A. P. (Alonzo Putnam) Connolly.

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

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The mortality among them was very great and hundreds died before the
winter of suspense had passed away.

In April, 1863, the camp was broken up and the remaining ones were placed
in a steamer for St. Louis, from whence they were to be sent up the
Missouri River to the Crow Creek agency. Some died on the way, and as
they left their homes and looked for the last time on their native hills,
a dark cloud was crushing out their hearts. Soon after landing at Crow
Creek every tepee had its sick and anxious hearts - mothers and children
far away from their dead.

The deported ones joined their families in time, and as the years glide
on they have had time for reflection, and the events, as they undoubtedly
come trooping back to them, furnish food for thought.



We knew Major Brown well. He was known to nearly all early settlers,
because he came to Minnesota when the white people were very few. He felt
that it was not well for man to live alone, a white man especially, and
so he took unto himself a dusky bride. He was in government employ and a
big white chief among his new found wife's people and to whom he was a

As he grew in years his family grew also, and the dusky mother's
household cares increased. Yes, they lived in a fine stone house,
elegantly furnished, down on the Yellow Medicine below the agency,
but which came in the way of his red brother's vengeance, and it was
destroyed. The Brown family lived happily in their rather modern home.
The Major attended to his official duties, and the wife and boys
cultivated the land; but in common with all the others during these sad
days, their only safety was in flight. Their home, including books and
furniture, was totally destroyed. The father was a fugitive and his
family prisoners. They did not suffer as some others did, because the
wife and mother was a full blood and was related to the Sisseton tribe
and had powerful friends among them. Their capture, captivity, and final
release, as related by Samuel Brown, the fifteen-year-old boy, is an
interesting recital. He says:

On Monday, the 18th day of August, I went to Yellow Medicine with my
sister Ellen upon an errand. We met on the way an Indian named Little
Dog, who told us that the Indians had killed a family at Beaver Creek,
and were going to kill the whites as far as St. Paul, and that we must
not tell any one about it, or they would kill us. He said he warned us
at the risk of his own life. This was about noon. Soon after our arrival
at Yellow Medicine an old squaw told us that we had better be getting
away, as there would be trouble. We asked many of the other Indians
about it, but they said they had heard of nothing of the kind. Another
squaw afterward told us that she thought it must be the Yanktonais
who were coming down to take the agency. We left them about half-past
three o'clock. George Gleason had just left with Mrs. Wakefield and her
children for below. When we reached home we told mother what we heard.
She was very much scared and did not sleep any that night. About four
o'clock next morning I heard some one outside calling in a loud voice
a number of times for my mother, and then I heard Charles Blair, my
brother-in-law (a white man), ask what was the matter, and the man, who
was a half-breed named Royer, said that four hundred Yanktonais had
arrived at the upper agency and were killing everybody. We then became
very much alarmed, and had our oxen yoked at once to the wagon, put
everything in we could, and started for Fort Ridgely. We had all the
neighbors warned, and they went with us. They had three wagons, with
ox teams. Four or five white men overtook us on the road, among them
Garvey's cook (Garvey was the trader wounded at the agency, and who
afterward died at Hutchinson.)

When we had gone about five miles we saw some men two miles ahead, near
the bank of the river, but supposed they were farmers. The Yanktonais,
whom we were afraid of, lived above us. We thought nothing about the men
until we saw an Indian on a hill ahead of us. He beckoned to others, and
before we knew it we were surrounded. De-wa-nea, of Crow's band, and
Cut-Nose and Shakopee, three of the worst among the Lower Indians, came
to us first. We were in the head wagon. Mother told them who we were,
and they said we must follow them, and that we were all as good as dead.
De-wa-nea said that the whites had taken him prisoner a good many times
and that it was now his turn. He wanted the rest of the Indians to kill
us all. There was an Indian in the party, John Moore's brother-in-law,
who took our part, and he and his friends saved us from the others. This
Indian had once come to our house when he was freezing and my mother took
him in and warmed him. He told the other Indians that he remembered this,
and that we should live. They insisted that my brother Angus should shoot
one of the white men, but he refused to do so. Each of the Indians had
one of the whites picked out to shoot as they came up. My mother said
they were poor men and it would do no good to kill them. John Moore's
brother-in-law said they should live if she wanted them to. The Indians
made a great fuss about it, and said she ought to be satisfied with what
she had got, but afterwards consented and told the men to start off.
The women stayed with us. After the men had got off a little, Leopold
Wohler, who had a lime-kiln at the agency, came back to the wagon after
his boots, and an Indian told him if he didn't go away he would kill him.
He started off with one boot, and came back again for the other, and
the Indian drove him away again with the same threat. He went a short
distance and came back again to kiss his wife. The Indians then became
very much enraged, and acted so fiercely that he was glad to escape
without further difficulty. There were ten Indians close to us, and
twenty-five or thirty near, running into the houses. They made Angus and
Charles Blair, who were riding horses, give them up. De-wa-nea put on my
sister's bonnet and began singing a war song. He was very merry. He said
the Indians were now going to have a good time, and if they got killed it
was all right; that the whites wanted to kill them off, and were delaying
the payment in order to do it by starvation, and that he preferred to be
shot. We saw three men and a woman on the road terribly hacked up. This
party had committed the murders. The men had been mowing together; their
scythes and pitchforks were lying near by. Cut-nose showed us his thumb,
from which a piece had been bitten near the nail, and he said it was done
by one of these men while he was working the knife around in his breast;
that he was very hard to kill, and he thought he would never die.

Cut-nose afterward went to a wagon and told a Scotch girl who was in
it that he wanted her for his wife, and to get out and follow him. She
refused, and he then drew his knife and flourished it over her, and she
got out and went away with him. That was the last I saw of him until we
got to camp. He was called Cut-nose because one of his nostrils had been
bitten out. This was done by Other Day in a quarrel.

When we reached the camp of the Red Creek Indians, four miles above the
Redwood River, they told us that the Agency Indians had sent word for all
to come down there, and that those who did not come would be taken care
of by the "Soldiers' Lodge." They were then about starting, and an Indian
made Augus and myself hitch up a mule team which he said he had taken
from Captain Marsh's men the day before. He said they had just heard a
cannon at the fort and they wanted to go down and whip the whites there.
This was about noon. We then went down to John Moore's house (this was
where Other Day's horse was stolen), and they put us upstairs, where they
had two or three women captives. We were there about an hour, when three
Indians told us to come up to their camp on the hill, where we were to
stop with John Moore's mother, or grandmother. We followed them, and when
we got halfway up suddenly missed them. We supposed they hid from us, and
we wandered on. We met a German woman who had seven or eight children
with her, all under eight years of age, - two on her back, one under each
arm and two following behind. They came along with us. We went to Moore's
relative, but she said she knew nothing about us and couldn't take us,
and that we had better go down to Crow's Village. We started, not knowing
where to go, when a squaw, who was crying about the troubles, met us,
and took us home with her. The Indians sent our team back to camp. They
gave Augus and I blankets and moccasins, and we put them on and went down
to see Little Crow. He told us to bring our folks down there, and no
one should hurt us. This was Tuesday evening, about seven o'clock. He
was in his own house, and the camp was pitched around it. We went back
and brought our folks down. Little Crow put us up in the top room of the
house, and gave us buffalo robes and everything to make us comfortable.
He brought us a candle as soon as it was dark; he was very kind to us; he
said he would take as good care of us as he could, but he didn't believe
he could keep Charley Blair alive until morning. He gave him a breech
clout and leggings, which he put on.

During the night an Indian or a half-breed came in the room downstairs
where Crow was, and told him that we ought to be killed. We overheard
what they said. The man was very ugly, and said no prisoners ought to be
taken, and that we were related to the Sissetons, and had no claim on the
Lower Indians, and there was no reason why we should be spared. He said
he wanted Crow to call a council about it immediately. Crow told him that
he saved us because we were his friends, and that he would protect us;
that it was too late to hold a council that night, and he compelled him
to leave.

He gave us plenty to eat, and came up several times during the night to
see how we were getting along. We begged him to let Charley Blair go. He
said he couldn't; that the Indians knew he was there, and would kill him
(Crow) if he allowed it. We coaxed him for a couple of hours, when he
consented, and brought an Indian, who took Charley down to the river and
left him in the brush. He made his escape from there to the fort. Crow
told us not to say anything about it, for the Indians would kill him, and
that he did it because he had known our folks so long. He said the young
men started the massacre, and he could not stop them. A week after that
Akipu, an Upper Indian, came down from the Yellow Medicine Agency and
took us up with him. From that time until our deliverance we remained
with our relatives, and were well treated by them.

The foregoing recital is just as the boy gave it, and in subsequent
conversations with the father it was substantially verified.

Major Brown, after recovering his family, lived for a few years, and
did much toward assisting the Government in adjusting the many claims
brought against it by persons who had suffered so much at the hands of
the Indians. He died a number of years ago, but the members of his family
live and are much respected in the community in which they live.



Alexander Ramsey, of Minnesota, is the last of the famous coterie of war
governors; a band that will be immortal. Curtin, of Pennsylvania; Dix, of
New York; Dennison, of Ohio; Morton, of Indiana; Randall, of Wisconsin;
Yates, of Illinois; Blair, of Michigan; Andrew, of Massachusetts; and
Kirkwood, of Iowa; - a notable group, stalwart, rugged patriots with
hearts beating as one. Comprehending the danger that menaced the nation,
confronted with no easy task, these grand old stalwarts pledged their
states to uphold, with men and money, the general government. They
have passed away honored by a grateful country and beloved by the men
who responded to their call. Governor Ramsey alone remains, and in the
National Grand Army encampment held in St. Paul in 1896 he was a central
figure. Passed, as he has, beyond the allotted time of man, measure full
and running over, he saw the salvation of his country, proud of the
part Minnesota's sons took in its restoration, and proud to meet them
after the smoke of battle had cleared away. Governor Ramsey, being in
Washington at the time of the first call for troops, promptly responded
in person to the President, and tendered a regiment from Minnesota, and
it was accepted; and it was the first to be accepted. He immediately
telegraphed to Adjutant General William Henry Acker to at once issue a
call for one regiment of three months men.

[Illustration: HOLE-IN-THE-DAY.]

The companies were soon filled up, and Adjutant-General Acker was
commissioned as captain of Company "C." He was afterwards commissioned as
captain in the Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, and was killed at Shiloh.

Governor Ramsey was elected United States Senator from Minnesota, and
served his state faithfully and well, and was at one time Secretary
of War. At this writing he is hale and hearty, honored by men of all
political faith.

Governor Ramsey's part in the Indian trouble was more than commissioning
officers and sending men to the frontier.

The Chippewas were in a turbulent state of mind, and Hole-in-the-Day,
their chief, did not seem inclined to soften their feelings to the
Government, but rather encouraged them in their desire to break their
compact. He said to his people that "we had all we could manage, with our
brethren in the South, and if they pleased to combine with the Sioux,
their power could not be resisted."

This surely was cause for alarm, - alarm for the safety of the state, and
it required strong measures to curb this uprising among these Indians.
Commissioner Dole lost hope of successfully meeting the demands of the
Indians, and dispatched a messenger to Governor Ramsey asking him to
hasten to his relief. The Governor lost no time, and with two or three
others were soon on the way. He did not go with an army carrying banners,
but quietly and unostentatiously met the Chippewa chiefs, and soon
adjusted all difficulties.

When it became known to Hole-in-the-Day that General Sibley had an
overwhelming force, he was then desirous to befriend the state and assist
in making a treaty of perpetual friendship with the whites, and assist
them in fighting Little Crow. And after the battle of Wood Lake the
Winnebagoes, who were inclined to go to war against the "pale faces,"
concluded it best to court his favor and proclaim war against the Sioux.
Prior to this, all the tribes in Wisconsin had sent their "wampums" to
the Winnebago chief, and a council of war had been fixed for the 28th
of September. There seemed to be indications that an unfriendly white
element was stirring up strife among all our Indian neighbors, and hence
the impression that it was emissaries from the South who were doing it.
It came from high authority that evidence existed to show that "the
Western tribes are going to join the South." It was a critical moment
for this country. Slavery existed yet, and God's hand was laying heavily
upon us. Federal reverses and Confederate successes cast a gloom over the
North, and loyal men trembled, while the copper-head came forth and, with
an exultant hiss, impeded the progress of the Government in its efforts
to bring about an honorable peace. Under these depressing conditions
Governor Ramsey, to whom all looked with so much solicitude, nerved
himself to bring about an amicable settlement with the Chippewas.

In three days from the time of departure, Governor Ramsey returned,
having effected a settlement of all misunderstandings on September 15th,

The public mind was relieved, for nearly every chief of the Nation being
present to sign this treaty of peace, all hostile demonstrations ceased,
and they evinced their further friendship by coming to St. Paul to return
Governor Ramsey's visit, and tender their services to General Pope to
operate against the Sioux.

The Governor assured them he was pleased to know they had not stained
their hands in innocent blood, as the Sioux had done; - that he would
communicate their desire to join the white soldiers to the big chief,
General Pope, and he would send for them. The talk they had with the
Governor so pleased them that they became confidential and talkative.
Their responses thus far had been grunts and "ho, hos," but Chief Berry
Hunter said the words they listened to "went right into his ears, and
they were good," and although he was an old man he had not lost his
reason. That they had come down to show their white brothers they felt
very friendly, and never desired to have any other feeling towards them.

Big Dog, another of their noted chiefs, whose hands were very red, said
he had painted them purposely, so that if he should kill an enemy and
blood got on his hands it would not stain them.

Governor Ramsey extended them an invitation to ride in the "fire wagon"
to St. Anthony (now East Minneapolis).

This meant that he would take them on the train. Railroading in Minnesota
at this time was new to the white people, and the beautiful engines
were objects of delight and admiration to them, and more so to the
Indians, who were much interested in everything they saw in and about the
locomotive, and they expressed great wonder at the steam whistle, and
invariably ducked their heads as its shrill notes broke upon their ears.
They did not wish to appear as cowards, but, like white soldiers dodging
bullets after they had passed, so they inadvertently would "duck" when
the whistle blew, and afterward have a hearty laugh over it.



Chaska and George Spencer were great friends, and there was reason
for it, as you will see. It was in George Spencer's store where the
first shot was fired, and he was the victim. He ran upstairs, but the
Indians surrounded the place and threatened to burn the store, which
they probably would have done but for the fact they wanted the goods.
They could not muster courage to go upstairs to kill him, because they
naturally thought: "What would he be doing while we are trying to kill

An old squaw got him out the back way and secreted him in her tepee, and
the Indians finally burnt the building, and supposed he had perished in
the flames. The squaw turned him over to his Indian friend Chaska, and
when the other Indians, who supposed he was dead already, saw him quite
alive, they were much puzzled, for they had no inkling of his escape.


He was the only white man at the agency who did escape, and can attribute
it to the friendly ministration of those two native Americans, Chaska
and the squaw. It was no miraculous escape, but a plain case of genuine
friendship toward a white man by an Indian. An Indian will avenge a
wrong - that is his nature. It is born in him, and it cannot be blotted
out; so, too, will he remember a kindness with an equal degree of
fidelity, and, under any and all circumstances, will "stick closer than
a brother." Friend Spencer in this case found that the investment he
had made in kindness to this red man was a paying one - it came in good
time - his life was surely in jeopardy, and no miracle, but a faithful
Indian, saved him, and this Indian was Chaska, a chief whom Little Crow
had depended upon to help carry on the war. His friendship for Spencer
was great, and when his friend's life was threatened, he with a double
shooter in his hands would cry out: "Shoot if you like, kill him if you
will, but two of you will come out of your saddles if you do."

Chaska dressed his friend in Indian garb and painted his face. It became
necessary to kite him about, first in one friendly tepee and then in
another, so that the spies could not keep track of him. I remember well
the day I spoke with him. He had been wounded and was suffering from
this, and the long days and nights of anxiety had told on him, but now
that he could throw all this off he said he would soon be on the speedy
round to complete recovery. Chaska was faithful to his friend of former
years. He was desirous of becoming a white man so far as he could, by
adopting their manners and customs. He came to see General Sibley one
morning in his Indian garb, and the General said to him: "I am not
pleased to see you in your blanket."

"Then I will wear it no more," was his reply. He washed off the paint
from his face, trimmed his hair, and dressed as a citizen. He desired
to live in a house rather than a tepee and to have his children attend
school. This was the wish of all the friendly Indians. They instituted
reforms in the social fabric, and in marrying, the rite was performed
by an ordained minister, the same as among their white brethren. Poor
Chaska, I remember well the night he died, for at the time a strong
suspicion pointed toward a member of my own regiment, who was a clerk in
the hospital department, and there never was a doubt but Chaska's death
was by poison administered by this man. George Spencer, his white friend,
said of him: "On the second day of our return from the Missouri, we
rode along talking pleasantly of the future, he telling me how he would
like to be situated on a small farm of land near me, and congratulating
himself that his trouble was over, and that he would soon be restored to
the bosom of his family. Alas, for my friend! He now sleeps tranquilly
near the turbid waters of the Missouri, under the shadow of our
intrenchments. Savage though he was, he was a noble man!"

The night he died he had gone around to his white friend's tent, where
he was always welcome, and supped with him and arranged for carrying in
the commissary wagon, a pack of furs he had captured. He went to his
quarters after taking a dose of medicine and was soon taken ill. He sent
for his white comrade, who went immediately to his bedside, to find him
senseless, dying. In his delirium he predicted a thunderstorm that would
shake the earth and blind the people the day he was put in the ground,
and the prediction came true. He did not once recognize his friend, who
remained with him, closing his eyes with a sorrowful heart. He died at
the age of thirty-two, leaving a wife and two interesting children. He
was faithful among the faithless.

[Illustration: The Sentinel.]



This expedition, well named "Moscow," will be remembered by the
participants so long as they live. The government had decided to remove
all the Indians to Fort Thompson, a military post on the Missouri, and
after it had been done, it was found a little later that they were
in a starving condition. General Pope communicated this fact to the
authorities at Washington, and that the Indian agent had applied to
him to furnish an escort for a supply train, that would be sent from
Minnesota rather than from Sioux City, Iowa. Three companies were
designated to undertake this perilous journey, and placed in command of
Captain J. C. Whitney, of the Sixth Minnesota. It was impossible to hire
teamsters to go, so an offer of twenty-five cents per day was made to the
soldiers in addition to their $13 per month; but the undertaking was too
hazardous and the offer was refused. The bid was raised until it reached
$1.25 per day extra, when a few soldiers agreed to accept. On the 6th
day of November a partial start was made, but one delay after another
occurred until the case became desperate, and the teamsters finally got
two dollars a day extra.

The fact was, the soldiers rebelled, and in order to frustrate the plans
of the contractors the wagons were so disabled that it was impossible
to move. Colonel Crooks, of the Sixth Minnesota, took matters in hand
so vigorously that the soldiers knew that the expedition would have to
move at all hazards, and it was foolish and dangerous to object and
waste any more time. Several arrests of mutinous soldiers were made, but
upon promises of better conduct they were released, and the "Moscow"
expedition was finally and fully launched on the 20th day of November,
1863. The undertaking was hazardous, but the men were supplied with the
best of Sibley tents and blankets in plenty. Under the most favorable
circumstances it was not a picnic, but barring the stinging cold days and
colder nights, with a few frozen noses, no serious mishap overtook the
brave soldier boys of this celebrated "Moscow" expedition.

The return march was by way of Sioux City, Iowa, and the first post in

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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 9 of 13)