150th Anniversary of the U.S. - Dakota War of 1862
Brown County, Minnesota


HISTORY OF EVENTS - This page contains the chronology of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, excerpts on the history of the U.S.-Dakota War along with some general U.S.-Dakota War Statistics and maps.

** This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the Web Masters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.**

Chronology of the 1862 Uprising

“The Dakota War of 1862” by Kenneth Carley

 Printable Version

August 17, 1862                Murder of five settlers at Acton in Meeker County

August 18, 1862                Attacks on Upper and Lower Sioux agencies, other settlements, and the
                                            ambush at Redwood Ferry; beginning of Chippewa disturbance at Gull Lake.

August 19, 1862                First attack on New Ulm; Sibley appointed to command volunteer troops.

August 20, 1862                First attack on Fort Ridgley; attacks on the Lake Shetek and West
                                             Lake settlements.

August 22, 1862                Main attack on Fort Ridgely

August 23, 1862                Second attack on New Ulm

September 2, 1862            Battle of Birch Coulee

September 3, 1862            Skirmish at Acton and attack on Fort Abercrombie

September 4, 1862            Attacks on Forest City and Hutchinson

September 6, 1862            Second attack on Fort Abercrombie

September 23, 1862          Battle of Wood Lake

September 26, 1862          Surrender of captives at Camp Release

September 28, 1862          Military commission appointed to try Indians who participated in the uprising.

December 26, 1862           Thirty-eight Sioux executed at Mankato.

Below are two excerpts taken from the publications“Charles E. Flandrau and the Defense of New Ulm” & The Dakota War of 1862”
. Sources are listed with each title.

The following excerpt is taken from:                                                                                                                                        Printable Version


“Charles E. Flandrau and the Defense of New Ulm”

Edited by Russell W. Fridley and Leota M. Kellett and June D. Holmquist.

New Ulm

The Brown County Historical Society, 1962. Pages 19-21.


The outbreak was ignited at Acton in Meeker County on Sunday, August 17, when four young Wahpeton braves murdered several settlers. That evening at a large council, held at Chief Little Crow’s house near the Lower Agency, the Sioux made their fateful decision to drive the whites from the Minnesota Valley. Little Crow led a large-scale attack upon the Lower Agency the following morning, August 18, killing many of the traders and white there. Others escaped across the river on the Redwood Ferry and carried the news to Fort Ridgely. Captain John S. Marsh, the fort’s commander, immediately led a rescue force to Redwood Ferry, where he drowned when the troops were ambushed and virtually wiped out that same afternoon. On the eighteenth also hostilities began at the Upper Agency. Missionaries Stephen R. Riggs and Thomas S. Williamson, residing nearby, were warned of danger by friendly Indians and with about thirty other whites were led to safety at Hutchinson by the faithful Other Day.

After their conquest of the two agencies, a large, organized force of Sioux warriors, under the over-all leadership of Chief Little Crow, swept down the Minnesota Valley. On August 19, approximately a hundred Indians attacked the exposed frontier community of New Ulm, the largest settlement near the Sioux reservation. The townspeople hastily erected barricades and, mustering what few arms they could, successfully beat off the Indians. Little Crow launched two massive assaults on Fort Ridgely on August 20 and 22.  Meanwhile marauding parties of Mdewankanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, and Sisseton fanned out over much of southwestern Minnesota, leaving behind then a trail of rapine and death.

As the second battle of New Ulm took shape, the uprising was entering it’s sixth day. By then the Indians were amply justified in approaching the encounter with confidence. In five short days, they had rolled back the frontier to vulnerable Fort Ridgely and to the exposed and hastily constructed barricades of New Ulm. They had killed hundreds of settlers and taken a large number of captives, and they had regained much of the fertile land reluctantly ceded to the whites under the treaties of 1851. The surprised settlers had offered little resistance. Thus the Indians continued their offensive down the valley with increased momentum. On Saturday, August 23, as they again approached New Ulm – this time with a large force, superior weapons, and many seasoned warriors – it is evident that a climatic encounter between Indian and settler was to take place…

The attack was lightly renewed the following morning, and then the Indians withdrew. It was at this point that Flandrau and his officers decided to evacuate the townspeople and escort them to Mankato, for food was running low and disease threatened.

On the mass exodus from New Ulm on August 25, Flandrau wrote: “We made up a train of 153 wagons, which had largely composed our barricades, loaded them with women and children, and about eighty wounded men, and started.


The following excerpt is taken from:                                                                                                                               Printable Version

“The Dakota War of 1862”

Minnesota’s Other Civil War

by Kenneth Carley

Chapter 1: Causes of the Sioux Uprising

From the reservations along the upper Minnesota River, the proud Native Americans known as the Dakota or Sioux Indians, under the leadership of Chief Little Crow, rose to take the settlers in the Minnesota Valley by surprise. Before the Sioux Uprising (or Dakota or Sioux War, as it is sometimes called) could be brought under control, at least 450 – and perhaps as many as 800 – white settlers and soldiers were killed, and considerable property was destroyed in southern Minnesota. Measured in terms of numbers of civilians lives lost, the outbreak was one of the worst in American history, and it launched a series of Indian wars on the northern plains that did not end until 1890 with the battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota.

The correct name of this Native American nation is Dakota, meaning “friends” or “allies.” Sioux is a contraction of Nadouessioux (meaning “snake” or “snakelike enemy”), a name originally given them by their enemies, the Chippewa (or Ojibway)…

The exact number of dead in the war will never be known. The most thorough student of uprising casualties, Marion P. Satterlee, a Minneapolis newspaperman, arrived at a figure of 447 whites, civilians and military, in his final list compiled in 1919. Assuming the Satterlee missed some, the figure of 500 once offered by Governor Alexander Ramsey seems a good estimate. Since the Indians always tried to carry away of conceal their dead, we have no clear idea of Sioux losses. Later testimony by Indians indicated a total of twenty-one Dakota dead in various battles.

What caused the 1862 uprising on the Minnesota frontier? The answer lies in a complex of reasons, some stemming from past events and some immediate and peculiar to the time. In the broadest sense, the war of 1862 was a small segment of the Sioux’s long history of conflict, first with other Indian tribes and then with the white man.

Chapter 8: The Two Battles of New Ulm


The morning of August 18 was a festive occasion in New Ulm. The people turned out to give a rousing send-off to a recruiting party, heading west over the prairie to enlist Civil War volunteers among the farmers working in the August sunshine. As we have seen, this group was ambushed in Milford Township. The survivors raced back to New Ulm, bringing what was possibly the town’s first word of the Indian outbreak. About the same time, farm families began to stream into the settlement with the terrifying news.

The first Sioux assault on New Ulm came about 3:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 19, when perhaps a hundred warriors dismounted on the bluff behind the town and began firing. The small number of citizens with rifles returned the fire as best they could and kept the Indians pretty well at bay…

Late in the afternoon the defenders got a big assist from a thunderstorm that seemed to discourage the Indians… the Indians appeared about ready to leave when Boardman and his men arrived from St. Peter in time to get in on the very last of the fighting and to occasion arguments from that day to this over who saved the town on August 19.

U.S.-Dakota War Statistics

Population in 1860:
Brown County: 2,339
New Ulm: 635
Milford: 479, in 1865 population dropped to 306

Populations in New Ulm in 1862 is estimated at about 900.

Estimates of deaths during the entire U.S.-Dakota War is at least 450 and perhaps as many as 800 white settlers and soldiers.
New Ulm: about 30
Milford Township: over 50 (the highest rate of any state township)
Fort Ridgley: 3

First battle of New Ulm, August 19, defenders: Approximately 100 per Roos.
First: Rifleman, largely of former Cincinnati Turners commanded by Louis Theobold, 14 men.
Second: Double barreled guns commanded by E.F. Brunk, 18 men.
Third: poor shot guns commanded by J. Chaikowitz, 12 men.
15-18 men, armed with various guns, not in formal divisions.
Estimate of Dakota was 300 per Nix.

Mass Exodus from New Ulm on August 25:
153 wagons from barricade
80 wounded men
1500 refugees
According to Flandrau: "Here was the population of one of the most flourishing towns in the state abandoning their homes and property, starting on a journey of thirty odd miles, through a hostile country, with a possibility of being massacred on the way, and no hope or prospect but the hospitality of strangers and ultimate beggery."

258 buildings in New Ulm in 1862 of those about 190 burned and 68 remained.

Second Battle: Approximately 250-350 defenders. Estimated between 400-700 Dakota

According to Flandrau: over 140 persons were killed or fatally wounded in Brown County during the Uprising.

(Click Images for Enlargement)



Photos courtesy of the Brown County Historical Society

Additional Historical Information/Images

Joseph Brown and the Dakota Indians in Washington DC 1858   
Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Lincoln Executive Mansion - Execution Order of Dakota Indians in December 1862  Page 1   Page 2   Page 3

Website Builder