Captain John R. Marsh, Commander Co. B 5th MN
Captain John R. Marsh died at the Redwood Ferry Crossing while on a mission to investigate the massacre at Fort Rigdley on Aug. 18,1862.  He demonstrated courage and leadership in the face of overwhelming odds. "Although the sudden and fierce attack by overwhelming numbers was most demoralizing, Capt. Marsh retained his presence of mind sufficiently to steady his men, to form them in line for defense, and to have them fire at least one volley."(Sketches Historical and Descriptive of Monuments and Tablets, Minnesota Valley Historical Society, 1902)
The Captain Marsh Monument at Fort Ridgely reads as follows:  "In Memory of Capt. John Marsh, First Sergeant Russell H. Findley, Serg't Joseph S. Besse; Privates Charles R. Bell, Edwin F. Cole, Charles E. French, John Gardner, Jacob A. Gehring, John Holmes, Christian Joerger, Durs Kanzig, James H. Kerr, Wenzel Kusda, Henry McAllister, Wenzel Norton, Moses P. Parks, John W. Parks, John Parsley, Harrison Phillips, Nathaniel Pitcher, Henry A. Shepherd, Nathan Stewart, Charles W. Smith of Co. B, died Aug. 18, 1862.  Fifth Regiment Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.  Peter Quinn, U.S. Interpreter.  Killed at Redwood Ferry, Aug 18, 1862."  The face of the monument bears the words:  "Erected by the State of Minnesota, 1873." 
    The men are buried in two trenches. From north to south on the west side the bodies are those of Nathan Stewart, Jacob A. Gehring, Charles E. French, Charles R. Bell, First Sergent R. H. Findley, Capt. John S. Marsh, Sergeant S. A. Trescott, Corporal J. S. Besse,  Edwin F. Cole, John Gardner and Interpreter Peter Quinn.  Form north to south on the east sid ethe bodies are thos of Nathaniel Pitcher, Harrison Phillips, John Parsley, John W. Parksm Moses P Parks, Wenzel Norton, James H. Kerr, Durs Kanzig, Christian Joerger, John Holmes and Charles W. Smith.  the bodies of Wenzel Kusda, Henry McAllister and Henry A. Shepherd were never found but their names are on the monument, as is that of Mark M. Greer of Co. C. killed at the batte of Fort Ridgely. *
The Redwood Ferry Monument.  The ground where Captain John Marsh and his company were ambuscaded was at and about the ferry landing on the north side of the Minnesota river, north of the Lower Agency.  From the landing on the south side of the Minnesota River, two roads had been graded up the steep high bluff to the Agency buildings, and from the north landing the road stretched diagonally across the wide river valley miles or more away, at Faribult's Hill. 
     To commemorate and identify the scene of the ambush the Minnesota Valley Historical Society has erected a substantial granite monument at the side of the oldtime ferry landing, at the point, as nearly as could be determined, where Captain marsh and his men were first fired upon. " It is located on the U.S. Lot 3, section 5, south Birch Cooley.  The site is now overgrown with small willow and other trees and the monument stands in a thicket.  It is of sufficient proportions and so well set that it will endure for a century."  The river frequently overflows its banks at this point, but the structure is so well placed on a secure foundation that it can not be washed away.  The incription reads:  "At and near this spot Capt. John Marsh and twenty-four men were ambushed and killed by Souix Indians, Aug. 18, 1862.  Also Peter Quin, U.S. Interpreter." * 
Captain Marsh was on a mission to investigate the news of a massacre at Fort Ridgley 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 to the lower agency with thirty minutes of the first alarm, leaving thirty-one men, under command of Lieut. T. P. Gere, to guard the post.  The misfortunes that 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 batter of Redwood.  A synopsis of his report follows:

 “The first indication of an outbreak we saw at Fort Ridgley was a team from Lower 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, tomahawk, 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 ferryman, 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 commands recognized as an upper Sioux.  Being asked what he was doing there he replied, ‘Only a visit for a few says.’  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 white 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 back 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." **
"If Capt. Marsh had succeeded in fighting his way across the river and into the Agency, thereby dispersing the savages, it is probable that the great red rebellion would have been suppressed in less than half the time which ws actually required.  The friendly Indians would doubtless have been encouraged an stimylated to open and even aggressive manifestations of loyalty;  the dubious and the timid would have been awed into inactiveity and quiescence.  As it was, the disaster to the little band of soldiers fanned the fires of the rebelion into a great conflagration of murder and rapine.  Redwood Ferry was a miniature Bull Run in its effects." (Sketches Historical and Descriptive of Monuments and Tablets, Minnesota Valley Historical Society, 1902)


**  Edited By: Gary Clayton Anderson and Alan R. Woolworth
                    Through Indian Eyes
          Published: Minnesota Historical Society Press
                       St. Paul      1988

*   Compiled By:  Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
    The History of Renville County Minnesota
Published :           Chicago
                  H.C. Cooper Jr. & CO.

Author: R.I. Holcombe
Sketches Historical and Descriptive of the Monuments and Tablets
Erected by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society in Renville and Redwood Counties, Minnesota.
Published: Morton, MN; Minnesota Valley Historical Society

Author: Jenifer Arnsdorf and Kristen Fox
                October 28, 1999