This society was organized at Morton, Renville County, Minnesota, February 2, 1895, and incorporated under the state law March 15 following. Thee first officers were: Hon. Charles D. Gilfillan, president; R. B. Henton, vice president; R. H. C. Hinman. Secretary; T.M. Keefe, treasurer. The first annual meeting was held May 10, 1895.
The general purpose of the society is the preservation of the history of the Minnesota Valley, including the collection, preparation, arrangement, and publication of historic information, the marking of historic sites, and the commemoration of historic events connected with the Minnesota Valley.
The present officers (June 1, 1902) are Hon. Chas D. Gilfillan, Morgan, Minn., president; Joseph Smith, vice president; R. H. C. Hinman. Morton, Minn., secretary; F. W. Orth, reasurer; R. I. Holeombe , St. Paul, Minn., historiographer.
All communications may be addressed to either the president or secretary, and any information or suggestion available for the purposes of the society will be gratefully received.
The following pages contain descriptions of the monuments and other stone structures erected by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society in commemoration of certain events and features connected with the great Indian uprising in Minnesota of 1862. They contain also sketches of many of the tragic events commemorated and of prominent characters connected therewith, and it is believed that portions of these sketches constitute original and interesting contributions to the general history of that most important period of the tragic history of Minnesota. No attempt has been made to describe the entire Indian outbreak. The monuments are all located in Renville and Redwood counties, Minnesota, and the historical sketches relate only to the events and incidents of the outbreak which occurred in these counties.
The violent outbreak and rebellion of the Sioux Indians of Minnesota. In the fall of 1862, constituted in many respects the most foundable and important Indian Indian war in American History. More Indians were engaged, more whites were killed, and more property was destroyed than in any other conflict or series of conflicts with the savages since the first settlement of this country.
Let a few established facts be borne in mind. Compared with the great Sioux outbreak of 1862, King Philip’s war was a triviality; the other Indian wars of New England in colonial times insignificant; the uprising under Tecumseh, in 1811, the Creek wars in Alabama and Georgia, and the Seminole war in Florida were each unimportant when the loss of white life and property is considered.
The massacres of Wyoming and Cherry Valley, which have been so often described, so befittingly commemorated in story and song and monument, and whose details are well known, are hardly to be compared in character and extent with the massacres of Sacred Heart and Beaver Creek, of which not one American in a hundred has ever heard. The defenses of New Ulm, Fort Ridgely and Birch Coulie were as gallant episodes as any that are recorded in the military annals of the Republic, and yet the American historian commonly gives them but the briefest mention, or omits them entirely from his pages.
In the former Indian wars and massacres mentioned not more, in the aggregate, than 500 white persons lost their lives. In the few days of the Minnesota massacre 868 men, women, and children perished by actual count. Those killed whose remains ere never found and the soldiers and citizens killed or mortally wounded in the hostile engagements with the Indians made the total death list number at least 950. The value of property destroyed was fully $1,000,000.00.
The outbreak occurred during a stirring and important period of the War of the Rebellion, when the attention of the country was engaged with the operations of the Union and country was engaged with the operations of the Union and Confederate armies in Virginia and Maryland, in Kentucky and Tennessee, and in Missouri and Arkansas. The cries of the victims of the Indian massacre and the yells of their fiendish assailants ere lost in the thunders of the Second Manassas, South Mountain and Perryville; the smoke of the savage burnings in Minnesota was obscured by the powder clouds of a score of Southern battlefields.
Writers and chroniclers of the time gave but passing attention and comment to what ere alluded to as the "Indian troubles in Minnesota." and busied themselves with the greater events, involving the life of the nation . The only published accounts have been made by the State historians and writers whose productions have had little more than local circulation and attention, and the most important of these publications have long been out of print and copies of them are now fairly curios.
The Minnesota Valley Historical Society, under whose ever this publication
is made, has been for some time engaged in the preservation and perpetuation of the history of the renowned valley from which the society takes its name. The principal scenes of the Sioux outbreak were located in the upper portion of the valley chiefly in the counties of Nicollet, Sibley, Renville, and Brown, and in what are now Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties and, largely in the main, citizens of this district constitute the membership of the Society. With a disposition to preserve nothing but authentic history, and with the facilities afforded by the location of the headquarters of the organization upon the historic ground where so many of the notable scenes and incidents of the memorable Indian uprising occurred, and where many of the surviving participants on both sides yet live, the work of the Society might be expected to be of interest and importance. That it has not been fully commensurate with the opportunities afforded must be admitted, but that it is of some value is believed and claimed.
The first important scene of the outbreak was at the Redwood Agency for the "Lower Agency") of the Sioux, on the south bank of the Minnesota, in what is now Redwood county, two miles southeast of the village of Morton. Here was a considerable collection of buildings, including the warehouse and other structures belonging to the Government, a nearly completed Episcopal church, come traders’ stores, a boarding house, some dwelling houses occupied by Christianized Indians, etc. There were two Sioux agencies, the Redwood and the Yellow Medicine, the latter situated near the confluence of the Yellow Medicine river with the Minnesota, and often called the Upper Agency. The Redwood Agency was named for the little river about ten miles to the westward, or up the Minnesota from the Agency.
All about the former site of the Redwood Agency is classic ground. Here the great Indian outbreak fairly commenced, and here, after it was suppressed, many of its participants were tried by a military commission for their crimes. Above and below, or westward and eastward, in the near neighborhood, were the Indian villages of the chiefs, Little Crow, Blue Earth, Traveling Hail, and Big Eagle to the west, and those of Waconta, Wabasha, and Hushasha, from whence the sudden attack upon the unsuspecting white people of the Agency was made
The first victim of the savage onslaught upon the Lower Agency was the most prominent of the entire outbreak, Hon. James W. Lynd. This gentleman was a native of Baltimore, born in 1830, but was reared and educated at Cincinati. He had received a college education and was a man of accomplishments and ability. Becoming interested in Indian studies he came to Minnesota in 1853 and located among the Sioux. He thoroughly mastered the Indian language, married successively two Indian wives, and spent years in the study of the history and general character of the Sioux or Dakota tribe. For some time prior to his death he had been engaged in revising for publication the manuscript of an elaborate work containing the results of his studies and researches. Under the circumstances the greater part of this manuscript was lost. He was a young man, of versatile talents had been an editor, lecturer, public speaker, and was a member of the Minnesota State Senate in 1861.
At the time he was killed Mr. Lynd was serving temporarily as a clerk in a trading house at the Lower Agency. On the morning of the outbreak, attracted by the unusual presence of many Indians in war dress, he repaired to his store and was standing on a doorstep at the entrance, watching the movements of the scowling warriors, when one of them raised his gun and exclaimed: "Now, I will kill the dog who would not give me credit." Then he aimed and fired point blank at the young trader. The shot was instantly fatal, and Mr. Lynd fell forward and died within a few feet of the doorway. His body was not mutilated, and was subsequently interred where it lay by Nathan Myrick, of St. Paul, the owner of the store.
In 1863 the indian who killed Mr. Lynd was captured in what is now North Dakota by the scouts under Maj. Joseph R. Brown. His Indian name was Waukon Wasechon Heiyadin, meaning One How Travels Like A Scared White Man. He was taken to Davenport, Iowa, where the other prisoners where and died in prison the following year. The engraving is form an old photograph taken by Whitney, of St. Paul, and furnished for this work by C.A. Zimmerman.
The Agency was located on the high bluff bank of the Minnesota River. A road had been graded down the bluff and led across the river to Fort Ridgely and the country below. The river was crossed by a ferry. The north ferry landing was the scene of the ambuscade of Captain Marsh and his company on the afternoon of the first day of the outbreak, when the captain and twenty-three of his men were killed and five where injured. The Indians lost but one killed, a young warroir of Hu-sha-sha’s band, named Towato, or All Blue.
About four miles west of north of the old Agency in Renville county is the battleground of birch Coulie. Here on Sept. 2 and 3, 1862, occurred on one of the most gallant incidents in the country’s military history. A white force of 150 men, composed of newly-recruited volunteers and newly organized militia and citizens, including half a dozen loyal mixed-blood Indians, was surrounded while in camp and asleep by an overwhelming force of Indians and fiercely attacked. The attack became a siege, and was kept up for nearly thirty hours, during which time the firing from the Indian side was practically incessant. The white loss was 23 killed and mortally wounded, 45 severely wounded, 90 horses killed, and the loss of the tents and much of the other camp equipage. The Indians have lost but two killed and seven slightly wounded. The desperate nature of the Indian attack and of the defense on the part of the whites may be partially understood by the fact that the tents of the white forces were so riddled with bullets as to be practically worthless, and that every horse in the command but one was killed.
The details of the battle of Birch Coulie, the relief of the whites by General Sibley, etc., are given on subsequent pages, and need not here be properly described. It may, however, be emphasized that under all the circumstances this contest was one of the most remarkable in American military annals, as exemplifying the indomitable courage of the American volunteer soldiers, and indicating the true character of Indian warfare. The site of the battle, now owned by the State, is one of the most historic places in the Northwest, and ought to be preserved and protected for all time.
The monument erected by the State in 1894 to commemorate the battle stands one and three-fourths of a mile south of the corral where the fight actually took place on the grounds obtained from the Minnesota Agricultural and Live Stock Society. The State owns six acres of the actual site of the battle.
About one mile and a half west of north of Redwood Falls, in Redwood county, is the site of "Camp Pope," a noted military point in 1863. Here, in the spring of that year, the military forces, under General Sibley, rendezvoused, and in Dakota, a movement often termed "The Sibley Expedition." The camp was established in April, 1863, and maintained until June 16th following, when the troops marched out against the enemy. The monument or marker erected here by this Society is of sufficient strength and character for its purpose, and bears the following inscription in granite: "Between this point and the river on the north and east was located Camp Pope, from which Gen. Sibley marched against the hostile Sioux Indians, June 16, 1863."
The Minnesota Valley Historical Society was organized for the especial purpose of investigating and preserving the history of this region, and has given particular attention to work ought of course to be done while there are living witnesses of and surviving participants in the great tragedy.
In the prosecution of its enterprise the Society has consulted the best authorities, including white persons who were prisoners in the hands of the hostile savages; former officers and soldiers of Gen. Sibley’s army; Indians who took an active part in the hostilities against the whites; other Indians who took but little part, and still other Indians, men 1-9
And women, who were loyal and friendly - at least at heart - to the whiles from first to last: and pioneers and early settlers of the country who were well acquainted with localities and with the people of the region, both white and red.
In the interest of the future historians of the State and their students, it seemed important to the Society that the sites of the noted historic events and incidents which occurred in Redwood and Renville counties during the Sioux outbreak - especially those heretofore to - should be first carefully identified, practically beyond question, and then marked in such a manner as to be permanently preserved.
After thorough study and deliberation the sites of the following points, all of them at or very near the site of the old Redwood, or "Lower" Agency, were selected for proper designation: Robert's, Forbes's and Myrick's trading houses: the house where, after the hostile Indian prisoners were from the State, more than one hundred Indian prisoners were tried by a military commission for murder, rape, and other crimes; the frame house in which lived Little Crow, the head war chief of the Sioux; the grave of Hon. James W. Lynd, and the ground of the ambuscade in which Capt. Marsh and twenty-three of his men perished.
In the latter part of the year 1898, this Society, through Hon. Chas. D. Gilfillan, its President, contracted with the P.N. Peterson Granite Company, of St. Paul, for the construction and placing in position of granite structures marking the historic points before described. The contract was speedily and efficiently executed, to the entire satisfaction of the Society.
The character of these structures varies in proportion to the importance of the work in each case. Many of them are simple in their proportions. Some are nearly stone granite blocks, while others are substantial and fairly imposing monuments, but all are a sufficient size and strength as to be enduring and practically imperishable, thus fixing the identify of the historic points for all time. All are appropriately inscribed in letters cut into the stones. Following is a list of the structures so placed:
The four trading houses at the Redwood Agency in 1862 were those of Capt. Louis Robert, Wm. H. Forbes, Nathan Myrick & Co., and Francois La Bathe, the latter a mixed-blood Sioux. All these stood west of the principal Agency buildings. La Bathe’s coming first, then Myrick’s, just east of the big ravine. Across the ravine to the northward, near the east of the bluff, was Forbes’s store, and to the west of Forbes’s, about 150 yards, was Robert’s. All of the trading houses were hewed log buildings. Myrick was the lorgest in capacity. Robert, Forbes, and Myrick had also Indian stores at Yellow Medicine Agency and at Big Store Lake, in the Sioux district. The firm of Myrick & Co. was composed of Nathan Myrick, his brother Andrew J. Myrick, and S. B. Garvie.
On the first day of the outbreak, Aug. 18, 1862, Capt. Robert, Nathan Myrick, and Maj. Forbes were absent fromtheir stores. Robert was with the party in charge of the government money for the annual payment due the Indians, which party, in charge of Col. Clark W. Thompson, reached Fort Ridgely at noon of the first day of the outbreak. Capt. Robert was a prominent early pioneer of Minnesota, and for nearly twenty years had resided at St. Paul, where one of thee city's principal streets still bears his name. At one time he was prominently connected with the steamboat interests of the Northwest, and as a master of one of his vessels he was given the title of "captain." He was largely engaged in the Indian trade and well known throughout the Indian country. When the outbreak began his store at the Lower Agency was and for some days had been in charge of Moses Mirean.
Maj. Wm. H. Forbes was another prominent trader and leading citizen of the State. For some years he was stationed at Fort Snelling as chief clerk under Gen. Sibley for the American Fur Company. He had been a member of both branches of the Territorial Legislature, postmaster at St. Paul, etc. Henry Belland and his cousin Joseph E. Belland, and another man had the conduct of Forbes's store at the Lower Agency, but on the first day of the outbreak Henry Belland was below, on business, and the establishment was in charge of Joseph Belland, who was killed by the Indians.
The Myrick store was conducted by A. J. Myrick, Hon. James W. Lynd, and Stewart B. Garcie. The senior partner, Nathan Myrick, was en route to Fort Ridgely form St. Paul, when the outbreak occurred. A. J. Myrick, Lynd, and Garvie were victims of the savage ouslaught. Garvie was at the Upper Agency at the time and was mortally wounded, dying a few days later while with the missioaries' refugee party near Henderson. Young Myrick, after the death of Lynd, succeeded in escaping from the store and was running toward the river bluff when he was fired upon by the Indians and killed. His body was mutilated, his head being severed from the body, and the mouth filled with grass. The remains were afterward secured by his brother, Nathan Myrick, and taken to St. Paul.
Francois La Bathe (commonly written La Batte) was killed in his store. La Bathe was himself a mixed blood, had and Indian wife and many Indian relatives, but these circumstances did not operate of avail to save his life in the mad riot of murder and plunder. His living room or kitchen near the store was afterward for a time used as a courtroom by the military commission in the trial of a considerable number of Indian prisoners. All the stores were of course plundered by the savages and burned.
The ground where Capt. Marsh and his company were ambuscaded was, as has been stated, att and about the ferry landing on the north side of the Minnesota River, opposite the Lower Agency. From the landing on the south side two roads had been graded up the steep high buff to the Agency buildings, and from the north landing the road stretched diagonally across the wide river bottom to the huge corrugated bluffs, two miles or more away, at Faribault's Hill. The hill was so named for David Faribault, a mixed-blood Sioux, and a son of old John Baptiste Faribault, and who lived at the base of the hill. He and his family were made prisoners by the Indians and held during the outbreak. At Faribault's Hill the road divided, one fork leading up the hill and over the prairie to the eastward and northeast, running along the crest of the bluff to Ft. Ridgely. The other followed the base of the bluff down the river. There were two or three houses between the ferry landing and the bluff, and at the landing itself was a house. All about the landing on the north side, the ground of the main ambush was open: it is now covered with willows and other small growths of the nature of underbrush. A few rods to the northward, however, is a cultivated field.
The marker indicating the site of the house of Little Crow was placed after much investigation. After the return of this chief with the delegation from Washington, in 1858, he was made the recipient of numerous favors from the authorities. So many and so substantial were these favors that there was a plausible suspicion that he had been bribed to use his great influence for the cession to the Government of the ten-mile strip. His house was a comfortable frame, a story and a half in height, supplied with stoves, beds and other furniture, and it may be said that in many respects Little Crow lived like a white man. At the time of the outbreak a contract had been let to build for him a brick house, with all the modern improvements.
Little Crow was born at the Indian village of Kaposia, near St. Paul, in 1820. He was the third chieftain of the Medawakanton band of Sioux to bear the name of Little Crow. His real name, or that which he bore until he became a chief, was Tah-o-yahtay-doota, meaning literally His Nation Red, or, as he is yet often called in the books, His Red Nation, and sometimes His Scarlet People. The Sioux yet call him Tah-o-yahtay-doota. The Indians name of his father was Wagjeea-tonka, or Big Thunder, the son of the Walking Hunting Hawk, whose royal title was Little Crow, a designation given him by the Chippewas. The first Little Crow was a chief when Lieut. Pike came into Minnesota in 1805. Pike called him the Little Raven. He was one of the chiefs that signed that treaty of 1805 when the Fort Snelling reservation was ceded to the United States. His son, Big Thunder, the second Little Crow, was an intelligent, progressive Indian. He welcomed the missionaries and the other advance agents of civilization, wanted his people to learn the arts of peace, and he held the first plow that turned a furrow at Kaposia. Upon his death he named Tah-o-yahtay-doota as his succesor, with reluctance and misgivings.
For in this young manhood Little Crow was a ne'er-do-wel-idle, licentious, and dissipated. He had left his own band and for sometime had been living with the Wahpetons, up in married in succession four sisters, themselves princesses, the daughters had been converted to Christianity, but after her marriage her husband forced her to return, to heathenism.
Upon his father's death Little Crow came down from Laeequi Parle to Kaposia with his wives and two or three canoe loads of retainers and assumed the chieftainship. He was not permitted to take the place without opposition. His two half brothers and their partisans resisted him. In a hot quarrel that resulted one of his brothers leveled a gun at the prince. Folding his arms upon his breast the latter drew himself up proudly and exclaimed: "Shoot! I am not afraid." His brother fired, and the ball broke both of Little Crow's arms. The rude Indian surgery made a bad job of setting the bones, and they were imperfectly untied. This deformation was one of the evidences of the identification of the chieftain's body when it was found in the berry patch near Hutchinson.
After becoming chief Little Crow rose tot he responsibilities and dignity of his position. Although never head chief of the four bands-an authority held by Wabasha for many years-he was universally recognized in point of general ability as the leading man of his nation. He was observing, shrewd, and calculating and a master of diplomacy. He was not thoroughly honest and could be corrupted, but he never could be cheated. Of his characteristics no man was better qualified to speak than the ill-fated James W. Lynd, who lived among the Indians for years, spoke their language, and studied them closely. In a portion of his manuscript history of the Sioux or Dakotas, now on file in the State Historical Society at St. Paul, Mr. Lynd says:
Among the present living chiefs of the Dakotas Ta-o-ya-tay-doo-ta is the greatest ma. He possesses a shrewd judgment, great foresight, and a comprehensive mind, together with that greatest of requisites in a statesman, caution. As an orator he has not his equal in any living tribe of Indians. His oratory is bold, impassioned, and persuasive, and his arguments are nearly always forcible and logical.
In appearance Little Crow is dignified and commanding, though at times restless and anxious. He is about five feet and ten inches in height, with rather sharp features and a piercing hazed eye, too small for beauty. His head is small, but his forehead if bold.
Little Crow had unusual opportunities for studying the whites and their policy. He was one of the chiefs that signed the treaty of Mendota in 1851, and one of the most influential of those who went to Washington and ceded the ten-mile strip. Besides he was often consulted, negotiated with, and called into council by his white brethren until he came to know them intimately. In his intercourse he was uniformly courteous and polite, never sullen and repellant.
It may be in place here to present some evidence that neither Little Crow's head nor his heart approved the outbreak of 1862. His judgment was against any armed or violent collision with the whites at all. When, in the summer of 1862, there were mutterings of discontent among the Lower Agency Sioux and a "soldiers' lodge" was in existence he continuously and strenuously counseled peace. No Indian has been found to say that Little Crow ever counseled an uprising. He seemed fully to realize that his interests and those of his tribe demanded perpetual friendship with the race that had acquired control and domination over the country.
Just prior to the outbreak he was especially friendly. He was living in a house built and furnished for him by the whites and the contract for his brick mansion had been let. Maj. Galbraith, the Indian agent, and Missionary Riggs had visited him, and their interviews had been most frank and cordial. The day before the outbreak was Sunday, and on that day he had walked to the little unfinished Episcopal church at the Lower Agency and listened intently and respectfully to the services as conducted by the Rev. S. D. Hinman. He was a pagan but he showed the greatest respect for the opinions of his white neighbors. He was not playing a treacherous part, for at that time there was no conspiracy of plat afoot.
But for some time Little Crow had been in bad odor with his tribe. Some of the chiefs and head men were jealous of his popularity and influence with the whites. A great majority of the other members did not like him because of his prominent connection with the cession of the ten-mile strip north of the Minnesota. The selling of this valuable body of land, half of their reservation, by some of the chiefs and head men in charge of Maj. Joseph R. Brown, then their agent, at Washington, in 1858, was never approved by the tribe ass a while, as was the treaty of Mendota of 1851. Those who had assumed to act for the Indians in this matter were greatly disliked.
In the summer of 1862 an election was held for "principal speaker" of the Medawakanton band. Little Crow, Big Eagle, and Traveling Hail were the candidates. The position was one of honor merely, but there was a strenuous contest. Little Crow and Big Eagle had been connected with the ten-mile strip affair and Traveling Hail was elected by a large majority over both.
The night after his attendance at the Christian church Little Crow was sleeping tranquilly in his own house. At midnight a delegation from Shakopee's camp, headed by Shakopee himself, burst in upon him with the startling news that four young men of the Rice Creek band had killed four white persons near Acton, Meeker County, over in the Big Woods, and that war against the whites had virtually been declared. Little Crow sat up in bed and listened to the exciting story and to the earnest demands of his brethren that he join them, and even lead them, in the war. At first he objected and even remonstrated, and at one time said sarcastically: "Why do you come to me? Go to Traveling Hail, the man you have elected chief speaker."
At last he said the war could not well be avoided: the whites would demand the men who had committed the murders in the Big Woods, but the tribe would not give them up: there would be no end of trouble; the time was opportune, for the whites were wholly unsuspicious of danger, and nearly all of their fighting men had left the state to take part in the war against the South, and finally he said: "Maybe we can make them give us back the ten-mile strip and then buy it from us again."
When the war was fairly on Little Crow was virtually the commander-in-chief of the Indian forces and took an active part personally. At Fort Ridgely he was stunned by a cannon ball which passed across his breast, knocking him down. In the fight with Capt. Strout, in the Big Woods, a ball passed through his coat, and at Wood Lake he got a scratch from a piece of shell.
Little Crow was never accused of willful and heartless cruelty. He was hospitable and liberally charitable toward his red brethren, and always friendly toward the whites. During the first two days and nights of the outbreak his house, whose site this Society has attempted to preserve was crowded with helpless women and children who had been taken prisoners by the Indians, and Little Crow fed them and protected them for violence. He informed Wah-keea-tah-wah of the peril of his friend Geo. H. Spencer, so that Spencer's life was saved, and he tried to save A. J. Myrick's life. At the risk of his own safety he personally assisted Charles Blair, a white man, to escape, walking in the darkness by his side for half a mile from the Indian camp until well in the Minnesota bottom.
He openly opposed the slaughter of unarmed settlers and their women and children. The second day of the outbreak he addressed his warriors and "young men" as follows:
Soldiers and young men, you ought not to kill women and children. Your conscience 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 for so long. Hereafter make war after the manner of white men.
After the battle of Wood Lake, when it was seen that their cause was lost, very many of the Indians, in the desperation of their defeat and the madness of their misery, favored a general massacre of the 300 helpless and wretched prisoners, although half of these pitiable people were, to a greater or less degree, of Indian blood. Little Crow strenuously opposed the horrible proposition. "It would be bad policy," he said, "for the whites will them follow us to the end of the earth and give us no peace until they exterminated us. It would be cruel and cowardly too, and I will save their lives and let them go back to their friends. Get them together," he concluded, addressing Campbell started, his interpreter, "and I will tell them so." Campbell started through the camp, telling the prisoners to assemble at a certain spot, but the poor creatures, believing that they were to be murdered, set up and outery; whereupon Little Crow said, "Never mind; let them go as they are."
But although Little Crow had been practically forced into the war against his desires, he did not attempt to shirk his responsibility by a cowardly denial or by depreciating the part he had taken. He boldly place himself among his warriors. Even when bad fortune pressed him sorest and "the dark hour was on Saul," he said in a letter to Sibley: "If the young braves have pushed the white men, I have done this myself." He refused to surrender, but elected to share the fortunes of his defeated and fugitive warriors. He had set out on the warpath and he would not turn back or step aside.
Little Crow was killed six miles north of Hutchinson, Friday evening, July 3, 1863, by a Mr. Lampson. With a small party he had slipped down from Devil's Lake, N. D., to again wage war upon the people of Minnesota. They had committed some murders in Mcleod county and when Little Crow was killed he had on the coat of a murdered settler named James McGannon, who had been shot by an Indian called Hinkpa, the chief's son-in-law. Mr. Lampson and his
Son Chauncey were hunting horses when they came suddenly upon Little Crow and his 16 year old son Wo-wi-na-pa (one who appears), who were picking red berries in a patch or thicket near Scattered Lake. An exchanging of shots followed and the senior Mr. Lampson killed Little Crow. His scalp and arm bones- and, it is claimed, his skull-are now on exhibition in the State Historical Society.
Wo-wi-na-pa was captured a month after his father's death by Gen. Sibley's scout under Wm. L. Quinn. He died some years ago at Redwood Falls. Little Crow's last and youngest wife died in the Indian settlement in Redwood County, near the village. She had long been the wife of David Wells, and her Christian name was Isabel Wells.
The circumstances of the ambuscade of Capt. John S. Marsh and his party, which event is known and mentioned in history as the battle of Redwood Ferry, may be briefly related.
The startling news of the tragic scenes at the Lower Agency reached Fort Ridgely at about 10 o'clock on that day, (Aug. 18, 1862,) but the extent and formidable character of the great Indian uprising were not understood until several hours later. The messenger who bore the shocking tidings was J. C. Dickinson, the proprietor of a boarding house at Agency, and who brought with him a wagonload of refugees, nearly all women and children. Capt. Marsh was in command of the fort, with his company (B, 5th Minn.,) as a garrison. Lieut. T. J. Sheehan with company C of the same regiment had been dispatched to Fort Ripley, on the Upper Mississippi, near St. Cloud.
Sending a messenger with orders to Lieut. Sheehan, recalling him to fort Ridgely and informing him that the Indians were "raising h--l at the Lower Agency," Capt. Marsh at once prepared to got o the scene of what seemed to be the sole locality of the troubles. He was not informed and had no instinctive or derived idea of the magnitude of the outbreak. Leaving about 20 men under Lieut. T. P. Gere to hold the fort until Lieut. Sheehan's return, Capt. Marsh, with about 50 men of his company and the old Indian interpreter, Peter Quinn, set out for the Agency, distant about twelve miles--or, as the road then ran, perhaps fourteen miles--to the northwest. ON leaving Fort Ridgely the captain and the interpreter were mounted on mules; the men were on foot, but the captain had directed that teams, with extra ammunition and empty wagons for the transportation of the men, should follow, and Gen. Hubbard says that these wagons overtook the command "about three miles out."
At just what time Capt. Marsh left Fort Ridgely is, according to the conflicting statements in the published accounts, uncertain. Sergt. John F. Bishop, who was with the party, says (in Vol. II., "Minn. Civil And Indian Wars," p. 167) that the time of starting was "about 9 o'clock A.M." Gen. Hubbard (Vol. I., "Minn. In Civil and Indian Wars," p. 248,) says it was "within thirty minutes of the first alarm," which was "in the morning." But heard (p. 71) says that the news of the outbreak reached the fort "before noon"; that Capt. Marsh " started at once," and yet at 2 o'clock Rev. S.D. Hinnan, who had escaped from the Agency, met him and his party at a point only " a mile from the fort." According to Hinnan's printed statement he arrived at Fort Ridgely at "about 3 o'clock."
In due time the little command came to Redwood ferry, but there is confusion in the printed accounts at to the exact time. Sergt. Bishop says it was "about 12 o'clock noon." Gen. Hubbard says it was "shortly after noon." Heard says it was " at sundown," or about 6 o'clock. Some of the Indians remember the time as in the evening, while others say it was in the after noon. As the men were in wagons the greater part of the way, the distance, allowing for sundry halts, ought to have been compassed in four hours at the farthest. Half way across the bottom the captain ordered the men from the wagons and marched them on foot perhaps a mile to the ferry house and landing.
Meanwhile, on the way, the soldiers had met 50 fugitives from and seen the bodies of 14 victims of the massacre; yet the commander, an officer of good judgement generally, and of some knowledge of the Indians, did not seem to comprehend the situation. The language of his dispatch to Lieut. Sheehan indicates that he believed the trouble was local and confined to the Redwood Agency. His conduct in marching straight forward after he must have known that the upraising was, to some extent at least, wide-spread indicates his confidence in his strength to overcome any opposition that he might meet. Peter Quinn, the old interpreter, with his forty years' experience in Minnesota, believed from the first receipt of the news that the danger was serious. On leaving Fort Ridgely with Capt. Marsh and his men, he said to Sutler B. H. Randell: " I am sure we are going into great danger. I do not expect to return alive." Then with tears in his eyes he continued: "Good bye, give my love to all." Whether Quinn gave his opinions to Capt. Marsh can never be known; if he did their influence was ineffective.
There is some evidence (Heard, p. 73,) the captain at the last moment realized the peril of the situation, and had just given orders to his men to retire when he was fired upon. The weight of testimony is against this supposition, however, and tends to prove that he indifferent there to and determined to do his duty, as he understood it. When Capt. Marsh and the men under him reached the crest of Faribault's Hill they saw to the southward, over two miles away, on the prairie about the Agency, a number of mounted Indians; of course the Indians could and did see Marsh and his party. But knowledge of the coming of the soldiers had already reached the Indians, from marauders who had been down the valley engaged in dreadful work, and preparations were making to receive them. Scores of warriors, with bows and guns, repaired to the ferry landing, where it was known the party must come. Numbers crossed on the ferryboat to the north side of the river and concealed themselves in the willow thickets near by. The boat was finally moored to the bank on the east or north side, "in apparent readings for the ferryman had been found on the road," says Gen. Hubbard.
Of this brave and faithful man Rev. S.D. Hinman, who made his escape from the Agency, has written.
The Ferryman, Mauly, who resolutely ferried across the river at the Agency all who desired to cross, was killed on the other side, just as he had passed the last man over. He was disemboweled; his head, hands and feet cut off and thrust into the cavity. Obscure French-man though he was the blood of no nobler hero dyed the battlefields of Marathon or Thermopylae.
It is unfortunate that the name of this gallant and devoted spirit cannot hare by be given with absolute certainty. The histories give it as Jacob Mauly, but parties who knew him assure the writer of these pages that his real name was Hubert Millier. His sir name was, however, uniformly pronounced Mauly.
When the command reached the ferry landing only one Indian could be seen. This was Shonka-ska, or White Dog, who was standing on the west back of the river, in plain view. White Dog was considered a Christian or civilized Indian. For some time he had been "Indian Farmer" at the Lower- Agency, engaged in teaching his red breathen how to plow and to cultivate the soil generally, receiving there for a salary from the Government. He had, however, been remover from his position, which had been given to Ta-o-pi (pronounced Tah-o-pee, and meaning wounded), another Christian Indian. White Dog bore a general good reputation in the country until the outbreak, and many yet assert that he has been misrepresented and unjustly accused.
A conversation in the Sioux agency in the Sioux language was held between White Dog and Interpreter Quinn, Capt. Marsh suggesting the most of the question put to the Indian through the interpreter. There are two versions of this conversation. The surviving soldiers say that as they understood it, as it was interpreted by Mr. Quinn, Whit Dog assured Capt. Marsh that there was no serious danger; that the Indians were willing, and were awaiting, to hold a council at the Agency to settle matters; and that the men could cross on the ferry boat in safety, etc. ON the other hand certain Indian friends of White Dog, who were present, have always claimed that he did not use the treacherous language inputted to him, but plainly told the interpreter to say to the captain that he and his men must not attempt to cross, and that they should "go back quick." At any rate, White Dog was subsequently tried by a military commission on a charge of disloyalty and treachery, found guilty and hung at Mankato. "He insisted on his innocence to the last."
While the conversation between White Dog and Interpreter Quinn was yet in progress the latter exclaimed, "Look out!" The next instant came a volley of bullets and some arrows from the concealed foe on the opposite bank of the river. This was accompanied and followed by yells and whoops and renewed firing, this time from the Indians on both sides of the river. They were armed chiefly with double-barreled shotguns loaded with "traders' balls," and their firing at the short distance was very destructive. Pierced with a dozen bullets, Interpreter Quinn was shot dead from his saddle at the first fire, and his body was afterward well stuck with arrows. A dozen or more soldier were killed outright and many wounded by the first volley.
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. (Bishop, p. 168.) But now the Indians were in great numbers on the some side of the river, only a few yards away. They had secured possession of the log ferry house, from which they could fire as from a blockhouse, and they were in the thickets all about. Many of them were naked except as the breechcloths. (Bishop, id.) Across the river near the bank were numbers behind the logs belonging to the Agency steam saw mill, and a circle of enemies was rapidly being completed about the little band.
Below the ferry a few rods was a dense willow thicket, from two to ten rods in width and running down the north or east bank of the river for a mile or more. Virtually cutting or forcing their way through the Indians Capt. Marsh and fourteen of his men succeed in reaching this thicket, from which (according to Bishop) they kept up a fight or about two hours. The Indians poured volleys at random from all sides into the thick covert, but the soldiers lay close to the ground, and but few of them were struck. Two men, named Sutherland and Blodgrett, were shot through the body and remained where they fell until after dark, when they crawled out, and finding an old canoe, floated down the river and reached Fort Ridgely the next day. Of a party of five that had taken refuge in another thicket three were killed before dark. One of the survivors, Thomas Parsley, remained in the thicket with his dead comrades until late at night when he too escaped and made his way to the fort.
Gradually the imperiled soldiers worked their way throughout thick grass and brush of the jungle in which they were concealed until they had gone some distance east of the ferry. Meantime they had kept up a fight, using their ammunition carefully, but under the circumstances almost ineffectually. The Indians did not attempt to charge them or "rush" their position, for this was not the Indian style of warfare. Of the second great casualty of the day Bishop says:
About 4 o'clock p.m., when our ammunition was reduced to not more than four rounds to a man, Capt. Marsh ordered his men to swim the river and try and work our way down on the west side. He entered the river first and swam about the center and there went down with a cramp.
Some of them men went to the captain's assistance, but were unable to save him. He was unwounded and died form the effects of the paralyzing cramps that seized him. Some days afterward his body was found in a drift, miles below where it sank.
After the drowning of Capt. Marsh, the command, consisting of fifteen men, devolved upon Sergt. John F. Bishop. The men then resumed their slow and toilsome progress toward the fort. Five of the men, including the sergeant, were wounded, on e of them, Private Ole Svendson, so badly that he had to be carried. The Indians, for some reason, did not press the attack further, after the drowning of Capt. Marsh and all of them. Except Ezekiel Rose, who was wounded and lost his way, reached Fort Ridgley (Bishop says, at 10 o'clock) that night. Rose wandered off into the country, and was finally picked up near Henderson. Five miles from the fort, Bishop sent froward Privates James Dunn and W. B. Hutchinson, with information of the disaster, to Lieut. Gere.
The loss of whites was one officer (Captain Marsh) drowned, 24 men--including 23 soldiers and Interpreter Quinn--killed, and men wounded. The Indians had one man killed, a young warrior of the Wah-pa-koota band, named To-wa-to, or All Blue. When the band lived at or near Faribault this To-wa-to was known for his fondness for rime dress and for his gallantries. He was dandy and a Lothario, but he was no coward.
The affair at Redwood Ferry was most influential upon the character of the Indian outbreak. It was a complete Indian victory. A majority of the soldiers had been killed, their guns, ammunition, and equipment's had fallen in to the hands of the victors, the first attempt to interfere wit the savage program had been signally repulsed, all with the loss of but one man. Those of the savages who had favored the war from the first were jubilant over what had been accomplished and confident of the final and general result. There had been but the feeblest resistance on the part of the settlers who had been murdered that day, and the defense made by the soldiers had amounted to nothing. There was the general remark in the Indian camps that the whites, with all of their vaunted bravery, were "as easy to kill as sheep."
Before the successful ambuscade there had been apprehension among many of the Indians that the pit break would soon be suppressed, and they had hesitated about engaging in it. There were also those who at least were loyal and faithful to the whites and would take no part in the uprising. But after the destruction of Capt. Marsh and his command all outward opposition to the war was swept away in the wild torrent or exultation and enthusiasm created by the victory. Heard (p. 74) says:
The Indians were highly jubilant over this success. Whatever of doubt was before among some as to the propriety of embarking in the massacres disappeared, and the Lower Indians became to unit upon the question. Their dead enemies were lying all around them and their camp was filled with captives. They had taken plenty of arms, powder, lead and provisions, and clothing. The "Farmer" Indians and members of the church, fearing, like all other renegades, that suspicion of want of zeal in the cause would rest upon them, to avoid this suspicion became more bloody and brutal in their language and conduct than the others.
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 that was actually required. The friendly Indians would doubtless have been encouraged and stimulated to open and even aggressive manifestations of loyalty; the dubious and the timid would have been, awed into inactivity and quiescence. As it was, the disaster to the little band of soldiers fanned the fires of the rebellion into a great conflagration of murder and rapine. Redwood Ferry was a miniature Bull Run in its effects.
To commemorate and identify the scene of this potent event the Minnesota Valley Historical Society has erected a substantial granite monument at the site of the old-time ferry landing, at the point, as nearly as could be determined, where Capt. Marsh and his men were first upon. The site is now overgrown with small willow and other trees and 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 cannot be washed away.*
In 1873 the state erected a marble monument 15 feet in height in the Fort Ridgely cemetery, 14 miles from the battle ground, and this monument bears the names of them en who perished in the ambuscade, but the inscription does not in any manner indicate how or where they lost their lives; it merely states that they "Died Aug. 18. 1862." The remains of the dead soldiers were temporarily buried in this cemetery, but were finally re-interred in the graveyards of their former respective homes. It is believed that the monument put up by this Society, on the ground where the brave men fell, supplies a most important omission and fulfills a valuable mission.
Upon and about the battlefield of Birch Coulie this Society has placed several monuments or markers, which serve to identify important points of the battleground. The site of this hallowed ground is about two and one-half miles east and north of the present village of MORTON, in Renville County, on the west side of the great ravine called Birch Coulie.
At the time of the battle the ground was virgin prairie. Half a mile down the Coulie was the cabin and claim of Peter Pereau, a Frenchman, who had been killed and his family taken prisoners. A number of other settlers living farther down the stream had been killed and some of their houses burned. The land where the battle was fought belonged to the Government, and whom it was purchased by the State, in 1896. When Mr. Weiss entered the land, in 1865, the rifle pits dug by the beleaguered soldiers, the bones of the horses kill, and other evidences of the fight were plainly visible.
The incidents leading to the fight may be very briefly related. Gen. Sibley occupied Fort Ridgely with his relief force on the 27th of August, nine days after the beginning of the outbreak. ON the 31st he dispatched a force of about 150 men to the Lower Agency with instruction to ascertain if possible the position and condition on the Indians, and to bury the bodies of the victims of the massacre which might be found en route. This force, which was under the command of Maj. Joseph R. Brown, the well known prominent character in early Minnesota history and then acting as major of a newly organized militia regiment, was composed of Company A, Sixth Minnesota Infantry, under Captain H. P. Grant; seventy mounted men of the Cullen Guard under Capt. Joseph Anderson; some volunteers, soldiers, and citizens; a detail of other soldiers from the Sixth regiment and the militia force, and seventeen teamsters with teams. The nest evening several of the citizens returned to the fort.
( Heard, p. 131.)
The command reached the Agency on the 1st of September *
Capt. Grant, with his company and the wagons, proceeded up the valley on the north side of the Minnesota to the mouth of the beaver creek, Thence up the creek about three miles, and then marched east about six miles to near the head of birch Coulie. This portion of the command buried the badies of captain Marsh’s men killed at Redwood Ferry and those of perhaps forty citizens at various points on the route. On Beaver Creek "some thirty bodies" were buried, according to Capt. Grant. On the way, too, in the Minnesota bottom, a German woman, named Mrs. Justina Krieger, who had been badly wounded be the Indians, and was hiding in a mars, was rescued and carried along.
Maj. Brown and Capt. Anderson, with the "Cullen Guards," crossed the river at the Redwood ferry, went to the agency, buried the bodies of the slain there, and went uo the river, or westward, to the location of Little Crow’s village, which the Indians had abandoned a few days previously. Nothing was seen which (in the opinion of mj. Brown, who for thirty years had been intimate with the Indians and the country: May. T. J. Galbraith, the Indian agent: Alex Faribault, for whom the city of the mane was called, and his son, George Faibault, both mixed blood Sioux, and Jack Fazier, a full blood), Indicated that a hostile Indian had been in that viginity for four days, although careful examination was made. Recrossing the Minnesota at a ford opposite little Crow’s village, the party ascended the bluff on the north side and reaching the prairie rode eastward to the Birch Coulie, where Capt. Grant’s company had already encamped.
The cam selected by Capt. Grant ws on an excellent site. It was upon level ground, convenient to wood and water, and less than half a mile from a road running between Fort Ridgely and Fort abercrombie, on the Red River of the north. A growth of fairly good timber fringed the Coulie on either side, and in the channel was plenty of good running water T the west, north, and east stretched level prairies miles in estent. In his report Maj. Brown says:
This camp was make in the usual way, on the smooth prairie, some 200 yards from the timber of Birtch Coulie, with the wagons packed around the camp and the team horses fastened to the wagons. The hors belonging to the mounted men were fastened to ta stout the tent. Capt. Anderson’s tents wre behind his horses, and Capt. Brant’s were inside the wagons, which formed the north half of the camp.
The encampment was virtually, therefore, a corral in it’s form and general character. Capt. Grant detailed thirty men with a lieutenant and two non-commissioned officers, for a camp guard and established ten picket posts- or rather ten guard posts- at equal distances around the camp. The guard was divided, as usual, into three "reliefs." Although in what might properly be termed the enemy’s country, no danger of an attack was apprehended, and therefore no picket posts worth the name were established. The camp guard posts were only about 100 yards from the corral. Maj. Brown assured the men that they might sleep as soundly "as if in their mothers’ feather-beds and the weary soldiers lay down to rest in fancied security.
Of a truth the Indians had fallen back from the lower agency to yellow Medicine four days before Maj. Brown reached little Crow’s village. During the siege of fort Ridgely Maj. Galbraith, the Indian agent, had sent Antoine Frenier, a gallant mixed-blood Sioux scout, from the fort up the valley, and Frenier had gone to a point near the Yellow Medicine and learned that large numbers of the Indians were there. But on his return the scout was cut off be scattering war parties and prevent from entering the fort, and was forced to make his way to Henderson.
When Gen. Sibley arrived at Fort Ridgely he sent two good and wary scouts, George McLeod and Wm. L. Quinn, to reconnoiter and to discover the Indians position. They make the perilous ride to near the yellow medicine, discovered that the Indians were there in strong force, and returned in safety. Quinn had been in charge of Forbes’s trading house at the Yellow Medicine, and his family were prisoners among the Souix. Riding in the night in the Minnesota bottom, his horse shied t a dead body, which, by the gleam of a flash of lightning, he saw was that of his former clerk, a Frenchman named Louis Constans. Everything indicated that there were no hostiles east of the Yellow Medicine.
The Indians had left their villages about the lower agency in some haste and alarm, after their repulse and defeat at fort Ridgely. With the exception of some scouts left behind to watch the whites, they retired to the yellow medicine and the mouth of the Chippewa river, where were the villages of the Wahpeton band, generally composed of friendly Sioux. In a few days the scouts reported that Sibley and his command had reached Fort Ridgely and that New Ulm Had Been Evacuated.
Very soon it was determined to move down on the south side of the minnesota to New Ulm, to there cross the river and get in the rear of Fort Ridgely, and then their future appertains would be governed by circumstances. At the same time 150 warriors were to for from the yellow Medicine to the "Big Woods" and harass the country about Forest City and Hutchinson, and to seize a large quaintly of flour said to be in a mill in that quarter. Little Crow took charge of the "Big woods" expendition, sending the rest of his band under Gray Bird, a farmer Indian, but now little Crow’s "head soldier," down the river with the other bands of Wabsh, Wacouta, Hushasha, Mankato, Big Eagle, Shakopee, and the rest of the Medawakantons and Wakpekootas. The savage forces left the yellow Medicine on the 31st of August.
When on the evening of September 1st, the advance of the Indians reached Little Crow’s village, on the high bluff on the south side of the Minnesota, They saw on the north side, out on the prairie, some miles away, Capt. Anderson’s company marching from beaver Creek eastward toward the Birtsh Coulie. They also saw in the village signs that white men had been there only a few hours before, and, from the trail made when they left, concluded that these were the men they could see to the northward. Some of the best scouts were soon sent across the calley to follow the movements of the mounted men, "creeping across the prairie like so many ants." A little after sundown the scouts returned with the information that the mounted men had gone Into camp near the head of Birch Coulie and that they numbered about seventy-five men. At this time, and until they attacked, they did not know of the presence of Capt. Grant’s company.
Had the Indians persisted in their original plan to proceed quietly on their way down the south side of the river, unobserved by the whites, and paid no attention to the company of mounted men they had discovered the result would have been most disastrous. But with their hundreds of warriors the temptation to fall upon the small and apparently isolated detachment of seventy-five men was too great to the Indian nature to be resisted. It was determined to surround the camp that night and attack it at daylight the nest morning. About 200 warriors were selected for the undertaking. These were the bands of Red Legs, Gray Bird, Big Eagle, and Mankato, with perhaps some four other bands. The leaders were sub chiefs, with the exception of Gray Bird, who was the head soldier of little Crow’s Band. Little Crow himself, with 150 warriors, was off on the expedition to the Big Woods towards Forest City and Hutchinson.
When darkness had come good and black and sheltering the Indians crosses the river and valley, went up the bluffs and on the prairie and soon saw the camp of corral of the whites. Cautiously and warily they approached the came and had no difficulty in surrounding it, for the sentinels were at such short distance from it-not more than a hundred yards or so. The fround was most excellent for a mere camping fround, but badly chosen for a battlefield. On the east was the Birch Coulie with a high bluff bank and fringed with timber; on the north was a smallwe coulie or ravine running into the main coulie; on the south was a swale much lower than the camp; on the west was a considerable mound and all thses positions were sommanding and with in gunshot of the corral. The Indians could fire fromm considerable mound and all there positions were cammanding and within gunshot pf the cottal. The Indians could fire from concealed and protected situations, and nearly all of them had double-barreled shot guns loaded with buckshot and large bulets called traders balls.
The indians under Red legs occupied the Birtch Coulie, east of the camp. Some of Mankato’s warriors were in the coulie and some in the swale to the south. Big Eagle band was chiefly behind and about the knoll to the west, and Gray Bird’s was in the reavine and on the prairie to the north. Big Eagle says that shile they were waiting to begin the attack during the night, some of the warriors crawled through the prairie grass unobserved to with in fifty feet of the sentinels, and it was seriously proposed to shoot them with arrows,-making no noise—and to rush the cam in the darkness.
In the dark hour just before dawn Capt. Anderson’s cook, who was early astir, had his suspicions of danger aroused by noting that some of the horses with lifted heads were staring intently toward the west, and manifesting indications of uneasiness. Some fugitive cattle which had been gathered up and driven along with the command and which had been lying down south of the corral rose up one after another and began to move slowly towards the corral, as if retreating from danger. The cook had quietly awakened his captain and was talking to him of what he had seen when the alarm was given.
Sentinel Willian L. hart, of Anderson’s company, was on duty on the post between the eastern border of the corral and Birch Coulie. He was in conversation with Richard Gibbons, and comrade in his company. The dawn was coming faintly from the east when loading in the direction across the Birch Coulie, hart saw what he at first thought were two calves galloping through the tall grass of the prairie toward the coulie. In another moment he saw that the abject were two Indians skulking along as fast as they could run and trailing their guns at their sides. "They are Indians," cried Hart to his companion, and instantly fired. As if he had given the signal, suddenly came a deadly roar from hundreds of Indian guns all about the camps, and he battle had begun. In the rain of bullets, gibbons was mortally wounded, nut Hart ran to the corral unhurt and fought through the battle, living to become an officer in the police force of St. Paul, were he died in 1896.
The details of the battle belong to other publications and have been frequently given. At the first alarm nearly all of the men instinctively given. At the first alarm nearly all of the men instinctively sprang to their feet, and in obedience to orders Capt. Grant’s company attempted to fall, and in obedience to orders Capt. Grant’s company attempted to fall in to line, and the swift, well delivered volleys of the Indians struck down thirty men in three minutes. The horses, too, tied at the borders of the corral, fell fast. Big Eagle says: "Owing to the white men’s way of fighting, they lost many men: owing to the Indians’ way of fighting they lost but few." The loss of the whites was 20 men killed, 4 mortally wounded, perhaps 60 wounded more or less severely, and nearly every horse killed. The Indians loss was small. According to Big Eagle, Endorsed by Heard, it was two killed and "several wounded."
About 9 o’clock in that morning of the first day’s attack the pickets at fort Ridgely sent in word that they could hear the report of guns in the distance to the northwest. Investigation make it certain that there was a battle in progress between Maj. Brown’s command and the Indians. Col. Sibley at once sent a re-enforcement. He dispatched Col. Sam’l MvPhail, of a newly organized militia command called the mounted Rangers, with 50 mounted men under the immediate commands of Capt. J. R. Sterrett and Capt. C. S. Potter, three companies of the Sixth Regiment of Infantry—B,D, and E—under Capt. O, C, Merriman, J.C. Whitney, and Rudoiph Schoenmann, and two small cannon under Capt. Mark Hendricks.
The indenture and artillery were under the direst command of Maj. R. N. McLaren, with Col. McPhail, and old regular soldier and experienced Indian Fighter, in command of the whole. In his report, Col. Sibley says the whole force numbered 210 men.
The expedition make a force march to near the Birch coulie, over the abercrombie road, guided by the sound of the continuous firing. On nearing the coulie a large force of Indians appeared to the left of south og the advance. A demonstration was made against them by Capt. Merriman’s company and they fell back. The command moved forward half a mile when a very strong line of Indians was seen directly in front and on the left flank. Col. McPhail halted and prepared to fight. Two scouts of Capt. Potter’s mounted company were sent forward, but soon had their horses shot under them and were chased back to the column.
The Indians were advancing and had well nigh surrounded the command, when Capt. Hendricks opened on them with his artillery and drive them back. Col. McPhail "did not deen it prudent to advance further," and sending two messengers, Lient. T.J. Sheehan and Wm. L. Quinn, to Col. Sibley with a report of the situation, he moved his force to a commanding position about two miles east of the coulie, where he formed a strong camp, throwing up some rifle pits, and awaited the arrival of the Colenel with the general command from Fort Ridgely.
As soon as McPhail’s messangers, who rode swiftly, reached him Col. Sibley formed his men under arms, and at once marched to the relief of the now two imperiled commands. He Marched to the relief of the now two imperiled commands. He marched during the night, joined Col. McPhail in the forenoon of Sept. 3, moved against the Indians and be noon, without any more serious fighting, they had all been driven away from their position about the coulie. Redressing the Minnesota, they speedily fell back again to the Yellow Medicine. Col. Sibley returned to Fort Ridgely.
This Society has erected monuments and "markers," which will permanently mark and preserve the identity of certain historic points about the battle field of Birch Coulie. A large granite pyramid, to stand on the former corral ground and mark the site where the white forces were besieged, will be built in the near future, and the following small monuments have been already placed.
One indicating the position of the band, or command of Mankato between the high sheltering banks of the Birch Coulie.
Mankato was a sub-chief of the Medawakantons, and at the time of the out bread his little village was on the borders of the Lower Agency. His men took part in the murders at the Agency and in the ambushing of Capt. Marsh. He was perhaps 40 years of age, and one of the bravest fighters among the Sioux. He was well acquainted with the whites, and had been a member of the delegation of chiefs that went to Washington in 1858 and made the treaty for the cession of the mile strip on the north side of the Minnesota from rock Creek, below Fort Ridgely, to Big Stone Lake.
His proper mane was Mah-kah-to (accented on the second Syllable), which means Blue Earth-mahah, earth; to, blue. He seems to have been the only leader among the Indians who displayed the qualities of a fighter of ability. He took no part in the massacre of the settlers himself, but fought only as a soldier. According to the statements of the Indians he wanted to charge the corral at Birch Coulie within an hour after the fight commenced, and urged that proposition until in the afternoon, when the other sub-chiefs agreed to it. Preparations were in progress, and the assault would have been make in a few minutes, when McPhail’s relief column was discovered.
Mankato was always active in battle. He was at both attacks on Fort Ridgely and wanted to storm the fort from the first. When McPhail’s force came at Birch Coulie it was the "Brave Mankato," as Big Eagle calls him, who at once took 35 men from the coulie and went out to meet it. Hundreds of other Indians who had not been engaged that day came forward too, but Mankato was the leaking spirit n the demonstration that caused McPhail to retire, the other leaders giving him general charge of the movement. He was killed in the battle of Wood Lake be a cannon ball from Hendrick’s Battery while leading his men on an advance. The ball was bounding over the prairie and his men called to him to "look out," but with a contemptuous expression he refused
turn aside and was struck in the side and back, dying in a few minutes. His men buried his body in teh east bank of yellow Medicine, a mile or more from the battlefield.
With Mankato in the Coulie was a portion of Hu-sha-sha’s band of Wapekootas. Hushasha died, old and blind, at Santee Agency, Neb., a few years ago.
Gray Birds Position.
Another marker indicates the position during the battle of the Indians under Gray Bird in the swale, and aslo the point where they made their last stand before retreating. Gray Bird was not a chief, but at the time of battle was "head soldier," or commander. of the portion of the of little Crow which that chieftain had not taken with him on his expedition to the Big Woods. Up to the day of the outbreak Gray Bird had been a "Farmer Indian" at the lower Agency. He wore white mans clothes, had adopted many of the white mans habits, and was considered a Christian. But blood, and especially Indians blood, is thicker than water. and when his people went on to war path with Gray Bird went with them. He was not at all prominent among the Sioux was a man of moderate abilities, and never rose to any distinction. heard says that he was in general command of the Indians at Birch Coulie, but big Eagle and the others deny this. Big Eagle says that the four bands present acted in concert without a general commander.
Big Eagle’s Big Mound.
West of the former corral or encampment the cnsiderable mound behind which Big Eagle’s band fought has been plowed over so frequently by Farmer Weiss, the owner of the wheatfield in which it is situated, that it had now well nigh disappeared. Big Eagle is still alive and living in Granite Falls, in Yellow Medicine county. For many years he has lived a quite, reputable life in civilization and is a church member in good standing. His "Sioux Story of the war," printed in 1894, was the first complete account of the great outbreak from the Indian side ever published.
Big Eagle was born near Mendota in the year 1827. He was the son of a sub-chief named Mah-zah-hota (Gray Iron), and the grandson of another chief, named Wambde-tonka, or the Great War Eagle. When, by the death of his father, he came to the chieftainship of his band he took the name of his grandfather, but has commonly been called Big Eagle.In his youth he was a rather noted warrior, went often with war parties against the Chippewas, and in the time wore six scalp feathers. He, too, was one of the delegation that went to Washington in 1858 and agreed to the selling of the "ten-mile strip," north of Minnesota. Befora the outbreak, BIg Eagle’s village was southwest of Little Crow’s about three miles west of the Lower Agency. He was opposed to the war,as were many of his men, but at last the majority voted to go in, and Big Eagle agreed to lead them, saying," We will all act like Brave Dokotas and do the best we can." He was at the second attack on New Ulm, the second at Fort Ridgely, at Birch Coulie, and at Wood Lake.
After the last named battle he surrendered to Gen. Sibley and was tried by the Militry commission. No evidence that he had participated in any of the massacres or outrages upon the settlers was produced against him, and he was found quilty of rebellion merely and sentenced to three years’imprisonment at Rock Island, which punishment he underwent with the resignation and stoicism of the typical Indian. His brother, Medicine Bottle, was hung, with Chief Shakopee, at Fort Snelling in 1865, for participating in the massacres.
Big Eagle’s band at Birch Coulie numbered, according to his statement, about 30 warriors. They were protected by the mound, and had practically a plunging fire on the corral, Some of them frequently left the cover of the mound and crawled up nearer the whites, with grass and golden rod and ox-eyed daisies stuck in their head bands so that their head bands so that their heads could not be distinguished amid the rank herage and flower-age of the prairies. " We had an easy time of it,"says Big Eagle. " We could crawl through te grass and into the coulieand get water when we wanted it, and after a few hours our women crossed the river and came up near the bluff and cooked for us, and we could go back and eat and then returnto the fight."
The Society’s monument at camp pope-sketch of the
Sibley expedition of 1863
This society’s monument marketing the former site of Camp Pope deserves attention. Camp Pope was the point on the South side of the Minnesota river, in Redwood county, above teh Redwood river,selected by Gen. Sibley for the rendezvous and starting place of his military expedition against the Indians in the spring of 1863.
After the defeat of the Sioux at Wood Lake (Sept. 23, 1892), those of them who still remained hostile fled into Dakota under the leadership of Little Crow. Gen. Sibley had but 26 mounted men, and was, for this and other reasons, unable to pursue them. One band, numbering about 150 people and composed chiefly of those who did not want to fight but were afraid to surrender, separated from the mail body and was fallowed and captured at the Wild Goose Nest Lake, in what is now South Dakota, by expedition under Col. Wm. R Marshall.
Nearly all of the Indians who went with Little Crow passed the winter of 1862 and 1863 at and about Devil’s lake he went to Pembina and Winnipeg and tried hard to induce the British authoritiesnto aid him. he reminded them that during the War of 1812 the Sioux had aided the English against the Americans, and that the British officers had promised that, as a reward for their services, they ever had any trouble in the future with the "yankees," the representatives of her Majesty’s goverment in Canada would aid them. The Sioux had taken there a cannon, which had been dubbed " the Little Dakota." They were promised that this cannon should be returned to them whenever they needed it, and Little Crow demanded the fulfillment of the promise. He also sent massengers and presents to the Mandans and other Western tribes inviting them to join him in a general war against the whites.
But the Canadians gave Little Crown a cold and inhospitable reception, refused to aid him or to countenance him, and the Mandans fored upon his messengers, under his brother, the White spider, and chased them away. In a last way into Minnesota, and was Killes near Hutchinson, as has been related.
In hope early springof 1863 it was determined by Gen. John Pope, then in command of the Northwest Department,that a second campaign should be undertaken against the Sioux, then in Dakota. At a conference between Generals Pope, Sibley, and Sully, at Milwankee, it was decided that as early in the summer of the year as possible, Gen. Sully should move from Souix City, with a force composed wholly of cavalry, and Gen. Sibley should march from some point on the Upper Minnesota, with a force of three regiments of magniticent in its character and intentions, but like other military schemes came to nothing. Gan. Sully’s column of cavalry was to procced up the Missouri far enough to off the retreat of the Indians to the westward, and then march eastward and unite with the forces under Sibley and "crush the Indians" at Devial’s Lake. The supplies for this column were to be taken up the river on steamboats. Gen. Sibley’s supplies were to accompany him in wagon trains across the country.
Gen. Sibley carried out his part of the programme and reached Devil’s Lake in due time, but of corsefinding no considerable number of Indians. But the Missuori was too shallow for navigation, the summer was dry, the grass of the prairies withered, and many of them died. The boats grounded on Sandbars and could not proceed, the solders had no rations, and Sully’s column was forced to turn back without co-operating with Sibley’s. Gen. Sibley made a toilsome and exhausting march, but persisted until he succeded in falling in with the Indians, who were driven back, after successive engagements, until they had been chased far across the Missouri. Then the Minnesotans, having accomplished more than their share of the co-operative movement, and secured their frontiers from further Indian raids, returned to their quarters in their own state.
The Faithful Indians’ Movement.
In December, 1899, the Minnesota Vallwy Historical Society completed the erection of a monument in recognition and commemoration of the conduct and services of the conduct and services of the Indians who were truly loyal and faithful to the whites during the great Sioux war of 1862. It is believed that this is the only structure of the kind ever erected in the United States. The most that has ever been done to honor the services of the Indians who have been of eminent services to the white during the wars between their tribes and the pale faces, has been to give them honorable mention in the pages of history and make them the subjects of the story.
The Classes of friendly Indians.
There were, upon the whole, many Indians including the mixed-bloods, who rendered assistances to the white during the great out break, but washed out their merit marks with the blood of innocent people or smirched them with a record of robbery and plundering.
There was another class whose "hearts were good," who were loyalin their obligations and friendly in their dispositions toward the whites, but who rendered no practical service in their behalf, for fear of harm to themselves, or for other reasons.
A very large majority of mixed-bloods, including those who lived with and as the full-blood Indians, was loyal and friendly, and rendered valuable services to the whites and to the white men’s cause.
Ther wa still another class that was disloyal and committed numerous acts of hostility during the outbreak, and yet ever after the close of the war remained peaceable, orderly, and law abiding. Some of the members of this class, who fought, murdered, and robbed during the troubles, eventually became civilized and Christianized, lived reputable lives, walked humbly before the Creator, and died in the odor of sanctity.
There were a few Indians, constituting a small but grandly noble element, who were faithful in their lives for the preservation and salvation of those of the unfortunate white people.
Only the truely loyal honored.
This societ resolved to honor the memories and services of the truly loyal Indians by the erection of a monument in the country which was the scene of their good dees and noble conduct. It was concluded to place this commemorative structure on the States grounds where on the Birch Coulie monument, erected in 1894, stands. The State Legisleture, in session of 1899, by a special act, gave the required permission, and the structure was completed in December of that year. The contractors were Honner, Hosken & Co., of the Redwood Granite Works, Redwood falls, and the contract itself was most intelligently and artistically, as well as most faithfully, executed.
The Structure id 52 feet in height and built wholly of granite from local quarries, the greater part coming from the Granite quarries at Redwood Falls. An appropriate inscription tells its purpose. The surrounding ground has been furnished with substantail iron seats for the accommodation of visitors, and the site is a most commanding one, giving a good view, for miles up and down the Minnesota valley, of the historic locality.
The society made three requirements for those whose names were to be cut in the granite die of the commemorative monument, making the list a roll of honor in all respects.
1. The subjects were to be full blooded Indians.
2. They were to have been truely loyal to the whites throughout the entire peroid of the outbreak, from its inception, on the 18th of Augest, 1862, until the close of that year.
3. They were to have actually, by personal effort and in a practical manner, saved the life of at least one white person.
After careful and through investigation the Soceity decided that the names of but five Indians, four men and a woman,were, at present, entitled to the distinction of a position in the monument’s inscription. The Claims of scores of others were presented, but in the Society’s opinion they did not meet the full requirements demanded. They either were not Indians of full blood, or they were not truly loyal throughout the war, or they did not directly save the life of a white person; indirect service could not be accepted. The names were these.
Indian name Definitiion English Name
Am-pa-tu To-ki-cha. Other Day. John Other Day
Mah-za-koo-te-manne. Iron that shoots walking Little Paul
To-wan-e-ta-ton Face of the village Lorenzo Lawrence
A-nah-waug-manne Walkd alongside Simon
Mah-kah-ta He-i-ya-win Traveling on the ground Mary Crooks
It may be started that ar the proper and appropriate time the name of another Indian woman will be added ti the list above given. This will be that of Snahnah (Tinkling) now Mrs. Maggie Brass, of Santee Agency, Neb. She it was who purchased from her Indian captor a young white girl, fourteen years of age, named Mary E. Schwandt, and carefully preserved her from all harm during the six weeks of her captivity, or until Gen. Sibley and his army came to camp Release. The faithful Snahnah gave her only pony as the purchase price of the poor young captive, whose entire family, with the exception of a younger brother, had been murdered, and who ws herself in awful peril. Mrs. Brass is yet living and the Society deemed it fitting to inscribe only the names of deceased persons on the mounment.
This book has been reproduced in part by the Red Rock Central
10th Grade History Class of 2000
for the benefit of students of the Sioux Outbreak. It is under construction and contains some errors
in compilation and others related to the original work.