A. P. (Alonzo Putnam) Connolly.

A Thrilling Narrative of the Minnesota Massacre and the Sioux War of 1862-63 online

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Minnesota was reached on December 29th, 1863. During the trip the command
encountered severe storms and the thermometer at times fell to 40 degrees
below zero - but thirteen dollars a month in depreciated currency was a
fair compensation.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Camp Pope.

Where the troops assembled for the campaign of 1863.]



In October, 1862, General John Pope had informed General Halleck that
five Minnesota regiments could be sent south by November 1, but local
influences were at work to prevent the transfer of troops, as it seemed
very likely that hostilities would be renewed by the Indians again in the
spring, and the demand that the State should be fully protected against
these roving bands was acceded to, and orders were forthwith issued to
the various companies to proceed at once to points designated on the
frontier and go into winter quarters. Rumors were afloat at all times,
but there really was no danger, and the soldiers had little to do but
attend to a light guard duty and while away the tedious hours as best
they could. The campaign of 1863 was planned by General John Pope, and
General H. H. Sibley, who was in command of the district of Minnesota,
with headquarters at St. Paul, was selected to command the Minnesota
column, and General Alfred Sully to command the column that was to
proceed up the west bank of the Missouri.

These two columns were to co-operate for the final extinction of the
Indians; but the low water of the Missouri prevented the plan from being
carried out.

The rendezvous of the Sibley column was at a point near the mouth of the
Red Wood River, and twenty-five miles above Fort Ridgely. The forces
comprising the expedition organizing at this point were the Sixth, the
Seventh and the Tenth Regiments of Minnesota Infantry, under Colonels
William Crooks, William R. Marshall and James H. Baker; eight pieces of
artillery, under command of Captain John Jones; the Mounted Rangers,
under Colonel McPhail; Indian scouts and other small detachments, which
brought the force up to 3,052 infantry, 800 cavalry and 146 artillerymen.

The camp, named in honor of General John Pope, then in command of the
Department of the Northwest, was situated at the mouth of Red Wood
River, in the vicinity of the place where the outbreak was inaugurated.
The various regiments, composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery,
rendezvoused here. Colonel William Crooks, of the Sixth Minnesota, was
in temporary command, and soon after the troops began to assemble, guard
mount, company and regimental drills were the order of the day.

The land upon which we were encamped was a perfect level, and in order
to attain better discipline, and instruct the men in works of defense,
a complete system of sod breastworks and bastions were erected about
the camp, of sufficient width to admit of the sentinels being placed on
the top of them. It was really a magnificent piece of engineering and
reflected credit on the officer in command. The sentinels were instructed
to "walk the beat" all in the same direction, turn about at the same time
and retrace their steps, so that an enemy could not creep in between
them. This was done to instruct the men in guard duty and keep them out
of mischief, for there really was no danger.

On the 9th day of June, 1863, the monotony of the camp was relieved
by the arrival of General Sibley and his staff. This official family
consisted of Captain R. C. Olin, A. A. G.; Captain Forbes, brigade
commissary; Captain Atchinson, ordnance officer; Captain Edward L.
Corning, brigade commissary; Captain Kimball, A. Q. M.; First Lieutenants
Douglas Pope, F. J. H. Beaver, Joseph R. Putnam and Charles H. Flandreau,
aides-de-camp, and Rev. S. R. Riggs, brigade chaplain.

The cannon, placed across the river on the high bluff, boomed forth the
intelligence that the cavalcade of brilliantly uniformed officers was
approaching, and the General doffed his hat in salute as he rode down
the long line of soldiers who stood at "present arms." General Henry H.
Sibley, who had gained the confidence and universal respect and love of
the soldiers, was again with us.

Soon after his arrival he received the sad intelligence of a beloved
daughter's death. But the responsibilities resting upon him would not
admit of days of mourning; there was no time for communion with grief;
the needs of the hour reminded him of his duty.

While lying at Camp Pope, General Sibley heard that a party of Indians
were on their way down to the settlements, and would cross Red Wood River
at a certain point the next night. He at once gave orders that my own
company, the one that had sustained such losses at Birch Coolie, should
proceed at once to watch for and intercept this band. We received the
orders at midnight, and with three days' rations, and sixty rounds of
ammunition, started out on our mission in charge of First Lieutenant
Harry J. Gillhams. We had no doctor with us; no team; not even an
ambulance. I never thought our General knew of this, for he was a very
careful man, and the question with me was: "If we are attacked and meet
with losses in killed or wounded what shall we do with them in the
absence of any means of transportation?"

We arrived at the point designated the next day about noon and halted.
There was no going into camp, for we had no tents. We simply halted and
waited for night and Indians. I was in hopes that the Indians would
not come, and I got my wish. There were others hoping they would come,
and among those most desirous for them to make their appearance were
our three full blooded Indian soldiers we had captured, and who were
present at the various battles the year before. One of them, Joe Alord, a
powerful fellow, claimed to have a grudge against his own people. He said
they had always treated him badly, and he wanted to fight them, but I was
a little suspicious of him - did not think him sincere. This Alord formed
a strong attachment for me, which endured until he was finally mustered
out. He went south with us and stood the climate, and proved himself a
faithful soldier. I at one time saved him from death by his own hands. He
had been punished by the Colonel for an offense of which he said he was
not guilty. I think myself he had been imposed upon, like "Old Dog Tray,"
by getting into bad company. The Colonel, as a punishment, ordered him to
parade up and down the square with a bag of sand on his back. This was
galling to the Indian, and calling me to one side, he said: "Sergeant, me
kill me mine self; me kill me mine self!"

I tried to persuade him from his purpose, but he seemed determined to
carry out his threat, and I watched him closely. I could see he was very
much aggrieved, for to him the humiliation was galling.

He grabbed a bayonet, and putting it to his breast, attempted to throw
the weight of his body and thus push it through him. I jumped and kicked
it from under him just in time and then put him in a cell until he became
more reconciled. Soon after the close of the war he enlisted in the
regular cavalry, but one morning he was missing. He had deserted, taking
his horse and all his equipments with him; and although he was posted as
a deserter, he was not heard of for many months.

When heard from it was to the effect that he had gone back to the
Indians, taking the horse and all plunder with him. The old grudge
against him was rekindled and intensified on account of the course he
pursued against his people during the Sioux war, and some of the young
bucks, engaging him in a controversy, it resulted in his death.

The Indian soldier Miller was inclined to be pious. He served until the
close of the war, and afterwards was caught on the prairie in a severe
thunder storm, from which he took refuge in a barn, which was struck by
lightning and he was killed. The third was named Walker. At the outbreak
he was home on vacation from Bishop Whipple's school at Faribault, Minn.,
and was taken prisoner. I have referred to these Indian soldiers once
before. Walker was quite well educated and now lives near St. Paul.

These three Indian boys were with us on this midnight expedition, and I
felt they would bear watching, because I could not make up my mind to the
fact that they should want to so suddenly turn against their own people.
About midnight the second night an incident happened that gave us some
alarm for a little while. We were all on duty watching and listening
for Indians. You have heard about the burnt child dreading the fire.
Well, we had been seriously burnt at Birch Coolie, and did not relish
another taste of the same sort of fire, and it is not astonishing under
such circumstances how many Indian sounds there are to the square foot.
Every minute some of us heard an Indian sound, and all at once Joe Alord
skipped out in the darkness, and immediately he was followed by Miller.
I at once thought it was treachery, and the same opinion prevailed among
nearly all the boys. I was but a sergeant then and of course could not
assume supreme authority. If I had been in command I should have held
the remaining one as a hostage. He wanted to go after the other two and
gained the consent of the lieutenant to do so, and away he went out in
the darkness. I expected soon to hear the crack of the rifle, for I felt
satisfied that they had proved false to us. After they were gone half an
hour and returned to our lines with the news that the noise they heard
was not Indians we all felt relieved.

But the half hour was an anxious one, and we were rejoiced to have them
return. The Indians we were sent out to intercept did not appear, and the
next day our little expedition returned to camp.



On the 16th day of June, 1863, with the thermometer 100 degrees in the
shade, all things being in readiness, the column took up the line of
march into the almost unexplored region of Dakota Territory.

This invading army was composed of nearly five thousand men, with a
pontoon train, and an adequate ammunition and commissary train composed
of 225 four- and six-mule teams; and these, with the troops, really
made a formidable army. The big train, five miles long, was necessary,
because the expedition was headed for an unknown and hostile country,
and expected to traverse a territory totally devoid of vegetables of any
sort, and game would probably be very scarce.

The force was well organized, and the appearance of the train alone would
awe the whole Sioux nation. It was a season of drouth such as was never
before known in the West. The prairies were literally parched up with the
heat, the grass was burned up, and the sloughs and little streams were
dry. The fierce prairie winds were like the hot siroccos of the desert,
and great clouds of dust, raised by the immense column, could be seen for
miles and were viewed in wonder. We suffered from the heat, the dust and
the weight of our knapsacks, gun and equipments, for the first day. The
second day was as hot and dry, but the knapsacks were much lighter. Any
one, even at this late date and so far removed from the days of the war,
who thinks that a soldier's life is an easy one, that war is a picnic, is
not endowed with common "horse sense." And yet there are those who thus
express themselves.

The trains were soon being relieved of a part of their load by us drawing
rations, and we had transportation to carry our individual loads.

I cannot in the few pages allotted me follow the daily march of General
Sibley and his hosts; but will, after a hard day's march of eighteen
prairie miles (twenty-five in God's country), with heavy knapsacks, halt,
stack arms, pitch our tents and direct letters from


for such it was named, in honor of our commander.

The General had decided to observe Sunday as a day of rest, deeming it
necessary for the welfare of man and beast. There is no doubt but better
service was rendered for so doing, and General Sibley was honored for
this proper respect shown the Lord's day.

The several camps were named after the officers in the command,
the senior officers taking precedence; first, the colonels, then
lieutenant-colonels, etc., etc. Nothing of an unusual nature other than
a prairie fire occurred until we reached camp Atchison, where the forces
were divided, and this will be the subject of a future chapter.

[Illustration: PRAIRIE ON FIRE.]



We started out on an exploring expedition to hunt Indians when we left
Camp Pope. On the prairies there are enemies of various sorts - Indians,
dust, heat and fire. The latter is a most formidable weapon with the
Indian if the grass is plentiful and the weather dry, and they can use it
to great advantage if the attacking party is not cool headed.

Our sentinels were always instructed to report fire at once, no matter
how far off it might appear to be. This enemy came in good time - it
appeared one night when there was a high wind.

The flames spread, becoming one vast sheet, sweeping over the prairies - a
very roaring cataract of fire, the billows of which reached to the
clouds. Coming on at this rapid, relentless rate, it would envelop and
destroy the whole command.

To arms! to arms! we are called, by bugle and by drum, and in face of
this enemy, at a "double quick," we march out to meet it. In case of fire
the animals are frenzied, and it was a question at one time whether there
would not be a stampede.

The only way to conquer this sort of an enemy is to fight fire with
fire, and this is done by burning away from you; so we started our fire,
and as it burned away from us, we took possession of the burnt area as
the fire demon in the rear came roaring on to consume us in his hot
embrace. The red flames roared on high, the dense smoke obscured the moon
and the stars, the atmosphere was stifling and thick with coal black
dust, and the roar, as the fire fiend rolled on towards us, would have
struck terror to the stoutest heart did we not know that his fury would
soon be spent.



We will halt the column for a little and hunt in another direction for
Little Crow. He had not been captured and would not surrender after the
battle of Wood Lake in 1862. Carried away with the idea that he would
receive proper recognition and the confidence of the Indians he started
away towards the British dominions. Devil's Lake was always a favorite
"summer resort" for the Indians, and perhaps we can find him there.

In the State of Dakota, nearly five hundred miles west from St. Paul,
Minn., is the celebrated Minnewakan, or Devil's Lake. It is about
sixty-five miles in length, and its waters are as salt as are those of
the ocean. The immediate shores are part timber and part prairie; but a
mile beyond, the country is one vast rolling prairie, destitute of trees,
and dotted over with little lakes of salt water. This inland sea is a
romantic place, and is well filled with fish, and game quite plentifully
can be found there. Among other things are sea gulls and swan. The shore
of the lake is covered with petrified wood, and the bones of fishes and
animals are in abundance.

To this neighborhood Little Crow and his followers, after the defeat
at Wood Lake, Minn., wended their way and encamped, where they were
joined by nearly all the Minnesota Sioux who had not surrendered or
been captured. There were in all about 4,000 souls, and among them were
Yanktonais. During the winter the chief sent out runners with messages
and presents to many of the Western tribes, and endeavored to enlist them
as allies in a general war.

About the first of June Little Crow went to St. Joseph and Fort Garry to
gain recognition from the British, as well as to obtain ammunition, but
both were refused him.

When at St. Joseph Little Crow had on a black coat with velvet collar,
a lady's fine shawl adorned his head, and another was knotted around
his waist. He had discarded his rifle, and carried a pistol instead,
which latter was one of his trophies from the last summer's raid. He had
learned of the deportation of his friends to the Missouri, of which the
white residents there had as yet received no information. Crow received
the news in advance from an Indian who had outstripped the regular mail.
He and sixty of his braves had a war dance, after which he made a speech,
in which he said that he considered himself as good as dead, but that he
still had plenty of warriors upon whom he could rely, and would not be
caught during the summer. He failed to get the recognition he thought
he was entitled to as commander-in-chief of the Sioux army then in the
field. It is a little strange that he could not be recognized, when
cannibal kings from the islands of the sea can get recognition, and the
devotees of royalty will tumble over each other to pay their respects to
a lecherous, murderous Turk.

Being disappointed in this, he made up his mind to slip through the
cordon of posts that had been established for the protection of the
people, and while General Sibley with his army was hunting for him
away towards the Missouri, he would, single-handed and alone, go horse
stealing down in the settlements.

Alas! How are the mighty fallen! From a commander-in-chief, seeking
recognition of a foreign nation, he at once becomes a vagabond horse

His son, Crow, Jr., was his only confidant, and to him he said:

"I am getting old and cannot fight the white men, but will go below,
steal horses from them for you children, so you may be comfortable, and
then I can go away where they cannot catch me."

The whole party that went with the fallen chief numbered sixteen men and
one squaw.

Crow, Jr., whose Indian name was Wa-wi-nap-a (one who appeareth),
was with his father near Hutchinson, Minn., picking berries to "stay
their stomachs," when they were discovered by a Mr. Lamson and his son
Chauncey. This was Friday evening, July 3, 1863, and the skirmish that
followed between Crow, his son, and the Lamsons prevented the Sioux chief
from celebrating the Fourth of July in any sort of patriotic manner, for
two shots from the trusty rifle of Mr. Lamson sent Crow's soul on its
eternal mission to the happy hunting ground of his fathers. Mr. Lamson
and his son were out in the country and they saw two Indians picking
berries in an "opening" in the woods. The Indians did not discover the
white men, who were taking aim at them. Mr. Lamson had crept cautiously
forward among the vines and rested his gun against a tree and fired. His
first shot took effect, but not a deadly one, as evinced by the loud
yell of his victim, who fell to the ground severely wounded.

With prudence and caution Mr. Lamson retreated a short distance, where he
could obtain shelter from behind some bushes.

The wounded Indian, not to be foiled, crept after him, and thus they were
brought face to face. Another shot from the white man and the Indian was
dead. His companions, his own son and another Indian, mounted a horse and

The Indian's shot, however, had not gone amiss, for it lodged in Mr.
Lamson's shoulder, and he being some distance from his son, was supposed
by him to be killed. The son returned to town to give the alarm. A quick
response brought men to the scene of conflict, where they found the dead
Indian, but Mr. Lamson was missing. A singular thing about it was that
Crow was laid out, his head resting on his rolled-up coat, and he had a
new pair of moccasins on. It would appear as though his son returned to
make sure of his father's death, and finding him dead, he performed this
last deed.[A]

[Footnote A: Brown's Valley, Minn., Nov. 30. - Nathan Lamson, the man who,
during the Indian outbreak in Minnesota in 1862, killed Little Crow, the
famous Sioux chieftain, died to-day on his farm across the line in South
Dakota, aged 96. - [Chicago Times-Herald, Dec. 1, 1896.]

Mr. Lamson's wound was a severe one, but he made his way back to his
home, which he reached about two o'clock the next morning. Little Crow's
body was brought to town, and the coat he had on was recognized as
belonging to a man who had been found murdered some weeks before.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Mr. Lamson Shooting Little Crow near Hutchinson, Minn., in August,

The body of this murderous old chief, after it lay in state on the ground
for a day or two, was dumped into an unhonored grave, and no tears of
regret were shed for him. While this was being done down in Minnesota, a
military train five miles long was in pursuit of him up in Dakota; and
the news did not reach General Sibley for two weeks. The description
given of this Indian was so accurate that the General said it was no
other than Little Crow. This again was corroborated by his son, who was
some weeks after captured in a starving condition.

Thus ended the ignominious life of Little Crow, the great Sioux chief who
had influenced his people to believe that the time had come for them to
reclaim their lost empire.



After the death of Crow, senior, as narrated in the preceding chapter,
his son and heir, Wo-wi-nap-a, becomes an important character in this
chapter, and we will follow him and hear what he has to say about his
father's death.

When he was satisfied that his father was dead he started off he knew not
where. He was a fugitive, a miserable creature, bereft of home, country
and parents - a human being without a country, but with a soul - in a land
where every hand was raised against him; a fugitive from an enraged white
people because of the sins of his father. He hid by day and travelled by
night until beyond the white settlements. He was captured by a company
of soldiers who were out hunting Indians in the region of Devil's Lake,
Dakota. When captured he was in a starving condition and glad to get even
among Uncle Sam's soldiers. He was questioned as to his father and where
he had been. He said:

"I am the son of Little Crow; my name is Wo-wi-nap-a, and I am sixteen
years old. Father said he was getting old and wanted me to go with him
to carry his bundles. He left his wives and other children behind. There
were sixteen men and one squaw in the party that went below with us. We
had no horses, but walked all the way down to the settlements. Father and
I were picking red berries near Scattered Lake at the time he was shot.
It was near night. He was hit the first time in the side, just above the
hip. His gun and mine were lying on the ground. He took up my gun and
fired it first, and then fired his own. He was shot the second time while
firing his own gun. The ball struck the stock of the gun and then hit him
in the side near the shoulder. This was the shot that killed him. He told
me that he was killed and asked me for water, which I gave him. He died
immediately after. When I heard the first shot fired I laid down and the
man did not see me before father was killed.

"A short time before father was killed an Indian named Hi-a-ka, who
married the daughter of my father's second wife, came to him. He had a
horse with him, also a gray-colored blanket that he had taken from a man
whom he had killed, to the north of where father was killed. He gave the
coat to my father, telling him that he would need it when it rained, as
he had no coat with him. Hi-a-ka said he had a horse now and was going
north. He further said that the Indians who went down with them had
separated, and he had not seen them since."

After the death of his father Young Crow took both guns and started for
Devil's Lake. He had no ammunition, but found a cartridge and cut it into
slugs. With this he shot a wolf and ate some of it. His strength gave
out, and twenty-six days after his father was killed he was captured.

The old chief was a great wooer of the fair sex, for his son said of him:

"My father had two wives before he took my mother; the first one had one
son, the second a son and daughter; the third wife was my mother. After
taking my mother he put away the first two; he had seven children by my
mother; six are dead; I am the only one living now; the fourth wife had
four children born; do not know whether any died or not; two were boys,
two were girls; the fifth wife had five children; three of them are dead,
two are living; the sixth wife had three children; all of them are dead;
the oldest was a boy, the other two were girls; the last four wives were

This young savage was cared for and finally sent away to the reservation.

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Online LibraryA. P. (Alonzo Putnam) ConnollyA Thrilling Narrative of the Minnesota Massacre and the Sioux War of 1862-63 → online text (page 10 of 13)