"Execution of the Thirty Eight Sioux Indians, Mankato, Minnesota
Dec. 26, plate 39 1862
Published by Wise & Clarke, Mankato, Minn. 1865. Lith by Culver, Page & Hoyne."
A series of unfair treaties, stupidly administered, had aroused the Sioux in Minnesota, and the first outbreak occurred on August 17th, 1862. There followed a month of bloody warfare, with attacks on farms and outlying settlements, barricaded streets, scalpings, and all the worst elements of Indian fighting. By September 23rd, when Little Crow, the Indian Chief, had withdrawn, and most of the rest of the Sioux had been captured, more than six hundred whites had been killed and almost a million dollars' worth of property destroyed.
The Minnesotans were howling for vengeance, and the military authorities sentenced 303 Indians to death. However, there was a cry of protest from the East. President Lincoln finally ordered the execution of 38. All but two were baptised. After the execution, the bodies were buried, but were soon disinterred and turned over to doctors. Some years later it was stated that "mistakes were made in separating those condemned from the others, 'but not intentionally.' "
A letter from Mr. C. A. Nachbar of Mankato, Minnesota, to my friend Mr. Stuyvesant Peabody adds some interesting details. Mr. Nachbar's mother-in-law, who saw the hanging from the rear end of a prairie schooner, states that the print is a perfect record as she remembers it. Mr. Nachbar adds: "The Indians were all imprisoned in the three story buildings you see in the picture. Along side of that they had a log stockade, for the building was too small. They were separated the evening before the hanging. They came out single file singing by step. They were buried on the banks of the Minnesota River. The only building that is standing today is the Clifton House, which you can see in the picture. It is the second from the further end near the trees. There were five regiments of soldiers at the hanging.
Major Brown, whose wife and children were killed, asked for the privilege to give the signal to cut the rope. The signal was the third tap of the drum. Capt. Dooley cut the rope that held the scaffold. Dooley was very much excited and missed the rope the first time, but cut it the second time. By the way, you can see the banks of the Minnesota River in the foreground where you see the brush. The hanging was witnessed by the early settlers for miles and miles distant. They now sell you a postcard there of a tombstone engraved "To the Memory of 38 Sioux Warriors."
(source: "America on Stone" The other printmakers to the American People. A chronicle of American Lithography other than that of Currier & Ives. From its beginning, shortly before 1820 to the years when the commercial Single-stone hand colored lithograph disappeared from the American Scene. Illustrations showing examples of the work of more than 199 different craftsmen from every part of America.
Harry T. Peters, cc 1931, by Doubleday, Doran and CO.