August 19

This Day in History

Civil War

Aug 19, 1862:

Dakota Indians bypass Fort Ridgely

On the third day of the Dakota (Sioux) uprising in Minnesota, warriors debate whether they should attack a garrison inside of Fort Ridgely. Concluding that the fort was too strong, the Dakota moved on to the settlement of New Ulm, killing settlers along the way.

The uprising began when the Dakota bands were pushed to the limit during a summer in which their crops were destroyed by insects and many families faced starvation. Attempts to get local merchants to extend them credit failed, and promised provisions from the Federal government were not forthcoming. This came after years of white settlement had whittled the Dakota territory down to a few small, temporary reservations. The uprising exploded on August 17 when some young Dakota men killed members of a nearby white family.

Knowing that the tribe would be blamed for the atrocity, the Dakota, led by Taoyateduta (also known as Little Crow), began attacking local farms and killing settlers. A force of 46 soldiers was dispatched to head off the Dakota, but they were ambushed along the way, and more than half were killed. The Dakota next headed to the fort, where they found less than 50 soldiers and nearly 200 frightened settlers taking refuge in a cluster of buildings, as the fort had no stockade.

On the morning of August 19, the warriors conferred in full view of the garrison and refugees. After deciding that the fort was too strong, the warriors attacked the nearby German community of New Ulm, killing 17 townspeople.

The uprising would last for two more months before Union troops subdued the rebellion. More than 500 whites were killed and 2,000 Indians captured. On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors were hanged for their participation in the uprising.

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