The Redwood Gazette December 26, 1862 stories of the Sioux Uprising & of the 38 Sioux Indians Hanged in Mankato, MN.
Long Overdue Cash Came Day Too Late To Prevent Uprising
Preliminaries to the uprising of the Dakotah Indians took Place at both agencies in August, events that should have given serious thought to government officials.
Both events stemmed from tardy annuity payments, due in June but not arriving until August 18, the day the uprising began.
The Dakotas suffered through a bad winter. Game had not been plentiful for the blanket Indians, and the crops of the farmer Indians had been bad.
Emergency government rations saved many from starvation. Settlers and government workers gave out food from their private stocks. Traders extended credit.
Dakotahs placed their hope on the annuity. Upper tribes delayed annual buffalo hunts to wait at Upper Agency for money to buy food. They ate most of their dogs and many of their horses while they waited.
Surliness was the rule about Lower Agency.
Agent T.J. Galbraith refused to parcel out regular food allotments until the money arrived. He requested soldiers for protection against the large camp at Upper Agency. Answering his call, Lt. Timothy J. Sheehan and 50 men of Company C. Fifth Minnesota Volunteer regiment, marched down from Fort Ripley and reinforces by a detachment of Fort Ridgley troops under Lt. Thomas P. Gere, stationed themselves at the Upper Agency.
Trouble came August 4. The troops found themselves surrounded by scores of armed braves, most of the arms pointed unerringly at the white soldiers. Indians quickly battered down the door to the big stone warehouse and as quickly scurried away with sides of pork and sacks of flour.
The looting attracted the attention of the massed braves long enough for the soldiers to unlimber two small cannon, which they zeroed in on the warehouse door, fuses ready.
That broke up the looting and a parley was called. Three days later Capt. John S. Marsh, Fort Ridgely commandant, and Rev. Stephen R. Riggs from nearby Hazelwood mission, persuaded Galbraith to issue supplies.
The Upper Indians returned to their camp sites, many of the northern bands started on a belated buffalo hunt.
This helped the Lower Indians not at all, however.
Galbraith arrived at Lower agency August 11 with a company of men he had recruited from the area. The men called themselves Renville Rangers but were to become Company I, Tenth Minnesota, as soon as they reached Fort Snelling. More than half the company were mixed bloods.
Burning because they could not get supplies as the Upper Indians had, Lower chiefs called Galbraith to a council in the agency square. Most of the traders also attended.
Galbraith could not tell them why the money was so late. Nor could he give them any more rations. Perhaps, he suggested, the traders could extend credit.
Feeling that was never good between trader and Indian customer was running worse. The late annuity payment was hurting the traders too. They had earlier decided not to extend credit, which the Indians seemed to feel was theirs as a natural right. Bitter words had passed more than once between traders and Indians.
“No more credit,” the traders reiterated. “But our people are hungry,” protested chiefs.
“If they are hungry, let them eat grass,” was part of the answer Andrew Myrick retorted.
The angry chiefs stalked home. The following day Galbraith and the Renville Rangers moved on to Fort Ridgely.
The new recruits left the fort Sunday, August 17. The word of the uprising reached them at St. Peter late Monday.
Words of the Lower Agency council came back to haunt the white man.
Myrick died the first day, his dead mouth was stuffed with grass.
That Chief Little Crow remembered the council is evident. In a letter to Brig. Gen Henry H Sibley after peace overtures were made following the Battle of Birch Coulie, the chief wrote: “For what reason we have commenced this war, I will tell you. It is on account of Maj. Galbraith. We made a treaty with the government, and beg for what we do get, and can’t get that till our children are dying with hunger. “It is the traders who commenced it. Mr. A.J. Myrick told the Indians that they would eat grass or dirt. Then Mr. Forbes told the Lower Sioux that they were not men. Then Roberts was working with his friends to defraud us out of our moneys…”
The annual money reached Fort Ridgely the day the Dakotahs burned Lower Agency. It arrived too late to stop the devastation.
Source: The Redwood Gazette December 26, 1862
Hangings, May End Tension Mob Violence
The tension that has prevailed since the end of the Sioux uprising should lessen somewhat after the hangings today, predicts Col. Stephen Miller, commanding officer of the Seventh Minnesota Volunteer Regiments and Commandant of the Indian prison at Mankato.
Feelings has run high, he points out, in both directions. Those opposed to capital punishment are protesting loudly, but are scarcely heard in the roar of the opposite extremists who want death for all Indians. In between are the moderates who judge most of the confined Indians as prisoners of war.
Soldiers have had to deal on several occasions with the bitter animosity held toward the Indians by civilians. While Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley, now commander of the Minnesota department of the United States army, was marching the prisoners from Lower Agency to Mankato they and the small retinue of squaws, brought along to do the cooking, were set upon by a mob at New Ulm. The fettered prisoners were unable to defend themselves, and several soldiers were hurt, none seriously, in holding back the irate crowd.
At Mankato about three weeks ago Col. Miller stopped a mob of about 200 men who had gathered from several saloons and tramped to the prison intent on lynching the prisoners.
Lt. Col. William R. Marshall, Seventh regiment executive officer, encountered a mob at Henderson when his soldiers marched through there enroute to the winter camp at Fort Snelling with the 1,500 Indian women and children and the few men not convicted by the military commission. There a white woman grabbed an Indian baby from its mother’s arms and dashed it to the ground so violently it died a few hours later.
Officials other than Col. Miller have expressed great concern for the possible violence resulting from this strong anti-Indian feeling. Gen. Sibley in an official dispatch said that pardoning any of the prisoners would enrage citizens into a “determined effort to get (the prisoner) in possession, which will be resented, and may cost the lives of thousands of our citizens.”
Governor Alexander Ramsey wrote to President Abraham Lincoln, then going over the military commissions’ findings. “I hope the execution of every Sioux condemned by the military court will at once be ordered. It would be wrong upon principle and policy to refuse this. Private revenge would on all this border take the place of official judgment on these Indians.”
Also writing to President Lincoln, Gen. John Pope, commander of the Northwest department, reported, “…if the guilty are not executed I think it nearly impossible to prevent the indiscriminate massacre of all the Indians … (including the) 1,500 women and children and innocent old men prisoners.”
But apparently President Lincoln did not take the advice of these officials. Possibly he listened more closely to Indian Commissioner William P. Dole, who said,”…indiscriminate punishment of men who have laid down their arms and surrendered themselves as prisoners (would be) a stain upon our national character and a source of future regret.”
After going over the commission records, he found, the president told congress, that only two of the prisoners had been proved guilty of rape, and only 40 were connected with “wanton murder of unarmed citizens.” He ordered 39 to be executed, later reprieved another, and the 38 were hanged today. The rest were judged prisoners of war.
The predicted mass violence has not come to pass, and is less likely to as the memories of the horrors of the outbreak gradually diminish.
Source: The Redwood Gazette December 26, 1862
38 Sioux Uprisers Hanged 268 Others, Granted Reprieves By Lincoln, Watch From Log Prison
Thirty-eight Indians and mixed bloods were hanged simultaneously at 10 a.m. today at Mankato, judged guilty of crimes committed during the Sioux outbreak in August and September.
Remaining imprisoned are 268 others, sentenced to death earlier by a military commission but reprieved by President Abraham Lincoln. They watched the execution through chinks between the logs of their prison building.
The condemned prisoners marched in a single file from the prison to the huge scaffold, their faces covered with muslin caps, their hands lashed tightly before them.
Led by the provost marshal, they stumbled up the steps. Soldiers led the doomed men beneath the dangling nooses, then slipped the ropes over the covered heads. The scaffold is square, built to accommodate 40 at a time around it circumference. But President Lincoln ordered the deaths of only 39, and just before Christmas another, Tatemina, was respited. The two empty nooses twitched in the chill air.
Around the scaffold and at a distance, lines of soldiers stood at attention-infantry and cavalry. Beyond them was the crowd which had come to witness the hangings. Some were there who had lost families to the men whose faces were covered, lost relatives, friends, home and money. Others had been no nearer the outbreak than 50 miles. Others came for the occasion from points east.
Largely the spectators were serious, though there had been jokes and laughter in the cold air earlier, before the prisoners had come forth. Colonel Stephen Miller, prison commandant, closed all liquor establishments for the day. The crowd was sober.
Almost on cue the doomed men broke into the “hi-yi-yi” of the Dakota death chant. They swayed back and forth, moving the scaffold with them. The provost marshal shouted them down.
Then they broke into discordant yelling. Interpreters said some were protesting the wearing of caps over their faces. Some were shouting their own names and the names of others of the condemned, and repeating “I am here!”
By swinging their bound arms side to side, a few managed to grasp the hands of those next to them. The provost marshal and soldiers hurried from the scaffold.
The crowd and Indians alike fell silent as a drummer boomed out three slow rolling beats. The crowd seemed to sense the tenseness the Indians must have felt inside their masks. The Indians started shouting again.
The third rolling drum beat ended. Provost Marshal Joseph R. Brown dropped his hands, the signal. William J. Dudley of Lake Shetek, two of whose children died in the outbreak and whose wife is still missing, nervously tried to cut the trap door rope with a long knife. He missed clumsily he tried again.
The rope parted and all 40 trap doors sprang. Ropes jerked with the sudden weight, grasping hands were rudely parted, shouts were choked off. A cheer from the crowd straggled into the breath-fogged air.
A rope broke and a body dropped in a heap on the frozen ground. The neck was broken but the body was hanged again.
The last Indian was declared dead. He was cut down and laid beside the others.
Carts carried the bodies to the bank of the Blue Earth river where two large graves had been scratched among the willows. Covered with blankets, the bodies were deposited.
Final prayers were, said by the missionaries – Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic – who had baptized all but two a few days earlier.
Dirt and sand was hastily thrown over the forms. The burial party scurried away, leaving only a couple of curious onlookers.
The willows bobbed in the wind, the same wind that was blowing over shallow graves dotting the blackened prairies and hidden in now quiet valleys of the upper Minnesota, graves of victims of the outbreak five months ago.
Source: The Redwood Gazette December 26, 1862