best of their young men
were off hunting for our troops in another direction, and they should at
once call them in and give battle again.

The last six days had been very exciting, and was a nervous strain on the
soldiers. One hundred and seventy-five miles had been made, a battle of
eight hours had been fought, and the camp of Indians destroyed.

The march to the west was resumed over the prairie, with the Knife
Mountains to the north and the Black Hills to the south, looming up in
the distance like great sentinels, standing to contest the approach of
civilization and defying the elements of ages.

In the immediate front, off towards the horizon, was what seemed to be a
level plain,--it was level, but for a little distance, and then broke to
your view what might have inspired a Dante to write a more recent edition
of Inferno; for, as far as the eye could reach, north and south and for
forty miles to the west, the body of the earth had been rent and torn
asunder, as though giant demons, in their infuriated defeat, had sought
to disembowel the earth.

General Sully said of it: "It is hell with the fires put out."

We are now in the Bad Lands, and it is Sunday,--the Lord's day, and in
such a region,--where devils had fought. White men's eyes had probably
never before seen this region, and the Indians were afraid of it; they
looked upon this region as the abode of evil spirits, and that the great
gorges and buttes and yawning chasms were but the product of their wrath.

The Sunday passed quietly until after noon, when a reconnoitering party
returned and said they had been fired upon by Indians.

About five o'clock on this Sunday General Sully changed the position of
the camp and went four miles farther up the river, in order to be in
better position to prevent a surprise or repel an attack.

The Indians were interested observers, for while this move was being made
1,000 of them were quietly sitting on their horses on the surrounding
hills, observing.

General Sully, being sick in his tent at this time, the command devolved
upon Colonel Thomas, of the Eighth Minnesota, and to him he gave orders
to "have everything ready to move at six o'clock in the morning, in
perfect fighting order; put one of your most active field officers in
charge of a strong advance guard, and you will meet them at the head of
the ravine, and have the biggest Indian fight that ever will happen on
this continent; and let me further say that under no circumstances must
any man turn his back on a live Indian."

On Monday morning, bright and early, on August 8th, 1864, the columns
were formed. The General was in an ambulance at the front, and in
admiration looking up and down the lines of the soldiers who were so soon
to engage the Indians in battle, gave vent to his feelings in words more
expressive than elegant: "Those fellows can whip the devil and all his

General Sully himself was unable to go farther, but when he grasped
Colonel Thomas, who was in immediate command, by the hand he said: "You
must make some history to-day."

"Forward!" and the column is marching out, and not a sound is there to
indicate that its progress will be impeded, as we enter the narrow gorge,
only wide enough for a wagon trail. Almost an hour passes in steadily
climbing up the narrow and secluded way, and when near the head of the
gulch, from the beautiful stillness of the morning the pandemonium of war
broke loose.

The artillery advanced in a gallop, and, in position, soon commenced
planting shells among the redskins. This was followed up by the steady
advance of the dismounted men, who pressed their lines, and they
commenced to fall back. The General, sick though he was, and in the
ambulance, could not endure being there when the fight was going on, so
he ordered up his horse and, mounting, rode to the front, but nature
resisted, and he was obliged to dismount, which he did, and seating
himself on a boulder, with his field glass took in the whole situation.
Colonel Thomas, who was in command, hearing that the General was on the
field, sought him out and said: "I am ready to advance, sir."

The General, pointing his hand toward a range of hills, said: "Go ahead,
you will find the camp beyond those buttes; hold your men well in hand,
push the Indians; they will fight for their families; protect your
flank, and I will protect the rear."

The fight went on; the wounded were sent to the rear, and for twelve
miles we drove the Indians from point to point, but darkness came on
before their camp was reached.

In the bivouac at night the scene was a varied one. At the roll-call
there were names not answered, for the unerring arrow and Indian bullet
had done its work. At the next muster it would be necessary to mark after
some name: "Killed in battle in the Bad Lands August 8th, 1864," or,
"died of wounds received from Indians in battle in the Bad Lands August
8th, 1864," for there were 109 killed and wounded on this day.

The wounded received proper attention at once, and the other soldiers,
well tired out with the day's fighting and marching, were soundly
sleeping and dreaming of home.

There were 8,000 warriors engaged in this battle, and as nearly as could
be estimated they lost 350 killed and from 600 to 800 wounded. It was a
bloody battle, and the field was named by the Indians Waps-chon-choka.

The Indians, after this decisive battle, broke up into small bands and
went in every direction, so that the soldiers, as an army, could not well
follow them.

The war had ended so far as the Indians were concerned, but there was
another fight on hand. Bad water and lack of rations are not a happy
condition of affairs, and the soldiers had to look this square in the
face. And hot! The tongues of some of the men were so swelled from thirst
and heat that they could not talk. The animals suffered equally with the
men, and in numerous instances it became necessary to put them out of
their misery by blowing out their brains.

And thus things went on from day to day until August 12th, when glad
news came from one of the scouts, who came riding back and frantically
waving something in his hands. It was simply a little chip of wood, and
why should this create such unbounded joy among a lot of war-begrimed
veterans? It was freshly cut and evidently came from the steamboat men,
as it was borne down on the bosom of the cool waters of the longed-for

The weary soldiers, thirsting and starving, viewed this little harbinger
of plenty with delight, and their strength began to return as they
increased their step in the march toward the river.

O, that beautiful river:--"The Nectar of the Gods." How life-inspiring
its fluid, as discipline was forgotten and joy and happy shouts took the
place of misery in the command.

The thirst was slaked, and now for something to eat, for soldiers,
poor mortals, get very hungry, and how often they longed for some good
home-made bread and sugar and cream for coffee. And pies; well, our
mouths used to fairly water for pies. But, on this especial occasion,
almost anything would do, for the boys were awfully hungry, and the
commissary was like "Old Mother Hubbard's" cupboard--empty.

There were timber bottoms a little way down the river full of elk and
black-tailed deer, so the Indians informed us.

A detail was made, and the hunters went out in search of game, and before
night they returned with the evidence of their day's hunt with them. They
were like the spies sent out in Bible times, who came back laden with
grapes, and reported that the country which they had explored was rich,
and flowed with milk and honey.

So, too, our soldier-hunters said the bottom lands were alive with elk
and deer; and, by the next night, the luscious ribs and steaks were
sizzling in the blaze, and hunger was being appeased as well as the
thirst had been.

The war being practically over, the several commands returned by various
routes to the points from whence they came, and were at once ordered
South to take their places in some of the other armies. The campaigns of
1862, '63 and '64 were successfully carried out, and we will recapitulate
our desires, our journeyings, our hopes and our fears and our rejoicings
in another chapter, and bid you adieu.

[Illustration: Examining the Colors After the Campaign.]



In writing this narrative my mind has been refreshed and incidents and
the names of persons almost forgotten come to me--they press on my memory.

I am able to recall many, but to specify them would unduly lengthen
this book. There was one important character, however, whom I had quite
forgotten at the proper time, and in this concluding chapter must make
mention of him.

Pierre Bottineau came originally from the Selkirk settlement, and in
1837 made a claim near St. Anthony Falls.

I was with him upon the plains of Dakota in 1857, and in his way he was a
remarkable man. On one occasion the party got lost in a furious storm and
we knew that war parties of Chippewas were roaming over the prairie and
it was not any way too healthy to be in the region we supposed we were
wandering in. We halted to hold a council and Pierre said: "As soon as
the stars come out I can locate." So we waited and waited for the storm
to pass over. The night was pitchy dark, but in time the stars came, when
Pierre laid flat down on the ground, face up, and for perhaps half an
hour surveyed the heavens and located our wandering feet. We were soon on
the right trail for our camp, which was forty or fifty miles away.

Pierre was one of General Sibley's principal scouts during the several
campaigns against the Indians in 1862 and 1863. He died some years
ago, and speaking of his death reminds me of others prominent in these
military operations who have gone beyond the river.

The two generals, Sibley and Sully, are gone, and of the field and staff,
I can recall Colonel John T. Averill, of the Sixth Minnesota, who was,
after the war, member of Congress. Adjutant Snow and Quartermasters
Carver and Gilbert, Colonels Stephen Miller and Wm. R. Marshall, both
honored by Minnesota by electing them to chief executive--they, with
Lieut. Colonel Bradley and all of the Seventh; Colonel Robert N. McLaren,
of the Second Cavalry, and Major Hatch, of the battalion bearing his
name, and Captain John Jones, of the famous battery. These are among some
of the chiefs who have been called.

Among the line of officers and the rank and file, it would be a mighty
host, and it saddens my heart when I think of them, so I will desist
and conclude by reminding you of the invitation extended and briefly
recapitulate our journeyings.

       *       *       *       *       *

READER: The invitation extended to you to accompany us on a military
expedition into the Indian country has been accepted. It was under
exciting circumstances, when the whole country was surcharged with alarm,
and for good cause.

The Indians, cruel, relentless, revengeful, and with determination, were
murdering innocent men, women and children, and but for the friendly
offices of a faithful few, whose hearts were whiter than their skins, the
death list and list of horrors would have been far greater; and it is for
these few we speak when we say there are good Indians other than dead
ones; and Minnesota could not do a more appropriate thing to-day than
erect a monument to the memory of Old Betz, Other Day, Chaska and others,
who risked their lives to save their white friends from the tomahawk
of their more vengeful brethren, and who did so much to alleviate the
sufferings and to relieve the anxiety of the captive prisoners.

You went with us to besieged New Ulm and Fort Ridgely; helped bury
the dead at Redwood; marched with us and went into camp and endured
the thirty-six hours of anxiety and suffering at Birch Coolie; helped
bury the dead and care for the wounded there; returned with us to Fort
Ridgely; took part in the battle at Wood Lake, where the Indians were
defeated; shared our joys when we liberated the women at Camp Release;
helped arrest, shackle and guard the Indians; witnessed the execution of
thirty-eight at Mankato; marched across with the "Moscow Expedition";
rendezvoused with us at Camp Pope in 1863; marched and fought Indians
with us at Big Mound, Dead Buffalo Lake, Stony Lake and the Missouri
River. You mingled your tears with ours over Beaver's and Miller's
graves, as we left them in their loneliness on the bank of the river;
participated in and rejoiced with us all the way on our return, took part
in the campaign of 1864, and now, before bidding you adieu, one question:
Are you satisfied?


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber Note

Illustrations moved so as to not split paragraphs. Quotation usage in
quoted letters was standardized.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Thrilling Narrative of the Minnesota Massacre and the Sioux War of 1862-63 - Graphic Accounts of the Siege of Fort Ridgely, Battles of - Birch Coolie, Wood Lake, Big Mound, Stony Lake, Dead Buffalo - Lake and" ***

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