THRILLING NARRATIVE ***
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[Illustration: Governor Alex Ramsey, of St. Paul,
The Last of the War Governors.]
A THRILLING NARRATIVE
THE MINNESOTA MASSACRE
SIOUX WAR OF 1862-63
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE
_SIEGE OF FORT RIDGELY, BATTLES OF BIRCH COOLIE, WOOD
LAKE, BIG MOUND, STONY LAKE, DEAD BUFFALO
LAKE AND MISSOURI RIVER_.
A. P. CONNOLLY, Publisher,
PAST COMMANDER U. S. GRANT POST, NO. 28, G. A. R.
DEPARTMENT OF ILLINOIS.
Copyright 1896, by
A. P. CONNOLLY
DONOHUE & HENNEBERRY, PRINTERS AND BINDERS, CHICAGO.
Thirty-four years ago and Minnesota was in an unusual state of
excitement. The great War of the Rebellion was on and many of her sons
were in the Union army "at the front." In addition, the Sioux Indian
outbreak occurred and troops were hurriedly sent to the frontier. Company
A, Sixth Minnesota Infantry, and detachments from other companies were
sent out to bury the victims of the Indians. This duty performed, they
rested from their labors and in an unguarded hour, they, too, were
surrounded by the victorious Indians and suffered greatly in killed and
wounded at Birch Coolie, Minnesota, on September 2 and 3, 1862. The men
who gave up their lives at this historic place, have been remembered by
the state in the erection of a beautiful monument to their memory and the
names inscribed thereon are as follows:
John College, sergeant, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Wm. Irvine, sergeant, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Wm. M. Cobb, corporal, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Cornelius Coyle, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
George Coulter, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Chauncey L. King, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Henry Rolleau, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Wm. Russell, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Henry Whetsler, private, Company A, Sixth Minnesota.
Benj. S. Terry, sergeant, Company G, Sixth Minnesota.
F. C. W. Renneken, corporal, Company G, Sixth Minnesota.
Robert Baxter, sergeant, Mounted Rangers.
Richard Gibbons, corporal, Mounted Rangers.
To these, knowing them all personally and well, I fraternally and
reverentially inscribe this book.
"We are coming, Father Abraham, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND MORE!"
This was in response to the President's appeal for men to go to the
front, and the vast levies this called for made men turn pale and maidens
The Union army was being defeated, and its ranks depleted by disease and
expiration of terms of service - the enemy was victorious and defiant,
and foreign powers were wavering. In England aristocracy wanted a
confederacy - the Commoners wanted an undivided Union. The North responded
to the appeal, mothers gave up their sons, wives their husbands, maidens
their lovers, and six hundred thousand "boys in blue" marched away.
In August, 1862, I enlisted to serve Uncle Sam for "three years or during
the war." In January, 1865, I reenlisted to serve another term; but the
happy termination of the conflict made it unnecessary. I do not write
this boastingly, but proudly. There are periods in our lives we wish to
emphasize and with me this is the period in my life.
The years from 1861 to 1865 - memorable for all time, I look back to now
as a dream. The echo of the first gun on Sumter startled the world. Men
stood aghast and buckling on the sword and shouldering the musket they
marched away. Brave men from the North met brave men from the South,
and, as the clash of arms resounded throughout our once happy land, the
Nations of the World with bated breath watched the destinies of this
After four years of arbitration on many sanguinary fields, we
decided at Appomattox to live in harmony under one flag. The soldiers
are satisfied - "the Blue and the Gray" have joined hands; but the
politicians, or at least some of them, seem to be unaware that the war is
over, and still drag us into the controversy.
"The Boys in Blue?" Why, that was in 1866, and this is 1896 - thirty years
after we had fulfilled our contract and turned over the goods; and was
ever work better done?
Then we could have anything we wanted; now we are "Old Soldiers" and it
is 16 to 1 against us when there is work to do. A new generation has
arisen, and the men of 1861 to 1865 are out of "the swim," unless their
vote is wanted. We generally vote right. We were safe to trust in "the
dark days" and we can be trusted now; but Young America is in the front
rank and we must submit.
The soldier was a queer "critter" and could adapt himself to any
circumstance. He could cook, wash dishes, preach, pray, fight, build
bridges, build railroads, scale mountains, dig wells, dig canals, edit
papers, eat three square meals a day or go without and find fault; and
so with this experience of years, - the eventful years of 1861 and 1865
before me, when the door is shut and I am no longer effective and cannot
very well retire - to the poor-house, have concluded to write a book. I am
not so important a character as either Grant, Sherman, Sheridan or Logan;
but I did my share toward making them great. I'll never have a monument
erected to my memory unless I pay for it myself; but my conscience is
clear, for I served more than three years in Uncle Sam's army and I have
never regretted it and have no apologies to make. I did not go for pay,
bounty or pension, although I got both the former when I did enlist and
am living in the enjoyment of the latter now. I would not like to say
how much my pension is, but it is not one hundred a month by "a large
majority" - and so, I have concluded, upon the whole, to profit by a
portion of my experience in the great "Sioux War" in Minnesota and Dakota
in 1862 (for I campaigned both North and South) and write a book and thus
"stand off" the wolf in my old age.
When peace was declared, the great armies were ordered home and the
"Boys in Blue" became citizens again. The majority of us have passed
over the hill-top and are going down the western slope of life, leaving
our comrades by the wayside. In a few years more there will be but a
corporal's guard left and "the place that knows us now will know us no
more forever." The poor-house will catch some and the Soldiers' Home
others; but the bread of charity can never be so sweet and palatable
as is that derived from one's own earnings, - hence this little book of
personal experiences and exciting events of these exciting years - 1862
and 1863. In it I deal in facts and personal experiences, and the
experiences of others who passed through the trying ordeal, as narrated
to me. As one grows old, memory in some sense is unreliable. It cannot
hold on as it once did. The recollection of the incidents of youth
remains, while the more recent occurrences have often but a slender hold
on our memories; often creeps in touching dates, but the recollections of
August, 1862, and the months that followed, are indeed vivid; the impress
is so indelibly graven on our memories that time has not effaced them.
The characters spoken of I knew personally, some for years; the locations
were familiar to me, the buildings homely as they appear, are correct in
size and in style of architecture and some of them I helped to build.
The narrative is as I would relate to you, were we at one of our "Camp
Fires." It is turning back the pages of memory, but in the mental review
it seems but yesterday that the sad events occurred.
A. P. CONNOLLY.
_A. P. Connolly_
I. General Remarks - Death of Dr. Weiser 11
II. St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1836 and 1896 - Father Hennepin. 14
III. A Pathetic Chapter - Captain Chittenden's Minnehaha. 20
IV. Origin of Indians - Captain Carver - Sitting Bull. 27
V. Fort Snelling. 33
VI. The Alarm. 38
VII. Some of the Causes of the War. 43
VIII. Little Crow at Devil's Lake. 50
IX. Fort Ridgely Besieged. 63
X. Siege of New Ulm. 67
XI. Col. Flandreau in Command. 75
XII. Mrs. Eastlick and Family. 78
XIII. The Missionaries - Their Escape. 85
XIV. The Indian Pow-wow. 87
XV. Gov. Sibley Appointed Commander. 97
XVI. March to Fort Ridgely. 103
XVII. Burial of Capt. Marsh and Men. 106
XVIII. Battle of Birch Coolie. 112
XIX. Birch Coolie Continued. 118
XX. Battle of Wood Lake. 128
XXI. Camp Release. 139
XXII. The Indian Prisoners - The Trial. 146
XXIII. Capture of Renegade Bands - Midnight March. 153
XXIV. Homeward Bound. 156
XXV. Protests - President Lincoln's Order For the Execution. 163
XXVI. The Execution - The Night Before. 169
XXVII. Squaws Take Leave of Their Husbands. 176
XXVIII. Capture and Release of Joe Brown's Indian Family. 178
XXIX. Governor Ramsey and Hole-in-the-Day. 185
XXX. Chaska - George Spencer - Chaska's Death - The "Moscow"
XXXI. The "Moscow" Expedition. 195
XXXII. Campaign of 1863 - Camp Pope. 199
XXXIII. "Forward March." 205
XXXIV. Burning Prairie - Fighting Fire. 209
XXXV. Death of Little Crow. 211
XXXVI. Little Crow, Jr. - His Capture. 218
XXXVII. Camp Atchison - George A. Brackett's Adventure - Lieutenant
Freeman's Death. 221
XXXVIII. Battle of Big Mound. 232
XXXIX. Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake. 237
XL. Battle of Stony Lake - Capture of a Teton - Death of
Lieutenant Beaver. 241
XLI. Homeward Bound. 252
XLII. The Campaign of 1864. 257
XLIII. The Battle of the Bad Lands. 261
XLIV. Conclusion. 271
GENERAL REMARKS - DEATH OF DR. WEISER.
Historians have written, orators have spoken and poets have sung of the
heroism and bravery of the great Union army and navy that from 1861 to
1865 followed the leadership of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Logan, Thomas,
McPherson, Farragut and Porter from Bull Run to Appomattox, and from
Atlanta to the sea; and after their work was done and well done, returned
to their homes to receive the plaudits of a grateful country.
More than thirty years have elapsed since these trying, melancholy
times. The question that then called the volunteer army into existence
has been settled, and the great commanders have gone to their rewards.
We bow our heads in submission to the mandate of the King of Kings,
as with sorrow and pleasure we read the grateful tributes paid to the
memories of the heroes on land and on sea, - the names made illustrious by
valorous achievements, and that have become household words, engraven on
our memories; and we think of them as comrades who await us "on fame's
eternal camping ground."
Since the war, other questions have arisen to claim our attention, and
this book treats of another momentous theme. The Indian question has
often, indeed too often, been uppermost in the minds of the people.
We have had the World's Fair, the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the
discovery of America, the recollection of which is still fresh in our
memories. Now we have politics and doubtless have passed through one of
the most exciting political campaigns of our day and generation; but,
let us take a retrospective view, and go back thirty years; look at some
of the causes leading up to the Indian war of 1862; make a campaign with
me as we march over twelve hundred miles into an almost unknown land and
defeat the Indians in several sanguinary battles, liberate four hundred
captive women and children, try, convict and hang thirty-nine Indians for
participating in the murder of thousands of unsuspecting white settlers,
and if, upon our return, you are not satisfied, I hope you will in the
kindness of your heart forgive me for taking you on this (at the time)
I will say to my comrades who campaigned solely in the South, that
my experience, both North and South, leads me to believe there is no
comparison. In the South we fought foemen worthy of our steel, - soldiers
who were manly enough to acknowledge defeat, and magnanimous enough
to respect the defeat of their opponents. Not so with the redskins.
Their tactics were of the skulking kind; their object scalps, and not
glory. They never acknowledged defeat, had no respect for a fallen
foe, and gratified their natural propensity for blood. Meeting them
in battle there was but one choice, - fight, and one result only, if
unsuccessful, - certain death. They knew what the flag of truce meant
(cessation of hostilities), but had not a proper respect for it. They
felt safe in coming to us with this time-honored symbol of protection,
because they knew we would respect it. We did not feel safe in going to
them under like circumstances, because there were those among them who
smothered every honorable impulse to gratify a spirit of revenge and
hatred. As an illustration of this I will state, that just after the
battle of the Big Mound in 1863, we met a delegation of Indians with a
flag of truce, and while the interpreter was talking to them and telling
them what the General desired, and some soldiers were giving them tobacco
and crackers, Dr. Weiser, surgeon of the Second Minnesota Cavalry, having
on his full uniform as major, tempted a villainous fellow, who thinking,
from the uniform, that it was General Sibley, our commander, jumped up,
and before his intention could be understood, shot him through the back,
killing him instantly. Treachery of this stamp does not of course apply
to all the members of all tribes and benighted people; for I suppose even
in the jungles of Africa, where tribes of black men live who have never
heard of a white man, we could find some endowed with human instincts,
who would protect those whom the fortunes of war or exploration might
cast among them. We found some Indians who were exceptions to the
alleged general rule - cruel. The battles we fought were fierce, escapes
miraculous, personal experiences wonderful and the liberation of the
captives a bright chapter in the history of events in this exciting year.
ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS IN 1836 AND 1896 - FATHER HENNEPIN.
As St. Paul, Minnesota, is our starting point, we will pause for a little
and cultivate the acquaintance of her people. The picture represents St.
Paul and Minneapolis about as we suppose they were previous to 1838,
and before a white man gazed upon the natural beauties of our great
country. In the picture you see "one of the first families," in fact it
is the first family, and a healthy, dirty-looking lot they are. They had
evidently heard that a stranger had "come to town" and the neighbors came
in to lend a hand in "receiving" the distinguished guest. The Indian kid
on the left hand, with his hair a la Paderewski, was probably playing
marbles with young Dirty-Face-Afraid-of-Soap-and-Water in the back yard,
when his mother whooped for him to come. He looks mad about it. They all
have on their Sunday clothes and are speculating as to whether it is
best to get acquainted with the forerunner of civilization or not. Their
liberties had never been abridged. The Indians came and went at will,
never dreaming that the day was approaching when civilization would force
them to "move on." As early as 1819 white people were in Minnesota, 'tis
true, but this was when Fort St. Anthony was first garrisoned.
[Illustration: One of the "First Families" of St. Paul in
Anterior to this, however, a zealous Franciscan priest, Father Hennepin,
ascended the Mississippi, by oar, impelled on by its beautiful scenery,
and in August, 1680, he stood upon the brink of the river near where Fort
Snelling now is, and erected the cross of his church and probably was the
first to proclaim to the red man the glad tidings of "Peace on earth,
good will to man." He pointed them to the cross as the emblem of liberty
from superstition, but they in their ignorance did not heed his peaceful
coming, but made him their captive, holding him thus for six months,
during which time he so completely gained their confidence as to cause
them to liberate him, and his name is still remembered reverentially by
Father Hennepin named the Falls of St. Anthony after his patron saint,
and was the first white man to look upon its beauties and listen to the
music of Minnehaha, as her crystal water rolled over the cliffs and went
rippling through the grasses and flowers on its merry way to the bosom of
the "Father of Waters."
Minnehaha, beautiful in sunshine and in shadow; in rain-shower and in
snow-storm - for ages has your laughter greeted the ear of the ardent
Indian lover. Here Hiawatha, outstripping all competitors in his
love-race, wooed his Minnehaha and in triumph carried her away to his
far-off Ojibway home. The Indians loved this spot and as they camped upon
its banks and smoked the peace pipe "as a signal to the nations," dreamed
only of peace and plenty. The Great Spirit was good to them; but the evil
day was approaching, invisible yet, then a speck on the horizon, but
the cloud grew and the "pale face" was among them. Sorrowfully they bid
farewell forever to their beautiful "Laughing Water."
In these early days it was almost beyond the comprehension of man that
two populous cities should spring up as have St. Paul and Minneapolis,
and Pierre Parrant, the first settler at St. Paul, little dreamed that
the "Twin Cities," with a population variously estimated at from 200,000
to 225,000, would greet the eye of the astonished beholder in 1896. They
sprang into existence and grew apace; they met with reverses, as all
cities do, but the indomitable energy of the men who started out to carve
for themselves a fortune, achieved their end, and their children are now
enjoying the fruits of their labor.
There is no city in America that can boast an avenue equal to Summit
avenue in St. Paul, with its many beautiful residences ranging in cost
from $25,000 to $350,000. Notably among these palatial homes is that
of James J. Hill, the railroad king of the Northwest. His is a palace
set on a hill, built in the old English style, situated on an eminence
overlooking the river and the bluffs beyond. The grounds without and
the art treasures within are equal to those of any home in our country,
and such as are found only in homes of culture where money in plenty is
always at hand to gratify every desire.
The avenue winds along the bluff, and the outlook up and down the river
calls forth exclamations of delight from those who can see beauty in our
natural American scenery. In the springtime, when the trees are in their
fresh green garb, and budding forth, and in the autumn when the days
are hazy and short, when the sere of months has painted the foliage in
variegated colors, and it begins to fall, the picture as unfolded to the
beholder standing on the bluffs is delighting, enchanting.
The urban and interurban facilities for transport from city to city
are the best in the world, and is the successful result of years of
observation and laborious effort on the part of the honorable Thomas
Lowry, the street railway magnate; and the many bridges spanning the
"Father of Waters" at either end of the line give evidence of the ability
of the business men of the two cities to compass anything within reason.
Minneapolis, the "flour city," noted for its broad streets and palatial
homes nestling among the trees; its magnificent public library building
with its well-filled shelves of book treasures; its expensive and
beautiful public buildings and business blocks; its far-famed exposition
building, and its great cluster of mammoth flouring mills that astonish
the world, are the pride of every Minnesotian. Even the "Father of
Waters" laughs as he leaps over the rocks and, winding in and out, drives
this world of machinery that grinds up wheat - not by the car-load, but
by the train-load, and - "Pillsbury's Best" - long since a national pride,
has become a familiar international brand because it can be found in
all the great marts of the world. What a transformation since 1638!
Father Hennepin, no doubt, looks down from the battlements of Heaven in
amazement at the change; and the poor Indians, who had been wont to roam
about here, unhindered, have long since, in sorrow, fled away nearer
to the setting sun; but alas! he returned and left the imprint of his
aroused savage nature.
A PATHETIC CHAPTER - CAPTAIN CHITTENDEN'S MINNEHAHA.
In August, 1862, what do we see? Homes, beautiful prairie homes of
yesterday, to-day have sunken out of sight, buried in their own ashes;
the wife of an early love has been overtaken and compelled to submit to
the unholy passion of her cruel captor; the prattling tongues of the
innocents have been silenced in sudden death, and reason dethroned. A
most pathetic case was that of Charles Nelson, a Swede. The day previous,
his dwelling had been burned to the ground, his daughter outraged, the
head of his wife, Lela, cleft by the tomahawk, and while seeking to save
himself, he saw, for a moment, his two sons, Hans and Otto, rushing
through the corn-field with the Indians in swift pursuit. Returning with
the troops under Colonel McPhail, and passing by the ruins of his home,
he gazed about him wildly, and closing the gate of the garden, asked:
"When will it be safe to return?" His reason was gone!
This pathetic scene witnessed by so many who yet live to remember it, was
made a chapter entitled, "The Maniac," in a work from the pen of Mrs.
Harriet E. McConkey, published soon after it occurred.
[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.
Minne-ha-ha Falls Before the White Man Ever Saw It.]
Captain Chittenden, of Colonel McPhail's command, while sitting a
few days after, under the Falls of Minnehaha, embodied in verse this
wonderful tragedy, giving to the world the following lines:
Minne-ha-ha, laughing water,
Cease thy laughing now for aye,
Savage hands are red with slaughter
Of the innocent to-day.
Ill accords thy sportive humor
With their last despairing wail;
While thou'rt dancing in the sunbeam,
Mangled corpses strew the vale.
Change thy note, gay Minne-ha-ha;
Let some sadder strain prevail -
Listen, while a maniac wanderer
Sighs to thee his woeful tale;
"Give me back my Lela's tresses,