While the eyes of the nation were turned toward the conflict between North and South in 1862, in Minnesota, a Civil War of another kind burst into flames--a war that most people have never learned about.
The Dakota people, who had been quartered on a small strip of land bordering the Minnesota River in the southwest corner of the state, and who had been promised money and provisions for ceding their land, were facing starvation and hardship as those payments were delayed.
Tricked out of their land and deeply in debt to local traders, the Dakota were ripe for an uprising. In the spring of the year, tensions between the traders and the Indians boiled over, and the Dakota embarked on a rampage that laid siege to the state and resulted in the deaths of 400 Minnesota settlers.
The Minnesota Historical Society operates several sites important to preserving the history of the Dakota War of 1862.
At the epicenter of the War is the Redwood Agency, located in the southern part of what was the Dakota Reservation. The Agency was home to many traders (storekeepers,) the Indian Agent, and their families. It was here that many of the promised provisions were warehoused and kept under lock and key while the Agent waited for the annuity payment to arrive so he could parcel out goods and money at the same time.
|The Lower Sioux Agency Warehouse|
Photo by Erica Vetsch
It was here at the Redwood Agency, the first major attack of the War happened.
When you visit the site today, you'll see the stone warehouse, the layout of the Agency, an education center, and a short walk down to the river and the former site of the Redwood Ferry, where the occupants of the Agency fled, and where a contingent of soldiers from the nearby Fort Ridgely were massacred in a surprise attack.
|My son a few years ago, sitting on a massive fallen cottonwood tree (old enough to|
have been standing when the Redwood Ferry Battle occurred) on the Minnesota
River at the Lower Sioux Agency Historical Site: Photo by Erica Vetsch
You can learn much more by visiting a website administered by the Minnesota Historical Society at: http://www.usdakotawar.org/
Have you heard of the Dakota War? Are you familiar with the sites and the people involved?
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Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.comwhere you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!