Indian Outbreaks by Daniel Buck, 1904,
transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
Note: Some chapters of this work are included at individual counties.
MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS. [before the outbreak]
By the census of 1860 the State of Minnesota contained a population of 172,023. Notwithstanding its natural and physical attraction, its magnificent prairies with their rich and productive soil, its great and extensive forests of mixed and valuable timber, its untold millions of acres of the finest pine in the world, its ten thousand beautiful lakes, and numerous navigable rivers, it did not for a few years increase as rapidly in population as was generally anticipated. Some time preceding 1860 hard times swept over the whole country, seriously blighting the prospects of our young state.
Civil war came upon us soon after Lincoln was elected to the presidency, and had it not been for the firing upon Fort Sumter, the terrible and bloody Indian outbreak of 1862 would never have occurred. That disloyal act aroused a storm of indignation throughout the North, and its citizens and the patriots of the South determined that the Union should stand undissevered forever. Minnesota was admitted into the Union as a state May 11, 1858. When the Civil War broke out Alexander Ramsey, then our young and patriotic governor, zealous for the honor and welfare of the state and the country, tendered to the president a full regiment of volunteers on the 14th day of April, 1861, which was at once accepted, and hastened to the front. Several other regiments were also tendered to the president before the Indian outbreak August 17, 1862, at Acton. From farm and village went able-bodied men, leaving the frontier homes nearly deserted and defenseless. Strong, active young men went from the cities and became soldiers in the Union army. From the Indian reservations many half-breeds enlisted, and hence whatever influence for peace they might have had or exercised was lost. The peril was even greater in fact than the best in formed and the most fearless white people suspected.
Lieut. G. H. Warren, topographical engineer, who was attached to the staff of Brig. Gen. W. S. Harney, commanding the Sioux expedition of 1855-56, furnishes the following summary in regard to the number and military strength of those Indians.
Tribes - Lodges - Inmates - Warriors.
Isantees - 775 - 6,200 - 1,240
Yanktons - 360 - 2,880 - 576
Yanktonains - 800 - 6,400 - 1,280
Tetons - 1,840 - 14,720 - 2,962
Totals - 3,775 - 30,200 - 6,058
By virtue of the treaty with the Indians in 1851 there was set apart for the Sioux Indians a tract of land in the upper Minnesota Valley one hundred miles long by twenty miles wide, being ten miles on each side of the Minnesota river, beginning at a point a few miles below Fort Ridgely, and extending to the head waters of the river. In the reliable "Reminiscences," prepared by Samuel J. Brown for John C. Wise, editor of the Review, and published by him in his paper, it is said "that the 'Sioux of the Mississippi, were so-called in contradistinction from the 'Sioux of the Missouri.' "
At the time of the outbreak of the Medauakonton and the Wapekuta bands, under the leadership of Little Crow, the Sioux chiefs, the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands were living upon a reservation, and had an agency exclusively their own on the Minnesota river above, or north of, the Yellow Medicine creek, and these bands were known as the Upper Sioux, and the agency as the upper, or Yellow Medicine, agency. Below the Yellow Medicine creek, or south of it, and also on the Minnesota river, were the Medauakonton and the Wapekuta bands, also owning a reservation and an agency. These were known as the Lower Sioux and the agency as the lower agency. The upper and lower agencies were about thirty miles apart, and the business affairs of both were conducted under the supervision of one agent. * * * The number of persons, according to the census upon which the upper bands were paid their annuity money in 1861, was 4,524, and the lower bands numbered 3,213.
Judge Flandrau says: "These bands were wild, very little progress having been made in their civilization, the very nature of the situation preventing very much advance in that line. The whole country to the north and west of their reservations was an open, wild region, extending to the Rocky Mountains, inhabited only by the buffalo, which animals ranged from British Columbia to Texas. The buffalo was the chief subsistence of the Indians, who naturally frequented their ranges, and only came to the agencies when expecting their payments. When they did come, and the money and goods were not ready for them, which was frequently the case, they suffered great inconvenience, and were forced to incur debt with the white traders for their subsistence, all of which tended to create bad feelings between them and the whites. The Indians say that they had yielded a splendid domain to the whites and that they were rapidly occupying it. They could not help but see that the whites were pushing them gradually - I may say rapidly - out of their ancestral possessions and toward the West, which knowledge naturally created a hostile feeling towards the whites. The Sioux were a brave people, and the young fighting men were always making comparisons between themselves and the whites, and bantering each other as to whether they were or were not afraid of them."
The territory occupied by the Indians was, as is well known, in the western part of the State of Minnesota, and embraced one of the choicest sections of agricultural land anywhere to be found, interspersed with streams and forests and fine stone quarries. The outbreak of the Indians caused them to lose their land forever, and all payment of further annuities ceased by act of congress. While the state mourned the loss of her citizens, the removal of the Indians was a source of untold benefit, for the whites occupied the land in peace, and this extensive domain is the pride of the state, and increasing years will add to its value and its greatness.
CHIEF LITTLE CROW.
Source: Indian Outbreaks by Daniel Buck, Ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of Minnesota. 1904; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
I have already stated that the origin of the Indian is obscure, and this uncertainty includes the origin of the Dakota nation. For more than two hundred and fifty years this warlike and powerful nation had been heard of by the French and English, and gradually came nearer to each other; the English, or whites, pushing further west until they came in contact.
The Indian believes that there is a good spirit and an evil spirit, that the former is too good to trouble himself about poor earthly mortals, but that the evil spirit is always watching for an opportunity to instigate mischief. Perhaps it was the latter spirit that instigated Little Crow to join in the horrible massacre of 1862.
It is a natural feeling to want to know something about the relationship and history of noted men, hence I shall briefly refer to some of the matters connected with the life of Little Crow, who was named after his father, Little Crow, Senior. The son acquired great notoriety as the leader of the great outbreak of 1862. He was the head chief of a powerful nation. He was cunning, eloquent, and swayed the savage Indians with his oratory. At first he seemed to doubt the expediency of the beginning of the outbreak, but joined the assailants because it was just what he had been planning, and at heart he sympathized with the movement. He was ambitious and revengeful, and the opportunity had now arrived for the full exercise of his abilities in these directions. True, he was a regular church attendant, but, like some other hypocrites, he was using the cloak of religion to cover up some of his devilish designs. He was living in a frame house as a civilized Indian, and assisting government employes to build him a new brick dwelling; but at heart he was a Judas, and like all men of that character only waited for an opportunity to betray his friends. He showed no mercy, and died without its being shown him.
Judge Flandrau says of him: "Little Crow was the principal instigator of war on the whites. He was a man of greater parts than any other Indian in the tribe. I had used him on many trying occasions as the captain of my bodyguard and my ambassador to negotiate with other tribes, and had always found him equal to any emergency; but on this occasion his ambition ran away with his judgment, and led him to fatal results." His father's name was Little Crow, and he was the chief of the Kaposia band, located a little distance below St. Paul. The father was very highly respected among his people, and anxious that they should be taught to rely for subsistence upon the products of the soil, rather than on the precarious fruits of the chase, and he set them a good example by working industriously in his own field. He had a great affection for his children, especially for his sons, two of whom were killed in a fight with the Chippewas.
General Sibley says of him: "Two of his favorite sons joined a war party which proceeded up the St. Croix river in search of Chippewas, and in a skirmish near the falls both of them were killed, but the bodies remained unmutilated, the Chippewas having been driven off with the loss of one man killed and another wounded. The father of the young men, who had remained in the village, was speedily notified of the occurrence, whereupon he gathered all of the wampum and silver belonging to the members of his family, and taking his double-barreled gun, which he highly valued, made a forced march with others of his band to the spot where the action took place. The bodies remained where they had fallen. Under the chief's direction the blood was washed from the features and replaced by war paint, new clothing put upon the bodies, the hair combed, plaited and strung with small silver brooches, silver bands enclosed the arms and wrists, and a large quantity of expensive wampum was hung about the necks. When these details had been attended to, the corpses were arranged in a sitting posture, secured to the trunks of trees, and the old chief deposited his double-barreled gun by their side, took a departing look at his dead children, shook them by the hands and returned to the village.
"Some of the Chippewas two or three days afterwards came back and appropriated the scalps and valuables, and left the bodies uncared for. Having heard of this singular proceeding, I asked an explanation of Little Crow when I next saw him; he did not hesitate to give it. He said he had opposed the formation of the war party, but the young men were so bent on avenging the death of some of their friends who had been killed by the Chippewas that he finally withdrew his objections. 'My two sons,' continued he, 'joined the war party and were killed. While I am deeply grieved at their loss, they fell like brave men in battle, and the enemy were entitled to their scalps. I wished the Chippewas to know by the treasures lavished upon the bodies that they had slain the sons of the chief.' Some weeks subsequently the old chief returned in person, collected the bones, and had them properly interred in the village."
General Sibley gave the following account of the death of Little Crow, Senior, and his last advice to his son : "He was accidentally wounded in drawing a loaded gun from a wagon at his village, and he caused me to be notified a few hours afterwards. I forthwith applied to Dr. Turner, post physician at Fort Snelling, to accompany me to see the wounded chief, and he readily consented. Alexander Faribault went with us as interpreter. Upon arriving at the village, we found Little Crow recumbent in his lodge, and the doctor, having examined the wound, pronounced it not only dangerous, but probably a fatal one. When the opinion was announced to the old chief, he smiled, and said the doctor was right, for he would be a dead man before the close of the following day. He then directed his lodge to be cleared of all but ourselves, and sent for his son. When he entered the house the father told him to be seated and listen attentively to his words. Addressing him, he told his son frankly that it had not been his intention to make him chief; that he had very little good sense, and morever he was addicted to drinking and other vicious habits; 'but,' said he, 'my son on whom I intended to bestow the chieftanship at my death has been killed in battle with the Chippewas, and I cannot do better than to name you as my successor.' He proceeded to give him counsel as to his future course in the responsible position which he was about to assume, as the leader of the band, which would have reflected no discredit upon a civilized man similarly situated, except that he did not suggest a change of religious faith to that of the whites. On that topic he remained silent. After referring to the differences existing between the two races, he told his son that the Dakotas must accommodate themselves to the new state of things which was coming upon them. The whites wanted their lands, and it was useless to contend against their superior forces. The Dakotas could only hope to be saved from the fate of other tribes by making themselves useful to the whites by honest labor and frank and friendly dealing in their intercourse with them. 'Teach your people to be honest and laborious,' he continued, 'and adopt such of the habits of the whites as will be suited to their change of circumstances, and above all be industrious and sober, and make yourselves beloved and respected by the whites. Now, my son, I have finished all I have to say to you. Depart to your own lodge, remembering my final admonition, for to-morrow I shall die.' The entire address was so solemn and impressive that we all listened with the deepest interest. The old chief then told us that he hoped we would befriend his son and his band, and when we rose to depart he shook us by the hand, expressed his gratitude for our visit, and bade us farewell. He died the next day."
It has been stated that this address of Little Crow, Senior, was delivered to Little Crow, Junior, the leader in the outbreak of 1862, but after considerable investigation, I am satisfied that this is error. The elder Little Crow had four sons, and after the death of the two sons, Little Crow, Junior, was the eldest, and it was upon the younger surviving son that the dying father conferred the chieftanship, and not the noted leader of the war of 1862.
Dr. A. W. Daniels, formerly of St. Peter, and now of Pomona, California, who was at one time government physician at the Lower Sioux Agency, and also in the battle of New Ulm, wrote me that Dr. Williamson, for many years a missionary among the Sioux Indians, and a very reliable man, was in a position to be fully informed of the tragic accession of Little Crow to the chieftanship of the Sioux nation, and he informed Dr. Daniels that the facts were as follows : "Little Crow's father had four sons, two of whom were killed while leading a war party against the Chippewas, and that he was the elder of the surviving sons, and the heir apparent to the chieftanship. This honor he felt assured of; but he was ambitious to be chief of a western band as well, and went among the Wahpecutas, living a year or two among them, marrying during the time a daughter of the chief of the band, hoping through his personal efforts and the influence of his father-in-law to accomplish this object. While away among the Wahpecutas his father was accidentally killed, and before his death had placed his medals upon his younger son and proclaimed him his legitimate successor. The news of this occurrence soon reached Little Crow, when he immediately set about securing a party of followers. This done, he left for Kaposia, determined to assert his right to the chieftanship. The brother learned of this hostile movement, and organized a considerable party of warriors for his support. When Little Crow reached Kaposia he was met by his brother, and an engagement followed in which this brother was killed, and Little Crow had the bones of both wrists shattered from a musket ball passing through them. The right to the chieftanship was duly acknowledged, but his wounds were of such a serious nature as to render him totally helpless. It was determined to take him to Fort Snelling, and get the advice of the army surgeon. Reaching the fort with their wounded chief, and the examination made, the surgeon pronounced that to save his life both arms should be amputated. A council of the head men followed, who determined that a chief without hands would be useless, and that they would return with him and treat him as best they could; that if the Great Spirit looked with favor upon him and desired he should be chief, he would recover, and if not, another could be selected. After months of careful nursing, he recovered, with two useful hands, though a marked deformity remained during life."
Many things tend strongly to corroborate the statement of Dr. Williamson. Evidently the writer of the interview between Little Crow, Senior, and his son, as it appears in some publications, got Little Crow, Junior's, name confused with that of the younger son actually named by the father at the time of his death. Little Crow, Junior, was not present at the time of his father's death, and it was the other son he sent for and talked to, and it was a well-known fact among the Indians and many of the whites during the later years of his life that the bones of both wrists had been shattered by a musket ball passing through them. After he was killed near Hutchinson, by Nathan Lampson, July 3, 1863, he was at first not known, but his son, Wawanapa, having been captured by the soldiers in General Sibley's expedition, stated that his father was killed while they were picking berries near Scattered Lake, and upon investigation it was found that the dead body had the deformities alleged to have been received in the fight with Little Crow's brother and his followers.
DEATH OF LITTLE CROW.
After the battle of Wood Lake, and the overwhelming defeat of Little Crow and his band of savages, they retreated to Devil's Lake, situated in what is now the State of North Dakota. The Indians call this Lake Miniwakon. Its waters are very brackish, and its shores are equally divided between prairie and timber. Strange as it may seem, this lake is filled with fish, while ocean birds and white swan are frequently in its waters. There is a legend among the Indians that long ago some of them were having a sanguinary battle on the banks of this lake, when a hideous looking monster came out of the water, and, seizing the combatants, disappeared. Those not in the combat fled in great terror, shouting "Minnewakon!" or, in pure English, "The devil!" as though he had actually appeared; hence the name of Minnewakon, or Devil's Lake, was given this body of water, and the name remains to the present time.
At this lake Little Crow and his followers encamped. They consisted of nearly all of the Minnesota Sioux who had not surrendered or been captured, numbering some four thousand individuals. Many of the Yanktons also joined them. From here Little Crow went to Fort Garry and to St. Joseph, in the British possessions, for ammunition, which was refused him. With Little Crow were sixty of his band, and three white boys who had been taken captive. These boys were released through the noble and untiring efforts of Father Andre, a Catholic missionary at St. Joseph, he giving a horse and two blankets for the eldest one, and a horse for the other two, being all the property that this humane and generous priest had. He said that he still had his cross and breviary, and that he dressed these poor boys in his own clothing, but was happy and content over his success. Noble priest! Such acts are bright stars in this worldly firmament. One of the boys released was John Schurch, afterwards a prosperous business man of Minneapolis. As a line of fortifications existed along the Minnesota frontier, General Sibley, early in June, with a force of between two and three thousand men, started for Devil's Lake, by way of the Minnesota river and Fort Abercrombie.
About the same time General Sully with a large body of cavalry passed up the Missouri river to cooperate with General Sibley, and cut off the retreat of the Indians. However, before these movements of the military troops were successful, squads of Indians came through our defensive lines, and at different places in the state killed some thirty whites, with a loss to themselves of some twelve or more. Among those who came through the lines in a raid of plunder and murder was the great Indian chief, Little Crow, who had been deposed as a leader of his tribe because of his failure in the various battles of the year before. While at St. Joseph, on the first of June, in speaking of the Americans, his manner was haughty and defiant, and he said if General Sibley desired to find him he would soon see him at Yellow Medicine. But he did not wait for General Sibley, probably having a very strong remembrance of meeting him once at Wood Lake. He found it more desirable to separate from his tribe and warriors, and taking a few friends made his way back to the settlements, near the Minnesota river, with an intent to steal horses and commit such depredations as might offer. His son, then sixteen years old, named Wawanapa, accompanied him, but they became separated from the others, they going to Hutchinson. On the evening of July 3, 1863, they were discovered by Nathan Lampson and his son, Chauncey, who were temporarily stopping in the stockade at Hutchinson, and were going to their farm, five miles north, to see their cattle. They then went on about a mile in search of game, and there discovered two Indians, one a boy, picking raspberries. The Indians did not immediately discover the Lampsons. The elder Lampson cautiously advanced, and, taking advantage of the cover of a poplar tree surrounded by bushes and vines, crept quietly forward until he reached the tree, and, steadying his gun against it, took deliberate aim at the Indian, fired, and wounded him in the thigh. The Indian instantly threw up his hands with a yell, and fell back to the ground, severely wounded. As Lampson was uncertain as to how many Indians might be there, he sought the shelter of some bushes, and in doing so he passed over a little knoll. The Indian also crept along to get a shot at Lampson, when they discovered each other, and fired simultaneously. Chauncey's ball mortally wounded the Indian, while the Indian's ball whistled close to Chauncey's cheek, and a buckshot from the other Indian's gun struck Nathan Lampson on the left shoulder, cutting a flesh wound per aps two inches long. The other Indian then mounted his horse and rode rapidly away. Lampson dropped when the shot struck him, and Chauncey, supposing his father to have been killed, and that there were other Indians in the vicinity, made his way back to the stockade for assistance, especially as he had no more ammunition, it having been left with his father. He reached home about 10 o'clock at night and gave the alarm. In a short time a squad of cavalry of Company E and citizens started for the scene of conflict, and, finding the dead body of the Indian, tore off his scalp. He appeared to be between fifty and sixty years of age, of medium height, with hair sprinkled with gray. His front teeth double like the back ones, and both arms deformed. The bones of the right arm had been broken and never set, which prevented his use of the hand, and the other arm was withered. Perhaps I should here state that when Lampson was wounded he crawled into the bushes, reloaded his gun, drew his revolver, and waited for the Indian to come on. Then taking off his white shirt lest some prowling Indians might discover him, and laying aside his gun, under cover of the night, after a weary march, he reached home about two o'clock the next morning.
Capt. L. W. Collins, a judge of the supreme court of this state, who was a member of the expedition against the Sioux Indians in 1863 under General Sibley, in writing of this matter, says: "A detachment of that expedition went to the south end of Devil's Lake, and returned with a half famished Indian boy, about eighteen years old. He was recognized, and admitted that he was the son of Little Crow, the noted leader in the outrages of 1862, and then told the story of his father's death. He stated that in the spring his father, deposed as a leader because of his failure the previous fall, left the warriors near Devil's Lake, and with a few friends made his way back to the settlement near the Minnesota river. The boy related the story of their fight with Lampson and his son, which at first was discredited, but was afterwards found to be true."
Judge Collins further says : "The Indian was found lying dead a few feet from where he fell, a pair of entirely new moccasins upon his feet, a blanket snugly wrapped about his body, and his arms crossed upon his breast in the most careful manner. Close by, in the poplar thicket, a gun and a shirt belonging to the elder Lampson were found. The fact was that in his haste to reload, Lampson had nearly filled the gun barrel with powder and was unable to ram the ball home. He had concealed himself in the bushes until night, taking off his shirt because of its conspicuous color, and upon starting home abandoned the useless gun. He had remained concealed all the afternoon in ignorance of his son's fate, and with a full view of the wounded Indian, who lived for four hours. He witnessed the terrible agony of his foe, and the solicitude, anxiety and grief of the young Indian, who remained until death came to the relief of his companion, then laid out the body, removed the old moccasins, replacing them with the new, and after wrapping the blanket closely about the dead man and embracing the remains in a most affecting and touching manner, left the neighborhood. The party took the dead body of the Indian to the village, where it was visited by hundreds of persons, who noticed the withered left arm, the right deformed by a fracture near the wrist, which had not been perfectly reduced, and the double cuspids and bicuspids in the upper and lower jaws. No one recognized the remains, but when the newspapers described them and spoke of these peculiarities the old settlers who knew Little Crow at once remembered that he had such. Several went to Hutchinson, and the body was disinterred for their inspection. Some enterprising doctor had pickled the head, so that the features were not easily distinguished, and there was much dispute, some insisting that it was, and others that it was not, the celebrated chief."
But the remains thus unceremoniously treated were those of the foremost hunter and orator among the Sioux. He was one who had been forced into the war by circumstances against his own better judgment and desires, yet who did not slink from responsibility by a cowardly denial of the part he had taken, but boldly classed himself among the worst, and justified their acts even when fortune pressed him sorest, saying in his letter to Sibley, "If the young braves have pushed the whites, I have done it myself." The remains were those of Tah-o-ah-ta-doo-ta ("His Scarlet People"), or Little Crow, who had made his promise to return to the settlements good, and died in the land of his fathers before the extermination of his race, following up his foe like a warrior and brave of the Dakotas.
The Indian who escaped was his son, Wa-wi-nap-a ("One who appeareth.") He was picked up by a party of soldiers nearly a month after, in a half-starved condition, near Devil's Lake. This is the statement which Wa-wi-nap-a made in reference to his father, and the manner of his death and his own flight :
"I am the son of Little Crow. My name is Wa-wi-nap-a. I am sixteen years old. 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. The fourth wife had four children born; do not know whether any died or not; two were boys and two were girls. The fifth wife had five children; three are dead, two are living. The sixth wife had three children; all are dead; the eldest was a boy, the other two were girls. The last four wives were sisters.
"Father went to St. Joseph last spring. When we were coming back he said he could not fight the white men, but would go below and steal horses from them and give them to his children, so that they could be comfortable, and then we would go away off.
"Father also told me that 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 when he was firing his own gun. The ball struck the stock of his 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 lay down, and the man did not see me before father was killed.
"A short time before father was killed an Indian named Hi-u-ka, who married the daughter of my father's second wife, came to him. He had a horse with him; also a gray colored coat that he had taken from a man that he had killed to the north of where father was killed. He gave the coat to father, telling him he might need it when it rained, as he had no coat with him. Hi-u-ka said he had a horse now, and was going back to the Indian country.
"The Indians that went down with us separated. Eight of them and the squaw went north, the other eight went farther down. I have not seen any of them since father was killed. I took both guns and the ammunition, and started to go to Devil's Lake, where I expected to find some of my friends. When I got to Beaver Creek I saw the tracks of two Indians, and at Standing Buffalo's village saw where the eight Indians that had gone north had crossed.
"I carried both guns as far as the Cheyenne river, where I saw two men. I was scared, and threw my gun and the ammunition down. After that I traveled only in the night, and as I had no ammunition to kill anything to eat, I had not strength enough to travel fast. I went on until I arrived near Devil's Lake, where I stayed in one place three days, being so weak and hungry that I could go no farther. I had picked up a cartridge near Big Stone Lake, which I still had with me, and loaded father's gun with it, cutting the ball into slugs; with this charge I shot a wolf; ate some of it, which gave me strength to travel, and I went on up the lake until the day I was captured, which was twenty-six days from the day my father was killed."
Young Wa-wi-nap-a was kept at Fort Snelling for a time, and afterwards sent to a reservation on the Missouri, upon which the government had located his people, where he died a few years ago.
The bones of one arm and the scalp of Little Crow may be seen in the rooms of the State Historical Society at St. Paul by any one curious to see the scalp of an Indian. Thus ended the life of Little Crow, a murderer of defenseless men, women and children. Though not ignorant of the rules of civilized warfare, if there is any such thing worthy of the name possible, he chose to disregard them, and the trail of his warriors was one of rapine and blood.
"All died - the wailing babe - the shrieking maid -
And in the flood of fire that scathed the glade
The roofs went down!"
In carrying out their bloody scheme they spared neither age nor sex. There were mutilated corpses of their victims, torn limb from limb, chopped into fragments, following pretense of friendship. Little Crow knew better. He was the leader of his race. Matchless in eloquence, logical in utterances, he swayed his Indian hearers at his will, and challenged the wonder of all who heard him. The race hatred of his people enabled him the more easily to carry them with him, and yield to his views and wishes. But he was not a hero. Brave he may have been, but he was not magnanimous. His bravery was that of the brute, maddened by race hatred, hot blood and vengeance. His logic and eloquence may have swayed his Indian warriors for a time, but they distrusted him, and when he lost the battles of New Ulm, Fort Ridgely and Wood Lake, the tribe began to doubt his ability as a great war leader, and he gradually lost his influence as such, especially with the younger Indian warriors. He said to his son that he could not fight the white men, but would go and steal horses and give them to his children, and then go away off. He died in the land of his fathers, fighting to save his own life. Not on the field of battle, amid the roar of cannon and discharge of musketry, but as a thief and attempted murderer. He was no longer a great war chief, leading his thousands of braves with gun and tomahawk, amid shrieks like some evil spirits ; but on a thieving expedition, dying alone, save for his young and faithful boy by his side, giving him the last drop of water as his spirit winged its way into the great beyond. Such is fate and retributive justice.
Little Crow was a nickname given the chief's grand father by the Chippewas, on account of his wearing a crow's skin upon his breast, and the name descended to his grandson.
CAUSES OF THE OUTBREAK.
The Indian is ever restive, and he views the onward march of civilization with impatient eyes. Well he knew of the westward tide of white immigration that was pushing the Indian towards the setting sun, and he was full aware of the impending fate hanging over his nation and dooming it to eventual extermination. The world wept at the fate of Poland, but the materialism of the whites of the western continent had but few tears for Lo, the poor Indian. Their craft took millions of his acres for a trifle. The game rapidly disappeared from his hunting grounds even before his possessory right ceased. The grand lakes and streams, swarming with the finest fish, were no longer his resort, with canoe and rod, and, helpless, he felt that in time a bitter fate would be the destiny that would overtake him and his nation. His Indian nature was aroused. Everything tended to increase rather than allay his feelings. If he could not meet his enemy in the open, he would do it in a sly and sneaking way. In battle he would crawl in the weeds and grass with a wisp of the latter around his head, and, watching like a tiger for its prey, would attack his unsuspecting foe with gun and scalping knife and tomahawk. He would revel in the blood of helpless children, shrieking women and stalwart men. He would surprise, attack, murder, scalp, rob, burn and destroy. The scalps of his victims should be the badges of his greatness as a man and warrior, and if he could not win victories he would worry and harass the enemies of his fatherland. Thus his grievances grew in intensity as he pondered over wrongs, actual or fancied, committed against his people by a nation, great and strong, but insensible to the rights of the weaker red man. Many Indians are bright, eloquent, honest and humane, but many are bad, cruel, fiendish and devilish in thought and action. The criminal instincts of the latter class were augmented by the history and memory of their suffering ancestors.
In January, 1863, Bishop Whipple of Minnesota wrote:
"There is not a man in America who ever gave an hour's calm reflection to this subject who does not know that our Indian system is an organized system of robbery, and has been for years a disgrace to the nation. It has left savage men without governmental control; it has looked on unconcerned at every crime against the law of God and man; it has fostered savage life by wasting thousands of dollars in the purchase of paint, beads, scalping knives and tomahawks; it has fostered a system of trade which robbed the thrifty and virtuous to pay debts of the indolent and vicious; it has squandered the funds for civilization and schools; it has connived at theft; it has winked at murder; and at last, after dragging the savage down to a brutishness unknown to his fathers it has brought a harvest of blood to our own door. There is not to-day an old citizen of Minnesota who will not shrug his shoulders as he speaks of the dishonesty which accompanied the purchase of land of the Sioux. It left in the savage mind a deep sense of injustice. Then followed ten years of savage life, unchecked by law and uninfluenced by good example. They were taught by white men that lying was no disgrace, adultery no sin, and theft no crime."
Many facts are then stated by the bishop in support of his charges. It may surprise many to know that in the advertisement for Indian supplies during the autumn of the Sioux massacre, were 100 dozen scalping-knives, 600 barrels of beads, 100 dozen butcher knives, 150 pounds of paint. This paint was not for mechanical purposes, but to ornament the person of "Lo, the poor Indian."
When their own lives were in peril and their homes about to be taken by an alien nation, their enmity knew no bounds, and hatred of the white race became the seed bed of their cruel acts. Hence the blood of the white man has stained the soil of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the landing of the Pilgrims to the murder of their helpless victims on Minnesota's frontier and to the lands of Washington and Oregon.
For years the soil of New England was reddened with the blood of the white man mingled with that of the Indian, and treaties of peace were as worthless as a rope of sand, - made by the Indian only to be broken. New York had its share of Indian outbreaks; the Wyoming massacre was full of horrors; and Pennsylvania, with its thirty-four forts and blockhouses along the frontier, did not escape the merciless Indian war, and, as a recent writer says, these wars resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and homes, the dragging into captivity of thousands of men, women and children, the depopulation of vast districts, the arming of several thousand provincial troops whose battalions remained in existence for a number of years. Westward the Indian troubles took their course, and in the empire state of the Northwest broke forth in bitterness and death. The Indians claimed that they were wronged; that there was corruption in the Indian Department having the distribution of the government annuities; that there was extortion on the part of the traders; that the Indians, with their families, were suffering through the indifference and neglect of the government officials; that the white men debauched their women that the sale of intoxicating liquors to the Indians caused drunken brawls among them, followed by murder. They also alleged that the prohibition by the government of their sanguinary wars with their hereditary foes, the Chippewas, was a tyrannical act, and they alleged that even the Great Father himself was making war and killing many people; alluding to the Civil War. But undoubtedly the greatest cause of dissatisfaction and enmity arose out of the treaties and sale of their lands, and the manner in which the payments were made; or, as the Indians claimed, not made at all as provided by the treaties.
The most important treaty previous to that of 1851 was the treaty of 1837, when the M'day-wah-kaun-twans ceded to the United States all their lands on the east side of the Mississippi river. In 1851 the President appointed Luke Lea a commissioner to proceed to Minnesota, and, in conjunction with Governor Ramsey, negotiate treaties with the tribes on the Mississippi and Minnesota for a cession of their lands to the United States. On the 23d day of July, 1851, these commissioners concluded a treaty with the Wapeton and Sisseton tribes, at Traverse des Sioux, which was of vital importance to each party. As proper arrangements have been made for a historical painting of the scene of this treaty, to be hung in the capitol building in St. Paul when completed, and on account of its importance, I quote it in full:
"Articles of a treaty, made and concluded at Traverse des Sioux, upon the Minnesota river, in the Territory of Minnesota, on the twenty-third day of July, eighteen hundred and fifty-one, between the United States of America, by Luke Lea, commissioner of Indian affairs, and Alexander Ramsey, governor and ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs in said territory, commissioners, duly appointed for that purpose, and the See-see-toan and Wah-pay-toan bands of Dakota or Sioux Indians.
"Article 1. It is stipulated and solemnly agreed that the peace and friendship now so happily existing between the United States and the aforesaid band of Indians shall be perpetual.
"Art. 2. The said See-see-toan and Wah-pay-toan bands of Dakota or Sioux Indians agree to cede, and do hereby cede, sell and relinquish, to the United States, all their lands in the State of Iowa, and also all their lands in the Territory of Minnesota, lying east of the following lines, to-wit: Beginning at the junction of the Buffalo river with the Red River of the North; thence along the western bank of said Red River of the North to the mouth of the Siouk-Wood river to Lake Traverse; thence along the western shore of said lake to the southern extremity thereof; thence in a direct line to the junction of Kam-pes-ka lake with the Tchan-kas-an-da-ta or Sioux river; thence along the western bank of said river to its point of intersection with the northern line of the State of Iowa, including all the islands in said rivers and lakes.
"Art. 3. In part consideration of the foregoing cession the United States do hereby set apart for the future occupancy and home of the Dakota Indians, parties to this treaty, to be held by them as Indian lands are held, all that tract of country on either side of the Minnesota river, from the western boundary of the lands herein ceded, east of the Tchay-tam-bay river on the north and to the Yellow Medicine river on the south side, to extend on each side a distance of not less than ten miles from the general course of said river; the boundaries of said tract to be marked out by as straight lines as practicable, whenever deemed expedient by the president, and in such a manner as he shall direct.
"Art. 4. In further and full consideration of said cession the United States agree to pay said Indians the sum of one million, six hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars ($1,665,000) at the several times, in the manner, and for the purposes, following, to-wit:
"1. To the chiefs of the said bands, to enable them to settle their affairs, and comply with their present just engagements, and in consideration of their removing themselves to the country set apart for them as above, which they agree to do within two years, or sooner if requested by the president, without further cost or expense to the United States, and in consideration of their subsisting themselves the first year after their removal, which they agree to do without further cost or expense on the part of the United States, the sum of two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars ($275,000). Provided, that said sum shall be paid to said chiefs in such manner as they here after in open council shall request, and as soon after the removal of said Indians to the home set apart for them as the necessary appropriation therefor shall be made by congress.
"2. To be laid out under the direction of the president for the establishment of manual labor schools, the erection of mills, blacksmith shops, opening farms, fencing and breaking land, and for such other beneficial objects as may be deemed most conducive to the prosperity and happiness of said Indians, thirty thousand dollars ($30,000).
"The balance of said sum of one million six hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars ($1,665,000), to-wit, one million three hundred and sixty thousand dollars ($1,360,000) to remain in trust with the United States, and five per cent interest thereon to be paid annually to said Indians for the period of fifty years, commencing the first day of July eighteen hundred and fifty-two (1852), which shall be in full payment of said balance, principal and interest; the said payments to be applied under the direction of the president, as follows, to-wit:
"3. For a general agricultural improvement and civilization fund, the sum of twelve thousand dollars ($12,000).
"4. For educational purposes the sum of six thousand dollars ($6,000).
"5. For the purchase of goods and provisions the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
"6. For money annuity the sum of forty thousand dollars ($40,000).
"Art. 5. The laws of the United States prohibiting the introduction and sale of spirituous liquors in the Indian country shall be in full force and effect throughout the territory hereby added and lying in Minnesota until other wise directed by congress or the president of the United States.
"Art. 6. Rules and regulations to protect the rights of persons and property among the Indians, parties to this treaty, and adapted to their condition and wants, may be prescribed and enforced in such manner as the president or congress of the United States from time to time shall direct.
"In testimony whereof the said commissioners, Luke Lea and Alexander Ramsey, and the undersigned chiefs and head men of the aforesaid See-see-toan and Wah-pay-toan bands of Dakota or Sioux Indians have hereunto subscribed their names and affixed their seals in duplicate at Traverse des Sioux, Territory of Minnesota, this twenty-third day of July, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one.
"L. LEA, (Seal).
"ALEX. RAMSEY, (Seal).
"Also by the principal chiefs and head men of the See-see-toan and Wah-pay-toan bands.
"Signed in the presence of Thomas Foster, Secretary;
Nathaniel McLean, Indian Agent."
The names of the Indians who signed the treaty I have not been able to ascertain. I regret this very much.
On the 5th day of August, 1851, the same United States commissioners concluded a treaty with the Inclauakonton and Wapekuta bands, at Mendota, by which these tribes ceded to the government their right in all their lands in the State of Iowa and Territory of Minnesota. This treaty with the Lower bands was signed by Little Crow, Senior, who wrote his own name, and was the first to sign. By these treaties the Indians relinquished an area of some forty-five thousand square miles. The total purchase money under the treaties is $2,709,010.
As soon as the treaties were finally signed by the Indians the money for the payment was sent to Governor Ramsey, who at once, Nov. 12, 1852, sent to Traverse des Sioux to make the payment, but found the Indians in an ugly mood because they found that $220,000 of their money was to be paid to the traders under the written agreement which they had signed at the time of the treaty, but which writing they claimed was a trick played upon them and that they had not discovered the gross fraud until long afterwards.
When one nation owes another and refuses to pay, it is a legitimate cause of war for its collection, but an Indian treaty seems to have been a scheme for stealing from a weak and ignorant nation, powerless to enforce its just claims and demands. Just how Hugh Tyler and other thieves managed to get hold of the Indians' money is shown by the record, and the treatment that the Indians had received aroused indignation on their part, and this feeling developed when Governor Ramsey went to pay them under the Traverse des Sioux treaty. Red Iron, a Sisseton chief, was especially active in creating a threatening aspect. The governor at once sent to Fort Snelling for help, and Nov. 19, 1852, forty-five soldiers arrived, and arrested Red Iron, put him in jail, kept him there until the Soldiers' Lodge was broken, and the payment proceeded. The open controversy between Governor Ramsey and Red Iron is instructive, interesting and worthy of perusal, and I think that Red Iron had the better of the facts and the argument, though Ramsey, having the giant's power, had the victorious results.
The meeting took place at an Indian council in December, 1852. The council was crowded with Indians and white men, when Red Iron was brought in guarded by soldiers. He was about forty years of age, tall and athletic, six feet high in his moccasins, with a large, well-developed head, aquiline nose, thin compressed lips, and physiognomy beaming with intelligence and resolution. He was clad in the half military, half Indian costume of the Dakota chiefs. He was seated in the council room without greeting from any one. In a few minutes the governor, turning to the chief, in the midst of a breathless silence, by the aid of an interpreter, opened the council.
Governor Ramsey asked: "What excuse have you for not coming to the council when I sent for you?" Red Iron arose to his feet with native grace and dignity, his blanket falling from his shoulders, and purposely dropping the pipe of peace, he stood erect before the governor, with his arms folded, his right hand pressed upon the sheath of his scalping knife, with the utmost coolness and self-possession, a defiant smile playing upon his thin lips, his eyes sternly fixed upon the governor, with a firm voice he replied: "I started to come, but your braves drove me back."
Governor: "What excuse have you for not coming the second time I sent for you?"
Red Iron: "No other excuse than I have given you."
Governor: "At the treaty I thought you a good man; but since you have acted badly, and I am disposed to break you. I do break you."
Red Iron: "You break me? My people made me a chief. My people love me, I will still be their chief. I have done nothing wrong."
Governor: "Red Iron, why did you get your braves together, and march around here for the purpose of intimidating other chiefs and prevent their coming to the council?"
Red Iron: "I did not get my braves together; they got together themselves to prevent boys going to council to be made chiefs to sign papers, and to prevent single chiefs going to council at night to be bribed to sign papers for money we have never got. We have heard how the M'dewakantons were served at Mendota; that by secret councils you got their names on paper and took away their money. We don't want to be served so. My braves wanted to come to council in the daytime, when the sun shines, and we want no councils in the dark. We want all our people to go to council together, so that we can all know what is being done."
Governor: "Why did you attempt to come to council with your braves when I had forbidden your braves coming to council?"
Red Iron: "You invited the chiefs only, and would not let the braves come, too. This is not the way we have been treated before; this is not according to our customs, for, among Dakotas, chiefs and braves go to council together. When you first sent for us there were two or three chiefs here, and we wanted to wait until the rest would come, that we might all be in council together, and know what was done, and so that we might all understand the papers and know what we were signing. When we signed the treaty the traders threw a blanket over our faces, and darkened our eyes, and made us sign papers which we did not understand and which were not explained or read to us. We want our Great Father at Washington to know what has been done."
Governor: "Your Great Father has sent me to represent him, and what I say is what he says. He wants you to pay your old debts in accordance with the paper you signed when the treaty was made, and to leave that money in my hands to pay these debts. If you refuse to do that I will take the money back."
Red Iron: "You can take the money back. We sold our land to you, and you promised to pay us. If you don't give us the money I will be glad, and all our people will be glad, for we will have our land back if you don't give us the money. That paper was not interpreted or explained to us. We are told that it gives about 300 ($300,000) boxes of our money to some of the traders. We do not think we owe them so much. We want to pay all our debts. We want our Great Father to send three good men here to tell us how much we do owe, and whatever they say we will pay, and (pointing to the Indians) that's what all these braves say. Our chiefs and all our people say this."
All the Indians present responded "Ho ! ho !"
Governor: "That can't be done. You owe more than your money will pay, and I am ready now to pay you your annuity and no more, and when you are ready to receive it the agent will pay you."
Red Iron: "We will receive our annuity, but we will sign no papers for anything else. The snow is on the ground, and we have been waiting a long time to get our money. We are poor; you have plenty. Your fires are warm; your tepees keep out the cold. We have nothing to eat. We have been waiting a long time for our moneys. Our hunting season is passed. A great many of our people are sick for being hungry. We may die because you won't pay us. We may die, but if we do, we will leave our bones on the ground that our Great Father may see where his Dakota children died. We are very poor. We have sold our hunting ground and the graves of our fathers. We have sold our own graves. We have no place to bury our dead, and you will not pay us the money for our lands."
The council was broken up and Red Iron was sent to the guard house, where he was kept until the next day. Between thirty and forty of the braves of Red Iron's band were present during this arraignment before the governor. When he was lead away they departed in sullen silence, headed by Lean Bear, to a spot a quarter of a mile from the council house, when they uttered a succession of yells, the gathering signal of the Dakota. Ere the echoes died away, Indians were hurrying from their tepees toward them, prepared for battle. They proceeded to an eminence near the camp where mouldered the bones of many warriors. It was the memorable battle ground where their ancestors had fought, in a Waterloo conflict, the warlike Sacs and Foxes, thereby preserving their lands and nationality.
Upon this field stood two hundred resolute warriors ready to do battle for their hereditary chief. Lean Bear, the principal brave of Red Iron's band, was a large, resolute man, about thirty-five years of age, and had great influence in his nation. The Dakotas gathered close to hear what he had to communicate. Throwing his blanket from his shoulders, he grasped his scalping knife, and, brandishing it in his right hand, he recounted to his comrades the warlike deeds of the imprisoned chief, Red Iron (Maza-sha), to which they all responded, "Ho! ho!" many times, and in their most earnest tones. He then addressed them in a war talk as follows: "Dakotas, the big men are here; they have got Maza-sha in a pen like a wolf. They mean to kill him for not letting the big men cheat us out of our lands and the money our Great Father has sent us. ["Ho! ho!" frequently repeated the auditors. The orator continued:] Dakotas, must we starve like buffaloes in the snow? Shall we let our blood freeze like the little streams, or shall we make the snow red with the blood of the white braves? ["Ho! ho!" repeated by almost every voice with savage ferocity, and the war whoop was yelled by the whole band.] Dakotas, the blood of your fathers talks to you from the graves where we stand. Their spirits come up into your arms and make you strong. I am glad of it. To-night the blood of the white man shall run like water in the rain, and Maza-sha shall be with his people. ["Ho! ho!"] Dakotas, when the moon goes down behind the hills, be ready ["Ho! ho!"] and I will lead you against the Long Knives and the big men who have come to cheat us, and take away our lands, and put us in a pen for not helping them to rob our women and children. Dakotas, be not afraid; we have many more braves than the whites. When the moon goes down, be ready, and I will lead you to their tepees." ["Ho ! ho !"]
Heard says that he obtained the above tale from an educated half-breed who was present during the scene described.
Notwithstanding these proceedings Red Iron, after the treaty was ratified, kept faith with the whites, and during the terrible days of the massacre was in constant peril at the hands of his own hostile band. His village was eighteen miles above the Yellow Medicine. His conduct shows him to have been a manly chief, fearless and eloquent in his own behalf and that of his people when occasion demanded it. There were some other Indians who, during those terrible days, rose above their wrongs and sufferings, and refused to imbue their hands in innocent blood.
The language of Governor Ramsey to Red Iron, "I am disposed to break you; I do break you," was a serious mistake. It had but one meaning, viz., that he attempted to remove him as one of the chiefs of his nation. It was the assumption of an imperial power, and by a new superintendent, and that he could thus summarily depose a popular and leading chief of a great and powerful nation only added fuel to the inflamed condition of affairs, and was an act not easily forgotten. Other chiefs were actually deposed and their places filled by others, and it was only by the influence of half breeds and white men opposed to the payments, and by large presents promised or given, that an attack by the Indians was averted. After the Indians had moved to their new location tinder the treaty of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota their alleged wrongs still continued to be a theme of frequent discussion with the government agents, and in their councils they frequently expressed themselves as greatly dissatisfied at their treatment by the government and its agents, and they alleged that of the several sums, amounting to $550,000, they had never been paid excepting a small amount expended in making improvements on their reservations. So strong became these complaints that, in 1857, the government sent Major Kitzing Pritchette to inquire into the cause of the dissatisfaction of the Indians towards the government. In his report he says:
"The complaint which runs through all their councils points to the imperfect performance, or nonfulfillment, of treaty stipulations. Whether these are well or ill founded it is not my province to discuss. That such a belief prevails among them, impairing their confidence and good faith in the government, cannot be questioned.
"In one of these councils Jagmani said:
" 'The Indians sold their lands at Traverse des Sioux. I say what we were told. For fifty years they were to be paid $50,000 per annum. We were also promised $300,000 that we have not seen.'
"Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man), second chief of Jagmani's band, said:
" 'At the treaty of Traverse des Sioux, $275,000 were to be paid them when they came upon their reservation. They desired to know what had become of it. Every white man knows that they have been for five years upon their reservations, and have yet heard nothing of it.' "
The government at Washington took the matter in hand, and appointed Judge Young to investigate the charges made against the governor of Minnesota Territory, then acting ex-officio as superintendent of Indian affairs for that locality. One extract from that report will fully present the whole subject, and account for the disposition made of the money claimed by the Indians under the treaties alluded to. Judge Young, in his report, says, in part:
"That a large sum, amounting to fifty-five thousand two hundred and fifty dollars ($55,250) was deducted and retained by Hugh Tyler, by way of discount of payments and percentage on the gross amount of payments, which, it would seem, could not have been necessary for any reasonable or legitimate purpose, but which is not accounted for by the witnesses; and that these exactions were made both from 'traders' and half breeds, without any previous agreement in many instances, and in such a way in some as to make the impression that unless they were submitted to no payments would be made to such claimants at all. ,p ."And finally, it is evident, from the testimony and the circumstances, that the money was not paid to the chiefs, either of the Sisseton and Wapeton or Medauakonton bands, as they in open council requested, according to the stipulations of the treaties and the law making the appropriations; but that Governor Ramsey steadily refused to so pay it, and threatened, if they would not consent to its payment to the traders, to take or send it back to Washington. That, by the withholding of their annuities, and the use of other appliances, mentioned in the testimony, the Indians were in the end compelled to submit to the arrangements as they were made by him, although contrary to their wishes."
The senate of the United States finally took notice of the whole matter, and upon investigation into the conduct of Governor Ramsey unanimously exculpated him from misconduct, whatever may have been the conduct of the traders and others.
But the Indians themselves were never satisfied with the treatment they had received from the government and its accredited officials, and they alleged that the attorney employed to represent them before the senate or its committee betrayed them, and that the truth in regard to the matter was purposely suppressed.
Governor Ramsey had the benefit of an acquittal, and the great mass of the people believed him innocent, and during a long life as governor, United States senator, secretary of war and citizen of Minnesota, he stood high in the esteem of its people, and his recent death caused universal regret and sorrow. It is doubtless true that with a large body of the Indians, especially the Lower Sioux, prior to the time of the outbreak, there existed a race hatred against the whites. The Indians were watching only for an opportunity to execute revenge, and if possible recover the land occupied by them, and hold it as their own, free from any control by the United States government. For many years they had pondered upon the alleged wrongs which they had suffered at the hands of the white race. If it is not human nature generally to seek revenge upon those whom one knows, or believes, to have greviously and maliciously injured him, it is at least Indian nature, and the wrongs of generations, fancied or real, came down to the hearts and heads of the living. National or tribal wrongs do not die out as soon as individual ones. Continued oppression of many results in a brotherhood of thought and unity of action against the oppressor. Nor does the result of war and the laws of humanity aid in restraining the desire of the Indian for vengeance. They listened at their firesides and in the councils of their race to tales of how they have been driven from the homes of their fathers, their hunting grounds laid waste, themselves hunted like wild animals, with starving wives and children; their blood becomes hot with hate and indignation, and against their despoilers they seek revenge even upon those not directly responsible for their wrongs. Oppression is sometimes a plant of slow growth, but it is a dangerous one, and too long continued it ends in complete or attempted retribution. A starving man, with a wife and children dying for want of food, awakens more than race hatred, and the author of their misery is worse than he who robs the till of the merchant. So thought the Indians, and believing that the hour for victory on their part had come, they were ready for the most fearful massacre in history, full of horrors and fiendish brutality.
During the year previous to the massacre the crops were very light, and many Indians subsisted by eating all of their dogs and horses, and so penurious was the government in helping them that many died from starvation.
In June a number of chiefs and head men of the Sissetons and Wapetons went to the upper agency to find out whether the payment of the annuity would be made, saying that they had been told that they would not get any money. The agent said that the payment would take place, but he could not say when, nor whether the payment would be a full one or not, but he would send them word when the money arrived. They returned home, but on July 14th 5,000 of them came down again and camped. Here they remained some time, the traders refusing them credit, and saying to them that they would not get more than half payment during the year, and that would probably be the last. They were so pinched for food that they dug roots to appease their hunger, and when corn was issued to them they devoured it whole and uncooked. Several died from want of food. They determined that when the annuities arrived the traders should not receive them, and if they insisted, then the Indians would rob the stores, chase the traders from the reservation or take their lives, as they might deem best. The traders well knew that this organization boded no good for them. The Indians suspected that three members of the Soldiers' Lodge had revealed their secrets to the traders, and they chased one of these into the woods and shot a hundred balls into his horse. The other two they caught in the streets, and cut every piece of cloth from their backs.
At one time they appeared before Myrick's store, and one of them said to him : "You say that you will give us no more credit, and that we may starve this winter, or eat dirt or hay. Now, when you want wood or water do not get it on our reservation. Myrick answered and said: "Ho! All right. When you are cold this winter, and want to warm yourselves by my stove I will put you out of doors." Similar speeches were made to other traders, and about the same answers were returned.
The more violent were ready for a general war, some of them saying that blood would be shed before another year, and the Indian members of Mr. Hindman's church told him frequently that the Sioux were furious for a fight, saying that if war took place with England there would be a war along the whole frontier. It seems that the half breeds and Indians were posted as to the difficulty with England about the Trent affair. They also consulted with Captain Marsh, post commander at Fort Ridgely, whether he would assist the traders if they refused to pay them at the time of payment, and it is claimed that he assured them that he would not.
So desperate did the Indians become that when they were told that in the future they would probably receive no further annuities, they broke into the government warehouse at the agency and took away the provisions. This was done in a boisterous manner, notwithstanding there were present one hundred soldiers with two twelve-pound howitzers. The Indians stood around with their guns cocked and loaded, and they cut down the American flag. Finally a large quantity of provision was issued to them, and after holding a council they were prevailed upon to return home. The Indians on the lower reservation were more idle than the others, because they did not have buffalo to hunt, and were in an ugly mood for several weeks before the outbreak. They formed a Soldiers' Lodge about the first of July. This was a secret organization of the young men, formed to direct the action of the tribe when matters of importance were to be undertaken, and from their decision there was no appeal, not even by the leading chiefs.
The Indians also disliked the idea of the government taking any portion of the annuity or general fund belonging to the tribe and using it in carrying out the scheme of civilizing them. What they wanted was something to cover their backs and satisfy their stomachs. They prized these things above a 'spelling book or reader or Sunday school card. A wigwam or tepee was better to them than modern architecture. The chase was a natural right, and the war-path a holiday, - pleasant, especially if they were after a Chippewa. An eagle's quill was of greater pride to them than a certificate of scholarship. He was told that he was to be paid in paper money instead of yellow gold. He did not relish this greenback currency, although he was satisfied with shining silver, as the government had not then adopted the financial scheme of issuing fifty-cent dollars.
The Indians were also dissatisfied because not paid the reward offered for the capture of Inkpaduta. Little Crow claimed that they had done all that they could to bring him to justice. But whatever may have been the treatment and suffering of the Indian prior to the time of the outbreak, the prospect for their support was never so good. The agent, Major Galbraith, was a man of exceptional ability, and seemed anxious to do all in his power for the good of the Indians under his care, and went to work energetically for that purpose when he was first appointed. A poor crop the year before, the result of late planting, cut worms and other unforeseen depressing circumstances, caused want to stare the Indians in the face. It is well known that sweat of the brow is something that an Indian does not fancy and is not used to, and that he prefers to exist half starved or wear only a breech clout and let his squaw do the work than to do much sweating himself in the way of working for a living or that of his family. So proud (or lazy) are they that they make the squaws carry the tents, procure wood, build fires, and do all other menial services.
As much criticism has been uttered against the government and its treatment of the Indians, it seems a matter of fairness and justice that some of the antecedent proceedings of the government through its agent towards the Indians should be stated, even though at some length. Hence we copy the statements of the Indian agent, Major Thomas J. Galbraith. He says:
"The radical moving cause of the outbreak is, I am satisfied, the ingrained and fixed hostility of the savage barbarian to reform, change and civilization. As in all barbarous communities in the history of the world, the same people have, for the most part, resisted the encroachments of civilization upon their ancient customs, so it is in the case before us. Nor does it matter materially in what shape civilization makes its attack. It may be either by Christianity pure and simple, through the messenger of the Cross, or by some of the resulting agencies or necessary accompaniments or harbingers of Christianity. Hostile, opposing forces meet in conflict, and a war of social elements is the result, civilization being aggressive and barbarism stubbornly resistant. Sometimes, indeed, civilization has achieved a bloodless victory, but generally it has been otherwise. Christianity itself, the true basis of civilization, has, in most instances, waded to success through seas of blood. The Christian system was inaugurated by the shedding of the blood, not only of the Divine Founder, but of his disciples and successors; and that, too, at the hands of the savage, the barbarian, and worse, the Pharisaical bigot. Having stated thus much, I state, as a settled fact in my mind, that the encroachments of Christianity, and its handmaid, civilization, upon the habits and customs of the Sioux Indians was the cause of the late terrible Sioux outbreak. There were, it is true, many immediate inciting causes, which will be alluded to and recited hereafter, but they are subsidiary to, and developments of or incident to, the great cause set forth.
"It may be said, and indeed it is true, that there is a wicked as well as a Christian civilization. That such civilization is only true civilization perverted, a counterfeit, a base coin, which could not pass but for the credit given it by the original, will, it is believed, be admitted. And that the recent Sioux outbreak would have happened at any rate, as a result, a fair consequence of the cause here stated, I have no more doubt than I doubt that the existing great rebellion to overthrow our government would have occurred had Mr. Lincoln never been elected president of the United States.
"Now as to the exciting or immediate cause of the outbreak. By my predecessor a new and radical system was inaugurated practically, and, in its inauguration, he was aided by the Christian missionaries and by the government. The treaties of 1858 were ostensibly made to carry this new system into effect. The theory, in substance, was to break up the community system which obtained among the Sioux; weaken and destroy their tribal relations; individualize them, by giving each a separate home and having them subsist by industry - the sweat of their brows; till the soil; to make labor honorable and idleness dishonorable; or, as it was expressed in short, make white men of them, and have them adopt the habits and customs of white men. This system, once inaugurated, it is evident was at war with their ancient customs. To be clear, the habits and customs of white men are at war with the habits and customs of Indians. The former are civilization, industry, thrift, economy; the latter, idleness, superstition and barbarism; and I have already stated with what tenacity these savages cling to their habits and customs.
"On the first day of June, 1861, when I entered upon the duties of my office, I found that the system had just been inaugurated. Some hundred families of the annuity-Sioux had become novitiates, and their relatives and friends seemed to be favorably disposed to the new order of things. But I also found that against these were arrayed over five thousand annuity Sioux, besides at least three thousand Yanktonias, all inflamed by the most bitter, relentless and devilish hostility.
"At the very outstart I thus found existing the war of the 'Scalp-locks' and 'Blankets' against the 'Cut Hair' and 'Breeches.' The 'Pantaloons' importuned me to have them protected, and the 'Blankets' to go with them and break up the new system. I saw to some extent the difficulty of the situation, but I determined to continue, if in my power, the civilization system. To favor it, to aid and build it up by every fair means, I advised, I encouraged and assisted these farmer novitiates; in short, I sustained the policy inaugurated by my predecessor, and, sustained and recommended by the government, I soon discovered that the system could not be successful with out a sufficient force to protect the farmer from the hostility of the 'Blanket' Indians.
"In addition to the natural hostility of the wild Indian to the white man, I soon discovered that evilly disposed white men, and half-breeds in their interest, were engaged in keeping up this hostility and in fomenting discontent. I found that, previous to my arrival, the Indians had been industriously told that on the arrival of the new agent the 'Dutchmen' (an opprobrious name for the farmer Indians) would be cleaned out, and that the 'Blanket' Indians would be restored to special favor; that the new agent would break up the new system, and restore the old order of things. This vile story had its effect. While the farmer Indians were satisfied with my course, the 'Blanket' Indians were disappointed, because, as they said, I did everything for the 'Dutchmen.' Thus in the start an ill feeling was engendered.
"Although my partiality for the white party was looked upon with great jealousy, yet I kept on as I best could from the commencement until the outbreak, in aiding the work of civilization. During my term, and up to the time of the outbreak, about one hundred and seventy-five Indian men had their hair cut, and adopted the habits and customs of white men. For a time, indeed, my hopes were strong that civilization would soon be in the ascendant; but the increase of the civilization party, and their evident prosperity, only tended to exasperate the Indians of the 'ancient customs,' and to widen the breach.
"Here, then, we had the hostile contending forces brought face to face, - the farmer Indians, the government (represented by the agent and employees) and missionaries on the one side, and the 'Blanket' Indians, and those who deemed it their interest to take sides with them, and their priests and medicine men and sorcerers on the other. The latter were for the 'ancient customs;' the former for diametrically the opposite system. In this shape the radical cause of the trouble had been developing itself prior to the outbreak, from the day of its inauguration as a system until it exploded in the outbreak itself. These immediate exciting causes, or rather offshoots, incidents, results, fruits of the great cause, are many; indeed, their name is legion, and such as I can call into rank I shall enumerate. But while these are to be enumerated, it may be permitted me to hope that the radical cause will not be forgotten or overlooked; and I am bold to express this desire, because ever since the outbreak the public journals of the country, religious and secular, have teemed with editorials by, and communications from, reliable individuals, politicians, philanthropists, philosophers and hired penny-a-liners, mostly mistaken, and sometimes willfully and grossly false, giving the cause of the Indian raid.
"Grievances such as have been related, and numberless others akin to them, were spoken of, recited and chanted at their council dances and feasts to such an extent that, in their excitement, in June, 1862, a secret organization, known as a 'Soldiers' Lodge,' was formed by the young men and soldiers of the Lower Sioux, with the object, as far as I was able to learn through spies and informers, of preventing the 'traders' from going to the pay tables, as had been their custom. Since the outbreak I have become satisfied that the real object of this lodge was to adopt measures to 'clean out' all the white people at the time of the payment."
The Indian side of the causes of the outbreak is partially stated by Big Eagle, an Indian chief, to a Pioneer Press reporter. He says that there were many causes which led to the outbreak. The whites wanted the Indians to live like white men, and farm and work; that goods sold to individual Indians were paid for out of a common fund that belonged to all of the Indians, and the goods sold were overcharged, and that the Indians, men and women, were abused. He further said that a little while before the outbreak there was trouble among the Indians themselves. Some of the Indians took a sensible course, and began to live like white men. The government built them houses, furnished them tools, seed, etc., and taught them to farm. At the two agencies, Yellow Medicine and Redwood, there were several hundred acres of land in cultivation that summer. Others stayed in their tepees. There was a white man's party and an Indian party. "We had politics among us, and there was much feeling. A new chief speaker for the tribe was to be elected. There were three candidates, Little Crow, myself and Wa-sui-hi-ya-ye-dan ('Traveling Hail'). After an exciting contest Traveling Hail was elected. Little Crow felt sore over his defeat. Many of our tribe believed him responsible for the sale of the north ten-mile strip, and I think this is why he was defeated. I do not care much about it. Many of the whites think that Little Crow was the principal chief of the Dakotas at that time, but he was not. Wabasha was the principal chief, and he was of the white man's party. So was I. So was old Shakopee, whose band was very large. Many think if old Shakopee had lived there would have been no war, for he was for the white man and had great influence. But he died that summer, and was succeeded by his son, whose real name was Ea-to-ka ('Another Language'); but when he became chief he took his father's name, and was afterwards called Little Shakopee, or 'Little Six,' for in the Sioux language Shakopee means six. This Shakopee was against the white man. He took part in the outbreak, murdering women and children, but I never saw him in a battle, and he was caught in Manitoba and hanged in 1864. My brother, Medicine Bottle, was hanged with him.
"As the summer advanced there was great trouble among the Sioux. The war with the South was going on then, and a great many men had left the state and gone down there to fight. A few weeks before the outbreak the president called for many more men, and a great many of the white men of Minnesota and some half-breeds enlisted and went to Fort Snelling, to be sent South. We understood that the South was getting the best of the fight, and it was said that the North would be whipped. The year before the new president had turned out Major Brown and Major Cullen, the Indian agents, and put in their places Major Galbraith and Mr. Clark Thompson, and they had turned out the men under them and put in others of their own party. An Indian named Shonka-ska ('White Dog'), who had been hired to teach the Indians to farm, was removed and another Indian named Ta-opi ('The Wounded Man'), a son of Old Betsy of St. Paul, put in his place. Nearly all of the men who were turned out were dissatisfied, and most of the Indians did not like the new men. At last Major Galbraith went to work about the agencies and recruited a company of soldiers to go South. His men were nearly all half-breeds. The Indians now thought the whites must be pretty hard up for men to fight the South, or they would not come so far out on the frontier and take half-breeds or anything to help them. It began to be whispered about that now would be a good time to go to war with the whites and get back the lands. It was believed that the men who had enlisted last had all left the state, and that before help could be sent the Indians could clean out the country, and that the Winnebagoes, and even the Chippewas, would assist the Sioux. It was also thought that a war with the whites would cause the Sioux to forget the troubles among themselves, and enable many of them to pay off old scores. Though I took part in the war, I was against it. I knew there was no good cause for it, and I had been to Washington and knew the power of the whites, and that they would finally conquer us. We might succeed for a time, but we would be overpowered and defeated at last. I said all this, and many things, to my people, but many of my own band were against me, and some of the other chiefs put words in their mouths to say to me. When the outbreak came Little Crow told some of my band that if I refused to lead them, to shoot me as a traitor who would not stand up for his nation, and then select another leader in my place. But after the first talk of war, the councils of the peace Indians prevailed, and many of us thought that the danger had all blown over. The time of the government payment was near at hand, and this may have had something to do with it. There was another thing that helped to stop the war talk. The crops that had been put in by the farmer Indians were looking well, and there seemed to be a good prospect for a plentiful supply of provisions for them the coming winter without having to depend upon the game of the country or without going far out to the west on the plains for buffalo. It seemed as if the white man's way was certainly the best. Many of the Indians had been short of provisions that summer, and had exhausted their credits, and were in bad condition. 'Now,' said the farmer Indians, 'if you had worked last season, you would not be starving now and begging for food.' The 'farmers' were favored by government in every way. They had houses built for them, some of them even had brick houses, and they were not allowed to suffer. The other Indians did not like them. They were envious of them and jealous, and disliked them because they had gone back on the customs of the tribe and because they were favored. They called them 'farmers,' as if it was disgraceful to be a farmer. They called them 'cut-hairs,' because they had given up the Indian fashion of wearing the hair, and 'breeches men,' because they wore pantaloons, and Dutchmen, because so many of the settlers on the north side of the river and elsewhere in the country were Germans. I have heard that there was a secret organization of the Indians, called the 'Soldiers' Lodge,' whose object was to declare war against the whites, but I know nothing of it.
"At last the time for the payment came, and the Indians came into the agencies to get their money. But the paymaster did not come. Week after week went by, and still he did not come. The payment was to be in gold. Somebody told the Indians that the payment would never be made. The government was in a great war, and gold was scarce, and paper money had taken its place, and it was said the gold could not be had to pay us. Then the trouble began again, and the war talk started up. Manyof the Indians who had gathered around the agencies were out of provisions and were easily made angry. Still, most of us thought the trouble would pass, and we said nothing about it. I thought there might be trouble, but I had no idea there would be such a war. Little Crow and other chiefs did not think so, but it seems that some of the tribe were getting ready for it."
BEGINNING OF THE MASSACRE OF 1862.
"Nothing but lamentable sounds were heard,
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death,
Infectious horrors ran from face to face,
And pale despair."
The first massacre was on Sunday, the 17th day of August, 1862, at Acton, Meeker county, Minnesota, a day long to be remembered in the bloody drama of frontier life. Unforeseen circumstances precipitated the massacre earlier than was intended by the leaders and chiefs of the Sioux warriors. On the 10th day of August, 1862, a party of twenty Indians left the lower agency for the purpose of hunting deer in the Big Woods and obtaining a wagon which the chief, Mak-pe-yah-we-tah, one of their number, had left with Captain Whitcomb as security for the purchase price of a sleigh. On their way a violent quarrel arose between them, and they accused each other of cowardice. I quote from Heard's History:
"The first house they came to was untenanted. The next was that of Mr. Robinson Jones, whom they found at home, with his wife and a young lady, a Miss Clara D. Wilson. This house they reached about eleven o'clock in the morning. Here they got into a contention with Jones about his refusal to give them liquor, and about the failure of one of them to return a gun which he had borrowed of Jones the previous winter, in consequence of which Jones compelled them to leave the house.
"From there they went to Mr. Howard Baker's, a quarter of a mile distant, where they found Mr. Baker, and a Mr. Webster and his wife. Baker was a son of Mrs. Jones by a former husband. Webster and his wife were emigrants from Michigan, and had just arrived that day. They intended going to a different part of the country, but had on the road fallen in with Baker, and were by him induced to come to Acton. When the Indians came to Baker's they asked for water, which was given them. They then wanted tobacco, and Mr. Webster handed them some tobacco, and they filled their pipes and sat down and smoked. They acted perfectly friendly until Jones came over with his wife and began talking with them. Jones again accused the Indian of having taken his gun to shoot deer, and having never returned it, and again the Indian denied it. Mrs. Baker asked Mrs. Jones if she had given them any whisky, and she said, 'No, we don't keep whisky for such black devils as they.' The Indians appeared to understand what she was saying, for they became very savage in their appearance, and Mrs. Webster begged Mrs. Jones to desist.
"The Indians, irritated by Jones, had now determined on murder. Presently Jones traded Mr. Baker's double-barreled gun with one of the Indians for his, and the Indians proposed that they should go out and shoot at a mark for the purpose of having the white men discharge their guns. Jones accepted the banter, saying 'that he wasn't afraid to shoot against any damned redskin that ever lived,' and they went out and fired at a mark. Webster had a gun, but did not go out with the party, and one of the Indians said the lock of his own gun was defective, and persuaded Webster to take the lock off, and to loan him his own. After they had discharged their pieces they carefully loaded them again, which Jones and Baker omitted to do.
"Then one of the Indians started in the direction of Forest City for the purpose of ascertaining if there were any whites near. On his return the four counseled together, and acted as if they were going away, when they suddenly turned and fired, the shots taking effect upon Jones and his wife, and Baker and Webster. Jones started for the woods, but a second shot brought him to the ground. The others were mortally wounded at the first fire. Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Jones were in the house. Mr. Webster was hit while going toward his covered wagon to bring some things which his wife was handing him from it. The Indians went immediately to Jones' house, broke it open, shot Miss Wilson, and departed. Mrs. Baker, who had a child in her arms, in her fright fell down cellar, and was not noticed ; nor was Mrs. Webster, who was in the covered wagon.
"When the Indians left, Mrs. Baker came up from the cellar, and she and Mrs. Webster put pillows under the heads of the wounded. Jones was a man of powerful and athletic frame, six feet and an inch in height, straight as an arrow, with dark complexion, jet black hair and whiskers, and fiery eye - the beau ideal of a cavalry officer, as Whitcomb often told him. His fine physique offered great resistance to death. So terrible were his sufferings that he crammed handfuls of dirt into his mouth in his agony, and dug great holes with his heels in the hard ground. He ordered his wife to fly and save her child, but she insisted on remaining until he died, and then went into the woods. To add to the terror of these helpless women in this lonely place, while they were listening to the groans of their husbands a white man passed along, and, on his assistance being requested, looked at the bodies and laughed ,and said that they only had 'the nose-bleed,' and that the Indians would soon come again and finish them.
"When the wounded were dead, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Webster hastened to the house of a Norwegian, a few miles distant, and, half dead with fright, narrated what had occurred. There was no man at home, and a boy was dispatched to give the alarm at Ripley, twelve miles distant, where a meeting was then being held to raise volunteers for the war. So incredulous were the people of any hostility on the part of the Indians that they did not credit what the boy said for some little time, but finally they sent a messenger with the news to Forest City, twelve miles distant, where Captain Whitcomb had a number of recruits, and twelve or fifteen horsemen rode to Acton, which they reached at dusk. They placed a wagon-box over Jones, but did not disturb the bodies until next morning, after an inquest was held.
"While the inquest was progressing, the eleven Indians before referred to, not knowing what their companions had done, appeared on horseback, and some of the whites who were mounted gave chase. They crossed a slough, and all the whites checked their horses at the edge except a daring fellow from Forest City, who followed over and fired. One of the Indians dismounted and returned the fire, and then mounted his horse again and fled with the others.
"There were seventy-five persons at the inquest. The surrounding country was thrown at once into the greatest alarm. The danger to be apprehended from the dissatisfied condition of the Indians upon the reservation was now fully appreciated. A total uncertainty as to their designs and their numbers prevailed. Mak-pe-yah-we-tak and his four companions had been to Captain Whitcomb's on Saturday and Sunday, and had demanded the delivery of the former's wagon without paying the amount for which it had been pledged, and on Whitcomb's refusal to deliver it had threatened to cut the wagon to pieces, and had flourished their axes over his head, and these still remained in the neighborhood.
"Then thirteen had been at a house five miles from Acton on Sunday, and cleaned their guns and ground their knives; and fourteen of Little Crow's band were in the adjoining county. Messengers were dispatched at once to the governor at St. Paul for assistance.
"The four Indians who committed the murders immediately proceeded to the house of a Mr. Eckland, near Lake Elizabeth, and stole two horses, one of them engaging the owner in conversation while it was done, and then mounting, two on each horse, rode at a rapid pace to Shakopee's village, at the mouth of Rice Creek, which they reached before daylight, and stated what had occurred."
An Indian chief, Big Eagle, gives this account of the first murder at Acton, and the proceedings immediately thereafter:
"You know how the war started - by the killing of some white people near Acton, in Meeker county. I will tell you how this was done as it was told me by all of the four young men who did the killing. These young fellows all belonged to Shakopee's band. Their names were Sungiridan ('Brown Wing'), Ka-om-dei-ye-ye-dan ('Breaking Up'), Nagi-w-cak-te ('Killing Ghost') and Pa-zoi-yo-pa ('Runs Against Something When Crawling'). I do not think their names have ever before been printed. One of them is yet living. They told me they did not go out to kill white people. They said they went over into the Big Woods to hunt. That on Sunday, August 17th, they came to a settler's fence, and here they found a hen's nest, with some eggs in it. One of them took the eggs, when another said: 'Don't take them, for they belong to a white man, and we may get into trouble.' The other was angry, for he was very hungry, and wanted to eat the eggs and he dashed them to the ground and replied : 'You are a coward. You are afraid of the white man. You are afraid to take even an egg from him, though you are half starved. Yes, you are a coward, and I will tell everybody so.' The other replied: 'I am not a coward. I am not afraid of the white man, and to show you that I am not I will go to the house and shoot him. Are you brave enough to go with me?' The one who had called him a coward said : 'Yes, I will go with you, and we will see who is the braver of us two.' Their two companions then said: 'We will go with you, and we will be brave, too.' They all went to the house of the white man (Mr. Robinson Jones), but he got alarmed and went to another house (that of his son-in-law, Howard Baker), where were some other white men and women. The four Indians followed them and killed three men and two women (Jones, Baker, a Mr. Webster, Mrs. Jones, and a girl of fourteen). Then they hitched up a team belonging to another settler and drove to Shakopee's camp (six miles above Redwood agency), which they reached late that night, and told what they had done.
"The tale told by the young men created the greatest excitement. Everybody was waked up and heard it. Shakopee took the young men to Little Crow's house (two miles above the agency), and he sat up in bed and listened to their story. He said war was now declared. Blood had been shed, the payment would be stopped, and the whites would take a dreadful vengeance because women had been killed. Wabasha, Wacouta, myself and others talked for peace, but nobody would listen to us, and soon the cry was, 'Kill the whites, and kill all these cut-hairs who will not join us.' A council was held, and war was declared. Parties formed, and dashed away in the darkness to kill settlers. The women began to run bullets and the men to clean their guns. Little Crow gave orders to attack the agency early the next morning, and to kill all the traders. When the Indians first came to him for counsel and advice he said to them tauntingly: 'Why do you come to me for advice? Go to the man you elected speaker (Traveling Hail), and let him tell you what to do; but he soon came around all right, and somehow took the lead in everything, though he was not head chief, as I have said.
"At this time my village was up on Crow Creek, near Little Crow's. I did not have a very large band, not more than thirty or forty fighting men. Most of them were not for the war at first, but nearly all got into it at last. A great many members of the other bands were like my men; they took no part in the first movements, but afterwards did. The next morning the force started down to attack the agency. I went along. I did not lead my band, and I took no part in the killing. I went to save the lives of two particular friends if I could. I think others went for the same reason, for nearly every Indian had a friend that he did not want killed; of course, he did not care about anybody else's friend. The killing was nearly all done when I got there. Little Crow was on the ground directing operations. "When I returned to my village that day I found that many of my band had changed their minds about the war, and wanted to go into it. All the other villages were the same way. I was still of the belief that it was not best, but I thought I must go with my band and my nation, and I said to my men that I would lead them into the war, and we would all act like brave Dakotas and do the best we could. All my men were with me; none had gone off on raids, but we did not have guns for all at first."
After the Indians had left the scene of their brutal murders at Acton, a Mr. Blackwell found a little grandchild of Mrs. Ann Baker's, eighteen months old, on the floor of the dwelling, the only person left there, and took it away. The child was too young to talk, and was entirely unconscious of its bloody surroundings. It had cried itself to sleep where it lay upon the floor. Probably it was not discovered by the Indians. It was taken to Forest City and cared for. Soon some sixty or seventy visited the scene of the tragedy, and assisted in holding an inquest and burying the dead. It has been told that probably the brains of the Indians were inflamed by whisky, but this is erroneous. They were a part of Chief Shakopee's band, some of the most ugly and quarrelsome of any of the bands, and they were instigated to commit these atrocious acts by race hatred, supposed or fancied wrongs, and desire for vengeance. One Jesse B. Barham, then sixty years old, took the news to the governor in twenty-four hours, sent by A. B. Smith. Seventy-five Springfield muskets and suitable ammunition were placed in the hands of George B. Whitcomb, who arrived with them at Forest City, Aug. 23, 1862, and soon had a military organization of fifty men, and they took an active part in expelling the Indians from that section of the country. When the Indian relatives heard of the actions of the Indians at Acton there was great excitement of the lower agency. They consulted among themselves, and at least one hundred and fifty of them, well armed, went two miles below to Little Crow's house. Inspired with hate and a desire for revenge and glory on one side, and fear of the ultimate result on the other, he hesitated, but soon joined in a most murderous attack upon houses, stores and people. Suddenly from quiet and peace there came the noise of the devilish yell of Indians. The sound of the war-whoop broke upon the stillness of the morning air, and the shriek of the wounded and dying was indeed fearful. The friends of the Indians, those who had helped and befriended them in their poverty and trouble, were shown no mercy. The deadly bullet pierced the strong man, and, with wife and children pleading for his life, he lay down to die. The wife also felt the cruel hatchet, and clasping the loved children to her bosom, she died in terrible agony. The war club did its swift work. The bruised temples of the innocent babe and harmless child left them lifeless in eternal sleep by their mother's side. It was as though a pagan mother was offering up a holocaust, and the imps of hell were rejoicing in fire, blood and death. Why were these things thus? Why must the innocent thus suffer and sorrow and die? Where was the angel of help and mercy in these hours of danger and trouble? Who was to blame for this field of human blood, and the dying groans of men, women and children? Was it the government of this country? Tell us, ye publicists! Tell us, ye statesmen! The murdered people were American citizens, and entitled to the protecting arm of a great government. Where rests the blame for the death of eight hundred murdered Minnesotans? John Lamb, a teamster, was the first victim, then A. H. Wagner, then James Lynde, an educated man, ex-state senator, then Divall, a clerk; then Fritz, the cook. Andrew J- Myrick was upstairs, and tried to hide, but the Indians threatened to burn the building, and he jumped to the ground and ran for the Minnesota river; but a Sioux Indian shot him, and he fell to the ground, where he was found several days afterwards with a scythe and many arrows sticking in his body.
Chief Big Eagle says of him: "I saw all the dead bodies at the agency. Mr. Andrew Myrick, a trader, with an Indian wife, had refused some hungry Indians credit a short time before when they asked him for some provisions. He said to them: 'Go and eat grass.' Now he was lying on the ground dead with his mouth stuffed full of grass, and the Indians were saying tauntingly: 'Myrick is eating grass himself.' "
George H. Spencer was a clerk in the store of William H. Forbes. On hearing the savages outside he, with several others, ran to the door to ascertain the cause, when the Indians fired upon them, killing four and severely wounding Spencer. He immediately hid in the chamber of the building. In describing the matter, he says: "When I reached the foot of the stairs I turned and beheld the store filling with Indians. One had followed me nearly to the stairs, when he took deliberate aim at my body, but providentially both barrels of his gun missed fire, and I succeeded in getting above without further injury. Not expecting to live a great while, I threw myself upon a bed, and while lying there could hear them opening cases of goods and carrying them out, and threatening to burn the building. I did not relish the idea of being burned to death very well, so I arose very quietly, and, taking a bedcord, I made fast one end to the bed post, and carried the other to a window, which I raised. I intended, in case they fired the building, to let myself down from the window, and take the chances of being shot again, rather than to remain where I was and burn. The man who went upstairs with me, seeing a good opportunity to escape, rushed down through the crowd and ran for life; he was fired upon, and two charges of buckshot struck him, but he succeeded in making his escape. I had been upstairs probably an hour when I heard the voice of an Indian inquiring for me. I recognized his voice, and felt that I was safe. Upon being told that I was upstairs, he rushed up, followed by ten or a dozen others, and, approaching my bed, asked if I was mortally wounded. I told him I did not know, but that I was badly hurt. They then asked me where the guns were. I pointed to them, when my comrade assisted me in getting down-stairs.
"The name of this Indian is Wakinyatawa, or, in English, 'His Thunder.' He was, up to the time of the outbreak, the head soldier of Little Crow, and some four or five years ago went to Washington with that chief to see their Great Father. He is a fine looking Indian, and has always been noted for his bravery in fighting the Chippewas. When we reached the foot of the stairs, some of the Indians cried out 'Kill him!' 'Spare no Americans! Show mercy to none!' My friend, who was unarmed, seized a hatchet that was lying near by, and declared that he would cut down the first one that should attempt to do me any further harm. Said he, 'If you had killed him before I saw him it would have been all right; but we have been friends and comrades for ten years, and now that I have seen him, I will protect him or die with him.' They then made way for us, and we passed out. He procured a wagon, and gave me over to a couple of squaws to take me to his lodge. On the way we were stopped two or three times by armed Indians on horse back, who inquired of the squaws 'What that meant?' Upon being answered that 'This is Wakinyatawa's friend, and he has saved his life,' they suffered us to pass on. His lodge was about four miles above the agency, at Little Crow's village. My friend soon came home, and washed me, and dressed my wounds with roots. Some few white men succeeded in making their escape to the fort. There were no other white men taken prisoners." Chief Big Eagle says of this transaction : "So many Indians have lied about their saving the lives of people that I dislike to speak of what I did, but I did save the life of George H. Spencer at the time of the massacre. I know that his friend Chaska has always had the credit of it, but Spencer would have been a dead man in spite of Chaska, if it had not been for me. I asked Spencer once about it, but he said he was wounded at the time, and so excited that he could not remember what he did."
It is reported that the reason why Spencer was saved was because of a sort of Freemasonry which existed between him and his Indian friend, and is not uncommon among other Indian tribes. Patrick McClellan, a clerk in Lewis Robert's store, was killed. John Noris, a government carpenter, with his four children, escaped to Fort Ridgely. Alexander Hunter and his young wife started to escape, but he was shot down and she led away into captivity. Generally life is sweet to all. To some it is not so. There are broken hearts full of agony and untold grief, and to such the sweet, peaceful tomb does not seem a world of dread or fear. We do not know how full of heartaches this world is, nor how many weary lives care little for the grim spectre of eternal rest. But to some even old age is full of pleasure, joyous hours and golden sunshine. Such men do not seek death. A noble life should win a long old age, with its crown of peace and contentment. Philander Prescott had lived a noble life of nearly seventy years. During these many years he had been the faithful friend of the Indians, but they killed him in cold blood. He was an Indian interpreter. They told him he must die. He said to them: "I am an old man; have lived with you forty-five years; my wife and children are of your blood; I have never done you any harm; why should you wish to kill me?" They answered: "We would save you if we could, but the white man must die; such are our orders. You are a white man; we cannot save you." He prepared to die; with his long white hair floating in the wind, and with a bearing as noble and fear less as a martyr going to the cross, he turned his breast to the inhuman foe, and the deadly Indian bullet pierced his aching heart. Of what benefit to the world was such a perfidious class of savages? Why were such inhuman, ungrateful brutes? True and tried in his friendship for the Indians, his reward was death, and his grave lies in the land of the savage Dakota, neglected and worn by the wind and the dew.
And the carnage went on. Unmarked and nameless graves covered that land, and the bones of the dead remained bleaching upon those wild prairies or were gnawed by wild animals, or perchance burned in the smoking buildings, fired by savage incendiary hands. Some escaped to Fort Ridgely; others hid in the tall prairie grass, in sloughs, under trees, in the brush and timber, to be hunted and inhumanly butchered and scalped.
Of those who escaped was a government school teacher, Joseph B. Reynolds, and his wife, Valencia J. Reynolds, living near Shakopee's village. His family consisted of himself and wife, a niece, Miss Mattie Williams, Mary Anderson and Mary Schwandt, hired girls, William Landmeier, a hired man, and Legrand Davies, a young man temporarily stopping with them. A Mr. Patoile, a trader from Yellow Medicine, had just arrived, and Davies and the three girls got into his wagon, but when opposite Fort Ridgely the Indians killed Patoile and Davies and wounded Mary Anderson. The other girls, Mattie Williams and Mary Schwandt, were taken prisoners. The treatment of these poor girls was brutal and inhuman, and Mary Anderson survived the terrible ordeal but a few days when a merciful death came to her relief. Better the silence and everlasting rest of the tomb than the horrors of captivity among hostile Indians. Mattie Williams and Mary Schwandt were afterwards released to General Sibley's expedition.
George Gleason, the government storekeeper at the lower agency, was killed by Chaska and another Indian. He was a young man, generous and jovial, a true friend and a favorite in every social circle. The limit of this volume will not permit a minute detail and description of very many of the murders and outrages committed at the outbreak, although quite a number are described under different headings.
THE LAKE SHETEK MASSACRE.
Lake Shetek is about eighty miles west of Mankato, in Murray county. The lake itself is a beautiful sheet of water, and the settlement around it in 1862 comprised about forty-five people. In August of that year they were attacked by the Indians under Lean Bear and eight of his band, and the bands of White Lodge and Sleepy Eye, although Sleepy Eye himself died before the massacre. Many of the settlers knew a large number of the Indians quite well, and had always treated them with great kindness. There lived William Everett, John Wright, William J. Duly, Thomas Ireland, John Eastlick, Pheneas Z. Hurd and their families, H. W. Smith, Aaron Myers, Andrew Hash, John Voight and several others. Hurd had previously started for the Missouri river on business, but was killed by the Indians, who rode his horses back into the settlement, when the settlers became apprehensive of trouble. Mr. Voight was in the door-yard, taking care of Mrs. Hurd's baby, when the Indians fired at and killed him. The Indians told Mrs. Hurd that if she would leave the settlement they would not kill her. She did so. When Ireland heard the news, he took his gun and family and hastened to the lower end of the lake, giving the alarm as he went. The settlers gathered at the house of Mr. Wright and made preparation for defense. Before arriving at Wright's the Indians killed Mr. Hatch and took his wife captive. When they arrived at Wright's they told the whites if they would leave the settlement they would not be harmed. The whites would not trust them, and at the first opportunity started for New Ulm. The Indians overtook them, and commenced firing at them, when the whites retreated to a slough, and hid in the grass. Here quite a fight took place, as they could see the Indians' heads over the grass. The Indians killed Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Ireland, Mrs. Everett, Mr. Eastlick and two of his children. Mrs. Eastlick was severely wounded, but escaped, as did two of their children, Johnny and Merton. The latter, eleven years old, carried his little brother Johnny, fifteen months old, fifty miles on his back to escape the ball and tomahawk of the brutal Indians. They suffered terribly from lack of food and shelter, and the bites of mosquitoes. The sufferings and hardships endured by Merton soon carried him to an untimely grave, but Johnny was recently living (1902) near Mankato. Little hero of Lake Shetek! What a grand picture of boyhood affection for a little brother! Mrs. Eastlick has published in pamphlet form an account of her trials and the scenes she passed through. From that narrative it appears that:
"The family comprised Mr. and Mrs. Eastlick and five children, the oldest, eleven years old, named Merton, and the youngest fifteen months, named Johnny. Wednesday morning while the family were at breakfast on their farm, at Lake Shetek, young Hatch, whom we met before at Buffalo Grove Lake, with Mr. Everett and Mrs. Meyers, came running, saying, 'The Indians are upon us.' Leaving all, they fled with the children, Mr. Eastlick carrying his two guns and ammunition with the youngest child. Meeting a number of neighbors on the road, they all gathered into the house of a Mr. Wright, and prepared to defend themselves. A few Indians, well known to the settlers, were at this house, pretending to be friendly and ready to fight the bad Indians. One of them was called 'Pawn.' The hostiles appearing in large numbers in the vicinity, they left the house on the advice of 'Pawn' in a lumber wagon, thirty-four of them, including men, women and children. Pursued and overtaken on the road by the Indians, they fled into a slough near by. Most of them were wounded before they got into the grass. "The balls fell around us like hail. I lay in the grass with my little ones gathered close around me. As it was very hot and sultry, I tried to move a little distance from them, but could not get a foot away from them, for they would follow me. Poor little dears! They did not know how much they were destined to suffer, and they seemed to think if they kept close to mother they would be safe. I could now hear groans about me in the grass in various directions, and Mrs. Everett told me she was shot in the neck; and in a few minutes more I was struck by a ball in the side. I told my husband I was shot. 'Are you much hurt?' he asked. 'Yes; I think I shall die,' I answered, 'but do not come here, for you can do me no good; stay there, for you can do more good with your rifle.' I knew he could not come without being discovered by the Indians. Another ball soon struck me on the head, lodging between the skull and the scalp, where it still remains. I could tell if a ball struck any one by the sound. My husband then said that he thought he would move a little, as the Indians had discovered his hiding place. He moved, reloaded his gun, and was watching for a chance to shoot, when I heard a ball strike some one. Fearing that he was the one, I called to him, saying, 'John, are you hurt?' He did not answer. I called again, but there was no reply, save that I heard him groan twice, very faintly. Then I knew that he was hurt, and I thought that I must go to him, but Mrs. Cook begged me not to go. I told her that he was badly hurt, and I must go to him. 'Do not, for God's sake !' said Mrs. Cook, 'stay with your children. If you stir from that spot they will all be killed; your husband is dead already, and you cannot possibly do him any good, so stay with your children, I beg of you.' I took her advice, and stayed with them, for they were all I had left in the world.
"I stopped, however, and looked around to see if my children were coming, and to tell them to follow me. Little Freddy, one of my boys, aged five years, arose out of the grass, at my call, and started to come. Then, for the first time, I observed a hideous old squaw, who had just joined the Indians. She ran after him, and felled him to the ground with a blow upon the head from something she carried in her hand. Weak, wounded and tightly held by my captor, as I was, I could only stand and look on at the scene which followed, while such anguish racked my soul as, I pray God, that you mothers who read this, may never feel. The old hag beat him for some minutes upon the back of the head till I thought she had killed him. She stepped back a few paces, when the little innocent arose, and again started for me; but, oh! what a piteous sight for a mother to behold! The blood was streaming from his nose, mouth and ears. The old squaw, not yet satisfied, again knocked him down, and pounded him awhile; then took him by the clothes, raised him as high as she could, and with all her force, dashed him upon the ground. She then took a knife and stabbed him several times. I could not stop or return, for my captor was by this time dragging me away, but my head was turned around, and my eyes riveted upon the cruel murder of my defenseless little ones. I heard some one call out, 'Mother! mother!' I looked, and there stood little Frank, my next oldest child, on his knees, with hands raised toward heaven, calling 'Mother!' while the blood was streaming from his mouth. Oh, who could witness such a sight, and not feel their hearts melt with pity! None but the brutal Indians could. He had been shot in the mouth, knocking out four of his teeth, once through the thigh, and once through the bowels. But what could I do? Nothing, but gaze in silent horror on my children while they were being murdered by savages."
She then gives an account of the horrible outrage and butchery of her companions. Most of the younger children were left by the fiends wounded on the prairie to perish a lingering death from cold and starvation. Mrs. Eastlick was taken a short distance, when Pawn shot her in the back, and she fell on her face. Another Indian came up to her and struck her on the head with all his might a number of times with his gun until her head bounded from the ground with each blow. She was then left for dead. Though her skull was broken, she did not lose consciousness, but lay where she was, too weak to move for hours. The crying of a child whom she thought was her Johnny aroused the mother's heart.
"So I determined to try to go to them, thinking we could perhaps keep warm better, for the rain still fell very fast, and the night was setting in, cold and stormy. I rose upon my feet, and found that I could walk, but with great difficulty. I heard Willie Duly, whom I supposed dead long before this, cry out, 'Mother! mother!' but a few steps from me, and then he called, 'Mrs. Smith! Mrs. Smith!' Having to pass close by him as I left the slough, I stopped and thought I would speak to him, but on reflecting that I could not possibly help the poor boy, I passed him without speaking. He never moved again from the spot where I last saw him, for when the soldiers went there to bury the dead they found him in the same position, lying on his face at the edge of the slough. I was guided to the place where my children and neighbors were killed by the cry of a child, which I supposed to be Johnny's voice; but on reaching the spot where it lay it proved to be Mrs. Everett's youngest child. Her eldest, Lily, aged six years, was leaning over him, to shield him from the cold storm. I called her by name. She knew my voice instantly, and said, 'Mrs. Eastlick, the Indians haven't killed us yet!' 'No, Lily,' said I, 'not quite, but there are very few of us left !' 'Mrs. Eastlick,' she said, 'I wish you would take care of Charley.' I told her it was impossible, for my Johnny was somewhere on the prairie, and I feared he would die unless I could find him and keep him warm. She begged me to give her a drink of water, but it was out of my power to give her even that, or to assist her in any way, and I told her so. She raised her eyes, and with a sad, thoughtful, hopeless look, asked the question, 'Is there any water in heaven?' 'Lily,' I replied, 'when you get to heaven you will never more suffer from thirst or pain.' On hearing this the poor little patient sufferer, only six years old, laid herself down again, and seemed reconciled to her fate.
After wandering among the dead and dying, and failing to find either Johnny or Merton, she thought they might have escaped the savages and wandered out on the prairie. So she dragged herself away some distance in quest of them, imagining every few minutes she heard them crying here or there. All night and next day she wandered around in the vicinity, and all this time she could hear the agonizing cries of the poor little children that had not yet perished in the slough. After three nights and three days of wandering she was overtaken, only five miles from where she started, by a mail carrier, who helped her into his sulky, and they proceeded about ten or eleven miles farther to the house of a German, called Dutch Charley. The owners had deserted the place some days, but to the great surprise of Mrs. Eastlick she found there her old neighbor, Thomas Ireland, whom she supposed killed, as she had last seen him in the slough in a dying condition, pierced with seven bullets. But he had revived, and managed to crawl thus far, though in a sorry plight. From him she received the first tidings of her two missing boys. Merton had left the slough the afternoon of the massacre with his baby brother on his back to go to Dutch Charley's. After resting a few minutes the mail carrier, Mrs. Eastlick and Mr. Ireland hurried on as well as they could. Next day (Sunday) a little before noon they overtook Mrs. Hurd and her two children in the road. They, too, were from Lake Shetek, but the pitiful story of her trials is too long for us. A short distance ahead Mrs. Eastlick found her two lost children. Merton had little Johnny on his back and had carried him thus for fifty miles, and they had suffered terribly from want of food and shelter, so their emaciated faces could hardly be recognized. Two miles further and they came to the deserted home of J. F. Brown, which stood in section 22 of Burnstown, in Brown county, thirty miles west of New Ulm. Here Mr. Ireland and the women and children were left while the mail carrier went on to get help from New Ulm. Mrs. Julia A. Wright and two children and Mrs. Duly and two of her children were taken captive, and subsequently ransomed. Mrs. Duly's oldest son and daughter were each shot through the shoulder and one of Mrs. Ireland's children through the leg. One of Mrs. Duly's children, four and a half years old, was pounded to death by a squaw in the presence of its mother. Mrs. Duly while a captive was sold four different times, and her little six-year-old daughter twice, once for a watch and once for two yards of cloth, while the consideration for Mrs. Duly was at one time a horse, then a pair of blankets, and again for a bag of shot. The men that were wounded escaped, and among them was Mr. William Everett, a ball lodging on the thigh bone about an equal distance between the knee and hip. After he was brought to Mankato I helped to take care of him. He and Mrs. Everett and their daughter Lily, had previously lived near my family, and were highly respected people. Lily was subsequently ransomed by friendly Yanktons, who paid a horse for her. The meeting between her and her father is thus described by the Fort Dodge Republican:
"The child took the hand of her father, and he pressed her to his bosom, but not a word was spoken by either, the joy of meeting the sole remnant of his family was so saddened by the recollection - so vividly forced upon his mind by the presence of his child - of the fate of his dearly loved wife and darling boys, that the strong man was overcome with emotion. He wept like a child. He asked his daughter of her little brother, two years old, of whom the father had heard no tidings. She replied that when she saw him last he was crawling into the bushes to hide from the savages. He probably escaped the tomahawk of the Indian only to die of starvation in the thickets of Lake Shetek."
NARRATIVE OF ALOMINA HURD.
After the outbreak the government appointed three members of what we usually knew as the Sioux Commission, for the purpose of adjusting claims for damages committed by the Indians. These members were Hon. A. S. White of Indiana, Hon. Eli B. Chase of Wisconsin and Hon. Cyrus Aldrich of Minnesota, and they were required to hold their first session at St. Peter on or before April 1, 1863. I had a great number of these claims, and the testimony as to the destruction of property and the cruelty of the Indians was heartrending. Other claims were presented by the sufferers, and testimony given of a similar character. I quote that of Mrs. Alomina Hurd, as given before the Sioux Commission at St. Peter in April, 1863. It was as follows:
"I was born in the western part of the State of New York, and removed with my parents to Stuben county, in Iowa, where I passed my childhood. I was married in 1857 to Phineas B. Hurd, and we went to live in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and remained there about two years; and then we started west, and settled, with a few others, on Shetek Lake, in Murray county, about one hundred miles west of Mankato, on the Minnesota river. It was a beautiful lake, and the lands around were excellent for grass and wheat. There were not many of us, but we were contented, and thought we had a permanent and happy home. The Indians hung round the lake, as it was an old hunting ground of theirs; but they had sold out their title, and appeared to be quite friendly. I knew a good many of them, for they would often come in and ask for something to eat, and I always treated them well. Some time in June Mr. Hurd and another man left home on a trip to Dakota, taking a span of horses and a wagon, expecting to be gone about a month. We had two children, and Mr. Voight was living with us, and had charge of the farm.
"Mr. Hurd had been gone over two months, and I began to be very anxious about him. One morning, the 20th of August (1862), - it was about five o'clock in the morning, - I had just gone out to milking, and left my two children asleep in the house, when about twenty Indians rode up and jumped off their horses. I saw that one of the horses was in the span that Mr. Hurd had when he started on his trip. As soon as I got to the house, the Indians went in and commenced to light their pipes and smoke. Pretty soon my youngest child woke up, and was frightened at seeing so many Indians and began to cry. Mr. Voight took him up and carried him out into the front yard, when one of the Indians stepped to the door and shot him through the body, so he fell dead, with the child in his arms. As soon as this shot was heard ten or fifteen more Indians and squaws rushed into the house and began to destroy everything they could lay their hands on. We had a good stock of cows, and I had worked hard, and had on hand about two hundred pounds of butter and twenty-three cheeses. All this the Indians destroyed; and while it was going on, some of them told me they would not kill me and the children if I would not give any alarm, but go east, by a very blind road, to the nearest settlement. They started me off just as I was, without even a sunbonnet on, and would not let me dress either of the children. They went out with me about three miles. I took the youngest in my arms and led the other, a little boy, between three and four years old. There were seven of them who started with me, and I took just one look at what had been our prosperous and happy home, now full of naked and painted savages.
"Before they left me they repeated the condition on which they would spare me and the children; that we were to keep straight east, across the open prairie; that all the whites were to be killed, but I might go to my mother. I was bareheaded, the children almost naked, and we had not a mouthful of food, nor a blanket to shelter us in the cool nights or in a storm. We took the unfrequented road into which the Indians had conducted us. It was clear, and the sun shone uncommonly bright; but the dew on the grass was cold and heavy. William Henry was bare footed and dressed very thin, and he clung close to me, and begged me to go back to the house. He did not know of the death of Mr. Voight, as I kept him from seeing the body, and he cried piteously at first, but after a while pressed my hands and trudged manfully along by my side. The little one was asleep in my arms, unconscious of our situation. About ten o'clock in the forenoon a thunderstorm came on, and the wind and rain were violent for about three hours. I heard two guns fired, and I knew that my neighbor, Mr. Cook, was killed.
"During the storm I lost the trail, and all that after noon walked on not knowing whether I was right or wrong. Water stood on all the lower parts of the prairie, and I kept looking for a dry place where we could spend the night. At last I came to a sand hill, and sat down on the top of it, to rest for the night.
"I laid my children down, and leaned over them, to keep the rain off their faces and to protect them from the cold wind. Hungry and tired and wet as he was, William fell asleep, and slept nearly all night; but the little one worried a good deal, and the night wore away slowly. As soon as I could see, I took up the little ones and moved on. About seven o'clock I heard guns, and then I knew I had lost my way, and was still in the vicinity of the lake. I changed my course, and went away from the direction in which the guns were heard. But no trail was visible. I was not conscious of hunger myself, but it was so distressing to hear my precious little boy crying for his bread and milk, and moaning with hunger and weakness. It was wet and misty all day. Towards night William grew sick and vomited, and it seemed impossible for him to keep up any longer. The youngest still nursed, and did not seem to suffer materially.
"About dark the second day I struck a road, and saw, to my sorrow, that I was only four miles from what had been my home, and had not yet commenced my terrible journey across the prairie. Then, for a little time my heart sank within me, and I thought it would be some satisfaction to die right there, and end our weary journey on this traveled road, over which I had passed with my husband in happier days. But this feeling was but for a moment. I took courage and started on the road to New Ulm. When it was dark I stopped, and passed the night as I had the former, without sleep. In the morning I started on. It was foggy and the grass was wet. The road, being but little traveled, was grown up with grass. William was so faint and sick that he could not walk much of the time, so I was obliged to carry both children. I was now much reduced in strength and felt very hungry. My boy now no longer asked for food, but was thirsty, and drank frequently from pools by the road side. I was too weak to carry both my children at the same time, but took one a distance of a half or a quarter of a mile, and laid it in the grass, and then went back for the other. In this way I traveled twelve miles, to a place called Dutch Charley's, sixteen miles from Lake Shetek. I arrived there about sunset, having been sustained in my weary journey by the sweet hope of relief. What was my consternation and despair when I found it deserted and perfectly empty. The house had not been plundered by the Indians, but abandoned by the owner. My heart died within me, and I sank down in despair. But the crying of my boy aroused me. I had promised him food when we got there, and when none could be found he cried bitterly. But I could not shed a tear. I found some green corn, which I tried to eat, but my stomach rejected it. I found some carrots and onions growing in the garden, which I ate raw. My oldest child continued to vomit. I offered him some carrots, but he could not eat them. That night I stayed in a corn field, and in the morning at daylight continued my search for food.
"To my great delight, I found the remains of a spoiled ham. Here, I may say, my good fortune began. There was no more than a pound of it, and that much decayed, and I saved this for my boy, feeding it to him in very small quantities. His vomiting ceased, and he revived rapidly. I gathered more carrots and onions, and with this store of provisions, about eight o'clock on the morning of the third day, I again set forth on my weary road for the residence of Mr. Brown, twenty-five miles distant, and reached it in two days. Under the effects of the food I was able to give my boy, he gained strength, and was able to walk all the last day. When within two or three miles of Mr. Brown's house, two of our old neighbors from Lake Shetek settlement overtook us, under the escort of the mail carrier. Both of them had been wounded by the Indians, and left for dead. Thomas Ireland had been hit with eight balls, and, strange to say, was still able to walk, and had done so most of the way. Mrs. Eastlick was utterly unable to walk, having been shot in the foot, in the side, and through the arm. The mail carrier had given her his seat in the buggy, and was walking by the side of the horse. At first I thought they were Indians, and that I and my little ones, after five days of such fearful suffering and hunger, must die by the hands of the savages. I did not dare to look around, but kept on my way until overtaken, and then my joy was so great at seeing my friends alive that I sank to the earth insensible. We stayed at Mr. Brown's house ten days, living on potatoes and corn. Mr. Ireland and the carrier went on to New Ulm, and found the settlement in ashes, the Indians having burned nearly two hundred houses. A party of twelve men, with a wagon was sent to our relief, and we were made comfortable; but the sad and sickening thought was now fully confirmed in my mind that my husband had been killed in the general massacre of all the remote settlements, and my fatherless children and myself left beggars." Part of this statement was given to Mr. Charles Bryant. Mrs. Hurd had lived at Lake Shetek three years, and was well acquainted with Indians. She could speak their language, and had always treated them kindly. During the giving of her testimony, the audience were frequently melted to tears, while she, weeping at the recollections of her sufferings, could proceed but slowly, and at one time business was entirely suspended, and the house turned into a house of mourning. Her story of her helplessness, with her child crying for bread, while alone in the prairie grass, amid the storm and thunder and lightning, touched the chords of human sympathy, and the audience gave way to a flood of tears and grief and sympathy. The government paid her liberally for damage, but the memory of her murdered husband, of her happy home, of her dreary nights on the wild prairie, of her suffering and the piteous cry of her children in the fearful tempest, were sad memories, never to be forgotten.
INDIANS ATTACK NEW ULM.
New Ulm, the county seat of Brown county, fronts on the Minnesota river, and the location is one of great beauty. The settlement of the place was effected through the medium of two colonization societies, in the years 1854 and 1855, and the land purchased from the government in 1856. One of these societies was organized in Chicago about July, 1855, and the other in Cincinnati, just what year I do not know, but in 1856 William Pfaender and William Seager, representing this society, visited New Ulm, and a consolidation of the two societies was effected. All of the new settlers were charmed with the location and the surrounding country, and among them were many natives of Wurtenburg, and the name New Ulm was given the place after Ulm, in that country. Usually the pioneers in a frontier country go well armed, but these new settlers in and about New Ulm were almost all without arms, and what few they had were of poor character, mostly shot-guns, while the Indians were armed with Sharp's rifles and had plenty of ammunition. These German settlers were a community of peaceable and law-abiding citizens, unused to military life or military practice, and came from a land where the character of an Indian outbreak was entirely unknown. They were a class of hard working, industrious and enterprising citizens, liberal in their views, and with great love for their homes. Generous, social and enterprising, they looked forward to happy and permanent homes, unmolested from any source.
The Indians first attacked a settlement near New Ulm, called Milford, whose inhabitants knew the Indians quite well and had frequently fed them. One day a settler noticed three Indians come along the road who stopped at a settler's house. Pretending to be friendly, the Indian took the settler by the hand while another killed him. They also killed his wife, and beat out the brains of their child. A scouting party were out that day, and when about six miles from New Ulm the Indians saw them, went into ambush, and, as opportunity offered, fired upon the party, killing several and wounding others. Those not killed hastened to New Ulm, and gave the alarm, although some French traders who had been attacked had preceded them. The people at once fortified the town as well as they could. The next day, August 17th, [sic.] the Indians attacked the town. Many of her best fighting men were absent in the Union army. The place was full of refugees, and the confusion incident to such an attack was great, but her citizens, mostly unarmed, did well, and that a greater panic did not seize that quiet German town speaks well for their people; for if there is anything that sends a thrill of fear through the human heart it is a sudden attack by a band of yelling, whooping, merciless Indians when most of the people are defenceless women and children.
Dispatches were at once sent to Nicollet and St. Peter for aid, and the news soon reached South Bend and Mankato. Mr. William Paddock first brought the news to Mankato. Capt. A. M. Bean, with eighteen men, from Nicollet, arrived at New Ulm about one o'clock p. m. William J. Jones and Edward Dackins of Judson got there before four o'clock p. m., when Little Crow began the attack. The Indians burned five houses in the outskirts of the town, and balls fell in the center of the city. Captain Nix organized a company of New Ulm people, and, with Captain Bean, though poorly armed, bravely and vigorously defended the place for an hour, when L. M. Boardman with sixteen mounted and well armed men arrived and helped to drive the Indians from the place. The Indians supposed that the houses in the center of the city were full of armed men, and with their usual fear of charging a place where there is apparently great danger, yielded to the temptation to plunder, and went to the country to kill and secure all the property possible. In this attack they killed Miss Pauli, and a stray bullet killed a butcher in his shop.
The same evening Charles E. Flandrau of Traverse, then one the judges of the supreme court, with Captain Tously of Le Sueur, arrived with about 125 men. Captain Bierbauer of Mankato, with eighty men, and Capt. John D. Zimmerman of South Bend, with seventy-three men, also went to the aid of New Ulm. I was a member of the latter company, and saw the mutilated bodies of several men who had been ambushed the day before and killed while returning from an expedition up the Cottonwood. I also saw three children, members of one family, who had been struck on their temples with a war club and left for dead. They were rendered insensible, but subsequently revived and recovered.
During the day news came that the Winnebagoes were about to join the Sioux in their attack upon the whites, and as the families of many of the company were living within a short distance of the Winnebago agency, they returned home for the purpose of removing them to a place of safety, intending when this was done to return at once to the defence of New Ulm. But the second attack was made the next day, and only a part of this company was in that fight. Conclusive evidence shows that the Winnebagoes did intend to join in the outbreak, and quite a number of them did at first join the Sioux, but most of them were finally deterred from doing so through fear of the great strength of the whites.
The defeat of the Indians in their first attack on New Ulm was of the utmost importance, as it checked them in their attempt to sweep down the Minnesota valley. If the Indians had won that battle Southern Minnesota would have been overrun with a merciless army of Sioux warriors. It is true that the defenders were fighting for the lives of the women and children as well as their own - but they were few in numbers, and, poorly armed as they were, they proved themselves to be heroes. On Friday, the 24th [sic.] of August, a party of 140 men, under command of Captain Tously, started to rescue a party of eleven women and children, hiding in a ravine near Leavenworth, when they heard the cannonading at Fort Ridgely. They had rescued the women and children, and a majority decided to go on to Leavenworth and stay all night, against Dr. A. W. Daniels' advice. He had been for many years the government physician at the lower agency, and knew Little Crow and the Indian character well, and as the cannonading continued he persuaded them to return to New Ulm, lest Little Crow, with reports from his spies, should leave Fort Ridgely and attack New Ulm and cut off this expedition. As there were only one hundred armed men left in the place, its safety was greatly imperiled. His advice, strongly advocated by Drs. Mayo and Ayer, finally prevailed, and the company returned. This advice was most fortunate, and a grateful people should ever remember it. The next morning New Ulm was furiously attacked by Little Crow with a force of about six hundred, many of them mounted. The defenders had only about twenty or thirty rifles in the whole command, and at first were unable to check the Indians, and fell back on the town, the galling fire of the redskins telling severely on the whites, who passed several buildings in their retreat. These the Indians immediately occupied. They did not charge further into town, fearing they would there be ambuscaded, but began firing the buildings on each side of the street. The whites rallied, and kept the Indians well on the outskirts of the town. The fighting became general on all sides. Here the gallant William B. Dodd, Judge Flandrau's first lieutenant, was shot.
Upon the first tableland in the rear of the town was a narrow four-story wind-mill, which a party of sixteen whites had managed to enter, among whom were the Rev. B. Y. Coffin, Hon. E. P. Freeman, George B. Stewart, J. B. Trogdon, Alexander Pettus and other good marksmen, whose telling fire upon the Indians finally forced them to retire out of range. At night these brave men succeeded in getting within the barricades.
Gov. Henry A. Swift and comrades kept up a deadly fire from the brick postoffice, and greatly aided in the defense by good judgment and heroic conduct.
Every man seemed to do his best in his own way. John Miles of Kasota was on the street, with a large piece of broken stove held in front of him as a shield, and poured hot shot into the skulking foe. Brick buildings were loopholed, and were effective in preventing any sudden charge from the Indians. No quarter was asked or given. In the first hour and a half ten men were killed and fifty wounded. The fight raged with fury from every available quarter. The famous hunter, Newell Houghton, was shot and scalped. His friend and neighbor, Asa White, fought like a tiger. They lived among the Winnebagoes, and the war-whoop and yelling of the Indians had no terror for them. Every building which the Indians could reach was set on fire, and a terrible conflagration seemed to be sweeping the town. The whites themselves burned one hundred and ninety buildings, some of them valuable, but the necessities of war demanded this sacrifice. The whites lost fourteen killed and between fifty and sixty wounded.
At night rifle pits were dug along the barricades, and the next morning (Sunday) the Indians were seen retreating. The second and decisive battle of New Ulm had been fought and won, and the 1,200 to 1,500 women, children, refugees and unarmed citizens were saved from a merciless massacre through the heroic conduct of Judge Flandrau and his brave comrades.
At noon of Sunday, the 24th, Captain Cox arrived with a company from St. Peter and a portion of Captain Huey's company, who had unfortunately been cut off at the ferry the day previous.
On the 25th the town was evacuated. A train of 153 wagons loaded with women and children and the wounded, started for Mankato, thirty miles away, where they arrived safely. It was a heart-rending scene. Homes dear to them were left, some possibly forever. The enemy might ambush the whole train. Life and its pleasures seemed to hang by a slender thread. Such a scene was never witnessed before. But fortune favored them now. Captain Cox had charge of the guards, and no enemy was encountered. Eventually most of them returned to their homes on the banks of Minnesota's winding river, where now stands the beautiful and prosperous city of New Ulm.
INCIDENTS OF THE BATTLE OF NEW ULM.
Real bravery is an element of human character admired by all lovers of mankind. Brave and heroic acts should live in the historical records of the time, and when done for a nation's welfare they should never perish from the minds and hearts of men. Even the schoolboy of to-day can tell us of the Greek hero Leonidas and his handful of Greeks who defended the pass of Thermopylae against the Persian hosts under Xerxes, and then perished to a man after having slain five times their own number of their foes. And the Indian war of 1862 developed as much genuine bravery and true heroism on the part of the whites as any war that ever took place. Numerous were the acts of bravery at the battle of New Ulm, only a few of which I can mention specifically. That of J. B. Trogdon first demands my notice. He was my friend and client, living on a claim below New Ulm, and knew the Indian character well. A braver man never lived. He was an old bachelor without relatives in this state, so far as I knew. After the battle I saw him on his noble steed, and with his long, curly hair thrown back over his shoulders and floating in the wind, and his trusty rifle resting on the shoulders of his faithful horse, he was the picture of a Spartan hero who knew no such word as cowardice. Bryant, in his history, says of him:
"At another time, J. B. Trogdon, in company with Captain Potter, rode to a point of timber in the rear of the town, where they saw an Indian drop down in the grass, and another, on a horse, a short distance behind. In order to avoid a shot from the Indian in the grass, and at the same time get a sure shot at the mounted warrior, it was suggested that Trogdon ride around and come up the hill from a ravine, and thus get near the savage without being observed. Trogdon immediately proceeded to put the suggestion into execution; but as he approached near enough to fire, twenty mounted Indians made a dash after him, with a devilish yell, and endeavored to cut him off from the town by running him into a slough. Then followed a scene of the wildest excitement. The mettle of the steeds was put to the test. At one time, in rounding the slough, it was thought Trogdon would be cut off; but a yell from him gave his splendid charger increased speed, and he distanced the Indians twenty yards. As he came near our lines, twenty shots were fired at him, but the aim was too high, and the balls passed over his head. He immediately wheeled and discharged his Sharp's rifle at his pursuers, but without effect; and, after passing within our lines, Trogdon again wheeled his horse, rode out toward the foe in easy rifle range, and fired deliberately at his pursuers, while over twenty rifle balls, aimed at him, fell harmless at his feet, or passed over his head."
Brave Trogdon, with all thy faults and life's failure I gladly bear this token of personal friendship and respect for one of the bravest spirits that passed through the trying ordeal of the Indian outbreak of 1862.
In the battle of Saturday the savages got possession of a building from which it was necessary to dislodge them. The Hon. D. G. Shillock, then a practicing lawyer at New Ulm, called for volunteers to do this, and started with several men to the building. Before reaching it the others fell back, but he with his German perseverance and brave heart reached the building, and with his unerring rifle cleared it of its savage occupants without being injured, though subsequently he received a severe wound in the knee which maimed him for life.
Another brave man was Nehemiah S. Burgess, who performed an act of valor unsurpassed in all the deadly conflicts of nations or individuals. Upon this subject Judson Jones, Esq., an early settler in Minnesota, now living at Cleveland, Le Sueur county, sends me the following communication: "There is one unmentioned name which ought to be rescued from oblivion before those who were at the battle of New Ulm and know the facts pass away, and that is the name of Nehemiah S. Burgess of Altona, Le Sueur county, who did the bravest deed at New Ulm. At the most critical period of the defense, when the besiegers were in full force, and the besieged were all hidden within the barricades from the murderous fire of the foe, two buildings remained unburned outside the barricaded street. It was feared that they would be taken possession of by the Indians in the night, which would enfilade the barricaded street and thus render the defense hopeless. It was a case of life or death. These buildings must be burned, and a call was made for some one to volunteer for the forlorn hope. Among all these brave men no one answered the call. It seemed sure death, for the open ground to be crossed to reach the buildings was in easy range of the enemy's bullet, and how was escape possible? At last one man, Nehemiah S. Burgess, stepped out and said, 'I will go,' and, preparing his kindlings, he ventured forth. As soon as he appeared outside the barricades the Indians opened fire, the bullets falling around him like hailstones until he disappeared behind the buildings. On his way back after firing the building the same fire assailed him. When safe inside the barracks he turned to look, expecting to see the buildings all in flames; but the buildings were wet with recent rains, and the fire had gone out. Undismayed, he prepared another batch of kindling and crossed the gulf of hell. This time he waited until he saw the buildings wrapped in flames, and again returned through the relentless fire of the foe unhurt.
"Major Buell of St. Peter, who was an eye witness, gave me the account of it soon after the arrival of the refugees at St. Peter, adding: 'It was the bravest thing I saw done at New Ulm.' Mr. Burgess also told me of it, adding, 'I never expected to get back alive, so I took a last look at the sun, and prayed God to care for Margaret and the children.' It was he also who led in Flandrau's charge, and received a bullet through the right arm. It was while this wound was being dressed that he told me the story. Mr. Burgess is an old man now (1891), eighty-eight years of age, but has many warm friends among the heroes of New Ulm, and this tribute is his just due. It will be read with pleasure by his children and his children's children. God bless the old heroes!
"(Signed) JUDSON JONES."
And the name of Capt. William Bierbauer stands high on the scroll of the brave and heroic defenders of New Ulm. When he heard of the Indian outbreak he immediately raised a company in Mankato, and, as its captain, proceeded to New Ulm, where he rendered valiant service through its siege. Judge Flandrau says of him:
"Captain Bierbauer and his gallant company were very prominent figures at the battle of New Ulm, which was fought Aug. 23, 1862. The bravery of Captain Bierbauer was most conspicuous, and produced the best result. During the critical period of the fight, when bullets were falling fast and thick from the Sioux rifles, I noticed one man standing alone and in advance of all others, firing at the Indians, and manfully maintaining his position. We advanced, and ascertained that it was Captain Bierbauer of Mankato, and directing the attention of the men to this manifestation of bravery, they rallied to assist in maintaining the position held by the captain. I shall never forget the effect it produced on these men who had been on the run a moment before. When they recognized their captain in this exposed position, so coolly holding his own, the effect was electrical. The State of Minnesota owes Captain Bierbauer a debt of gratitude, and will ever keep his memory green."
Captain Bierbauer was born in Einselthiem, Bavaria,Feb. 26, 1826, and died in Mankato, Minnesota, Nov. 30, 1893. Bravery never rested upon nobler shoulders. With heroism went the highest sense of honor and integrity. He was a high-toned, courteous gentleman, warm in his personal friendships, a model citizen, around whom clustered the universal regrets of his fellow citizens because of his death. He imperiled his life for others and for his country, and the fruitage of that heroism helped save the lives of many. Grand old hero of New Ulm's bloody days! You fulfilled life's best measure and demands, and to your memory I bring my personal respect for a dear friend and brave man.
Another of the brave defenders of New Ulm was Capt. W. B. Dodd of St. Peter, next in command to Judge Flandrau. Some twenty or thirty Indians got behind a large store on Main street. Reinforcements were expected, and Captain Dodd, supposing that they were coming up behind the Indians, made a superhuman effort to rally his men to charge the Indians and encourage the supposed reinforcement, but he was informed that the Indians were back of the store, and the men refused to charge, whereupon he put spurs to his horse and galloped down the street, saying that he would drive them out himself. When seventy-five yards outside the lines three balls from the Indians' rifles passed near his heart, although he had wheeled his horse and got within twenty yards of the lines before he fell. Before dying he sent word to his wife that he had discharged his duty and was ready to die. Such was another type of the many heroes of the battle of New Ulm. The name of Dr. A. W. Daniels should not be forgot ten. While the battle was raging the hottest, leaving to Drs. McMahon, Mayo and Ayres the care of the wounded, he seized a gun, and a participant in the battle by his side says that among the brave none were braver. His older brother, Dr. Jared W. Daniels, was one of the heroes of the battle of Birch Coulee.
BATTLES OF RED WOOD FERRY AND FORT RIDGELY.
Source: Indian Outbreaks by Daniel Buck, Ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of Minnesota. 1904; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
I am satisfied that Little Crow had been planning an attack on the whites and on the forts several weeks before the attack at Acton and the outbreak at the lower agency. It is well known that he called an Indian council at his village two weeks before the first attack, which was largely attended by members of the Soldiers' Lodge; that he was the master spirit of the meeting, and the details of the contemplated massacre were there discussed, if not fully matured. When the news reached him of the murders at Acton, he seemed to hesitate about approving the acts. Whether this hesitancy arose because of the peril that might suddenly overtake him, or because he was then unprepared and wanted more time, is uncertain, but that he contemplated an attack in the near future is quite certain.
Other evidence confirms the opinion that Little Crow was fast maturing his conspiracy, and though he stated that when he first heard of the Acton tragedy great beads of perspiration started out of his forehead, yet he then said: "Trouble with the whites is inevitable sooner or later. It may as well take place now as at any other time. I am with you. Let us go to the agency, kill the traders, and take their goods." This was done, and the details appear in another chapter.
The first news of the massacre reached Fort Ridgely in the forenoon of August 18th. The garrison was immediately put under arms, and a messenger sent after Lieutenant Sheehan and his men, who the day before had left for Fort Ripley. Captain Marsh, then in command at the fort, with fifty-four men and Interpreter Quinn, marched for the lower agency within thirty minutes of the first alarm, leaving thirty-one men, under command of Lieut. T. P. Gere, to guard the post. The misfortunes which overtook the company are fully set forth in a report made by Lieut. John F. Bishop, who participated in the fight, which is designated as the battle of Red Wood. A synopsis of his report follows :
BATTLE OF RED WOOD FERRY.
"The first indication of an outbreak we saw at Fort Ridgely was a team from Lower Sioux Agency, bringing in a badly wounded citizen. This was about 8:30 a. m. August 18th. Captain Marsh at once ordered the whole command to fall in, about eighty-five strong. He selected fifty-four men, with forty rounds of ammunition and one day's rations, leaving the balance of the company, under command of Lieut. T. P. Gere, to guard the post. We left the fort about nine o'clock a. m. Citizens had already commenced arriving, and lined the road, mostly panic-stricken women and children. We marched about six miles towards the agency, and came to a small log house, on fire. Dr. Humphrey, the agency physician, and his wife were both dead, tomahawked, and an infant, two days old, lay on its mother's breast, alive, but too far gone to be helped. Many other dead, among them the ferry man, were found as the command approached the ferry, and many terrorized citizens were met, fleeing to the fort. The ferry was about a mile from the lower agency. The river runs close to the bluff on the southwest side; on the east side are bottoms covered with high grass. The command arrived at the ferry, on the east side, about noon; the boat was on that side of the river. On the west bank was a solitary Indian, White Dog, whom one of Captain Marsh's command recognized as an upper Sioux. Being asked what he was doing there he replied, 'Only a visit for a few days.' He urged Captain Marsh to cross over on the ferry and attend a council, but the captain saw suspicious signs and hesitated. Suddenly White Dog raised his gun and fired at the command. Instantly a volley of shot came from the west side of the river, quickly followed by another volley in the rear. Fully one-half the command dropped dead. The Indians rushed in, and a hand-to-hand encounter ensued. A few of the whites fought their way to a thicket just below the ferry. The Indians surrounded the thicket, yelling and shooting. The whites held their position until their ammunition was nearly exhausted, when Captain Marsh ordered his men to swim the river and try to work their way down on the west side. The captain entered the river to swim across, but was taken with a cramp and drowned. The Indians then crossed the river to ambush the whites who should get across. This being learned by the whites, the survivors worked their way to the fort, which they reached about ten o'clock p. m. Of the fifty-five men who left the fort that morning, twenty-five were killed and ten wounded."
Lieutenant Bishop adds: "A young Indian who was captured by General Sibley told me one night while encamped near Henderson that he was in the fight at the ferry, and that Little Crow had about 325 or 350 armed warriors, about fifty from the upper band and about twenty or twenty-five Winnebagoes, besides some boys with bows and arrows, whom they did not consider fighters. He said their trick was to entice us onto the ferry boat, then cut the rope, let us drift down the stream, and shoot us at their pleasure. After we were disposed of, they were to cross their ponies, ride to the fort and capture that, then take their squaws and children along in the rear, and attack Mankato, St. Peter and other towns, as far as possible."
BATTLE OF FORT RIDGELY.
On Monday, August 18th, after the departure of Captain Marsh, refugees from the surrounding country, mostly women and children, flocked into Fort Ridgely in large numbers, all bringing tales of murder and desolation. The few available small arms in the fort were furnished to the men who seemed most likely to handle them to advantage, these men being placed on duty with the soldiers, of whom, besides the sick and hospital attendants, only twenty-two were fit for active duty. At about noon there arrived at the fort, in charge of C. G. Wykoff, clerk of the Indian superintendent, and his party of four, the long expected annuity money, seventy-one thousand dollars in gold. Here this party was, of course, halted. As the day passed the frightened fugitives continued to come in, until at nightfall more than two hundred had arrived. Intelligence from Captain Marsh, so anxiously awaited, came not. Pickets were posted in every direction by Lieutenant Gere in person, instructed, as this duty required nearly every man in the command, to rally promptly on the fort in case of attack from any quarter.
Shortly after dark two men, sent forward by Sergeant Bishop, reached the fort, bringing to the young officer in command the direful news of the slaughter of his comrades and death of his commander. The tale, whose import, in view of the possible result to the helpless and well-nigh unprotected mass of frightened humanity now in his charge, was sufficient to appall the stout heart. Knowing, however, that new regiments were at this time forming at Fort Snelling, the nearest military post, Lieutenant Gere, without a moment's delay, penned a dispatch to the commanding officer of that post, briefly detailing the situation, and asking for immediate reinforcements; also, requesting that officer to acquaint Governor Ramsey with the state of affairs. This dispatch was written at 8:30 o'clock, and was carried immediately by Private William J. Sturgis, mounted on the best horse at the fort. The messenger was also instructed to report the situation to Lieutenant Culver and Agent Galbraith, at St. Peter, hastening, if possible, their return with the men in their charge.
Pending the uncertainty concerning the result of Captain Marsh's expedition, apprehension of an attack upon the fort had not been grave, but when the extent of the disaster to the greater part of its usual garrison was fully known, such a contingency was indeed imminent. Immediately upon the dispatch of the courier, Lieutenant Gere ordered the removal of all the women and children, who were scattered in the frame houses forming three sides of the fort, to the stone building used as the soldiers' quarters, which stood on the north side of the square; but before this order could be executed one of the citizens on the picket fired his gun, and came running in crying, "Indians!" Panic beyond description seized the refugees, who rushed frantically for the quarters, terror stricken men even breaking through the windows in haste for safety. The few soldiers, true to their discipline, rallied promptly to their designated positions. The alarm proved false, but good in effect, as now all but the fighting men were in the quarters. The pickets were replaced, and the first night of unceasing vigil wore away.
The Indians, hilarious over the desolation they had wrought during the day, were at the agency, celebrating in mad orgies their successes, and neglected their opportunity to capture what proved to be the barrier to the devastation of the Minnesota valley. Tuesday morning dawned on mingled hope and apprehension for the coming hours, and when sunlight shone upon the prairies every quarter was closely scanned from the roof of the highest building through the powerful telescope fortunately at hand. At about nine o'clock Indians began congregating on the prairie some two miles west of the fort, mounted, on foot and in wagons, where, in plain view from the fort, a council was held. This council was addressed by Little Crow, and their movements for the day decided upon. While this was in progress cheers of welcome announced the arrival at the fort of Lieutenant Sheehan, with his fifty men of Company C. The courier dispatched by Captain Marsh on the previous day had reached his command at evening, soon after it had gone into camp, forty-two miles from Fort Ridgely, between New Auburn and Glencoe.
Promptly obeying the order for his return, Lieutenant Sheehan at once struck tents, and the command commenced its forced march, covering during the night the entire distance traversed in the two preceding days, arriving the first to the rescue, and meriting high praise. Lieutenant Sheehan now took command. Little Crow's intention had been to attack Fort Ridgely promptly, but at the council above mentioned it was determined to proceed to New Ulm, and soon after the dispersion of the council the Indians were seen passing southward on the west side of the river. No demonstration at the fort was made during the day.
Meanwhile, at St. Peter, at 6 p. m. on Monday, news of the outbreak reached Lieutenant Culver and Agent Galbraith. Obtaining there during the night fifty old Harper's Ferry muskets, the company of recruits in their charge was armed and a small supply of powder and lead collected. Before morning Courier Sturgis arrived with Lieutenant Gere's dispatches, and, fully advised of the perilous situation they were approaching, at six o'clock Tuesday morning, this gallant party left St. Peter with barely three rounds of cartridges per man, and twelve hours later had reached Fort Ridgely, completing its roll of defenders.
Thus augmented, the effective force at the fort consisted of fifty-one men of Company B, First Lieut. M. K. Culver, Second Lieut. T. P. Gere; fifty men of Company C, First Lieut. T. J. Sheehan; fifty men Renville Rangers, James Gorman commanding; Ordnance Sergeant Jones, U. S. A.; Post Surgeon Mueller, Post Sutler Randall and about twenty-five armed citizens, - a total of one hundred and eighty resolute men, Lieutenant Sheehan in command of all.
The non-combatants now numbered about three hundred. Members of Company B, who, it will be remembered, had been instructed and were expert in the use of artillery, were detailed to man the guns, of which three were put into service, one six-pounder field-piece under Ordnance Sergeant Jones, two twelve-pounder mounted howitzers, one of them under Sergt. J. G. McGrew of Company B and one in charge of J. C. Whipple, an artillerist of experience during the Mexican war, who had him self escaped from the lower agency to the fort.
Thus organized, the garrison was confident of a sturdy defense should an attack be made. The fort, which consisted of a group of buildings standing at intervals, and surrounding an open square ninety yards across, stood on a spur of high prairie tableland, which extended from the northwest toward the Minnesota river, that stream being one-half mile to the south. Along the east and north sides of this spur and within easy musket range of the fort, along a deep ravine extending southeasterly to the main valley, to the south, at a distance of about three hundred yards, ran the line of quite an abrupt descent to the valley, while from this line, and nearly opposite the southwest corner of the fort, another lateral ravine projected into the spur, terminating not over three hundred feet from the buildings on that angle. The buildings on the east, south and west sides of the square above referred to were two-story frame houses, erected for officers' quarters, excepting a one-story storehouse for commissary supplies, which stood adjacent to the northwest corner, while on the north side stood the two-story barracks, built of stone. In the rear, to the north of the barracks, was a row of log buildings, comprising houses for families of post attaches and the post hospital, while at the northeast corner, and near the end of the barracks, stood the post bakery and laundry. Thus, while conveniently arranged for occupancy in time of peace, neither by location nor construction was the post well adapted to repel attack.
Repulsed in the attack made at New Ulm on the 19th, Little Crow had determined to carry out his original plan and to attempt the capture of Fort Ridgely, and on Wednesday, August 20th, made his dispositions to this end. Knowing the facility of approach afforded by the long ravine to the east, also that the usual post of the artillery was on the west line of the buildings, the main attacking party was moved down the river valley to the north by this ravine, thence under its shelter to a point opposite to the fort, this movement being executed under cover and entirely unobserved.
To divert attention from the real point of attack, Little Crow himself, at about one o'clock p. m., made his appearance just out of range of the pickets, on the west side of the fort, mounted on a pony, and apparently inviting conference. Sergeant Bishop, at the time sergeant of the guard, endeavored to induce his near approach, but without success. At this juncture the advance of the party approaching from the northeast was discovered by the pickets on that side, and skirmishing commenced. Lieutenant Sheehan ordered the troops to form in line on the west side of the parade ground, at the south end of the commissary building, facing east. By this time the Indians coming up the hill from the ravine had reached the level ground, and, driving in the pickets, poured a heavy volley through the opening at the northeast, gaining possession of some of the outbuildings at that quarter. Lieutenant Gere was ordered with a detachment of Company B directly to the point of attack, and moved at double-quick. Stationing Whipple with his howitzer in the opening between the bakery and the next building to the south, a detachment of Company C moved on a run around the north end of the barracks to the row of log buildings, while McGrew wheeled his howitzer rapidly to the north west corner of the fort and went into position on the west side of the most westerly building in the grove. All these forces were at once engaged in a hard fight at short range.
The infantry, advantageously located around Whipple, kept up a hot fire, enabling him to work his gun to good advantage, and some admirable work was here performed. The men of Company C similarly covered McGrew's operations. McGrew first trained his gun to bear northeasterly, on the most northerly point at which the enemy appeared, and from which a heavy fire was coming; but his fuse had been cut for a range of a quarter of a mile, and the first shell, though passing close to the ground, exploded over the ravine. Running his piece quickly behind the building, McGrew cut his next fuse to its shortest limit, reloading, ran the howitzer out amidst a shower of bullets, and exploded his second shell in the very midst of this extremely troublesome party, wholly dislodging the savages from their position. The converging fire of those two howitzers, with their musketry supports, soon drove the Indians from the buildings they had reached, and forced them back to the line of the ravine. The plan to capture the fort in the first rush had been frustrated.
Meanwhile, upon the attack at the east, the pickets in other directions, in accordance with their instructions, had rallied on the fort, and Little Crow quickly closed in with the balance of his force on the west and south, to divert as far as possible the defense from his main attack. Ordnance Sergeant Jones, with his six-pounder fieldpiece, took position at the opening at the southwest angle of the square, supported by Lieutenants Culver and Gorman, while the remaining men were posted in and around the various buildings and sheds in the most advantageous positions obtainable.
Jones' position was particularly exposed, by reason of the short ravine before described, up which the savages swarmed to easy musket range in large numbers, compelling him to deliver his fire under the most trying circumstances. It soon becoming apparent that the Indians were in large enough force to maintain a continuous siege if so disposed, and that all the artillery ammunition was likely to be required, it was decided to remove at once into the stone building, from the magazine, the ammunition remaining there, consisting principally of the supply for extra fieldpieces.
The magazine stood on the open prairie to the northwest, and distant some two hundred yards, the only quarter from which the Indians could not approach under cover. McGrew now took position so as to command any locality from which men detailed for this duty could be reached by the enemy, and the ammunition was all safely brought in. Little Crow's original plan having met with such vigorous repulse on the northeast, the attacking force was distributed to all quarters, and the battle became general. For five hours an incessant fire was kept up on the fort. The men in the garrison were directed to waste no ammunition, and fired only when confident their shots would be effective; but found sufficient opportunity to maintain a steady return of the enemy's fire. The artillery did most efficient service in all directions throughout the entire engagement.
At dark the firing ceased. But the men remained where night found them, all in momentary expectation of further attack by the wily foe. Little Crow had, however, withdrawn his forces to the lower agencies. Rain commenced falling at midnight and continued throughout most of the following day.
Thursday passed without an engagement, and the day was improved by the construction of barricades, made of everything available, for the better protection of the gunners, especially at the southwest corner, where Jones was in position. A twelve-pounder fieldpiece was manned and put in position in reserve on the parade ground, under Sergeant Bishop of Company B. The officers, men and guns remained in the position assigned in Wednesday's battle, and so continued generally during the remainder of the siege.
Little Crow, believing that, Fort Ridgely once taken, his path to the Mississippi river would be comparatively clear, resolved to make one more desperate attempt at its capture, and on Friday, August 22d, his numbers having been largely augmented, a second and more furious attack was made. At about one o'clock p. m., dismounting and leaving their ponies a mile distant, with demoniac yells, the savages surrounded the fort, and at once commenced a furious musketry fire. The garrison returned the fire with equal vigor and with great effect on the yelling demons, who at first hoped by force of numbers to effect a quick entrance and had exposed themselves by a bold advance. This was soon checked, but from the cover of the slopes their fire was unceasing, while the very prairie seemed alive with those whose heads were clothed with turbans made of grass to conceal their movements.
Little Crow's plan in this attack, in case the first dash from all sides proved unsuccessful, was to pour a heavy, continuous fire into the fort from every direction, exhausting the garrison as much as possible, and then carry the fort later by assault upon the southwest corner. To this end he collected the greater portion of his forces in that quarter, and, taking possession of government stables and sutler's store, the fire literally riddled the building at that angle. It was found necessary to shell the buildings to dislodge the foe, resulting in their complete destruction by fire.
Attempts were made to fire the fort by means of burning arrows, but the roofs being damp from recent rains all efforts to this end were futile. Still, in pursuance of the plan of battle, the hail of bullets, the whizzing of arrows, and the blood curdling war-whoop were incessant. From the ravine on the northeast came an especially heavy attack, the object being to divert as far as practicable the defense to this side, and here some gallant and effective service was performed. Whipple, from the northeast corner, protected in every discharge by the hot musketry fire of Gere's detachment and the men of Company C to the left, swept the very grass to its roots all along the crest of the slope, while McGrew, improving the opportunity, with most conspicuous bravery, ran his howitzer out from the northeast corner to the very edge of the ravine, and delivered several enfilading volleys of canister down along the hillside, practically sweeping the savages from their position.
Now began the convergence to the southwest, the Indians passing from the opposite side in either direction. In moving around the northwest corner a wide detour was necessary to avoid the McGrew range, but the open prairie rendered the movement plainly apparent. Divining the object, McGrew hastily reported to Jones what was transpiring, and was authorized to bring out the twenty-four pounder, still in the park, with which McGrew went into position on the west line of the fort and at the south end of the commissary building. Meanwhile the fire in front of Jones' gun had become so hot and accurate as to splinter almost every lineal foot of timber along the top of his barricades, but he still returned shells at shortest possible range, himself and his gunners most gallantly exposing themselves in this service. During an interval in the fusilade Little Crow was heard urging, in the impassioned oratory of battle, the assault on the position. Jones double-charged his piece with canister and reserved his fire. Meanwhile McGrew had fired one shot from his twenty-four pounder at the party passing around the northeast, and, training his gun westerly, dropped his second shell at the point where this party had by this time joined the reserve of squaws, ponies and dogs, west of the main body. A great stampede resulted. The gun was swung to the left, bringing its fire between the two bodies of Indians. Its ponderous reverberations echoed up the valley as though twenty guns had opened, while the frightful explosion of its shells struck terror to the savages, and effectually prevented a consolidation of the forces.
At this juncture Jones depressed his piece and fired close to the ground, killing and wounding seventeen savages of the party who had nerved themselves for the final assault. Completely demoralized by this unexpected slaughter, firing suddenly ceased and the attacking party precipitately withdrew, their hasty retreat attended by bursting shells until they were beyond range of the guns. Thus, after six hours of continuous blazing conflict, alternately lit up by the flames of burning buildings and darkened by whirling clouds of smoke, terminated the second and last attack.
During the engagement, the men becoming short of musket ammunition, spherical case-shot were opened in the barracks, and women worked, with busy hands, making cartridges, while men cut nail rods into short pieces to use as bullets, the dismal whistling of which strange missiles was as terrifying to the savages as were their fiendish yells to the garrison. Incredible as it may appear, during these engagements at Fort Ridgely the loss of the garrison was only three men killed and thirteen wounded. Fighting on the defensive, and availing themselves of all the shelter afforded by the buildings and barricades, the infantry were admirably protected ; while, as before noted, as each piece of artillery was fired the enemy was kept down by hot musketry fire. The number of Indians engaged in the attack on the 20th is estimated at 500 to 600, and in the battle of the 22nd 1,200 to 1,500. Their loss in the two days could hardly have been less than one hundred, judging from the number found buried afterward in the immediate vicinity of the fort.
It was a battle on the part of the garrison to prevent a charge by the savages, which, had it been made, could hardly have failed, as Little Crow seemed confident, to result in the destruction of the garrison and the consequent horrible massacre of its three hundred refugees. It is but truth to add that no man in the garrison failed to do his duty, and that, worn by fatigue and suspense, and exhausted by loss of sleep, to the end every man was at his post bravely meeting whatever danger confronted him. The conspicuous gallantry of the artillerists was the theme of general praise, and the great value of their services was conceded by all, while the active and intelligent support that rendered their work possible is entitled to no less credit. Post Surgeon Mueller was active in attention to the wounded and sick, nobly seconded by his brave wife, who was, throughout the dark days, an angel of mercy and comfort to the sufferers, and who, with many other ladies, admirably illustrated the quality of most praise worthy courage in the midst of surrounding danger. While the withdrawal of the Indians on the 22d terminated the fighting at Fort Ridgely, the weary garrison could not be aware that such was the case, nor for a moment relax its vigilance; hence the forces continued to occupy the positions to which they had by this time become accustomed. The construction of a line of earthwork on the south side of the fort was begun, the roof of the commissary building was covered with earth to prevent fire, and the barricades were strengthened as much as possible. Four more long days of suspense ensued, no word from friend or foe reaching the garrison until the morning of Wednesday, August 27th, just nine days after the first dispatch for help had been sent by courier, when Col. Samuel McPhail, of the Minnesota mounted troops, and William R. Marshall, at that time a special agent dispatched by Governor Ramsey to hasten the relief of Fort Ridgely, rode into the fort with 175 volunteer citizen horsemen, having left St. Peter at four o'clock p. m. on the day previous, the advance guard of the expedition under General Sibley, whose infantry reached the fort on the 28th. Thus terminated the siege, and with its end came the much needed rest to the exhausted garrison.
An Indian chief, Big Eagle, in an interview in the Pioneer Press, says of the battle of Fort Ridgely:
"The second night at Fort Ridgely was made a grand affair. Little Crow was with us. Mr. Good Thunder, now at Birch Coulee agency, was with us. He counted the Indians as they filed past him on the march to the attack, and reported that there were eight hundred of us. He acted very bravely in the fight, and distinguished himself by running close up to the fort and bringing away a horse. He is now married to the former widow of White Dog, and both he and his wife are good Christian citizens. We went down determined to take the fort, for we knew it was of the greatest importance to us to have it. If we could take it we would soon have the whole Minnesota valley. But we failed, and, of course, it was best that we did fail.
"Though Little Crow was present, he did not take a very active part in the fight. As I remember, the chief leaders in the fight were: 'The Thief,' who was the head soldier in Mankato's band, and Mankato ('Blue Earth') himself. This Mankato was not the old chief for whom the town was named, but a sub-chief, the son of old Good Road. He was a very brave man, and a good leader. He was killed at the battle of Wood Lake by a cannon ball. We went down to the attack on both sides of the river. I went down on the south side with my men, and we crossed the river in front of the fort, and went up through the timber, and fought on that side next the river. The fight commenced about noon, on Friday, after the outbreak. We had a few Sissetons and Wakpatons with us, and some Winnebagoes, under Little Priest, were in this fight, and also at New Ulm. I saw them myself. But for the cannon, I think we would have taken the fort. The soldiers fought us so bravely that we thought there were more of them than there were. The cannons disturbed us greatly, but did not hurt many. We did not have many Indians killed. I think the whites put the number too large, and I think they overestimated the number killed in every battle. We seldom carry off our dead. We usually buried them in a secluded place on the battle field when we could. We always tried to carry away the wounded. When we retreated from Ridgely I crossed the river opposite the fort, and went up on the south side. All our army but the scouts fell back up the river to our villages near Red Wood agency, and then on up to the Yellow Medicine and the mouth of the Chippewa."
INCIDENTS OF THE BATTLE OF FORT RIDGELY.
During the battle an Indian got possession of a stable in the rear of Sergeant Jones' quarters, and held it for a long time, until Jones threw two shells into it from a mountain howitzer. They burst inside the stable, and set fire to some hay, and in a moment the stable was a sheet of flames. At once the Indian started out of the building, but a ball from George Dashner's gun brought him to the ground, and he started to crawl away, when Dashner said to his friend, Joe Latoier, "Come, Joe!" They both started for the stable, and, seizing the struggling Indian, they pitched him headlong into the raging fire, and giving an Indian war-whoop, returned unhurt into the fort, although the Indians fired several shots at them from the ravine. Retributive justice overtook this savage on the spot, and made him a "good Indian" against his wishes.
If fate governs the brain and guides the hand, it was active at Fort Ridgely, when it gave to the fort Sergeant John Jones on the day of battle, and protected Mrs. Jones during the terrible struggle. She was in a house which was one of the row of blockhouses in the rear of the barracks, with her little children and a young girl; but so sudden was the attack she could not get to a place of greater safety. The battle raged furiously around her during the afternoon, and an Indian came to the window, and, thrusting his gun through, fired at her as she crouched behind the stove, but the ball missed its mark, and the Indian did not return again, and afterward she escaped from her perilous situation.
THE SEVENTY-ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.
The long expected annuity money, $71,000, arrived about noon, in charge of C. G. Wykoff and four others, and was in the fort during the entire battle, but this was unknown to the Indians. This was the money which, on account of its delay, had caused so much discontent on the part of the Indians. It was a good illustration of the hazard and trouble arising from delay in making payments promptly when due, especially when dealing with the Indians. The government was able to have paid the money when it agreed to, and when it was due. It had ample time, for it was an annual payment, and it was due to its wards, who were starving and suffering. It is difficult to read of such negligent delay with patience. It is true that we had a terrible civil war on hand, but we had the same money and the same men to care for, and could have paid it weeks before, and such failure or omission of duty was criminal negligence, and one of the causes for which many of our Minnesota people paid the penalty with their lives. When will the government learn that its obligations are as sacred to persons as to nations, and that all national obligations should be performed with the utmost fidelity and promptness?
As already appears, Fort Ridgely was an important post during the Indian outbreak. It was originally built in 1853 and 1854, and located some eighteen miles north west of New Ulm. B. H. Randall, then sutler at the post, was made postmaster, and held the office until 1870. Mr. Randall had charge of a company of citizens at the battle of Fort Ridgely, and rendered very valuable service against the Indians. The fort has not been occupied since 1868, and the buildings have been allowed to go to decay. The cemetery contains two monuments. One in honor of Capt. John S. Marsh and the brave men in his command who were killed at the Red Wood ferry fight with the Indians; the other is dedicated to Mrs. Eliza Mueller, wife of Dr. Mueller, the post surgeon during the Indian attack. The sick and wounded bore willing testimony to her faithful and loving acts during those fearful days, and no more appropriate monument was ever erected than that which marks the last resting place of this noble woman, the Florence Nightingale of Fort Ridgely.
The state also presented each of the defenders of Fort Ridgely with a handsome bronze medal, especially struck for the purpose. It has a picture of the fort on one side, surrounded by the words, "Defenders of Fort Ridgely, Aug. 18-27, 1862." Just over the flag staff, in a scroll, is the legend in Sioux, "Ti-ya-pa-na-ta-ka-pi," meaning, "It shut the door against us," referring to the statement of one of the Indians in the attacking party in giving his view of the effect of the repulse. It did stop their further advance to Mankato, St. Peter and other Minnesota cities and villages.
SERGEANT JONES AND HIS GUN.
An incident connected with the outbreak is related by a reliable party as follows:
"I was looking towards the agency, and saw a large body of men coming towards the fort, and supposed them soldiers returning from the payment at Yellow Medicine. On a second look, I observed that they were mounted, and, knowing by this time that they must be Indians, was surprised at seeing so large a body, as they were not expected. I resolved to go into the garrison to see what it meant, having at the time not the slightest suspicion that the Indians intended any hostile demonstration. When I arrived at the garrison I found Sergeant Jones at the entrance, with a mounted howitzer, charged with shell and canister-shot, pointed towards the Indians, who were removed but a short distance from the guard-house. I inquired of the sergeant what it meant; whether any danger was apprehended. He replied indifferently, no; but that he thought it a good rule to observe, that a soldier should always be ready for any emergency.
"These Indians had requested the privilege to dance in the inclosure surrounding the fort. On this occasion this request was refused them. But I saw that, about sixty yards west of the guardhouse, the Indians were making the necessary preparations for a dance. I thought nothing of it, as they had frequently done the same thing, but a little further removed from the fort, under somewhat different circumstances. I considered it a singular exhibition of Indian foolishness, and, at the solicitation of a few ladies, went out, and was myself a spectator of the dance. "When the dance was concluded, the Indians sought, and obtained, permission to encamp on some rising ground, about a quarter of a mile west of the garrison. To this ground they soon repaired, and encamped for the night. The next morning by ten o'clock all had left the vicinity of the garrison, departing in the direction of the lower agency. This whole matter of the dance was so conducted as to lead most, if not all, the residents of the garrison to believe that the Indians had paid them that visit for the purpose of dancing and obtaining provisions for a feast.
"Some things were observable that were unusual. The visitors were all warriors, ninety-six in number, all in undress, except a very few who wore calico shirts; and, in addition to this, they all carried guns and tomahawks, with ammunition pouches suspended around their shoulders. Previous to the dance, the war implements were deposited some two hundred yards distant, where they had left their ponies. But even this circumstance, so far as it was then known, excited no suspicion of danger or hostilities in the minds of the residents of the garrison. These residents were thirty-five men (thirty soldiers and five citizens), with a few women and children. The guard that day consisted of three soldiers. One was walking leisurely to and fro in front of the guardhouse, the other two being off duty, passing about and taking their rest; and all entirely without apprehension of danger from Indians or any other foe. As the Indians left the garrison without doing any mischief, most of us supposed that no evil was meditated by them. But there was one man who acted on the supposition that there was always danger surrounding a garrison when visited by savages. That man was Sergeant Jones. From the time he took his position at the gun he never left it, but acted as he said he believed it best to do; that was, to be always ready. He not only remained at the gun himself, but retained two other men, whom he had previously trained as assistants to work the piece.
"Shortly before dark, without disclosing his intentions, Sergeant Jones said to his wife: 'I have a little business to attend to to-night. At bed-time I wish you to retire, and not to wait for me.' As he had frequently done this before, in the discharge of some official duty at the quartermaster's office, she did not think it singular, but did as he had requested, and retired at the usual hour. On awaking in the morning, however, she was surprised at finding that he was not there, and had not been in bed. In truth, this faithful soldier had stood by his gun through out the entire night, ready to fire if occasion demanded at any moment during that time; or could he be persuaded to leave that gun until all this party of Indians had entirely disappeared from the vicinity of the garrison.
"Some two weeks after this time those same Indians, with others, attacked Fort Ridgely, and, after some ten days' siege, the garrison was relieved by the arrival of soldiers under Gen. H. H. Sibley. The second day after General Sibley arrived, a man approached, who resided at the lower agency, a Frenchman of pure or mixed blood, whose name cannot now be disclosed. He appeared before Sergeant Jones, in a very agitated manner, and intimated that he had some disclosure to make to him; but no sooner had he made this intimation than he became extremely and violently agitated, and seemed to be in a perfect agony of mental perturbation. Sergeant Jones said to him: 'If you have anything to disclose, you ought, at once to make it known.' This man repeated that he had disclosures to make, but that he did not dare to make them; and although Sergeant Jones urged him by every consideration in his power to tell what he knew, the man seemed to be so completely under the dominion of terror that he was unable to divulge the great secret. 'Why,' said he, 'they will kill me, they will kill me, sir. They will kill my wife and children.' Saying which, he turned and walked away.
"Shortly after the first interview this troubled man returned to Sergeant Jones, when again the sergeant urged him to disclose what he knew, and promised him that if he would do so that he would keep his name a profound secret forever; that if the information which he should disclose should lead to the detection and punishment of the guilty, the name of the informant should never be made known. Being thus assured, the Frenchman became more calm. Hesitating a moment, he inquired of Sergeant Jones if he remembered that, some two weeks before, a party of Indians came down to the fort to have a dance. Sergeant Jones replied that he did. 'Why,' said the Frenchman, 'do you know that those Indians were all warriors of Little Crow, or some of the other of the lower bands? Sir, these Indians had all been selected for the purpose, and came down to Fort Ridgely, by the express command of Little Crow and the other chiefs, to get permission to dance; and, when all suspicion should be completely lulled, in the midst of the dance, to seize their weapons, kill every person in the fort, then to seize the big guns, open the magazine and secure the ammunition, when they would be joined by all the remaining warriors of the lower bands. Thus armed, and increased by numbers, they were to proceed together down the valley of the Minnesota. With this force and these weapons they were assured they could drive every white man beyond the Mississippi.
"All this, the Frenchman informed Sergeant Jones, he had learned by being present at a council, and from conversations had with other Indians, who had told him they had gone to the garrison for that very purpose. When he had concluded this revelation Sergeant Jones inquired, 'Why did they not execute their purpose? Why did they not take the fort?' The Frenchman replied: 'Because they saw, during all their dance, and their stay at the fort, that big gun constantly pointed at them.'
BATTLE OF BIRCH COULEE.
At the battle of Birch Coulee the whites consisted of seventy men of the Cullen guards, under Capt. Joseph Anderson, a detail of infantry under Capt. Hiram P. Grant, a few other soldiers and some citizens, in all about one hundred and fifty men, with several teams and teamsters who had been sent from Fort Ridgely to the lower agency to bury the dead killed by the Indians. They went as far as Little Crow's village, and performed the duty of burying those they found unburied, but found no signs of Indians anywhere. On their return they had reached Birch Coulee, and encamped at the head of it, on the open prairie within two hundred and fifty feet of the brush of the coulee. On one side of the camp was a rise in the ground, probably unobserved; but it gave the Indians a great advantage, of which they at once availed themselves, as the Indian scouts had watched, the white soldiers before, at the time they went into camp. That those in command were lulled into a belief of the absence of Indians was surprising, but in dealing with hostile Indians we should always remember General Washington's advice to General St. Clair, "Beware of a surprise." The report of Capt. Hiram P. Grant, Sixth Minnesota Infantry, is so complete that I quote it in full:
"Sunday morning, August 31st, at Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, I was ordered to report in person to Col. William Crooks, commanding my regiment. I reported, and received the following orders: To take command of an expeditionary force, consisting of Company A, Sixth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Capt. Joseph Anderson's company of Mounted Rangers and a detail of twenty men, as a burial party, making the aggregate one hundred and fifty men, and proceed at once to make a reconnaissance toward the lower agency, bury the dead and afford relief to any who might have escaped the Indians. I was also ordered to see that each man had forty rounds of ammunition and two days' rations. The ordnance officer was ordered to turn over to me 3,000 rounds of extra ammunition and the quartermaster what transportation we might need. A carefully detailed route was given me, both Colonel Crooks and myself believing that the march could be made and all details carried out, and that we could return to Fort Ridgely on the evening of September 1st. I was further told that a few citizens, whose families or friends had been killed, were desirous of going along with the expedition, and I was requested to permit them to do so. Among the anxious ones Colonel Crooks mentioned Maj. J. R. Brown, who feared his family had been killed, and Colonel Crooks told me that Major Brown was well posted in Indian signs, character, etc., and if circumstances should arise so that I wanted advice, to consult the major. About 9:30 a. m. the detail and Captain Anderson having reported, we marched out of Fort Ridgely, taking the usual road across the prairie to the ferry at the lower agency, distant about twelve miles. On the way to the ferry we buried several dead bodies, among whom I recognized Bill Taylor, a colored citizen of St. Paul, whom all old settlers will remember. At the ferry we found the bodies of about twenty soldiers of Captain Marsh's command, who were killed the first day of the massacre while attempting to cross the ferry to the lower agency. We also found here the body of United States Interpreter Quinn. While engaged in burying the dead around the ferry, I sent a part of the command across the river to the agency, to reconnoiter and to bury the killed there, with orders to return when their work was accomplished, and to follow me to camp. After leaving the ferry I moved the command up the east side of the river about five miles and went into camp; was soon joined by Captain Anderson. The usual pickets were detailed, and at nine p. m. those not on duty were in the tents, lights out, etc. No alarm occurred during the night. At daylight the camp was aroused to prepare breakfast. As soon as everything was ready I again divided my command, sending Captain Anderson with his mounted rangers back to cross the river, go up the west side through Little Crow's village, and to go toward Yellow Medicine to see if any Indians were below there. With my command I followed up the valley toward Beaver Creek, occasionally halting to bury whole families, men, women and children, who had been overtaken by the Indians and massacred.
About ten a. m., while riding at the head of my command, I saw what I thought to be an Indian drop into the grass about one mile toward the Minnesota river. I halted the command, sent a force of twenty men to surround what I had seen; to capture if white, but to kill if Indian. When they had closed in on the spot they found a woman who, thirteen days before, had seen her husband and three children killed. She had been told to run, and when she was three or four rods off one of the Indians had fired at her and put nine buckshot into her back. Then they had cut her clothes off her, and while doing so had cut a gash about four inches long over her stomach and left her for dead on the field. When she came to her senses and realized the loss of her family her brain gave way, and she wandered around unconscious for twelve days, subsisting on roots and water. Discovering her condition, I rode forward with a soldier's blanket and wrapped it around her, carried her to one of the wagons and made her a grass bed. Other soldiers kindly gave her their only blanket. Dr. Daniels dressed her wounds and made her as comfortable as possible. After an hour's delay we went to Beaver creek, where we found some thirty bodies and buried them. Then we went some three miles beyond, left the valley and climbed the hills to the right up to the open prairie, where we struck a trail which led us by the burned houses of Caruthers and Henderson. We found the body of Caruthers' son to the right of the road, about one mile from home; also found what remained of Mrs. Henderson and her babe. Mrs. Henderson being sick, they, learning that the Indians were massacring settlers, fixed a bed in a wagon and started to escape. They were overtaken and killed, the feather bed having been pulled out of the wagon, set on fire, and the bodies of mother and babe about half consumed. We now realized that our delays made it impossible to reach Fort Ridgely that night, as we were then about twenty-two miles from the fort and six miles from Birch Coulee, the nearest place to get water. I now marched direct to the coulee along the road where it is open prairie for several miles each side. I rode forward and selected my camp about forty rods north of the woods and about the same distance west of the coulee. About the same distance west of the camp was a meadow; north of the camp it was an open prairie for miles. When the teams came up I had them placed in a circle and ropes stretched from wagon to wagon to picket horses to. Our tents were put up inside this circle, my company on the north, Captain Anderson's on the south side of the camp. About sundown Captain Anderson came in, having ridden about forty miles. He reported they had been well up toward Yellow Medicine, came back, re-crossed the Minnesota seven miles further up than I had been, and that they had seen no Indians, but signs indicated the redskins had gone north four days before. Major Brown had been with Captain Anderson during the day. From all reports I did not think there were any Indians within twenty miles of us. However, I detailed thirty men, besides non-commissioned officers and an officer of the guard, and established ten picket posts at equal distances apart around the camp, with three men at each post. Soon the camp was quiet. The tired men were glad to get repose and rest. All went well until just before daylight. Private William Hart discovered what he thought was a dog or wolf crawling between his post and the camp. He fired, and it proved to be an Indian. Other Indians raised themselves enough to be seen. Several of the guard fired. The Indians gave their war-whoop, and rushed toward the camp. The guards came rushing back into camp. TheIndians did not fire until within eight or ten rods of the camp, intending to make a sure thing of us by shooting us down as we came out of our tents. My company came out of their tents and started to form in line. I gave the order to break to right and left, get behind the wagons and commence firing. Our horses had received most of the bullets up to this time, and as they fell our men threw themselves behind them. At the order to break and commence firing, the brave and fearless Lieutenant Gillham sang out, 'Follow, boys !' and some thirty men sprang with him to defend the east side of the camp. Lieutenant Baldwin took charge of about the same number at the north east side of the camp. With the remainder of my company I took charge of the northwest and west, Captain Anderson taking the south. After one hour's fighting we had driven the Indians all back to at least long range, but it had been at fearful cost. Already twenty-two of our men were dead or mortally wounded. Sixty more had received serious or slight wounds. One-half of our whole force was killed or wounded. Eighty-five horses were dead, leaving only two alive. One of the two horses that had not been injured was my own faithful horse. I went up to him, slipped the halter off, and he went about three rods from camp. During the day he fed altogether around the camp, and about sundown he walked inside of the camp and placed himself where he had stood the night before, turned his head around and neighed. I went up to him to put his halter on, when some of the boys shouted, 'Down, Captain.' Horse and myself fell together, he with seven bullets in him, I unhurt. As soon as we had forced the Indians back I put every man I could spare digging and throwing up breastworks. We had nothing but our bayonets to dig with, but by noon we had ourselves pretty well entrenched, using our dead soldiers and horses to help our breast works. The Indians were lying in the grass watching for some one to show himself; our men were watching for an Indian. About this time the men commenced to say, 'This is my last cartridge.' I then had the three thousand extra ones brought from the wagon and commenced distributing them, when we discovered that the ordnance officer had given us sixty-two caliber for fifty-eight caliber rifles. Immediately I put the men to work whittling down the balls to the size of our rifles, and now gave orders not to fire except when necessary, a precaution taken none too soon, as when relieved the next day we did not have over five rounds to the man left. In the early morning of September 2d General Sibley, at Ridgely, hearing the firing at our camp, although sixteen miles away, promptly ordered Colonel McPhail to take three companies of the Sixth Infantry, three companies of his mounted men, in all two hundred and forty men, together with a section (two guns) of Captain Hendricks' battery, and make a forced march to our relief. (The exact number of this force is stated by General Sibley.)
"At our camp all was quiet. Occasionally a stray bullet came into camp. At four o'clock, however, we saw quite a commotion among the Indians. There appeared to be large numbers of them crossing the coulee east. In a few moments our hearts felt glad, for McPhail's command hove in sight, about two miles across the coulee. I gave orders to fire a few shots to let them know that we were still alive. The Indians fired perhaps twenty shots at long range toward McPhail's command, when that officer retired to the east side of the east coulee and encamped. He sent two messengers to General Sibley, with the information that he had met the Indians, and that they were too many for him, and reinforcements were asked for. Everything was quiet in our camp until about two p. m., when the Indians made a show to take our camp. A few volleys from our watchful men quieted them.
"During the night the Indians had been reinforced by about five hundred warriors. On September 3d the day light and sunrise were most beautiful, but we discovered large bodies of Indians southwest and' north of us, circling around and closing up nearer to us. An Indian (probably Little Crow's brother) came riding directly toward us, on a white horse, waving a white flag. He rode to within twenty rods, stopped, and held a conversation with my interpreter, Corp. James Auge of Mendota. "He said the Indians had largely reinforced during the night; that they were now as many as the leaves on the trees; that we stood no show to resist them any longer; that they were now going to charge the camp and should take no prisoners; but if the half-breeds and all of those who had Indian blood in them would march out and give themselves up they would be protected. Those with us who had any Indian blood gathered around the interpreter, - some eight or ten. I asked them what they were going to do. Corporal Auge, with some hesitation, answered for them : 'We are going to stay with you, Captain.' I then told Auge to tell them that they did not nave Indians enough to take our camp; that we were still two hundred men; that each had two rifles loaded, and all the Indians that wanted to die should come at once; that we defied them (it was only a small exaggeration in regard to numbers, as we really had but about sixty-five men who had not been killed or wounded). I instructed the interpreter to tell him to get out of the way; that we could not respect a flag of truce for any such offer as he had made, and to go at once. He turned his horse and rode slowly toward the meadow. I then gave the order to fire. About twenty shots were fired at him. We killed his horse, but he got off safely. Then there was great excitement among the Indians, who all the while were circling closer and closer around us, myself and officers of the command telling our soldiers to hold their fire, lay low until the Indians were close upon us, and then to take good aim and fire and seize the other gun and repeat. We assured the men they could not take the camp, and I think most of the men believed us. We now expected a general attack, and while almost holding our breath, expecting every moment to hear their war-whoop, we discovered a large, powerful Indian come up out of the woods, yelling at the top of his voice. I asked Interpreter Auge what he said. He said that he told the Indians that there were three miles of white men coming. This made our hearts beat with joy, for we knew that some one besides Colonel McPhail was coming to our relief.
"When McPhail's courier reached Fort Ridgely General Sibley immediately ordered Colonel Crooks, with the remainder of the regiment, and Colonel William R. Marshall, who had arrived that day with his regiment, to start at once to our support. At daybreak the relief, marching by flank, was seen by this Indian, and accordingly he hastened to report that three miles of white men were coming. We now saw that the attack on our camp had been abandoned, and that the great body of Indians was crossing the coulee toward where General Sibley was coming. About this time the command came into sight, halted at the same place where McPhail had retreated from the day before, and after a few moments resumed their march, moved further up the coulee, crossed over and relieved us, without loss of another life. The sight that met our rescuers - the eighty-seven dead horses; twenty-two dead soldiers; the poor woman who had remained inthe wagon forty-eight hours without food or water (the wagon had been struck with more than fifty bullets, and she had been shot again through the right arm); the sixty wounded soldiers, who had been nearly forty-eight hours without food, water or sleep ; the seriously wounded, with parched throats, crying for water; the stench from the dead horses, that were already bursting open - was a scene long to be remembered. The wounded were gathered up, placed in wagons, and the command started for Fort Ridgely, where we arrived about eight o'clock that evening.
"So many years have passed that, should I attempt to recall the names of those who contributed most of the defense of our camp, I might do injustice; suffice it to say all did well, and a few such men as Captain Anderson, Lieutenant Swan, Lieutenant Gillham, Sergeant Barnes, Sergeant Gardner, Corporal Auge, Hon. James J. Egan of the Rangers, and George D. Redfield, a citizen, by their courage and bravery, helped others to be brave and courageous. All did well. After a night's sleep at Fort Ridgely I made my report of this expedition, and when it was ready took it personally to my commanding officer. It was handed back to me, and I was coolly informed that I should make my report to Maj. Joseph R. Brown, who was in command of the expedition. This was the first I had heard of it. We had been gone four days, two of which we had been engaged in deadly fight; no order had been given me by Major Brown; not an intimation that he considered himself in command. To say that I was angry when told to make my report to him would only express half what I felt. I then and there destroyed my report and never made another.
"If any blame rests on any one for selections of camps, or in carrying out any of the details of the expedition, it rests upon me. All officers, soldiers and citizens obeyed my orders; I had the full charge."
Among the many brave men in the battle was Dr. Jared W. Daniels, the only physician, when one-third of the command was either killed or wounded. He was a brother of Dr. A. D. Daniels, one of the heroes of the battle at New Ulm. For seven years he had been the government physician at the upper Sioux agency. When this most terrible battle commenced he was at all times in great personal danger, as he went around among the wounded. The balls fell thick and fast around him during the entire battle, but he never flinched for a moment. For thirty-six hours he neither slept nor tasted a morsel of food, so great was the demand upon him. Bareheaded and active, he was a prominent mark for the savage rifle as he dressed and bound up the wounds of the men, but he seemed to bear a charmed life, and was relieved by General Sibley's command.
It appears that the Indians did not continue the fight or make any attack during the night. They seldom attack an enemy while it is dark. It is a superstition among them that a man killed in the dark exists through all eternity in darkness. Early daylight is their favorite time to attack an enemy, when he is supposed to be unprepared for a sudden assault.
Chief Big Eagle describes the Indian side of the battle of Birch Coulee as follows :
"Our scouts brought word that our old friend, Wapetonhanska ('The Long Trader'), as we called General Sibley, was coming up against us, and in a few days we learned that he had come to Fort Ridgely with a large number of soldiers. Little Crow, with a strong party, went over into the Big Woods, toward Forest City and Hutchinson. After he had gone I and the other subchiefs concluded to go down and attack New Ulm again, and take the town, and cross the river to the east, or in the rear of Fort Ridgely, where Sibley was, and then our movements were to be governed by circumstances. We had left our villages near the Redwood in some haste and alarm, expecting to be followed after the defeat at Ridgely, and had not taken all our property away. So we took many of our women with us to gather up the property and some other things, and we brought along some wagons to haul them off.
"We came down the main road on the south side of the river, and were several hundred strong. We left our camps in the morning and got to our old villages in the afternoon. When the men in advance reached Little Crow's village, which was on the high bluff on the south side of the Minnesota, below the mouth of the Redwood, they looked to the north across the valley and up on the high bluff on the north side, and out on the prairie some miles away they saw a column of mounted men and some wagons coming out of the Beaver creek timber on the prairie and going eastward. We also saw signs in Little Crow's village that white men had been there a few hours before. Judging from the trail they had made when they left, these were the men we now saw to the northward. There was, of course, a little excitement, and the column halted. Four or five of our best scouts were sent across the valley to follow the movements of the soldiers, creeping across the prairie like so many ants.
"It was near sundown, and we knew they would soon go into camp, and we thought the camping ground would be somewhere on the Birch Coulee, where there was wood and water. The women went to work to load the wagons, the scouts followed the soldiers carefully, and a little after sundown returned with the information that they had gone into camp at the head of Birch Coulee.
"At this time we did not know there were two companies there. We thought the company of mounted men (Captain Anderson's) was all, and that there were not more than seventy-five men. It was concluded to surround the camp that night and attack it at daylight. We felt sure that we could capture it, and that 200 men would be enough for the undertaking, so about that number were selected. There were four bands, my own, Hu-sha-sha's ('Red Legs'), Gray Bird's and Mankato's. I had about thirty men. Nearly all the Indians had double-barreled shotguns, and we loaded them with buckshot and large bullets called 'traders' balls.' After dark we started, crossed the river and valley, went up the bluffs and on the prairie, and soon saw the white tents and the wagons of the camp. We had no difficulty in surrounding the camp. Pickets were only a little way from us. I led my men up from the west through the grass, and took up a position 200 yards from the camp, behind a small knoll or elevation. Red Legs took his men into the coulee, east of the camp. Mankato (Blue Earth) had some of his men in the coulee and some on the prairie; Gray Bird and his men were mostly on the prairie.
Just at dawn the fight began, and continued all day and the following night and until late the next morning. Both sides fought well. Owing to the white men's way of fighting they lost many men. Owing to the Indian's way of fighting they lost but few. The white men stood up and exposed themselves at first, but at last they learned to keep quiet. The Indians always took care of themselves. They had an easy time of it. We could crawl through the grass into the coulee and get water whenever we wanted it, and in a few hours the women crossed the river and came up near the bluff and cooked for us, and we could go back and eat and then return to the fight. We did not lose many men; indeed, I only saw two dead Indians, and I never heard that any more were killed. The two I saw were in the coulee, and belonged to Red Leg's band. One was a Wakpeton named Ho-ton-na ('Animal's Voice') and the other was a Sisseton. Their bodies were taken down the coulee and buried during the fight. We had several men wounded, but none very badly. I did not see the incident which is related, of an Indian, a brother of Little Crow, who, it is said, rode up on a white horse near the camp with a white flag, and held a parley, and had his horse killed as he rode away. That must have happened while I was absent from the field eating my dinner. Little Crow had no brother there. The White Spider was not there. I think Little Crow's brothers were with him in the Big Woods at this time. The only Indian horse I saw killed at this time that I remember was a bay. Buffalo Ghost succeeded in capturing a horse from the camp. Late in the day some of the men who had been left in the villages came over on their horses to see what the trouble was that the camp had not been taken, and they rode about the prairie, but I don't think many of them got into the fight. I do not remember that we got many reinforcements during that day. If we got any they must have come up the coulee, and I did not see them. Perhaps some horsemen came up on the east side of the coulee, but I knew nothing about it. I am sure that no reinforcements came to me; I did not need any. Our circle about the camp was rather small and we could only use a certain number of men. About the middle of the afternoon our men became much dissatisfied at the slowness of the fight and the stubbornness of the whites, and the word was passed along the lines to get ready to charge the camp. The brave Mankato wanted to charge after the first hour. There were some half-breeds with the whites who could speak Sioux well, and they heard us arranging to assault them. Jack Frazier told me afterwards that he heard us talking about it very plainly. Alex Faribault was there, and heard the talk, and he called out to us: "You do very wrong to fire on us. We did not come out to fight. We only came out to bury the bodies of the white people you have killed.' I have heard that Faribault, Frazier and another half-breed dug a rifle pit for themselves with bayonets, and that Faribault worked so hard with his bayonet in digging that he wore the flesh from the inside of his hand. One half-breed, named Louis Brouier, attempted to desert to us, but as he was running towards us some of our men shot and killed him. We could have taken the camp, I think. During the fight the whites had thrown up breastworks, but they were not very high and we could easily have jumped over them. We did not know that Major Joe Brown was there; if we had I think some of our men would have charged anyhow, for they wanted him out of the way. Some years ago I saw Captain Grant in St. Paul, and he told me he was in command of the camp at Birch Coulee. Just as we were about to charge word came that a large number of mounted soldiers were coming up from the east towards Fort Ridgely. This stopped the charge, and created some excitement. Mankato at once took some men from the coulee, and went out to meet them. He told me he did not take more than fifty, but he scattered them out and they all yelled and made such a noise that the whites must have thought there were many more, and they stopped on the prairie and began fighting. They had a cannon, and used it, but it did no harm. If the Indians had any men killed in the fight I never heard of it. Mankato flourished his men around so, and all the Indians in the coulee kept up a noise, and at last the whites began to fall back, and in the end they retreated about two miles and began to build breastworks. Mankato followed them, and left about thirty men to watch them, and returned to the fight at the coulee with the rest. The Indians were laughing when they came back at the way they had deceived the white men, and we were all glad that the whites did not push forward and drive us away. If any more Indians went against this force than the fifty, or possibly seventy-five, that I have told you of, I never heard of it. I was not with them, and cannot say positively, but I do not think there were. I went out to near the fortified camp that night, and there was no large force of Indians over there, and I know that there were not more than thirty of our men watching the camp. When the men of this force began to fall back, the whites in the camp halloed and made a great commotion, as if they were begging them to return and relieve them, and seemed much distressed that they did not. The next morning General Sibley came with a large force and drove us away from the field."
HENRY HASTINGS SIBLEY.
General Sibley was born at Detroit, Michigan, February 20, 1811. His father was Judge Solomon Sibley, a native of Massachusetts. His mother was Sarah W. Sproat, a daughter of Col. Ebenezer Sproat, who was an officer in the patriot army in the War of the Revolution. Her maternal grandfather was Commodore Abraham Whipple, of the American navy. General Sibley settled at Mendota in 1834, where he lived for twenty-eight years. He became the chief factor in the fur trade, and knew the general character of the country and its occupants, and his knowledge of the characteristics of the Indians probably surpassed that of any other white man at the time. He traded with them, learned their language, visited them, hunted with them and lodged in their tepees and wigwams. He spoke the Sioux language fluently, and was a good French scholar. The Indians gave him two names; one was Wah-ze-o-man-nee ("Walker in the Pines"), and the other Wah-pe-ton-hauska ("The Tall Trader"). He was the first delegate elected to Congress from the Territory of Minnesota. This was October 30, 1848. On the third day of March, 1849, he secured the passage of the organic act establishing the Territory of Minnesota, his former election as delegate having been from that portion of Wisconsin left over after its admission as a state. This organic act provided that Minnesota should retain for educational purposes sections sixteen and thirty-six of each township, and constituted the basis of Minnesota's grand educational system of today.
After the expiration of his term in congress he repeatedly held many important offices, but none so momentous as that of commander of the military forces against the hostile Sioux, from 1862 to 1865, first commissioned colonel the day after the Indian outbreak, and six days after the battle of Wood Lake he was appointed brigadier general by the president. Estimated and measured according to his merits, General Sibley was a great man, and his military record won for him much praise, but not the renown it deserved. Fate is not as kind to some men as it ought to be, while others ride on the waves of popular applause, through partisan bias and personal friend ship, where real merit is frequently wanting. The manner in which General Sibley planned and carried out his Indian campaign, his rescue of the 270 captives held as prisoners by the hostile Indians, his love for our educational institutions, his generosity and sense of personal honor and integrity, entitle his name to be revered and his acts regarded by the present and future generations as worthy of praise and admiration. He died February 18, 1891.
BATTLE OF WOOD LAKE.
The story of this battle is best told by those who participated in it, and by none better than by Hon. Ezra T. Champlain, late speaker of the house of representatives. His recollections are quoted in full as follows:
"Sept. 23, 1862, the expedition against the Sioux Indians, under the command of General Sibley, was encamped at Wood Lake, in what is now Yellow Medicine county. The command consisted of about 2,000 men, including some 275 men of the Third Minnesota Infantry, paroled prisoners just returned from the South. At this time nearly all the commissioned officers were held prisoners of war in the South, there being but one officer of the regiment, Lieut. R. C. Olin, accompanying us. Before starting on the expedition, and while at Fort Snelling, Maj. A. E. Welch, formerly of the First Minnesota Infantry, was placed in command of the detachment of the Third. Our camp, which stood on the eastern shore of the little lake, was upon high ground, overlooking the surrounding prairie. Eastward, a short distance, was the Minnesota river, and to the north of the camp, about a quarter of a mile, ran the outlet of the lake, a small stream that a man could leap. Occupying a position in camp nearest this stream was our detachment.
"It was a fine morning, when, about seven or eight o'clock, several company wagons of the Third, each containing a few men, left camp for the purpose of foraging, and made their way toward the government agency at Yellow Medicine, the ruins of which were some three miles distant.
"I may as well state here that the Third, galled by a humiliating surrender at Murfreesborough, Tenn., by a recreant and cowardly commander, had lost in a great measure their former high discipline, and were quite unruly, anxious only to redeem in the field their wounded honor, and this foraging move was, I think, wholly unauthorized.
"Company G wagon leading, they crossed the outlet of the lake and had reached the high land beyond, about one-half mile from camp, when a party of twenty-five warriors sprang up from the grass, where they lay concealed, and fired a volley into the leading wagon, which was some twenty rods in advance, mortally wounding Degrove Kimball and wounding others. William McGee immediately sprang from the wagon, and returned the fire; the men in the rear wagons joined in the fray, and the battle of Wood Lake had commenced.
"The attack was made in full view of the camp, and as soon as the firing was heard our young and resolute commander, not waiting for orders from General Sibley, shouted, 'All who want to fight, fall in.' A general rush was made for our guns, and in a minute or two about two hundred of us were on the double-quick for the scene of action. Deploying one-half the little command as skirmishers, with the remainder following in reserve, we moved swiftly forward on the now rapidly increasing forces of Little Crow.
"Passing to the right of where the first attack was made and toward the main body of the Indians in sight, we were joined by the foraging party, and pushing for ward were soon engaged by the whole savage force, which to the number of eight hundred attacked us in front and on both sides.
"Our thorough drill in the South showed here to good advantage; our skirmish line moved steadily forward, firing rapidly, forcing the enemy back toward the bluffsof the Minnesota river. The scene from the reserve at this point remains vivid in my mind. The savages formed a semi-circle in our front, and to right and left, moving about with great activity, howling like demons, firing and retreating, their quick movements seeming to multiply their numbers. We were whipping them in fine shape, driving them back over the undulating prairie. A retrospect brings to mind Tennyson's charge of the Light Brigade, with Indians to right of us, Indians to left of us, Indians in front of us, whooping and yelling; when suddenly an officer from General Sibley came charging in upon us, hastily calling for Major Welch. Approaching that officer, he spoke a few words to him, then wheeling his horse, he shouted, 'Get back to camp the best way you can,' and sped away as though he had just escaped 'out from the mouth of hell.'
"That command given by the horseman, with a mistake in the bugle call, created much confusion. The reserve about-faced; the skirmishers on the right came running in on the reserve. Sergeants McDonald and Bowler on the left kept the line of skirmishers steady, fighting their way back to the reserve. The battle from this point, about one mile from the camp, back over the line over which we had just moved, was disordered and independent, each man doing his best to keep the overwhelming savages from closing in upon us. A continuous fusillade was poured into their converging ranks. Little Crow, seizing the advantage that our retreat gave him, endeavored to cut us off from support, but our fire was too hot for them. Our line of retreat lay down a descent to the creek we had crossed, with rolling hills on either side, and here was pandemonium itself, - with Indians to the right of us, Indians to the left of us, Indians behind us, charging and yelling. Crossing the stream, a stand was made on the plateau between it and camp, and here, joined by the company of Renville Rangers, the fight was kept up for an hour longer, the Indians taking advantage of the low hills that bordered the narrow intervals along the creek. The Third and Rangers, covered by the tall grass and intervening knolls, with grass bound on their hats, fought them Indian fashion. Their fire kept little knots of them constantly bearing away their killed and wounded beyond our reach. An attempt was made to attack our camp by passing around the lake, but a detachment of the Sixth regiment met and quickly dispersed them.
"At this time, Lieutenant Olin of the Third, with about fifty men, made a wild charge into the midst of the savages, completely routing those in our front. This charge was so sudden and unexpected by them that we came nearly to a hand-to-hand encounter. Fourteen or fifteen were here killed and fell into our hands, they having no time to carry them away.
"At this point, and simultaneous with the charge of the Third, a part of the Seventh Infantry, under Colonel Marshall, and some companies of the Sixth, under Major McLaren, moved out to our right, and, gallantly charging the savages, swept the bottom below, driving them from the tall grass and over the adjoining hill in great confusion. Little Crow gave up the contest and withdrew to his camp, a few miles up the Minnesota river, which two days later fell into our hands, together with a large number of warriors and their families.
"During our retreat every man seemed possessed with the idea that he was a commander. Brave Major Welch did all that a man could do at such a time to hold the men in line. Above the din of musketry and the war-whoops of the Indians, I remember the hoarse voice of Sergt. J. M. Bowler, roaring like a madman: 'Remember Murfreesborough! Fight, boys! Remember Murfreesborough!'
"As we crossed the stream and gained the higher land, a ball struck our gallant commander, breaking his leg. He called out, 'I'm shot; take me in!' I was near him at the time, and, springing to his side, caught him as he fell, and with the help of a comrade bore him into camp, a distance of about a quarter of a mile. On our way two or three men ran past us. The brave officer saw them, and with his broken limb swinging from our arms he ordered them back. I remember his words: 'Go back and fight, you white-livered cowards; go back and fight, or I'll shoot you.' On reaching camp I said to him: 'We'll leave you here behind these wagons; they afford some protection.' 'No,' said he, pointing to a little eminence, 'take me up on the hill, where I can see the fight:' So we left him on the hill, with his face to the foe.
"Returning to the field I remember the appearance of one of our comrades, H. D. Pettibone, with his face covered with blood from a gunshot wound in the head. He was still fighting like a hero.
"This brief narrative of my recollections of this memorable engagement will not admit of a record of individual heroism. Suffice to say that it was individual bravery that brought us out of what at one time seemed annihilation.
"Wood Lake must always be considered the great battle of the Sioux war. While not so severe in casualties as Birch Coulee or so terrible in its character, in results its importance must be conceded. It was the Waterloo for that bold and wily chieftain, Little Crow, and the closing scene in that most terrible of Indian wars. One hundred and twenty white captives were released, - women and children who had been subjected to the most inhuman barbarities by their merciless captors. More than 400 warriors were made prisoners, including the thirty-eight executed at Mankato, besides some 1,500 women and children, with 150 tepees. The 'History of the Minnesota Valley' gives the number of warriors under Little Crow at Wood Lake at 300. This I think a great error, as the number of warriors captured then and soon after would indicate. Little Crow brought all his force to bear, as it was a vital point, his main camp being but a few miles beyond. Eight hundred was the estimate made at the time, and it is probably not far from being correct.
"The battle was fought almost wholly by the Third regiment, joined by the Renville Rangers, a fact that the hitherto published accounts have failed to note, and one that the casualties in killed and wounded, forty in number, clearly show, and certainly one which every member of the old organization should take pains to establish beyond a doubt, that history may do justice to us and our brave comrades who have taken their last furlough.
"It is but fair to suppose that Major Welch, impulsive as he was, could not restrain himself in camp while the savages were shooting down his men in plain sight, andhis rash act in leading his small force into the midst of. Little Crow's warriors was impelled by his bold and in trepid spirit.
"In writing the above I have endeavored to state as clearly and fairly as I could what came under my personal observation, and I hope that it will meet the approval, in the main, of my comrades of the Third and also of the commanding general.
"In conclusion, I will say that much dissatisfaction existed in our detachment at the course pursued by the general commanding against the Sioux. But after twenty-four years have cooled the ardor of my youth, I, for one, am satisfied that it was well for the Third that a cooler head and a steadier hand was over and controlling us than that of our impetuous, brave and gallant commander, Major Welch.
"E. T. CHAMPLIN,
"Late Company G, Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry."
The Third Minnesota Infantry was composed of intelligent and gallant men, but its surrender at Murfreesborough by the cowardly acts of its officers, Col. Henry C. Lester and others, had enraged the patriotic officers and men, and the bitterness of the criminal surrender seemed to move them to win a glorious victory against the hostile Indians. No man faltered, and each man seemed a hero. Private Benjamine Dinsmore was struck down by a bullet, and while being carried from the field, although weak from the loss of blood, begged to be left in the midst of battle, and fought until the field was won. Corp. Henry D. Pettibone, while carrying off a wounded soldier, was himself wounded, but returned to the battle field, and fought until the enemy was completely whipped. Private John Miller, although wounded and nearly exhausted from loss of blood, continued to fight until the end. In this detachment of 250 men, forty were killed or wounded, and two of the killed were scalped. All were exemplary soldiers, and while many of the men fought comparatively alone, only one commissioned officer being present, their gallant conduct entitled them to the thanks and gratitude of all Minnesotans.
I also quote the Indian chief, Big Eagle's, statement as to the battle of Wood Lake:
"When we learned that Sibley had gone into camp at the Wood Lake, a council of the sub-chiefs and others was held, and it was determined to give him a battle near there. I think the lake now called Battle Lake was the old-time Wood Lake. As I understand it, there once were some cottonwoods about it, and the Indians called it M'dachan, - Wood Lake. The larger lake was always known to me by the Indian name of Hinta-pay-an-wo-ju, meaning literally, 'The planting place of the man who ties his moccasins with basswood bark.' We soon learned that Sibley had thrown up breastworks, and it was not deemed safe to attack him at the lake. We concluded that the fight should be about a mile or more to the northwest of the lake, on the road along which the troops would march. This was the road leading to the upper country, and, of course, Sibley would travel it. At the point determined on we planned to hide a large number of men on the side of the road. Near the lake, in a ravine formed by the outlet, we were to place another strong body. Behind a hill to the west were to be some more men. We thought that when Sibley marched out along the road, and when the head of his column had reached the farther end of the line of our first division, our men would open fire. The men in the ravine would then be in the rear of the whites and would begin firing on that end of the column. The men from behind the hill would rush out and attack the flank, and then we had horsemen far out on the right and left who would come up. We expected to throw the whole white force into confusion by the sudden and unexpected attack, and defeat them before they could rally. I think this was a good plan of battle. Our concealed men would not have been discovered. The grass was tall, and the place by the road and the ravine were good hiding places. We had learned that Sibley was not particular about sending out scouts and examining the country before he passed it. He had a number of mounted men, but they always rode together, at the head of the column, when on a march, and did not examine the ground at the sides of the road. The night he lay at Wood Lake the pickets were only a short distance from camp, less than half a mile. When we were putting our men into position that night we often saw them plainly. I worked hard that night fixing the men. Little Crow was on the field, too. Mankato was there. Indeed, all our fighting chiefs were present, and all our best fighting Indians. We felt that this would be the deciding fight of the war. The whites were unconscious. We could hear them laughing and singing. When all our preparations were made, Little Crow and I and some other chiefs went to the mound or hill to the west, so as to watch the fight better when it should commence. There were numbers of other Indians there.
"The morning came, and an accident spoiled our plans. For some reason Sibley did not move early, as we expected he would. Our men were lying hidden, waiting patiently. Some were very near the camp lines in the ravine, but the whites did not see a man of all our men. I do not think they would have discovered our ambuscade. It seemed a considerable time after sunup when some four or five wagons, with a number of soldiers, started out from the camp in the direction of the old Yellow Medicine Agency. We learned afterwards that they were going, without orders, to dig potatoes over at the agency, five miles away. They came on over the prairie right where part of our line was. Some of the wagons were not in the road, and if they had kept straight on would have driven right over our men as they lay in the grass. At last they came so close that our men had to rise up and fire. This brought on the fight, of course, but not according to the way we had planned it. Little Crow saw it, and felt very badly.
"Of course, you know how the battle was fought. The Indians that were in the fight did well, but hundreds of our men did not get into it and did not fire a shot. They were out too far. The men in the ravine and the line connecting them with those on the road did the most of the fighting. Those of us on the hill did our best, but we were soon driven off. Mankato was killed here, and we lost a very good and brave war chief. He was killed by a cannon ball that was so nearly spent that he was not afraid of it, and it struck him in the back as he lay on the ground and killed him. The whites drove our men out of the ravine by a charge, and that ended the battle. We retreated in some disorder, though the whites did not offer to pursue us. We crossed a wide prairie, but their horse men did not follow us. We lost fourteen or fifteen men killed and quite a number wounded. Some of the wounded died afterwards, but I do not know how many. We carried off no dead bodies, but took away all our wounded. The whites scalped all our dead men, so I have heard.
"Soon after the battle I, with many others who had taken part in the war, surrendered to General Sibley. Robinson and the other half-breeds assured us that if we should do this we would only be held as prisoners of war a short time, but as soon as I surrendered I was thrown into prison. Afterwards I was tried, and I served three years in the prison at Davenport and the penitentiary at Rock Island for taking part in the war. On my trial a great number of the white prisoners, women and others, were called up, but not one of them could testify that I had murdered any one or had done anything to deserve death, or else I would have been hanged. If I had known that I would be sent to the penitentiary I would not have surrendered, but when I had been in the penitentiary three years and they were about to turn me out I told them they might keep me another year if they wished, and I meant what I said. I did not like the way I had been treated. I surrendered in good faith, knowing that many of the whites were acquainted with me, and that I had not been a murderer, or present when a murder had been committed, and if I had killed or wounded a man it had been in fair, open fight. But all feeling on my part about this has long since passed away. For years I have been a Christian, and I hope to die one. My white neighbors and friends know my character as a citizen and a man. I am at peace with every one, whites and Indians. I am getting to be an old man, but I am still able to work. I am poor, but I manage to get along."
FORTS ABERCROMBIE AND RIPLEY.
About 1858 the government established a military post on the west side of the Red River of the North, intending it more as a depot for troops and military stores than as a fort for defense; but it was in the middle of the Sioux country, part of which was in Minnesota, and not far away to the east was the country of the Chippewas, wholly in Minnesota. At that time the Chippewas seemed to have a secret or quasi understanding with the Sioux that they would join in common cause in a war against the whites.
Capt. John Vanderhock, who was mustered into service March 15, 1862, was in command of the post. A part of his detachment, consisting of thirty men, was stationed at Georgetown, fifty-two miles north of the fort, on the Red River of the North.
At the time of the outbreak Fort Abercrombie consisted of three buildings, the men's quarters for one company, the commissary building and commanding officer's quarters. There were no fortifications at all. A few log huts were occupied by half-breeds, the interpreter and attaches of the fort. Notice of the outbreak was first received August 20th, and the garrison at once commenced the erection of breastworks of earth and hewed logs. A scouting party returned from Breckenridge, where they found that the inmates of a hotel, three men, a woman and child, had been murdered and terribly mutilated. A scouting party also found an old lady, Mrs. Ryan, creeping along the river bank at Breckenridge, having been shot by an Indian at her place, about twelve miles from Breckenridge. Her son had been murdered and a grandson captured by the Indians.
The building of the breastworks proceeded as rapidly as possible. Three howitzers were placed in position, and the utmost vigilance exercised in watching for the approach of the Indians. They attacked the fort at day break on September 3d, and the fight lasted from five to eleven a. m., when they were repulsed. They were estimated at four hundred, and many of them were killed and wounded. Of the garrison Private Edward D. Steel was wounded, and died September 7th, and Corporal Nettinger was also wounded.
September 4th and 5th numerous shots were fired from across the river, and about daybreak on the 6th the Indians again attacked the post, with an increased force. They succeeded in getting into the stables, where a sharp fight took place for about ten minutes. Two Indians were killed and many wounded. After being driven from the stables the Indians attacked the fort from three sides, - south, east and north. The hottest of the contest was at the commissary buildings, and at this point the howitzer did very effective service, as was shown by the fact that the Indians left their dead upon the battlefield. Eight or ten dead were found there, half buried in the sand on the bank of the river. On the west side of the new commissary building there was also a hot contest. Here was a small breastwork of hewed logs, defended by about ten privates, under Sergeants William Deutch and Fred Simon. This small force fought nobly, though greatly outnumbered, and succeeded in killing and wounding many braves. Two of the killed were within thirty or forty feet of the breastworks. The Indians, failing to penetrate the works at these two points, concentrated their entire force at the southeast corner, near the stables and the ferry. Here the fight lasted until 3 p. m., at times most furiously, the Indians losing many warriors. The post interpreter, Joseph Demarais, a half-breed, subsequently learned from the attacking force that their losses were so great that they were discouraged from renewing the attempt to take the fort. Our loss was one killed, Private William Siege, and two wounded, in the whole day's fight.
From this date there were no more attacks, except from small squads of Indians, who would fire at the fort from the opposite side of the river. On the 21st of September two dispatch riders were sent to St. Paul, with an escort of ten soldiers and ten Citizens to accompany them part of the way. This detachment on its return was ambushed by Indians, and one soldier, William Schultz, and a citizen, Mr. Wright, were killed. September 23d brought reinforcements, about 500 strong, under command of Captain Burger.
At the time of the outbreak Fort Ripley was one of the military posts, located about ten miles from the Chippewa agency. A part of the Chippewas had gathered at Gull Lake, when a messenger brought word to the fort that they were killing cattle and were about to commence war on the whites. Fort Ripley was situated on the west bank of the Mississippi river, some fifty miles from St. Cloud, and was usually garrisoned by a company of soldiers; but during the summer there were only thirty men, under command of Capt. Francis Hall, and this troop seemed sufficient, as no one anticipated trouble with the Indians, especially with the Chippewas.
The fort consisted of several one-story frame buildings, so situated as to form three sides of a square, the other side being the Mississippi. There were also some block houses, with port holes and cannon, commanding the four sides of the square if there had been gunners to handle them, but there was only one man that had ever loaded a gun that was larger than a blacksmith's anvil. He was Ordnance Sergeant Frantzkey of the regular army.
If the fort had been assaulted by a large body of Indians, without notice to its occupants, it probably would have fallen. But fortunately a Chippewa Indian named Bad Boy, of the Pillager band, refused to join Hole-in-the-Day, the head chief of the Chippewas, in any attack upon the whites, and notified them of the approaching danger. All hands were immediately set at work making cartridges by candle light, and at daylight twenty men started for the agency, leaving the fort in charge of Sergeant Frantzkey. When within seven miles of the agency they met the Indian agent, Lucius C. Walker, and all the whites from the agency, in full retreat. The agent ordered the commander of Fort Ripley to immediately arrest Hole-in-the-Day, and confine him securely, thinking that by doing so they would check the outbreak. The government had built a good house for him, near the river. Here he lived, with his three squaw wives and a trusty bodyguard, as head chief of all the Chippewas, as some of them hated him, and some years afterwards shot him from ambush, killing him instantly. The company started after Hole-in-the-Day, but, having a better knowledge of the paths, he escaped. The soldiers then returned to the fort and placed the howitzers in the blockhouses. Hole-in-the-Day's scouts reporting this, the Indians were greatly puzzled, although they had 275 warriors at Gull Lake, only twenty miles from the fort.
Agent Walker and his family started for St. Paul, but when near St. Cloud Walker committed suicide. The cause was never known.
Reinforcements were hastened to the fort. The death of Agent Walker seemed to appease the Indians for some reason, they having a bitter hatred against him. They expressed a willingness to negotiate a treaty of peace and disperse, when they learned of his death. This was done through Commissioner Dole, who was at Crow Wing. The vigilance of the garrison at Fort Ripley on the timely information of Bad Boy, and the good management generally in regard to the Chippewas, was worthy of great commendation, and probably prevented them from joining the Sioux in a common cause against the whites. It is but justice, however, to the Chippewas, to statethat a majority of them were opposed to a coalition with the Sioux in their fearful massacre of 1862. A large minority, especially the young Indians, desired this union, yet at one of their councils Chief Bemidji raised his eloquent voice against this attempt, and by his vote defeated the scheme. At the time of the Bear Island trouble he warned the whites of the threatened danger. He was a brave, friendly and hospitable Indian, known as the "Sage of Leech Lake." He died recently at the age of ninety years, universally respected. Another great war chief, friendly to the whites, is Mag-zhuck-ree-ge-shig. He is scarred with marks of many conflicts with his hereditary foes, the Sioux, and often decorated with the skunk skins, taken from an animal that never flees from an enemy. The friends of the Chippewas strenuously insist that they are rapidly improving in the pursuits of civilization; that many of them have adopted the habits and customs of white people, and that if renegade white men with their demoralizing influences are excluded, the Chippewas will win in goodness, godliness and greatness. This is said to be the condition of many of the southwestern Indians. Humane people can only wish them prosperity and success, but the falling from grace of that hypocrite, Little Crow, and his host of followers, and the continued degradation of the Winnebago Indians, bring feelings of mingled fear and doubt.
Notwithstanding all that I have said condemnatory of Little Crow, Heard, in his history of the Sioux war, says that if Little Crow could have followed his own inclination he would have been willing at the commencement of the outbreak to have made terms of peace; that he was forced into the war, not as a matter of choice, but by circumstances. He was a great liar, but not naturally a cruel-hearted man, and he cites several instances of his saving the lives of white men; that he openly opposed the slaughter of unarmed settlers and their families, although he rejoiced at the killing of the traders and employes of the government, because he thought that they were the cause of all the trouble of his people; that the next day after the massacre at the lower agency he addressed his warriors in council as follows:
"Soldiers and young men, you ought not to kill women and children. Your consciences will reproach you for it hereafter and make you weak in battle. You were too hasty in going into the country. You should have killed only those who have been robbing us so long. Hereafter make war after the manner of white men."
After the battles of Fort Ridgely and New Ulm he wrote letters to Governor Ramsey and Colonel Sibley, asking for a cessation of hostilities; but after reading them to his braves they would not permit them to be sent.
There was ill feeling between the upper and lower Indians from the time the terrible outbreak began. The upper Indians had not been consulted about the outbreak, and when it took place the lower Indians secured all the plunder and refused to divide it, on the ground that those who had not risked their lives should not be allowed any of the benefits of the warfare. Then there were some of the Indians who were absolutely opposed to a warfare on the whites, and regarded such a contest as hopeless, and this disagreement came near having a bloody termination. If it had occurred, all of the captives would undoubtedly have been murdered, because the lower Indians thought if they were killed the only obstacle that stood in the way of the union of the upper and lower Indians would be removed. But the upper Indians were firm in their purpose not to join with the lower ones, and they determined not to permit the murder of the captives, and Red Iron and one hundred and fifty on horseback formed a line and refused to let the others go through it to Big Stone Lake, as it would leave the former to stand the attack of the white soldiers. Soon after, Standing Buffalo, who had been absent, arrived and another council was called and the Wah-petons ranged on one side and the Sissetons on another, and the lower Indians by themselves. The speeches on each side were bitter. Little Paul and Standing Buffalo were in favor of surrendering every captive, while Little Crow and several others were opposed to giving them up, and wanted to massacre all of them, and formed a plan to do so the night of the heated controversy; but the plan was discovered and frustrated, at which Little Crow was very angry, and again threatened to massacre all of the captives, but no one dared to execute his orders, as he was fast losing his influence, and to get into a fight with the upper Indians would materially weaken his contest with the whites. The captives, during the afternoon, while the warriors were away, set to work digging holes in the center of the lodge big enough for the women and children to get into, and ditches outside around for the men, and with the aid of the friendly Indians, Little Crow's men were not disposed to attack them. While the captives still remained at this place, news came of the overwhelming defeat of the Indians at Wood Lake, and Little Crow was in that battle, but was heart broken and despondent, as there were 738 Indians in that battle, and he could not account for the defeat, and said that they had better scatter over the plains like a lot of buffalo, and thought that their loss was caused by the work of the friendly Indians. He called his warriors together, and told them to pack up and leave for the plains, and save the women and children, as the troopers would soon be upon them, but, said he: "The captives must all be killed before we leave. They must die." In the mean time, however, so many friendlies had arrived that they threatened to take Little Crow and his whole camp and turn them over to the soldiers, and the captives laughed at his bombastic talk. From the reminiscences of Samuel J. Brown, published in the Mankato Review, I quote the following:
"There were about 150 lodges in the Indian camp at the time of the arrival of the troops. But a few days subsequently the camp had increased to 243 lodges. Some had been captured and brought in, while others came in of their own accord, and including the captives (and exclusive of the soldiers) there were at Camp Release 2,188 souls, as follows:
Indians . . . 1,918
Captive white men . . . 4
Captive white women and children . . . 104
Captive mixed bloods . . . 162
"The names of the four white men who were kept captives by Little Crow were as follows : George Spencer, Peter Romsseau, Louis La Belle and Peter Rouillard. I mention this to correct the impression that there was but one white man (Spencer) made prisoner by the Indians.
"I assisted in causing the arrest and in safely detaining in custody all the Indian men (except forty-six who were above suspicion and three or four who had 'smelled a mouse' and had run away during the night), and disarmed them, and chained them in pairs together; that is, the right leg at the ankle of one was chained to the left leg at the ankle of another.
"This successful and justifiable piece of strategy took place at the government warehouse, built by my father when he was agent a few years before (a large two-story building, fifty feet long, which the hostiles had burned and destroyed when they passed up on the 28th of August, but the walls of which were still standing), and was accomplished in the following manner: About a hundred yards from the building the soldiers had pitched their tents, while the Indians camped under the hill along the Yellow Medicine creek, a half or three-quarters of a mile distant. I was ordered one day to proceed to the camp and inform the Indians that the annuity roll was to be prepared the next morning, and that they must all come at an early hour and present themselves to the agent at the warehouse and be 'counted.' They were delighted to learn that they were at last to get their money. The annuity payment for that year had not been made yet, and this ruse worked like a charm.
"About eight o'clock the next morning the Indians flocked to the warehouse to be 'counted.' Major Galbraith, Captain Whitney, and two or three clerks were found seated at a table behind one end of the building, with paper, pens, ink, etc., hard at work on the rolls, while one of the officers and myself were stationed in a doorway at the opposite and further end. As each family would come up to the table, one of the clerks would rise and count, or number, them with his finger, one, two, three, etc., and after announcing the result with a flourish, and motioning for them to pass on, a soldier would step up and escort the Indians to the other end of the building where I was stationed. As they reached the farther end and turned the corner, and came in front of the door-way, I would tell the men to step inside and allow the women and children to return to camp, telling them, as I was instructed to do, that the men, as heads of families, must be counted separately, as it was thought that the government would pay them extra. I would then take their guns, tomahawks, scalping-knives, etc., and throw them into barrels, telling them that they would be returned shortly. In this way we succeeded in arresting and safely detaining in custody 234 of Little Crow's fiercest warriors. And since the Indian men outnumbered the soldiers two to one, and were fully as well armed, I think that in this case the end justified the means."
General Sibley's camp, called Camp Release, was pitched about a quarter of a mile from that of the Indians, and commanded the latter with his cannon during the negotiations for the surrender of the captives and while the Indians were being secured, although the demand for the captives was instantly complied with. During their captivity they had been compelled to wear the Indian dress, but when released were allowed to wear their usual clothes so far as possible. As stated above, there were 270 captives, including the mixed bloods. The scene was one never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Heard, who was present, says of it:
"The poor creatures wept for joy at their escape. They had watched for our coming for many a weary day, with constant apprehension of death at the hands of their savage captors, and had almost despaired of seeing us. The woe written on the faces of the half-starved and nearly naked women and children would have melted the hardest heart. They were taken to our camp, where they remained until taken below a few days subsequently. The sleepless nights which the commander, General Sibley, passed in scheming for their deliverance, and the steadfastness with which he resisted all councils for a sudden attack, which would have compromised their safety, succeeded in their deliverance, - a rich reward."
As arrangements have been made for a great historical painting of the Sioux treaty of 1851, will not the state procure a grand painting of this wonderful and historical scene of the release of 270 captives from their savage captors at Camp Release on Sept. 26, 1862?
I should not be faithful to the duty which I am endeavoring to perform in writing this book if I omit the names of some of the Indians who were faithful to the whites during all those days of horror.
There was Paul Ma-za-ku-ta-ma-ne, a deacon in Mr. Riggs' church, a man of great oratorical powers and unflinching nerve. His speech in council against the war, against Little Crow, and in behalf of the captives, was a great and splendid exhibition of loving humanity and ability.
There was Red Iron, too. Though pained at the treatment which he and his people had received at the treaties, he arose above all feelings of revenge, and, at his own peril, said he would die if necessary before he would be a party to the terrible massacre.
There was Standing Buffalo, hereditary chief of the Upper Sissetons, who supported Paul and Red Iron, saying publicly that his Indians would stand by him, and not fight the whites.
There was Woanaton, an influential chief of the Upper Sioux, who did all in his power to have the captives released, and he threatened to take all of them by force from Little Crow, if necessary, and deliver them to General Sibley.
Other Day, a civilized Indian, attempted to stem the tide of murder and blood, but without avail; but he notified as many of the whites as possible of the attack upon Marsh and the loss of his men, and of the danger that awaited them, and they assembled in a warehouse, to the number of fifty, determined to defend themselves to the last extremity, while Other Day and four of his relatives watched all night on the outside of the building, to give the alarm of any attack, there being squads of Indians around watching for an opportunity to catch them unawares. The Indians broke into another warehouse, and then Other Day, and the whites under his guidance, crossed the river, and made their escape to the settlements. There were forty-two women and children and twenty men who thus escaped, among them Other Day's wife, a white woman, and Mrs. Galbraith and children. Other Day also rendered much valuable assistance to the whites, especially in the battle of Wood Lake. His conduct in that battle is so well described by Heard, who was there at the time, that I insert it here. He says:
"Other Day nobly redeemed the pledge he had made two days before. He took with his own hand two horses from the enemy, and slew their riders. He was often in their midst, and so far in advance of our men that they fired many shots at him in the belief that he was one of the foe. No person on the field compared with him in the exhibition of reckless bravery. He was a warrior worthy to have crossed cimeters with Saladin, or dashed with Arabia's mad prophet through the shock of Eastern war. He seemed to be instinct with the spirit of the fierce, restless steed, 'who saith among the trumpets "Ha! ha!" and smelled the battle afar off, the thunders of the captainsand the shouting.' He was clothed entirely in white; a belt around his waste, in which was placed his knife; a handkerchief was knotted about his head, and in his hand he lightly grasped a rifle. His teeth glistened like finest ivory through the slightly parted lips; his eye was ablaze with fire; his face was of bronze radiant with the joy of battle; his exulting utterances came thick and fast, in a sort of purr, pitched upon a high key, and soft as the dulcet tones of an Italian woman. As he bounded along with the graceful spring of a tiger cat, there came to mind Djalma, the Prince of Java, when, in the theater at Paris, at the time of the escape of the panther Le Mort, he leaped upon the stage with the returning ardor of his native jungles, and struck his dagger to the heart. With the exuberant, riotous health of Bulwar's Margrave, and the airy wildness of the fawn, he looked the perfection of all the creatures of the woods and fields, and the incarnation of the ideal of the Indian God of War."
THE MILITARY COMMISSION.
After the capture of the Indians, or rather their surrender and the release of the white captives, a military commission was organized to try summarily the Indians, mixed bloods and mulattoes engaged in the Sioux raids or massacre. At first the commission consisted of Colonel Crooks, Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Olin. I. V. D. Heard, an able lawyer of St. Paul, was chosen as recorder of the commission. After twenty-nine cases were disposed of, Major Bradley was substituted for Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, who was absent on important business. I knew nearly all of these men very well, and they were men of integrity and ability, Major Bradley and Mr. Heard being lawyers of great experience and especially qualified for their positions. Colonel Sibley, or his adjutant general, made written charges against such Indians as he believed guilty of rape, assault, arson or acts of murder. The evidence generally upon which the charges were made was based upon information furnished by Rev. R. Riggs, and he obtained it by assembling in a tent the half-breeds and others possessed of the knowledge, and questioning them concerning suspected parties. The names of witnesses were appended to the charge with the same formalities as is usual in cases of indictment in a regular court.
The charges were duly read to the accused, and unless he admitted them due proof was offered.
The mulatto, Godfrey, was the first person arraigned, and the charges and specifications against him were as follows:
"Charge and specifications against O-ta-kle, or Godfrey, a colored man connected with the Sioux tribe of Indians.
"Specification First. In this, that the said O-ta-kle, or Godfrey, a colored man, did, at or near New Ulm, Minnesota, on or about the 19th day of August, 1862, join a war party of the Sioux tribe of Indians against the citizens of the United States, and did with his own hand murder seven white men, women and children (more or less), peaceable citizens of the United States.
"Specification Second. In this, that the said O-ta-kle, or Godfrey, a colored man, did, at various times and places between the 19th of August and the 28th of September, 1862, join and participate in the murders and massacres committed by the Sioux Indians on the Minnesota frontier.
"By order of
"COL. H. H. SIBLEY,
"Com. Mil. Expedition.
S. H. FOWLER,
"Lt. Col. State Militia, A. A. A. G.
"Witnesses : Mary Woodbury, David Faribault, Sen., Mary Swan, Bernard la Batte."
He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, but the president commuted the sentence to ten years' imprisonment on recommendation of the commissioners.
The charges were thoroughly tried, and the details of each massacre and outrage thoroughly proved. As many as forty were sometimes tried in a day; so many were proven to have been joint assailants in committing crimes that the main points against one were similar against many, and the act against the defendant was summarily disposed of. Those engaged in massacres were sentenced to death, and those convicted of plundering were sentenced to imprisonment.
In at least two-thirds of the cases the Indians admitted that they fired, but insisted that it was only two or three shots, and that no one was killed. Just why they fired at all they did not say, and the commission well knew that they were lying, something easy for an Indian to do. One Indian thought he ought not be punished for plundering, as the pony he stole was a small one. Another said that his wife wanted a pair of oxen, and he captured them for her, and thought it no sin. One day all the elderly men who were in the vigor of manly strength said their hair was too gray to go into battle. Young men aged from eighteen to twenty-five said that they were too young and their heart too weak to face fire. Some said that they had the bellyache, and were writhing with agony, and crept under a big stone at the battle of the fort, and did not crawl out during the fight. Others said that they were roasting corn and eating beef all day during the battles of New Ulm, Birch Coulee and Wood Lake.
One of the most fiendish-looking warriors wished the commission to believe that he felt so bad to see the Indians firing on the whites that he laid down and went to, sleep, and the battle was over when he awoke.
A young Indian, who had been one of the worst participants in the massacre at Beaver creek, said he never did anything bad in his life, except to chase a chicken, which he did not catch.
Several of the Renville Rangers were tried and convicted. They had deserted from Fort Ridgely and were in the battles against the whites. They were half-breeds, and one of them claimed that he left the fort to cut kinni-kinic, and that the Indians surrounded him and the fort and he could not get back. The evidence against him was conclusive as to his criminality.
Many of the worst characters, after admitting that they were in all the battles, would brazenly state that they were members of the church.
The number of prisoners tried was over four hundred. Of these three hundred and three were condemned to death and eighteen to imprisonment. Most of those acquitted were upper Indians.
It should here be stated that the Renville Rangers enlisted with a view to go south and take part in the Civil War. Part of this company were half-breeds, and had deserted to the Indians, and were found in their camp. They had deserted from Fort Ridgely, and the unserviceable conditions of the artillery at the fort at the first attack was attributed to them. They had attempted to cripple the defense of the fort just before deserting to the enemy, and they took part with the Indians in nearly all of the subsequent battles. It is due to the other half-breeds, of which there were several in the company, to state that in all battles in which they took part they conducted them selves with great bravery and fidelity to the cause of the whites, under their gallant leader, Capt. James Gorman.
The trial of suspected parties continued until about the 5th of November, when the commission, having completed its labors, was discharged.
The guilty ones were at once removed, under guard of 1,500 men, to Mankato, near the junction of the Blue Earth and Minnesota rivers, there to await the action of the United States government. While passing through New Ulm, the scene of their former depredations and murders, they were set upon by some of the people, beaten with sticks and pelted with stones in spite of the guard. The principal actors in the attack were mostly women and young people, many of whom had relatives and friends who had suffered from the depreciations of these Indians, and who feared that the latter would escape from due punishment of their crimes through the leniency of the United States government. Mr. Heard, the recorder of the commission, who was with the guard, says in his book :
"Hearing that we were passing by, they all rushed forth - men, women and children, armed with clubs, pitch forks, brickbats, knives and guns, and attacked the prisoners. The women were perfectly furious. They danced around with their aprons full of stones, and cried for an opportunity to get at the prisoners, upon whom they poured the most violent abuse. Many rushed forward and discharged a shower of stones. One woman, who had a long knife in her hand, was especially violent in her demonstration, and another pounded an Indian in the face until she broke his jaw, and he fell backward out of the wagon. They were brutal murderers of their friends. The prisoners cowered low, and the negro Godfrey, who lived in the neighborhood of this theater of his exploits, and was well known in New Ulm, took good care to cover his head with his blanket and crouch down in his wagon. The expedition soon reached Mankato, near which a permanent camp for the winter was established, called Camp Lincoln. Here the trial of a number of the Winnebagoes was held."
On the 7th of November, the unconvicted Indians, with their families and the families of the absent ones, numbering in all 1,658 persons, having been separated from the bad ones, were started from the lower agency for Fort Snelling, Lieutenant Colonel Marshall, with three companies of soldiers, in command. The train was about four miles long, and when it reached Henderson, on November 11th, the streets were crowded with angry and excited people, armed with guns, knives, clubs and stones, who rushed upon the Indians, and before the soldiers could stop them, pulled many women, men and children from the wagons by the hair of their heads, and inflicted serious injury upon some of them. One white woman, snatching a babe from its mother's breast, dashed it violently to the ground. The child died a few hours after, and was laid away in the crotch of a tree not far from Faxon, buried according to one of the oldest customs of the Sioux tribe.
The manner in which the Winnebagoes were released added much to the agitation and indignation of the people while the captives were in Mankato and before the execution. Fear that the president might even pardon the guilty ones became more intense, as rumors circulated to the effect that the Indians were all to be removed after dark to Fort Snelling. The rabid ones thought that such a proceeding was more than they could endure, while a majority of the people, law abiding and believing that justice would finally be meted out to these miscreants, advised awaiting the action of the government. They well knew that mob law when once set in motion is full of evil, and heedless in action and results. But there never was any plan, leader nor organization, and the reported combinations all over the state were myths. Exaggerated reports were circulated, that the people of Mankato and combinations of men all over the state were forming to massacre the condemned Indians. Under date of November 24th General Pope telegraphed to the president to this effect, and General Sibley, in an order dated December 6th, stated that, on the 4th of December, the guard around the Indian camp had been assaulted by nearly two hundred men, and that according to the report of Colonel Miller, he would require at least a thousand men to protect the prisoners against an organized popular outbreak. Under date of December 8th General Sibley says: "Dispatches indicate a fearful collision between thousands of men from all parts of the state," and fears that the troops and Indians will be literally besieged. Senator Wilkinson telegraphed the governor that he hoped the people of Minnesota would not destroy the miscreants by violence. One night something like one hundred and fifty persons had assembled near the old Mankato House, and soon were ready to start for the Indian camp, located east of the Blue Earth river and south of the Sibley mound. Not many of them were armed. During the afternoon of the day a report was circulated among the military of this intended raid on the Indian camp, but after dark a company of cavalry and some infantry reached the camp before the crowd commenced moving, and posted guards around the Indians and along the road leading to the bridge over the Blue Earth river. Before the unorganized crowd arrived at the camp they were quietly surrounded and taken prisoners and marched to Colonel Miller's tent. Here he lectured them upon the evils of mob law and such rash acts of lawlessness, and advised them not to injure the fair name of the young state of Minnesota. The leaders answered him by saying that they came to view some of the "noble red men of the forest" and visit some of their friends.
The truth about the whole matter is that the guard around the Indian camp was never assaulted, nor did the angry men ever reach the camp, nor did Colonel Miller ever surround them and take them prisoners. He was enjoying himself in his tent at his headquarters at the time, and took no active part in the movement against the citizens. He did declare martial law, but it was done at the request of a large portion of the citizens of Mankato. And the report that the guard at the Indian camp were ever assaulted originated in the imaginative brain of some excited individual.
I never had any doubt but that nearly all of the condemned Indians deserved hanging as well as the thirty eight who were finally executed, but it is said that mercy is an attribute of justice, and the president leaned to mercy, and finally decided that way. One of these condemned Indians, after he was released, told a friend of mine that he had killed a white man by cutting his throat, and that when he did so he could hear the blood gurgle.
Quite an interesting description of this affair recently appeared in the Mankato Review, written by Judge Lorin Cray, who was then a member of Company D, Ninth Minnesota Infantry. He says:
"While at St. Peter, and in the early part of December, 1862, a few of us learned one afternoon that an effort was to be made by the citizens of Mankato, New Ulm and vicinity the following evening to kill the Indian prisoners, three hundred and more, then in camp at Mankato, near the present site of Sibley Park. As no admission fee was charged, a few of us determined to attend the entertainment. After dark we appropriated a team of government mules and a wagon and started for Mankato, where we arrived about nine o'clock in the evening. The head quarters of the bloodthirsty citizens was the old Mankato House, where liquid refreshments were being served liberally, without money and without price. A very large crowd congregated there, but there seemed to be no great haste to march on the Indian camp. Several times a start was made by a squad of fifty or one hundred persons, who would proceed for a few hundred feet, and then halt, and finally return for more refreshments.
"Finally at nearly midnight the supply of refreshments must have become exhausted, for the army moved. Several hundred of the citizens started south along Front street for the Indian camp, straggling for a distance of several blocks. When the head of the column reached West Mankato it halted until the rear came up, and while a rambling discussion was going on as to what they should do, and just how they should do it, Captain (since governor) Austin, with his company of cavalry, surrounded the whole squad, and marched them down to Colonel Miller's headquarters, right at the Indian camp, where, at this time, they seemed very reluctant to go.
"The scene here was ridiculous in the extreme. Colonel Miller came out and talked to the citizens, and asked them why they had congregated in such large numbers. Every one who answered at all insisted that his mission was wholly peaceful, and that he was ignorant of any evil designs by any one, and finally the colonel ordered their release, and suggested that they go home, which they hastened to do."
THE MULATTO, GODFREY.
Probably one of the blackest-hearted villains that disgraced humanity at the time of the Indian massacre of 1862 was the mulatto, Godfrey, or Gussi. The Indians gave him the name of Atakle ("One who kills many"). It is said that he acquired his name by entering the first house near New Ulm, by direction of the Indians, where a number of persons were killed. He was brought up among the Indians, could speak their language, and was married to a squaw. He was taken prisoner and chained to an Indian, and the Indians looked upon him with in tense hatred, possibly because he turned state's evidence, although it seems he went through the form of a trial and was acquitted. His evidence helped convict many of the Indians that were hung. He was among the foremost in the attack on New Ulm, and the Indians said he was braver than any of them, and that he boasted that he had killed nine adults and a number of children, but said he kept no account of the latter, because he did not think they amounted to anything anyway. He admitted being in various battles, but denied killing any one. Several witnesses testified against him before the commission, and there could be but very little doubt of his guilt of murdering helpless men, women and children. It has been said that Godfrey was specially designed as an instrument of providence to help convict these murdering Indians. I do not think that providence ever designed him for any such purpose, nor do I believe that it is providential to convict one murderer by the evidence of another murderer. Public practice and public sentiment may approve it, but when the guilt or innocence of a person is on trial, it seems hard that his life or death should depend upon a murderer's evidence. When a man's hands are stained with the blood of helpless women and children, I should hesitate to believe his testimony against an alleged co-murderer, even though that co-murderer was a Sioux Indian.
Rewarding a Judas Iscariot criminal by giving him his freedom or saving his carcass from state's prison is one of the weak spots in our jurisprudence, and in the coming time I hope it will be abolished. It smacks too much of the inhuman military doctrine of punishing a spy with death. Each nation or army employs spies, but if one in the same business, acting for the enemy, is caught, the penalty is death. I care not what the law of nations is, or what the universal practice may be, the death penalty for mere spying is unchristian and inhuman. Major Andre's sad death as a spy was a blot upon civilization, and it is a poor christianity that holds otherwise. It may be that the scales tended strongly towards the guilt of the Indians, as I think it did, but more than three hundred of them were pardoned by the president, and it seems hard that these scales swung deathward upon the evidence of the villain Godfrey, a joint murderer of innocent people. His story before the commissioners was as follows, and excepting the whitewashing of his own conduct, gives a correct account of actual occurrences :
"I am twenty-seven years old. I was born at Mendota. My father was a Canadian Frenchman, and my mother a colored woman, who hired in the family of the late Alexander Bailley. I was raised in Mr. Bailley's family. My father is, I think, living in Wisconsin; his name is Joe Godfrey. My mother is also living at Prairie du Chien. I last saw my father and mother at Prairie du Chien seven years ago. I lived with Mr. Bailley at Wabashaw, and also at Hastings and Faribault. I had lived at the lower agency five years. I was married, four years ago, to a woman of Wabashaw's band, daughter of Wakpa-doo-ta. At the time of the outbreak I lived on the reservation on the south side of the Minnesota river, between the lower agency and New Ulm, about twenty miles below the agency and eight above New Ulm.
"The first I heard of the trouble I was mowing hay. About noon an Indian was making hay near me. I went to help him, to change work. He was to lend me his oxen. I helped him load some hay, and as we took it to his place we heard hallooing, and saw a man on horseback, with a gun across his legs before him. When he saw me he drew his gun up and cocked it. The Indian with me asked him 'What's the matter?' He looked strange. He wore a new hat, a soft gray hat, and had a new white leather ox or mule whip. He said all the white people had been killed at the agency. The Indian with me asked who did it, and he replied the Indians, and that they would soon be down that way to kill the settlers towards New Ulm. He asked me which side I would take. He said I would have to go home and take off my clothes and put on a breech-clout. I was afraid, because he held his gun as if he would kill me. I went to my house and told my wife to get ready, and we would try to get away. I told my wife about what the Indian had told me. I told her we would try to get down the river. She said we would be killed with the white people. We got something ready to take with us to eat, and started; we got about two hundred yards into the woods. The old man, my wife's father, said he would fasten the house and follow after. We heard some one halloo. It was the old man. He called to us to come back. I told my wife to go on, but her mother told her to stop. I told them to go ahead; but the old man called so much that they stopped and turned back. I followed them.
"I found my squaw's uncle at the house. He scolded my wife and her mother for trying to get away; he said that all the Indians had gone to the agency, and that they must go there. He said we would be killed if we went towards the white folks; that we would only be safe to go and join the Indians. I still had my pants on. I was afraid, and they told me I must take my pants off and put on the breech-clout. I did so. The uncle said we must take a rope and catch a horse.
"I started with him towards New Ulm, and we met a lot of Indians at the creek, about a mile from my house. They were all painted, and said I must be painted. They then painted me. I was afraid to refuse.
"They asked me why I did not have a gun, or knife, or some weapon. I told them I had no gun; the old man had taken it away. One Indian had a spear, a gun and a little hatchet. He told me to take the hatchet, and that I must fight with the Indians, and do the same as they did, or I would be killed. We started down the road. We saw two wagons with people in them coming towards us. The Indians consulted what to do, and decided for half of them to go up to a house off the road, on the right hand side. They started but I stopped, but they called me and told me I must come on. There was an old man, a boy and two young women at the house, - Dutch people. The family's name was something like Massopust. The boy and two girls stood outside, near the kitchen door. Half of the Indians went to the house; half remained in the road. The Indians told me to tell the whites that there were Chippewas about, and that they (the Indians) were after them. I did not say anything. The Indians asked for some water. The girls went into the house, and the Indians followed and talked in Sioux. One said to me, 'Here is a gun for you.' Dinner was on the table, and the Indians said, 'After we kill, then we will have dinner. They told me to watch the road, and when the teams came up to tell them. I turned to look, and just then I heard the Indians shoot. I looked, and two girls fell just outside the door. I did not go into the house. I started to go round the house. We were on the back side of it, when I heard the Indians on the road hallooing and shouting. They called me, and I went to the road and saw them killing white men. My brother-in-law told me that I must take care of a team that he was holding; that it was his. I saw two men killed that were with this wagon. I did not see who killed them in the other wagon. I saw one Indian stick his knife in the side of a man that was not yet dead. He cut his side open, and then cut him all to pieces. His name was Wakantonka ('Great Spirit'). Two of the Indians that killed the people at the house have been convicted. Their names are Waki-ya-ni and Mah-hwa. There were about ten Indians at the house, and about the same number in the road. I got into the wagon, and the Indians all got in. We turned and went towards New Ulm. When we got near to a house the Indians all got out and ran ahead of the wagons, and two or three went to each house, and in that way they killed all the people along the road. I stayed in the wagon, and did not see the people killed. They killed the people of six or eight houses - all until we got to the 'Travelers' Home.' There were other Indians killing people all through the settlement. We could see them and hear them all around. I was standing in the wagon, and could see three or four or five Indians at each house.
"When we got near the 'Travelers' Home' they told me to stop. I saw an old woman with two children, one in each hand, run away across the yard. One Indian, Maza-bom-doo, who was convicted, shot the old woman, and jumped over and kicked the children down with his feet. The old woman fell down as if dead. I turned away my head, and did not see whether the children were killed. After that I heard a shot behind the barn, but did not see who was shot. I suppose some one was killed. After that the Indians got in the wagon and told me to start down the road. We started on, and got to a house where a man lived named Schling, a German, an old man. The Indians found a jug in the wagon, and were now almost drunk. They told me to jump out. I jumped out and started ahead, and the Indians called to me to come back. They threw out a hatchet, and said I must go to the house and kill the people. Maza-bom-doo was ahead. He told me that there were three guns there that he had left for flour, and we must get them. I was afraid.
"I went into the house. There was the old man, his wife and son, and a boy and another man. They were at dinner. The door stood open, and the Indians were right behind me, and pushed me in. I struck the old man on the shoulder with the flat of the hatchet and then the Indians rushed in and commenced to shoot them. The old man, woman and the boy ran into the kitchen. The other man ran out some way, I did not see how; but when we went back to the road, about twenty steps, I saw him in the road dead. He was the man I struck in the house. I heard the Indians shoot back of the house, but did not see what at. After we started to go to Red Wood, one little Indian who had pox marks on his face, and who was killed at Wood Lake, said he struck the boy with a knife, but didn't say if he killed him. He told this to the other Indians.
"We saw coming up the road two wagons, one with a flag in it. The Indians were afraid, and we started back and went past the 'Travelers' Home.' We got to a bridge, and the Indians got out and laid down in the grass about the bridge. I went on up the road. The wagons, with white men, came on up and stopped in the road, where there was a dead man, I think; then they sounded the bugle and started to cross the bridge, running their horses. The foremost wagon had one horse of a gray color; three men were in it, and had the flag. Just as they came across the bridge, the Indians raised up and shot. The three men fell out and the team went on. The Indians ran and caught it. The other wagon had not got across the bridge. I heard them shoot at the men in it, but I did not see them. After the Indians brought the second wagon across the bridge, three Indians got in the wagon. After that all of them talked together, and said that it was late (the sun was nearly down), and that they must look after their wives and children that had started to go to Red Wood. Many of these Indians lived on the lower end of the reservation. The two-horse team that they had just taken was very much frightened, and they could not hold them. They told me I must take hold and drive them. I took the team, and they all got in. We then had four teams. We started from there, and went on up. When we got to where the first people were killed, the Indians told me to drive up to the house. The two girls were lying dead. I saw one girl with her head cut off; the head was gone. One Indian, an old man, asked who cut the head off. He said it was too bad. The other Indians said they did not know. The girl's clothes were turned up. The old man put them down. He is now in prison; his name is Wazakoota. He is a good old man. While we stood there one wagon went to another house, and I heard a gun go off.
"We started up the road and stopped at a creek about a mile further on. We waited for some of the Indians that were behind. While we were there we saw a house on fire. When the Indians came up they said that Wak-pa-doo-ta, my father-in-law, shot a woman, who was on a sick-bed, through the window, and that an old man ran up-stairs, and the Indians were afraid to go into the house; they thought he had a gun, and they set fire to the house and left it. We then started on from that creek, and went about seven miles to near a little lake, about a hundred yards from the road. We saw, far away, a wagon coming towards us. When it was only two miles from us we saw it was a two-horse wagon, but the Indians did not know if it was white people. When it came nearer they told me to go fast. The Indians whipped the horses and hurried them on. Two Indians were ahead of us on horse back. Pretty soon we came near, and the team that was coming towards us stopped and turned round, and the Indians said it was white men, and they were trying to run away. The two on horseback then shot, and I saw a white man (Patville) fall back over his seat; and after that I saw three women and one man jump out of the wagon and run. Then those in the wagon with me jumped out and ran after the women. We got up to the wagon. Patville was not dead. The Indians threw him out, and a young Indian, sentenced to be hung, stuck a knife between his ribs, under his arm, and another one, who is with Little Crow, took his gun and beat his head all to pieces. The other Indians killed the other white man near the little lake, and brought back the three women -Matie Williams, Mary Anderson and Mary Swan.
"Patville's wagon was full of trunks. The Indians broke them open and took the things out. There was some goods in them. [Patville was a sort of a trader on the reservation.] They put one woman in the wagon I drove. The other two were put separately in the other wagons. The one in my wagon (Mary Swan) was caught by Maza-bom-doo, Ta-zoo had Mattie Williams. We then went on and stopped at a creek about a mile ahead to water the horses. Then they called me to ask the woman that was wounded if she was badly hurt. She said 'Yes.' They told me to ask her to show the wound, and that they would do something for it. She showed the wound. It was in the back. The ball did not come out. She asked where we were going. I said I did not know, but supposed to Red Wood. I asked what had been done at the agency. She said they did not know; that they came around on the prairie past Red Wood. I told her that I heard that all the whites at the agency were killed and the stores robbed. She said she wished they would drive fast, so she could have a doctor to do something for her wound; she was afraid she would die. I said I was a prisoner, too. She asked what would be done with them. I said I did not know; perhaps we would all be killed. I said maybe the doctor was killed, if all the white people were. After that we started on, and got to the Red Wood agency about nine o'clock. It was dark. Then the Indians looked around and did not see any people. We went on to Wacouta's house. He came out and told me to tell the girl in my wagon to go into his house. I told the girl; but she was afraid, and said she thought the other women were somewhere else. I told her that Wacouta said they were in his house, and she had better go. Wacouta told her to go with him, and she got out and went with him. I then went on to Little Crow's village, where most all of the Indians had gone. I found my wife there. We stayed there some time, and then started for the fort. They asked me to go to drive a team. After we got there they commenced to fight. They broke in the stable, and told me to go and take all the horses I could. I got a black mare, but an Indian took it away from me. They fought all day, and slept at night in the old stable under the hill. The next morning they fought only a little; it was raining. We then went back to Red Wood. In about six days after all of the Indians started, and said they would go to Mankato. They came down towards the fort on that side of the river, and crossed near the 'Travelers' Home.' When they got opposite the fort they stopped, and talked of trying to get in again, but did not. About noon they went New Ulm. I saw no white people on the road. I got to New Ulm about two hours after noon. They burned houses, and shot and fought. They slept at New Ulm that night, and the next day went back to Little Crow's village. [This was the last fight at New Ulm. Godfrey says he was not there at the first fight. He was then at Little Crow's village.] After a few days we went to Rice creek; stayed there a few days, and started again to come to Mankato. After crossing the Red Wood we went up the hill, and saw some wagons on the prairie on the other side of the river. After the Indians had crossed the Red Wood, half stayed there all night, and half went over the Minnesota to where they saw the wagons. Those that stayed back went over early the next morning. I went with them. We got there at sunrise. We heard shooting just before we got there. They were shooting all day. They killed all the horses. [This was the battle of Birch Coulee.] At night the Indians killed some cattle, and cooked and ate some meat. Some talked of trying to get into the camp, and some tried it all night. Others talked of watching till they should drive them out for want of water. Three Indians were killed that day, so the Indians said. I saw some wounded, I should think five. In the morning some more talk was had about trying to get in. In the meantime we saw soldiers coming up, and half of the Indians started to try and stop them, and the other half stayed to watch the camp at Birch Coulee. They went down to try and stop the soldiers, and afterwards came back and said it was no use- that they couldn't stop them. Some wanted to try and get the whites into Birch Coulee, but others thought they had better go back. They fired some shots, and then started back. The Sissetons got to us while we were there the second day, about two or three hours before the Indians all left. The Indians left a little before sundown. They crossed the river at the old crossing, and went up to the site of Reynolds' house, the other side of the Red Wood, and camped. They started about midnight to go to Rice creek, and got there about sunrise. Stayed there several days. While we were at Birch Coulee Little Crow was at the Big Woods. He got back to Rice creek two days after we did. We went from Rice creek to Yellow Medicine; stayed there about two weeks. While there ten or twenty started every day to see if soldiers were coming. When they reported that soldiers were on the way, we moved our camp to where Mr. Riggs lived; then up to Red Iron's village; then to a little way from where the friendly camp was. After scouts reported that soldiers had crossed the Red Wood, Little Crow made a speech, and said that all must fight; that it would be the last fight, and that all must do the best they could. Scouts reported about midnight that soldiers were camped at Rice creek. In the morning we all started down to Yellow Medicine; got there a little before sundown. Some were there earlier. We stayed at Yellow Medicine all night. Some wanted to begin the attack in the night, but others thought it was best to wait until morning. In the morning the fight began. After the fight, went back to the old camp at Camp Release. Little Crow tried to get all to go with him, but they would not. Little Crow started away in the night. I did not see him go. I never was out at any of the war parties except once at New Ulm (the last fight), once at the fort, at Birch Coulee and at Wood Lake. They thought that the Winnebagoes would commence at Mankato and attack the lower settlements."
This man Godfrey is now (1903) living at the Santee Indian reservation in Nebraska, aged about seventy years, married to a young Indian girl about seventeen years old, and hence is a ward of the government. A correspondent of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader says, in that paper, that "he returned to the reservation after the war expedition of the Santees with those Indians and married a squaw, thereby becoming a ward of the government, or rather living off the rations and annuities issued by the government to his dusky spouse."
Men who know of Godfrey's residence on the reservation have often speculated as to why he has been permitted to exist at that point. He has never left the reservation since he took up his residence there, and the reason given for that is that he was afraid of being killed by some of the white people who resided near the reservation for his participation in the massacre mentioned above.
It has been stated that two or three men went from Minnesota to Springfield and took up their residence there many years ago for the very purpose of killing this negro at the first opportunity when he was off the reservation, and he has never dared trust himself in Springfield nor any other community of white people.
It is stated upon good authority that Godfrey has frequently related at Indian pow-wows and councils on the Santee reserve the part which he took in the New Ulm massacre, and he seems to have enjoyed what he did at that time. One feature of his narrative is a statement to the effect that he killed a white man and woman and then took their infant child and placed it in a huge sheet iron pan and placed the pan in the oven of a stove and roasted it to death. This story he told at an Indian feast at Santee, about eleven years ago. To-day he owns a fine farm at Santee. A number of the Indians who took part in the New Ulm affair were hung for their crime, but Godfrey, who seems to have been the arch fiend, escaped, and has lived off the government ever since. His hair is gray now, but what he has done is still fresh in the minds of many people.
INDIANS IN McLEOD, NICOLLET AND BLUE EARTH COUNTIES.
IN McLEOD COUNTY.
On September 1st Captain Strout arrived at Glencoe and made preparations to go further into the endangered county, as Gen. John H. Stevens had adopted such rigorous measures that it was thought that the company of soldiers there, with its seventy-three members, would be sufficient to defend it against any Indian assault. Captain Strout's company had been reinforced, principally from Wright county, until it amounted to seventy-five men. Passing through Hutchinson on the night of September 2d, he camped near Acton, where the next morning, about half-past five o'clock, he was furiously attacked by about one hundred and fifty Indians from the direction of Hutchinson, they probably intending to prevent his sending a messenger for reinforcements. For several hours the battle raged with great bravery on each side, but finally the Indians gave way in front and then harassed the command in its rear as it retreated, the Indians uttering the most unearthly yells every moment until the column arrived within a short distance of Cedar City, when the enemy ceased any further attack, and the command reached Hutchinson at an early hour that afternoon. Captain Strout lost three men killed and fifteen wounded, some of them quite severely. Here a stockade, one hundred feet square, had been erected, sufficiently strong and substantial to resist any projectile that the Indians could throw or discharge. The place had organized a military company of about sixty members, with Lewis Harrington as captain. Captain Strout halted his company here to await further developments. About nine o'clock the next morning, September 4th, the Indians attacked the town, keeping out of close range of the fire from the stockade, but burned many buildings, including the college. Our forces marched out of the stockade and a battle ensued. The Indians were driven out of town, but skirmishes continued during the day, although our forces had been with drawn to the stockade on account of the greater number of the enemy. The Indians left about five o'clock in the afternoon and did not return again. The battle of Birch Coulee had been fought on the 2d and 3d of September, and the Indians had probably learned of the strength of the whites and of the march of General Sibley, and had been called in to help defeat him if possible. However, marauding bands occasionally appeared in different neighborhoods, plundering, and occasionally killing some of the whites. Samuel White and his family, residing near Lake Addie, were brutally murdered. A. S. Cant, belonging to Captain Harrington's company, was also killed. The body of a man by the name of Olson was found, with his scalp taken, his brains beaten out, his throat cut, and tongue cut out. Near Norway lake a family by the name of Limberg was attacked, three brothers killed and a boy wounded. A scouting party found thirteen dead bodies, and buried them.
IN NICOLLET COUNTY.
As soon as news of the outbreak reached the western part of the county all of the inhabitants not murdered or made captives left their homes, the women and children going to Fort Ridgely, St. Peter and Henderson, while many of the men went to the defense of New Ulm. There were about thirty persons killed in the county during the outbreak, the western part of the county being not far from the scene of the massacre at the lower agency. The men at St. Peter and the eastern part of the county promptly organized for defense, and two companies went to the aid of New Ulm, one under the Hon. Charles E. Flandrau, and the other under Capt. E. St. Julian Cox, the latter arriving after the battle. The news of the massacre at the lower agency, of the attacks on Captain Marsh's company, New Ulm, and the danger to Fort Ridgely created the greatest excitement, and men from different parts of the county and Le Sueur county came hurrying into St. Peter, most of them unarmed. Judge Flandrau and Capt. William B. Dodd were energetic in the organization of a company, and by ten o'clock August 19th one hundred and thirty-five men, armed as best they could, started for New Ulm, thirty miles distant, and before dark arrived at Redstone Ferry, in full view of the smoke of the burning city. But they did not waver. The river was soon crossed, and into the terror-stricken city they hurried, greeted by the welcome shout of its endangered people. This company showed great energy in traveling thirty miles in little over half a day, and though unused to military tactics and Indian strategy, kept skirmishers on horseback well in advance to guard against ambush or surprise, heeding well General Washington's advice, "In Indian warfare, beware of surprise." St. Peter then contained about one thousand inhabitants, but it was the nearest point to the large section of country devastated by the savage Indians, and hence a vast multitude of people gathered there for safety, because they knew not where else to go. Private houses, public places, churches, schoolhouses, warehouses, sheds, saloons, and even the streets, were full of people. There were domestic animals from the surrounding farms to be cared for and fed, hungry women and children with tales of horror to be looked after; cries of the wounded and tears for the dead and missing friends and relatives and fears that another massacre might occur rendered the scene one of a terrible ordeal. But the people of St. Peter met the task bravely and successfully. The sick and wounded were first attended to; then food, raiment and shelter were provided for the needy. Human brains were exerted to the fullest extent for some new device or expedient that would bring relief and aid to the several thousand suffering people. Stone buildings were barricaded, and the helpless women and children given the best places of safety. Private charity was invoked; a capacious soup house was established. Eight thousand rations of beef were issued each day, each person getting one ration a day. Fields and yards were laid waste until they were as barren as the desert of Sahara, and the inexorable demand continued until private charity was exhausted. The merchants' goods were gone; the druggists could no longer deal out medicine to the sick, and food was getting scarce. Many left for other places, but the penniless and the homeless were not allowed to suffer. When nearly a month went by a relief committee was appointed, consisting of Rev. A. H. Kerr and F. Lange, who made an appeal for aid, approved by M. R. Stone, provost marshal, and great relief thereby came to these unfortunate victims of the Sioux outbreak of 1862. Other places and other people suffered greatly, but not to such an extent as at St. Peter. Mankato, Belle Plaine and Shakopee were overcrowded with fugitives, fearing speedy death. But the dawn of each morning came without an attack. Brave men were routing the wily foe at New Ulm, Fort Ridgely, Birch Coulee and Wood Lake. All commanders and officers handled their troops with the ability of experienced veterans. The gallant Flandrau at New Ulm beat the Indians back; the energetic Sheehan, the brave Captain Gere, courgeous and able Officers Jones, Whipple and McGrew, and Citizen B. H. Randall, in charge of the citizens' company at Fort Ridgely, and Captains Grant and Anderson at Birch Coulee successfully stayed the stream of murder, plunder and arson that was flowing down the Minnesota valley, until the able General Sibley could whip the Indians at Wood Lake and drive them out of the state or compel them to surrender.
MURDERS IN BLUE EARTH COUNTY.
The Indians made raids into Blue Earth county in 1862-1864 and 1865, killing several people each time. On Tuesday, September 2d, the day of the battle of BirchCoulee, and also when Lieutenant Roberts with a squad of men had left New Ulm to rescue some of the Lake Shetek sufferers, a band of eight Indians appeared in the town of Courtland, Nicollet county, and killed two men and a boy, and crossed the Minnesota river into the town of Cambria, in Blue Earth county. Here resided David P. Davis, Sr., his sons David P., Jr., and Eben P.; also, his wife and several other children. Mr. Davis and his boys were cutting grass on their farm some three-fourths of a mile west of the Horeb church. David P. Davis, Jr., tells me the story of the Indian attack there.
His brother Eben had just put a span of horses into the pasture, and to fix the fence had an ax with him, and was just walking away with it on his shoulder when an Indian sprang at him with a tomahawk. Davis hit him with the ax, and immediately another Indian sprang out of the grass, and Davis ran to the timber near by. It was a race for life, with all the other Indians after him. The father and brother, David, Jr., were about eighty rods away, in full view of the exciting chase, and their feelings may well be imagined. They say that in speed it was wonderful, - a distance of about seventy-five rods, - when Eben reached the woods and escaped. There was a fence, which, in the race, Eben had to get over; but, like a practiced acrobat, he leaped it at one bound, when the Indians fired at and wounded him, the ball passing through the left wrist between the bones of the left arm.
The Indians then stole the horses and left. David P. Davis, Jr., continuing his statement, says that on Tuesday night, Sept. 9, 1862, the families of David P. Davis, James Edwards, Lewis D. Lewis and James Morgan, twenty-two persons in all, met at Mr. Morgan's house, across the road from the Horeb church. Several of them were armed, and under the charge of his father, while he stayed up nearly all night running balls, and attending to the firearms, to have them ready in case of an attack. The next morning, about daybreak, the dogs barked furiously. Mrs. Mary Morgan, wife of James Morgan, shouted, "Indians!" Lewis D. Lewis and James Edwards went out, and saw the dog barking viciously at the heels of some person dressed in citizen's clothes. Lewis D. Lewis put his hands over his eyes to shield them from the light, when an Indian fired at him, and the ball struck his hand, and dropped by his side to the floor, probably his hand saved his life, for the ball just grazed his forehead. Lewis and Morgan hastened back into the house, which was full of people, when a ball came through the window, hitting James Edwards in the neck, severing the jugular vein, and lodging in the bed where two men had been sleeping. Edwards fell dead across the bed, his blood spurting over the room. David P. Davis, Jr., and his father then fired at an Indian at the same time; whether they hit him or not was never known, but no trace of him could be found. The Indians opened fire at the house, the balls passing through a white oak scantling, splitting it in two pieces, and the volley was so great that it made the house tremble. The whites dropped to the floor and the Indians left.
In the neighborhood the Indians committed several other murders and much plundering, the particulars of which I have not space to enumerate, except that they killed Thomas Davis, son of David J. Davis, Jonas Mohr, formerly deputy postmaster under myself, John S. Jones and Robert Jones. The history of this raid into the Welsh settlement is very fully described in the "History of the Welsh in Minnesota," by Thomas Hughes, Esq.
MURDER OF THE JEWETT FAMILY.
On the second day of May, 1865, Andrew J. Jewett and his wife, his father and mother, and a hired man named Charles Tyler, were murdered in the town of Rapidan by the Indians and a half breed, named John Campbell, frequently called Jack Campbell. He was a brother of Baptiste Campbell, who was one of the thirty-eight hung at Mankato, Dec. 26, 1862. His father, Scott Campbell, was once government interpreter at Fort Snelling. Jack Campbell was at one time in the Union army, and did some good service while there. Before the outbreak in 1862 he had told some of his comrades that such an uprising was going to take place, but they paid little attention to his talk. After his brother Baptiste was hung he swore vengeance, and stated that he would burn the city of Mankato in retaliation. He had a comrade by the name of Marshall Fall in the army, who he knew had sent money to Jewett, and hence he had two objects in view, one the robbing of Jewett and the other the burning of the city of Mankato. With him were several Indians. Dr. Welcome of Garden City, who had attended Jewett's mother the night before, left early in morning, but soon learned of the murder, and, speedily returning, found Jewett and wife, father and mother and young Tyler dead, and young Jewett badly wounded. He recovered. The old lady's head had been split open with a hatchet; brains were oozing from similar injuries to the old gentleman. Jewett and Tyler were shot through the heart. The latter also had an arrow in his breast.
After the murder and robbery, Campbell left the Indians and started for Mankato alone, evidently in pursuance of his previously formed intention of burning that city; the Indians going in another direction for fear of suspicion and of being pursued by the whites. On his way to Mankato Campbell was caught by an armed citizen by the name of Dodge, taken to Mankato, where he was put in jail, and at night an effort was made to have him confess to the murder of the Jewett family, and to this end he was several times suspended with a rope around his neck, but he stubbornly refused to say anything.
Through the efforts of Mr. Pay it was found that Campbell had on Mr. Jewett's coat and pants, a pair of lady's hose and a pair of shoes that belonged to the Jewett family. The next morning Campbell was taken from the jail and tried before a jury of twelve men and a de facto judge, with a prosecuting attorney and evidence duly given. The jury found him guilty of murder, but recommended that he be held to the next term of court for the district. The evidence as to Campbell's having the clothing of the Jewett family had not then been fully given, and Mr. Abel Keene, Father Somerisen, a Catholic priest, myself, and some others, thought the evidence hardly sufficient to justify hanging, and for a while the execution of Campbell was delayed, but the people were wild. The repeated barbarities of the Indians, year after year, had so enraged them that they determined to punish any one who aided in their inhuman atrocities. Besides, three years before, the government had hanged in the city thirty-eight of the same kind of brutes for the massacres they had committed. The people found a rope, and, placing it around Campbell's neck, put him into a wagon and took him to the south corner of the court house square, where stood a leaning basswood tree, at the intersection of Hickory and Fifth streets, tied the rope to a limb on the leaning side of the tree, and pulled the wagon from under him. He died in a few minutes. Before he was finally swung off he told the Catholic priest that, while in jail, he had put three hundred dollars in his bed. This money was found, and given to Marshall Fall, who had sent it to Jewett. The money belonged to Fall.
At the request of the people, Col. B. F. Smith assumed command of the volunteers in Mankato as soon as the news spread, with a view to the capture of the Indians, who, immediately after the murder of the Jewett family, went east, into the timber on the Maple river, and stayed there for a while, until a company of soldiers from Fort Snelling came upon the scene and chased them eastward across the Le Sueur river. In going down its bank the Indians turned around and fired at the soldiers, killing one of them, named James Jolly. Subsequently a company of citizens from Mankato and one from the Winnebago agency had them surrounded on the Bennett farm, near the McCarty house, but the Indians kept hidden in the thick leaves and overhanging vines on the banks of the Le Sueur until nearly dark, when they escaped, shooting a boy named Frank York, and a horse he was on. The boy, before dying, managed to get to the McCarty house, where he died in his mother's arms. She had married Mr. Bennett for a second husband, and had gone to the McCarty house to take some provisions for the citizen volunteers. The Indians escaped, but were subsequently killed by the patrol scouts under the immediate command of Major Robert H. Rose, who, with six companies of the Second cavalry, was left, in 1864, to garrison Fort Wadsworth. The Indians so killed had in their possession spoons and other household articles taken from the Jewett family.
The jury that found Campbell guilty was composed of E. K. Bangs, Abel Keen, Aaron Tylor, Edward Nickerson, A. T. Noble, J. C. Haupt, William Furtk, E. H. Smith, Mr. Woleben, D. S. Law, A. A. Thompson and Charles Wagen. John H. Willard acted as public prosecutor; S. F. Barney, a lawyer of experience and ability, acted as judge, one O. O. Pitcher as the defendant's attorney. The trial and hanging took place May 3, 1865. This was the last of the Indian troubles in Blue Earth county.
THE WILLOW CREEK MASSACRE.
On the eleventh day of August, 1864, the Indians made a raid on the Willow Creek settlement, in Blue Earth county. Jesse Mack resided there at that time, and saw them. He says there were six or seven of them. They shot and killed Noble Root, and "wounded his son, though not fatally. They were at work harvesting on Mr. Root's farm, on the east side of the Blue Earth timber. No one thought of Indians being in the neighborhood, and they came upon Mr. Root and his son suddenly. After the shooting, they took Mr. Root's team and two of them rode the horses to Willow Creek, on the west side of the Blue Earth river. Messrs. Jesse Mack, Fox and Hindman were loading grain upon a wagon just west of the cemetery when the Indians saw them and made a bee line for their horses. Hindman climbed upon the wagon, and Fox held onto it, Mack pricked the horses with his pitchfork, and, while they were on the run, Hindman fell off the load with the pitchfork in his hands. Mack says that, as he was not waiting for passengers, he did not stop. The Indians overtook Hindman, but did him no harm, and Mack escaped. They stole a pair of horses belonging to visitors at McCullum's, and, as Jesse P. Thomas pointed a gun at them, the Indians left.
Five miles southwest of Willow Creek the Indians came to Mr. Hindman's place, where Charles C. Mack, father of Jesse Mack, was cutting grass with a mowing machine. Mr. Hindman's children say that they heard loud talking between Mr. Mack and the Indians. The next day Mr. Mack was found dead, shot in the breast with a rifle ball and three buckshot. The Indians took the horses and rode them westward. Mr. Mack's body was taken to Vernon Center, where funeral services were held at Col. B. F. Smith's hotel, then surrounded by a high stockade of timbers. The awful fear of another Indian outbreak still haunted these frontier settlers, and many precautionary steps were taken to guard against these raids of plunder and murder.
EXECUTION OF THIRTY-EIGHT SIOUX, DEC. 26, 1862.
"Headquarters Indian Post, Mankato, Dec. 17, 1862.
"The President of the United States having directed the execution of thirty-nine of the Sioux Indian and half breed prisoners in my charge, on Friday, the 26th instant, he having postponed the time from the 19th instant, said execution will be carried into effect in front of the Indian prison at this place on that day at 10 o'clock a. m. The executive also enjoins that no others of the prisoners be allowed to escape, and that they be protected for the future disposition of the government; and these orders will be executed by the military force at my disposal with utmost fidelity.
"The aid of all good citizens is invoked to maintain the law. The colonel commanding respectfully recommends that they assemble at Mankato the previous evening and adopt such wholesome measures as may contribute to the preservation of good order and strict propriety during the 26th instant.
"By order of the colonel commanding.
"J. K. ARNOLD,
READING OF THE DEATH WARRANT.
On Monday the thirty-nine Indians sentenced by the President were selected out and confined in an apartment separate and distinct from the other Indians. About half-past two o'clock Colonel Miller, accompanied by his staff officers, ministers and a few others, visited them in their cells for the purpose of reading to them the President's approval of their sentence, and the order for their execution.
Rev. Mr. Riggs acted as interpreter, and through him Colonel Miller addressed the prisoners, in substance as follows:
"The commanding officer at this place has called to speak to you upon a very serious subject this afternoon. Your Great Father at Washington, after carefully reading what the witnesses have testified in your several trials, has come to the conclusion that you have each been guilty of wantonly and wickedly murdering his white children, and for this reason he has directed that you each be hanged by the neck until you are dead, on next Friday, and that order will be carried into effect on that day, at ten o'clock in the forenoon.
"Good ministers, both Catholic and Protestant, are here, from amongst whom each of you can select your spiritual adviser, who will be permitted to commune with you constantly during the four days that you are yet to live."
The colonel then instructed Adjutant Arnold to read to them in English the letter of President Lincoln, which in substance ordered that thirty-nine prisoners, whose names are given, shall be executed at the time above stated. Rev. Mr. Riggs then read the letter in the Dakota language. The colonel further instructed Mr. Riggs to tell them that they have sinned so against their fellowman that there is no hope for clemency except in the mercy of God, through the merits of the Blessed Redeemer, and that he earnestly exhorted them to apply to that as their only remaining source of consolation.
The occasion was one of much solemnity to the persons present, though but very little emotion was manifested by the Indians. A half-breed named Millord seemed much depressed in spirits. All listened attentively, and at the conclusion of each sentence indulged their usual grunt or signal of approval. At the reading of that portion of the warrant condemning them to be hanged by the necks the response was quite feeble, and was given by only two or three. Several Indians smoked their pipes composedly during the reading, and we observed one in particular who, when the time of execution was designated, quietly knocked the ashes from his pipe and filled it afresh with his favorite kinnikinic, while another was slowly rubbing a pipeful of the same article in his hand preparatory to a good smoke.
The Indians were evidently prepared for the visit and the announcement of their sentence, one or two having overheard soldiers talking about it when they were removed to a separate apartment.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Colonel Miller instructed Major Brown to tell the Indians that each would be privileged to designate the minister of his choice, that a record of the same would be made, and the minister so selected would have free access to, and intercourse with him. The colonel and spectators then withdrew, leaving the ministers in consultation with the prisoners.
The Indians under sentence were confined in a back room on the first floor of Leech's stone building, chained in pairs, and closely and strongly guarded.
NAMES OF THE CONDEMNED.
The following are the Indian names of the condemned prisoners; also, the meaning of each, as translated by Rev. S. R. Riggs:
Te-he-do-ne-cha "One Who Forbids His House"
Ptan-doo-ta, or Ta-Joo "Red Otter"
Wy-a-tah-ta-wa "His People"
Hin-han-shoon-ko-yag-ma-ne . . "One Who Walks Clothedin an Owl's Tail"
Ma-ya-boom-doo "Iron Blower"
Wan-pa-doo-ta "Red Leaf"
Wa-he-kna Meaning unknown
Qwa-ma-ne "Tinkling Walker"
Ta-tay-me-ma "Round Wind"
Rda-in-yan-ka "Rattling Runner"
Do-wan-sa "The Singer"
Ha-pan "Second Child" (if a son)
Shoon-ka-ska "White Dog"
Toon-kan-e-chah-tag-ma-ne. ."One Who Walks by His Grandfather"
E-tay-doo-ta "Red Face"
Am-da-cha "Broken to Pieces"
Hay-pe-dan "The Third Child" (if a son)
Mah-pe-o-ke-ne-jin "Who Stands on a Cloud"
Henry Milord A half-breed
Chas-ka-dan "The First Born" (if a son)
Baptiste Campbell A half-breed
Ta-tay ka-gay "Wind Maker"
Hay-pin-kpa "The Tip of the Horn"
Hypolita Ange A half-breed
Na-pay-skin "One Who Does Not Flee"
Wa-kan-tan-ka "Great Spirit"
Toon-kan-ko-yag-e-na-jin .... "One Who Stands Clothed with His Grandfather"
Ma-ka-ta-e-na-jin "One Who Stands on the Earth"
Pa-za-koo-tay-wa-nee ..... "One Who Walks Prepared to Shoot"
To-tay-hde-dan "Wind Comes Home"
A-e-che-ga "To Grow Upon"
Ho-tan-in-koo "Voice That Appears Coming"
Chay-tan-hoon-ka "The Parent Hawk"
Chan-ka-hda "Near the Wood"
Hda-hin-hday "To Make a Rattling Noise Suddenly"
O-ya-tay-a-koo "The Coming People"
Ma-hoo-way-wa "He Comes For Me"
Wa-kin-van-ne "Little Thunder"
CONFESSIONS OP THE CONDEMNED.
1. Te-he-do-ne-cha ("One Who Forbids His House") said he was asleep when the outbreak took place at the lower agency. He was not present at the breaking open of the stores, but afterwards went over the Minnesota river and took some women captives. The men who were killed there, he said, were killed by other Indians, whom he named.
2. Ptan-doo-ta, alias Ta-joo ("Red Otter") said he had very sore eyes at the time of the outbreak, and was at that time down opposite Fort Ridgely. He was with the party that killed Patwell and others. Ma-a-bon-doo killed Patwell. He took Miss Williams captive; says he would have violated the women, but they resisted. He thinks he did a good deed in saving the women alive.
3. Wy-a-tah-ta-wa ("His People") said he was at the attack on Captain Marsh's company, and also at New Ulm. He and another Indian shot at a man at the same time. He does not know whether he or the other Indian killed the white man. He was wounded in following up another white man. He was at the battle of Birch Coulee, where he fired his gun. He fired twice at Wood Lake.
4. Hin-han-shoon-ko-yag-ma-ne ("One Who Walks Clothed in an Owl's Tail") says he is charged with killing white people, and so condemned. He did not know certainly that he killed any one. He was in all the battles. That is all he has to say.
5. Ma-za-boom-doo ("Iron Blower") says he was down on the Big Cottonwood when the outbreak took place; that he came that day into New Ulm, and purchased various articles, and then started home. He met the Indians coming down; saw some in wagons shot, but does not know who killed them. He was present at the killing of Patwell and others, but denies having done it himself. He thinks he did well by Mattie Williams and Mary Swan, in keeping them from being killed. They now live and he has to die, which he thinks is not quite fair.
6. Wa-pa-doo-ta ("Red Leaf") is an old man. He says he was moving when he heard of the outbreak. He saw some men after they were killed about the agency, but did not kill anyone there. He started down to the fort, and went on to the New Ulm settlement. There he shot at a man through a window, but does not think he killed him. He was himself wounded at New Ulm.
7. Wa-he-hua (Do not know what his name means) says that he did not kill anyone ; if he had believed he had killed a white man he would have fled with Little Crow. The witnesses lied on him.
8. Qua-ma-ne ("Tinkling Walker") says he was condemned on the testimony of two German boys. They say he killed two persons. The boys told lies; he was not at that place at all.
9. Ta-tah-me-na ("Round Wind") is a brother-in-law of the former well-known Mr. Joseph Renville. He was the public crier for Little Crow before and during the out break. After the battle of Wood Lake he came over to the opposition, and was the crier at Camp Release when the captives were delivered up. He was condemned on the testimony of two German boys, who said they saw him kill their mother. The old man denies the charge; says he was not across the river at that time, and that he was unjustly condemned. He is the only one of the thirty nine who has been at all in the habit of attending Protestant worship. On last Sabbath he requested Dr. Williamson to baptize him, professing repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, which was done on Monday, before he knew that he was among those to be hung at this time. May God have mercy on his soul!
10. Rda-in-yan-ka ("Rattling Runner") says he did not know of the uprising on Monday, the 18th of August, until they had killed a number of men. He went out and met Little Crow, and tried to stop the murders, but could not. The next day his son was brought home wounded from Fort Ridgely. He forbade the delivering up of the white captives to Paul when he demanded them, and he supposes he is to be hung for that.
11. Do-wan-sa ("The Singer") says he was one of the six who were down in the Swan Lake neighborhood. He knows that they killed two men and two women, but this was done by the rest of the party, and not by himself.
12. Ha-pan ("Second Child" - if a son) says he was not in the massacres of New Ulm nor the agency. He was with the company who killed Patwell and his companions. He took one of the women. O-ya-tay-wa killed Patwell.
13. Shoon-ka-ska ("White Dog") says that when the outbreak took place he ran away, and did not get any of the stolen property. At the ferry he talked with Quinn; first called to them to come over, but when he saw that the Indians were in ambush he beckoned to Captain Marsh to stay back. He says that his position and conduct at the ferry were misunderstood and misrepresented; that he wanted peace, and did not command the Indians to fire on Captain Marsh's men; that another man should be put to death for that. He complains bitterly that he did not have a chance to tell the things as they were; that he could not have an opportunity of refuting the false testimony brought against him. He says that they all expected to have another trial -that they were promised it; that they have done great wrong to the white people, and do not refuse to die, but they think it hard that they did not have a fairer trial; that they want the President to know this.
14. Toon-kan-e-chah-tag-ma-ne ("One Who Walks by His Grandfather") says he took nothing from the stores except a blanket. He was at Fort Ridgely, but killed nobody. He is charged with killing white persons in a wagon, but he did not; they were killed by another man.
15. Etag-doo-ta ("Red Face") says he was woke up in the morning of Monday, the 18th of August, and went with others, but he did not kill anybody.
16. Am-da-cha ("Broken to Pieces") says that he was doctoring a girl when he learned about the outbreak at the lower agency. He went with others, and took some things from Mr. Forbes' store. He fired his gun only twice, but thinks he did not kill anyone.
17. Hay-pe-dan ("The Third Child" - if a son) says he was not at the stores until all was over there. He was with Wabasha, and with him opposed the outbreak. He was afterwards driven into it by being called a coward. He went across the Minnesota river and took two horses, and afterwards captured a woman and two children. He tried to keep a white man from being killed, but could not. He was at the ferry when Marsh's men were killed, but had only a bow and arrows there. He was in three battles, and shot six times, but does not know that he killed anyone.
18. Mah-pe-o-ke-ne-jin ("Who Stands on the Cloud") Cut Nose says that when Little Crow proposed to kill the traders he went along. He says he is charged with having killed a carpenter, but he did not do it. He fired off his gun in one of the stores. His nephew was killed at Fort Ridgely. He was out at Hutchinson when his son was killed. Little Crow took them out. He was hungry and went over to an ox. When there he saved Mr. Brown's family.
19. Henry Milord (a half-breed) Henry says he went over the Minnesota river with Baptiste Campbell and others. They were forced to go by Little Crow. He fired his gun at a woman, but does not think he killed her. Several others fired at her, also. He did not see her after wards. Henry Milord was raised by General Sibley; he is a smart, active, intelligent young man, and as such would be likely to be drawn into the Dakota rebellion; indeed, it was next to impossible for young men, whether half-breeds or full bloods, to keep out of it. They are to be pitied as well as blamed.
20. Chas-kay-dan ("The First Born" - if a son) says he went to the stores in the morning of Monday. Then he saw Little Crow taking away goods. He then went up to Red Wood with a relation of his. They were told that a white man was coming on the road. They went out to meet him, but the first who came along was a half-breed. They let him pass. Then came along Mrs. Wakefield and Mr. Gleason. His friend shot Mr. Gleason, and he attempted to fire on him, but his gun did not go off. He saved Mrs. Wakefield and the children, and now he dies while she lives.
21. Baptiste Campbell is the son of Scott Campbell, who was for many years United States interpreter at Fort Snelling. He thinks that they ought to have had a new trial; says he did not speak advisedly when before the military commission. He went over the Minnesota river with four others. They were sent over by Little Crow, and told to get all the cattle they could and kill every white man; if they did not the Soldiers' Lodge would take care of them. They went over to a farm between Beaver creek and Birch Coulee, where they found a lot of cattle, which they attempted to drive. The cattle, however, ran away, and then their attention was attracted to the owner. Campbell fired his gun first, but did not hit the man. He says his statement before the commission was misunderstood. He said he was a good shot, and if he had fired at the man he should have killed him; he fired over him intentionally; he fired because he felt compelled to do so by command of Little Crow. Campbell says that Little Crow compelled him and his brother, Joseph, to go out to Hutchinson. They tried to get away at the time of the attack on Captain Strout's company, but were prevented. They were forced to go to the battle of Hutchinson. Little Crow told them if they did not kill white men they would be killed, but he did not shoot any men there.
22. Ta-ta-ka-gay ("Wind Maker") is quite a young man, grandson of Secret Walker, who took care of Mrs. Josephine Higgins and her children in their captivity. He was one of those who killed Amos W. Higgins, at Lac qui Parle. The other two, who are probably the most guilty, have escaped; says he was at Red Iron's village when he heard of the outbreak. Another Indian urged him to go up with him and kill Mr. Higgins. He refused at first, but afterwards went. His comrade shot Mr. H. and killed him; he then fired off his gun, but held it up.
23. Hay-pin-kpa ("The Tip of the Horn") is condemned because he boasted of having shot. Stewart B. Garvie with an arrow. As it is now known that Mr. Garvie was not shot with an arrow, but with buckshot, it is probably true, as he said before the commission, that he lied about it. This is not the first time that a man has been killed for lying. He now says that they determined to send off all the white people from the Yellow Medicine without killing any. Mr. Garvie refused to go. He did not shoot him. He dies without being guilty of the charge, and he trusts in the Great Spirit to save him in the other world.
24. Hypolite Ange is a half-breed, says he had been a clerk in one of the stores for a year previous to the out break; was sent down the Minnesota river with Baptiste Campbell and others by Little Crow; shot the white man, but not until after he had been killed by others.
25. Na-pa-shue ("One Who Does not Flee") says that at the time of the outbreak he was quite lame ; that he was not engaged in any of the massacres ; he was not engaged in any of the battles, but was forced with others to come down to the Yellow Medicine before the battle of Wood Lake. He dies for no fault of his.
26. Wa-kan-tan-ka ("Great Spirit") says he was not present at the commencement of the outbreak; was along with the company which came down from New Ulm; saw the men in two wagons killed, but he did not kill anyone; says one witness before the commission testified that he killed one of those men, but the witness lied on him.
27. Toon-kan-ko-yag-e-na-jin ("One Who Stands Clothed with His Grandfather") says that he was in the battle of Birch Coulee; was also at the battle of Hutchinson, but does not know that he killed anyone.
28. Ma-ka-ta-e-na-jin ("One Who Stands on the Earth") is an old man; says he has not used a gun for years; was down at New Ulm, but did not kill anyone; had two sons killed; wants to have the truth told.
29. Pa-za-koo-tag-ma-ne ("One Who Walks Prepared to Shoot") says he was out in a war party against the Chippewas when the outbreak took place. When he came back the massacres were over. He did not kill any one; says his statement before the commissioners was misunderstood. When he was asked whether he was in a war party and fired his gun he replied, "Yes;" but it was against the Chippewas, and not the whites.
30. Ta-ta-hde-dan ("Wind Comes Home") says that the men of Rice creek were the authors of the outbreak; tried to keep them from killing white people, but only succeeded partially.
31. Wa-she-shoon ("Frenchman") says he did not know anything about killing white people ; is to die for no crime; was very much affected.
32. A-e-cha-ga ("To Grow Upon") is charged with participating in the murder of an old man and two girls; made neither confession or denial.
33. Ko-tan-in-koo ("Voice that Appears Coming") says he did not have a gun; was at the Big Woods, and struck a man with his hatchet after he had been shot by another man; did not abuse any white women.
34. Chay-tan-hoon-ka ("The Parent Hawk") says he did not kill anyone; was down at Fort Ridgely; was also at Beaver Creek, and took horses from there, but did not kill the man.
35. Chan-ka-dha ("Near the Woods") says he took Mary Anderson captive after she had been shot by another man; thinks it rather hard that he is to be hung for an other's crime.
36. Hda-hin-day ("To Make a Rattling Noise Suddenly") says that he was up north at the time of the out break, and did not come down until after the killing of the whites was past; was at the battle of Wood Lake. He says he is charged with killing of two children, but says the charge is false.
37- O-ya-tag-a-kso ("The Coming People") says he was with the company that killed Patwell and others. He is charged with striking him with a hatchet after he was shot; this charge he denies.
38. Ma-hoo-way-ma ("He Comes for Me") says he was out in one of the raids towards the Big Woods; did not kill anybody, but he struck a woman who had been killed before; was himself wounded.
39. Wa-kin-yan-wa ("Little Thunder") says he is charged with having murdered one of the Coursall children, but the child is still living; has seen the child since he was before the military commission. He has done nothing worthy of death.
In making these statements, confessions and denials they were generally calm, but a few individuals were quite excited. They were immediately checked by others, and told that they were all dead men, and there was no reason why they should not all tell the truth. Many of them indited letters to their friends, in which they said they are very dear to them, but will see them no more. They exhorted them not to cry or change their dress for them. Some of them stated they expected to go and dwell with the Good Spirit, and they expressed the hope that their friends would all join them there.
On Tuesday evening they extemporized a dance with an Indian song. It was feared that this was only a cover for something else which might be attempted, and their chains were thereafter fastened to the floor. It seems, however, rather probable that they were only singing their death song. Their friends came in from the other prison to bid them farewell, and they were then ready to die.
LETTERS FROM CONDEMNED INDIANS.
The following is a copy of a letter from one of the condemned prisoners to his chief and father-in-law, Wabashaw. It was taken down in the exact language dictated by the prisoner, and except its untruthfulness we think it an excellent letter:
"Wabashaw: You have deceived me. You told me that if we followed the advice of General Sibley and gave ourselves up to the whites all would be well, - no innocent man would be injured. I have not killed, wounded or injured a white man, or any white persons. I have not participated in the plunder of their property; and yet to-day I am set apart for execution and must die in a few days, while men who are guilty will remain in prison. My wife is your daughter; my children are your grandchildren. I leave them all in your care and under your protection. Do not let them suffer, and when my children are grown up let them know that their father died because he followed the advice of his chief and without having the blood of a white man to answer for to the Great Spirit.
"My wife and children are dear to me. Let them not grieve for me. Let them remember that the brave should be prepared to meet death, and I will do as becomes a Dakota.
"RDA-IN-YOU-KUA." The above Indian was convicted of participating in the murders and robberies at the upper agency, and the sworn testimony at Washington differs materially from his con fession as given above.
On Wednesday each Indian set apart for execution was permitted to send for two or three of his relatives or friends confined in the main prison, for the purpose of bidding them a final adieu, and to carry such messages to their absent relatives as each person might be disposed to send. Major Brown was present during the interviews, and described them as very sad and affecting. Each Indian had some word to send to his parents or family. When speaking of their wives and children almost every one was affected to tears.
Good counsel was sent to their children. They were in many cases exhorted to an adoption of Christianity and a life of good feeling towards the whites. Most of them spoke confidently of their hopes of salvation. They had been constantly attended by Rev. Dr. Williamson, Father Ravoux and Rev S. R. Riggs, whose efforts in bringing these poor criminals to a knowledge of the merits of the Blessed Redeemer had been eminently successful. These gentlemen were all conversant with and could converse and plead with the Indians in their own language.
Fun is a ruling passion with the Indians, and Ta-zoo could not refrain from its enjoyment even in this sad hour. Ta-ti-mi-ma was sending word to his relatives not to mourn for his loss; he said he was old, and could not hope to live long under any circumstances, and his execution would not shorten his days a great deal, and dying as he did, innocent of any white man's blood, he hoped would give him a better chance to be saved; therefore he hoped his friends would consider his death but as a removal from this to a better world. "I have every hope," said he, "of going direct to the abode of the Great Spirit, where I shall always be happy." This last remark reached the ears of Ta-zoo, who was also speaking to his friends, and he elaborated upon it in this way: "Yes, tell our friends that we are being removed from this world over the same path they must shortly travel. We go first, but many of our friends may follow us in a short time. I expect to go direct to the abode of the Great Spirit, and be happy when I get there; but we are told that the road is long and the distance great; therefore, as I am slow in all my movements, it will probably take me a long time to reach the end of the journey, and I should not be surprised if some of the young, active men we will leave behind us will pass me on the road before I reach the place of my destination." In shaking hands with Red Iron and Aka, Ta-zoo said: "Friends, last summer you were opposed to us; you were living in continual apprehension of an attack from those who determined to exterminate the whites. Yourselves and families were subjected to many taunts, insults and threats. Still you stood firm in your friendship for the whites, and continually counselled the Indians to abandon their raid against the whites. You were right when you said the whites could not be exterminated, and the attempt indicated folly. Your course was condemmed at the time, but now we see your wisdom. Then you and your families were prisoners, and the lives of all in constant danger. To-day you are here at liberty, assisting in feeding and guarding us, and thirty-nine men will die in two days be cause they did not follow your counsel and advice."
Several of the prisoners were overcome during the leave taking, and were compelled to abandon conversation. Others again (and Ta-zoo was one) affected to disregard the dangers and joked apparently as unconcerned as if they were sitting around a camp-fire in their perfect freedom.
On Thursday the women who were employed as cooks for the prisoners, all of whom had relations among the condemned, were admitted to the prison. This interview was less sad, but was still interesting. Locks of hair, blankets, coats, and almost every other article in the possession of the prisoners were given in trust for some relative or friend who had been forgotten or overlooked during the interview of the previous day. At this interview far less feeling was displayed than at the interview of Wednesday. The idea of allowing women to witness their weakness is repugnant to an Indian, and will account for this. The messages sent were principally advice to their friends to bear themselves with fortitude and refrain from great mourning. The confidence of many in their salvation was again reiterated.
On Thursday evening we paid a visit to the condemned prisoners in their cells. The Catholic ministers were baptizing a number. All the prisoners seemed resigned to their fate, and much depressed in spirits. Many sat perfectly motionless, and more like statues than living men. Others were deeply interested in the ceremony of baptism. Thursday night passed quietly at the quarters, nothing of special interest occurring.
A special order was received by Colonel Miller from the President, postponing the execution of Ta-ti-mi-ma, reducing the number to be executed to thirty-eight.
The following is a correct statement of the military force present at the execution:
6th Regt, Lieut. Col. Averill - - - 200
7th Regt, Col. Miller - - - 425
9th Regt., Col. Wilkin - - - 161
10th Regt, Col. Baker - - - 425
Capt. White's Mounted Men - - - 35
1st Regt., Mounted Rangers - - - 273
Total - - - 1,419
The gallows, constructed of heavy square oak timbers, was located on the levee, opposite the headquarters. It was twenty-four feet on each side, in the form of a diamond, and about twenty feet high. The drop was held by a large rope attached to a pole in the center of the frame, and the scaffold was supported by heavy ropes centering at this pole, and attached to the one large rope running down to and attached to the ground.
THE ORDER OF EXECUTION.
We visited the prisoners in their cell an hour before the execution. Their arms were tied, some were painted, and all wore blankets or shawls over their shoulders. They were seated on the floor, composedly awaiting the appointed hour. They seemed cheerful, occasionally smiling or conversing together.
The last hour was occupied by Father Ravoux in religious service, the prisoners following him in prayer. Their time was thus occupied until the hour of execution. Captain Burt was officer of the day. The prisoners were confined in a rear room, on the south side, first floor, of the old Leech stone building. The windows and doors of which were securely barricaded. At an early hour in the morning admittance was denied the public, and those permitted to spend the last hours with the prisoners were the ministers, priests, reporters, officers and men of the provost guard. The irons were removed from the limbs of the prisoners, their arms pinioned and other preparations made while the priests were conducting service or talking to the condemned.
While Father Ravoux was still talking to the prisoners Captain Redfield of the provost guard entered the prison, whispering to him that everything was in readiness. Word was communicated to Henry Milord, a half-breed, who repeated it to the Indians, most of whom were sitting about the floor. In a moment all were upon their feet, and as the barricades were removed from the door formed in single file, and marched quickly through the intervening room to the front door. On each side was a line of infantry, forming a pathway to the place of execution, and as the Indians caught sight of the gallows they hastened their steps, and commenced to sing their death song. The officer of the day received them at the gallows. Following the lead of Captain Redfield, they ascended the steps. Eight men detailed to assist placed them in position, adjusted the ropes and placed on their heads unbleached muslin caps to hide their faces. All this time their song was continued with a dancing motion of the body.
Maj. J. R. Brown was signal officer. Stationed in front of headquarters, he gave three taps upon a drum, the last one to notify Capt. W. J. Duly, stationed inside the gallows, to cut the rope which held the platform. His first blow failed to cut it, but at the second stroke the platform dropped with a thud, intensified by the dancing motion of the prisoners. Captain Duly lived at Lake Shetek. His wife had been a prisoner, taken from the Lake Shetek settlement, and liberated only a few days before the execution. It is said that the first blow failed to cut the rope because of the excitement under which he labored, but the second blow was successful, and speedily sent the thirty eight murderers to the happy hunting grounds - if such characters are there admissible.
To those near the gallows, evidences of fear and nervousness under this trying ordeal were manifest. One Indian managed to work the noose to the back of his neck, and when the drop fell he struggled terribly; others tried to clutch the blankets of those next to them, while with a spirit of defiance one went upon the gallows with a pipe in his mouth. Two clasped hands, and remained in this relation in death when their bodies were cut down. In the fall the rope of one was broken, but the fall broke his neck, and he remained quiet upon the ground, until his body was taken up and hung in place. After the lapse of nearly ten minutes one breathed, but his rope was quickly adjusted and life was soon extinct.
Drs. Seignorette of Henderson and Dr. Finch of the Seventh Regiment were detailed to examine the bodies, and after hanging for half an hour they were pronounced lifeless, and were cut down.
Four teams were driven to the scaffold. The bodies were deposited in the wagons, and under an armed escort, conveyed to the place of burial. Company K, Captain Burke, without arms, acted as a burial party. The place of burial was the low flat between Front street and the river, which is overgrown by swamp willows. A trench wide enough to permit the placing of two rows of bodies, possibly thirty feet long, twelve feet wide and four to five feet deep, was dug in the sand, their bodies were placed in, feet to feet, the layer was covered with coarse army blankets, and over this another layer of bodies, then blankets again, and the whole covered with earth.
So great was the desire for relics that crucifixes, wampum and ornaments were taken from the bodies before burial; others took locks of hair and a few cut off pieces of clothing.
All or nearly all of the bodies were, during the night or soon after, taken from their graves by physicians from different parts of the country for medical purposes.
A physician from an adjoining town secured the body of Cut-Nose, one of the most brutal of the Indians, and the one who broke the rope at the time of the execution. As he fell a tremendous shout went up from the crowd, "Put him up!" "Put him up!" Before he was hung, he said that his thumb had been badly bitten by a white man while he, Cut-Nose, was working a knife around in his breast; that the white man was hard to kill, and he thought he would never die.
I saw two of the dead Indians the next morning after the execution in the office of a Mankato physician. No attempt was made to disguise the fact that these dead bodies had been resurrected for medical purposes. The hostile Indians not captured were driven beyond the borders of the state, and never returned. The condemned Indians not executed were taken to a military prison at Davenport, Iowa, and there confined until 1866, when they were sent west of the Missouri river and set free. This was a great mistake, as many of the Indian troubles that have taken place since then may be traced to the evil counsels of these condemned Indians. They never forgot what they regarded as an injury. They may have refrained from an open and extensive outbreak through fear, but secretly they have been a disturbing element among Indian tribes.
In May, 1863, other Sioux Indians, squaws and pappooses, about 1,700, were taken to a reservation on the upper Missouri, above Fort Randall. The same month, the Winnebagoes, then numbering 1,850, were removed to Dakota, and then to Nebraska. The Chippewas remained in the state, and with the exception of the fight at Leech Lake in 1898, have remained peaceable. This trouble was the result of the whites attempting to arrest an Indian for killing another. In the fight which ensued six soldiers were killed and nine wounded. Among the former was Major Wilkenson, who had earned an enviable record in the army, and his death was sincerely regretted. This trouble, however, was not in the nature of an out break.
The acts of cruelty perpetrated by the Indians were horrible and revolting, and of the most fiendish character. After the outbreak at Acton, among the first to suffer was one Edwin Stone, a respectable merchant of Minneapolis. He was on foot near Hutchinson when attacked and wounded, and tried to get into a wagon but fell back, exclaiming: "My God! They will butcher me." Little Crow's fifteen-year-old son shot him, and another Indian sunk his tomahawk into his brain with such force that it caused him to bound from the ground. One of the most fiendish of the Indians was Cut-Nose, so called because in a fight with Other-Day the latter bit out a piece of his nose. A party of settlers, mostly children, were gathered for flight, and got into a wagon, when Cut-Nose tomahawked them all, one at a time, striking each on its head, while the others, horror stricken and stupefied with fright and powerless to resist, heard the dull, heavy blows crash through the flesh and bone, awaiting their turn. Then taking another infant from its mother's arms, with an iron bolt from the wagon, he thrust it through its body and nailed it to the fence, and left it to die writhing in mortal agony, holding the mother for a while in full view of her dying child. He then chopped off her arms and legs and left her there to bleed to death. He was hung at Mankato.
One Patoile started from Joe Reynolds' place, above Red Wood, for New Ulm with two other men and three young ladies. The Indians killed the three men, and all three girls were criminally assaulted. One of them, wounded, and then assaulted by seventeen of these vile inhuman devils, died that night.
A party of Indians on their way to St. Peter, burned the church at Swan Lake, then attacked a party of whites, killing all the men there. An Indian, catching hold of a young girl, undertook to take her as his property, when the mother resisted and was shot dead.
Kearn Horan says that he lived four miles from the lower Sioux agency, on the fort road. When he fled to Fort Ridgely, on his way, he saw a Mrs. Sampson crying at her door for help, and he advised her to go into the brush and hide, as he could not help her. She did not do this, but hid in her wagon, called a "prairie schooner," with her three children. The Indians took her babe from her, threw it on the ground, put hay under the wagon, set fire to it, and went away. Mrs. Sampson was badly burned, but taking her infant from the ground, escaped to the fort; the other two children in the wagon were burned to death. Mr. Sampson had been killed about eighty rods from the house.
A married daughter of Mr. Schwandt, who had not been notified of the outbreak, was captured by the Indians, and cut open and a live, struggling child taken from her and nailed to a tree. It struggled for some time after the nails were driven through it. A brother, thirteen years old, who had been beaten and left for dead, saw the entire tragedy. One is here reminded how white people took Christ and nailed him to a cross, and in his agony He cried out: "My God! My God! Why hast thou for saken me !"
At one place an Indian went into a house where a woman was making bread, and whose small child was in the cradle. He split the mother's head open with a tomahawk, and then placed the helpless babe in the hot oven, where it remained until it was almost dead, when he took it out and beat its brains out against the side of the house.
Children were nailed to tables and doors, and knives and tomahawks thrown at them until they perished from pain and fright. Hands and heads of their victims were cut off, their hearts ripped out, and other disgusting mutilations inflicted, and whole families were burned alive in their houses. So says Heard in his history. Plenty of other reliable information and evidence corroborates his statement. There were numerous instances of rape until death came to the relief of the helpless victims.
Of the many instances of Indian cruelties I have stated a few specifically, and the soul sickens at their recital. Undoubtedly many cruel acts were never known. As we read of these horrible cruelties and savage crimes, the blood is stirred to madness, and I rejoiced when retributive justice overtook these murderers of helpless children, women and men, and I am unable to use language sufficiently severe in denouncing their inhuman cruelties and conduct. But as I stood near the gallows, and saw thirty-eight human beings swung off at once into eternity, I wondered where the blame rested that made necessary such a taking of human life, even though it was punishing the guilty creatures. And memory of the needless cruelties of the white race warned me that they had many grievous sins of the same kind to answer for. Some of these will be recited in succeeding pages.
WHITE RACE CRUELTIES.
The Caucasian race has never gotten entirely rid of all its savage nature. The strong oppress the weak, and for commercial ends or to extend territorial acquisitions bulldoze those who are powerless to resist, and claim that the end justifies the means. Cruel war follows these unholy claims and attempts, where the youth of the land go down to untimely death through the persuasive cry of patriotism. Oh, what bloody trails and inhuman cruelties mark the pathway of people calling themselves christian and civilized! Will such wars and cruelties never stop? There is too much barbarism under the cloak of sanctification; too much ambition under the name of patriotism, and too much human greed, where the teaching of Christ when He said, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," should prevail. It was the savage yet remaining in the white race that persecuted Christ.
Talmage tells us that in the year 1200, while excavating for antiquities fifty-three miles northeast of Rome, a copper plate tablet was found containing a copy of the death warrant of the Lord Jesus Christ, reading in this wise:
"In the year 17 of the empire of Tiberius Caesar, and on the 25th of March, 1, Pontius Pilate, Governor of the Praetore, condemned Jesus of Nazareth to die between two thieves, Quintius Cornelius to lead him forth to the place of execution."
The death warrant was signed by several names, first by Daniel, rabbi, Pharisee; secondly, by Johannes, rabbi; thirdly, by Raphael; fourthly, by Capet, a private citizen. This capital punishment was executed according to law. The name of the thief crucified on the right hand side of Christ was Dismas; the name of the thief crucified on the left side of Christ was Gestus. Pontius Pilate, describing the tragedy, says the whole world lighted candles from noon until night. "But the chief priest and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus." They scourged him and smote him and nailed him to the cross. And they beheaded John.
And England has barbarism and savage cruelty charged against her. In 1582 it was made treason to worship except in accordance with forms prescribed by law. In 1576, for disobeying this law, John Coffing and Elias Thacker were arrested, condemned and executed; and shortly after, William Deines, a most godly man, suffered the same fate.
In 1586 John Greenwood and Henry Barron were condemned to die for claiming the right of the church to manage its own affairs, and were executed in 1593. The same year John Perry was put to death for the same offense.
During the war of 1812 with Great Britain, the American forces under General Winchester engaged a British force with a body of Indians at the river Raisen, west of Lake Erie, and surrendered, under the promise of the British commander, Proctor, that the prisoners should be protected. But no sooner had they given up their arms, than Proctor marched away with his white soldiers, leaving the wounded and the women to the mercy of savages, who had no mercy. They were massacred and scalped, as Proctor intended they should be, for he had offered a prize for every scalp brought to him. The village was set on fire, and those who remained alive in it were burned. Such as struggled out from the flames were scalped and thrown back. Even the Indian chief, Tecumseh, upbraided Proctor for his treachery and inhumanity, and told him that he was no man, and should wear petticoats. "Remember the River Raisen!" became one of the watchwords of the war. (Hawthorn's Nations of the World.)
Go back also, and read the history of the treatment of the Quakers in New England by the Puritans ; not by the Pilgrims, for the Puritan was not a Pilgrim, nor the Pilgrim a Puritan. The murder of the Quakers was an ever lasting disgrace to New England, and the history of those crimes will forever remain the darkest annals among her great virtues. Grounded in religious excitement and fanaticism, men and women were ruthlessly murdered without cause and without reason. I use the term murder, for it was nothing less than murder with malice aforethought. Perhaps the term massacre would be more appropriate, and the names of the old scoundrels engaged in its performance should be held up to universal execration.
Even the Indian well knew of this dark spot in our New England history. In 1821 an Indian of the Seneca nation was tried for witchcraft and executed: this act so out raged the sense of the whites that they seized "Long Hair," the Indian executioner, and tried him for murder. Red Jacket, the famous Indian chief of Western New York, defended him, and during his speech for the defense he said: "Go to Salem; look at the records of your own government. Your black coats declared this doctrine from the pulpits; your judges pronounced it from the bench, and sanctioned it with the formalities of law, and now, you would punish our unfortunate brother for adhering to the faith of his fathers and of yours."
Another instance of the most inhuman acts of the whites was the burning to death of Joan of Arc, called the "Saviour of France." Possessing wonderful ability and a zealous desire to aid her beautiful country, she encouraged her people to fight against the English, and leading them to battle. She was taken prisoner, and while the English were in possession of Paris, she was tried for heresy. The trial, as most trials of that kind were in those days, was a mere farce, worse than a mockery, and she was condemned to be burned alive. Eight hundred English troops escorted her to the place of execution, where she was placed upon a lofty platform of masonry, in the midst of which there was a post covered with cement, surrounded by a great mass of fagots. When she was chained to the stake, the executioner set the wood on fire at the lowest part, so that she would endure the greatest agony for the longest time. When her garments were wrapped in fire she uttered only the name of "Jesus!" her head drooped and she fell forward and expired. Beautiful girl of nineteen, innocent of any crime, she suffered a terrible death on the frivolous charge of heresy. Were the Indians more cruel and savage? Has hell any worse occupant than the miscreants that burned this poor girl at the stake?
Many eastern people and newspapers criticised and condemned the demands of the people of Minnesota for the execution of the convicted Indians as barbarous in the extreme. How some people change their views on what constitutes cruelty and barbarism may be understood by reading the history of New England, when, in 1637, 1675 and 1677, it treated the Indians as badly, if not worse, than they were treated in Minnesota, and only in later years, when she had no horrible Indian massacre within her own borders, did her great human heart beat in favor of mercy to the Indian murderers on the frontier of western Minnesota. Let us see what New England did. A few illustrations from many will do. King Phillip was hunted like a wild beast; his body quartered and set on poles; his head exposed as a trophy for twenty years on a gibbet in Plymouth, and one of his hands was sent to Boston. The ministers returned thanks, and one said that they had prayed a bullet into Phillip's heart.
In 1677, on a Sunday, in Marblehead, the women as they came out of the meeting house fell upon two Indians who had been brought in as captives, and in a very tumultuous way murdered them, in revenge for the death of some fishermen.
On June 5, 1637, the soldiers of Connecticut attacked a Pequod fort, set it on fire, and about 600 Indians, men, women and children, perished in the terrible conflagration. And the last five years have witnessed the most shocking blot on civilization, in the terrible atrocities committed by the Belgians in the Congo Free State, where, for trivial offenses, or none at all, human ingenuity has devised new forms of horrible torture of men and women. Some were baked alive, some had their shin bones sawed into, their noses and ears cut off, and children thrown into whirling rapids, to see, as the white officer said, "if the little devils could swim." A little girl, for trying to escape and get back to her kindred, was stripped, and, with the terrible hippopotamus hide, whipped until her flesh was cut into ribbons, when she was covered with honey to attract venomous insects, and left in the broiling sun until death came to the poor girl's relief.
These cruelties have been published to the world, but the world remains silent, for there is no commercial interest at stake, no political ambition to satisfy and no territorial conquest in view.
The beastly outrages committed upon Chinese women by the soldiers of the allied troops of Christian nations have never been surpassed, if equaled, by any outrages of which we have any account, committed by American Indians.