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Fearful Slaughter of Settlers

Source: Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, VT) Friday, August 29, 1862; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman

Fearful Slaughter of Settlers.
Parties from the Minnesota river, who arrived at St. Paul Saturday night, state that scouts estimate the number of whites already killed by the Sioux at 500. This opinion is based on the number of bodies discovered strewn along the roads and by trails of blood. It is believed that all the missionaries have been killed. The civilized Indians exceeded their savage brethren in atrocities. Mr. Frenier, an interpreter who has spent most of his life among the Indians, volunteered to go alone among them, trusting to his knowledge of them and his disguise to escape detection. He dressed himself in Indian costume and started on his journey. He arrived at the upper agency at night. The place was literally the habitation of death. He visited all the houses and found their former occupants all lying dead-some on door-steps and some inside their habitations. Others were scattered in the yards and in the roads. He went to the house of Hon. J. R. Brown and recognized every member of the family. They numbered 18 in all and every one of them had been brutally murdered. At Beaver Creek he found that 50 families had been killed outright. At every house he entered he recognized the dead bodies of nearly all the former occupants. Among the dead he recognized at the Agency were the following:-A Ginerus and family, Dr. Wakefield and family, Jno. Todden and family, John Moyner, Edward Moyner, Rev. Dr. Williams, Rev. Mr. Driggs and two missionaries.

FORT RIDGELY BURNED. (Renville County)
Mr. Frenier writes to Gov. Ramsey, 21st inst., saying he left Fort Ridgely at 2 o'clock a.m. There were then over 2000 Indians at the fort, and all the wooden buildings had been set on fire and were burning. Mr. Frenier thinks that other tribes are joining the Sioux, and they will present a very formidable array. The government forces can hold out but a very short time unless they are reinforced.

Ex. Gov. Sibley is now marching to the relief of Fort Ridgely. He reports that the Sioux bands are united together to carry out a concentrated and desperate scheme, and says that he will be only too happy top find that the powerful upper bands of Yanktons and other tribes have not united with them.

A reliable letter, dated Glencoe, 21st, says that the injury done by the stampede of the settlers is immense, and that such another scene of woe can hardly be found at the South as in McLeod, Meeker and the northern part of Sibley and other counties in Minnesota. In St. Paul and the adjoining county, all the available horses are being gathered together, and all sorts of weapons will be used by willing hands for immediate and summary vengeance upon these blood-thirsty Indians. Several loads of panic stricken people from Currer and Sibley counties arrived at St. Paul Wednesday night, principally women and children. They were greatly excited, and give exaggerated accounts of Indians who were marching on Shaska county. They also say that the towns of St. Peter, Henderson and Glencoe have been burned.

It is thought the Indians have been induced to commit these outrages by Indians from Missouri and secession traitors of that state.


Dispatches from Col. Sibley to the 25th say he arrived at St. Peters on the 22d, and had been actively engaged in affording all the aid possible to the beleaguered villagers. Major Fowler, with 50 mounted men, made a reconnaissance on the Fort Ridgely route the previous morning and returned to St. Peters at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 25th. He brings the bodies of some women killed within twenty miles of St. Peters, and reports the destruction of property as beyond calculation. The Indians attacked New Ulm on Saturday. The fight continued til late in the evening. Nothing had been heard from there since. Col. Sibley asks for a full regiment to be at once sent up armed and equipped, and thinks they and still more will be needed before the Indians are subdued. He thinks they have four or five thousand warriors to meet sooner or later. L. A. Evans, mayor of St. Cloud, writes to the governor that a committee of reliable citizens appointed to visit the sites of the recent murders, had just returned. They went as far as Painesville, and found some 200 in the vicinity of that place murdered. Petitions have been sent to the governor to protect their lives and property. In Stearns, Meeker and Monongahela counties, many persons have been driven from their houses, leaving their crops but partially harvested.

The latest news from New Ulm, Minn., is to Saturday night. This village is nearly burnt up. An arrival from Crows Wing direct, brings intelligence that Hole-in-the-day, the great Chippewa chief, issued a proclamation that he would not be responsible for the conduct of the Indians after Tuesday, and warning the whites to leave the country before that time. Hole-in-the-day sends a dispatch to Commissioner Dole and Judge Cooper to come up and make a treaty. The Chippewa agent, Walker, against whom complaints have been made by the Chippewa's, is reported to have committed suicide in a fit of insanity. The Chippewa difficulty follows so close upon the Sioux raid that it causes great alarm. The northern part of the state is making earnest application for military aid.

The St. Paul (Minn.) Press of the 24th, says a careful consideration of the evidence accumulated so far, forces the conviction of the influence of white men at the bottom of the Indian massacres. For weeks past white men and Missourians have been among them. The facts that remote tribes like the Yanktonians and Cat Heads are moving in concert with the Sioux, and that a large force attacked a fortified artillery post like Fort Ridgely, which is an attack without precedent in Indian history, and that the Indians are butchering missionaries who have spent their lives among them, and who would in ordinary disturbances possess great influence over them, forces to the conclusion that this outbreak is a part of a deliberately concerted plan, its purpose being to embarrass and distract the general government by alarming it for the safety of the frontier, and requiring the retention here of a large number of troops who might otherwise be differently used.

Mr. Goodell, who arrived at St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday night, brought the welcome news that 62 persons who were supposed to be killed by the Indians are safe. Among the party were 42 women and children, and among them are Mrs. Galbraith and family, Mr. Sinks and family, Mr. Givens and family, E. Rider, John German, Mr. Miller, Mr. Cramsey, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Parker, Mr. Pierce, Mr. Ashley, Mr. Rotwell and family, and the Ladden family. As regards the fate of the missionaries, he thinks about 40 families, including those between Laquee Parie and the agency, are killed. He says all the friendly Indians gathered at Mr. Ridges' house to defend him, but must have been overpowered.

A messenger arrived from Henderson says the half breed scout Fredier would return to Fort Ridgely and give the inmates such assurances of relief as will induce them to hold out. There can be no surrender without annihilation, and the inmates know this. Col. Sibley's force was at St. Peter's at 4 o'clock Saturday morning, 50 miles from Fort Ridgely, but could not reach there before Sunday evening. Col. Cullen with 700 cavalry proposed to strike across the country from Henderson and may get there ahead of Sibley. It is believed the Indians will get information of the advancing force and will hastily leave the fort. Colonel Cullen writes that the further he advances the worse the news becomes. All the inhabitants are flocking into the towns.

Hon. J. R. Cleveland writes on the 21st from Mankants that he staid at New Ulm the previous night and saw the most horrible sights. In one instance eight bodies of stalwart men, with throats cut from ear to ear, skulls battered and limbs mutilated. He knew some of them well, and they were good citizens of Brown county. Our opinion is that not less than 100 are massacred. Large portion of Blue Earth and Brown counties are depopulated with the wheat left unstacked in the field. The owners are flying eastward.

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