University of California Berkeley
THE SIOUX WAR
3Stt0HErm nf 1862 aui 1863,
ISAAC Y. D. HEAED.
WITH PORTRAITS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-three, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.
THE writer of the following pages has resided in
the State of Minnesota twelve years, commencing at a
time anterior to the removal of the Sioux from their
ancient possessions to their reservations upon the
Minnesota Kiver. He was a member of General Sib-
ley's expedition against the savages in 1862, from its
arrival at St. Peter's in August until its return in No-
vember, and acted as the Kecorder of the Military
Commission which tried some four hundred of the
participants in the outbreak. During that time and
since, he devoted particular attention to obtaining
from Indians, half-breeds, traders, white captives, fu-
gitives from massacres, and others, particulars of the
various outrages and the causes of the massacre. He
has also carefully read the public treaties and other
documents connected with Indian affairs, and the vari-
ous newspaper articles pertinent thereto.
From the information thus derived, he has endeav-
ored to form a connected and reliable history. He
regrets that the haste required to place it before the
public, while attention is directed to the subject, has
militated against the symmetry of arrangement and
finish of composition which should accompany such a
work. It was his desire that portraits of Colonel
Crooks, Colonel Miller, Major Brown, Major Forbes,
the Eev. S. E. Riggs, and other noted men connected
with the war, accompanied by personal notices, should
have a place in the volume, but the publishers were
not willing to incur the addititional expense.
He avails himself of this opportunity to acknowl-
edge his great indebtedness to Mr. Antoine Frenier,
the Sioux interpreter, for his patient interpretation of
the many interviews he found it necessary to hold
with the Indians. He now submits the result of his
labors to the charitable perusal of the reader.
New York City, September 30, 1863.
THE SCENE AND THE ACTORS.
The Actors. Travelers and Traders. Treaties. Condition of the
Indians. Little Crow. The Reservations Page 13
CAUSES OF THE OUTBREAK.
Predisposition to Hostility. Extortion of the Traders. Corruptions
in the Indian Department. Red Iron and Governor Ramsey.
Lean Bear. Sufferings of the Indians. Intense Excitement.
Visit of the Sissetons and Wahpetons to the Upper Agency. The
Lower Agency. The Lower Reservation. The " Soldiers' Lodge."
Council at Rice Creek -. 3L
A SPARK OF FIRE.
A Quarrel. A Murder.' The Alarm given 52
COMMENCEMENT OF THE MASSACRES AND THE BATTLE OF RED-
Council at Crow's House. The " Signal-gun" and the Attack. Es-
cape of Rev. Mr. Hindman. Burning of "the Agency." Flight
on all sides. Captain Marsh and the Fifth Minnesota Volunteers.
Battle at the Ferry. Council of Upper Indians. Other Day 59
THE ATTACKS UPON NEW ULM AND FORT RIDGELT.
The Alarm given at St. Peter's. Re-enforcement of Fort Ridgely.
Fight at New Ulm. Attack on Fort Ridgely by Little Crow.
Arrival of the Upper Indians. General Engagement at New Ulm.
Repulse of the Indians 78
FARTHER OUTRAGES DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF THE OUTBREAK.
Murders at Yellow Medicine Agency. Lean Bear, White Lodge,
and Sleepy Eyes at Lake Shetek Settlement. Horrible Outrage.
Lady Captives. Story of Mrs. Hurd. Tidings of the Massacre
reach St. Paul. Exciting Kumors Page 96
FORCES DISPATCHED TO THE FRONTIER.
Sibley moves up the Valley. Arrival of Troops at New Ulm and
Fort Ridgely. No Indians found 117
Major J. R. Brown dispatched to the Lower Agency. Fate of the
Expedition. Battle of Birch Coolie 131
THE WAR PARTY TO THE BIG WOODS.
Pursuit of Captain Strout's Force by Little Crow. Fort Abercrombie
Little Crow disposed to Peace. Troubles between Upper and Lower
Indians. Paul's Speech to the Lower Indians. Little Crow writes
to Colonel Sibley. Disputes as to Delivery of Prisoners 143
UPWARD MARCH AND BATTLE OF WOOD LAKE.
Breaking up of Camp at Fort Ridgely. Battle of Wood Lake. Oth-
er Day's Pledge 167
Need of Cavalry. Release of Captives. Military Commission ap-
pointed. Godfrey 181
Godfrey's personal History. Painted by the Indians. What Godfrey
did and what he saw... 191
CAPTIVITY OF THE FAMILY OF JOSEPH R. BROWN.
Narrative of Samuel Brown. The Warning. Encounter with the
Indians. Cut-nose. Little Crow's Protection Page 202
MRS. HUGGINS'S STORY.
A sad Birthday. Alarm at Lac qui Parle. The Flight. Walking
Spirit. Sacred Nest. Good Day's Proposition. A Fright. A
long Journey 209
A Hurricane. Homeward March. Trials at the Lower Agency.
The Prairie Fire. Attack on the Prisoners at New Ulm. Esti-
mate of Losses in 1862. Incomplete Preparation. Loss of the In-
TRIALS OF THE PRISONERS.
Trial of Godfrey. Punishment commuted. Manner of Proceeding.
Excuses of the Prisoners. Humors of the Court-room. Cut-
nose. Sentences given and their Justice. Instances of New
England " Barbarity" 251
Reading of the President's Order to the sentenced. Regulations.
Statements of the Prisoners. Death-dance and Song. Ascent
of the Scaffold. The Execution and Burial 272
DEATH OF LITTLE CROW.
Devil's Lake. Little Crow at St. Joseph. Renewed Massacres.
Little Crow shot by Mr. Lampson and "done up" for the Historical
Society. Son of Little Crow 296
THRILLING AND FATAL ADVENTURE OF MESSRS. BRACKETT AND
Mr. Brackett's Narrative. Encounter with the Indians. Freeman
shot. Lone Prairie Grave 313
THE BATTLES ON THE MISSOURI.
The Battle of Big Mound. Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake. Battle of
Stony Lake. Skirmish on the Missouri Page 321
Continuance of Hostilities. Disaffection among the Tribes. Danger
of War with the Chippeways. Cost of the Sioux War. Some
practical Suggestions 337
AN APPEAL FOR THE RED MAN.
By Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota 343
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,
Portrait of General Sibley Frontispiece^
Indian Tepees 15
House of Chaska, a civilized Indian 19
Dr. Williamson's House 23
Squaws winnowing Wheat 29
Little Crow 60
The Captive saved 63
Other Day 75
Charles E. Flandreau 79
Escape of the Missionaries 87
Mrs. Estlick and Children 110
Red Iron 155
Standing Buffalo 160
Little Paul 166
Indian Camp taken by Colonel Sibley 180
Old Betz 182
Camp Release 183
Indian Boy 185
Wild-Goose-Nest Lake 230
Indian Camp at Red-Wood 233
The Court-house of the Military Commission 238
Prairie on Eire 241
The Attack at New Ulm 245
Camp Lincoln 249
Interior of Indian Jail 273
One of the executed Indians 292
Devil's Lake 297
St. Joseph, from Pembina 301
Fort Garry 305
Lone Prairie Grave 320
THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE,
THE SCENE AND THE ACTORS.
IN the month of August, 1862, the Indians of the
Upper Minnesota initiated a massacre which stands
prominent in the bloody drama which attends the ad-
vance of the white race across the continent. The
atrocities by which it was attended the attempt of
the actors to enlist other savage tribes on their behalf
the mysterious part enacted by the negro Godfrey,
who received from the Indians the name of" Otakle,"
or " he who kills many" the course of their great
orator and chief, Little Crow, who was not second to
Philip, Pontiac, or Tecumseh the perilous condition
of the captive whites, their shameful treatment, and
the peculiar manner in which their deliverance was
accomplished the trial of over four hundred of the
accused, and the simultaneous execution of thirty-
eight of their number, are full of thrilling interest.
Those engaged in the massacre were, with but few
exceptions, members of the M'dewakanton, Wahpe-
kuta,Wahpeton, and Sisseton tribes of the great Sioux,
or Dakota nation. They formerly occupied the north-
eastern portion of Iowa, part of the western border of
Wisconsin, the southwestern half of the State of Min-
nesota, and adjoining possessions in Dakota; a vast,
14 THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE.
fertile, and beautiful land, with great undulating plains,
over which herds of buffalo roamed; ,with groves and
woodlands in which the deer found a hiding-place;
with countless lakes, and streams, and mighty rivers
filled with choicest fish, and swarming with myriads
of wild-fowl, the duck, the goose, the swan, and the
brant ; and their shores alive with the otter, the mink,
and the beaver.
Their existence, customs, and manner of life have
long been familiar to the whites. A hundred years
before the American Ke volution, the adventurous Hen-
neptn, the first man who gave to the world a drawing
of the cataract of Niagara, visited them, and on his re-
turn published a narrative of his adventures. Carver,
ISTicollet, Long, Schoolcraft, Cass, Fremont, Marryatt,
and other travelers of repute, followed afterward. Cat-
lin, the great Indian painter, has preserved the faces
of their prominent chiefs on his immortal canvas, and
Schiller and Longfellow have sung of them in their
As early as 1700 Dakotas visited Montreal, and
"Wabashaw, their head chief, was received at Mackinaw
with greater honors than the Choctaws, Chickasaws,
and Ojibeways, who were also present. The British
officer in command wrote a song in honor of his com-
ing, of which the following is the last refrain :
" Hail to great Wabashaw !
Soldiers ! your triggers draw !
Guards ! wave the colors, and give him the drum ;
Choctaw and Chickasaw,
Whoop for great Wabashaw,
Raise the portcullis, the king's friend is come."
Quickly following the earliest traveler came the
THE SCENE AND THE ACTOES. 17
traders, to exchange the commodities of civilization
for furs, and, intoxicated with the wild and romantic
life, and supplied by their principals at home with
luxuries, intermarried with the natives, and establish-
ed themselves permanently in the country.
At first they were received unwillingly, and occa-
sional difficulties arose ; but so necessary were they to
supply the increased wants of the Indian, that when
the English withdrew their traders from the country
on account of the murder of one of their number, and
refused to allow their return until the guilty parties
were delivered for punishment, Wabashaw, the grand-
father of the present chief of that name, to relieve the
distress of his people, worked his toilsome way to Que-
bec, and gave himself up to be punished in the place
of the murderer, who could not be found.
So, too, when the war of 1812 broke out, these
tribes, although they had made a treaty of peace with
the United States, and ceded a tract of land at the
mouth of the Minnesota for the establishment of a
military post, were easily induced by the traders, who
were English subjects, to act as the allies of their gov-
ernment, and they composed a portion of the forces
which compelled the surrender of the post at Macki-
naw and besieged Fort Meigs.
Some time after peace was declared our own trad-
ers gained a foothold, and in 1825 a convention was
entered into at Prairie du Chien between the tribes and
the United States, by which it was agreed that every
act of hostility committed by either of the contracting
parties against the other should be mutually forgot-
ten and forgiven, and that perpetual peace and amity
should thereafter exist between them. In 1830 and
18 THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE.
1836 they ceded part of their lands in Iowa, and in
1837 all that portion lying east of the Mississippi
Eiver. In 1849 Minnesota was organized as a terri-
tory, and the emigration rapidly settling upon the
eastern shore of the Mississippi soon began to require
and encroach upon the more fertile country opposite.
So in 1851 the Indians were induced to sign treat-
ies by which they transferred to the United States
over thirty millions of acres, embracing all their lands
in Iowa, Dakota, and Minnesota, except a tract along
the Upper Minnesota, which they reserved for their
future occupancy and home. This commenced just
below Fort Eidgely, and extended 150 miles to Lake
Traverse, with a width of ten miles on each side of
The Senate in 1852 approved the treaty, provided
that the Indians would agree to an amendment by
which the reservation should also be ceded, and they
be located in such land as the President should select ;
and to this the Indians assented. The President nev-
er having made the selection contemplated, and the
Indians having moved upon the reservation made in
the first treaties, the government recognized their
right to its possession, and in 1858, by treaties which
were approved in 1860, purchased from them all that
portion of the tract on the north side of the river.
They continued to reside on the remainder until the
outbreak, the M'dewakantons and Wahpekutas occu-
pying in common all below the Yellow Medicine* Riv-
er, which was called the "Lower Reservation," and
the other two tribes the part above the river, which
was styled the " Upper Reservation."
Pursuant to the various treaties, large amounts of
THE SCENE AND THE ACTORS. 21
money and goods were annually delivered to them,
and labor performed for their benefit. For the super-
intendence of these matters, an agent resided among
them, and two places for the transaction of business
were established, one fourteen miles above Fort Ridge-
ly, on the Minnesota River, and known as the " Low-
er" or "Bed wood Agency," and the other at the
mouth of the Yellow Medicine, and designated as the
"Upper" or "Yellow Medicine Agency."
The habitations of the Indians were of a very com-
fortable character. Some lived in low circular houses,
made by themselves from wood, and covered with
bark ; others in brick houses a story and a half high,
constructed by the government ; and others in tepees
of canvas, resembling the Sibley tent now in use in
our army, which was modeled after their tepees by the
rebel General Sibley when stationed in Minnesota.
The different bands, under their hereditary chief, oc-
cupied separate villages, with the exception of some
hundred families who had been induced by divers con-
siderations to become " white men," and who lived to-
gether without distinction of bands. They had their
hair cut short, wore coats and pantaloons, attended
church and schools, cultivated the soil, elected their
president or chief after the manner of a republic, were
married by a clergyman, and buried their dead in the
ground. The others remained Indians, left their hair
unshorn, wore the breechcloth, blanket, and leggins,
married as many wives as they pleased, after their own
fashion, placed their dead on scaffoldings in the open
air, made themselves brave with paint and with the
feathers of the eagle, went upon the war-path against
the Chippeways, and tortured, killed, scalped, and mu-
22 THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE.
tilated men, women, and children. In addition to the
Indian population were many half-breeds or mixed-
bloods, and a large number of whites, consisting of
traders, employes of the government, and others.
Around the agencies were churches, and schools, and
warehouses, and stores, and residences, and shops,
forming thriving villages. A few miles above the
Yellow Medicine were the churches and schools of the
Eev. S. R Briggs and Dr. Williamson, long missiona-
ries among the Sioux. At Lac qui Parle there was
the dwelling-house and school of another missionary,
the Eev. Mr. Huggins, and a store-house and black-
smith-shop belonging to the government ; and on Big
Stone Lake, at the upper extreme of the reservation,
and at other points, trading-posts were established.
The reservation was fertile and well adapted to farm-
ing purposes. There was an excellent road through
it, upon which had recently been placed, over the
sloughs and streams, eighteen well-constructed bridges,
two of them fifty and one sixty-seven feet in length.
About three thousand acres had been plowed, fenced,
and planted, and which, as was afterward estimated,
would have yielded, had the Indians remained and
made a proper harvesting, over one hundred thousand
bushels of corn, potatoes, and turnips, besides five
hundred bushels of wheat, and large quantities of
beans, peas, pumpkins, and other vegetables. At both
agencies were saw -mills and corn -mills, and at the
upper agency a brick-yard, where was manufactured
a fine article similar to that made from the Milwaukee
clay ; also at both agencies were blacksmith and car-
penter shops, where wagons, sleds, and farming uten-
sils were made, and other ordinary work done. The
THE SCENE AND THE ACTORS. 25
Indians had plows, hoes, scythes, cradles, ox-gear-
ing, harness, carts, wagons, and the usual farming im-
plements, and oxen, cows, calves, and sheep, and
horses.* Large quantities of hay had been cut and
partially cured, and the materials for the erection of
some seventy or eighty new buildings prepared. The
" Farmer" Indians had coats, pants, shirts, coffeej tea,
salt, sugar, candles, soap, vinegar, molasses, rice, and
lard, and tubs, buckets, churns, hardware, and queens-
ware, and other household articles. New blacksmith
shops were being put in operation at different points,
and at the " Lower Agency" a bed of clay suitable for
the manufacture of brick, and similar to the one at
Yellow Medicine, had been discovered, and work com-
menced upon it for the purpose.
The agent, Mr. Galbraith, who was energetic and'
faithful, visited the whole reservation shortly before
the outbreak, and congratulated himself on the thriv-
ing appearance of affairs. A conversation which he
had with Little Crow, their head chief, three days be-
fore the fatal 18th of August, furnished no indica-
tion of what was about to transpire. Being aware of
Crow's influence among the Blanket Indians, Mr. Gal-
braith had previously promised to build him a good
house if he would aid in bringing around the idle
young men to habits of industry and civilization, and
would abandon the leadership of the Blanket Indians.
Crow assented to this, and the carpenter-work had
been ordered and nearly completed ; and in the con-
versation before alluded to, Little Crow selected a lo-
cation for it, and seemed to be well pleased with its
position. He had shortly before been defeated for the
* See Agent Galbraith's Report.
26 THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE.
speakership of the Lower Indians, but he said he cared
nothing about this, for, if elected, the other Indians
would be jealous of him. He stated he had a store, a
yoke of oxen, a wagon, and plenty of corn and pota-
toes, and was now living more comfortably than ever
before. He said he had just been grinding his scythe
to cut hay, and that two or three of his young rela-
tives were coming to help him, and that they would
soon cure enough for winter. There was a young In-
dian of his band present who, Crow said, could make
good gunstocks, and he showed a well -finished stock
which he had made, and requested that he should have
sent to him a set of tools with which to work. Crow
had spoken of this before, and Galbraith told him he
had sent for a complete set, and that they would soon
arrive. These, he said, were all the requests he had
to make, and believed they would be complied with.
So far removed from the agent's thoughts was the
terrible tragedy which afterward ensued, that the day
before its occurrence, leaving his family at Yellow
Medicine among the Indians, he started for Fort Snel-
ling with some forty-five men whom he had recruit-
ed on the reservation, consisting of half-breeds, em-
ployes of the government, and went as far as St. Pe-
Over the soil which Indians had sold civilization
had made rapid strides. From Ireland, Germany, Nor-
way, and Sweden, and many another country of the
Old World, and from every part of the New, had come
a quarter of a million of people, and made the land
their home. Through the once quiet waters of Lake
Pepin, past the tall cliff from which Winona had taken
her death-leap, countless steam-boats puffed their way,
THE SCENE AND THE ACTORS. 27
and within earshot of the cave where Carver heard
the Dakotas moaning and weeping for their depart-
ed, the locomotive uttered its harsh scream. 9
At St. Anthony's Falls, over which the canoe of
Scarlet Dove dashed when she sung her last song,
and to which the trembling Indian brought
"Belts of porcelain, pipes, and rings,
Tributes to be hung in air
To the fiend presiding there,"
prosperous villages had sprung up, and its mad wa-
ters whirled industry's vast machinery in obedience
to the voice of man. Far and wide, where the buf-
falo roamed, herds of cattle and the quiet sheep-flock
grazed, and the plowman turned the glebe. The scaf-
folding on which the Indian placed his dead passed
away, and the cemetery, with its cross and whitened,
marbles, took its place. Almost within stone's-throw
of the reservation was the prosperous town of New
Ulm, and emigrants even crowded upon the land in-
vacated by the treaty of 1858. Every where appear-
ed those works by which the great Caucasian mind
asserts itself supreme. Nor did the whites fear the
Indians. It is true that Inkpaduta and eight of his
band, in 1858, had killed some forty persons, but they
were outlaws from their tribe, their acts were discoun-
tenanced by their nation, and one of them fell by the
hand of Other Day, a native Dakota.
The weird religion of the savage, his mad dances,
his antique traditions, his strange attire, attracted at-
tention and interest, which were increased by the cer-
tainty of his not very distant extinction, and the fact
that he would never be forgotten while river, and lake,
and hill, and state, and county, and city, and town
28 THE SIOUX WAR AND MASSACRE.
should owe to his language their beautiful and har-
monious names. He passed unmolested on his hunt-
ing excursions through the settlements, and was en-
tertained at the homes of the whites, and bartered with
them the game which he killed. He battled with the
Chippeways in view of the town of Shakopee, and
danced his scalp-dance, and swung the reeking trophy
of his victim within sound of the steam printing-press
of St. Paul. The people of the state, and even stran-
gers from abroad, crowded unarmed and fearless to
the agencies when the payments were made, although
a thousand armed warriors, in their plumes and paint,
How many prophecies of danger there were the fol-
lowing chapter shall disclose.
CAUSES OF THE OUTBREAK. 31
CAUSES OF THE OUTBREAK.
THE Indians were predisposed to hostility toward
the whites. They regarded them with that repug-
nance which God has implanted as an instinct in dif-
ferent races for the preservation of their national in-
tegrity, and to prevent the subjection of the inferior
in industry and intelligence to the superior. When
they first caught sight of Hennepin they saluted him
with a discharge of arrows.
This inborn feeling was increased by the enormous
prices charged by the traders for goods, by their de-
bauchery of their women, and the sale of liquors,
which were attended by drunken brawls that often re-
sulted fatally to the participants. Death to the whites
would have followed years ago had not commercial
dealings with them, as before stated, become a matter
The prohibition by our government of their san-
guinary wars upon the Chippeways was another
source of grievance. To them it appeared a tyranni-
cal act. When upbraided during last summer for
evading this command, they answered with this home
thrust : "Our Great Father, we know, has always told
us it was wrong to make war, yet now he himself is
making war and killing a great many. Will you ex-