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Dakota War News

[Source: Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia) Thursday, September 4, 1862; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

From the St. Paul Pioneer, August 20.

The city was considerably excited yesterday and last evening by reports of murders committed by the Indians in Meeker county, and at the Agency on the Mississippi river. We have diligently traced these reports, and give the following as the substance of everything that has come in a reliable form up to a late hour.

The first news of the Indian raid was brought to the governor by Mr. George C. Whitcomb, who resides at Greenleaf, Meeker county, about thirty five miles from Hutchinson. Mr. Whitcomb is the county treasurer, and well known as a gentleman of truth.

He states that about one o'clock on Sunday last, seven or eight Indians came to the house of Mr. Robinson Jones, in the town of Acton, thirty miles northwest of Forrest City. Mr. Jones soon discovered that their disposition was anything but friendly, and fearing for the safety of his family, he locked the doors of his house, and with his wife went to the house of Mr. Howard Baker, about a mile distant, and was followed by the Indians.

The Sioux, on arriving at the door of Mr. Baker's house, proposed to the inmates to go out a short distance, and shoot at a mark. All assent was given to the proposition, and the Indian led the way. When they were a short distance from the house, a signal was given and the Indian turned and fired upon Mr. Robinson Jones, who was just outside the door. Howard Baker, Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Webster, who were inside the door fell mortally wounded. The Indian who fired at Mr. Jones, missed, and fired again, the second shot taking effect. Mr. Baker told his wife, who was unhurt, to go down into the cellar with her child. She started to go, but when at the head of the stairs, she fell down, and was insensible for some-time. When she revived, the Indians were gone. She got a pillow, and put under her husband's, who was still alive. He directed her to leave him, and go to a neighbor's, about a mile distant, and give the alarm, with she did. The people turned out, and went to Baker's house, and found four persons dead - Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Howard Baker, and Mr. Webster. The child of Mrs. Baker was found in the house, unhurt. It was an infant only two years old.

When Mr. Jones locke up his house to go to Mr. Baker's he left a young girl, an adopted child, and the neighbors found, on going to the house, that the Indians had returned, and murdered her.

Mr. Whitcomb, who gives us these particulars, was engaged raising a company for one of our new regiments, and was at Forest City. He sent men out to the scene of murder, who returned and verified the statements we have given. The settlers were rushing to Forest City in great numbers, but nobody had seen any other bands of Indians, than those who committed the murders, and it is not known that any others were in the neighborhood.

Governor Ramsey received yesterday afternoon the following despatches from Lieutenants Gere and Culver, of the Fifth regiment, stationed at Fort Ridgley:

Headquarters Fort Ridgley
August 18, 6 P. M.
Commanding Officer at Fort Snelling:
Capt. Marsh left the post at half-past ten o'clock this morning to prevent Indian depredations at the Lower Agency. Some of the men have returned. I learn from that Capt. Marsh is killed and only thirteen of his company are remaining.
The Indians are killing the settlers and plundering the country. Send reinforcements without delay.
2d Lieut. Co. B, 5th Reg't Minn. Vol.
P. S. Please hand this to Gov. Ramsey.

ST. PETER, 4 P. M., August 19.-Governor: A second dispatch has arrived from the fort. Capt. Marsh, on hearing of the fight at Red Wood, went with fifty of our company. Only thirteen came back. The captain was wounded and drowned.

The messenger is at the door, and I close. I leave in half an hour for the fort, with fifty armed men.
N. K. Culver,
1st. Lieut. 5th Minn. Vols.
P. S.-Five hundred men are needed.

On Friday morning, Major Galbraith left the Agency, with W. H. Shelly, Esq., and about fifty men, volunteers, for Fort Snelling, to be mustered into the service of the United States. On Monday afternoon they arrived at St. Peter and were overtaken by Mr. Dickinson, a messenger from Red Wood, who informed Major Galbraith that the Indians had commenced an attack on the people of Red Wood, on Monday morning at six o'clock and that when he left six men had been shot. Their names were James W. Lynde, formerly State Senator, John Lamb, teamster; - - - Wagner, the farmer; and three Germans, whose names were not given. Mr. Dickinson brought one of the wounded Germans to Fort Ridgley twelve miles distant, and Dr. Muller pronounced him mortally wounded. When Mr. Dickinson got across the river from Red Wood, he saw the Indians firing into the trader's stores, and other buildings. About forty men fired into Merrick's store at once. Mr. Dickinson estimated the number of Indians engaged in the firing at about 150.

Major Galbraith, when he learned what had taken place, turned back from St. Peter, and with his men started for Redwood, and Mr. Shelly came down with the dispatches of Lieutenants Culver and Gere. When Major Galbraith left the Agency, everything was quiet. The Indians had received their annuity goods, and had all disappeared, apparently satisfied with the promise of the major to send for them as soon as the money arrived to pay off their annuities. It is thought that the Indians were induced to commit these outrages by Indians from Missouri, and secession traders from that State. Mrs. Galbraith and children, as well as the families of the employees are at the Yellow Medicine Agency.

Captain Nelson Roberts, who returned last evening from New Ulm, reports that the people were packing up in that town and all along the frontier and leaving for St. Peter. Captain Marsh's company were fired upon at the ferry, opposite Red Wood, and it was reported by those who escaped that thirty-seven were killed and wounded. Captain Marsh was reported killed, but these reports had not been confirmed. Captain N. Roberts started for New Ulm, with teams for Red Wood, and a short distance out met his brother Louis, coming down from the agency. The teamsters say they saw one man shot down in a field and another in the road, between Red Wood and New Ulm. Great fears were felt for the safety of the whites at the Upper and Lower Agency. George Gleason and Dr. Humphrey were at Red Wood when Mr. Roberts left. The messengers, with the money to pay off the Indians, were at Fort Ridgley.

As soon as the news of the Indian troubles reached the city, Governor Ramsay went to Fort Snelling, and orders were given for four companies to be ready to start at once for the scene of the disturbances. The command of the expedition was given to Ex-Governor Sibley. The whole matter was confided to his discretion, and from his knowledge of the country and of Indian character, there can be little doubt of his preventing further outrages. We doubt, however, whether he will be able to find a single Indian, when he arrives at the reservation. If he had one or two companies of cavalry, they might possibly be overtaken. The miscreants deserve such a measure of vengeance as they have never yet received, and we hope it will be administered in the style of Gen. Harney if they are ever caught.

General Headquarters State of Minnesota,
Adjutant General's Office,
St. Paul, Minnesota, August 19, 1862.
Special Order No. 19.
In view of the reported Indian difficulties in the counties of Meeker, Brown and Renville, calling for the immediate interference of the Government, Colonel Henry H. Sibley is hereby directed to take charge of a military expedition for their prompt suppression, and to restore the peace and quiet of these settlements.

1. Col. Smith, commanding the place of general rendezvous, at Fort Snelling, will forthwith detail four companies of his command, to be placed under charge of Col. Sibley.

2. Col. Sibley will proceed without delay with said four companies to our frontier, and will collect in addition on the way such forces of mounted infantry as he may deem advisable.

3. Col. Sibley is hereby authorized to provide all necessary subsistence and transportation for the troops under his command.

4. Captain Webb will act as Adjutant to Col. Sibley.

5. Mr. Mills is hereby appointed Quartermaster for this expedition.
By order of the Commander-in-Chief.

[Source: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) Wednesday, November 26, 1862; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

The Ambulatory Military Commission for the trial of the "mulatto, mixed bloods and Indians," engaged in the Sioux raids, has closed its labors and been relieved from duty. The number of cases has been 498, and convictions 300. The business has been dispatched with celerity, as many as forty cases being tried per day in some instances. The prisoners were brought in, chained together by the feet, in pairs, sometimes eight at once, and charges which were preferred by Gen. Sibley, read to them through the interpreter, Antoine Frenier, and then, after being exhorted to tell the truth, and not equivocate, each was asked as to the extent of his participation in the outrages, and, if necessary, witnesses were called against him.

Then if there is any doubt as to his guilt, or as to his being a willing participant in the outrages, he was allowed to call witnesses in his favor. In at least two thirds of the cases the prisoners admitted that they fired, but in most instances insist that it was only two or three shots, and that no one was killed. It was proved on one old cut-nosed Indian that, on the occasion, he had shot a white man, and butchered with his knife eleven women and four children; and on another that he had killed nineteen.

Many of those engaged in the Pattville murder have been tried. Pattville started from Jo. Reynold's place, just above Red Wood, for New Ulm, on the morning of the outbreak, with three young ladies and two men, and on the way were attacked by the Indians. Pattville was killed near the wagon, and the other men at the edge of the woods, while trying to escape. One of the girls was wounded, and all three taken prisoners and brought to Red Wood. Here the three were all abused that night by the Indians; one, a girl of fourteen years, by seventeen of the wretches, and the wounded young lady to such an extent that she died that night. Jo Campbell, a half-breed, ventured to place her in a grave, but was told that if he did the same for any other bodies which were lying exposed, his life should pay the forfeit. Two other young ladies were reclaimed at camp Release, and sent to their friends, after suffering indignities worse than death, and at which humanity shudders and sickens.

The female sex was represented in the person of one squaw, who it was charged, had killed two children. The only evidence obtained against her was camp rumor to that effect among the Indians, so she was discharged. Her arrest had one good effect, as she admitted that she had taken some silver spoons across the river, and $90 in gold, which she had turned over to an Indian, who, being questioned concerning it, admitted the fact, and returned the money to the General.

The prisoners were generally cold and impassioned, and strange to say, many averred that they shot from a long distance in the fights, and acknowledged that they were cowards - an uncommon admission for an Indian to make.

But the greatest institution of the commission, and the observed of all observers, was the negro Godfrey. He was the first tried. His reputation was damning. It was said that he had killed more than any Indian, and been the most brutal in atrocity among the brutal, and the bravest and foremost in battle, and had acquired the name of O-ta-cle (he that kills many) on account of the great number of his victims. These statements favored the natural prejudices against his color, to a white heart, and he would have been lynched when we caught him with the Indians at Camp Release had the soldiers been permitted to act as citizens would have acted. When brought before the commission, he frankly admitted being at the battles of New Ulm and the Fort, and firing, and that he was called O-ta-cle by the Sioux; but said he was forced to go with the Indians or be killed, and that when he fired he did not fire so as to kill anybody.

He has been the means of bringing to justice a large number of the savages, in every instance but two, his testimony being substantiated by the subsequent admissions of the Indian himself. The great service he has rendered to the commission will probably secure the commutation of his punishment to imprisonment.

He Says that Little Crow did not Plan the Outbreak of 1862.

Threats on the Part of his Braves Forced Him to Take the Stand He Did.

Big Thunder, a brother of the Sioux chief, Little Crow, has given to the public a signed statement in which he maintains that Little crow did not plan the Indian massacre of 1862. Big Thunder is now living at the Redwood Agency under the Christian name of John Wakeman. His open letter is a simple and unique statement and appeared for the first time in the Minneapolis Times of Sunday. That part, which refers particularly to Little Crow, is as follows:

On the 18th of August the massacre commenced at the Redwood Agency. The first person that commenced thinking what could be done to save some lives was John Wakeman (Big Thunder) I met Little Crow and he said: "Go and gather up what white women and children you can. This state of things won't last very long. The Indians will have to go pretty soon, and then the captives will perish; so, go quick," he said. So I took with me his strong young men, and I took a staff in my hand, and with my hand I took the captive women and children and saved them. That was my work. I had no moccasins on my feet, but I went a long way. I went seven miles. I took Miss West and another woman and two children and they were saved. Then that night, the 18th of August, 1862, we gathered the rest of the white women and children together in Little Crow's home, and I stood guard over them. Those that still live remember that, I think.

Then Little Crow kept a good many of the captives in his own home, and treated them the same as he treated his own children, and had them eat with him. And early one day, about 7 o'clock, he came to my home and said: "My brother, I feel bad this morning. The captives at my house this morning are crying and I feel very sorry. I have heard that God will have pity on poor captives, and, my brother, I have heard that God will be hard on those who are hard on captives. My brother, the captives I n my house have nothing to eat, and so they are crying. I think you could find some flour where the Indians first commenced fighting. So take seven young men and see if you can bring me some to comfort these people. It won't be a great while," he said. I agreed with what Little Crow said and rose up quickly and brought some flour for the captives. While I was on the way I met the guards, and I had a hard time with them, but I thought I was doing the work of God and I went through.

Then General Sibley sent a letter to Little Crow and said: "If you are there, Little Crow, the president says return to him the captives. I am at the head of the army, and the best thing you can do is to make peace with me. Then Little Crow set himself to work to make peace, and there was a great commotion, and it was proclaimed that he who should make peace would be trampled to death. And they said to Little Crow: "Answer: I am a man." So Little Crow turned and said to Passing Hail: "You answer this letter." But the nation replied: "No, you answer it for us yourself." But Little Crow answered them: "Last June you rejected me from being your leader and this war is not my work." But the nation was determined and so pressed him to answer the letter as they wanted. Then some of them deceived him and went and sent a letter secretly desiring peace, and so they dissembled.

Now, the massacre was not got up by Little Crow, because I was with him and tell what I know.

And the president of the United States, who has all wisdom, I am assured will now look with pity on those who had mercy on the captives and sought to save them. I am now very poor. When there was an appropriation to reward those who had assisted the captives I received nothing by reason of the jealousy of the Indians.
[Source: New Ulm Review (MN) August 18, 1897; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]

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