and learning from his scouts that Colonel Sibley was on his way with
two regiments to relieve the garrison, concentrated all his forces and
proceeded to New Ulm, about thirteen miles distant, which he intended to
wipe out the next morning. Here, again, he was disappointed. The hero of
New Ulm was Hon. Charles E. Flandreau, who deserves more than a passing
notice. By profession he is a lawyer, and at this time was a judge on
the bench, and is now enjoying a lucrative practice in St. Paul. By
nature he is an organizer and a leader, and to his intrepid bravery and
wise judgment New Ulm and her inhabitants owe their salvation from the
savagery of Little Crow and his bloodthirsty followers. He had received
the news of the outbreak at his home near St. Peter in the early morning
of August 19, and at once decided what should be done to save the people.
His duty to wife and children was apparent, and to place them in safety
was his first thought, which he did by taking them to St. Peter. He
then issued a call for volunteers, and in response to this soon found
himself surrounded by men who needed no second bidding, for the very air
was freighted with the terror of the situation. Armed with guns of any
and all descriptions, with bottles of powder, boxes of caps and pockets
filled with bullets, one hundred and twenty men, determined on revenge,
pressed forward to meet this terrible foe.
Where should they go? Rumors came from all directions, and one was that
Fort Ridgely was being besieged and had probably already fallen. Their
eyes also turned toward New Ulm, which was but thirteen miles distant and
in an absolutely unprotected condition. Its affrighted people were at the
mercy of this relentless enemy. The work Judge Flandreau performed in
perfecting an organization was masterful, for the men who flocked in and
offered their services he could not control in a military sense, because
they were not enlisted. The emergency was very great and it was necessary
to do the right thing and at the right time and to strike hard and deadly
blows, and trusted men were sent forward to scout and report. Hon. Henry
A. Swift, afterwards governor of Minnesota, rendered good service in
company with William G. Hayden as they scouted the country in a buggy.
It was a novel way to scout, but horses were too scarce to allow a horse
to each. An advance guard was sent forward about noon, and an hour later
the balance of the command was in motion, eagerly pushing forward and
anxious to meet the enemy wherever he might be found. The advance guard
which Flandreau sent out to determine whether Fort Ridgely or New Ulm
should be the objective point had not yet been heard from, and, that no
time might be lost, he determined that he would push forward to New Ulm,
and if that village was safe he would turn his attention to Ridgely. He
found his guard at New Ulm, and they had been largely reinforced by other
men who came in to help protect the place. They arrived just in time
to assist in repelling an attack of about two hundred Indians, who had
suddenly surrounded the little village. Before the arrival of Flandreau
and his command they could see the burning houses in the distance, and
by this they knew that the work of devastation had commenced, and the
forced march was kept up. The rain was pouring in torrents, and yet they
had made thirty-two miles in seven hours and reached the place about 8
o'clock in the evening.
The next day reinforcements continued to come in from various points
until the little army of occupation numbered three hundred effective
and determined men. A council of war was called and a line of defense
determined upon by throwing up barricades in nearly all the streets.
The situation was a very grave one and it was soon apparent that a
one-man power was necessary - that a guiding mind must control the actions
of this hastily gathered army of raw material; and to this end, Judge
Flandreau was declared generalissimo, and subsequent events proved that
the selection was a most judicious one. In a few days subsequent to this
he received a commission as colonel from Governor Ramsey and was placed
in command of all irregular troops. There were fifty companies reported
to him all told; some were mounted and others were not. His district
extended from New Ulm, Minnesota, to Sioux City, Iowa. It was a most
important command, and Colonel Flandreau proved himself a hero as well
as a competent organizer. He is so modest about it even to-day that he
rarely refers to it.
A provost guard was at once established, order inaugurated, defenses
strengthened and confidence partially restored. Nothing serious
transpired until Saturday morning at about 9 o'clock, when 650 Indians,
who had been so handsomely repulsed at Fort Ridgely, thirteen miles
above, made a determined assault upon the town, driving in the pickets.
The lines faltered for a time, but soon rallied and steadily held the
enemy at bay. The Indians had surrounded the town and commenced firing
the buildings, and the conflagration was soon raging on both sides of
the main street in the lower part of the town, and the total destruction
of the place seemed inevitable. It was necessary to dislodge the enemy
in some way, so a squad of fifty men was ordered out to charge down the
burning street, and the Indians were driven out. The soldiers then
burned everything and the battle was won. The desperate character of
the fighting may be judged when we find the casualties to be ten men
killed and fifty wounded in about an hour and a half, and this out of a
much depleted force, for out of the little army of three hundred men,
seventy-five who had been sent under Lieutenant Huey to guard the ferry
were cut off and forced to retreat towards St. Peter. Before reaching
this place, however, they met reinforcements and returned to the attack.
The Indians now, in turn, seeing quite a reinforcement coming, thought it
wise to retreat, and drew off to the northward, in the direction of the
fort, and disappeared.
The little town of New Ulm at this time contained from 1,200 to 1,500
non-combatants, consisting of women and children, refugees and unarmed
citizens, every individual of whom would have been massacred if it
had not been for this brave band of men under the command of Colonel
Flandreau. Not knowing what the retreat of the Indians indicated, the
uncertainty and scarcity of provisions, the pestilence to be feared from
stench and exposure, all combined to bring about the decision to evacuate
the town and try to reach Mankato. In order to do this a train was made
up, into which were loaded the women and children and about eighty
wounded men. It was a sad sight to witness this enforced breaking up of
home ties, homes burned and farms and gardens laid waste, loved ones dead
and wounded, and this one of the inevitable results of an unnecessary
and unprovoked war. The march to Mankato was without special incident.
Especially fortunate was this little train of escaping people in not
meeting any wandering party of hostile Indians.
The first day about half the distance from Mankato to St. Peter was
covered; the main column was pushed on to its final destination, it
being the intention of Colonel Flandreau to return with a portion of his
command to New Ulm, or remain where they were, so as to keep a force
between the Indians and the settlements. But the men of his command,
not having heard a word from their families for over a week, felt
apprehensive and refused to return or remain, holding that the protection
of their families was paramount to all other considerations. It must be
remembered that these men were not soldiers, but had demonstrated their
willingness to fight when necessary, and they did fight, and left many
of their comrades dead and wounded on the battlefield. The train that
had been sent forward arrived in Mankato on the 25th of August, and the
balance of the command reached the town on the day following, when the
men sought their homes.
The stubborn resistance the Indians met with at Fort Ridgely and New Ulm
caused them to withdraw to their own country, and this temporary lull
in hostilities enabled the whites to more thoroughly organize, and the
troops to prepare for a campaign up into the Yellow Medicine country,
where it was known a large number of captives were held.
[Illustration: Colonel Charles E. Flandreau,
Who was in command at New Ulm, Minn., during the Siege from August 20th
to 25th, 1862.]
COL. FLANDREAU IN COMMAND.
While the exciting events narrated in the previous chapters were
taking place other portions of the state were preparing for defense.
At Forest City, Hutchinson, Glencoe, and even as far south as St. Paul
and Minneapolis, men were rapidly organizing for home protection. In
addition to the Sioux, the Chippewas and Winnebagoes were becoming
affected and seemed anxious for a pretext to don the paint and take the
warpath. Colonel Flandreau having received his commission as colonel
from Governor Ramsey, with authority to take command of the Blue Earth
country extending from New Ulm to the Iowa line, embracing the western
and southwestern frontier of the state, proceeded at once to properly
organize troops, commission officers, and do everything in his power
as a military officer to give protection to the citizens. The Colonel
established his headquarters at South Bend and the home guards came
pouring in, reporting for duty, and squads that had been raised and
mustered into the volunteer service, but had not yet joined their
commands, were organized into companies, and the Colonel soon found
himself surrounded by quite an army of good men, well officered, and with
a determination to do their whole duty. This was done by establishing
a cordon of military posts so as to inspire confidence and prevent an
exodus of the people. Any one who has not been through the ordeal of an
Indian insurrection can form no idea of the terrible apprehension that
takes possession of a defenseless and non-combatant people under such
The mystery and suspense attending an Indian's movements, and the
certainty of the cruelty to his captives, strikes terror to the heart,
and upon the first crack of his rifle a thousand are put to flight.
While cruelty is one of the natural characteristics of the Indians, yet
there are many among them who have humane feelings and are susceptible
of Christian influences. As friends, they are of the truest; but the
thoughtless cry out as did the enemies of our Savior: "Crucify him!
Crucify him!" Other Day, Standing Buffalo, Chaska and Old Betz were as
true and as good people as ever lived, and yet they are held responsible
for the atrocities of their savage brethren. At the risk of their own
lives they warned hundreds of people and guided them by night, and hid
them by day, until finally they reached a place of safety. At the hostile
camp, where they had over four hundred women and children, it was only
through the influence of these and other sturdy friendly chiefs that any
lives were saved. They had to even throw barricades around their tepees
and watch day and night until the soldiers came, giving notice that
whoever raised hand to harm these defenseless people would do it at their
peril. When we know of these kind acts, let us pause a moment before we
say there are no good Indians.
It was a study to look at some of these old dusky heroes, who said
nothing but thought much, and who had determined that, come what would,
harm should not come to the captives. There were statesmen, too, among
them; men wise in council, who had respect for their Great Father at
Washington, who were cognizant of the fact that much dissatisfaction was
engendered among their people by occurrences taking place at the time of
the negotiation for the treaties. They counselled their people, and no
doubt tried hard to induce them to forsake their desire for vengeance
on the whites, and thus retard the progress they were making for their
offspring toward civilization and a better manner of living.
You might properly ask here: "What became of the friendly Indians while
the hostiles were on the warpath?" Some of them forgot their friendly
feelings and, like the whisky victim, when they got a taste of blood,
they wanted more! They were all forced by the hostiles to don their war
paint and breech-cloth, and go with them against the whites, and they
were wise enough to know that it was folly to resist. Their main object
was to prevent the wholesale murder of the captives, for when hostilities
opened, they knew if they did not go, every woman and child in the
captive camp would be murdered; and the friendlies would be blamed as
much as the hostiles themselves.
[Illustration: MRS. EASTLICK AND CHILDREN.]
MRS. EASTLICK AND FAMILY.
The note of alarm sounded throughout the neighborhood and without a
moment's warning hurried preparations were made for the exodus. Women
and children and a few household goods were loaded into wagons and a
start made for a place of safety. Indians suddenly appeared and commenced
an indiscriminate fire upon the terror-stricken refugees.
The individual cases of woman's heroism, daring, bravery, cunning and
strong-willed self-sacrifice, could be recounted by the score, and in
some instances are past belief. Their achievements would be considered
as pure fiction but for our own personal knowledge. Many of the real
occurrences would seem like legends, when the father had been murdered
and the mother left with two, three and even five and six children to
care for, and if possible save them from the ferocity of the painted red
devils, whose thirst for blood could seemingly not be satiated. One noted
case was the Eastlick family, and this was only one of a hundred. Eleven
men of the party had already been killed, and Mr. Eastlick among the
number. The women with their children were scattered in all directions in
the brush, to escape if possible the inevitable fate in store for them if
caught. The Indians shouted to them to come out from their hiding places
and surrender and they should be spared. The remaining men, thinking
perhaps their lives might be saved if they surrendered, urged their wives
to do so, and the men would, if possible, escape and give the alarm.
Thus, without a word or a look lest they should betray the remaining
husbands, were these women driven from their natural protectors and
obliged to submit to the tender mercies of their hated red captors. The
supposed dead husbands watched the receding forms of their devoted wives,
whom in all likelihood they never would see again. Burton Eastlick, the
fifteen-year-old boy, could not endure the thought of leaving his mother
to this uncertain fate, and he followed her, but she persuaded him, for
the sake of his fifteen-months-old baby brother, to leave her and try and
make his escape, carrying the little one with him. And how well did he
execute his mission.
The Indians fired upon the little group and Mrs. Eastlick fell, wounded
in three places, and the boy ran away, supposing his mother dead; but she
revived, and crawled to where her wounded husband and six-year-old boy
were, to find both dead. Can you picture such a scene or imagine what the
feelings of this poor mother must be under these awful circumstances?
Sublime silence reigning over earth and sky, and she alone with her dead!
What a parting must that have been from husband and child - death and
desolation complete. Could she look to her God? A heart of faith so
sorely tried, and yet she said: "I am in His hands; surely I must trust
Him, for I am yet alive, and two precious children, Burton and little
baby, are fleeing to a place of safety."
This heroic boy, Burton, seeing his mother shot, and supposed to be dead,
and watching the life flicker and the spirit of his six-year-old brother
pass away, placed the dear little body beside that of his father, and
with a bravery born of an heroic nature he accepted his charge, and with
the injunction of his precious, dying mother still ringing in his ears,
made preparations to start. It seemed an herculean effort, but the brave
boy said: "We may yet be saved!" So, pressing his baby brother close to
his heart, he took a last look upon the faces of his dear father, mother
and six-year-old brother and started.
Ninety miles, thick with dangers, lay before our young hero; but he
faltered not. When tired carrying his little brother in his arms he
took him on his back. The first day he made sixteen miles, and in ten
consecutive days covered sixty miles. He lived on corn and such food as
he could find in deserted houses. At night his bed was the earth, his
pillow a stone, and the sky his only covering, the bright stars acting
as nightly sentinels over him, as weary, he and his little baby charge
slept. If angels have a duty to perform, surely troops of them must have
hovered around. He fed the little brother as best he could to appease
his hunger and covered him as with angel wings to protect the little
trembling body from the chilly night air. Brave boy! The pages of history
furnish nothing more noble than this deed, and if you yet live, what a
consolation, what a proud reflection, to know that there never before was
witnessed a deed more deserving of immortal fame.
"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that
flyeth by day." The resolute mother, badly wounded and left for dead,
revived. She looked upon the face of her dead husband and little boy,
and with sublime courage started for a place of safety. At the risk of
being discovered and murdered - hungry, tired, with wounds undressed and a
heavy, aching heart and deathly sick, she was obliged to lie by for some
time, after which she again started, and for ten days and nights this
poor sorrow-stricken woman traveled on her weary way.
Providence led her in the path of a mail carrier on a route from Sioux
Falls City, in Dakota, to New Ulm, Minnesota. He had formerly known her,
but in her emaciated, jaded, pitiful condition the change was so great he
did not recognize her.
At New Ulm she found her children, where they were being kindly cared
for, having been found in the tall grass nearly dead from exposure and
starvation. Thus the remaining portion of the family were reunited on
earth, and it is proper to here draw the curtain and allow them a few
moments for communion, that the fountain of the heart which had been
dried up by the awful occurrences of the previous few days might unbidden
flow. The mother's heart was nearly crushed with the thought of husband
and child - victims of the ferocious Indians, killed and yet unburied on
the prairie nearly one hundred miles away; but, mother-like, she rejoiced
in finding the two children who had wandered so far and through a kind
Providence escaped so many dangers.
[Illustration: ESCAPE OF THE MISSIONARIES.]
THE MISSIONARIES - THEIR ESCAPE.
A few miles above the Yellow Medicine were the churches and schools of
the Rev. S. R. Riggs and Dr. Williamson. Both of these gentlemen had long
been missionaries among the Indians and had gained their confidence; and
in return had placed the most implicit confidence in them. But these
good men had been warned to flee for their lives, and they reluctantly
gathered together a few household treasures, and placing themselves and
families under the guidance of Providence, started for a place of safety.
Fort Ridgely was their objective point, but they learned that the place
was being besieged and that it would be unsafe to proceed further in this
direction, so turned their weary steps toward Henderson, Minnesota.
With courage braced up, weary in body and anxious in mind, they went
into camp until the morning. "The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar
of fire by night," guided this anxious band through a most trying and
perilous journey, but they gained the settlement at last and were
among friends. In leaving their little homes, where they had found so
much pleasure in the work of the Master, in pointing the Indians to a
better way of living, they were sorrowful; but, like Abraham of old,
faithful in their allegiance to God, not daring to question His ways in
compelling them to turn their backs upon their chosen work - His work.
The missionaries and teachers formed strong attachments among this dusky
race. In their communion with them they found them ready and eager to
converse about the Great Spirit and to learn of the wonderful things
taught in the Bible. They loved to sing, and the melody of sacred song
found a responsive chord in their souls as they were gradually emerging
from their barbarous condition, and coming into the full light of a
Christian salvation. In conversation with the writer, Mr. Riggs once said
that as he was passing one of their happy little homes he could hear the
squaw mother, in her peculiar plaintive tones, singing to her little
"Jesus Christ, nitowashte kin
Woptecashni mayaqu" -
Jesus Christ, Thy Loving Kindness,
Boundlessly, Thou Givest Me.
She had become a Christian mother through the teachings of the
missionaries. Her maternal affection was as deep and abiding as in the
breast of her more favored white sister, and her eye of faith looked
beyond the stars to the happy hunting ground, where the Greater Spirit
abides, and with the assurance that some day she and all her race would
stand with the redeemed in the presence of the Judge of all the worlds.
The Christian missionary felt for these people as no one else could; and,
while not trying nor desiring to excuse them for their unholy war against
the whites, yet they could not persuade themselves to believe that they
had been justly dealt with by civilized America.
[Illustration: LITTLE PAUL.]
THE INDIAN POW-WOW.
The Indians of the various tribes of the Upper and Lower Sioux - the
Sissitons, the Tetons, the Yanktons and the Yanktonnais and other tribes
held a pow-wow to try and force a conclusion of the war, and some of
their ablest men, their statesmen, were present, and their views you
have here verbatim. More decorum prevailed among them, and they were
more deliberate than is observed in the average white man's convention.
Little Crow had his supporters present, and a very fluent Yanktonnais
Sioux traced on the ground a map of the country, showing the course of
the Missouri River and the locality of the different forts. He marked
out the mountains, seas and oceans, and stated that an army, great
in numbers, was coming from across the country to assist them. This
gave rise to the unfounded rumor referred to in another chapter, that
emissaries from the South were among them to incite them to war.
John Paul, or Little Paul, was friendly to the whites, and in a speech to
the Indians at this pow-wow said:
"I am friendly to the whites, and will deliver these women and children
at Fort Ridgely. I am opposed to the war on the whites. You say you are
brave men, and can whip the whites. That is a lie - persons who cut women
and children's throats are not brave. You are squaws and cowards. Fight
the whites if you want to, but do it like brave men. I am ashamed of the
way you have acted towards the captives; and, if any of you have the
feelings of men, you will give them up. You may look fierce at me, but I
am not afraid of you."
Red Iron, one of the chiefs of the Upper Indians, was not friendly.
He was one of the principal chiefs of the Sissitons, and at one time
was so outspoken against the whites that Governor Ramsey, who was then
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and was at the agency, had occasion to
rebuke him in a substantial way - he reduced him to the ranks. In other
words, he broke him of his chieftianship. This was in December, 1852.
Red Iron was a handsome Indian, an athlete, six feet in his moccasins,
with a large, well-developed head, aquiline nose, thin lips, but with
intelligence and resolution beaming all over his countenance.
[Illustration: RED IRON.]
When brought into the presence of Governor Ramsey he walked with a firm,
lordly tread, and was clad in half military and half Indian costume.
When he came in he seated himself in silence, which was not broken until
through an interpreter the Governor asked him what excuse he had to offer
for not coming to the council when sent for.
Red Iron, when he arose to his feet to reply, did so with a
Chesterfieldian grace, allowing his blanket to fall from his shoulders,
and, intentionally dropping his pipe of peace. He stood before the