A. P. (Alonzo Putnam) Connolly.

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

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Let me kiss them once again!
She, who blest me with caresses
Lies unburied on the plain!

"See yon smoke? there was my dwelling;
That is all I have of home!
Hark! I hear their fiendish yelling,
As I, houseless, childless, roam!

"Have they killed my Hans and Otto?
Did they find them in the corn?
Go and tell that savage monster
Not to slay my youngest born.

"Yonder is my new-bought reaper,
Standing mid the ripened grain;
E'en my cow asks why I leave her
Wand'ring, unmilked, o'er the plain.

"Soldiers, bury here my Lela;
Place _me_ also 'neath the sod;
Long we lived and wrought together -
Let me die with her - O God!

"Faithful Fido, you they've left me,
Can you tell me, Fido, why
God at once has thus bereft me?
All I ask is here to die.

"O, my daughter Jennie, darling!
Worse than death is Jennie's fate!"

* * * * *

Nelson, as our troops were leaving
Turned and shut his garden gate.

[Illustration: Designed by A. P. Connolly.

Father Hennepin Raised the Cross of His Church on the Bank of the
Mississippi River near where Fort Snelling now Stands in 1618.]



There is something wonderfully interesting about the origin of the
Indians. Different writers have different theories; John McIntosh, who
is an interesting and very exhaustive writer on this subject, says they
can date their origin back to the time of the flood, and that Magog,
the second son of Japhet, is the real fountain head. Our North American
Indians, however, were first heard of authentically from Father Hennepin,
who so early came among them.

At a later date, about 1766, Jonathan Carver, a British subject and a
captain in the army, made a visit of adventure to this almost unknown and
interesting country. The Sioux were then very powerful and occupied the
country about St. Anthony Falls, and west of the Mississippi, and south,
taking in a portion of what now is the State of Iowa.

The country to the north and northeast was owned by the Chippewas. The
Sioux then, as later, were a very war-like nation, and at the time of
Captain Carver's advent among them were at war with the Chippewas,
their hated foes. Captain Carver came among them as a peace-maker; his
diplomacy and genial spirit prevailed, and the hatchet was buried. For
these good offices, the Indians ceded to him a large tract of land,
extending from the Falls of St. Anthony to the foot of Lake Pipin;
thence east one hundred miles; thence north and west to the place of
beginning - a most magnificent domain, truly, and which in Europe would
call for nothing less than a king to supervise its destinies.

A writer, Hon. W. S. Bryant, of St. Paul, Minnesota, on this subject,
says: "That at a later period, after Captain Carver's death, congress
was petitioned by others than his heirs, to confirm the Indian deed,
and among the papers produced in support of the claim, was a copy of an
instrument purporting to have been executed at Lake Traverse, on the
17th day of February, 1821, by four Indians who called themselves chiefs
and warriors of the Uandowessies - the Sioux. They declare that their
fathers did grant to Captain Jonathan Carver this vast tract of land and
that there is among their people a traditional record of the same. This
writing is signed by Ouekien Tangah, Tashachpi Tainche, Kache Noberie and
Petite Corbeau (Little Crow)." This "Petite" is undoubtedly the father of
Little Crow, who figures in this narrative as the leader in the massacre.

Captain Carver's claim has never been recognized, although the instrument
transferring this large tract of land to him by the Indians was in
existence and in St. Paul less than twenty-five years ago. It has since
been destroyed and the possessors of these valuable acres can rest
themselves in peace.

In 1862 the red man's ambition was inflamed, and in his desire to
repossess himself of his lost patrimony, he seeks redress of his wrongs
in bloody war. Fort Snelling at the junction of the Mississippi and
Minnesota rivers was the rallying point for the soldiers and we produce a
picture of it as it appeared then and give something of its history from
its first establishment up to date.

The great Sioux or Dakotah nation at one time embraced the Uncapapas,
Assinaboines, Mandans, Crows, Winnebagoes, Osages, Kansas, Kappaws,
Ottoes, Missourias, Iowas, Omahas, Poncas, Nez Perces, Arrickarees,
Minnetarees, Arkansas, Tetons, Yanktons, Yanktonais, and the Pawnees. It
was a most powerful nation and under favorable conditions could withstand
the encroachments of our modern civilization. The Ahahaways and Unktokas
are spoken of as two lost tribes. The Unktokas are said to have lived
in "Wiskonsan," south of the St. Croix and were supposed to have been
destroyed by the Iowas about the commencement of the present century.
The Ahahaways, a branch of the Crows, lived on the Upper Missouri, but
were lost - annihilated by disease, natural causes and war. The Uncapapa
tribe were from the Missouri, and Sitting Bull, whose picture appears,
although not an hereditary chief, was a strong man among them. He was for
a time their Medicine Man and counselor. He was shrewd and a forceful
diplomat; he was a pronounced hater of the whites, and has earned
notoriety throughout the country as the leader of five thousand warriors,
who annihilated General Custer and his command at the Little Big Horn
in 1876. After the massacre, this huge Indian camp was broken up, and
Bull, with more than one thousand warriors retreated into the British
possessions, from whence he made frequent raids upon American soil. His
band constantly suffered depletion until, in the summer of 1881, he had
but one hundred and sixty followers remaining. These he surrendered to
Lieutenant-Colonel Brotherton, at Fort Buford, and with them was sent as
a prisoner to Fort Randall, Dakota. He was married four times, and had a
large family. He was not engaged in the Sioux war of 1862, but being a
chief of that nation and an important Indian character, I introduce him.
He has gone to the happy hunting ground, some years since, through the
treachery of the Indian police, who were sent out to capture him.

[Illustration: Sitting Bull,

The Chief in Command at the Custer Battle of the Little Big Horn in




On the 10th of February, 1819, John C. Calhoun, then secretary of war,
issued an order for the Fifth regiment of infantry to rendezvous at
Detroit, preparatory to proceeding to the Mississippi to garrison or
establish military posts, and the headquarters of the regiment was
directed to be at the fort to be located at the mouth of the Minnesota

It was not until the 17th of September that Lieutenant-Colonel
Leavenworth, with a detachment of troops, reached this point. A
cantonment was first established at New Hope, near Mendota, and not far
from the ferry. During the winter of 1819-20, forty soldiers died from

On the 5th of May, 1819, Colonel Leavenworth crossed the river and
established a summer camp, but his relations with the Indian agent were
not as harmonious as they might have been, and Colonel Josiah Snelling
arrived and relieved him. On the 10th of September, the cornerstone of
Fort St. Anthony was laid; the barracks at first were of logs.

During the summer of 1820 a party of Sisseton Sioux killed on the
Missouri Isadore Poupon, a half-breed, and Joseph Andrews, a Canadian,
two men in the employ of the fur company. As soon as the information
reached the agent, Major Taliaferro, trade with the Sioux was interdicted
until the guilty were surrendered. Finding that they were deprived of
blankets, powder and tobacco, a council was held at Big Stone Lake, and
one of the murderers, and the aged father of another, agreed to go down
and surrender themselves.

On the 12th of November, escorted by friends and relatives, they
approached the post. Halting for a brief period, they formed and marched
in solemn procession to the center of the parade ground. In the advance
was a Sisseton, bearing a British flag; next came the murderer, and the
old man who had offered himself as an atonement for his son, their arms
pinioned, and large wooden splinters thrust through the flesh above the
elbow, indicating their contempt for pain; and in the rear followed
friends chanting the death-song. After burning the British flag in front
of the sentinels of the fort, they formally delivered the prisoners. The
murderer was sent under guard to St. Louis, and the old man detained as a

The first white women in Minnesota were the wives of the officers of
Fort St. Anthony. The first steamer to arrive at the new fort was the
Virginia, commanded by Captain Crawford. The event was so notable that
she was greeted by a salute from the fort.

In 1824, General Scott, on a tour of inspection, visited Fort St.
Anthony, and suggested that the name be changed to Fort Snelling, in
honor of Colonel Snelling, its first commander. Upon this suggestion of
General Scott and for the reason assigned, the war department made the
change and historic Fort Snelling took its place among the defenses of
the nation; and from this date up to 1861, was garrisoned by regulars,
who were quartered here to keep in check the Indians who were ever on the
alert for an excuse to avenge themselves on the white settlers.

[Illustration: Fort Snelling in 1865.]

Author's Note.

When visiting Fort Snelling during the occasion of the holding of the
National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in St. Paul in
September, 1896, I found such a change.

The old stone quarters for the use of the rank and file during the
war days were there, it is true, but are being used for purposes
other than accommodating the soldiers. I found my old squad room, but
the old associations were gone; the memories of the war days crowded
upon me, and I thought of the boys whose names and faces I remembered
well, but they are dead and scattered over the land. Some few were
there, and we went over our war history, and in the recital, recalled
the names of our comrades who have been finally "mustered out" and
have gone beyond the river.

The present commandant of the beautiful new fort is Colonel John
H. Page of the Third United States Infantry. This officer has been
continuously in the service since April, 1861. He was a private
in Company A, First Illinois Artillery, and went through all the
campaigning of this command until the close of the war, when he
received an appointment in the Regular Establishment, and as Captain
was placed on recruiting service in Chicago.

His advancement in his regiment has been phenomenal, and to be called
to the command of a regiment of so renowned a record as has the Third
Infantry, is an honor to any man, no matter where he won his spurs.

Colonel Page is a Comrade of U. S. Grant Post No. 28, Grand Army of
the Republic, Department of Illinois, and is also a Companion of the
Loyal Legion. He has an interesting family who live with him in the
enjoyment of his well-earned laurels.

In 1861, and from that to 1866, the scene underwent a wondrous change,
and volunteers instead of regulars became its occupants. All the
Minnesota volunteers rendezvoused here preparatory to taking the field.
Some years after the war the department determined to make this historic
place one of the permanent forts, and commenced a series of improvements.
Now it is one of the finest within the boundary of our country, and
we find the grounds, 1,500 acres in extent, beautifully laid out, and
extensive buildings with all the modern improvements erected for the
accommodation of Uncle Sam's soldiers.

The present post structures consist of an executive building, 93x64 feet,
of Milwaukee brick, two stories and a basement, heated by furnaces and
with good water supply. It contains offices for the commanding general
and department staff. The officers' quarters: a row of thirteen brick
buildings with all the modern improvements, hot and cold water, and a
frame stable for each building. Minnesota Row: Six double one-story frame
buildings, affording twelve sets of quarters for clerks and employes.
Brick Row: A two-story brick building, 123x31 feet, with cellars, having
sixteen suites of two rooms each, for unmarried general service clerks
and employes. Quartermaster's employes have a one-story brick building,
147x30 feet, containing eight sets of quarters of two rooms each, also
a mess-house, one story brick, 58x25 feet, containing a kitchen and
dining room, with cellar 30x12 feet. Engineer's quarters, school house,
quartermaster's corrals, brick stables, blacksmith shops, frame carriage
house, granary and hay-house, ice house, etc., good water works, sewer
system, and electric lights.



The Indians! The Indians are coming!

How the cry rang out and struck terror to the hearts of the bravest. It
brought to mind the stories of early days, of this great Republic, when
the east was but sparsely settled, and the great west an unknown country,
with the Indian monarch of all he surveyed. The vast prairies, with their
great herds of buffalo were like the trackless seas; the waving forests,
dark and limitless; mountain ranges - the Alleghanies, the Rockies and the
Sierra Nevadas, towering above the clouds; the countless lakes - fresh and
salt, hot and cold; the great inland seas; the gigantic water falls, and
the laughing waters; the immense rivers, little rivulets at the mountain
source, accumulating as they flowed on in their immensity, as silently
and sullenly they wend their way to the sea; the rocky glens and great
canyons, the wonder of all the world. It was in the early day of our
Republic, when the hardy pioneer took his little family and out in the
wilderness sought a new home; a time when the Indian, jealous of the
white man's encroachment, and possessor by right of previous occupation,
of this limitless, rich and wonderful empire, when great and powerful
Indian nations - The Delawares, the Hurons, the Floridas, and other tribes
in their native splendor and independence, said to the pale face, "Thus
far shalt thou go, and no farther." The terror-stricken people were
obliged to flee to places of safety, or succumb to the tomahawk; and on
throughout the Seminole, the Black Hawk and other wars, including the
great Minnesota Massacre of 1862.

[Illustration: Squad Room at Fort Snelling.]

Reader accompany me. The atmosphere is surcharged with excitement, and
the whole country is terror-stricken. The southland is drenched in blood,
and the earth trembles under the tread of marching thousands.

The eyes of the nation are turned in that direction, and the whole
civilized world is interested in the greatest civil war of the world's
history. The levies from the states are enormous, and the stalwarts, by
regiments and brigades, respond to the call for "Six Hundred Thousand

The loyal people of the frontier have long since ceased to look upon the
Indians as enemies, and tearfully urge their husbands and sons to rally
to the colors in the South. What is taking place in the land of the

Their empire is fading away, their power is on the wane, their game is
scarce, and they look with disgust and disfavor upon their unnatural
environments. In poetry and in prose we have read of them in their
natural way of living. They have been wronged; their vast empire has
slipped away from them; they laugh, they scowl and run from tribe to
tribe; they have put on the war-paint and broken the pipe of peace; with
brandishing tomahawk and glistening scalping knife they are on the trail
of the innocent.

"Turn out, the regulars are coming!" were the ringing words of Paul
Revere, as he, in mad haste, on April 18, 1775, on foaming steed, rode
through the lowlands of Middlesex; so, too, are the unsuspecting people
in Minnesota aroused by the cry of a courier, who, riding along at a
break-neck speed shouts: "The Indians, the Indians are coming!" All
nature is aglow; the sun rises from his eastern bed and spreads his warm,
benign rays over this prairie land, and its happy occupants, as this
terrific sound rings out on the morning air, are aroused and the cry:
"Come over and help us" from the affrighted families, as they forsake
their homes and flee for their lives, speeds on its way to ears that
listen and heed their earnest, heart-piercing not, of despair, for the
"Boys in Blue" respond.

The people had been warned by friendly Indians that the fire brands
would soon be applied; and that once started, none could tell where it
would end. They were implored to take heed and prepare for the worst;
but unsuspecting, they had been so long among their Indian friends, they
could not believe that treachery would bury all feelings of friendship;
but alas! thousands were slain.

Go with me into their country and witness the sad results of a misguided
people, and note how there was a division in their camp. The hot young
bloods, ever ready for adventure and bloody adventure at that, had
dragged their nation into an unnecessary war and the older men and
conservative men with sorrowful hearts counselled together how best to
extricate themselves and protect the lives of those who were prisoners
among them. The campaign of 1862 is on.



Lo! the poor Indian, has absorbed much of the people's attention and vast
sums of Uncle Sam's money; and being a participant in the great Sioux war
of 1862, what I write deals with facts and not fiction, as we progress
from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to "Camp Release," where we found and
released over four hundred white captives. But I will digress for a time
and look into the causes leading up to this cruel Sioux war that cost so
many lives and so much treasure. There is a great diversity of opinion on
this question, and while not particularly in love with the Indian, I have
not the temerity to criticise the Almighty because he puts his impress
white upon some, and red upon others; neither shall I sit in judgment
and say there are no good Indians - except dead ones. The Indian question
proper is of too great a magnitude to analyze and treat with intelligence
in this little book; but in the abstract, and before we enter upon the
active campaign against them, let us look at it and see if the blame
does not to a great extent rest more with the government than it does
with these people. The Indians came from we know not where - legends have
been written and tradition mentions them as among the earliest known
possessors of this great western world. The biologist speculates, and
it is a matter of grave doubt as to their origin. Certain it is, that
as far back as the time of Columbus they were found here, and we read
nothing in the early history of the voyages of this wonderful navigator
to convince us that the Indians were treacherous; - indeed we would
rather incline to the opposite opinion. The racial war began with the
conquest of the Spaniards. In their primitive condition, the Indians were
possessed of a harmless superstition - they knew no one but of their kind;
knew nothing of another world; knew nothing of any other continent in
this world. When they discovered the white men and the ships with their
sails spread, they looked upon the former as supernatural beings and the
ships as great monsters with wings. Civilization and the Indian nature
are incompatible and evidences of this were soon apparent. The ways of
the Europeans were of course unknown to them. They were innocent of the
white man's avaricious propensities and the practice of "give and take"
(and generally more take than give) was early inaugurated by the sailors
of Columbus and the nefarious practice has been played by a certain class
of Americans ever since. Soon their suspicions were aroused and friendly
intercourse gave place to wars of extermination. The Indian began to
look upon the white man as his natural enemy; fighting ensued; tribes
became extinct; territory was ceded, and abandoned. Soon after American
Independence had been declared, the Indians became the wards of the
nation. The government, instead of treating them as wards and children,
has uniformly allowed them to settle their own disputes in their own
peculiar and savage way, and has looked upon the bloody feuds among
the different tribes much as Plug Uglies and Thugs do a disreputable
slugging match or dog-fight. A writer says:

"If they are wards of the nation, why not take them under the strong arm
of the law and deal with them as with others who break the law? Make an
effort to civilize, and if civilization exterminates them it will be an
honorable death, - to the nation at least. Send missionaries among them
instead of thieving traders; implements of peace, rather than weapons
of war; Bibles instead of scalping knives; religious tracts instead of
war paint; make an effort to Christianize instead of encouraging them in
their savagery and laziness; such a course would receive the commendation
and acquiescence of the Christian world."

There is not a sensible, unprejudiced man in America to-day, who gives
the matter thought, but knows that the broken treaties and dishonest
dealing with the Indians are a disgrace to this nation; and the impress
of injustice is deeply and justly engraven upon the savage mind. The
lesson taught by observation was that lying was no disgrace, adultery
no sin, and theft no crime. This they learned from educated white men
who had been sent to them as the representatives of the government; and
these educated gentlemen (?) looked upon the Indian as common property,
and to filch him of his money by dishonest practices, a pleasant pastime.
The Indian woman did not escape his lecherous eye and if his base
proposals were rejected, he had other means to resort to to enable him to
accomplish his base desire. These wards were only Indians and why respect
their feelings? "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." The whirlwind came
and oh, the sad results!

The Indians were circumscribed in their hunting grounds by the onward
march of civilization which crowded them on every side and their only
possible hope from starvation, was in the fidelity with which a great
nation kept its pledges. 'Tis true, money was appropriated by the
government for this purpose, but it is equally true that gamblers and
thieving traders set up fictitious claims and the Indians came out in
debt and their poor families were left to starve. Hungry, exasperated and
utterly powerless to help themselves, they resolved on savage vengeance
when the propitious time arrived.

"The villainy you teach me I will execute," became a living, bloody
issue. This did not apply alone to the Sioux nation, but to the Chippewas
as well. These people have always been friends of the whites, and have
uniformly counselled peace; but broken pledges and impositions filled the
friendly ones with sorrow, and the others with anger. The commissioners,
no doubt, rectified the wrong as soon as it was brought to their notice,
but the Indians were plucked all the same and had sense enough to know
it. Our country is cursed with politicians - the statesmen seem to have
disappeared; but, the politician grows like rank weeds and the desire for
"boodle" permeates our municipal, state and national affairs. Our Indian
system has presented a fat field so long as these wards of the nation
submitted to being fleeced by unprincipled agents and their gambling
friends, but at last, the poor Indian is aroused to the enormity of the
imposition and the innocent whites had to suffer. In some instances the
vengeance of God followed the unscrupulous agent and the scalping knife
in the hand of the injured Indian was made the instrument whereby this
retribution came.

There has been a great deal said of Indian warriors - we have read of them
in poetry and in prose and of the beautiful Indian maiden as well. The
Sioux warriors are tall, athletic, fine looking men, and those who have
not been degraded by the earlier and rougher frontier white man, or had
their intellects destroyed by the white man's fire-water, possess minds
of a high order and can reason with a correctness that would astonish
our best scholars and put to blush many of our so-called statesmen, and
entirely put to rout a majority of the men who, by the grace of men's

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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 2 of 13)