The Project Gutenberg EBook of Old Fort Snelling, by Marcus L. Hansen

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Title: Old Fort Snelling

Author: Marcus L. Hansen

Release Date: September 22, 2007 [EBook #22719]

Language: English

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Book Cover.


From a painting by Captain Seth Eastman, reproduced in Mrs. Eastman's Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling








The establishment in 1917 of a camp at Fort Snelling for the training of officers for the army has aroused curiosity in the history of Old Fort Snelling. Again as in the days of the pioneer settlement of the Northwest the Fort at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers has become an object of more than ordinary interest.

Old Fort Snelling was established in 1819 within the Missouri Territory on ground which later became a part of the Territory of Iowa. Not until 1849 was it included within Minnesota boundaries. Linked with the early annals of Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Northwest, the history of Old Fort Snelling is the common heritage of many commonwealths in the Upper Mississippi Valley.

The period covered in this volume begins with the establishment of the Fort in 1819 and ends with the temporary abandonment of the site as a military post in 1858.

Benj. F. Shambaugh

Office of the Superintendent and Editor
The State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa City Iowa




The position which the military post holds in western history is sometimes misunderstood. So often has a consideration of it been left to the novelist's pen that romantic glamour has obscured the permanent contribution made by many a lonely post to the development of the surrounding region. The western fort was more than a block-house or a picket. Being the home of a handful of soldiers did not give it its real importance: it was an institution and should be studied as such. Old Fort Snelling is a type of the many remote military stations which were scattered throughout the West upon the upper waters of the rivers or at intermediate places on the interminable stretches of the westward trails.

This study of the history and influence of Old Fort Snelling was first undertaken at the suggestion of Dr. Louis Pelzer of the State University of Iowa, and was carried on under his supervision. The results of the investigation were accepted as a thesis in the Graduate College of the State University of Iowa in June, 1917. Upon the suggestion of Dr. Benj. F. Shambaugh, Superintendent of The State Historical Society of Iowa, the plan of the work was changed, its scope enlarged, many new sources of information [viii] were consulted, and the entire manuscript rewritten.

Connected with so many of the aspects of western history, Old Fort Snelling is pictured in accounts both numerous and varied. The reports of government officials, the relations of travellers and explorers, and the reminiscences of fur traders, pioneer settlers, and missionaries show the Fort as each author, looking at it from the angle of his particular interest, saw it. These published accounts are found in the Annual Reports of the Secretary of War, in the Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and in the works of travellers and pioneers. Many of the most important sources are the briefer accounts printed in the Minnesota Historical Collections. The author's dependence upon these sources of information is evident upon every page of this volume.

But not alone from these sources, which are readily accessible, is this account of the Old Fort drawn. A half-burned diary, the account books of the post sutler, letter books filled with correspondence dealing with matters which are often trivial, and statistical returns of men and equipment are sources which from their nature may never be printed. But in them reposes much of the material upon which this book is based. The examination of all the documents which offered any prospect of throwing light upon the subject was made possible for the author as Research Assistant in The State Historical Society [ix] of Iowa. And in this connection I wish to express my appreciation for the many courtesies which I have received from those in whose custody these sources are kept. To Dr. Solon J. Buck, Superintendent of the Minnesota Historical Society and the members of the library staff of that Society I am indebted for many kindnesses. Dr. M. M. Quaife, Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, placed at my disposal thousands of sheets of transcripts made from the records of the Indian Department at Washington and kept in the library of the Historical Society at Madison. At the Historical Department of Iowa at Des Moines, and in the library of the Kansas State Historical Society at Topeka opportunity was granted to examine valuable manuscripts. General H. P. McCain, Adjutant-General of the United States, had a search made of the records on file in the archives of the War Department at Washington, and such papers as dealt with Fort Snelling were consulted by the author.

My fellow workers on the staff of The State Historical Society of Iowa have often aided me with suggestions and criticisms. To the Superintendent of the Society, Dr. Benj. F. Shambaugh, I wish to express my appreciation not only for the advice, encouragement, and inspiration which he freely gave, but also for the willingness with which he made possible the investigation of every clue to sources of information by correspondence or by personal visit. [x] Moreover, the manuscript has been carefully edited by him. The task of seeing the work through the press has been performed by Associate Editor Dr. Dan E. Clark, who also carefully read the manuscript and compiled the index. Miss Helen Otto assisted in the verification of the manuscript.

Marcus L. Hansen

The State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa City Iowa








On an autumn day in 1766 Captain Jonathan Carver stood upon the bluff which rises at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers and viewed the wonderful landscape of prairie and wooded valleys that lay before him. As a captain in the colonial troops of Connecticut he had served his king faithfully in the late war with France; and now in the days of peace which followed the glorious victory he sought to continue his usefulness by exploring the vast regions which had been added to the domains of Great Britain and Spain. Three years of travel in the wilderness taught him that those wild lands would not always be the haunt of savage animals and wandering tribes.

To what power or authority this new world will become dependent, after it has arisen from its present uncultivated state, time alone can discover, he later wrote. But as the seat of Empire, from time immemorial has been gradually progressive towards the West, there is no doubt but that at some future period, mighty kingdoms will emerge from these wildernesses, and stately palaces and solemn temples, with gilded spires reaching the skies, supplant the [002] Indian huts, whose only decorations are the barbarous trophies of their vanquished enemies.1

Not until the twenty-fourth day of August, 1819, when less than a hundred soldiers of the Fifth United States Infantry disembarked opposite the towering height where a few years later rose the white walls of Fort Snelling, did the nation which was to rule assert its power. The event was, indeed, epochal. It not only marked a change in the sovereignty over the vast region, but it also made possible the development of those factors which were to bring about the great transformation.

It was for the upper country that this fort was built—a country stretching from the Great Lakes across the wooded headwaters of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers to the plains of the Missouri. The history of this region is marked by several distinct periods: the coming of the French traders, the supremacy of the English companies, the establishment of military posts of the United States, and the building of American communities.

Although at the opening of the second decade of the nineteenth century the American troops quartered on the west banks of the Mississippi River were on soil that, in name, had been American for sixteen years, and although they looked over the river to land that had since 1783 belonged to their country, yet they had in fact taken possession of a foreign land. English, French, and Spanish flags had at various times waved over certain parts of it. [003] Foreign influence, during a century and a half, had become widespread and deeply rooted.

When in 1634 Jean Nicollet visited the Wisconsin country the French advance into the upper Northwest had begun.2 From 1658 to 1660 Radisson and Groseilliers wandered among the tribes and brought the first canoe loads of furs to Canada from the far West. Then along with the missionaries, Hennepin and Marquette, came the coureurs des bois, Nicholas Perrot and Daniel Greyloson Duluth. It is unnecessary to recite in detail the exploits of these Frenchmen and their successors.3 For a century the songs of unknown boatmen rose from the waters of the western rivers; unknown traders smoked in the lodges of Sioux and Chippewas; and hardy wanderers whose feats of discovery are unrecorded, leaving behind the Missouri River, saw from afar the wonders of the Shining Mountains.4 But if no record of them remains, their influence was lasting. Living with the natives, supplying their needs by barter, and marrying the Indian girls, the French gained a remarkable power over the northwestern tribes, which caused them to consider whoever came from Canada their friend, even after the English government had supplanted the French in power.

West of the lakes the transition from the French to the English rule created no disturbances, such as Pontiac's conspiracy which so completely disrupted the trade in the East.5 Continuing the French policy and also their posts and voyageurs, the Scottish [004] merchants of Montreal, organized in 1784 as the North West Company, pushed westward from Green Bay and southward from Lake Winnipeg. This advance was continued until the opening years of the next century. Although on nominally Spanish territory, the tribes on the upper Missouri were won from the Spanish traders at St. Louis by such severe cutting in prices that the latter could not compete. The posts of the North West Company on the Red River of the North became the resort for many of the western tribes.6

The diverting of the trade of these natives, who would naturally have come down the Missouri where American traders could meet them and be benefited, was noticed by President Jefferson, who, on January 18, 1803, wrote to Congress: It is, however, understood, that the country on that river is inhabited by numerous tribes, who furnish great supplies of furs and peltry to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high latitude, through an infinite number of portages and lakes, shut up by ice through a long season. In this same message was included a recommendation that a small expedition be sent up to confer with the tribes with respect to the admission of American traders.7

But the purchase of Louisiana altered matters. It was not only a matter of trade, but one of sovereignty. A double movement was initiated: one to ascend the Mississippi under Zebulon M. Pike, and the other the Missouri under Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark. The reports [005] of these two expeditions indicate how firm a grip the English traders had upon the Indians of the upper Northwest.

The expedition of Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri and passed over the mountains to the Columbia River which was followed to the coast. The first winter, from late in October, 1804, to early in April, 1805, was spent in a fort which was constructed in the village of the Mandans, near the location of the present city of Mandan in North Dakota. Here was abundant opportunity to investigate the fur trade. Nor had they long to wait. On the 27th of November, seven British traders arrived from the North West Company's post on the Assiniboine River to barter with the river tribes. The next day, in council with the Mandan chiefs, the Americans warned the Indians not to receive medals or flags from the foreigners if they wished to be friends with the Great American Father. A day later this warning was communicated to the traders themselves who promised to refrain from any such acts.8 How well they kept their promises later events showed. The Lewis and Clark expedition was only a passing pageant; for by the time of the War of 1812, the only American traders who ventured to do business on the upper waters were practically driven off by the foreign companies.9

The report of Zebulon M. Pike indicates that conditions were much worse on the upper Mississippi. Leaving St. Louis on August 9, 1805, he returned to that place on April 30, 1806. About two months [006] were spent at a fort erected near the site of Little Falls, where he left a few men and pushed on with the rest of the company to Leech Lake. Conversation with the fur traders and councils with the Indians revealed the extent of the commerce of the North West Company. He heard of permanent trading posts on the south side of Lake Superior and at the headwaters of the St. Croix River; and he saw at Lower Red Cedar Lake, Sandy Lake, and Leech Lake the rude stockades and log buildings which were called forts.10 These three posts were included in the Department of Fond du Lac and were the centers from which in the year 1805, trade with the Indians was carried on by one hundred and nine men.11 By means of the rivers and portages of the wilderness the furs were brought to Canada without passing a custom house, and thus the United States was defrauded of duties which, it was estimated, would amount to $26,000 annually.12

Pike objected to many of the evident signs of British sovereignty: the British flag flying above the headquarters of the department of Fond du Lac was shot down;13 many of the Indians were induced to give up their British medals and flags;14 and Hugh M'Gillis, agent of the company for the district, in response to Pike's letter of complaint, promised in the future to refrain from displaying the British flag, presenting medals, or talking politics to the Indians.15 But his promises were no more seriously given than those of his brethren on the Missouri.

Little of permanent value would have been accomplished [007] if the acts of the explorer on September 23, 1805, had been omitted. The instructions issued to Pike on July 30, 1805, stated: You will be pleased to obtain permission from the Indians who claim the ground, for the erection of military posts and trading-houses at the mouth of the river St. Pierre [the Minnesota River], the falls of St. Anthony, and every other critical point which may fall under your observation; these permissions to be granted in formal conferences, regularly recorded, and the ground marked off.16

When Pike reached the mouth of the Minnesota River, the natural features of the locality convinced him of the advantages which would arise from a fort located at that point. From the high bluff lying between the Minnesota and the Mississippi rivers the course of both streams would be under the sweep of the guns. Sheer walls of stone rising from the Mississippi could prevent invasion; and the fur trading business could be regulated, as all boats entering or leaving the Indian country must use one or the other of the two rivers.

A bower was constructed of sails, and on September 23rd Pike spoke to the Sioux Indians there assembled concerning the transfer of Louisiana, the futility of their wars with the Chippewas, and the evils of rum. He asked them to cede to the United States lands for military posts, and dwelt on the value of these posts to the Indians. To this the chiefs assented, receiving in return presents valued at $200 and sixty gallons of liquor. The terms of [008] the treaty provided that the Sioux should cede to the United States tracts for the purpose of establishment of military posts, at the mouth of the Minnesota and at the mouth of the St. Croix. A money consideration was also mentioned, but a blank was left which was later filled in by the Senate with $2000.17

The government, busy with distressing foreign affairs, neglected to make a permanent occupation of the explored region. A struggle between the American and British governments was arising over events far remote from the northern lakes and woods. But the Canadian authorities saw the necessity of having Indian allies for the approaching struggle. As early as 1807 reports from the West indicated hostile feelings on the part of the Indians toward the Americans, and an official at Mackinac wrote on August 30, 1807, that this condition is principally to be attributed to the influence of foreigners trading in the country.18 Captain A. Gray, who was sent to inquire into the aid which the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company could furnish, reported to Sir George Prevost, commander of the British forces in Canada, on January 12, 1812: By means of these Companies, we might let loose the Indians upon them throughout the whole extent of their Western frontier, as they have a most commanding influence over them. In a memorandum of plans for the defence of Canada, General Brock noted that the Co-operation of the Indians [009] will be attended with great expence in presents provisions &c.19

To this alliance the Indians gave willing ears. Their interests lay with the British rather than with the Americans. The economic stability of Canada rested upon the fur trade, which in turn could survive only if the free life of the hunt and the chase, which the Indians loved so well, was left them. But with the Americans were associated the making of treaties and the ceding of land. The Indians preferred to see upon their rivers the canoe of the trader rather than the flatboat of the pioneer.20

The coming of hostilities was received joyfully by all the inhabitants of the Northwest. To the Indian it meant an opportunity to avenge past wrongs; the Canadian hoped to make secure his present condition; and the American settler saw a chance to drive out both enemies—Indians and foreign traders alike. The news of the declaration of war reached the great rendezvous of the North West Company at Fort William on the northern shore of Lake Superior on the sixteenth of July, 1812, and the next day one of the traders left for the interior to rouse the natives. The agent of the company at this post wrote enthusiastically: I have not the least doubt but our force, will in ten days hence, amount to at least five thousand effective men.21

But already a sufficient number of Indians had come to the aid of the English to render service. On the very next day the English flag replaced the [010] American above the fort at Mackinac. No sooner had the news of the beginning of hostilities become known at the neighboring British post at St. Joseph's than immediate preparations were made. The Indians were marshalled for the attack, and a vessel belonging to the North West Company was requisitioned. The morning of July 17th revealed the American fort surrounded by Indians and commanded by a cannon which had been dragged upon a height of land. Seeing the futility of resistance the garrison surrendered and marched out before noon. Of the total attacking force of 1021 there were Indians to the number of 715, of whom the British leader wrote, although these people's minds were much heated, yet as soon as they heard the Capitulation was signed they all returned to their Canoes, and not one drop either of Man's or Animal's Blood was Spilt, till I gave an Order for a certain number of Bullocks to be purchased for them.22 The ease with which the capture was made had the effect of bringing to the English standards all the Indians of the Northwest, except a part of the Miamis and Delawares, in spite of the fact that they had earlier made promises of neutrality.23

Although the capture of the fort at Mackinac was accomplished without any Indian atrocities, the success of that day was to precipitate a massacre, long to rankle in the minds of the pioneers of the West. Immediately upon hearing of the capture of the fort, General Hull wrote to Captain Heald in command at Fort Dearborn ordering the evacuation of that post. [011] On the morning of August 15th, as the small garrison of fifty-five regulars and twelve militia were leaving the fort with their women and children, they were fallen upon by a force of five hundred Indians. Twenty-six regulars, all the militiamen, two women, and twelve children were murdered on the spot. An unknown number of wounded prisoners were that evening victims at what the Indians termed a general frolic.24

In the meantime Robert Dickson, who for many years had been a Prairie du Chien fur trader, was continuing his activities as recruiter of Indians for British service. This was the same Dickson who had in 1802 received an American commission as a justice of the peace,25 and had later entertained Pike and his men with a supper and a dram, impressing the American explorer as a man of open, frank manners.26 Now, in January, 1813, he was appointed by Great Britain agent for the Indians of the several Nations to the Westward of Lake Huron.27

By June 23, 1813, he had already sent eight hundred Indians to Detroit and had collected six hundred at Mackinac.28 The summer of 1813 was spent in operations about Detroit, but in the winter he was again active in the West.29 Great alarm was felt at St. Louis when rumors came telling of the great force he was collecting.30 Accordingly, late in the spring of 1814, Governor William Clark of Missouri Territory proceeded up the Mississippi and at Prairie du Chien built a stockade named Fort Shelby. [012] It was garrisoned by about sixty men.31 News of this movement soon came to Mackinac, and prompted the British commandant to prepare a counter-expedition. On the seventeenth of July the force composed of five hundred and fifty men, of whom four hundred were Indians, arrived outside the post. Immediately a summons to surrender was sent. The American commander at first refused, but two days later agreed to capitulate providing the Indians would be kept in check. The surrender took place on July 20th, and the captor christened the stockade Fort McKay in honor of himself.32

Thus, the Indians about the Mississippi had been present at the surrender of two posts and had participated in a massacre. British arms had been successful, and the close of the war found British prestige very high.

The Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, closed the war; and Article IX of that treaty provided that the United States should make peace with the Indian tribes and restore to them the possessions, rights and privileges which they had enjoyed before hostilities.33 President Madison accordingly appointed William Clark, Ninian Edwards, and Auguste Chouteau as commissioners to enter into treaties of peace with the warring tribes of the upper Mississippi and the upper Missouri. Only with extreme difficulty was word of the negotiations sent to the tribes. The hostility of the Indians living about the mouth of the Rock River made it necessary that the messenger [013] proceed to Prairie du Chien by way of the Missouri River, and then across country.34

Although treaties were concluded with those who did come to the council, none were eager to negotiate. The Chippewas, Menominees, and Winnebagoes even refused to send delegations; and the Sacs of Rock River not only refused to attend, but also showed their contempt by continually harassing the frontier settlements during the time of the negotiations.35 This opposition, the commissioners reported, was due to the presence of an unusual number of British traders among the Indians. The report closed with the opinion that the exertion of the military power of the Government will be necessary to secure the peace and safety of this country.36

For some years it had been customary for the British authorities to send presents to the Indians on the Mississippi, and Robert Dickson had promised the natives that the practice would be continued. But with the coming of peace this custom was not allowed by the Americans. Accordingly, in June, 1815, word was sent to the river tribes, that all who came to the British headquarters at Drummond Island in Lake Huron, would be supplied. By June 19th of the next year four hundred Indians had arrived at the post—mainly Sioux. To sympathetic ears they reported that they feared that the Americans were planning their extinction, and a confederation was being formed to resist the building of American forts on the Indian lands. As late as [014] 1825, of the four thousand Indians in the habit of visiting Drummond Island, three thousand came from the region west and southwest of Lake Huron—that is from American territory.37 These motley processions which trailed through the American woods, stopping to beg at the American posts, were not slow in being reported. It did not take a vivid imagination to see that the renewal of border warfare was inevitable.38

This danger was increased by the rapid development of the West following the war. Just as over the mountain trails and down the rivers, Kentucky and Tennessee had been settled before the war, now the States of the Old Northwest received their pioneers. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who made his first trip down the Ohio at this time (1818), remarked: I mingled in this crowd, and, while listening to the anticipations indulged in, it seemed to me that the war had not, in reality, been fought for free trade and sailors' rights where it had commenced, but to gain a knowledge of the world beyond the Alleghanies.… To judge by the tone of general conversation, they meant, in their generation, to plow the Mississippi Valley from its head to its foot.39

The flatboats on the rivers, the crowded ferries, and the caravans crossing the prairies were familiar scenes. In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which appeared in 1819, Washington Irving puts this fondest dream into the mind of his hero, Ichabod: Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and presented to him the blooming Katrina with a whole family of children, mounted on the top of a wagon [015] loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and he beheld himself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord knows where. When he wrote this the author was not using his imagination: it was a picture he saw daily.40

The extent of this westward movement is indicated by the provisions made for the political organization of these growing settlements. Indiana achieved statehood in 1816 and Illinois in 1818. Across the river in Missouri the population had grown from 20,000 in 1810 to 66,000 in 1820,41 and the weighty questions concerning her admission were being discussed in Washington.

With an expanding frontier brought into contact with hostile Indians, trouble was bound to result. Various plans were proposed to deal with the problem. It was reported that General Jackson would take charge of active military operations against the Indians of the upper Mississippi.42 One agent suggested that three or four months' full feeding on meat and bread, even without ardent spirit, will bring on disease, and, in six or eight months, great mortality.… I believe more Indians might be killed with the expense of $100,000 in this way, than $1,000,000 expended in the support of armies to go against them.43

Fortunately, wiser counsels than either of these prevailed to control the Indians: the control of the fur trade was necessary. It was felt, and rightly, that much of the trouble in the West was due to the [016] power of the British traders. Accordingly, by an act of Congress of April 29, 1816, it was provided that licenses to trade with the Indians within the territorial limits of the United States shall not be granted to any but citizens of the United States, unless by the express direction of the President of the United States, and upon such terms and conditions as the public interest may, in his opinion, require. To carry this act into effect the president was authorized to call upon the military force.44

This legislation was most opportune, since by the commercial convention of October 20, 1818, the northern boundary was definitely agreed upon as the forty-ninth parallel westward from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains.45 Ever since the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 had inserted a geographical impossibility by declaring that the boundary should extend due west from the Lake of the Woods to the Mississippi, there had existed a vagueness as to where the actual line should be drawn.46 In 1806 the British traders thought it would be run from the lake to the source of the river;47 and as late as 1818 Benjamin O'Fallon wrote from Prairie du Chien that Robert Dickson is directed to build a fort on the highest land between Lac du Travers and Red river, which he supposes will be the established line between the two countries.48 But with the boundary now defined, the area where the trade laws were to be enforced was evident.

The method of Indian trade by foreigners was to [017] be supplanted by an extension of the United States trading house system. This was a group of trading houses, conducted by the government, where the Indians could exchange their furs for goods at cost price and thus avoid both the deceit and whiskey of the private merchant, although they were often willing to submit to the one for the sake of the other.49 As early as 1805 Pike had promised the Indians, in council assembled, that the government intended to build a trading house at the mouth of the Minnesota River.50 The commissioners at Portage des Sioux, in 1815, had been instructed to inform the tribes that it is intended to establish strong posts very high up the Mississippi, and from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan, and to open trading-houses at those posts, or other suitable places for their accommodation.51 In 1818 T. L. McKenny, Superintendent of Indian Trade, recommended the building of seven additional trading houses, one of which was to be located on the River St. Peters, at or about its junction with the Mississippi.52

Thus, through the Indian department steps were being taken to inaugurate a new régime in the upper Northwest. But Indian agents and trading houses needed the protection and administrative arm of the military department in order to be effective. The forward movement of the military frontier during the years succeeding the war is significant as marking a trend towards the Americanization of a great region.



When the War of 1812 broke out in the Northwest, the Americans had only two advanced posts—Mackinac and Fort Dearborn. Of these, one was captured during the hostilities, and the other was evacuated. An attempt was made to build a post at Prairie du Chien, but it quickly passed into English hands and remained in their possession until the news of peace had reached that frontier station. But after the Treaty of Ghent was signed the line of the military frontier was quickly advanced in order to safeguard the Indian agents, the trading houses, and the advancing settlements.

Fort Dearborn was re-occupied on July 4, 1815. Mackinac was transferred to American hands on July 18, 1815. In the fall of the same year Colonel R. C. Nichols of the Eighth United States Infantry attempted to ascend the Mississippi to Rock Island, but was compelled to pass the winter in the vicinity of the mouth of the Des Moines River. On May 10, 1816, however, he reached Rock Island, where the construction of Fort Armstrong was undertaken. June 21st of the same year saw the re-occupation of the site of Fort McKay at Prairie du Chien; and Fort Crawford soon protected this important point [019] at the junction of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. One other point, vital in all western transportation was at the head of Green Bay at the mouth of the Fox River. Colonel John Miller of the Third Infantry arrived at this place on August 7, 1816, and soon began the erection of Fort Howard.53

But the government was not content with these movements. In a report dated December 22, 1817, the Secretary of War, J. C. Calhoun, wrote to the House of Representatives that a board of the most skilful officers in our service has been constituted to examine the whole line of our frontier, and to determine on the position and extent of works that may be necessary to the defence of the country.54 Plans had already been made. During the summer of 1817 Major Stephen H. Long, a topographical engineer in the United States Army, had made a journey to the Falls of St. Anthony in a six-oared skiff and had approved the position at the mouth of the Minnesota River as a location for a fort.55 Other plans were soon announced. In the spring of 1818 The Washington City Gazette stated that a fort would be built on the Missouri River at the mouth of the Yellowstone River;56 and a second report of the Secretary of War on December 11, 1818, indicated that the site at the mouth of the Minnesota would soon be occupied.57

On the tenth of February, 1819, the War Department ordered the Fifth Infantry to concentrate at Detroit, after which it would be transported across Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, up the Fox River, [020] and down the Wisconsin River to Prairie du Chien, where a part would garrison Fort Crawford, a part would proceed to Fort Armstrong, and the remainder would ascend the Mississippi and near the Falls of St. Anthony erect a post which would be the headquarters of the regiment.58 This movement was closely associated with that on the Missouri River called the Yellowstone Expedition. Both movements were part of one system—a comprehensive attempt to possess the northwestern frontier. The thoroughness of the plan is shown by the program outlined for the troops for the year 1820: three forts were to be built on the Missouri River; the navigation of that river was to be improved; roads were to be opened between the two diverging lines of posts (those on the Missouri and those on the Mississippi); and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers were to be connected by a canal. Thus the transportation of supplies would be facilitated, and in case of hostilities the forts could coöperate in the military operations.59

The western part of this general movement was a failure. Indeed, the only result was the construction of a post at the point then known as Council Bluff (now Fort Calhoun, Nebraska), which after an existence of eight years was abandoned. Congress, disgusted with the management of the undertaking, refused to vote the funds necessary for the complete fulfillment of the project.60 Accordingly, no permanent military post existed upon the upper Missouri until 1855, when the United States government purchased [021] from the American Fur Company their station called Fort Pierre and transformed it into a military establishment.61 The failure of the Yellowstone Expedition made more difficult the work of Fort Snelling. The range of its influence extended to the Missouri, and for forty years it was of more importance than even its originators had planned.

The Fifth Infantry, to which the difficult task of establishing a fort at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers was assigned was stationed at various places. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Leavenworth, who was the commanding officer of the regiment, had been located at Prairie du Chien as Superintendent of Indian Affairs.62 Lieutenant Nathan Clark was living at Hartford, Connecticut.63 But by May 14th the main part of the regiment was ready to leave Detroit. Schooners brought them through Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinac, and across Lake Michigan to Fort Howard on Green Bay. Captain Whistler of the Third United States Infantry, then stationed at this post, had prepared bateaux for the use of the troops, and on June 7th the ascent of the Fox River was commenced.64 The Winnebago chief Four Legs, whose village was at the outlet of Lake Winnebago, had the custom of exacting tribute from travellers using the Fox-Wisconsin route. When the troops of the Fifth Infantry came to the site, Four Legs sent the message, The Lake is locked. Whereupon Colonel Leavenworth, showing the messenger his rifle, replied: tell him, that this is the key, and I shall unlock it and go on.[022] Upon receiving this belligerent reply, the chief allowed the troops to pass; and finally on June 30th the bateaux were moored near Fort Crawford and Prairie du Chien.65

At Fort Crawford there was a tedious wait. Provisions, ordnance, ammunition, and recruits were expected from St. Louis. On July 5th Major Thomas Forsyth arrived from St. Louis. He had been ordered by the War Department to bring two thousand dollars worth of goods to the Sioux Indians in payment for the reservation ceded by them to Pike.66 Day after day passed. Finally, on July 17th a certain Mr. Shaw came with news that the recruits could be expected soon. On July 31st this curt entry is made in Forsyth's journal: no boats, no recruits, no news, nor anything else from St. Louis. The next day Major Marston was sent with twenty-seven troops to garrison Fort Armstrong at Rock Island; and on August 2nd Forsyth recorded: Thank God a boat loaded with ordnance and stores of different kinds arrived to-day, and said a provision boat would arrive to-morrow, but no news of the recruits.67

Colonel Leavenworth at once made preparations to ascend the river. The two large boats that had brought up supplies were engaged, and at eight o'clock on the morning of Sunday, August 8th, the flotilla set out—the two large boats, fourteen bateaux, the boat of Major Forsyth, and the barge of Colonel Leavenworth. In the party were ninety-eight soldiers and twenty boatmen. There were others also whose presence in that wild region would [023] not be expected: Mrs. Gooding, the wife of one of the captains; Mrs. Nathan Clark, the wife of the commissary; and little Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark, who had been born scarcely an hour after the regiment reached Fort Crawford. The knowledge that they were upon the last stage of their journey caused a feeling of cheerfulness among the soldiers, and the first day they proceeded a distance of eighteen miles.68

For sixteen days the boatmen poled their bateaux up the river. Once when there was a Great appearance of wind the sails were hoisted. At other times the heavily loaded boats were moved with difficulty through the shallow water. Occasionally fog and rain impeded their progress. Bad water made half of the soldiers sick before the journey was ended; and to avoid the mosquitoes on the river, the men preferred to sleep on the banks, although every morning there was a heavy dew. On August 17th the lower end of Lake Pepin was reached and here a delay of several hours occurred while the men drew provisions from the supply boats, and washed their dirty linen.69

Major Forsyth stopped at the Indian villages to distribute presents and to announce to the natives the object of the coming of the troops, and the value they would derive from having a fort in their midst. On Sunday, August 22nd, he encamped a few miles ahead of the main body of the expedition, but by eight o'clock the next morning all the boats had come up. Impatient to reach the end of the journey, [024] Major Forsyth again pushed forward and at four o'clock in the afternoon reached the mouth of the Minnesota River. On the morning of Tuesday, August 24, 1819, Colonel Leavenworth arrived in his barge ahead of the troops and spent almost the entire day in looking over the sites available for a camp. Finally, he decided upon a spot on the right bank of the Minnesota River, just above its mouth. There was no rest for the troops when their boats reached the chosen place. They were immediately set to work in making roads up the bank of the river, cutting down trees, etc.70

If the soldiers had any spare time in their labors in which to become interested in their surroundings, there was novelty in everything about them. During the next few days all the nearby chiefs came to call upon their new neighbors: they left satisfied with the presents and the whiskey which they had received. On Saturday a party ascended to the Falls of St. Anthony; and on Sunday a visit was made to the Indian villages up the Minnesota River. It was on Monday that Major Forsyth began his return trip, and as the supplies in store were few and the long-expected recruits were needed for the erection of the camp buildings, Colonel Leavenworth set out with him for Prairie du Chien. On September 1st they met on Lake Pepin two boats and a bateau with one hundred and twenty soldiers on board. But Colonel Leavenworth continued to Prairie du Chien, where he remained some time to urge on any boats which might arrive. On September [025] 5th the one hundred and twenty recruits landed at the new camp.71

Log cabins and a stockade were erected while the party still lived in the boats on the river. By November the temporary barracks were ready for occupation. Looking forward to a pleasant winter, the name Cantonment New Hope was applied to the embryo fort. The more scientific among the men examined the country round about, and saw in the hills visions of mines of precious metals. Would not the employment of the troops in the manufacture of Copper and Iron be advantageous to the government?, wrote one of these energetic soldiers. But the succeeding months were not to give an opportunity for such occupations.72

Added to the natural monotony of a wilderness post, there was homesickness and suffering during the first winter. The quarters that had been built were inadequate for protection from the cold of that climate. Once during that memorable six months, runs the account of one of the inhabitants of Cantonment New Hope, the roof of our cabin blew off, and the walls seemed about to fall in. My father, sending my mother and brother to a place of safety, held up the chimney to prevent a total downfall; while the baby, who had been pushed under the bed in her cradle, lay there.… until the wind subsided, when, upon being drawn out from her hiding-place, she evinced great pleasure at the commotion, and seemed to take it all as something designed especially for her amusement. That baby [026] lived to recall the incident almost seventy years later.73

Toward the close of the winter there came sickness, chiefly on account of a lack of proper provisions. Late in the fall Lieutenant Oliver had left Prairie du Chien with supplies in a keel boat. But the river froze and the boat was unable to progress farther than the vicinity of Hastings, Minnesota. Here it was necessary to keep a guard all winter to protect the food from the Indians and the wolves. The Indians refused to sell them game; no vegetables could be purchased; and the bread was two inches in the barrels thick with mould.74 With such food it is no wonder that scurvy, the dreaded disease of all frontier posts, broke out among the troops. Forty soldiers died before the progress of the disease was arrested by home-made remedies and groceries brought up by the sutler.75

This visitation of disease left a profound impression upon the survivors. Henry H. Sibley, who had often spoken with those who passed through the weary months of suffering and sickness, wrote that scurvy broke out in a most malignant form, and raged so violently that, for a few days, garrison duty was suspended, there being barely well men enough in the command to attend to the sick, and to the interment of the dead. So sudden were the attacks, that soldiers in apparent good health when they went to bed, were found dead in the morning. One man who was relieved from his tour of sentinel duty, and stretched himself upon the bench of the guard room, [027] four hours after, when he was called upon to resume his post, was discovered to be lifeless.76

Thinking that much of the sickness was caused by the unhealthful location, Colonel Leavenworth, on May 5, 1820, moved the soldiers to a place on the west bank of the Mississippi north of the Minnesota where there was a great spring of cold water. Here the troops were quartered in tents—naming their community Camp Cold Water.77 The immediate need was the erection of the permanent post. Colonel Leavenworth chose for the site a position three hundred yards west of the crest of the cliff. Some material was brought to this place, but no building was done. In August Colonel Leavenworth was superseded in command by Colonel Josiah Snelling, who located the position at the extreme point of land between the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.78 The work of erecting the buildings was done by the soldiers, it being customary at that time to pay the soldiers fifteen cents a day in addition to their regular pay for this extra work.79

Steps were taken during the summer of 1820 to obtain the necessary material. A saw mill was needed to make the lumber with which the interior of the buildings would be finished and the furniture constructed. As the water in Minnehaha Creek was very low that year, it was decided to erect the mill at the Falls of St. Anthony. Some men were sent up the Mississippi River to Rum River to examine the timber, and during the winter of 1820–1821 a party of soldiers was employed in cutting logs and [028] dragging them to the river bank. With the coming of spring the logs were floated down to the Falls of St. Anthony, where they were sawed into lumber and then hauled to the fort by teams.80

The progress made on the building was slow. On the tenth of September, 1820, the cornerstone was laid.81 More than a year later, on November 7, 1821, Colonel Snelling wrote to the Indian agent, Lawrence Taliaferro, that nothing new has occurred since my return excepting that the other stone barrack is up & the rafters on.82 The fort was partially occupied, probably in the fall of 1822, before all the surrounding wall had been completed.83 But it is evident that most of the fort was finished by July, 1823, for at that time the troops erected the Indian Council House.84

In the meantime other events had been occurring. On July 31, 1820, Governor Cass of Michigan Territory, who had been on an exploring expedition to the upper Mississippi, passed down the river and remained with the troops until the morning of August 2nd. A council was held with the Indians, during which a peace was made between the Sioux and the Chippewas. That the garrison had been busy at duties other than erecting buildings is evident from the fact that Governor Cass found ninety acres planted with corn and potatoes and wheat. From the garden green peas had been obtained as early as June 15th, and green corn on July 20th.85

In accordance with the plans outlined for the year 1820 it was proposed to open a road between Council [029] Bluff and the new post on the upper Mississippi. To survey the route Captain Stephen Watts Kearny led a party which consisted of four other officers, fifteen soldiers, four servants, an Indian guide and his wife and papoose, eight mules, and seven horses. The route led from Council Bluff across what is now the northern and northwestern part of the State of Iowa to Lake Pepin, and then along the Mississippi to the new post. From July 25th to July 29th they remained with Leavenworth's men, visiting the Falls of St. Anthony, examining the country, and on July 26th going with Lieutenant Green and Miss Gooding to the east side of the Mississippi. Here Lieutenant Green and Miss Gooding were married by Colonel Leavenworth, who as Indian agent for the Northwest Territory could perform his duties on the east bank of the river, but not on the west, which was in the Missouri Territory.86

The fact that the Falls of St. Anthony constituted the most noticeable landmark of the vicinity led to the application of its name to the military works. The first official inspection of Fort St. Anthony occurred some time between May 13, 1824, and June 13, 1824. General Winfield Scott, as the inspector, was received with all the honor and entertainment that the frontier post could provide. He left favorably impressed with the work that had been done.

I wish to suggest to the general-in-chief, wrote General Scott in his report, and through him to the War Department, the propriety of calling this work Fort Snelling, as a just compliment to the meritorious [030] officer under whom it has been erected. The present name is foreign to all our associations, and is, besides, geographically incorrect, as the work stands at the junction of the Mississippi and Saint Peter's rivers, eight miles below the great falls of the Mississippi, called after Saint Anthony. Some few years since the Secretary of War directed that the work at the Council Bluffs should be called Fort Atkinson in compliment to the valuable services of General Atkinson on the upper Missouri. The above proposition is made on the same principle.

A general order on January 7, 1825, directed that the suggested change should be made. Thereupon Fort Snelling began its career as the guardian of the Northwest.87



It was not the intention of the War Department that the influence of the frontier military post should be limited by the range of the guns mounted upon its walls. The post was to be the center of the Indian life for those tribes that dwelt in the vicinity. At the same time expeditions, the base of which was to be at the fort, were to carry the authority of the government out upon the wild Indian lands, and the frontier settlements were to look to the soldiers for protection.88

How, in its origin, Fort Snelling became part of a comprehensive system for the protection of the frontier, has been detailed. The events of the forty years that followed indicate very clearly the wisdom of the men who chose the site. Every phase of frontier duty was performed by the troops stationed at the mouth of the Minnesota River; and although these tasks often took them hundreds of miles from the post, and although they often coöperated with men from other forts, yet these expeditions may well be considered as part of the history of Fort Snelling. They were a test of the training received on the parade ground, and the successful accomplishment [032] of many a difficult duty shows that the post was fulfilling the objects of those who built it.

Prior to 1848 the governmental organization in the jurisdiction of which Fort Snelling was located was very weak. When first erected in 1819 the fort was in the Territory of Missouri (1812–1821). Then followed a number of years in which it was in unorganized territory (1821–1834). The Territory of Michigan (1834–1836), the Territory of Wisconsin (1836–1838), and the Territory of Iowa (1838–1846) successively had jurisdiction over it; while in 1849 it fell within the newly-organized Territory of Minnesota. Lying far from the seats of government, in a region of wandering traders and red men, the fort became the exponent of the government—the only symbol of governmental restriction in a region almost entirely without law.

During the first years of its existence while the buildings were being erected and the fort was making its place in the Indian life and the fur trade of the surrounding region, the frontier was comparatively quiet. The first outbreak occurred in Illinois and Wisconsin, where the Winnebagoes were constantly coming into contact with the lead miners about Galena. During the summer of 1826 rumors came to Fort Snelling of the hostility of this tribe, and Colonel Snelling thought it prudent to reënforce the garrison of Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. Three companies of the Fifth Infantry were sent away from Fort Snelling on the afternoon of August 18th under the command of Captain Wilcox.89 Although [033] no actual conflict occurred, the continued uneasiness felt because of the presence of the Winnebagoes led the authorities to remove all the troops from Fort Crawford to the upper post in the fall of that year.90

The lack of soldiers among them intensified the unruly spirit in the Winnebagoes. In June of the next year two keel boats, the General Ashley and the O. H. Perry, which were carrying supplies to Fort Snelling noticed an unfriendly feeling among the Sioux at Wabasha's village. Fifty warriors with their faces painted black and with black streaks on their blankets visited the O. H. Perry, but refused to shake hands. Apprehensive of danger on the return journey, Colonel Snelling furnished the crews with guns and cartridges before the descent was commenced.91

There soon arrived at Fort Snelling a letter from John Marsh, the sub-agent at Prairie du Chien. It stated that rumors were current that Prairie du Chien was to be attacked and that the Sioux and Winnebagoes threatened to kill Taliaferro and any American that they can find at a distance from the Fort. The letter closed with the request that steps be taken for the defense of Prairie du Chien.92 No doubt preparations were commenced immediately; but they were hastened by news which soon came up the river. On June 26th the Winnebago chief, Red Bird, with three of his men had attacked a farm house near Prairie du Chien and obtained the scalp of a child. Returning to their village, they had seen [034] the keel boats coming down the river. With their fighting blood up they attacked the O. H. Perry, and in a battle which lasted several hours they killed two of the crew and lost seven of their own warriors. The report of this attack, together with the murder near Prairie du Chien, spread consternation among the white men.93

Without delay Colonel Snelling with four companies started down the river.94 A few days after reaching Prairie du Chien, he was reënforced by troops brought up from St. Louis by Colonel Atkinson. It was thought necessary that Fort Snelling should be maintained during the critical period, and as it was short of provisions, Colonel Snelling was ordered back to his post with a supply of flour, and directed to procure boats which could be used in the pursuit of the Winnebagoes up the Wisconsin River. On the 16th of August Colonel Snelling arrived at his post, and on the following day Major Fowle started downstream with four other companies of the Fifth Infantry in two keel boats and nine mackinac boats, arriving at Fort Crawford on August 21st. The Indians, overawed by the rapidity of these military movements and the size of the force sent against them, immediately became peaceable. As a precaution, however, Major Fowle was kept at Fort Crawford, and the post was provisioned for a year.95

During the next twenty years the force maintained at Fort Snelling was small, and the garrison was occupied in routine tasks, the regulation of Indian [035] affairs, and the fur trade. At the time of the Black Hawk War there was quiet about Fort Snelling, and Major Taliaferro offered his services and those of the Sioux warriors in the campaign against the Sacs and Foxes. But the government did not think it advisable to formally accept the proffered help, although a number of the Sioux did take part in pursuing the remnants of Sacs who succeeded in crossing the river.96

In June, 1848, the company of infantry stationed at Fort Snelling received an urgent call to come to Wabasha's Prairie—near Winona, Minnesota. The Winnebago Indians were being transferred from their former home in the Turkey Valley region in Iowa to a new reservation obtained for them from the Chippewas. But when the Prairie was reached, the Winnebagoes visited with Wabasha and he sold it to them for a home. When Captain Seth Eastman arrived from Fort Snelling he was put in charge of the military forces which had been hastily brought together to force the Winnebagoes to continue their march. There were volunteers from Crawford County, Wisconsin, dragoons from Fort Atkinson, Iowa, and the infantry from Fort Snelling, besides sixty armed teamsters.

These military forces lay encamped, separated from the Indians by a slough. In the morning a deputation of Indians came to ask the meaning of the martial appearance of the whites when all they desired was a council. This suggestion of a council was quickly assented to, but the Indians approached [036] with such a rush and with such blood-curdling yells that the cannon were loaded and the soldiers stood ready to fire. During the council the Winnebagoes refused to move until one small band gave in to the entreaties of the agent and were taken up to Fort Snelling. This was an opening wedge, for when the steamboat returned 1700 were ready to move. The total journey of three hundred and ten miles from the old to the new home occupied the time from June 8th to July 30th, 1848.97

By the next summer they were ready to return—anywhere, but especially to Wisconsin, their earliest home.98 In July the whole tribe, stimulated by whiskey, started; but Governor Ramsey called on Colonel Loomis of Fort Snelling for aid, and a force under Captain Monroe proceeded to the north where their presence aided in quieting the disturbers. Again, on September 9th about a hundred had approached within sixteen miles of St. Paul, when Captain Page and forty men from Fort Snelling frightened them so much that they fled into the swamps and returned home quietly. Smaller parties were captured on the river and sent back under a military guard.99 Not all the efforts, however, were successful. It was reported that one evening in November over a hundred red men floated down quietly under the very guns of Fort Snelling, and two weeks later the newspaper accounts tell of three hundred Winnebagoes in camp near the mouth of the Black River.100 The need for a company of dragoons at Fort Snelling was imperative. The next summer it was obtained, [037] and in 1851 this military force was described as being an indispensable and invaluable auxiliary.101 Not until 1855 was the Winnebago spirit of migration broken, and then only after a new reservation had been obtained for them at the mouth of the Blue Earth River.102

In his report of November 25, 1844, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs called attention to the fact that no longer was there any need of entertaining fears on account of the visits made by American Indians to the Canadian posts, as these pilgrimages were indulged in only by a few worthless vagrants. But an evil of a different character was imminent. Twice a year hundreds of Red River half-breeds—bois brulés—left their homes on the British side of the international boundary to hunt buffalo on the American plains which bordered on the Missouri River. Here they came into contact with Indians who naturally resented this intrusion upon their hunting grounds. During the summer of 1844 a half-breed had been killed by a party of Yankton Sioux, and the invaders had retaliated by killing eight Sioux of another band. This so inflamed the Indians that they went upon the war path and without stopping to reason about the matter, they attacked a party of whites whom they met on Otter Tail Lake.103

To hunt the buffalo freely, even on foreign soil, seemed to the bois brulés to be their natural right. On the pemmican which they made from these buffaloes they depended for their winter's food. Five [038] hundred and forty carts trailed out of Pembina on the summer hunt of 1820, and from year to year the number increased until in 1840 there were 1210 carts, accompanied by 1630 people. Nowhere else in the new world at least, was there such a hunting party. Thirteen hundred and seventy-five buffalo tongues were counted as the result of one day's hunt in 1840.104 It was estimated that every year these Red River hunters killed twenty thousand buffaloes on American soil.105

In this there was a real grievance. Though small in itself the incident could easily develop into a war when there were other factors urging in the same direction.106 The exact condition of affairs on the border was so confused that the United States made occasional military displays in order to impress the invaders and also to satisfy its own curiosity. The first of these expeditions occurred in 1845. Captain Edwin V. Sumner, then in command at Fort Atkinson, in the Iowa country, visited the Red River of the North during the summer of that year with Companies B and I of the First Regiment of Dragoons. But the difficulty was that while the invaders would promise to remain off American soil and would retire as soon as a military force appeared, yet no sooner would the troops depart than they would be back again on the hunting grounds.107

When complaints continued to come in the Adjutant General proposed to establish a post on the Red River. As a preliminary movement Brevet Major Samuel Woods, Captain of the Sixth Infantry located [039] at Fort Snelling, was ordered to proceed with Company D of the dragoons to the border and make recommendations to the War Department in regard to a suitable site. On June 6, 1849, the start was made from Fort Snelling, and the weary march directed to the northwest over the swollen rivers and the marshy swamps with the mosquitoes a constant torment, until on August 1st the soldiers reached the collection of Indian lodges and the trading establishment that was known as Pembina. During the twenty-five days spent at this point observations were made of the topographical features of the land, the character of the Indians, and the pursuits of the half-breeds.

Major Woods urged the American Indians and half-breeds to prevent by force the invasions, promising that the United States would support them. But it would be useless, he reported, to build a fort at Pembina unless at least two hundred fifty men were stationed there. It would be better to concentrate a large force at Fort Snelling, from whence expeditions could be made into the Indian country in all directions as necessity might arise. The return to the fort occupied twenty-three and a half days, and on September 18th the total journey of almost a thousand miles was completed with the loss of only one horse and one mule.108

During the next few years conditions remained unchanged, and as the settlement of the Minnesota and Mississippi valleys was pushing the Indian tribes farther to the westward, more and bitter conflicts [040] with the half-breeds would be liable to occur. In order to give a final warning to the foreign hunters and to select a site for a post which could serve the double purpose of protecting the frontier settlements from the Indians and the Indians from the foreigners, Lieutenant Colonel C. F. Smith of the Tenth Infantry was ordered on June 9, 1856, to tour the region with Companies B and F. As far as the Goose River, in the North Dakota country, the route followed from Fort Snelling was practically the same as that of Major Woods; but instead of proceeding by the usual route northward to Pembina, a detour was made to Lake Mini-Waken (Devil's Lake). On the return the less travelled and more difficult road on the east side of the Red River was followed.

On August 19th the trail of the annual hunting party was crossed; but the nine hundred men, women, and children who had made the trip had returned to their homes three weeks before, and kept away from the military party. Since no warning could be given to them in person, a notice written in both English and French was circulated in Pembina and in the British settlements to the north. But the natives obtained sweet revenge when Colonel Smith attempted to buy from the farmers in the vicinity of the principal trading post—Fort Garry—a sufficient supply of oats for his troops. The half-breeds declined to bring the grain, giving as their excuse that they did not desire to trespass on American soil when warned to keep off.109 [041]

Not only to the north did the troops from Fort Snelling make expeditions. The wide range of its influence is illustrated by the task which occupied the attention of its soldiers during the summer of 1850. On August 8, 1849, Governor Ansel Briggs of Iowa forwarded to the Secretary of War a petition, signed by over a hundred citizens of Iowa County, in which they complained of the presence of a great number of Indians who were destroying the timber, removing the section corners, and even demanding rent from some of the settlers—claiming that they owned the land on the Iowa River.110

To investigate conditions and to report upon what steps would be necessary to remove the cause of complaint, Brevet Major Samuel Woods, stationed at Fort Snelling, was ordered to proceed to the State of Iowa. On the twenty-fifth of September he left for Prairie du Chien, and arriving here set out for Fort Atkinson, thinking that probably the Winnebagoes were the Indians causing the trouble. But he discovered that many of them had just set out for the upper Mississippi, and those remaining behind were so few in number that they could cause little inconvenience to the frontier. From Fort Atkinson Major Woods passed southward through Fayette, Buchanan, Linn, and Johnson counties to Iowa City. At this time the region traversed was sparsely settled. For a hundred miles south of Fort Atkinson there were only two settlements—one, consisting of a few families, high upon the Volga River, and the other larger in numbers clustered about some mills [042] on the Wapsipinicon River. About fifteen miles north of Marion the inhabitants became more numerous. Here were found Indians—Sacs and Foxes, Pottawattomies, and Winnebagoes—but they were not hostile and their presence caused no objection.

It was at Iowa City that Major Woods heard that the inhabitants on the Iowa, English, and Skunk Rivers had been making the loudest complaints. Accordingly he started up the Iowa River to the vicinity of Marengo. Here he learned that a few days before the settlers near the town, becoming tired of having Indians about them, armed themselves and by force broke up the Indian encampment. Only one lodge remained, that on the lands of a farmer who gave permission to three of the red men to live under his protection.

The total number of Indians, Major Woods reported, consisted of five or six hundred Sacs and Foxes, Pottawattomies, and Winnebagoes. Among these the Sacs and Foxes were the most numerous. They had by treaty sold their lands some years earlier and had been removed to the Missouri River; but they preferred their old home, and so had returned in straggling bands, sometimes going back to the Missouri to get their annuities. The Winnebagoes were those who had escaped when the tribe was being transferred to the new reservation north of Fort Snelling.

The complaints against these Indians were that they destroyed a great deal of timber, removed the surveyors' landmarks, killed the game, annoyed the [043] settlers, and that when intoxicated they were an actual source of danger. Believing that these reasons were well founded, Major Woods advised that the Indians be removed as soon as possible. Conditions did not demand a winter campaign, but preparations should be made for the removal during the early summer.111

In the early part of April of the next year it was known that two companies of infantry from Fort Snelling, and one company of dragoons from Fort Gaines had been detailed for this task.112 On the twelfth of May the Highland Mary left Fort Snelling, having on board the infantry and cavalry and part of the equipment, while in tow was a barge full of horses and mules.113 The soldiers were disembarked at Dubuque, whence they followed the trail to Iowa City, along which they saw nothing except the ravages of California emigration. Proceeding to the vicinity of Marengo, a council was held with the Indians. But the latter marched into the council ten abreast carrying their war clubs and manifesting such a hostile disposition that it was impossible for Major Woods to accomplish anything.114

For a while it seemed that active military operations would be necessary. The Indians becoming convinced that this would be the result, and fearing that all the expenses of the campaign would be deducted from the annuities of the tribe, suggested to two men of the neighborhood—a Mr. Steen and a Mr. Greenly—that they would go back to their homes if these two men could be appointed their [044] guides. When Mr. Steen and Mr. Greenly broached the subject to Major Woods he considered it thoughtfully, and finally an arrangement was made. For every Indian who left the Iowa River and was turned over to their agent west of the Missouri River, the government was to pay three dollars and fifty cents. Five hundred dollars was to be advanced to pay for the provisions of the party. Upon June 6th a second council was held with the Indians, during which Major Woods impressed upon Chief Poweshiek and his men the necessity of their returning and the advisability of their doing it peaceably.115

During the month of July the Indians started upon their journey. For several days they encamped near Fort Des Moines, and on July 16th seventy of the warriors, armed and painted, paraded on horseback through the streets of the town to the public square where for an hour they danced for the amusement of the two or three hundred interested spectators in the frontier town.116

These events made necessary a change in the plans of the troops. Company E of the Sixth Infantry remained at their camp on the Iowa River for some time, but upon the last day of July set out under the command of Major Woods for a site on the Des Moines River which had been chosen by the War Department as the location of a new military post. On August 23, 1850, the troops arrived at the designated place and began the erection of a fort which they named Fort Clarke in honor of Colonel Clarke [045] the commanding officer of the Sixth Infantry. The name, however, was soon changed to Fort Dodge.

The company of dragoons was occupied during August and September in making a tour of the western part of the State of Iowa, and it was not until October that the cavalry company and the other infantry company returned to their station at Fort Snelling.117

Occupation for the company of dragoons was furnished during the next summer when Governor Ramsey was sent to Pembina to draw up a treaty with the Pillager band of Chippewa Indians. On August 18, 1851, the party set out from Fort Snelling. Besides the Governor and a number of gentlemen who accompanied him, the party consisted of twenty-five dragoons, and eight French-Canadian and half-breed drivers who had charge of six baggage wagons and several light Red River carts. The march was very difficult and the dragoons were kept busy repairing the roads over the swamp lands and dragging with ropes the heavy wagons over the quickly made causeways. The treaty which was made after this difficult journey was not ratified by the Senate.118

The wonderful expansion of the Nation, which occurred in the latter half of the fifth decade of the century, turned all eyes toward the fertile valleys and the mountains of fabulous wealth on the Pacific Coast. Even before the acquisition of this territory some visionary minds had pictured it bound to the United States, if not by political ties, at least by [046] bonds of steel.119 The Oregon treaty of 1846 brought part of the coveted land under the jurisdiction of the United States, and the necessity of a railroad to the Pacific was soon realized. But sectional interests prevented agreement upon any certain route, and it was decided to survey the most promising and choose the one agreed upon by the engineers. Accordingly, the army appropriation bill of 1853 provided $150,000 for this purpose.120

Isaac I. Stevens, the newly appointed Governor of Washington Territory, led the party which examined the country between the parallels of forty-seven and forty-nine degrees north latitude—called the Northern Pacific Survey. He left Washington, D. C, on May 9, 1853, and reached St. Paul on May 27th. According to his instructions he was authorized to call upon one sergeant, two corporals, one musician, and sixteen privates of Company D First Dragoons, who were still stationed at Fort Snelling.121 Captain Gardiner, who had preceded his leader up the river, had selected the escort and collected the party on May 24th in Camp Pierce—a temporary encampment located three miles northwest of the fort.122 Early in June camp was broken and the start for the far West was made, at first, over the Red River Trail, and then across the prairies to Fort Union, where on August 1st they were joined by others who had been sent up the Missouri with supplies. Fort Benton was reached on September 1st There they remained until the twelfth of the month when Lieutenant Saxton, leading a similar party [047] eastward from Vancouver, arrived. Thus a survey from the Mississippi to the Pacific had been completed.123

On the journey the entire party had been divided into small groups, who conducted surveys and explorations in various directions. To each of these groups were detailed a few of the dragoons, who were in all respects an integral part of the expedition and not merely a guard for protection. Accordingly, no special mention of their work was made in the report.124

After thirty years, the distinction of being the most northwestern post in the upper Mississippi region was lost by Fort Snelling. Other military stations were erected, and thereafter many of its former activities were conducted from these stations on the extreme frontier. Yet in everything contributed by these newer posts, the older had a part; accounts of them reveal their dependence on Fort Snelling, the parent post.

As early as 1844 the Secretary of War had reported that plans were being made to erect two new forts between Lake Superior and the River St. Peter's.125 But nothing was done at this time. By a treaty of October 13, 1846, the Winnebagoes living on the Neutral Ground in the Turkey River Valley of the Iowa country agreed to exchange this reservation for one north of St. Peter's and west of the Mississippi Rivers.126 By treaties in the following August, the Chippewas ceded to the government a tract lying south of the Crow Wing River [048] and west of the Mississippi River, and north and east of the so-called Sioux-Chippewa boundary line.127 This was the area agreed on by the government as being suitable for the Winnebagoes. In view of the reputation of unruliness possessed by this tribe, and the fact that they were to be placed between the warring tribes—the Sioux and the Chippewas—the establishment of a post on the reservation was thought desirable.

The transfer of the tribe took place during the summer of 1848; and in the same fall Brigadier General George M. Brooke of St. Louis, accompanied by a squadron of dragoons, chose a point opposite the Nokay River as a desirable location.128 This company and a company of the Sixth Infantry from Fort Snelling were employed in building the fort, and when cold weather prevented further operations, they were withdrawn to Fort Snelling, where the winter was passed.129 In the spring the troops returned, and Fort Gaines—rechristened Fort Ripley—was occupied on the thirteenth of April, 1849.130

But this post alone was unable to keep the Winnebagoes in check. They celebrated the first fourth of July by attacking a frontier store and causing one gentleman to escape en dishabille to the woods, where he danced to the tune of the mosquitoes during some three days and nights.131 Again and again reports of riotous revels and rumors of impending outbreaks caused help to be sent from Fort Snelling to assist the troops higher up the river.132 In the spring of 1857 the fort was abandoned, but [049] Indian disturbances during the summer caused a detachment to be sent from the older post. These troops remained at that point until in the summer of 1858 they were transferred to the newly founded Fort Abercrombie.133

The treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, concluded in 1851, concentrated the Sioux Indians on a long irregular reservation along the upper Minnesota River.134 The Indians were not transferred until the summer of 1853, but in the fall of the previous year the need of a post among so many half civilized people, placed in a small territory, was obvious. Accordingly, Colonel Francis Lee, commandant at Fort Snelling, and Captain Dana of the quartermaster's department, escorted by a troop of dragoons, selected a suitable site on the north side of the Minnesota River, a dozen miles upstream from the town of New Ulm.

On February 24, 1853, seven privates of Company D of the First Dragoons, and two sergeants and thirteen privates of the Sixth Infantry were sent to the location to begin the erection of the fort. In April the dragoons were ordered to return to Fort Snelling and Companies C and K of the Sixth Infantry went up the river under the command of Captain James Monroe and became part of the permanent garrison of newly-founded Fort Ridgely. One other company came up from Fort Dodge—the post in Iowa which was abandoned with this withdrawal.135

Colonel C. F. Smith, who led the expedition from Fort Snelling to the Red River during the summer [050] of 1856, was instructed to recommend a site for a post. His choice of Graham's Point on the Red River was accepted; and here, in the fall of 1857, Colonel John J. Abercrombie constructed the fort which was named in his honor. Colonel Smith, writing from Fort Snelling, gave among his reasons for the choice of Graham's Point the additional advantage of greater facility for receiving stores from the depot here.136

With the building of these posts, Fort Snelling lost much of its importance. The garrison was small and the fort was almost nothing more than a depot for supplying the more advanced forts with food, clothing, and ammunition.137 With the decline of its military position, the idea became prevalent that some day it would be abandoned entirely, and the land thrown open to settlement.

The neighboring cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis, and St. Anthony were in the throes of real estate speculation. There were some who saw in Fort Snelling a site more advantageous than any of these. It is a position which has attracted also a good deal of attention on account of its superior beauty of location, its agricultural advantages, and its more notable advantages for a town site, said Mr. Morrill during a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. Whatever witnesses in this case may have differed upon as to other matters, they nearly all agree that, as a point for a town site, it possesses superior advantages over any other in that part of the country.138 [051]

Successful efforts were made to secure this site. On June 6, 1857, Mr. William King Heiskell, a commissioner appointed by the Secretary of War, sold to Mr. Franklin Steele, who was acting for himself and three others, the entire reservation for $90,000. The President approved the act on the second of July. Other parties who were interested in securing the site were not aware that the sale was to be made until everything had been accomplished.139

Immediately there arose the cry of graft: the Republicans saw in the transaction the corruption of the existing Democratic régime. A committee was appointed by the House of Representatives to investigate the matter, and the testimony which they took covers three hundred and seven pages. Some witnesses said that the post should have been retained for military purposes; others insisted that there was no such need. Some said that the site was admirable for a city; a few stated that it possessed no such advantages. Some said that it was necessary as a supply station for the upper posts; others insisted that these posts could be supplied more cheaply by a direct route.140

Bitter debates marked the consideration of the report. The objects, character, and ability of the witnesses were questioned. One member of the House said that Fort Snelling is a very elegant appanage to very elegant gentlemen, who have a very elegant place for parade and show.141 Another remarked that the officers at Fort Snelling were opposed to the sale and it was natural that [052] they should be. They had a beautiful place of residence, they had the most comfortable quarters, and a superabundance of stores for their subsistence. There they were living upon the fat of the land, without anything under God's heaven to do. Society was near at hand in a city populous, and furnishing all the luxuries of life. They of course did not want to surrender such quarters and such comforts for the hardships and trials of a frontier station.142

Finally, on June second the whole matter was laid on the table. On May 27, 1858, the troops had been withdrawn,143 and on July 19, 1858, the quartermaster turned the buildings over to Mr. Steele. But with the opening of the Civil War Fort Snelling was used by the government as a training station, and after the war it was continued as a permanent post. Mr. Steele had been unable to pay the entire $90,000, and as he claimed rent at the rate of $2000 a month for the time it had been used by the government, the matter was again taken up. It was finally adjusted in an agreement whereby Mr. Steele retained the greater part of the land, and the government kept the buildings and 1521.20 acres surrounding the fort. Later some of the land was re-purchased from Mr. Steele.144

The history of Old Fort Snelling closes with the removal of the troops in 1858. The story of its use during the Civil War, of the part it played during the Sioux massacre of 1862, of its influence throughout the West during the years when the headquarters of the Department of Dakota were located within [053] its walls, of the Officers' Training Camp established during the summer of 1917, lies outside the scope of this volume. The life of the new Fort Snelling revives the traditions of patriotism, loyalty, and sacrifice, which have centered about the post since that day in August, 1819, which witnessed its beginning.



An old settler, speaking of the expulsion of the squatters on the military reservation remarked: At that time, and both before and since, the commanding officers of the fort were the lords of the north. They ruled supreme. The citizens in the neighborhood of the fort were liable at any time to be thrust into the guard-house. While the chief of the fort was the king, the subordinate officers were the princes, and persons have been deprived of their liberty and imprisoned by those tyrants for the most trivial wrong, or some imaginary offense.145 This statement is doubtless rather extreme; but the fact remains that the fort was the only agency of government in the region, and so the commanding officer was indeed the supreme ruler in so far as he directed the policy and activities of the post.

Interest in Old Fort Snelling is not primarily in the logs and stones which made up its building, but in the men and women who lived within its walls. Many were the lives influenced by a residence in its barracks. Characters were formed by the stern rigors of frontier service. Far from busy cities, in the tiresome routine of army life, men were being trained who were to be leaders in the political and [055] military life of the Nation. Others never rose to a higher position; but they command attention because in their faithful performance of daily duties, year after year, they were quietly helping to make the history of the Northwest. It is impossible to consider every man who might be classed among the Lords of the North, but a review of the careers of a few of them indicates the type of men whose natural ability was supplemented by the self-confidence and the grim determination which are the products of frontier service.146

The memory of the man who led the troops to the mouth of the Minnesota River in 1819 is commemorated by a fort and a city in another State. The trials which he endured during that first winter at Cantonment New Hope were only harbingers of greater difficulties which were to bring to him the death of a frontier martyr. Although he had been educated for the lawyer's profession, Henry Leavenworth raised a company of volunteers in Delaware County, New York, in 1812, and was elected its captain. He served under General Winfield Scott and won honors for distinguished service at the Battle of Chippewa and at Niagara Falls. After the war he continued in the army, being appointed lieutenant colonel of the Fifth United States Infantry on February 10, 1818. After conducting the troops up the Mississippi River in 1819 and remaining through the winter, he was superseded by Colonel Snelling.

Expeditions and Indian duties occupied his attention [056] during the next few years, and in May, 1827, he established Cantonment Leavenworth on the west bank of the Missouri River. On February 8, 1832, the name was changed to Fort Leavenworth. During a campaign against the Pawnee Indians, who were harassing the caravans of the Santa Fé traders, Colonel Leavenworth was taken sick with fever and died on July 21, 1834, in a hospital wagon at Cross Timbers in Indian Territory. The body was wrapped in spices and sent by way of St. Louis, New Orleans, and New York City, to Delhi, New York, where it remained until in 1902 it was reinterred in the national cemetery at Fort Leavenworth. A granite shaft some twelve feet high marks his resting-place.147

The monument to the man under whose direction the fort was built is the modern military establishment named Fort Snelling. The erection of this fort was the last achievement of a life which, though comparatively brief, had already accomplished much. Josiah Snelling was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1782. His first commission was as a first lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry and bears the date of May 3, 1808. In the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811, he commanded one of the companies that were attacked in their camp in the early morning. An attempt was made by a company of dragoons to drive off the groups of Indians whose fire was the heaviest, but the officer who was leading was wounded and the attempt failed. The Indians, [057] reported General Harrison, were, however, immediately and gallantly dislodged from their advantageous position by Captain Snelling, at the head of his company.148 During the War of 1812 he served with Hull's army about Detroit, and when the fort was surrendered he was taken a prisoner and brought to Canada. But he was exchanged and ordered to Plattsburg, and later was sent to Fort Erie on the staff of General George Izard. At the close of the war he was retained as lieutenant colonel of the Sixth Infantry and was stationed at Plattsburg for four years.149

Bravery and impetuosity were two of Colonel Snelling's traits. During the campaign about Detroit he was married to Abigail Hunt by the chaplain of General Hull's army. The general and other officers were present. An account of the life of his wife states that the ceremony had been performed but a few moments when the drum beat to arms; and Capt. Snelling instantly started up to go in search of his sword. All rushed to the door except Gen. Hull, who laying his hand on the young officer's shoulder as he was about leaving the house, said, Snelling, you need not go, I will excuse you. By no means, was the reply, I feel more like doing my duty now than ever. Stay, it is a false alarm by my order, said the General.150 The ignoble surrender of Detroit by General Hull was deplored by many of the men under him. The story is told that while General Hull's aid was trying to place the white flag in position he called, Snelling, come and [058] help me fix this flag. Whereupon that officer replied, No, sir; I will not soil my hands with that flag.151

On June 1, 1819, he was appointed colonel of the Fifth Infantry, and ordered to St. Louis, where the following winter was passed. In the summer he started up the Mississippi, but was detained at Prairie du Chien by a court-martial of which he was the president, and it was not until August that he reached the troops at Camp Cold Water. From that time until the fall of 1827 Colonel Snelling was in command of the post, when not absent on official business. Except when he had been drinking too much, he was a favorite with the troops, and as he had red hair and was somewhat bald, they nicknamed him the prairie-hen.152

In the fall of 1827 the Fifth Infantry was withdrawn from the post and was succeeded by the First Infantry. The Snelling family located at St. Louis, while Colonel Snelling proceeded to Washington to settle some accounts. While here he was suddenly taken sick and died on August 20, 1828.153

The man whose name was applied to the post which has become so historic was a typical soldier of his day. Along with the bravery and zeal of the army, he possessed also its failings. Of myself I have little to say, he wrote on one occasion. I entered the army a subaltern, almost eighteen years ago. From obscurity I have passed through every grade to the command of a regiment. I owe nothing to executive patronage, for I have neither friend or [059] relation connected with the government: I have obtained my rank in the ordinary course of promotion, and have retained it by doing my duty; and I really flatter myself that I still possess the confidence of the government, and the respect of those who serve with and under me.154

Daniel Webster, speaking in the Senate on July 9, 1850, remarked that it was not in Indian wars that heroes were celebrated, but it was there that they were formed.155 The occasion of this speech was the death of the President, Zachary Taylor, who had served for many years upon the Indian frontier. As lieutenant colonel of the First Infantry, he came to Fort Snelling during the summer of 1828 and remained there for a year, when he established his headquarters at Fort Crawford. His achievements on the frontier and in the Mexican War, which finally brought him to the presidency are a familiar story, and the training which he received in Old Fort Snelling was only a part of that which gave him the name of Rough and Ready. It is a remarkable fact that at Fort Snelling he was remembered less for his own actions than for those of his four pretty daughters whose presence spread commotion in the hearts of the homesick young officers.156

In 1837 the First Infantry was withdrawn and part of the Fifth Infantry returned to its former station. Among the familiar faces seen about the garrison again was that of a man whose eccentricities [060] and personality are closely associated with the life of the fort.157 In reporting the casualties of the battle of Molino del Rey, September 8, 1847, the general commanding the American forces applied an adjective to only one of the dead. The report reads, the service mourns the high-souled Scott, brevet lieutenant colonel 5th infantry.158 This was Martin Scott, one of the most human, most lovable, and most energetic men who ever reviewed troops on the parade ground of Old Fort Snelling. Only from July 15, 1837, until August 20, 1837, was he in command, but for many years he was a familiar figure around the barracks and in the surrounding country.

Hunting was his favorite pastime, and many a time the prairie rang with the yelping of the twenty or twenty-five dogs which he kept under the care of a special negro servant at the fort. His deadly aim was known to all. An army officer who insulted him was severely wounded in a duel; he often played the part of William Tell by shooting with his pistol through an apple placed upon the head of his negro; and if credence is to be given to the stories which are told, even the animals were aware that from him there was no escape. A coon sitting high on a tree was shot at by several hunters in succession, but still remained in its position. Captain Scott came along and took aim, whereupon the coon asked, Who is that? The reply was, My name is Scott. Scott? what Scott? continued the coon. Captain Martin Scott. Are you Captain Martin Scott? There was a pause before the voice in [061] the tree-top continued, Then hold on—don't shoot; I may as well come down.159

Martin Scott was born in Bennington, Vermont, on January 17, 1788. His family was extremely poor, but because of his freedom from army vices—gambling and drinking—he was able in later years to do them many favors. His kindness was equalled only by his bravery. For gallant conduct during the Mexican War he received several promotions, and held a commission as lieutenant colonel when he met death leading his regiment in the battle of Molino del Rey.160

A newspaper correspondent who went over the field of battle, saw a gray-headed soldier spreading the blanket over the corpse of a fallen comrade. I rode up to him, wrote the reporter to his newspaper, and asked him whether that was an officer. He looked up, and every lineament of his face betokening the greatest grief, replied, you never asked a question sir, more easily answered, it is an officer. I then asked him who he was. He again replied, The best soldier of the 5th infantry, sir. I then alighted from my horse and uncovering the face, found it was Col. Martin Scott. As I again covered the face, the soldier continued, without apparently addressing himself to any person in particular—They have killed him—they will be paid for this—if it had only been me—I have served with him almost four enlistments but what will his poor family say? And as he concluded thus the tears coursed down his furrowed cheeks, and the swelling of his [062] bosom showed how deeply he was affected by the death of his veteran and gallant commander.161

When the Fifth Infantry was transferred in 1840 there was a second home-coming at Fort Snelling in that it was succeeded by parts of the First Infantry which remained until the year 1848. Captain Seth Eastman was in command at four different times during this period, and it was through his eyes that we can see Old Fort Snelling as it was.162 After his graduation from the Military Academy he was an assistant teacher of drawing at West Point. Following this he served in the Florida War and on the frontier until 1850, when he was called to Washington to illustrate the History, Condition, and Future Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Active service on the frontier and in the Civil War followed, and in 1866 he was breveted a brigadier general.163

Mary Henderson Eastman, his wife, also commands attention. The intimate association of the fort with the surrounding Indians brought to her knowledge many incidents connected with their life which she embodied in a volume published in 1849 and entitled: Dahcotah: or, Life and Legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling. In this volume Longfellow read of the Falls of Minnehaha, which he describes so picturesquely in Hiawatha.164 Other literary work was done by Mrs. Eastman, one of her volumes being Aunt Phyllis's Cabin, a reply to Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.165 [063]

Parts of the Sixth Infantry were garrisoned in Fort Snelling from 1848 to 1852, and beginning in 1850 there was also a company of the First Dragoons who engaged in many of the expeditions narrated in the preceding chapter. Among the officers who commanded during this period was Lieutenant William T. Magruder, who was killed on July 3, 1863, at the Battle of Gettysburg while serving in the ranks of the Confederate army.166 One company of the Third Artillery was located at the post from 1853 to 1856. At the head of this company was Captain W. T. Sherman who, after serving in the Indian wars and the Mexican War, rose to prominence in the Civil War during which he was brevetted a major general. After the Civil War he was appointed commander of the Department of the East.167

Among the last troops which occupied Fort Snelling before it was abandoned in 1858 was a part of the Tenth Infantry. Major E. R. S. Canby of this regiment was in command of the fort during the summer and autumn of 1856. His was a wonderful record of achievement upon the frontier and in the Civil War, and like Colonel Leavenworth he met his death in service. Born in Kentucky the year that Fort Snelling was founded, he moved to Indiana as a boy. He was appointed to the Military Academy at West Point in 1835 and graduated in 1839. For the next three years he was engaged as a second lieutenant in the Second Infantry in the Florida War, and upon the successful termination of the campaigns he was employed in removing the Cherokees, [064] Choctaws, and Creeks to Indian Territory. After a few years in garrison duty and the recruiting service he participated in the Mexican War, being promoted for gallant and meritorious service at Contreras, Cherubusco, and the Belen Gate of the City of Mexico. On March 3, 1855, a promotion made him major in the Tenth Infantry; and it was while holding this position that he served at Fort Snelling.

In 1858 Major Canby was transferred to Fort Bridger, Utah, where he commanded an expedition against the Navajo Indians. While stationed at Fort Defiance, New Mexico, during the early years of the Civil War, he repelled the Confederate general, Sibley, who left one-half of his force behind him in killed, wounded, and prisoners. On March 31, 1862, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers and summoned to Washington to assist Secretary of War Stanton. While here General Canby was called upon to take charge of a difficult position. Draft riots in New York City from July 13th to July 16th resulted in the killing and wounding of about a thousand people and the destruction of about one and a half million dollars worth of property.168 On July 17th General Canby was put in charge of the Federal troops in the city, and he was later able to enforce the provisions of the draft without difficulties.169 Following this came an appointment as commander of the military division of West Mississippi, where he was wounded by Confederate guerrillas.

At the close of the war, Edward Canby, then a [065] major general of volunteers was sent to the far West as commander of the Department of the Columbia. Here the United States was engaged in a war with the Modoc Indians led by their chief Captain Jack. On April 11, 1873, General Canby held a peace parley with the Indians. It had been agreed that both parties should be unarmed, but in the middle of the negotiations Captain Jack suddenly drew a revolver from his breast, and shot Canby through the head killing him instantly.170

Other officers at the post who had real power were the garrison physicians. One of these, Dr. John Emerson was a giant in body and impulsive in spirit. On a certain day in early winter when the quartermaster was distributing stoves to the officers, Dr. Emerson asked for one for his negro servant. This the quartermaster refused, saying that there were not enough in store; whereupon the doctor insinuated that the statement was a lie. Upon being insulted thus the quartermaster struck his companion between the eyes. Emerson turned on his heels immediately, but he returned in a few minutes with a brace of pistols which he pointed at his assailant. The fighting spirit of the quartermaster fell at the appearance of these weapons, and he started across the parade ground on a run followed by the doctor. A third character appeared in the person of Major Plympton, the commanding officer, who arrested Dr. Emerson. This episode gave rise to a great commotion in the garrison. One group who wanted some [066] excitement urged that only in blood could the quarrel be settled; while the other group sought for peace, knowing that there was no other physician nearer than Prairie du Chien. Not for several days was the quarrel patched up, and then the terms were never made public.171

The cause of all this trouble was Dred Scott, man of color, and the slave of Dr. Emerson. He had been brought to Fort Snelling by his master in 1836, and here he was married to Harriet, also colored, who had been sold by Major Taliaferro to the doctor. When Dr. Emerson was transferred to Missouri, he took Dred Scott with him. After the death of his master, Scott began proceedings in the courts for his freedom on the ground that his residence at the military post made him free—Fort Snelling being located on soil where slavery was prohibited by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Mrs. Emerson, who wanted to avoid an appearance in the courts, made over the control of Scott to John F. A. Sanford, and the case was finally brought to the Supreme Court of the United States. Thus Old Fort Snelling was connected with the case of Scott vs. Sanford, which was so important among the events leading up to the Civil War.172

Were battles and military operations alone considered, the annals of Fort Snelling would comprise few pages; and were only military men characterized one of the most potent factors in the life of the fort would be omitted. The influence of the fort on the [067] Indians was felt more through the quiet daily work of the Indian agent who was their official friend. Although he was an officer entirely distinct from the military organization at the fort, his work may legitimately be accredited among the other activities of the post. He was, in fact, an army official. The act of August 7, 1789, which organized the War Department, placed Indian affairs in the hands of the Secretary;173 on July 9, 1832, a commissioner of Indian affairs was authorized;174 and on June 30, 1834, the relations of the Indian agents to the military department were more clearly defined. The Superintendent of Indian Affairs, the Indian agents, and the sub-agents were given the right to call upon the military forces to remove all trespassers in the Indian country, to procure the arrest and trial of all Indians accused of committing any crime, and to break up any distillery set up in the Indian country.175

By the act of March 3, 1849, the Department of the Interior was organized. Section Five of the act stipulated that the Secretary of the Interior shall exercise the supervisory and appellate powers now exercised by the Secretary of the War Department, in relation to all the acts of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.176 On the whole this law did not disturb the coöperation between the two branches of the government service, although the commander at Fort Snelling intimated to the agent that his privileges were not of right but by courtesy.177

One name more than any other is associated with the agency at Fort Snelling—usually called the [068] agency of St. Peter's. From 1820 to 1840 regiments came and went, and the officers who ruled as Lords of the North were soon transferred to other posts. The military establishment was itself known by several different names in succession, but the Indian agent remained the same—Lawrence Taliaferro. His was a lasting influence—lasting because of the position he held in the memories of his wards and his associates, and lasting because of the records that he left.

To the Indians he was a real Father. Americans, Scotch, Sioux, and French could all find within his breast, they said, a kindred spirit, and they bestowed upon him the name of Four Hearts because of the impartiality of his actions to all nationalities.178 In June, 1858, a number of Sioux chiefs were in Washington and came to see him. My old Father, said Little Crow, we have called upon you; we love you; we respect you.… Since you left us a dark cloud has hung over our nation. We have lost confidence in the promises of our Great Father, and his people; bad men have nearly destroyed us.… We failed to get a friend in anyone like you; they all joined the traders. We know your heart, it feels for your old children.179

Those who were associated with him at the fort also had kind words for him. He belonged to a class more common then than now, remarked the son of Colonel Bliss. He imagined it to be his imperative duty to see that every Indian under his charge had the enjoyment of all his rights, and never [069] seemed to realize his opportunities for arranging with contractors for the supply of inferior goods and for dividing the profits.180 Of this honesty Taliaferro wrote: I have the Sad Consolation of leaving after twenty Seven years—the public Service as poor as when first I entered—The only evidence of my integrity.181

No one can write of Fort Snelling without using the papers which Lawrence Taliaferro left. The diary kept by him during these twenty years shows the meager pleasures and grim duties of his task. Of this diary only a few fragmentary pages are extant—three roughly bound collections of sheets, many of them torn, many of them half-burned, and their writing faded. But from almost every page that is legible some information is gleaned, concerning the life of the soldiers, the visits of the Indians, the state of the weather, and reflections on Indian relations and the best time for planting potatoes.182 His wide acquaintance and the great extent of territory which his agency covered led to correspondence with many men. These letters also passed through a fire, and those that were rescued are now bound in four volumes.183

His reports to General William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, were forwarded to Washington where they are now kept in the files of the Indian office.184 With methodical care Governor Clark copied the letters which he received into letter books. The existence of these letter books was not known until a few years ago, when [070] some of them were found in the hands of a junk dealer in Lawrence, Kansas, and were rescued—a great gain to the history of the West.185

Many years after he closed his connection with the agency Lawrence Taliaferro wrote an Autobiography—a narrative that shows all the quaintness and egotism of the man. Not until after the year 1840, he wrote did the government become unfortunate in the selection of their agents for Indian affairs.186 From this account can be gleaned information to supplement the bare facts usually given about his life. His ancestors had come to England from Genoa, Italy, and later they emigrated to Virginia. Here Lawrence Taliaferro was born on February 28, 1794. At the age of eighteen he joined the army and served through the War of 1812, being a first lieutenant when it closed. Although he received no other promotion he was always known among his associates as Major.187

He was appointed Indian agent for St. Peter's on March 27, 1819, and on April 1, 1819, he accepted—resigning the same day from the army.188 He reached his new station probably in the summer of 1820, and was immediately engaged in the duties connected with Indian affairs.189 During his term of office he was continually troubled by ill-health which resulted from his campaigns in the late war. In 1824 he resigned because of this ill-health, and although he continued in service, Governor Clark at one time wrote to the Secretary of War that his fate is considered as very doubtful.190 [071]

As early as 1831 he confided to his diary that there is something of a Combination of Persons at work day after day to pick at my Actions both public and private.191 His resignation finally came in 1839, and he closed his connection with the Department on January 1, 1840, because he could no longer endure the machinations of the traders.192 Thereafter he made his home at Bedford, Pennsylvania, serving as a military storekeeper from 1857 to 1863, when he was put on the retired list. Mr. Taliaferro visited his old home at Fort Snelling in 1856 and wrote characteristically: We were in St. Paul on the twenty-fourth of June, the widow's son was Irving's Rip Van Winkle; after a nap of fifteen years, we awoke in the midst of fast times. We truly felt bewildered when we found all the haunts and resting-places of the once noble sons of the forest, covered by cities, towns, and hamlets. We asked but few questions, being to our mind received as a strange animal; if nothing worse.193

Among the others who served before 1858 as Indian agent were Amos J. Bruce, R. G. Murphy, and Nathaniel McLean. The influx of whites had greatly increased the difficulties of their position, and the memory of their former agent made the Indians suspicious of their new advisers. The Governor of the Territory became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and his presence so near the agency took from the agent much of his power.194

Scott Campbell, the interpreter at Fort Snelling, [072] was the intermediary between the Indians and their lords. He was a half-breed whom Meriwether Lewis had met on his expedition up the Missouri River. He took the boy with him back to St. Louis; and when Lewis died, Campbell returned to his Sioux relatives and finally drifted to the agency at Fort Snelling.195 Having a knowledge of four languages, and possessing the confidence of all the tribes within four hundred miles of the post, he was indispensable. From August, 1825, to April, 1826, he was engaged in the fur trade, but was lured back into service by a salary of thirty-four dollars per month and one ration per day. By 1843, however, he had become such a drunkard that he had to be dismissed.196

The veteran missionary, S. W. Pond, in recalling early days wrote that Scott Campbell no longer sits smoking his long pipe, and conversing in low tones with the listless loungers around the old Agency House; but who that resided in this country thirty or forty years ago can pass by the old stone houses near Fort Snelling and not think of Major Taliaferro and of his interpreter?197

And who can pass the Old Round Tower without thinking of those men who as officers at Fort Snelling ruled supreme over a vast region, and who left the fort for places of greater trust and greater influence?



Instead of a world of city streets and country towns, of tilled fields and rivers busy with commerce, the raw recruit at Old Fort Snelling entered upon a world of stone barracks and Indian tepees, of tangled prairies and rushing rivers.198 The landing was directly under the cliff which towered above to a height which to many a wanderer in a frail canoe seemed twice the one hundred and six feet which the scientist's instruments ascribed to it.199 In later years a stairway led to the quarters of the commanding officer, but the wagon road which crept upwards along the sandstone wall—nearly as white as loaf-sugar200—where the swallows flew in and out from their holes, gained the summit at the rear of the fort.

Following the road through the gate, and passing between the buildings to the center of the parade ground, the recruit probably paused to look about him.201 Visible in the openings between the buildings was the stone wall about ten feet high which surrounded the barracks, quarters, and storehouses. This wall took the place of the picket-stockade which was so prominent a feature in earlier and ruder fortifications. Conforming to the arrangement of the buildings which it enclosed, the wall was diamond-shaped, [074] one point being at the edge of the promontory where the valley of the Minnesota River met that of the Mississippi River. A second point was on the edge of the steep bluff which rose from the Mississippi. A third point, at a distance of about four hundred and fifty feet directly opposite the second, was on the summit of the Minnesota bluff. The fourth point was situated on the level ground of the plateau, at a distance of about seven hundred feet from the first point.

As he stood in the middle of the parade ground and gazed beyond the pump and the magazine at the western or fourth point, the recruit saw rising to a height twice that of the wall, the Old Round Tower. To-day this tower is a vine-clad relic—a vestige remaining from the days of the past. But to the soldier of Old Fort Snelling it was a more practical structure—a place of lookout from which he was often to scan the swells of the prairie for approaching Indians or returning comrades. At the second and third points were blockhouses—buildings of stone, each giving a view of the river below it. At the first point there was also a tower—a wooden lookout platform at the very edge of the precipice from which was visible the landscape surrounding the fort.

But the soldier was doubtless more interested in the buildings in which he was to live. The barracks for the men were under the north wall and consisted of two buildings one story in height. The larger of these, which was intended to accommodate two companies [075] was divided into sets, each set having on the main floor an orderly-room and three squad-rooms, while below in the basement were a mess-room and a kitchen. The other barrack was intended to be occupied by one company only; and the orderly-room, squad-rooms, mess-rooms, and a kitchen were on the same floor. The cellars below were damp and were used only for storage purposes.


From a survey by Captain Arthur Williams, reproduced in the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. VIII, opposite p. 430]


Occupying the same position under the south wall, and facing the barracks, were two other buildings, similar in appearance. In one of these the officers' quarters were located. It was divided into twelve sets, each consisting of two rooms, the front one sixteen by fourteen feet, and the back one, eight by fifteen and a half feet. In the basement were located kitchens for each set. The other building contained the offices of the commanding officer, the paymaster, the quartermaster, and the commissary. Here was a room used by the post school, and another filled with harness. An ordnance sergeant and five laundresses found quarters in the same structure.

The quarters of the commanding officer with the flag staff directly in front, faced the parade ground and the Old Round Tower. There were four rooms on the main floor and in the basement were kitchens and pantries. Other buildings were also included within the fort. The storehouse of the commissary department was located near the southern blockhouse; and on either side of the gate were two buildings, shunned by all—the guardhouse and the hospital. [076]

Such was the plan of the fort, convenient in arrangement and beautiful in appearance; but the report of an official inspection in 1827 complained that the main points of defence against an enemy appear to have been in some respects sacrificed in the effort to secure the comfort and convenience of the troops in peace. These are important considerations; but at an exposed frontier post the primary object must be security against the attack of an enemy. Health and comfort come next. The buildings are too large, too numerous, and extending over a space entirely too great; enclosing a uselessly large parade, five times greater than is at all desirable in that climate.202

A traveller who at a later day was entertained within the fort wrote of it facetiously in these words: The idea is further suggested, that the strong stone wall was rather erected to keep the garrison in, than the enemy out. Though adapted for mounting cannon if needful, the walls were unprovided with those weapons; and the only piece of ordnance that I detected out of the magazine, was an old churn thrust gallantly through one of the embrasures. We were however far from complaining of the extra expense and taste which the worthy officer whose name it bears had expended on the erection of Fort Snelling, as it is in every way an addition to the sublime landscape in which it is situated.203

But an examination of the contents of the magazine would have revealed weapons more formidable than churns. Among the equipment reported in [077] 1834 one reads of two iron twelve-pounder cannon of the garrison type; three six-pounder iron cannon of the field type; and two five and eight-tenths inch iron howitzers. There was also equipment for these pieces of artillery—carriages, sponges and rammers, lead aprons, dark lanterns, gunners' belts, gunners' haversacks, and tarpaulins. There were stored ready for service, 440 balls for the twelve-pounders, 1255 balls for the six-pounders, 546 pounds of mixed loose grapeshot, and many other sizes of strapped and canister shot. For the use of the infantry there were 7749 musket flints, 1825 pounds of musket powder, 1513 pounds of rifle powder, 31,390 cartridges, and 2047 blank cartridges.204

Other structures closely connected with the work of the fort were located outside the wall. The buildings of the Indian agency were situated a quarter of a mile west, on the prairie.205 These consisted of a council house, the agent's house, and an armorer's shop. The original council house was built by the troops in 1823, but Agent Taliaferro claimed that most of the inside work was done at his own expense. The building was of logs and stone, eighty-two feet long, eighteen feet wide, and presenting in the front a piazza of seventy feet. Within, there were six rooms, lined with pine planking and separated from each other by panel doors.206

At one o'clock on the morning of August 14, 1830, the sentinels at the fort discovered that the council house was on fire. But the flames had gained so much headway that it was impossible to save any of [078] the contents. The interpreter and his family who lived in this building barely escaped with their lives. In reporting the loss to the superintendent, Major Taliaferro wrote that the general impression here is that fire was put to the house by Some drunken Indians & circumstances are strong in justifying such a conclusion.207 This surmise was right, for on April 7, 1831, the Indians delivered at the fort one of their number who they claimed was guilty of the act.208

That steps were taken to build a new council house is evident from the record in Taliaferro's diary under date of March 8, 1831, that four men had been hired at $12 per Month to cut & carry timber out of the pine Swamp for the Agency Council House.209 But in 1839 Taliaferro recommended that the agency be moved to a point seven miles up the river; and in 1841 there was a movement on foot to buy Baker's stone trading house for the same purpose.210

Near the location of the old council house were two other buildings. One of these was the agent's house. This was made entirely of stone, and was one and a half stories high. It contained four rooms and a passage on the lower floor and two rooms above.211 Hastily built by troops at an early day, its comforts were few. Since the Rainy Season Set in, complained the agent in 1834, both the hired Men and Myself have not had a Spot in our houses that Could be called dry, Not even our beds.212 An armorer's shop, where blacksmith work was done for the Indians, was made of logs and measured sixteen by [079] eighteen feet. Nearer the fort was the home of Franklin Steele, the sutler of the post.213

At Camp Cold Water, B. F. Baker had erected a large stone trading house, which in 1841 was valued at six thousand dollars. While he had no legal title to the land on which this house was built, the officers at the post allowed him to remain. Later it was sold to Kenneth McKenzie, who in 1853 built an addition, renovated the entire building, and used it as a hotel. In the vicinity of this structure were several small huts which had been the homes of some squatters on the reservation. But after their expulsion these huts rapidly fell into decay.214

In his duties and recreations the soldier was often brought into touch with other features of the world about him—the points of scenic interest and the Indian villages. From the wooden lookout tower near the commanding officer's quarters a glimpse of the surrounding land was revealed.

The view from the angle of the wall at the extreme point, is highly romantic, wrote one who saw the wild scene before civilization had left its traces on the landscape. To your left lies the broad deep valley of the Mississippi, with the opposite heights, descending precipitously to the water's edge; and to the right and in front, the St. Peter's, a broad stream, worthy from its size, length of course, and the number of tributaries which it receives, to be called the Western Fork of the Great River itself. It is seen flowing through a comparatively open vale, with swelling hills and intermingling forest and [080] prairie, for many miles above the point of junction. As it approaches the Mississippi, the volume of water divides into two branches; that on the right pursues the general course of the river above, and enters the Mississippi, at an angle of perhaps fifty degrees, directly under the walls of the fort; while the other, keeping to the base of the high prairie lands which rise above it to a notable summit called the Pilot Knob, enters the Mississippi lower down. The triangular island thus formed between the rivers lies immediately under the fort. Its level surface is partially cultivated, but towards the lower extremity thickly covered with wood. Beyond their junction, the united streams are seen gliding at the base of high cliffs into the narrowing valley below. Forests, and those of the most picturesque character, interspersed with strips of prairie, clothe a great portion of the distant view.

A little cluster of trading houses is situated on the right branch of the St. Peter's, and here and there on the shores, and on the island, you saw the dark conical tents of the wandering Sioux. A more striking scene we had not met with in the United States, and hardly any that could vie with it for picturesque beauty, even at this unfavourable season. What must it be in spring, when the forests put forth their young leaves, and the prairies are clothed in verdure!215

This little cluster of trading houses was the town of Mendota. Here was the stone house of Henry H. Sibley, and that of J. B. Faribault. Near [081] the river was the ferry house and the home of Mr. Finley the ferryman.216 Upon the hillside lay the little Catholic chapel, surrounded by the graves in the cemetery. But the center of interest was in the warehouse and store of the American Fur Company, where the skins of buffalo, elk, deer, fox, beaver, otter, muskrat, mink, martin, raccoon, and other animals were sorted and divided into packs weighing about a hundred pounds. Indians, Frenchmen, half-breeds, and restless wanderers from the East were always loitering about the establishment.217

From the fort a road led along the Mississippi to the Falls of St. Anthony, on the way crossing Minnehaha Creek on the bridge built in early days by the soldiers. Here a stop was made to view the beauty of the cascade then known as Little Falls or Brown's Falls. It was the common practice for travellers to descend to the foot of the falls, clinging to the shrubs along the slippery pathway, and then go behind the sheet of falling water.218 Continuing, at a distance of eight miles up the Mississippi from the fort, the Falls of St. Anthony was reached. Although only sixteen feet high, the breadth of almost six hundred yards, broken in the middle by a rocky island gave to it an impressive majesty, and the thick vegetation on the island and banks returned a gloomy reflection from the whirling waters.219

It is no wonder that in that wild and picturesque locality the Indians saw things ghostly and supernatural. They tell you that here a young Dacota mother, goaded by jealousy,—the husband [sic] of [082] her children having taken another wife,—unmoored her canoe above the Great Fall, and seating herself and her children in it,—sang her death song, and went over the foaming acclivity in the face and amid the shrieks of her tribe. And often, the Indian believes, when the nights are calm, and the sky serene,—and the dew-drops are hanging motionless on the sprays of the weeping birch on the island,—and the country far and wide is vibrating to the murmur of the cataract,—that then the misty form of the young mother may be seen moving down the deceitful current above, while her song is heard mingling its sad notes with the lulling sound of the Laughing Water!220

Here at the Falls, on the west bank of the river, were three buildings: a saw mill, a grist mill, and a one-story frame dwelling, where a detachment of soldiers always remained to guard the property. The saw mill had provided much of the lumber used in the construction of the fort, and in the grist mill the corn was cracked that was fed during the winter to the cattle—a drove being delivered every fall for the use of the garrison. These buildings were still standing in 1858, although they were then in a bad state of decay.221

Among the lakes on the prairie the most important were the Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. These were favorite picnic and hunting grounds for the men and women of the garrison. An old map made in 1823 shows Green's Villa on Lake Calhoun—probably a hunting lodge or shelter [083] built by Lieutenant Platt Rogers Green.222 Here on Lake Calhoun was located the missionary establishment which was so closely connected with the life of the fort.223

There were other Indian villages near the fort. Nine miles below, on the bank of the Mississippi was the Sioux village of Kaposia. Here Wakinyantanka, or Big Thunder, reigned over his band which numbered one hundred and eighty-three in 1834. Two or three miles upstream from its mouth on the banks of the Minnesota was the group of wigwams called Black Dog's village, although the chief was Wamditanka or Big Eagle. About nine miles from Fort Snelling was Pinisha, reported as having one hundred and forty-eight inhabitants ruled over by Good Road. The largest group, three hundred and sixty-eight souls, was that of the Tintatonwan band, located twenty-four miles from Fort Snelling and near the present town of Shakopee. Shapaydan or Shakpay was the chief, the father of the warrior of the same name who was executed at Fort Snelling for participating in the Sioux massacre of 1862.224

These villages were very much the same in appearance, large bark lodges being occupied by the Indians in the summer. The villages swarmed with children, squaws, painted warriors, and yelping dogs. About the lodges were the corn fields, the scaffolds where the corn was dried, and the more mournful scaffolds where, wrapped in buffalo skins, reposed the bones of the hunters who had followed the milky way to the Land of the Ghosts.225



What sort of a life did the soldier live in the barracks and on the parade ground, and in the world of prairies, rivers, and woods that lay about him? No person who was ever quartered within the walls of Old Fort Snelling seems to have left an account of what was included in the tasks and recreations of a day. Doubtless the routine duties repeated day after day were thought too ordinary to be worth recording. The pleasures were so simple and came so much as a matter of course that they also receive scant mention in the annals of the fort. It is from the General Regulations for the Army that one gets the daily program of a military post; and the few fragmentary pages of Taliaferro's diary and letters, together with the stray remarks of travellers and pioneers, indicate the joys and sorrows of a very human garrison.226

No sooner was dawn visible over the Mississippi bluffs than the musicians of the post were summoned to the parade ground and five minutes later the reveille was sounded. At the signal both officers and men arose. Soon the rolls of the companies were called in front of the quarters; the quarters were put in order; the ground in front swept; and [085] the horses fed and watered. At eight-thirty the sick in the barracks were taken to the hospital, and at nine o'clock breakfast was served, preceded by a second roll-call. Then the various tasks of the day were performed under the direction of a captain or subaltern daily detailed as the officer of the day.

A party termed the General Fatigue swept the entire parade ground—unless there were enough prisoners in the guard house to perform this unpleasant duty. A police guard furnished sentinels to watch over the prisoners, the colors, the quarters of the commanding officer, and the arms of the regiment. Other soldiers were posted at the front and the rear of the fort. Certain detachments were formed for reconnoitering and foraging—the nature of the tasks depending on the season of the year and the needs of the garrison.

At three o'clock in the afternoon the third roll-call was followed by dinner; and thirty minutes before sunset the music called out the regiment for dress parade, where various maneuvers were gone through and orders were read. After the parade, when the regiment was again in its quarters, the arms were placed in the arm-racks, the horses attended to, a fifth roll-call endured, and tattoo sounded. Then the lights were extinguished and all were expected to be quiet for the night.

This monotony of the daily program was equalled only by the monotony of the meals. The regulation diet prescribed by Congress in 1802 consisted of a pound and a quarter of beef, or three-quarters of a [086] pound of pork; eighteen ounces of bread or flour; one gill of rum, whiskey, or brandy; and for every hundred rations were supplied two quarts of salt, four quarts of vinegar, four pounds of soap, and one pound and a half of candles. In 1832 coffee and sugar were substituted for the liquor.227

During the early years of Fort Snelling these supplies were brought from St. Louis in flatboats. With the development of steamboat traffic, the steamboat was utilized, but it did not entirely displace the earlier method. Difficulties often hindered the transportation of supplies. The summer of 1829 was extremely dry. The average monthly rainfall was less than an inch, and steamboat navigation was impossible. Even keelboats found difficulty in ascending the river; sixty days were spent by Lieutenant Reynolds in bringing up a load of supplies. A sand bar at Pine Bend was impassable, so half of the load was taken off and the rest hurried up the river. When the crew arrived the garrison was upon its last barrel of flour.228

Bread and soup, runs a clause in the General Regulations for the Army, are the great items of a soldier's diet, in every situation.229 The bread was made from the wheat grown by the soldiers, and was ground in the mill at the Falls of St. Anthony. For some reason the crop of 1823 had become mouldy and the bread was black and bitter. When forced to eat it, the troops almost mutinied, bringing it out upon the parade ground and throwing it down.230 Nor does it seem likely that the soup was more appetizing [087] when one reads the following recipe which guided the company cooks: To make soup, put into the vessel at the rate of five pints of water to a pound of fresh meat; apply a quick heat to make it boil promptly; skim off the foam, and then moderate the fire; salt is then put in, according to the palate. Add the vegetables of the season one or two hours, and sliced bread some minutes, before the simmering is ended. When the broth is sensibly reduced in quantity, that is, after five or six hours cooking, the process will be complete.231

Fortunately the soldier did not have to depend entirely on these rations. Out of his modest cash income of six dollars per month he could buy at the sutler's store small necessities and some luxuries. The sutler was the authorized merchant of the post, and in order that his monopoly might not lead him to demand unreasonable sums for his wares, the prices were fixed by a council of administration composed of three officers. For every officer and enlisted soldier serving at the post the sutler paid into the post fund, from ten to fifteen cents per month. This sum was to be used for the relief of the widows or orphans of soldiers, the maintenance of a post school and band, and the purchase of books for a library.232

The books of Franklin Steele, who was the sutler at Fort Snelling from 1838 to 1858, may still be examined; and from their dreary lists of accounts, the human wants of a soldier at Old Fort Snelling are clearly indicated.233 On March 12, 1849, Private [088] Brown bought a pound of currants and a pound of raisins for fifty cents. Shoes, soap, and currants totalled $1.50 on April 7th; and on March 20th, two pounds of butter sold for thirty cents and a pound of cheese for forty-two cents. Private Ryerson had more varied needs. On March 7th, 1849, he purchased indigo; on March 16th, paper; on April 9th, alcohol and suspenders; five days later, needles and sugar; and on April 23rd, apples, butter, and a tin cup. The quiet waters in the neighboring lakes tempted Eli Pettijohn on a spring day in 1855 to invest $2.50 in Fishing Tackel.

That the officers did not live upon the same fare as the soldiers is indicated by the entries under the title Officers Mess. On July 31, 1855, there was purchased ten cents worth of cloves, ten cents worth of pepper, and ninety-five cents worth of cheese. Under the date of August 8th Bread tickets were purchased to the amount of one dollar; and on August 30th, fifty cents worth of Yeast Powd'r was charged to their account.

Saint and sinner both patronized this store. The Reverend Ezekiel Gear, who was the chaplain at the fort, evidently believed that cleanliness was next to godliness, for on July 31, 1855, he paid thirty cents for a scrub brush; on August 4th, he bought a broom for fifty cents; on August 30th, he purchased twenty-five cents worth of starch, and on October 19th, a large broom. Indulging in some luxuries, on August 2nd, 1855, he bought five cents worth of candy. Probably this was a treat for those [089] two boys, his son and his grandson, whom a visitor two years later found sleeping in the little cemetery at Morgan's Bluff near the fort, their resting place marked by a rude slab with a Latin inscription: Lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death not divided.234

None the less clearly is the character of Sergeant Mahoney portrayed in these accounts. On July 31, 1855, it is recorded under his name: 1 Flask $.75. On August 20th, the same officer paid seventy-five cents for a bottle of cider. And the chaplain would have had an excellent illustration for his next sermon on intemperance if he could have read, as we can to-day, this melancholy note made in the sutler's book on October 17th: Sergeant Mahoney, Cash Loaned 20.00.

There was need for sermons on intemperance. During the early years whiskey was issued as a part of the soldier's ration, and this only served to stimulate the desire for more. The class of men in the army was not always of the highest, and there were enough civilians who were willing to pander to their appetites. The following extract from Taliaferro's diary for March 22, 1831, is undoubtedly characteristic of many a forgotten episode: Nothing of importance transpired this day. Two drunken Soldiers in crossing the SPeters broke through the Ice & were near being drowned. They were exceeding alarmed & made a hedious Noise & yelling for Assistance—the men from the Fort relieved them although late at night. Not always was assistance on hand in [090] such circumstances. A report was made in March, 1840, of a certain officer who disappeared on the evening of the 5th of March, supposed to have been drowned by falling through the ice.235

Drunkenness and absence from roll-call were among the infractions of rules for which punishment was most often inflicted. The character and severity of the punishment depended upon the mood of the commanding officer. Colonel Snelling, who was usually a very gentle man, was particularly severe in his treatment of offenders. He would take them to his room, wrote one who spent several years in the Snelling household, and compel them to strip, when he would flog them unmercifully. I have heard them beg him to spare them, for God's sake.236 This punishment by flogging was often performed with a cat—an instrument made of nine thongs about eighteen inches long, knotted in every inch, and attached to a small stick. When the culprit was stripped to the waist and tied to the flagstaff, the drummers took turns in applying the cat to the bare back.237

Other officers used less painful methods. Thus, Major Loomis was known as Old Ring, since his favorite punishment was to place a log of wood upon the prisoner's shoulder and compel him to walk around and around in a circle under the vigilant eye of a sentinel. To Major John Bliss, who was in command at Fort Snelling from 1833 to 1836, the name Black Starvation might well have been applied. The negro servant, Hannibal, who clandestinely [091] sold spruce beer to the soldiers was confined in the Black Hole for forty-eight hours; and Private Kelly, who refused to do his part in the fatigue party spent more than seventy-two hours in the Black Hole before the pangs of starvation persuaded him to promise Major Bliss to be good in the future.238 On one occasion, which may be taken as typical of usual conditions, out of a total garrison of three hundred and twenty-nine, twenty-six were confined in prison. But at another time the commanding officer could report: No Convicts at this Post.239

The severity of the military rules and the monotony of the life led to two undesirable consequences—mutinies and desertions. Of the former there is apparently no description, and the brief entry in Taliaferro's diary for February 3, 1831, leaves much to the imagination: Mutiny of Most of the Troops of the 1st Infantry, Stationed at Fort Snelling this Morning.240 What grievances led to the uprising on that wintry day, and by what diplomacy or by what punishments it was put down, are unrecorded.

Concerning the extent of desertions there is specific information regarding three years. Desertion was prevalent in the army at this time, and in order to provide methods of combating it the Secretary of War presented to Congress a great deal of information covering the years from 1823 to 1825.241 During these three years there were stationed at Fort Snelling an aggregate of two hundred and fifty-one soldiers in 1823; three hundred and thirty-five in 1824; [092] and two hundred and forty-six in 1825.242 Of these, six deserted in 1823, eight in 1824, and twenty-nine in 1825. In this total of forty-three desertions, fifteen left in their first year of service, seventeen in the second, eighteen in the third, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth. Interesting facts regarding the kind of men who lived at the old frontier post can be gleaned from the data presented. Most of them were between the ages of twenty-one and thirty. In occupation there were laborers, farmers, painters, shoemakers, papermakers, wheelwrights, jewellers, and brewers. Among these forty-three, twenty-six were born in the United States, five in Ireland, two in Scotland, one in France, one in Holland, and one in Canada.

The soldier who sought freedom by stealthily climbing over the stone wall of Fort Snelling and appropriating some canoe drawn up on the river bank, left monotony and discipline behind him; but in doing so he faced many dangers. There was no settlement nearer than Prairie du Chien—a military establishment. Indians were not afraid to injure those whom they knew to be deserters. A certain man by the name of Dixon who deserted was captured by Indians who brought him back to Fort Snelling and received a reward of twenty dollars. Dixon was court-martialed and sentenced to receive fifty lashes from the cat and then to be drummed out of the Fort.243 Four soldiers who escaped were killed by the Indians of Red Wing's band, and their [093] bodies were left on the shores of Lake Pepin, where they were later found half-eaten by the birds.244

Sickness and death reduced the number on duty at the post. From the doctor the sick received professional aid. In 1826 when the force at Fort Snelling amounted to three hundred and twenty-nine men there were in the hospital one subaltern, one non-commissioned officer, one musician, and fifteen privates. That Fort Snelling was at a healthful location is indicated by the fact that during the same period at Fort Atkinson, with a force of only one hundred more, there was a total of one hundred and twenty-five sick persons.245

The number of deaths was proportionately small. In the year ending on September 30, 1823, there was only one death; the next year the toll was the same; and in 1825 it amounted to five.246 On the occasion of a funeral six men, detailed from those of the same rank as the deceased, carried the coffin to the little cemetery outside the fort. A salute was fired over the grave and the band played solemn music, the drums being covered with black crepe. The mounds in the cemetery, unmarked by any stones, were soon obliterated; but if the departed soldier had been a cheerful companion his barrack-songs were missed by his comrades, and many friends, half-way across a continent, would mourn for one who was lying in an unknown grave, somewhere in the West.247

On account of monotonous drills and tedious routine, any pretext to go into the Indian country was [094] hailed with delight. The bustle, excitement, and troubles connected with the departure of these expeditions are best described by Mrs. Seth Eastman, who as the wife of the commanding officer had often waved farewell to the departing company.248

Now for excitement, the charm of garrison life. Officers are of course always ready to go where glory waits them, but who ever heard of one being ready to go when the order came?

Alas! for the young officer who has a wife to leave; it will be weeks before he meets again her gentle smile!

Still more—alas for him who has no wife at all! for he has not a shirt with buttons on it, and most of what he has are in the wash. He will have to borrow of Selden; but here's the difficulty, Selden is going too, and is worse off than himself. But no matter! What with pins and twine and trusting to chance, they will get along.

Then the married men are inquiring for tin reflectors, for hard bread, though healthy, is never tempting. India rubber cloaks are in requisition too.

Those who are going, claim the doctor in case of accidents. Those who stay, their wives at least, want him for fear of measles; while the disciple of Esculapius, though he knows there will be better cooking if he remain at home, is certain there will be food for fun if he go. It is soon decided—the doctor goes.

Then the privates share in the pleasure of the [095] day. How should a soldier be employed but in active service? besides, what a capital chance to desert! One, who is tired of calling All's well through the long night, with only the rocks and trees to hear him, hopes that it will be his happy fate to find out there is danger near, and to give the alarm. Another vows, that if trouble wont come, why he will bring it by quarrelling with the first rascally Indian he meets. All is ready. Rations are put up for the men;—hams, buffalo tongues, pies and cake for the officers. The batallion marches out to the sound of the drum and fife;—they are soon down the hill—they enter their boats; handkerchiefs are waved from the fort, caps are raised and flourished over the water—they are almost out of sight—they are gone.

Apart from these trips abroad and the stated drills and terms of guard duty the tasks which occupied the time of the soldiers depended upon the season of the year. A general order of September 11, 1818, had commanded the making of gardens at all the military posts.249 In the fall of 1819 when the temporary cabins at New Hope Cantonment had been built, the soldiers began ploughing for the crop of the next summer.250 Major Long, in 1823, found two hundred and ten acres under cultivation—one hundred of wheat, sixty of maize, fifteen of oats, fourteen of potatoes, and twenty acres in gardens.251 All through the history of Old Fort Snelling the soldiers were employed as farmers. A visitor in 1852 observed that its garrison is rather deficient [096] in active employment, and we noticed a number of the rank and file taking exercise in a large corn and vegetable field attached to the Fort. It was certainly not exactly soldierly employment, but it was more manly, to our mind, than shooting and stabbing at $8 a month, and no question asked.252

For the horses and cattle kept at the fort a great deal of hay was necessary for the winter months. This was obtained from the broad prairies of the military reservation. A group of men called the Hay Party were employed during the summer in cutting and stacking the long grass. But one officer was of the opinion that this task caused discontent—the enlisted man was no more than a common laborer and hence he lost the pride of a soldier.

The diverse tasks at which a soldier might be called to labor are indicated by a summary of the employment of the troops in 1827. Seven soldiers were acting as teamsters, five were performing carpenters' duties, two were quarrying stone, two men and a sergeant composed the party guarding the mills at the Falls of St. Anthony, and eight others were Procuring forage by order of Col. Snelling.253

Summer brought its own pleasures as well as duties. At Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, and Minnehaha Falls, many were the picnics held when visitors came to the garrison.254 Swan, geese, and ducks were numerous about the lakes and swamps, and with the famous hunter H. H. Sibley as a guide, the game bags were soon filled. During [097] a period of three years, Mr. Sibley, alone, shot 1798 ducks—a fact which indicates what success a soldier-sportsman could have in his few hours of recreation.255

But it was when the prairies were impassable because of drifts of snow from six to fifteen feet high,256 and when the course of the river could be traced only by a streak of white between the gray of its wooded banks that there appeared those features which are peculiar to the life of a remote garrison. The isolation was almost complete. There was no traffic upon the frozen river, and the traders were wintering in the Indian villages. Only through the mail was communication with the outside world possible. It was planned to have a monthly mail service, soldiers being sent to Prairie du Chien with the letters. Here they delivered about two-thirds of the mail to the persons to whom it was addressed and the rest was deposited in the post office.257

In summer the mail was carried by the soldiers in canoes, but in winter the journey had to be made on foot. In summer the labor was lightened when a passing steamer overtook the rowing soldiers and picked up the canoe with its crew. In winter no such aid was possible. A hard day's tramp was followed by a night among the drifts, unless the tepee of some friendly Indian gave a temporary respite for a few hours.258

Nor was this task free from perils. A system was arranged whereby a courier from Fort Snelling and one from Prairie du Chien set out at about the same [098] time, meeting at Wabasha's village where the packs were exchanged and each returned to his own post. On one occasion a spring thaw overtook the carrier from Prairie du Chien, who had proceeded beyond the meeting place because the messenger from the north was late. Suddenly the ice groaned and cracked, and the postman with difficulty found safety on a small island where, to his great surprise, he found the postman from Fort Snelling who had been caught in the same manner. Their provisions soon gave out; for a while they had only rose-apples to eat. It was not until almost two weeks later that the two half-starved messengers were picked up by the canoes of some friendly Sioux.259

Such accidents rendered the mail service uncertain, and it was with impatience that the watchers at the fort looked down the river for the coming of the news-carriers. On April 2, 1831, Taliaferro wrote: The Express departed—4 men in a Skiff—to convey the Mail to the Post Office at Prairie du Chiens—our return Express daily expected. But they hoped too early and on April 5th it was recorded that Our Express—1st which left for Prairie du Chiens on the 2d of March—has now been Absent more than a Month & progressing in the Seccond. We have not had inteligence from Washington City—since the 6th of December last. Not until April 10th did the mail arrive. But even when the messengers were safe in the fort it was not certain that they brought what was so eagerly looked for, as the entry on February 27th clearly shows: [099] Lieut Williams & Mr Bailly returned this eveng from Prairie du Chiens but brought no Mail there having been no arrival since December.260 It was during this winter that even Prairie du Chien was shut off from the outside, the amount of snow between Peoria and Prairie du Chien stopping the mail service for two months. Again and again during the winter months the commanding officer complained to headquarters that no Orders have been received within the Month.261

The duties of the soldiers during the winter were few. From the time it was built up to 1833 the quarters at Fort Snelling were heated by fireplaces. At that time, however, stoves were substituted.262 Wood was used for fuel—to obtain which was a never-ending task in winter. When Captain Seth Eastman was in command at various periods from 1844 to 1848 the garrison had to go from eight to ten miles for wood. The banks of the Minnesota River were bordered by a forest varying from one hundred to three hundred yards wide; but by 1858 all of this for a distance of twelve miles had been cleared off.263

Colonel John H. Bliss, who was a boy at Fort Snelling when his father was in command during the thirties, wrote that the winters were undeniably tedious, but had their uses; we had a good library, and I read a great deal, which has stood by me well; then there was of course much sociability among the officers, and a great deal of playing of cards, dominoes, checkers, and chess. The soldiers, too, would [100] get up theatrical performances every fortnight or so, those taking female parts borrowing dresses from the soldiers' wives, and making a generous sacrifice to art of their cherished whiskers and mustaches.264

During October, 1836, Inspector General George Croghan visited Fort Snelling, and on the evening of the seventh of the month the Thespian Players presented Monsieur Tonson in his honor. And here, far from city streets and French barbers, on a rude stage, Jack Ardourly fell in love with the beautiful Adolphine de Courcy—who probably only a few hours before had been hurrying to finish a task of cleaning guns so that she could call on the generous women of the garrison and beg from them capes and bonnets and hoops skirts!265

Many of the officers were graduates of West Point, and their wives were from the best families of the East and South. On January 20, 1831, the ladies and gentlemen of the garrison had a party at the fort. The room was tastefully decorated—- and the evening passed pleasantly. On February 22nd of the same year the quarters of the commanding officer were the scene of another party in commemoration of Washington's birthday.266

Efforts were made to provide for the education of the children of the fort. Mrs. Snelling at first taught her own children; but it is evident that there was soon a tutor, as the correspondence of Colonel Snelling shows that John Marsh received his board and seventy-five dollars for acting as tutor during the [101] winter of 1823–1824. This schoolmaster also carried the mail to Prairie du Chien in return for forty dollars.267 Soon after the appointment of a regular chaplain in 1838 the post school was more thoroughly organized.268

Occasionally there was some excitement at the fort. During the month of February in 1831 there was an epidemic of fires. First, the officers row of buildings caught on fire in the room of Lieutenant Greenough on February 10th. On the next day a second fire broke out; and on February 24th the agency house took fire both from the inside and the outside in such a manner that it was evident that an incendiary had been at work.269

But such events were of unusual occurrence. A letter written at Fort Snelling on February 11, 1842, pictures the usual winter life. We of the garrison are as usual at this season rather dull, stale & unprofitable—small parties for Tea are a good deal the fashion, & tattle is used as formerly. Indian Ball plays are coming in season. One comes off today in which stacks of property are to be invested. The Sioux have been hunting about Rum River this winter and have killed great numbers of Dear—Our winter has been mild, one day only 30 below zero, and the rest comfortable.… Tonight Mumford gives a Soiree to the good folks of the garrison and this is the most exciting event of the week. What is the use of writing to you as I cannot find enough wherewith to fill two pages.270

Such close confinement was tolerable when the [102] garrison was composed of congenial spirits, but occasionally it brought about dissensions and quarrels. Taliaferro on one occasion wrote that the Society here is not in the most pleasant State from a System of tatling which has been reduced to a Science—not to be envied.271 Occasionally open encounters took place. One soldier stabbed another with a butcher's knife, and the victim died.272 In February, 1826, two officers of the garrison engaged in a duel.273 Even those in authority were not free from participation in these affairs of honor. A certain young officer challenged Colonel Snelling, and upon his refusing, his son, William Joseph Snelling, accepted and was slightly wounded. When the officer was court-martialed he accused one of the witnesses of being an infidel. Whereupon the latter challenged the officer in his turn, and a second duel was fought—which was bloodless.274

With such conditions prevailing during the winter months it is no wonder that from day to day spring was eagerly looked for. Undoubtedly it was a happy occasion when the agent could record on the evening of Sunday, March 27, 1831, that the weather was more pleasant—Wild geese seen this day—gentlemen generally [illegible] out and Walking—The Ladies also.275 It meant a speedy return of summer pleasures and summer visitors. For when, even at a remote military post did these fail as three sure signs of spring—pleasant weather, flocks of geese, and ladies and gentlemen out walking together?

They were very human, those men and women of Old Fort Snelling.



It was a humane but visionary plan which Reverend Jedidiah Morse in 1822 presented to the Secretary of War as the correct method of procedure in the task of civilizing the Indians. At various centers in the Indian country were to be established Education Families—groups of honest, industrious whites who were to have houses and farms, where the natives could observe their activities. And without any forcing it was expected that the red men, seeing the superior advantages of civilization, would be themselves gradually transformed.276

To the north and east of Fort Snelling was the home of the Chippewa or Ojibway Indians—extending from the Mississippi to the Great Lakes. To the west, on the great prairies, the Dakota, or Sioux Indians lived and hunted. The veteran missionary, S. W. Pond, estimated that the five bands of Sioux, which most often came into direct touch with the government at Fort Snelling, numbered in 1834, seven thousand, and wandered over southern Minnesota and South Dakota, near the lakes of Big Stone and Traverse.277 Major Taliaferro reported in 1834 that the number of Indians in his agency was 6721, and that they extended as far as the Sheyenne fork of the Red River.278 To one man, the agent, was given the [104] task of civilizing these thousands of Sioux. While it was for this tribe that the agency at Fort Snelling was established, yet the Chippewas often frequented its headquarters. One hundred and seventy warriors of these northern Indians arrived at the agent's house on the evening of August 4, 1830.279 The presence of these red men more than doubled the work of the agent, because there was now the difficulty of keeping peace between two warring tribes.

Indian life was not so worthless as sometimes pictured. It is true that one could see laziness and poverty during the months of January and February, if he came upon an Indian village pitched near a wooded slope and above a frozen stream. There could be seen the smoke curling from the dingy tepee, the women dragging home wood for the ever-diminishing pile outside the door, and a few of the hardier men fishing through holes in the ice. About the tepee the snow was banked, and within the air was warm and heavy from the open fire and the long pipes of the reclining braves, who gambled with their neighbors at the game of the shot and the mitten.

Thus through the two stormy months the Indians frittered away the time, eating their corn and wild rice seasoned with tallow. But when the first thaws of spring caused the sap in the maple trees to run, and when some of the more venturesome came back from a winter visit to the trading house with the word that the trader was waiting for skins in return for the blankets and ammunition he had given them [105] the preceding fall, the village divided—part going to the sugar bush, and part going to the prairie lakes and swamps for muskrats. In May they returned on the swollen streams with heavily freighted canoes to their villages of bark houses. During the summer there were many tasks—blue berries to be gathered in the woods, canoes to be built, tepees to be repaired, turnips to be dug, and pipestone to be brought from the far distant quarry. All through the hot months the women toiled in the corn fields; and when the corn was in the milk, all the village children screamed and waved their arms to frighten away the blackbirds. When the harvest had been carefully placed in bark barrels and buried, part of the village had already left to hunt the fox or gather wild rice along the lakes and cranberries in the marshes.

And now came October and the deer hunt. There were only the extremely old people and the invalids to wave good-bye as the procession set out over the prairie—old men who could scarcely walk, bands of shouting children, hunters already on the alert, women with their bundles, and horses and dogs dragging on two poles the provisions and the skins of the tepees. For more than two months the program was the same: the march through the drifts and across the icy rivers, the morning council about a blazing fire before scattering over the prairie, and the triumphal return of the successful hunter at evening with the carcass of a bear, deer, or elk, across his shoulders and his name shouted through [106] the camp by the children gathered to welcome him. By January they were all back again at their villages.280

It was this scheme of life which was to be gradually transformed. There were, of course, variations when war parties crept against the Chippewas, when drunken debaucheries resulted from a keg of whiskey that had escaped the vigilant eyes of the soldiers, and when migrations to the Canadian posts were prompted by the hope that there they could obtain enough supplies to support them without work and that there they could enjoy some ceremony to break the monotony of life. But these migrations were few on the part of the Sioux: they could enjoy councils just as good near home.

On the occasion of a visit to Old Fort Snelling and the agency near by, the authorities were careful to see that there was a due amount of ceremony. Probably a whole band of Indians would come down from the headwaters of the Minnesota River. Their chiefs and braves gathered in the log Council Hall, and there took place the scene so picturesquely described by the eccentric traveller, J. C. Beltrami.

The council-hall is, as it ought to be, a great room built of trunks of trees. The flag of the United States waves in the centre, surrounded by English colours, and medals hung to the walls. They are presented by the Indians to their Father, the agent, as a proof that they abjure all cabal or alliance with the English. Pipes, or calumets and other little Indian presents, offered by the various tribes as pledges [107] of their friendship, decorate the walls and give a remarkable and characteristic air to the room. The dignitaries of the post are seated about a table and the braves recline upon the ground during the council.

The séance opens with a speech of the chief, who rises and addresses the agent. He generally begins with the Great Spirit, or the sun, or the moon whose purity is equalled by that of his own heart, &c. &c. always finishing with a petition for presents;—whiskey is sure to find honourable mention: these are what English lawyers call the common counts.281

After the reply of the agent the peace pipe was solemnly passed from one to another, and the council ended with the distribution of presents. These presents were of tobacco, gunpowder, vermilion, pipes, kettles, blankets, snuff-boxes, armbands, looking-glasses, horse bells, jews'-harps, ivory combs, and shawls.282 Not the least popular of these were the jews'-harps, which had their uses—in spite of the sarcastic invective delivered against them by Senator Benton in 1822 when the abolition of the Factory System was being considered. They were innocent, observed the Senator, and on that account precisely adapted to the purposes of the superintendent, in reclaiming the savage from the hunter state. The first state after that, in the road to refined life, is the pastoral, and without music the tawny-colored Corydons and the red-skinned Amaryllises, recubans sub tegmine fagi, upon the banks of the Missouri and Mississippi, could make no [108] progress in the delightful business of love and sentiment.283

These councils were frequent occurrences, and their importance lies in the fact that through them certain principles could be instilled into the minds of the natives under the most favorable circumstances. The words spoken by the agent on these occasions had probably as much effect in controlling the Indians as a like number of bullets would have had. Major Taliaferro has recorded one of the orations which he delivered to his listening wards. He referred to the presence of the Great Spirit, told of his long service among them, eulogized their departed elders—the old branches which have fallen from the Trunk of the old oak of your Nation—and then inserted a few wise admonitions as to the futility of their wars with the Chippewas.

Your Great Father, he said, has had much to do with war—but his heart is changed for peace & he wishes all his red children as well as his white ones to follow his good example—he knows this course to be best for all—we should endeavor to please him—for by doing so we shall please the Great Spirit also—You will see your children growing up around you and your wives smiling as you approach from your days hunt.

The speech ended with the announcement of the coming of something good from below and an approaching visit to the village of the Red Head.284

During these meetings at the agency the sound of the fort's cannon and the sight of the well-uniformed [109] guards impressed the Indians even more than did the words of the agent. There they became acquainted with white men other than traders, and when exploring and scientific expeditions came over the plains with a guard of soldiers, they were wise enough not to interfere. These visits in themselves were pleasant, and the rations of bread and pork offered an agreeable respite from their usual fare.285

At the time of the treaty of Prairie du Chien in 1825 one ration consisted of one pound of bread or one pint of corn and either one pound of beef or three-quarters of a pound of pork. This may be taken as a fair standard of the kind of rations issued at the agency.286 It was during the winter months especially when starvation or suffering would otherwise result that this aid was given to the Indians. During the summer when other means of subsistence were present, all appeals for food were refused.287 This custom of granting rations was formally incorporated in the law of June 30, 1834, with the only restriction that they were to be given only if they can be spared from the army provisions without injury to the service.288

The condition of the tribes was often appalling, and many deaths would have occurred without this aid. At one time Taliaferro wrote that 400 Indians encamped near the Agency—many from a distance and in a starving condition.289 Often he had to take from his own private funds, after he had drawn all he could from the public stores.290 The winter of 1842–1843 was particularly severe. On the [110] first of November the ground was covered with snow which as late as April still lay from two to two and a half feet deep. No hunting was possible because of the drifts, and fishing through the ice was impracticable, the wind blowing the holes full of snow as soon as they were cut. The Indians living about Lac qui Parle, about two hundred miles up the Minnesota River, came with the missionary Dr. Thomas Williamson to winter on the site of old Camp Cold Water, knowing that only from the fort could they obtain relief.

Everything that was possible was done. Blankets, guns, and ammunition to the value of $2500 were granted the Indians. Indeed, so many provisions were distributed that on April 3rd it was computed that there was only enough left to supply the garrison until the opening of navigation. The officers and soldiers saved all the remains from the tables and once a day the squaws and children were allowed to enter and receive these crumbs. The Indians who were away from the post were not neglected. Sixty bushels of corn and several barrels of pork were furnished by Major Dearborn to Mr. H. H. Sibley who sent them to destitute Indians on the Minnesota River. Still there was much suffering, for not enough food could be spared to satisfy all. Before spring arrived many of the Indians lived upon a syrup made of hickory chips and the boiled bark of the bitter sweet. All became greatly emaciated and some were unable to walk.291

From time to time a solitary Indian on a business [111] visit to the trader would drop in to chat with the Father. Here he could make any complaints which he had to offer and be sure of a sympathetic if not satisfactory answer. I have had more than fourteen hundred Indians on visits from all Sections of this Agency during the Month past—and all with Grieveances of Some Sort to redress, wrote Taliaferro on June 30, 1838.292 In all matters concerning lands, hunting, treaties, annuities, and the like, the Indian looked only to the agent for advice or explanation. Instigated by the traders, many of whom were hostile to him, the Indians considered him responsible for the acts of the soldiers.293 If a provision of a treaty was not carried out, the Indians thought it was Taliaferro's fault for they know nothing of Congress or of their Multifarious and protracted debates, and proceedings.294

A personal present was due the visitor at these shake hands occasions. If he were a headman or a brave he received a pound of powder, two pounds of lead, a fish line, a knife, four fish hooks, and six plugs of tobacco. If he were any respectable Individual he was sure of a knife, four fish hooks, and six plugs of tobacco.295 These individual visits did much to acquaint the natives personally with the agent, in the same way that the council impressed them with the agent's great power.

But even more appreciated was the help offered in time of sickness. On December 25, 1830, Taliaferro records in his diary: I rode up the SPeters to See an Indian.… Doctor Wood went up [112] also—I dressed her wound—I Sent my Interpreter up with other restoratives—she being delerious.296 On Saturday, June 28, 1834, there came to him a brave saying that both his son and daughter were ill. Sent a message to Doct Jarvis to call & see the girl. The Sioux boy died two days later. But there the ministration did not end. To the mourners were given cotton and calico, or a blanket in order that the body might be decently covered.297

The dread scourge of smallpox raged in the vicinity of Fort Snelling during the summer of 1832. Two Indians coming from the Missouri River were suffering from violent attacks. Immediately the disease spread. But Dr. Wood, the post's physician, was called upon by Major Taliaferro and at the end of five days three hundred and thirty Sioux had been vaccinated. It is interesting to notice that in case the Indians came to the agency Dr. Wood received six dollars for every hundred he treated, but if he went to their villages he received six dollars per day.298

Besides these services the visits to the fort offered direct opportunity for the giving of tangible evidence of American supremacy. The English government had lavishly distributed signs of authority. During the first two years of his term of service, Taliaferro collected no less than thirty-six medals of George the Third, twenty-eight British flags, and eighteen gorgets.299 Some of these were presented to the agent as direct evidence of submission to American authority. In 1820 two employees of the [113] Missouri Fur Company were murdered on the Missouri River. The surrender of the murderers was demanded by Taliaferro, and while he was away the tribe came to Fort Snelling with one of the culprits and a hostage. Colonel Snelling, then acting as agent, described the scene in a letter.

These unfortunate wretches were delivered up last evening with a great deal of ceremony, & I assure you with affecting solemnity; the guards being first put under arms, they formed a procession in the road beyond the bake house; in front marched a Sussitong bearing a British flag, next came the Murderer & the devoted chief, their arms pinioned & large splinters of wood thrust through them above the elbows, intended as I understood to show us that they did not fear pain & were not afraid to die. the Murderer wore a large British medal suspended to his neck & both of the prisoners bore offerings of skins, &c. in their hands. last came the chiefs of the Sussitongs, in this order they moved, the prisoners singing their death song & the Sussitongs joining in chorus until they arrived in front of the guard house where a fire being previously prepared, the British flag was burnt, and the medal worn by the murderer given up.300

In return for these greatly coveted signs of respect the agent delivered to the most prominent chiefs the medals and certificates of the United States. And thus by flattering the leaders control over the Indians was assured. What chief was not proud to carry with him this certificate, even if he [114] could not read it himself? The bearer The Whole in the day is a respectable Man, and wears a Seccond Size Monroe Medal Presented to him for his uniform Good Conduct and great attachment to the United States—His Residence is at Sandy Lake Law Taliaferro Indian Agent at St. Peters.301

But the memory of the days of English rule was still alive, the suggestion being made to the government that the gordgets would be More Acceptable were they to be fashioned after those introduced formerly by the British Government—with the difference only of the Eagle engraved upon each.302 To counteract this feeling it was necessary that the government should be lavish in the distribution of presents. British influence and example, wrote Taliaferro to Clark in 1831, were not yet fairly purged of their baneful effects.303 Even as late as 1834 a few extracts from the reports of Major Bliss indicate that this feeling was still noticeable. The Sioux Indians expecting and favourable to an English war with the U. States, he wrote in April. The next month he reported Sioux and Chippewas pacific but dissatisfied with U. States, and in July 1835 he informed headquarters that the Chippewas & Sioux are dissatisfied & both exhibit symptoms of hostility to the U. States & to each other. The Sioux the most decided.304

English visitors at a much later period congratulated their government because the Indians, as they said, still had a greater fondness for the British than for the Americans.305 Except, however, along the [115] border, among the tribes outside of the sphere of the agent at Fort Snelling, this feeling manifested itself only as a sentiment which could lead to trouble if a break between the two nations should occur.

To emphasize the power of the Nation, the agent brought to Washington in 1824, and again in 1837, delegations of chiefs.306 On these occasions they were taken to the largest and busiest cities, entertained in the most delightful manner, and shown the most impressive sights. As crowds were always drawn together to see the Indians, the latter received a lasting opinion as to the numbers of the Americans.307 Previously the Sioux bands had thought that if ever they should unite their forces, they would be able to win in a war against all the whites; but now they were disillusioned.308

Undoubtedly the Indians were pleased with their journey. Since the treaty was signed, stated a contemporary newspaper, each of them has received a coat, hat, blanket, leggins, epaulettes, bands, and scarfs, and when dressed in full uniform, they exhibit more lively pleasure than would have been expected from the apathy of Indian character.309 The magnificence which they had seen was described amid the squalor of their home villages. The effect produced by the visit of their chiefs to Washington is wonderful, since their return, the power, wealth, and numbers of the American people have been their constant themes, many of their stories approach so near the marvellous as to be discredited, such for example is the account of casting a cannon [116] which they witnessed, and the magnitude of our ships. Old black dog shakes his head & says all travellers are liars.310 The memory of these trips lingered long. Little Crow came to call upon the agent in 1831. The old chief left much delighted with his reception and my Talk—he departed singing the song which was often repeated when on his trip to Washington City in 1824.311

The Indians touched by these relations with the fort were not only its immediate neighbors. The surrender of murderers from the tribes on the Missouri has been noted. On March 11, 1831, Taliaferro wrote that I observe Indians from the Missouri & various sections of the Sioux country.312 During the entire winter of 1831, a party of Missouri River Indians encamped about Fort Snelling.313 The Indians on the prairies were wide travellers. There are a good many Indians about here, says a letter from Lac qui Parle. There have arrived 120 lodges of Missouri at Lake Traverse and 200 lodges at James River.314 By this continual movement, the influence of Fort Snelling was enlarged.

How great was this influence? No one has contradicted the statement of Mr. Taliaferro that it is due the Sioux of your territory to record one fact as to them, and that is, from the commencement of our agency to its close, our frontier pioneers were never even molested in their homes, nor did they shed one drop of American blood.315 It was when this frontier encroached on their lands that hostility [117] broke out. If the Indians had been left in peace by covetous land-seekers, their civilization might in time have been accomplished.

There was practically no hostility manifested against the garrison by the surrounding Indians. In January, 1822, Colonel McNeil, who was in command at Fort Dearborn, received word from John Kinzie, the pioneer Chicago trader, that the Sioux and Fox Indians were planning an attack on Fort Snelling. Lieutenant James Webb immediately volunteered to bring the news to Fort Armstrong on Rock Island, from whence it could be sent to the upper post. After a journey rendered terrible by the extreme cold and the danger from hostile Indians, he was successful in reaching Fort Armstrong.316

In due time the letter was delivered to Colonel Snelling. When I first received Col McNeils letter, he wrote later, I was disposed to smile at the absurdity of connecting the Sioux & Foxes, in a design to attack this post. But he later found out that the Foxes had sent wampum and tobacco to the bands of Wabasha and Little Crow, asking them not to stand in the way of any movements they might make. Wabasha accepted the wampum but Little Crow came to the fort to make known the danger. The vagueness of the rumors, however, made it impossible to act, and later developments showed that there was no truth in the report—at least no violence was attempted.317

Fear of the strength of the fort prevented hostilities. [118] It was the Indian fashion to attack by ambush. They did not have the patience to endure a protracted siege. The Americans did not belittle the strength of the military works. Little Thunder and White Head, two Indians who had escaped from the jail at Mackinac by cutting through the log walls, met an American, George Johnson, at Lac du Flambeau. They were very inquisitive about the strength of Fort Snelling and the number of Americans stationed there. Regarding this incident the white man wrote: I answered saying, that the fort at River St. Peters was as strong as Quebec, and more Americans there than in any other post.318

The government did not adopt Dr. Morse's plan for civilizing the Indians, but the agent tried to carry out the policy therein suggested. The colony at Eatonville, located on Lake Calhoun, and the Indian schools soon passed into the hands of the missionaries. After the making of treaties a blacksmith shop was added to the agency. In line with his policy of providing for all classes of Indians, Taliaferro urged the erection of an orphan asylum where all poor blind, and helpless women would also be accommodated.319

If time had been given doubtless a new form of Indian life would have arisen about the fort; but the coming of the land-seekers destroyed the plan. The failure was to result in a great massacre in 1862. This much at least can be said for Old Fort Snelling; it kept the Indians friendly while the foundations of American life were being laid in the Northwest.



One of the reasons given for the building of Fort Snelling was that it would prevent the disastrous wars existing between the Sioux and Chippewa Indians.320 Beginning so far in the past that no cause could be ascribed for the hostility, each encounter was in itself both the result of preceding conflicts and the excuse for further warfare. Pierre Esprit de Radisson, who was the first writer to leave an account of the Chippewas, said that even at the time of his visit in about 1660 they were carrying on a cruell warre against the Nadoueseronoms [Sioux].321

Lurking in the bushes to waylay their enemies on the woodland paths, hiding on the river banks to intercept hostile canoes, pretending peace and enjoying hospitality in order to have an opportunity for treachery were the military tactics of the Sioux and Chippewa warriors. To prevent such warfare, a military post was almost powerless. In fact, so insidious was the hostility that even the very grounds of Fort Snelling were the scene of bloody encounters.

Attempts were made to keep the Chippewas away from Fort Snelling by attaching them to the agency of H. R. Schoolcraft at Sault Ste. Marie.322 But the [120] distance was so great and the route so difficult that the Chippewas did not make the journey to consult that agent. On the other hand, Fort Snelling was so close, and the Mississippi such a natural outlet from their country, that a trader declared that you might as well try to Stop the Water in the Mississippi from going to St Louis, as attempt to keep the Chippeway Indians from St Peters.323

During the last days of the month of May, 1827, Flat Mouth, chief of the Sandy Lake band of Chippewa Indians was encamped near Fort Snelling. A number of men, women, and children were with him, bringing maple sugar, which they had gathered in the northern woods during the winter, and other articles to sell to the garrison. Major Taliaferro was away at the time, but on May 24th the steamboat Pilot landed him safely at Fort Snelling. To welcome their Father home, and perchance to see if he had any presents or promises for them, a large number of Sioux came from their villages to the fort, as was usual on such occasions. The agent took the opportunity presented by the presence of both Sioux and Chippewas to deliberate with them in regard to peace, and also to request the Chippewas not to visit Fort Snelling again, in accordance with instructions which he had received from the Indian Department. To this Flat Mouth replied sorrowfully: I feel myself now like a Dog driven away from your door to find another—I am ashamed of this—but I know you are doing this not by your wish.324

The twenty-eighth day of the month proved the [121] value of the advice Major Taliaferro had given. Several Sioux came to visit at a Chippewa lodge pitched directly under and in front of the agency house on the flats that border the Minnesota River. The guns of the fort could easily have been trained upon the spot. There was feasting and friendly revelry at the lodge that afternoon and evening. Meat, corn, and sugar were served in wooden platters; a dog was roasted and eaten. The peace pipe was smoked, and the conversation was peaceful regarding exploits in the hunt and the chase.

At nine o'clock when the party broke up, as the Chippewas were calling friendly good-byes to the departing Sioux who had advanced a few steps, the latter turned and fired into the midst of the unsuspecting inhabitants of the tepee. There was instant confusion. With a shout of triumph the Sioux ran off. The sentinel on the hill above heard the shots and cries and called for the guard. In a few moments there was at the gate of the fort a crowd of panic-stricken Chippewas carrying their wounded and crying for protection. Six men, one woman, and a girl about eight years old were handed over to the surgeon of the post, Doctor McMahon.

Immediately Major Taliaferro notified the Sioux that they had insulted the flag that waved over the land, and that ample satisfaction must be made to the Chippewas who had been treated in such a cowardly manner. In council with the agent, Strong Earth, a chief of the Chippewas, complained of the lack of protection: Father: You know that two [122] Summers ago we attended a Great Council at Prairie du Chien, when by the advice of Our White Friends, we made Peace with the Sioux—We were then told, that the Americans would Guarantee our Safety under their Flags—We have Come here under that Assurance. But Father, look at Your Floor it is stained with the blood of our people shed while under Your Walls. If you are great and powerful why do You not protect us? If Not, of what use are Your Soldiers?325

On the morning following the massacre a large body of Sioux—estimated at about three hundred and fifty—appeared on the prairie west of the fort. Brevet Major Fowle was ordered to march against them with two companies. Upon his appearance they fled, but he followed and was successful in capturing some of them. Nine Sioux—one of whom Major Taliaferro reports was given up voluntarily—were delivered up to the Chippewas. Identifying two of these as being among the murderers, they requested permission to execute them immediately.

Upon the broad prairie the two prisoners were given their freedom. They were told to run, and when a few paces away the Chippewa warriors fired, and the Sioux fell dead. Then followed a hideous scene which a spectator described many years later. The bodies, all warm and limp, are dragged to the brow of the hill. Men who at the sight of blood, become almost fiends, tear off the reeking scalps and hand them to the chief, who hangs them around his [123] neck. Women and children with tomahawks and knives cut deep gashes in the poor dead bodies, and scooping up the hot blood with their hands, eagerly drink it; then, grown frantic, they dance, and yell, and sing their horrid scalp songs, recounting deeds of valor on the part of their brave men, and telling off the Sioux scalps, taken in different battles, until tired and satiated at last with their horrid feast, they leave the mutilated bodies—festering in the sun.326 At evening the bodies were thrown over the cliff into the river below.

On the morning of the thirty-first the Sioux delivered up to the Chippewas two others who, they claimed, had been the principal men in the affair. If the Chippewas did not shoot them, they said, they would do it themselves, as trouble had come to their nation on their account. But the Chippewas were willing.

About this second execution there has grown up an interesting story. One of the offenders, Toopunkah Zeze, was a favorite among the children of the fort. Tall and handsome and athletic and brave, he was the ideal of Indian manhood. The other, called the Split Upper Lip, was well known as a thief, and was as much detested as his companion was respected. He cried and begged for his life, saying that his gun had missed fire—he had killed no one. The other calmly distributed his clothes among his friends, upbraiding his companion for his cowardice. You lie, dog. Coward, old woman, you know that you lie. You know that you are as guilty as I am. [124] Hold your peace and die like a man—die like me.

The two were brought out upon the prairie. Again the thirty yards were allowed; again the Chippewa guns were fired. For once it seemed that this Indian punishment of running the gantlet would lose a victim. For Toopunkah Zeze was still running. The bullet had cut the rope that bound him to his falling companion. With new hope he leaped forward. There was a shout of triumph from a group of Sioux hidden in the bushes; and the children of the fort, who had climbed upon the buildings to view the bloody scene from afar, clapped their hands. But the Chippewas were cool in their vengeance. Guns were reloaded and deliberate aim taken. The flints struck, and Toopunkah Zeze, now a hundred and fifty yards away and a second's distance from a place where the straggling groves of the prairie offered life, fell dead. Two more bodies were thrown over the precipice into the river.327

For ten years the hostility continued, but the environs of the fort were sacred places. An effective lesson had been taught in 1827. But on August 2, 1838, Hole-in-the-Day, a Chippewa chief, and five of his band came to Fort Snelling on a visit. That spring there had been a treacherous massacre by Hole-in-the-Day at a Sioux camp. It was true, as he said in the poetic simplicity of Indian style: You See I cannot keep my face Clean—as fast as it is Washed—I am Compelled to black it Again.—but My heart towards you is the Same.—My Fathers Bones Sleep by your house—My Daughter [125] at the Falls Near the Grave of my Uncle—My Wife lies at the Mouth of Sauk River—and a few days past I buried My Son.328

On the following evening some Sioux of Mud Lake, hearing of the presence of the Chippewas, rode over to Baker's trading house where the Chippewas were encamped. Major Taliaferro had heard of the departure of the war party and had hurried to the scene. Just as he arrived the Sioux fired upon their enemies, killing one outright and wounding another in the knee. All but one of the Chippewas had laid aside their guns, thinking that they were upon neutral ground. This one, seeing a Sioux in the act of scalping the fallen Chippewa, fired upon him and wounded him mortally. But aided by the dusk the wounded Sioux was able to run more than a mile before he fell from loss of blood.

The Chippewas were immediately brought into the fort for protection. On the next day Major Plympton and the Indian agent called together the chiefs of the neighboring villages. There was a long council until Major Plympton broke it up by saying peremptorily: It is unnecessary to talk much. I have demanded the guilty—they must be brought.

At half past five that evening the Sioux were delivered up. Three brothers had been accused of being guilty of the murder. One of them could not be brought because he was dying of the wound received the evening before. Much ceremony attended the proceedings as the Indian mother led her sons to the officers saying: Of seven sons three only are [126] left; one of them is wounded, and soon will die, and if the two now given up are shot, my all is gone. I called on the head men to follow me to the Fort. I started with the prisoners, singing their death song, and have delivered them at the gate of the Fort. Have mercy on them for their youth and folly.329

Because of the attack which Hole-in-the-Day had made on the Sioux a short time before, Major Plympton decided not to execute the prisoners. They were turned over to their own people to be flogged in the presence of the officers. More humiliating than death was their punishment. Their blankets, leggins, and breech-cloths were cut into small pieces, and finally the braves whipped them with long sticks while the women stood about crying.330

Although there was now a deep desire for revenge in each of the tribes, they manifested outward friendliness when they met at the fort. During the month of June, 1839, there came to Fort Snelling over twelve hundred Chippewas thinking that there they would be paid their annuities for the land they had ceded in 1837. There were two main groups—one which came down from the headwaters of the Mississippi, and the other which came up the river from the vicinity of the St. Croix. At the same time Sioux numbering eight hundred and seventy were encamped near the agency. This was considered an opportune time to conclude a peace, and so the long calumet with its mixture of tobacco and bark of the willow tree was smoked while friendly athletic contests [127] were held on the prairie. On July 1st the two parties of Chippewas started for home. But in one of the bands were the two sons of the man who had been murdered the year before. In the evening before beginning their homeward journey, they visited the graveyard of the fort to cry over the grave of their father. Here the thought of vengeance came to them, and morning found them hidden in the bushes near the trail that skirted the shore of Lake Harriet. The Badger, a Sioux warrior, was the first to pass that way as he went out in the early morning to hunt pigeons. A moment later he was shot and scalped. The murderers then hurried away and hid behind the water at Minnehaha Falls.

A few hours later, when the news had spread throughout all the Sioux villages, two bands set out to take revenge upon the departing Chippewas. The old men, the women, and the children remained at home, eagerly awaiting the result of the coming battle and cutting their arms and legs with their knives in grief over the losses which they knew their bands would have to undergo.

It happened that at that time the Right Reverend Mathias Loras, the first Bishop of Dubuque, was at Fort Snelling. He had been an interested spectator at the Sioux-Chippewa peace parleys, had watched the departure of the determined avengers, and now was anxiously awaiting the result of the conflict. On the morning of July 4th as he was praying at his altar for the prosperity of his country he was startled by the shrill notes of the Sioux death-song, [128] and gazing through the window saw a bloody throng, dancing about the long poles from which dangled scalps with parts of the skulls still attached. Two terrible struggles had taken place the day before. On the Rum River seventy Chippewa scalps had been taken, and on the banks of Lake St. Croix twenty-five more were obtained. In both cases the losses of the Sioux were smaller. These trophies were brought to the villages, where they were danced about nightly until the leaves began to fall in the autumn, when they were buried.331

These incidents which centered about Fort Snelling have led to the charge made against it, that instead of preventing the conflicts the fort intensified them. The fort was a convenient meeting place, it is argued, whither both parties resorted only to become involved in altercations and disputes which resulted in a flaring-up of old flames.332 But it must be remembered that the murders away from the fort were more numerous;333 and it is easier to recall the spectacular encounters which occurred at the fort, than the many occasions when the two tribes met peacefully as the guests of the officials.

A military officer who was stationed there wrote: At Fort Snelling I have seen the Sioux and Chippeways in friendly converse, and passing their pipes in the most amicable manner when if they had met away from the post each would have been striving for the other's scalp.334 The Indian agent, whose success depended upon the continuation of peace, noted with pleasure these friendly gatherings. [129] The Crane and the Hole in the Day—and other Chippeways at the Agency this day—Several Sissiton Sioux also at the Agency.335 These visits were often protracted for several weeks without trouble. Chippeways—a number of these people also at the agency—some have been here for nearly 30 days—fishing & liveing better & more independently than the Sioux.336 On the 29th and 30th of June, 1831, Chippewas to the number of one hundred and fifty met five villages of Sioux.337

Efforts to combat the evil were made in council with the Indians. Your wars with the Chippeways can never be of service to anyone, reasoned their Father, for as fast as you destroy one—two or three more young men are ready to take the track of their deceased friends—The old people among you ought to know this—after the long wars between you.338 Most of the encounters took place either when the warriors were emboldened by liquor, or when the rival hunting parties met on the plains. The strict enforcement of the law of 1832 prohibiting the introduction of spirits had a tranquilizing effect in the country of the Chippewas. Indeed, the principal object of all efforts to suppress the liquor traffic was the prevention of inter-tribal wars.339

Constant watching of the hunting parties and admonition as to their conduct were among the duties of the agent. Sent my interpreter up the Mississippi among the Indians, he writes, to see how they are progressing in their hunts and as to the present hunting grounds of the Chippeways. [130] Eight days later record is made of the fact that the Rum River Chippeways left for their camp this morning—Sent word to their people to hunt on their own Lands & not by any Means to intrude upon the Soil of the Sioux. When the interpreter returned he reported that everything was quiet between the two tribes.340 The sending of runners to the camps was a frequent occurrence during the winter of 1831, the region covered being eighty miles to the east and two hundred miles to the north.341

In the treaty of Prairie du Chien of 1825 a dividing line between the two tribes, beyond which neither should pass, was agreed upon.342 But this provision was for many years a dead letter. As long as the line was unsurveyed the natives could urge indefiniteness of territory as an excuse for murder and depredations—claiming that the other party was the trespasser. When Schoolcraft met the chiefs of the Chippewas in council at Leech Lake in 1832, the latter complained that the provisions of the treaty had not been carried out. The words of the Long-knives have passed through our forests as a rushing wind, but they have been words merely. They have only shaken the trees, but have not stopped to break them down, nor even to make the rough places smooth.343 As a result Mr. Schoolcraft urged upon the Secretary of War the necessity of marking the line.344

Seven thousand dollars were appropriated by the act of June 26, 1834, for the purpose of running this line,345 and the next spring Major J. L. Bean, accompanied [131] by Duncan Campbell, the Sioux interpreter of the agency, commenced the survey.346 Later an escort of troops from Fort Snelling was sent him under the command of Lieutenant William Storer, with the result that the reduced garrison was unable to enforce order.347 When the survey had been completed from the Chippewa River to Otter Tail Lake the return of the military escort put an end to the work, but the agent was of the opinion that the most important part had been marked.348

Efforts were made by the government to keep down the warlike spirit of the tribes. Thus, when Captain Gale allowed the Indians to come into the fort and dance the scalp dance in June, 1830, his act was disapproved of, and he had to stand trial.349 Likewise peace conferences were fostered in order to put the seal of the authority of the government upon the transactions. During the winter of 1831 truces were made between several of the bands through the efforts of Agent Taliaferro.350 On August 2, 1843, a great gathering of the two nations was held at the fort, where a treaty of peace was drawn up under the auspices of the civil and military authorities.351 During the first year it was kept inviolate, if we except two or three individual cases of outrage.352

Even as late as June, 1850, an assemblage of both tribes was called together by Governor Ramsey. The Chippewas were encamped north of the fort on the bluff above the Mississippi. In front of them a detachment of infantry was drawn up. Within the [132] fort the artillery was in readiness. When word was sent to the Sioux that all things were ready, they approached, about three hundred strong, on horseback, all armed and painted, their whoops mingling with the jingling of their arms, ornaments, and the bells of their horses. Making a feint as if to rush around the soldiers, they suddenly wheeled to one side and became quiet; while the Chippewas on the other side of the line of infantry continued to dance and wave their weapons. It was amid such stirring war-like scenes that attempts for peace were made.353

The earliest policy of the government had been to interfere as little as possible, and to allow retribution to be made by one tribe on another. But such inactivity did not appeal to a red-blooded officer like Colonel Snelling, who wrote after the trouble in 1827: I have no hesitation in Saying that the Military on this frontier are useless for want of discretionary power, and that if it is not intrusted to the Commander, Men of Straw with Wooden Guns and Swords will answer the purpose as well as a Regt of Infantry.354

But later the policy was adopted of confining in the Black Hole of the fort any culprits who were captured. Thirteen of the Sioux who participated in a massacre at Apple River were imprisoned;355 and on one occasion Little Crow's band performed the scalp dance near Fort Snelling in commemoration of the murder of two Chippewas, while the murderers themselves languished in the fort.356 Probably this method of dealing with the problem would [133] have been adopted earlier; but the force at this point, wrote an officer, has been too small to send a sufficient force to take the offenders, even should an order to that effect be issued.357

To determine how influential Fort Snelling was in maintaining order is impossible. As was the case with the liquor traffic, conditions were bad but could have been worse. From time to time there were events that indicated some success. After a peace had been concluded on the fourth of June, 1823, a small quarrel almost precipitated a general conflict on the sixth. Much to the chagrin of the Italian traveller, J. C. Beltrami, who was then a guest at the fort, the officers were successful in preventing bloodshed. Everything conspired against my poor notes, he wrote, I had already perched myself on an eminence for the purpose of enriching them with an Indian battle, and behold I have nothing to write but this miserable article!… I almost suspected that the savages were in a league with the gentlemen of the fort to disappoint me.358

Peace was maintained during the winter of 1831 on a line of three hundred and forty miles above and below Fort Snelling, and on one occasion there occurred the pleasant sight of Sioux and Chippewas departing in company for their hunting grounds on the Sauk River.359 Man-of-the-sky, who was chief of the Lake Calhoun band of Sioux, boasted that although he was only twenty-five years old at the time, he had already killed six Chippewas when Fort Snelling was erected, and added: Had it not been [134] for that I should have killed many more, or have been myself killed ere this.360 It is interesting to note in connection with the sacredness of these treaties the comment of Major Taliaferro that much more reliance is to be placed in the good faith of the Chippeways than in that of the Sioux.361

These spasmodic successes at least acquainted the Indians with governmental restraint. A paragraph from the manuscript diary of the agent refutes the argument that Fort Snelling intensified rather than alleviated these struggles. From January 1833 up to this day, wrote Taliaferro, there has been no difficulty between the Sioux and Chippeways—I once kept these tribes at peace for two years and Six Months lacking 15 days. And this between the years 1821 & 1825 till June 8th of the latter year. Colonel Robert Dickson remarked to me that Such a thing had never occurred before even when he headed the tribes against Us in the War of 1812.362



The Indian trading-house which had been planned for the agency at Fort Snelling never materialized. Failure of the houses in operation to pay expenses and the opposition of the private traders led to their abolition in 1822. Thereafter, whatever attention the government directed toward the trade was influenced by the desire to prevent tampering with the allegiance of the Indians on the part of foreigners and to control this traffic which could contribute so much good or so much evil to the lives of the government's wards.363

With the Indian trade left to the private traders, great trading companies developed, since the fur trade easily lent itself to the corporation system. Coöperation in the marketing of furs and in the buying of goods eliminated many of the difficulties which a single individual would meet. The American Fur Company, so long guided by John Jacob Astor, had a practical monopoly of the trade during the time that Old Fort Snelling was in existence. Mendota was the headquarters of a vast region which extended from the Mississippi to the headwaters of the streams flowing into the Missouri. At various places throughout this territory were trading posts [136] called forts, although they consisted of no more than a few huts within a stockade. These were all subsidiary to the post at Mendota.

Goods for the Indian trade were much the same as those given as presents by the government officials—blankets, trinkets, tobacco, knives, and the like. These goods were sent in great Mackinac boats from the East to be distributed among the posts. Each Indian hunter received on credit goods valued at forty or fifty dollars in payment for which he pledged the spoils of his winter's hunt. If the trader did not go with his band, he visited them occasionally or sent his engagés to see that they were hunting and that no other trader was tampering with them to secure their furs. In the spring the Indian would deliver furs valued at twice the amount of the goods received. The trading company's profit was, accordingly, about one hundred per cent. To carry out the details of the traffic there grew up within the company a complicated system of factors, clerks, voyageurs, and hivernants.364

With the entire system of the fur trade the military officials had little to do except in the matter of regulation. Not much military protection was necessary as the Indian looked upon the trader more as a friend than an enemy.365 Care in respect to the character of the men engaged and supervision of the method of carrying on trade were the two things necessary. According to the act of March 30, 1802, which was supplemented by the acts of April 29, 1816, and June 30, 1834, no one could carry on trade [137] with the Indians without obtaining a license from an Indian agent, which was subject to revocation by the superintendent of the district.366

Many were the problems which Major Taliaferro was obliged to consider when he granted a license. A license was valid for trade only at a certain place and among a certain tribe. The trader must be an American citizen. He was not allowed to carry with him any insignia of a foreign power. An invoice of his goods was presented to the agent, who had to certify to its correctness. Liquor was prohibited, and the trader was responsible for the conduct of all the members of his party in this matter. To guarantee the fulfillment of all these requirements, bond had to be given at the time of obtaining the permit.367

To examine all the applicants, to keep in touch with them in the field, and to obtain the truth in regard to their conduct was enough to keep both agent and officers at Fort Snelling busy. In 1826 twenty-five licenses were granted; in 1827, eleven; in 1830, thirteen; and in 1831, fourteen.368 The amount of this trade was very large, as is indicated by the case of Mr. Faribault who traded on the Cannon River. One year he marketed 50 buffalo-robes, 39,080 muskrats, 2050 pounds of deer skins, 125 pounds of beaver, 130 martin, 1100 mink, 663 raccoons, 331 otter, 25 lynx, and 5 foxes.369

There was a great deal of vagueness as to the application of the trade laws—a mist of uncertainty as Taliaferro called it.370 Governor Cass of Michigan [138] Territory allowed foreigners to enter into expeditions as interpreters or boatmen, who upon entering the wilderness took active charge of the crew and all operations.371 As far as Fort Snelling was concerned there was little call for the ejection of foreigners by force. In 1833 it was rumored that a foreigner was trading on the Sheyenne River—a tributary of the Red River. But with the despatch of a company of troops and the rumor of their approach, the culprit immediately decamped.372

The building of the fort was in itself enough to impress British subjects with the firmness of the United States government. Joseph Renville, Kenneth McKenzie, and William Laidlaw, former employees of the English companies, in 1822 organized the Columbia Fur Company, and obtained a license from Major Taliaferro. In five years they had posts from Green Bay to the Missouri River, with their headquarters at Land's End, a short distance up the Minnesota River from Fort Snelling. But in 1827 a union with the American Fur Company was brought about.373

Traders licensed by the agent at Fort Snelling covered the territory as far west as the Missouri River. No post could be established without his approval; and he even attempted to regulate the form in which the establishment should be built.374 On the whole, coöperation between the factors of the fur companies and the officials at the post was desired by both parties. The most notable disagreement is that which existed between Alexis Bailly, the chief [139] factor at Mendota, and Major Taliaferro. This disagreement continued until September 15, 1834, when the agent reported that he had refused to allow Bailly to hold further intercourse with the natives, not only in Consequence of his bad tongue, but on account also of his frequent Violations of the intercourse laws. In this action he was seconded by the authorities of the fur company, who sent Mr. H. H. Sibley to fill Mr. Bailly's place.375 The pleasant relations which existed between Mr. Sibley and all the government officials—civil and military—is one of the charming chapters in the history of the fort.376

Intimately connected with the fur trade was the liquor traffic. Not that the traders were always responsible for the introduction of the tabooed commodity, but they were connected with it to such an extent as to be always under suspicion. Nor was the attitude of the government consistent. When Pike ascended the Mississippi he spoke of the evil effects of rum to the chiefs who ceded to the United States the military reservation; but the explorer closed with the words: before my departure I will give you some liquor to clear your throats.377 Even Taliaferro, foe that he was of liquor, knew its power. When a neighboring chief and thirty of his men visited the agency, he recorded: After council—gave him 30 Rats Bread—50 Rats Pork—10 lbs Tobacco—3 gallons of whiskey—the last for good Conduct towards the Chippeways.378

Liquor was an important asset in carrying on the fur trade. The object was to please the red man, [140] not to stupefy him to such an extent that he could be swindled. With the growth of the great companies and the influx of numbers of private traders there were many bidders for each Indian's furs. Complaint was continual that the British traders about the Lake of the Woods successfully offered whiskey as an inducement to get the trade of the American Indians.379 Governor Cass, thinking it would be worse to lose the trade than admit the liquor, allowed its introduction, in limited quantities, by those engaged in business along the boundary.380 But the act of July 9, 1832, provided, that no ardent spirits shall be hereafter introduced, under any pretence, into the Indian country.381 This put an end to the stock excuse. At the same time Americans suffered to such an extent that Mr. Norman W. Kittson at Pembina wanted permission to destroy all liquor and punish all offenders, promising that very little would be introduced after a short time.382 So acute was the difficulty that it became the subject of diplomatic correspondence with Great Britain; but the authorities of the Hudson's Bay Company retorted that spirits are even clandestinely introduced into the Company's territories by citizens of the United States.383

During the first years stringent measures were in force at the mouth of the Minnesota River. At Prairie du Chien, Taliaferro had seen the barrels rolled out from the river vessels and they foretold to him coming murders and depredations. His coöperating friend, Colonel Snelling, graphically described [141] its evil effects. Herds of Indians, he said, are drawn together by the fascinations of whisky, and they exhibit the most degraded picture of human nature I ever witnessed.384 The drunken Indian did not molest the trader; his peaceful fellow-tribesman suffered more. An Indian killed at Al [?] Faribault's Trading house—whiskey was given the Indian for his furs—by Mr. F.—The deceased then invited one of his friends to drink with him—the invitation was accepted—when this friend becoming inflamed with the Liquor very inhospitably sunk his Tomahawk into the head of his host—whiskey it is said does no harm in the Trade by persons interested—but the foregoing is only one of the many hundred fatal occurrences from its use in procuring furs unlawfully.385

In fact, the Indians were continually agitated. If they received the spirits they naturally revelled. When their supply was exhausted they raged and fumed until they secured more. Sometimes the disease was more desirable than the cure. I have thus far seen but few of the indians of this place and I am in hopes of passing on North without much trouble there has just arrived a fresh supply of whiskey which will keep them busy for a few days and by that time my carts will be almost out of their reach.386

The eagerness for liquor on the part of the Indians made its introduction all the more easy. For it they were willing to pay much: eight horses were at one time exchanged for eight kegs of whiskey,387 and the [142] current rate at which it sold is indicated by the complaint which a Chippewa chief poured into the ears of the agent: My Father—Is it right for our traders to make us pay 200 Musk Rats, and 3 otters for a 3 gallon keg of mixed whiskey?388 They would undergo extreme physical suffering, lying out in the rain and wading rivers and swamps, to bring the precious liquid to their villages.389

The officers were never successful in entirely banishing the prohibited article. Conditions depended upon the eagerness of the military and civil agents, on the number of soldiers stationed at the fort, and on the wiliness of the culprits. On one occasion liquor was found secreted in barrels of corn, buried on the beach and in other secret places, and destroyed.390

Major Taliaferro was not lax in enforcing the laws. Every boat passing Fort Snelling was searched, and no liquor was allowed to enter the Indian country.391 A few stray references seem to indicate what was a usual occupation of the troops. The Sub Agent Mr. Grooms left with 10 men on his 2d expedition below Lake Pepin in quest of whiskey Smuglers—as our Indians even entering the country with it from Prairie du Chiens and the Traders of the Am Fur Cpy are geting whiskey over the country by land and water.392 During May, 1827, the agent called the attention of Colonel Josiah Snelling to the fact that in Mr. Bailly's store at Mendota there was whiskey which had been introduced into the Indian country contrary to law. Accordingly [143] a detachment of soldiers was sent under the command of Lieutenant J. B. F. Rupel, who succeeded in finding two barrels which were taken away and stored in the fort.393

The year 1832 saw especial activity in the destruction of liquor. The boat of one trader passed up the Mississippi during April, having on board eighteen barrels of whiskey.394 Later in the season the vigilance of the officers had direct results. In July eleven kegs of high wines, very strong in quality, and in quantity amounting to one hundred and ten gallons, were taken from the boat of Hazen Moores by Captain J. Vail. The value of this liquor was $330. In October of the same year, five kegs of high wines and one keg of whiskey were found by Lieutenant I. K. Greenough in the boat of Louis Provencalle. These confiscated kegs were stored in the fort, and an interesting side-light on their ultimate fate is contained in the report of Major Taliaferro I am of opinion, he wrote, from what I hear that the High Wines, and Whiskey Seized by Lieuts Vail and Greenough, and in Store here will soon be of little account in Consequence of loss by leakage, and the property Not in charge of any responsible person—Other than its mere deposite in the public store. Whether any efforts were made to stop the leaks is not mentioned.395

These energetic movements caused consternation among those natives who have not yet joined the temperance Societties.396 But they also caused violent opposition from the men whose goods had been [144] seized. These traders commenced a suit in the courts at Prairie du Chien against the commanding officer at Fort Snelling, arguing that while the law prohibited the introduction of liquor into the Indian country, this seizure had been made on the Mississippi River—a common highway open to all the Citizens of the United States.397

It is impossible to follow the course of the whiskey traffic through its ups and downs. Numerous cases are recorded where the soldiers knocked in the head the whiskey barrels.398 But it was probably true, as the missionary S. R. Riggs wrote from Lac qui Parle on June 15, 1847, to the Indian agent: The whiskey destroyed by the efforts of yourself and the commanding officer at Fort Snelling forms the glorious exception, and not the rule.399

Under the regulations existing in 1830 the traders were allowed to take with them into the Indian country one gallon per month for every person engaged in the party. Under plea of this they brought in high wines which were later diluted with water and distributed among the Indians. Of the amount brought in, the employees actually saw only one-third, and this they paid for at the rate of from eight to sixteen dollars per gallon.400 Accordingly, Major Taliaferro issued a circular letter in which he stated that high wines and whiskey would be allowed to be brought in in no case whatever.401 Actions such as these by the agent, who was still a young man, brought about the remark which Mr. Aitkin, a trader among the Chippewas, is reported to have made to [145] some chiefs: The Medals and Flags which you received at St Peters are nothing more than pewter and dish rags, and were given to you by a boy, and with a boys paw.402

Much of the good which should have resulted from the activities of the officers was lost because the Indian could not be punished. If liquor was found in his possession and seized there was nothing to prevent his going back and obtaining more, taking the chance of being more successful in evading the authorities the second time.403 Accordingly prevention as well as cure was tried, and Captain Eastman, Mr. Sibley, and others sought, with some success, to persuade the Indians to refuse to accept liquor.404 Two years later the Indian agent, R. G. Murphy, organized a temperance society among the Sioux, who, an observer stated, were careful in living up to the pledge when once taken; and added, One such man as Major Murphy does more real, practical good than all the missionary societies of New York and Boston.405



Since the days of Father Marquette the Mississippi Valley has owed much to the missionaries. Parkman has recounted their sufferings and their glorious achievements in discovery, in exploration, and in inspiring others with their stories of the wonderful West. But when the black-robed Jesuit departed, and mass was no longer said in the log chapels about the lakes and tributary streams, the influence of Christianity still abided. There came a new generation of soldiers of the cross who served the great valley in a later stage of development as unselfishly and as thoroughly as their predecessors had done in the earlier days.

The Indian in the Northwest in 1830 was not unacquainted with or hostile to the whites; he did not fall down in awe to worship one of a different color. His grandfather had traded with the wandering traveller who often lived a whole winter in the village, and with his tribe had visited the great commercial center at Mackinac. His father remembered the day when the second class of strangers entered—the uniformed soldiers led by Pike—and now the sound of the big gun in the fort at the mouth of the Minnesota was no longer a dread portent. [147]

But the missionary was a novelty. His purpose was unknown. He did not ask for furs; he did not stealthily give them whiskey; he did not come to summon them to councils at the agent's house; and he did not ask for cessions of land. If they would respect the white man's medicine day406 and let their boys and girls attend the school, if they would listen patiently while he talked to them of things they did not understand, this newcomer was content. Out in the woods he cleared a patch of ground and grew corn. If the red men wanted to help he was very glad. When the winter storms came, and game was scarce, and the small supply of corn that the squaws had safely cached in the fall was eaten, then the missionary helped them in their difficulty. He often went with them on their hunts, shared all their privations, and eased their pain if accident or sickness befell them. As the activities of the mission broadened and its personnel enlarged, the Indian became more and more acquainted with whites who lived on farms and tilled the soil. So when at last the land was opened to settlement, the transition from the missionary's establishment to that of the American farmer was not sudden.

Much has been written of the degeneration which came to the Indians about a fort through their association with the soldiers. That such degeneration did result is true, but it came about in spite of the efforts of the officers. On the other hand, distinct steps were taken to improve the condition of the neighboring tribes; and although these efforts were [148] soon transferred to the missionaries, yet these missionaries depended so much on support and encouragement from the soldiers that their enterprises may be considered as part of the history of Fort Snelling. The freedom from annoyance enjoyed by the missionaries living near the fort as compared with those at a distance indicates the influence of the post.407

Soon after Fort Snelling was established, Taliaferro attempted to persuade some Indians to undertake farming in order to supplement their hunting. But they preferred leaving this work to the rather desultory efforts of the squaws. One chief, however, remembered the advice during the next winter. Far out on the plains that border on the Missouri River he and his party were overtaken by a blizzard. Each one wrapped himself in his blanket and let the snow drift about and over him. With a little dried buffalo meat which they divided among them, they kept alive until the storm was over. While lying here, knowing not whether his companions were dead or alive, expecting himself to be a victim of either the cold or hunger or both, Chief Cloud Man resolved that if he ever returned to the vicinity of Fort Snelling he would not depend entirely upon the hunt for his living, but would also engage in farming under the direction of the Indian agent. This was no mere death-bed conversion. Many of his companions refused to follow him in the movement; other chiefs openly opposed him; but in the spring eight Indians settled upon the shores of Lake Calhoun to begin the life of agriculturists. This community [149] was named Eatonville in honor of Secretary of War John H. Eaton.408

On September 1, 1829, there arrived at the fort, the Reverend Alvan Coe and the Reverend Jedediah I. Stevens, two missionaries on a religious exploring expedition to locate a site for an establishment. They bore with them letters of introduction from Joseph M. Street, the agent at Prairie du Chien, who commended them to Taliaferro's care with a convincing array of scriptural quotations.409 The agent offered them the use of the buildings connected with the grist mill and the saw mill at the Falls and his own colony at Eatonville. After preaching a few times to the garrison, the ministers left. It was not until 1835 that Mr. Stevens located permanently near the post.410

Major Taliaferro was left alone to carry on the difficult enterprise of civilizing the natives. In 1830 he wrote to the Secretary of War telling of the progress he had made and of his plans for a log village in which the Indians could live, instead of in the flimsy bark houses, and a log house for the protection of the Indians' property. He begged for financial aid, saying that Six or eight hundred dollars would mature what has happily been begun, and this sum from the Civilization fund would enable me to progress with great efficiency, and without further tax on the Government.411 The need for his supervision was constant. From his diary can be seen how continual was his interest in the experiment. On April 18, 1831, he ordered the hoes and plows [150] repaired, and on May 1 he went to the colony taking the implements with him. Here he found most of them at work—Cuting down trees, Grubbing out the roots &c—What was more encouraging some few of the Men were at this unusual kind of labour for them—they laughed when they saw Me—I praised them, in every agreable way that could be conveyed to them in their language. Again on June 8th he was pleased to see the Indians all at work hoeing their corn and potatoes.412

The success of the colony was gratifying. In 1833 they raised from eight hundred to a thousand bushels of corn, and the population of the village was one hundred and twenty-five. Only one death had occurred in three years.413 There was much to contend with, however, since the traders were violently opposed to Indians commencing to seek a living in this way.414 One trader stated that it was a loss to him of five hundred dollars whenever an Indian learned to read and write.415

With all his duties it is no wonder that the agent was anxious to receive the help of the missionaries, and although he was himself a Deacon in the Old School Presbyterian Church,416 his basis for aiding the red men, as he expressed it in a report, was that he had endeavored to impress all missionaries with the true fact that Christianity must be preceded by civilization among the wild tribes. I hazard nothing in this, for an Indian must be taught all the temporal benefits of this life first, before you ask him to seek for eternal happiness; teach him to worship [151] the true and living God through the self-evident developments of his mother earth. In fine, let agriculture and the arts precede the preaching of the gospel, after which, Christianity inculcate if practicable.417

The men who were to be Taliaferro's first helpers were living in the little village of Washington, Connecticut—two brothers, one twenty-three years old and the other twenty-one. Here a great revival occurred and among those whose lives were changed were Samuel Pond and Gideon Pond. The next year the older of the two went to the West and drifted into the frontier town of Galena. Hearing from a traveller from Red River of the Sioux about Fort Snelling he decided to dedicate his life to uplifting them. Upon broaching the subject to his brother the latter agreed, and on May 1, 1834, they left Galena on the Warrior. No missionary society was supporting them; they had only a little money; they did not know a word of the Dakota tongue; they were uneducated for missionary work. Living the roving life of the Indians as members of the tribe, they hoped to be able to gradually influence their lives and religion.418

On May 6, 1834, the Warrior reached Fort Snelling. At the agency house, Mr. Grooms, who was the acting agent in the absence of Major Taliaferro, rented them a room. Major Bliss, then in command at the fort, immediately summoned them to appear before him and explain their presence in the Indian country without permission.419 When he heard of [152] their plans, they fitted immediately into a problem that had been puzzling him. Big Thunder, chief of the Kaposia village, wanted to raise more corn. But by using the customary Indian method of hoeing up the ground before planting, it was impossible to get much land under cultivation. At Fort Snelling were oxen and a plow, but there was no one to do the plowing or teach the art to the Indians. Accordingly Samuel Pond volunteered to take charge of the proposition.

The plow was taken down the river in a canoe, while the oxen were driven by land. But the warriors were reluctant about touching the plow until Big Thunder, chief of the band, had seized the handles himself. For a week Samuel Pond continued the work. But the dogs had stolen the provisions he had taken from the fort, and so he was obliged not only to sleep in the Indian tepee, but also to live upon the ordinary Indian fare.420

This task of plowing had just been performed when Major Taliaferro returned from the East. The success of the work done by Big Thunder led him to ask the Ponds to take charge of the Eatonville colony. As this would give them an opportunity of carrying out their plans, the brothers accepted. Their position is indicated by the following entry in Taliaferro's diary: I am to furnish out of my private funds—Hay for the Oxen—belonging to the Indians, & those young men are to have Charge of them for the Winter—They will plough some this fall and again in the Spring for the Indians, & go on [153] thereafter to instruct them in the arts & habits of civilized life.421

Cloud Man, chief of the Calhoun band of Indians, chose a site near the lake, where a cabin was erected which cost a shilling—for nails. The walls were of tamarack logs from a neighboring grove; slabs obtained at the mill at the Falls of St. Anthony furnished a roof; and Major Taliaferro presented the missionaries with a window. Major Bliss gave them some potatoes, and Mrs. Bliss presented them with a ham. Knowing the thievishness of the natives, the Indian agent also added a padlock to the newly-finished cabin.422

Near the house about four acres of land were cleared and fenced with logs. A quarter of a mile distant was the Indian village of fourteen bark lodges, each containing two or three families. This village was surrounded by corn fields and was reached through a narrow lane made by putting up posts and tying poles to them with strips of bark.423 According to Featherstonhaugh, who visited the establishment a year later, thirty acres were under cultivation and the yield of corn amounted to eight hundred bushels. It is interesting to note that this critical traveller found only one thing about Fort Snelling to commend and that was the self-sacrifice of the two Pond brothers.424

They entered immediately into the life of the Indians. An extract from a letter written by one of the brothers shows the wide variety of their duties. One Indian, he said, has been here to borrow my [154] axe, another to have me help him split a stick; another now interrupts me to borrow my hatchet; another has been here after a trap which he left with me; another is now before my window at work with his axe, while the women and children are screaming to drive the black-birds from their corn. Again I am interrupted by one who tells me that the Indians are going to play ball near our house to-day. Hundreds assemble on such occasions.425

The work that was thus started soon expanded. In the spring of 1835 Rev. Thomas Smith Williamson arrived at Fort Snelling with his wife, a child, Miss Sarah Poage, and Alexander G. Huggins. At about the same time Rev. Jedediah I. Stevens returned to the post he had visited in 1829, and with the help of the Pond brothers built a mission school at Lake Harriet. Dr. Williamson went up the Minnesota River to Lac qui Parle, where another station was established. On May 19, 1837, Rev. Alfred Brunson came to Fort Snelling for a similar purpose, and after consulting with the agent and the commandant he chose the village of Kaposia for his headquarters. But these mission stations and their personnel were not permanent. The work of the Ponds was soon amalgamated with that of Mr. Stevens. In 1839 when the Sioux-Chippewa feuds were at their height and the Indians were afraid to remain at Lake Calhoun, Mr. Stevens tore down the little cabin the Ponds had built and used the material for breastworks and moved down the river to Wabasha's village—outside the influence of Fort Snelling. At [155] the same time the Ponds moved nearer the fort, where they remained until in 1842 they established a mission at Oak Grove, eight miles up the Minnesota River. This same war spirit and the hostility to the missionaries who preached against it led to the abandonment of the Kaposia enterprise in 1841. In 1846, however, Little Crow asked for a school, and Dr. Williamson came from Lac qui Parle to take charge of it. These missions remained in existence throughout the period of Old Fort Snelling.426

The activities of the missions took on two forms—industrial and educational. By the treaty of 1837 a farmer was provided for the Sioux about the fort. This position was offered to Gideon Pond who in 1838 accepted. In return for his salary of six hundred dollars he had to plow the cornfields, cut hay for the cattle and feed them during the winter, and build such shelters as the animals might need. As he could not do all this work alone—and he wanted it thoroughly done—much of his salary was spent in hiring others to help him. His services were offered in the same spirit of sacrifice which first brought him to the region.427

Blacksmiths were maintained at some of the villages. In 1849 Mr. Chatel, blacksmith for Good Road's village, made among other things, 73 chains to hang kettles on for cooking, 23 traps, 230 axes, 50 rat spears, 208 pairs of fish spears, 24 pairs of stirrups, 63 crooked knives, and 199 hoes. During the same year, Mr. Robertson, the farmer for Little Crow's village, ploughed 75 acres of land, made 500 [156] yards of fence, put up 20 tons of hay, and hauled corn for seventeen days. To be sure, Robertson and Chatel were not missionaries, but they were part of the movement for civilizing the Indians which was fostered and encouraged by the officers of the fort.428

In 1837 at Lake Harriet there was an Indian boarding-school, where some half dozen half-breed girls were learning to read, write, and sew.429 The Pond brothers had made the beginnings of an alphabet of the Sioux language, and books and primers for the use of the scholars were soon printed.430 At all the stations surrounding Fort Snelling schools were maintained, but here as elsewhere the children in pleasant weather prefer playing to reading.431 Some progress was made, however, as is indicated by the school reports. In 1851 at the school maintained at Kaposia it is reported that Daniel Renville, Gustavus A. Robertson, Rosalie Renville, and Fat Duty Win can spell and read in English in McGuffy's Eclectic Primer, and can spell and read in the Sioux language in Wowape Metawa.432

The success of these pioneer efforts depended much on the encouragement received at the beginning; and by a coincidence this encouragement was brought about the second summer that the Ponds were in the vicinity. During the winter Major Gustavus Loomis initiated a red-hot revival among the soldiers, and although many of the converts backslid with the simultaneous appearance of spring and whiskey,433 yet there were so many that remained [157] faithful that on June 11, 1835, when Dr. Williamson arrived, a church was organized in one of the company rooms at Fort Snelling. This church was composed of soldiers, missionaries, and fur traders and was a basis of support in the difficult task of civilizing the Indians.434 The officers protected and encouraged the workers under all circumstances, the post doctor gave his services to them free, and once a month Mr. Stevens preached at the fort.435

In 1838 the church was strengthened by the appointment of a chaplain, Rev. Ezekiel Gear of Galena. But on December 11, 1838, as he was leaving Fort Crawford in a sleigh, the horse started up sooner than was expected and he was thrown out, breaking his right thigh bone. He was kept at the hospital at Fort Crawford for some months and did not arrive at Fort Snelling until April 28, 1839.436 As there was no room large enough to hold all the soldiers, they were at first not compelled to attend the services. In 1841, however, the chaplain reported that all the soldiers attended regularly, but answered feebly to the responses, although the chaplain believed they were attentive to what was said. These movements, which were undertaken to elevate the character of the soldiers, could not but have an effect upon the success of the missionaries.437

Under the protection of Fort Snelling efforts were also made to do religious work among the fur traders. The inhabitants of Mendota were old voyageurs and traders, French and half-breeds, and most of them, having lived long without the ministrations of the church, remembered the faith of their [158] childhood days in Canada. When in 1838 the Minnesota country west of the Mississippi was made a part of the Territory of Iowa, the Diocese of Dubuque was extended to correspond with the political area. In the following summer Bishop Loras of Dubuque visited the upper Mississippi and was entertained at the fort and by the faithful Catholics at Mendota. These amounted in number to one hundred and eighty-five, fifty-six of whom were baptized, eight were confirmed, and four couples were given the nuptial benediction. The need for permanent work was great. Plans were made to bring one or two Sioux to Dubuque to pass the winter and teach the language to some worker. In the spring of 1840 Rev. Lucian Galtier was sent up to be the pastor of this flock.438

It was often with despair that the missionaries saw the Indians still clinging to their heathen rites, and the few additions to the churches do not indicate any great transformation of an Indian nation. But if the lives of the natives were not elevated by their contact with the whites it was not because they had no opportunity. The forces which led to their degeneration had the start of the civilizing forces, and they also appealed more to the Indian's nature. At the same time both romance and lustre is added to the relations of Old Fort Snelling with the surrounding Indians by the story of the attempts of the men who had a vision of what Indian life could be, and who unselfishly tried to make that vision a reality, encouraged and supported by the military men at the fort.



George Catlin, whose wanderings in the West had acquainted him with the most beautiful and the most accessible scenic spots of the country, urged upon his readers the adoption of a trip to the Falls of St. Anthony as the Fashionable Tour.439 Primitive life and unspoiled landscapes could be seen from the comfortable decks of the steamboat. The objective point of these trips was the Falls of St. Anthony, but it was at Fort Snelling that the passengers were dropped. Only because of the necessity of bringing supplies to the troops at the post did the steamboats make the journey. It is in the writings of these visitors that there have been preserved many pictures of life in and about Fort Snelling. Moreover, these visits from the outside world brought pleasure and satisfaction to the smaller world about the fort.

In the month of May, 1823, occurred an event which was epochal, not only in regard to the commercial development of the Northwest, but also in respect to the growth of the upper Mississippi as a Mecca for travellers. The steamboat Virginia, one hundred and twenty feet long with a twenty foot beam, commanded by Captain Crawford, left St. Louis with supplies for Fort Snelling; on the tenth [160] of May it was received by the soldiers at the fort with a salute of cannon and by the assembled Indians with awe and consternation.440 I know not what impression the first sight of the Phoenician vessels might make on the inhabitants of the coasts of Greece, wrote one who was a passenger on that eventful voyage, or the Triremi of the Romans on the natives of Iberia, Gaul, or Britain; but I am sure it could not be stronger than that which I saw on the countenances of these savages at the arrival of our steam-boat.441

The man who wrote these words was J. C. Beltrami, an Italian refugee, who for political reasons had fled from his native land. In 1823 he met Major Taliaferro at Pittsburgh and requested permission to accompany him to the Falls of St. Anthony. This was granted, and in company with the Indian agent he arrived at Fort Snelling on the first steamboat to brave the current of the upper Mississippi.442 Here for almost two months he was entertained by the officials at the post, visiting the Indian bands, attending their councils, writing letters to My Dear Countess,443 and conversing with Mrs. Snelling who alone could speak French with him.444 He was on the point of setting out overland for Council Bluffs when another party arrived at the post.

In the list of the exploring expeditions which traversed the region about the head of Lake Superior, by far the most important was the one led by Stephen H. Long and conducted under the auspices of the War Department. The permanent members of the [161] party were Major Long of the Topographical Engineers, Thomas Say, zoölogist and antiquary, William H. Keating, mineralogist and geologist, Samuel Seymour, landscape painter and designer, and James E. Colhoun, astronomer and assistant topographer. The start was made at Philadelphia on April 30, 1823, and the route led by way of Wheeling and Chicago to Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. From this point Major Long and Mr. Colhoun travelled by land and the others by water, the two parties arriving at the fort on July 2nd and July 3rd respectively. After a few days wait the journey was again resumed late on the afternoon of July 9th.445

In the meantime much had been done. The orders issued to Major Long had authorized him to call upon the commanding officer at any post for men, horses, camp equipage, provisions, boats, clothing, medicines, and goods to the value of three hundred dollars to be distributed among the Indians.446 Biscuits were baked in the ovens of the fort; Joseph Renville was engaged as an interpreter; and the detachment of troops which had accompanied them from Prairie du Chien was exchanged for a new guard, consisting of a sergeant, two corporals, and eighteen soldiers under the command of Lieutenant St. Clair Denny.447

But these preparations did not prevent them from enjoying the scenic views about Fort Snelling. On the sixth of July a walk was taken to the Falls of St. Anthony. An island in the river which divided the falls into two parts tempted Mr. Say, Mr. Colhoun, [162] and Mr. Keating to cross, the water being only two feet deep. But the ford was located only a few feet above the ledge of the rock, and the slippery footing rendered the exploit extremely dangerous. When this had been safely accomplished, Mr. Say and Mr. Colhoun crossed in the same way the eastern half of the falls, while Mr. Keating with great difficulty returned to the western bank. Later when the others were crossing the dangerous passage, they were seen to be in great difficulties whereupon one of the soldiers went out and aided them to the shore. Only after they had been strengthened by a dinner, prepared by the old sergeant who was in charge of the government mills, were they able to return to the fort.448

The expedition went up the Minnesota River to its source, then down the Red River to Lake Winnipeg and returned to the East by way of the fur trader's route along the international boundary and Lake Superior. Fear of the Indians living about the mouth of the Blue Earth River, one of whose number had been arrested and sent to St. Louis for murder, had suggested the necessity of the military escort. But when the place was reached no trouble resulted, as the Indians had gone on their summer hunt. Accordingly nine of the soldiers were sent back with canoes—some of the supplies having been destroyed by accidents. Those who remained had no easy task. There were only nine horses, and these were reserved for the officers and gentlemen of the company, so that the privates were obliged to walk.449 [163]

On August 9th when the party left Pembina behind, their number had dwindled. Joseph Snelling, son of Colonel Snelling, who had gone with them thus far, returned by the same route with three soldiers. J. C. Beltrami, who had been allowed to cast his lot with theirs, and who had been equipped and supplied by the Indian agent, who had presented him with the noble steed Cadmus,450 also left them. In company with two Chippewas and a bois-brulé of Red River, he set out for the southeast with the purpose of there finding the source of the Mississippi. Upon a small lake, which he named Lake Julia, he conferred the honor of being the head of the great river, while it seemed to him that the shades of Marco Polo, of Columbus, of Americus Vespucius, of the Cabots, of Verazani, of the Zenos, and various others, appeared present, and joyfully assisting at this high and solemn ceremony.451 After a journey of great suffering he was welcomed at Fort Snelling—wearing a hat made of the bark of a tree, and clothes of skins.452

Not until late in the fall did the connection of Fort Snelling with this expedition cease, when the soldiers who had accompanied the party as far as Sault Ste. Marie returned to their post by the Fox-Wisconsin route after a journey rendered exceedingly disagreeable by the cold.453

In the summer of 1835 George Catlin and his wife spent several months at Fort Snelling. Mr. Catlin was an artist who made a specialty of Indian scenes, and his time was occupied in painting scenes of Indian [164] life and portraits of Indian chiefs. His studio was a room in the officers' quarters, and his models were the natives who lingered about the agency.

Mr. Catlin was extremely desirous of painting some pictures of Indian dances and ball-plays. In order to persuade the Indians to do their part, Lawrence Taliaferro told them on July 3rd that if they would come the next day and entertain the visitors, the great gun at the fort would be fired twenty-one times for their amusement. As this was the salute for the national holiday, he was safe in making the prophecy. Accordingly, on the fourth of July the prairie near the fort, for two hours, rang with the excited shouts of the ball-players; and when this pastime was finished the beggar's-dance, the buffalo-dance, the bear-dance, the eagle-dance, and the dance-of-the-braves furnished entertainment for three hours more.454

On the sixteenth of July General Robert Patterson of Philadelphia with his sister and daughter arrived on the steamboat Warrior. For their amusement the Indians staged the dog-dance, using for their victims two dogs which were presented to them by the officers of the garrison. Accompanied by a soldier George Catlin left for Prairie du Chien on July 27th. About this lovely spot, he wrote, I have whiled away a few months with great pleasure, and having visited all the curiosities, and all the different villages of Indians in the vicinity, I close my notebook and start in a few days for Prairie du Chien, which is three hundred miles below this; where I [165] shall have new subjects for my brush and new themes for my pen, when I may continue my epistles.455

In the thirties began that series of geological surveys which has continued ever since, under both the national and State governments. In the fall of 1835 George William Featherstonhaugh and William Williams Mather, geologists in the service of the government, made a survey of the Minnesota Valley. The detailed scientific report of the survey was published by the government;456 while a popular description of the trip, written by Mr. Featherstonhaugh, appeared in London in 1847 entitled, A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor.

From September 12th to September 15th on the up-journey and from October 16th to October 22nd on the return, the scientist was entertained at the fort. The reception which he received did not impress him with its cordiality. I could not but reflect upon the contrast betwixt the very kind attentions I had received at the other American posts, and the want of them I experienced here.457 But the feeling was mutual. The keen Indian agent characterized him by saying: He attempted to pass current for that which he possessed not—superior talent and modesty in his profession.458 Mr. Featherstonhaugh was an Englishman in whose narrative American institutions were not praised. Even the presence of his American co-laborer, Mr. Mather, is not suspected by reading the entertaining story, for his name is not mentioned once.

It is difficult, therefore, to judge how accurate the [166] account of his stay at Fort Snelling really is. The room which was given to him for his use was an old dirty, ill-smelling, comfortless store-room, and Major L—— (Loomis?) who was asked by the commandant to provide accommodations for the visitor bored him with his psalm-singing and exhortations, being a living rod in soak to tickle up sluggish Christians. But, probably unwittingly, Featherstonhaugh admitted that Fort Snelling was of some service to him. For the supplies and vegetables taken from the post gardens brought the gunwale of the canoe to within four inches of the water!459

Further exploration of the upper Mississippi was made by Joseph N. Nicollet during the summer of the next year. This French scientist was aided in part by the War Department, and in part by the fur traders, P. Chouteau, Jr., & Co., of St. Louis.460 While at Fort Snelling he determined to visit the sources of the great river, and in his enterprises he was greatly assisted by Lawrence Taliaferro, H. H. Sibley, and the officers at the fort. Some of the soldiers wished to accompany him, but the absence of many of the garrison at Prairie du Chien made their presence at the post necessary. Some Chippewa Indians, some half-breeds, and a Frenchman, Desiré Fronchet, were his only companions when the ascent of the river was commenced. But at the first stopping place, near the Falls of St. Anthony, a band of thieving Sioux robbed him of many of his supplies, and the attempt would have been given up had [167] not Major Taliaferro made good the loss from his own means.461 Nicollet visited Lake Itasca and indicated its principal tributary, so that some authors have credited him with being the discoverer of the true source of the Mississippi.462

After the return from this perilous journey, the winter was spent at Fort Snelling in working over the notes and a map. For the kindness shown him Mr. Nicollet expressed great appreciation, though the rude hospitality of the frontier post could provide no supper better than wild rice, mush, and milk, and no sleeping quarters better than the storehouse. But here he was entertained, as the agent wrote, in Virginia fashion where a call lasts six months and a visit one year; and the nights were made merry with the music of the violin and piano, and with the animated conversation of Taliaferro and Nicollet. For many hours on cold winter nights he studied through his telescope the stars in the clear heavens.463

Mr. Nicollet devoted two more seasons to examining the country between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in company with John C. Frémont. In 1838 a trip was made from Fort Snelling to the pipestone quarry; and in 1839 his party ascended the Missouri River to Fort Pierre, and then passed over the prairies to the Mississippi.464 The accounts of these journeys were widely read, and coming from the pen of such an able scientist and pleasing writer, the interest of the country was turned to the rich possibilities of this new Northwest.465

In addition to these well-known travellers there [168] was a host of people who made the trip as a vacation jaunt. On June 1, 1836, the Palmyra arrived with thirty passengers. The steamboat Burlington tied up at Fort Snelling on June 13, 1838, having among its many passengers Captain Frederick Marryat, the popular English novelist. Only two days later the Brazil was moored near the Burlington, the presence of two boats at the same time being considered a novel sight. The family of Governor Henry Dodge was on this second boat.466

On June 26, 1838, the Burlington was again at Fort Snelling. Among the tourists on this trip was Mrs. Alexander Hamilton who had embarked at Galena where she had been visiting her son, W. S. Hamilton, who was connected with lead mining enterprises in Wisconsin. The fact that Mrs. Hamilton had been a belle in society during the time of George Washington, and the general sympathy felt for her ever since the tragic death of her husband in 1804, caused her to be received with more attention than was usually bestowed on tourists. At nine o'clock she was taken in a carriage to the Falls of St. Anthony, and when she returned to the fort in the afternoon the officers met her at the gate and led her to a chair placed upon a carpet in the center of the parade ground. After the troops had been reviewed she was entertained at the headquarters of the fort until the Burlington left that same evening.467

The extent of this tourist traffic is well illustrated in the newspapers of the time. Advertisements tell [169] of the interesting features to be seen on a trip to the upper Mississippi, of the pleasures of steamboat travel, and promise that A first rate band of music will be on board.468 An editor paused long enough in the exciting presidential Log Cabin campaign of 1840 to remark that Pleasure trips to these Falls appear to be quite the go. Large parties of ladies and gentlemen have passed up on the steamboats Loyal Hanna and Malta. And we noticed in a late St. Louis paper, the advertisements of the Valley Forge, Ione, Brazil and Monsoon, all for pleasure excursions to St. Peters. We see also in the same paper, that the steamboat Fayette is advertised for Harrison and Reform—rather an extensive country we should think, at the present time.469 Even as far away as Louisville, Kentucky, steamboats were chartered for trips to the upper waters of the Mississippi River.470

The pleasures of such a journey, the scenery enjoyed, the people met, the events of the day spent at Fort Snelling are well illustrated by two letters written by the Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, who was the missionary bishop of the Northwest of the Episcopal Church.471 In the month of August, 1843, he was the guest of Captain Throckmorton on the steamboat General Brooke; and he made the trip to Fort Snelling to confer with Rev. Ezekiel Gear who was the chaplain at the post. The first letter was dated August 25, 1843, and was written to his daughter.

Here we are snug and almost dry on a sand bar [170] and not more than 13 miles below St. Peters, he wrote. While the Captain and his men are using all kinds of methods to get us off—the chief of which is to put our freight into a large barge aside of us—I will write you a few lines. It is now past 8 o'c. P. M. We still hope to get to the fort before night (mid-night I mean). Then the Captain says he will give us an early breakfast tomorrow and send us off to see the falls (5 Miles distant) and we must return so as to start down the river by noon. This is too bad in many respects; but what can we do? I have not time to stay with Mr. Gear until the next boat arrives; that may not be for a week or two; so I will say to Mr. G. when I see him: Here I am, & I have come not to see the falls but you, and I am at your disposal as long as I am here. If you choose to take me to the falls, it is well; if you prefer that I should remain in your house I am content. It is still probable that I shall be at Potosi next tuesday Morning. To travel on Sunday, and particularly to do so without an opportunity of preaching, will be very hard. There will probably be only 4 passengers besides myself on the return. There was a little boat the other [day?] a-head of us, and I hoped she might be detained at the fort until Monday—but that prospect has vanished, for she has just past us descending to Galena.

It is supposed to be 500 miles from St. Louis to Prairie du Chien and 300 from there to St. Peters. We stopt at Prairie du Chien for some hours and a Judge Lockwood came on board who with his wife is [171] an Episcopalian. He told me there are several in and about the town & he thought the prospect of organizing a church a fair one if a Missionary could be obtained (We are off the sand bar). From the prairie our voyage has been delightful. At the distance of a mile or two from the river on each side are ranges of lofty hills, in a great variety of shapes. Many of them appeared as if the river had flowed for ages near to their tops. Some of them looked as if they had been cut in two; and on the peaks of several were large blocks of rock. As we were woodding I spoke of going up to one of them but was told it was dangerous on account of rattle-snakes. There is a curious fact connected with that reptile. Cannon river flows into the Misi from the west—it is a long & narrow stream—nine miles above Lake Pepin. They are never found north of that stream, although they abound below it. One of the hills we saw yesterday had 3 or 4 large blocks of rock upon it, called the pot and kettles from their resemblance to those useful utensils. The prairies were frequent & some peculiarly attractive. On Wabasa's we saw a Sioux village—and a farmer's establishment—he being sent there by the U. S. to civilize the Indians. This morning we passed another village called Red Wings but saw very few of the inhabitants. The corn field was very … [illegible] and there were in it elevated frames where the boys are kept to scare away the blackbirds. I saw smoke near the frames, the boys having kindled a fire to roast ears of corn for their comfort. The Sioux have winter & summer [172] houses. The latter are conical made of buffalo robes covering poles. The summer lodges looked something like poor log huts & are made of poles & elm bark. Near Red Wings village there is a Missy establishment from Switzerland.—Lake Pepin is a beautiful sheet of water thro wh the M. flows or is an expanse of the M. & is 25 miles by 3. It apparently abounded in large fish, for they were constantly jumping out of the water. Its banks you know are celebrated for agates—but we have not time to stop a moment.—The settlements above P. du Chien are very few—now and then a solitary dwelling & a wood yard. At one of these places the man told me his nearest neighbor was 20 miles off. In winter there is a good deal of travelling on the river in sleighs. About half way up Lake Pepin is the lover's rock of which you have heard, the Chippeway river enters from the East just below the commencement of the Lake, & its Mouth is 100 Miles below St. Peters. Up it & like wise up the St. Croix are saw mills, as that country abounds with Pine. The Mouth of the St. Croix is 30 miles below St. Peters. Here is a beautiful lake as large as L. Pepin thro' which the St. C. flows just before it joins the M.—We have a Mr. Akin on board whose trading establishment is 300 Miles north of the St. Peters & 60 west of Lake Superior. Then he has been among the Chippeways 33 yrs. He has been thro' Lake Superior 30 times to New York for goods & returned as often; and now for the first time he has traded with St. Louis. He knows perfectly all the languages [173] around him. The most copious is the Chippeway. He says they have some what of a written language, and he has frequently seen an Indian write off a … [illegible] for another on a piece of bark. He thinks the characters are something like those of the Mexicans.—Now I suppose you would like to receive a letter with the S. Peter's post Mark; and if I ascertain it will not take more than a Month on its journey you shall receive this thro that channel; otherwise I will reserve it for the p. o. of P. du Chien.472

The narrative is continued in a letter of August 29, 1843, written from Potosi, Wisconsin, to his son:

Although you may not have a very high opinion of the West, yet I think you would have liked to be with me in my late trip to St. Peters. The weather was delightful and the scenery grand and very novel. You have probably seen my letter to your sister; I will therefore say, we arrived at the end of our voyage last friday night, and as the fog was very thick the next morning we could not see where we were until 8 oclock. Then the fort on a high hill, with its flag flying, had a fine appearance. Mr. Gear the chaplain soon called at the boat and appeared greatly rejoiced to see me. I accompanied him to his quarters and saw his family and some of the officers and ladies of the garrison, and then he and I rode out 8 miles to the falls of St. Anthony. Though very inferior to those of Niagara, they are still well worth seeing. The scenery is wild—there are many immense rocks in the river, evidently broken off from [174] the precipice over which the water is dashed with considerable noise—the water in its fall is frequently broken—but even when it is not so, the height is not more than 17-1/2 feet. Returning we went to a hill from whence we could see the whole of the fall for there is an island in the middle of the river which hides one half of it when you are near. A mile or two further brought us to a most beautiful and lofty cascade on Nine Mile river. The quantity of water was not large, but it fell amidst the wildest scene, unbroken, over a ledge of rock which extended far beyond its foundation.—There were not many Indians. The few I saw were Sioux who looked much degenerated by their contact with the Whites. The families of the officers appeared very happy; the ladies told me they were like sisters. For months they have no visitors but wild Indians—Sioux or Chippeways. An old Scotchman who had been in this country 50 years told me that all the tribes to the North and West speak the Chippeway language or its dialects; that the Sioux is entirely different from it, but that a dialect of it is spoken by the Winnebagoes, with this difference that the Sioux language has not the sound of the letter R in it while almost every word of the Winnebago abounds with Rs. He thinks that a person knowing the two languages—the C. and S. could travel through the indian country from Mexico to the N. Pole and make himself understood.—We had to return to the boat by one oclock, and soon after we started down the river. Near the Mouth of the St. Croix—about 45 [175] miles below St. Peters, I saw on a prairie a large stone painted a bright red, to which the Indians offer sacrifices of tobacco &c. and consider a Wa-Kon or Spirit.—As we were on our journey sunday afternoon I saw a bark canoe paddling towards us with great rapidity containing as I first thought an Indian and a white Man. The steamer was stopt, and soon the chattels (kettle, coffee-pot, &c) then the men afterwards the boat itself were on board. They proved to be a miner who had gone from Galena and a stout lad. Eight months ago a number of persons were induced by offers of land from Government to go to Lake Superior in search of copper; and a large party had lately been occupied in removing an immense block of copper from the bed of a river which empties into the Lake. This miner had been thus occupied; and he informed me that the task was done—that the block weighed three tons—that it was to be taken to New York &c. as an object of curiosity. A fortnight ago he had started from the spot—skirted the Lake to a certain river, ascended that to its source, then carried the canoe with its contents 2 or 3 miles on their shoulders until they met the head waters of the St. Croix, and descended that river to the Mississippi.473



The relations of the United States government to the Indians prior to 1871 shows a dual attitude. On the one hand, the Indians were the government's wards. By the ninth of the Articles of Confederation, Congress was given the right of regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians who were not members of any of the states474 and by the act regulating Indian trade no cession of land could be valid unless made by treaty or convention.475 On the other hand, these treaties were negotiated and proclaimed with all the pomp and ceremony which would appeal to the Indian's mind and impress him with his importance as a member of a sovereign nation. This was distinctly a legal fiction, but it continued as the customary method of procedure until the act of March 3, 1871, abolished the practice of considering the tribes as independent nations.476

As the nation increased in strength and the agricultural and commercial forces of the country were pushing westward and coming into contact with the distant tribes, the treaties increased in number and importance. Urged by the cries of hungry land-seekers the cession of land by the natives gradually became the most important phase of all treaties; and [177] in order that the new settlements might be protected from vengeful Indians the title to the land rested on legal cession rather than on conquest. It is stated on the authority of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that Except only in the case of the Sioux Indians in Minnesota, after the outbreak of 1862, the Government has never extinguished an Indian title as by right of conquest; and in this case the Indians were provided with another reservation, and subsequently were paid the net proceeds arising from the sale of the land vacated.477

The negotiation of a treaty was not an easy affair. There were no recognized representatives of the tribe. In order that a treaty might be satisfactory it was necessary that all factions be consulted; and the braves who gathered often numbered into the hundreds. Thus, in planning the negotiations a satisfactory place and an opportune time must be selected, while the red men must be supported while away from home and protected from lurking enemies. It was in these phases of treaty-making that the military posts showed their importance.

The first important treaty with which the tribes living about Fort Snelling were concerned was that made at Prairie du Chien in 1825. The little frontier village presented a gala appearance during the month of August when the great convocation was held. There were Chippewas, Sioux, Sacs and Foxes, Menomonies, Iowas, Winnebagoes, and a portion of the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Pottawattomie tribes living on the Illinois River gathered to consult [178] with Governor Lewis Cass of Michigan and General William Clark, the government's commissioners. Of the 1054 drawing rations on the last day, 386 were of the delegation of Sioux and Chippewas gathered by Major Taliaferro at Fort Snelling and brought down in safety to make a triumphal entry in true Indian style with flags flying, drums beating, and guns firing.478

Although there was no cession of land, distinct progress was made in that the territories of the various tribes were defined, thus making negotiations easier for the future. Of especial importance was the Sioux-Chippewa boundary line, which made clear the territory of each tribe, so that when the year 1837 arrived and treaties were made to obtain the lands east of the Mississippi, the areas with which each was concerned were clearly understood.479

By the year 1837 many conditions called for the cession of these lands. The forests, the water-power, the mines of lead and other ores aroused the desires of speculators. Settlers were thronging to Wisconsin, and it was felt that if the land could be purchased and the Indians removed, the people would be safe from any attacks, and the Indians would be removed from the contaminating influence of many of the undesirable whites.480 There were also the traders who for years past had given credit to many worthless Indians who had never brought back from the hunt furs sufficient to pay for the goods advanced them; and they hoped that in the [179] payment for the lands certain sums would be reserved for the liquidation of these debts.481

In the early summer of 1837 Major Taliaferro was ordered to organize a delegation of Sioux Indians who could be taken to Washington, where the Sioux negotiations would take place. At the same time orders were issued to summon the Chippewas of the upper Mississippi to a council to be held at Fort Snelling. To both of these groups the subject of the purchase of the Indian lands east of the Mississippi would be broached.482

Miles Vineyard, who was the sub-agent at Fort Snelling, was immediately sent to the villages of the Chippewas. Early in July the red men began to arrive, and by July 20th about a thousand men, women, and children had pitched their tepees near the fort. Many were the notable chiefs gathered there with their warriors. With the Pillager band from Leech Lake was Chief Flat Mouth, who had twenty-five times been on the warpath without receiving a wound, who had delivered his English medal to Pike in 1806, and whose band had been attacked by the Sioux under the walls of Fort Snelling in 1827. The most famous of the Chippewa chiefs, he was still living in 1852, being then seventy-eight years old.483

The chief of the bands from Gull Lake and Swan River was Hole-in-the-Day. Energetic, brave, and intelligent, he gained a great influence over the Chippewas of the upper Mississippi. His name, which literally meant a bright spot in the sky, is often written [180] Hole-in-the-Sky. He was a frequent visitor at Fort Snelling and came to his death at that place in 1847 when he fell from a wagon, breaking his neck and dying instantly.484 His brother Strong Ground or Strong Earth was also present at the council. He had been a member of Flat Mouth's band at the time of the massacre in 1827. Thirty-six eagle plumes waved from his head-dress at the time of his death, each of them representing the scalp of an enemy. The first of these he obtained when as a small boy he dashed into the ranks of the Sioux during a conflict and scalped a fallen warrior.485 Chiefs and warriors from the St. Croix River, Mille Lac, and Sandy Lake, with their followers, were also encamped near the fort.

There were also notables among the white men gathered there. The United States commissioner was Henry Dodge, known as an Indian fighter, and at that time Governor of Wisconsin Territory. General William R. Smith of Pennsylvania, who had been appointed by the President to serve as a commissioner with Governor Dodge, was unable to come. Lawrence Taliaferro, the Indian agent, was busied with many duties connected with the safety of the visitors. Four hundred Sioux hovered about, and these had to be kept at a safe distance to avoid conflicts. Verplanck Van Antwerp, the secretary of the commission; J. N. Nicollet, the explorer; H. H. Sibley; and many other fur traders watched the negotiations and put their names to the treaty as witnesses.486 [181]

The council began on July 20th. It was with the chiefs that Governor Dodge parleyed, but the warriors and braves felt that they also should have some part in the proceedings. On one occasion several hundred of them, streaked with their brightest paint, waving their tomahawks and spears and carrying the war flag of the Chippewas, together with the flag of the United States, interrupted the council with their whoops and drums; and when they had approached the chair of the Governor, paused while two of the warriors harangued the crowd on the kindness of the traders and the debts owed them.487

The negotiations were carried on in a bower near the house of the agent. The chiefs were assembled daily; the peace pipe was smoked; and the red men, dressed only in leggings and breech cloths, with their long hair hanging over their shoulders under the eagle feathers upon their heads, and medals dangling from their necks, spoke of lands, of the traders, and of wars. The speeches of the Indians seemed interminable. From day to day action was postponed as they were waiting for other bands to arrive.

To prolong the council as long as possible was satisfying to the appetite of the Indian. The rations issued by the commissary at Fort Snelling were not to be eagerly exchanged for the fare of a Chippewa lodge in the northern woods. But at first the menu was not satisfactory. Nadin (the Wind) complained on July 24th: You have everything around you, and can give us some of the cattle that are around us on the prairie. At the treaty of Prairie du Chien, [182] the case was as difficult as this. The great Chief then fed us well with cattle.488 Evidently this hint was acted upon, as the old records show that by July 30th ten beeves weighing 6123 pounds had been furnished the Chippewas who were assembled to the number of 1400.489 The amount of supplies used on such an occasion is indicated by instructions given to Alexander Ramsey and John Chambers who in 1849 were commissioned to treat with the Sioux Indians at Fort Snelling. They were authorized to obtain from the commissary at Fort Snelling 15,000 rations of flour, 10,000 of pork, 10,000 of salt, 10,000 of beans, and 5000 of soap.490

At the first meeting Governor Dodge spoke to the Chippewas of the purpose of the council. Their lands east of the Mississippi, he informed them, were not valuable in game and were not suited for agricultural purposes. They were said to be covered with pine trees, which the white men were eager to obtain, and accordingly the government was willing to pay the Chippewa nation for them. Thus, by selling the land they could obtain money for that which actually was of little value to them.491

There evidently was no intention on the part of the Indians not to sell the lands, but the council was protracted, pending the arrival of other bands. Not until July 27th did they make any movement to close the deal. On that day, Ma-ghe-ga-bo, a warrior of the Pillager band, dressed in his most fantastic costume, covered a map of the land in question with a piece of paper, remarking that when the paper was [183] removed the land would be considered sold. He added a final request: My father, in all the country we sell you, we wish to hold on to that which gives us life—the streams and lakes where we fish, and the trees from which we make sugar.

Finally he asked all the chiefs who agreed to sell the land to rise. About thirty arose at his word. Immediately Ma-ghe-ga-bo raised the paper from the map and seized the hand of Governor Dodge. The sale was made. There remained only to agree upon the terms of the cession.492

During the negotiations, reference had been made continually by the Indians to the traders and the payment of the debts owed them. Pe-she-ke said: I have been supported by the trader, and without his aid, could not get through the winter with naked skin. The grounds where your children have to hunt are as bare as that on which I now stand, and have no game upon them.… We have not much to give the traders, as our lands and hunting grounds are so destitute. Do us a kindness by paying our old debts. That he was coached to make the remark is evident from his statement that No-body—no trader has instructed me what to say to you.493

On July 29th the terms were finally agreed upon, and while the secretary was writing out the treaty the braves of the Chippewas held a dance under the walls of Fort Snelling. This indicated not only their satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the council, but was also intended as a compliment to [184] the commissioner. Three hundred warriors circled about in their gaudy costumes, recounting during the pauses of the dance the deeds of bravery they had done and the number of Sioux scalps they had obtained. At a distance a great number of Sioux looked upon the scene, not daring to interfere when the troops of the fort were so near.494

By this treaty the Chippewas ceded an immense tract of land east of the Mississippi. In return the United States agreed to pay annually for twenty years $9500 in money, $19,000 in goods, $3000 for blacksmiths, $1000 for farmers, $2000 in provisions, and $500 in tobacco. One hundred thousand dollars was to be paid to the half-breeds, and $70,000 was set aside to pay the claims of the fur traders. The privilege of hunting, fishing, and gathering wild rice along the lakes and rivers of the ceded territory was reserved for the Indians.495

This cession of land by the Chippewas had its counterpart in a treaty concluded by Sioux chiefs on September 29, 1837, in Washington, whither they had been taken by Major Taliaferro. All their lands east of the Mississippi—the land between the Black River and the Mississippi River as far north as the Sioux-Chippewa boundary line was given up for various considerations amounting in total to almost one million dollars.496

By these two treaties all the lands east of Fort Snelling were opened to settlement and commercial exploitation. As soon as the news of their ratification came, developments immediately began—developments [185] which had an important bearing upon the future history of Old Fort Snelling. The days when the Chippewa treaty was being drawn up are important, not only because they present an interesting sight of the picturesque features of an Indian council, but also because they show how Fort Snelling was assisting in the opening up of the rich timber lands and fertile prairies that border the Mississippi River.

For many years the payment of annuities that had been promised the Sioux was an annual reminder of these treaties. It was necessary that each Indian receive his portion of the goods and money in person in order to prevent fraud. In the late summer of each year all the warriors of Red Wing's and Wabasha's villages would leave their homes for the fort. In the agency building the United States officers, with the roll of the Sioux nation before them, called the names of the individuals, who one by one stepped up, touched the pen of the secretary, received the money, and deposited it in the box of his band. Outside was the typical Indian group—squaws, children, dogs, and braves smoking their pipes and talking of past achievements. And in order that the Indians might always be conscious of the presence of the soldiers of the Great Father, the band of the fort played patriotic and thrilling airs.497

With the transfer of the Indians to reservations higher up on the Minnesota River the payment of these annuities became a task which could no longer be performed at the fort. But the guarding of the [186] funds was a necessity. Captain James Monroe spent the latter half of the month of November, 1852, at Traverse des Sioux with one subaltern and forty-seven men of the dragoons and infantry, protecting the money from bandits and Indians. William T. Magruder was ordered on October 23, 1853, to proceed in command of a detachment of troops to escort the money being sent to Fort Ridgely; and exactly a year later, an officer and thirteen men were detailed to perform a similar task.498



The frontier army post, writes Professor F. J. Turner, serving to protect the settlers from the Indians, has also acted as a wedge to open the Indian country, and has been a nucleus for settlement.499 When the Fifth Infantry built its cantonment on the Minnesota River there were no other habitations in the neighborhood. Traders yearly frequented the region and wintered on the banks of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, but their headquarters were located at Prairie du Chien. Immediately after the beginning of the military establishment, however, the movement mentioned by Professor Turner was initiated.

In the spring of 1820 J. B. Faribault came up with cattle for the garrison and decided to locate in the vicinity as a fur trader. On August 9th the Indians granted Pike's Island to his wife, Pelagi Faribault, who was the daughter of a Frenchman and a Sioux woman. Faribault immediately built houses upon the island, but high water washed them away. Thereupon he removed to the east side of the Mississippi. It is probably to this establishment that Beltrami referred in 1823 when he wrote that there are no buildings round the fort, except three or four log-houses [188] on the banks of the river, in which some subaltern agents of the Southwest Company live among the frogs.500 This position was also upon low land, and on April 21, 1826, when the ice began to move, Faribault's houses were carried away, while he and his family escaped in canoes.501 After this second disaster Faribault's establishment was erected at Mendota, where Alexis Bailly had already located.502 The growth of this village was very slow. But gradually old fur traders settled about it with their families; voyageurs, when not employed on the rivers, lounged about the trading house; and the agents and clerks of the American Fur Company had their permanent homes in the rude log cabins which were clustered about.

In the meantime a new element had been added to the surroundings of the fort. It was already three-quarters of a century since the traders had erected the first trading post upon the Red River of the North. The early French voyageurs had left a race of half-breeds, popularly called bois-brulés, who were the vassals of the two great companies. When their strength had been spent in the labors of hunting and trapping, they retired to the vicinity of some post—the largest of these settlements being Fort Garry, the germ of the modern city of Winnipeg, which as early as 1823 boasted of a population of about six hundred.503

But not all of these half-breeds were traders. Thomas Douglas, the fifth Lord Selkirk had secured from the Hudson's Bay Company the grant of an [189] immense tract of land on the Red River, and in 1811 he began the colonization of the region with poor immigrants from Scotland and Ireland. But the knowledge of the internal troubles of the company put an end to the immigration from these two countries, and Lord Selkirk turned to Switzerland for new recruits. In 1821 a ship full of Swiss sailed for Fort York on Hudson's Bay, and late in the fall the party reached the Red River after a toilsome journey up the Nelson River and across Lake Winnipeg. Being artisans and city-dwellers they were unable to endure the rough agricultural labors in the bleak north. Cold, floods, grasshoppers, and uncongenial neighbors rendered the location unpleasant.504

Travellers from the south brought news of a better locality, and towards this place there soon began a movement which, while not great in any one year, was long continued. In 1821 five families made the journey to Fort Snelling, and their success inspired others. In 1823 thirteen families made the perilous journey of four hundred miles. From year to year, as families became discouraged they left the colony. Four hundred and eighty-nine persons had arrived at Fort Snelling up to 1835.505

The many hardships endured by these travellers, and their pitiful condition, appealed to the sympathy of the Americans,506 and they were welcomed and aided by the officers at Fort Snelling. During their stay one party was granted the use of the old barracks at Camp Cold Water. Employment was given the men upon the reservation, and those who preferred [190] to remain were allowed to settle upon the military grounds. Comparatively few, however, made their homes here, the greater number proceeding to Galena, Illinois, and Vevay, Indiana. On one occasion provisions for the down-river journey in government keel-boats were issued by Colonel Snelling.507

A third class of settlers around the fort was composed of discharged soldiers. Men stationed at Fort Snelling saw the agricultural value of the surrounding lands, or the possibility of riches in the fur trade. Joseph R. Brown, who came as a drummer boy with Colonel Leavenworth in 1819, entered the employ of the post sutler when he ceased his connection with the army, and later he became an Indian trader.508 Edward Phelan, John Hays, and William Evans, whose terms of service at Fort Snelling expired about this time were among the first settlers on the land ceded in the treaty of 1837.509

In the fall of 1837 it was revealed by a survey that there were one hundred and fifty-seven white persons, not connected with the fort, living on the reservation. Of these, eighty-two had their homes in the vicinity of Camp Cold Water and seventy-five at the fur trading establishments. Approximately two hundred horses and cattle were owned by these persons.510

For many years pleasant relations existed between the officers at the post and the civilians. The physician of the garrison willingly responded to calls for his aid made by the people living outside the fort. [191]

I am compelled, wrote Joseph Renville to H. H. Sibley, to ask you for some assistance in regard to a disease which is very bad here—the whooping cough. I pray you to ask the doctor for some medicine, particularly for some camphor.511 Many a time Lawrence Taliaferro presided at a frontier wedding, when in one of the rude huts on the reservation the picturesque figure of the fur trader mingled with the glittering uniform of the officer, and dusky faces peered in at the windows awaiting the end of the ceremony when they also could partake of such a feast as only the prairies, lakes, and sutler's store could provide.512

In the troubles which naturally arose between the settlers and the Indians, the agent was the mediator. Thirty of Peter Musick's cattle were killed by Indians who, wanting only powder horns, left the carcasses to the wolves.513 On July 13, 1834, Jacob Falstrom came to the agency bringing the feet and hams of an ox which he claimed had been shot by a Sioux Indian at Mud Lake. He claimed thirty-five dollars from the Indian Department for the loss which he had sustained. As he was a poor man and had a large family to support Major Taliaferro was moved to make an effort to aid him. I proposed, he wrote in his diary the same evening, to contribute $5 for the benefit of J. Faustram to Several of the Gentlemen of the Post—but not meeting with a corresponding Sentiment—the poor fellow must be informed of my bad success in his behalf.514

Only a week later Joseph R. Brown asked to be [192] paid for a hog which the Indians had killed.515 During the summer of 1837 Louis Massy claimed $150; Abraham Perry $50; and Benjamin F. Baker $750 for similar damages.516 Many years later the agent wrote of these unpleasant duties: The traders would make a detective of the agent if practicable. All thefts on each other were reported to the agent for justice. Deserting boatmen (fed on corn and tallow) must be forced to proceed up the St. Peter's with their outfits for the trade, right or wrong. Every ox, cow, calf or hog lost by persons on the Indian lands, the agents were expected to find the culprits or pay for these often fictitious losses.517

A new era in the history of these settlers began when the treaties of 1837 opened the lands east of the Mississippi to settlement. Some time before they had heard rumors of the coming negotiations at Washington, and those living west of the Mississippi sent a memorial to the President stating that they had settled upon the land thinking it was part of the public domain and believing that they would have the right of preëmption upon their claims. But now, if a new treaty was made and the land west of the Mississippi purchased for a military reservation, they asked that they be allowed reasonable compensation for the improvements they had made. However, in the treaty no mention was made of a military reservation, the title to the land around the fort being allowed to rest upon Pike's treaty of 1805.518

But to Major J. Plympton, who became the commanding officer at Fort Snelling during the summer [193] of 1837, the presence of these people was undesirable, and so in a letter written to the Adjutant-General he called attention to the settlement and complained of the difficulty of obtaining fuel for the garrison when the squatters were also engaged in the same task. In his reply on November 17, 1837, the Adjutant-General directed that a reservation be marked off—the extent of Pike's purchase being indefinite.519

On March 26, 1838, Major Plympton sent a map of the territory which he chose to have considered as a military reservation. This reservation, contrary to the expectations of many, included land on the east side of the Mississippi. Thus there were many who thought that they had been using their legal rights of preëmption when in reality they were only squatters. Order No. 65 issued at the post on July 26, 1838, forbade the erection of any buildings or fences upon the reservation, and prohibited the cutting of timber except for public use.520 During this same time there seems to have been, on the part of those living on the west bank of the Mississippi, a movement to the east side. Mrs. Abraham Perry came to Agent Taliaferro on October 18, 1838, and complained that the Indians had killed three of her cattle just below the stone cave—that is, Fountain Cave which was on the east bank of the river.521 Yet her husband was among those who had signed the petition of August 16, 1837, as residents on the west side.

Within these lands were also a number of shacks [194] along the river bank a few miles below Fort Snelling. Here whiskey was clandestinely transferred from the boats before they proceeded upstream. During the winter of 1839 the presence of these resorts had a deteriorating effect upon the garrison. Surgeon Emerson wrote to the Surgeon General of the United States on April 23, 1839: Since the middle of winter we have been completely inundated with ardent spirits, and consequently the most beastly scenes of intoxication among the soldiers of this garrison and the Indians in its vicinity, which no doubt will add many cases to our sick-list.… I feel grieved to witness such scenes of drunkenness and dissipation where I have spent many days of happiness, when we had no ardent spirits among us, and consequently sobriety and good conduct among the command.522

Brigadier General John E. Wool inspected Fort Snelling on June 2nd, and in a letter on June 28th he urged that the settlers be driven off the reservation. Such is the character of the white inhabitants of that country, he wrote, that if they cannot be permitted to carry on their nefarious traffic with the Indians, it will sooner or later involve them in a war with the United States.523

Influenced by these letters and reports Secretary of War J. R. Poinsett determined to compel all the settlers to leave. It is, however, wrong to suppose that all were guilty of whiskey-peddling. In a letter in which he commented on the number of persons present at the Sunday services in the fort the chaplain [195] wrote that Some of the inhabitants also in the vicinity who were regular in their attendance have removed.524

The instructions for the removal were made out on October 21, 1839, and sent to Edward James, Marshal of the Territory of Wisconsin. They stated that if force should prove necessary to compel the people to leave, the Marshal should call upon the commanding officer at Fort Snelling for such aid. In that case he was instructed to act with as much forbearance, consideration, and delicacy as may be consistent with the prompt and faithful performance of the duties hereby assigned to you.525

The orders were not received by Marshal James until February 18, 1840, and he immediately forwarded them to his deputy, Ira B. Brunson of Prairie du Chien. As soon as navigation opened in the spring he left for Fort Snelling. Notice was at once given to the settlers to move, and when they refused a detachment of soldiers was called out on May 6th and under the direction of a lieutenant and Marshal Brunson the household goods of the settlers were carried out and their cabins destroyed.526

These ejected settlers found new homes a few miles down the river. In the midst of their rude homes a log chapel was dedicated in November, 1841, to the Apostle St. Paul by the Reverend Lucian Galtier.527 As the ceded lands were more and more occupied, the little village enjoyed a corresponding growth. Gradually the name of the chapel was adopted as the name of the settlement. In 1849 the [196] Territory of Minnesota was organized with the seat of the legislature at St. Paul. The new community prospered, and the town swarmed with settlers, Indians, travellers, and adventurers who lived in tents or slept in barns in lieu of better accommodations. There were also capitalists, tradesmen, and officials who here made their homes.528

It was inevitable that between this new community and Fort Snelling close relations should exist. The Territorial government was weak; to enforce order it was necessary for the Governor to make requisition on the fort for troops.529 The jail at Fort Snelling was also utilized for the punishment of many undesirable characters always drawn to a new region. James Higby who sold a promissory note which had already been paid, and Jacob Shipler who was arrested on a charge of assault and battery were both given terms in the jail at the fort. John R. McGregor, who became angry and threw his wife against a cooking stove, was separated from his help-meet for a period of three months while he languished in the fort.530

The soldiers, in return, visited the frontier town, conducting themselves in the eyes of one observer with much dignity and sobriety.531 Not always, however, could their actions be thus described. Two soldiers who had just returned from an expedition to the Indian country, started for St. Paul on the evening of their return, carrying with them their blankets which they meant to sell for refreshment. [197] But their birch canoe upset and before aid could reach them they were drowned.532

But relations of a more innocent and more desirable sort also existed. In the officials of the Territory the officers at the fort found congenial spirits. One of the popular pastimes of the little city was to ride out upon the frozen Mississippi in sleighs to Fort Snelling. This command, narrates an official report, had the honor of receiving His Excellency W. A. Gorman Gov. of Minnesota and the Hon. James Shields late of the U. S. Senate, on the 9th inst. by whom the Command was reviewed &c. in presence of a large concourse of Citizens.533 The band of the Sixth Regiment which had paraded through the streets of Mexico City playing Yankee Doodle now found occupation in playing for the balls and parties of the frontier town. Even the inhabitants of Stillwater, twenty-five miles distant, called on the fort to furnish the music for the Valentine Ball on February 14, 1850.534 During the same month a concert was given, the proceeds going to the Washington Monument Association. A year later the ladies who had arranged to give a tea party to raise money for the benefit of the poor children of the community changed their plans and accepted the offer of the band who volunteered to give a concert for the purpose.535 The value of this association of citizens with the soldiers led to the remark of an editor that We consider this band as well as the whole garrison, with its high intelligence—but especially [198] the band, of infinite value to St. Paul—in fact, it is the most powerful element of influence amongst us, for our good, next to the pulpit and the press.536

The tourists who for many years had been frequenting the upper Mississippi now increased in numbers. In the Drive of All Visitors were included the Falls of St. Anthony, Lake Harriet, Minnehaha Falls, and Fort Snelling.537 From the lookout tower of the fort on the edge of the cliff, could be viewed the same scenery which had charmed Carver a hundred years before. Undoubtedly many thought as did the newspaper man who wrote: In the contemplation of this scene from Ft. Snelling, one is ravished with a desire to get upon it; and to appropriate a little domain for his home. It has the look of home. How can the Sioux ever consent to part with these lands?538

But two years later they did part with them. The two treaties in which the cession was acknowledged were brought about without military aid.539 This was in itself prophetic of the new status of the fort. With the growth of the Territorial organization, one by one the duties connected with Indian affairs, liquor troubles, and the protection of life and property were taken over by the civil officers, with the military men as the executors of their laws only when the regular forces of administration were unable to handle the difficulties.

And now the fort which had so long looked down upon the canoes of the Indians and traders saw on [199] its two rivers a new procession. Flatboats, steamboats, and canoes bore upstream the hardy pioneers and their families, and returned loaded with the products of the farm and the forest. The post which could have successfully resisted the attack of Indian warriors, or even the siege of a civilized enemy was to fall before the invasion of the pioneers. The frontier had suddenly leaped far to the westward. In 1858, when the troops were withdrawn, there was no need of an establishment such as had existed during the first forty years. It was the passing of Old Fort Snelling which for so many years had been the remotest outpost of American law.

The development of the Northwest was not brought about by the spectacular and romantic incidents which the chroniclers loved to record. So gradual was its progress that the factors contributing to it can be seen only in the perspective of fifty years. It was the result of the monotonous details of the life of the fur trader who was the unwitting explorer of the Northwest, and the forerunner of the permanent resident. The routine duties of garrison life and expeditions to the Indian country, often barren of any visible result, added to its progress, as also did the weary marches of the explorer and the minute notations of the scientist who accompanied him. The patient sacrifices of the missionary who toiled at unaccustomed labors in the half-cleared cornfield and taught his primitive pupils in the log mission-house, introduced a new civilization. The [200] daily contact of the Indian and the white man at the fort and agency were prophetic of a new relationship between the two races.

But because these events were so commonplace the contemporary chroniclers have bequeathed only a brief though eloquent epitome of this old Mississippi River post. It was the exception and not the rule to note that a company of soldiers was up the river watching the movements of the Indians, that a missionary had been presented with a ham, or that an explorer took with him so many vegetables from the gardens of the fort that the gunwale of his boat was brought within four inches of the water. But such are the stray references which indicate the almost complete dependence upon the fort of all the factors in the development of the Northwest.

In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to gather together from all sources the references which bear upon each particular phase of the process. In most cases they are few, not because the military men were not concerned with them, but because at every post in the Mississippi Valley conditions were practically the same and the public, being acquainted with these routine duties, was more interested in the picturesque Indian legends or in the duels between the officers. Of these latter incidents the pages of the history of Fort Snelling are full and in this respect it was typical of the American army post. But it is also an example of that which is of [201] more importance—the contribution of the army to the transformation of the Mississippi Valley.

In many ways Fort Snelling is unique in the list of American forts. The British flag was borne in triumph to wave from the flagstaff of Fort Ticonderoga after it had been evacuated by the colonial patriots during the dark days of 1777; but never was a foreign flag borne into Fort Snelling except to be burned in the sight of awestruck Indians. The guns of Fort Sumter announced the opening of the Civil War; never were the cannon at Fort Snelling fired at a foe. Mackinac was successively garrisoned by French, English, and American soldiers; whenever occupied by troops Fort Snelling flew the stars and stripes. The stockades at Boonesborough and Harrodstown were besieged by hundreds of savages who fought to gain entrance and obtain the scalps of the pioneer men and women there gathered for safety; no hostile demonstration was ever staged near Fort Snelling. Its history was not made by the rifles and sabers of the soldiers; the axe and the plow of the pioneer who worked in safety beneath its potential protection have left their history upon the landscape of the great Northwest.




  • Carver's Travels through the Interior Parts of North-America, pp. vii, viii.

  • To the region lying on the upper waters of three great river systems--the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Red River of the North--the writer has applied the name Upper Northwest to distinguish it from the Old Northwest and the Pacific Northwest.

  • For a summary of the French explorations see Folwell's Minnesota, pp. 1–29. Thwaites's France in America, p. 74, contains an excellent map of the French operations in the West.

  • The report of Louis Antoine Bougainville, written in 1757 and based on the reports of Canadian officials, shows the extent of French commerce at the close of the period of French control. At Green Bay (La Baye) trade was carried on with the Folles-Avoines, Sacs, Foxes, Sioux, and other tribes, the annual output being from five to six hundred packages of furs. In the North, extending westward along what is now the international boundary to the Lake of the Woods and then along the lakes and rivers of the Lake Winnipeg system, was the territory of the post known as The Sea of the West. This included seven forts and produced a yearly supply of from three to four hundred packages. These regions are everywhere vast prairies; this is the route to take for the upper Missouri.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XVIII, pp. 167–195. A picturesque account of the life of the French traders is given in Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), pp. 115–119.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XVIII, p. 251; Turner's The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin in the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Vol. IX, pp. 584, 585.

  • [206] Thwaites's Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Vol. VII, p. 373. In 1792, Peter Grant built a trading house on the site of St. Vincent, Minnesota, on the east bank of the Red River, and in 1800–1801 the fort of Pembina was erected by the great traveller, Alexander Henry, the younger.--South Dakota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 138.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 684.

  • Thwaites's Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Vol. I, pp. 227, 228. Traders of the Hudson's Bay Company also frequented the spot. Sergeant John Ordway records in his journal for December 1, 1804, that a Scotsman who is tradeing at the Mandens came to visit us. he belonged to the hudson bay company.… he brought over Tobacco Beeds & other kinds of Goods. & traded with the Mandens for their furs & buffalow Robes. they bring Some Guns to trade for horses &C. this hudsons bay compy lay Garrisoned near the N. W. Compy.… Eight or 10 days travel by land a North course from this.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XXII, p. 169.

  • Chittenden's The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. II, p. 556.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, pp. 279, 280.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 286.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 280.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 156.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 171.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 252.

  • Wilkinson's instructions to Pike are printed in Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. II, pp. 842–844. Before the founding of Fort Snelling the Minnesota River was called by the French voyageurs the St. Pierre. When the Americans were established on its banks they anglicized this name into St. Peter's. The fort, the agency, and the fur traders' establishment are commonly referred to in early literature as St. Peter's. By a joint resolution of Congress on June 19, 1852, the name Minnesota was ordered to be used in all public documents in which the river was mentioned. This was the Indian name for the river.--United States Statutes at Large, [207]Vol. X, p. 147. In mentioning this river use is made in this volume of the modern name, except when quoting.

  • The account of the treaty is given in Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, pp. 83, 84. The treaty itself is printed on page 231 and Pike's speech on pages 226–230. Article I contains the land cession: That the Sioux nation grant unto the United States, for the purpose of establishment of military posts, nine miles square at the mouth of the St. Croix, also from below the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters up the Mississippi to include the falls of St. Anthony, extending nine miles on each side of the river, that the Sioux nation grants to the United States the full sovereignty and power over said district forever. The meaning of all this is extremely vague.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 798.

  • Publications of the Canadian Archives, No. 7, Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit, 1812, pp. 11, 13.

  • A petition of the London merchants to the English government stated that before the war the annual export of furs from Canada amounted to £250,000. Updyke's The Diplomacy of the War of 1812, p. 204.

  • Publications of the Canadian Archives, No. 7, Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit, 1812, pp. 72, 73.

  • Publications of the Canadian Archives, No. 7, Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit, 1812, pp. 66–69. The figures are given on page 69.

  • Publications of the Canadian Archives, No. 7, Documents Relating to the Invasion of Canada and the Surrender of Detroit, 1812, p. 184.

  • The best account of the massacre at Fort Dearborn is given in Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673–1835, pp. 211–231.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIX, p. 323.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, pp. 120, 194.

  • [208] Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. XV, p. 219. It must be stated that the British in no way sought intentionally to use the Indians for the purpose of massacreing the whites. The instructions to Dickson declared that he should restrain them by all the means in your power from acts of Cruelty and inhumanity. On March 16, 1813, Dickson reported to the military secretary at Quebec that he had taken steps to redeem the soldiers, women, and children of the ill-fated Fort Dearborn garrison, who were still captives.--Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. XV, pp. 258, 259.

  • Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. XV, pp. 321, 322.

  • There is a summary of Dickson's activities in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 133–153.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. VI, p. 176.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, p. 10; Niles' Register, Vol. VI, p. 242.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp. 254–270.

  • Treaties and Conventions concluded between the United States of America and other powers since July 4, 1776, pp. 404, 405.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 10, 11; Chittenden's The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. II, p. 561.

  • These treaties were concluded: on July 18th with the Pottawattomies and Piankashaws; on July 19th with the Tetons and Sioux of the Lakes, Sioux of St. Peter's River, and Yankton Sioux; September 2nd with the Kickapoos; September 8th with the Wyandots; September 12th with the Osages; September 13th with the Sacs of the Missouri; September 14th with the Foxes; September 16th with the Iowas. The treaties are published in Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 110–123. The reports of the commissioners and also the treaties are printed in the American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 1–11.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, p. 9.

  • For these migrations see the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, Vol. XXIII, pp. 97, 443; Kingsford's The History of Canada, Vol. IX, p. 69; Report on Canadian Archives, 1896, p. 157. [209]During the negotiations at Ghent the British commissioners had sought to have established a permanent Indian territory to be a barrier state between the two powers.--Updyke's The Diplomacy of the War of 1812, p. 204.

    The Indians felt they had been abandoned by the English. Hence the liberality in gift distribution was an attempt to appease them.

  • See the reports of W. H. Puthuff in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIX, pp. 430–433, 472–474.

  • Schoolcraft's Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes, p. 19.

  • Irving's The Sketch-Book (Hudson Edition), p. 489.

  • Carr's Missouri, p. 121.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. VIII, p. 436, August 19, 1815.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, p. 86.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. III, p. 332. John Jacob Astor of the American Fur Company has received the credit for the passage of this law.--Folwell's Minnesota, p. 54; Coman's Economic Beginnings of the Far West, Vol. I, pp. 344, 345. This is neglecting the fact that there was a unanimous outcry against foreign traders--one of the signs that the War of 1812 marks the rise of American nationality. The legislation of April 29, 1816, was not wholly satisfactory to Astor. I have seen a letter, wrote William H. Puthuff, Indian agent at Mackinac, addressed by J. J. Astor to a Mr. Franks a British trader now at this place in which Mr. Astor expresses surprise and regret at the passage of a law forbidding British subjects from trading with Indians, within the American limits etc.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIX, p. 423. What Mr. Astor wanted was the prohibition of trade by American private citizens as well as by British private citizens. If his American Fur Company were given a monopoly as he desired, he also wanted to be free to employ such persons--American or British--as he needed.

  • Or, more correctly from the point where a north and south line drawn through the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods would intersect this parallel.--Treaties and Conventions concluded between the United States of America and other powers since July 4, 1776, p. 416.

  • [210] Treaties and Conventions concluded between the United States of America and other powers since July 4, 1776, p. 377.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 279.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. XIV, pp. 387–389.

  • There is an excellent account of the United States trading house system in Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673–1835, pp. 289–309.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 228.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. II, p. 6.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 39.



  • For the erection of these posts see Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673–1835, p. 265; Thwaites's Wisconsin, pp. 180–182; Gue's History of Iowa, Vol. I, pp. 137, 138.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. I, p. 669.

  • Major Long's journal is printed in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 9–88.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. XIV, p. 192.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. I, p. 779.

  • Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 319.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 32.

  • The story of the Yellowstone Expedition is narrated in detail in Chittenden's The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. II, pp. 562–587. See also the preface to James's Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains in Thwaites's Early Western Travels, Vol. XIV, pp. 9–26. For the site of this fort see Thwaites's Early Western Travels, Vol. XXII, p. 275, note 231.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 34th Congress, Vol. I, Pt. 2, Document No. 1, p. 21.

  • Leavenworth's A Genealogy of the Leavenworth Family in the United States, p. 152.

  • [211] Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 7.

  • In the Detroit Gazette, February 18, 1820, Vol. III, No. 135, there is reprinted from the National Intelligencer an Extract of a letter from a gentleman of the expedition to the Falls of St. Anthony, to his friend in Washington, dated Cantonment of the 5th regt. U. S. Infantry, St. Peter's River, Nov. 10, 1819. It is from this letter that the dates of arriving at and leaving the various places are taken. The Adjutant General in an order praised the garrison at Fort Howard for the economy and expedition with which the command constructed transport boats for the accommodation of the 5th regiment in its passage to the Mississippi.--Detroit Gazette, September 10, 1819.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p. 96, note. Mrs. Van Cleve gives another version of this affair: When all was in order, Colonel Leavenworth stepped forth, and, through an interpreter, formally requested of the Chief permission to pass peaceably through their country. The Chief, a very handsome young brave, advanced, and, with his right arm uncovered, said, with most expressive gestures: 'My brother, do you see the calm, blue sky above us? Do you see the lake that lies so peacefully at our feet? So calm, so peaceful are our hearts towards you. Pass on!'--Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 11.

    That these Indians were not so friendly as this account would indicate is apparent from the statement in Major Forsyth's narrative that Captain Whistler of Fort Howard had been fired at, at different times during the summer of 1819 by these Winnebagoes.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 167.

  • Major Forsyth's narrative, covering the time from his departure from St. Louis on June 7th until his arrival there again on September 17th, is published in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 139–167; also in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 188–219. It is from this narrative that the facts regarding the progress of the expedition were obtained.

  • Major Forsyth's narrative in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 147, 148, 149.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 149; Van Cleve's [212]Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 15.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 149–153, 159. Mrs. Van Cleve says that a few days were spent on the shores of Lake Pepin.--Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 16. Mrs. Ellet in her sketch of Mrs. Clark says a week was spent at this place.--Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, p. 350.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 153, 154. Neill records that the troops did not reach the Minnesota River until September.--Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 320. But in Appendix L., p. 891, he gives the same dates as Forsyth. In Folwell's Minnesota, p. 55, the statement is made that the command arrived at Mendota August 23. As the main body of soldiers did not arrive until August 24th, this latter date should be taken as the birthday of Fort Snelling.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 154–157; Detroit Gazette, October 22, 1819, February 18, 1820.

  • Detroit Gazette, February 18, 1820.

  • Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, pp. 18, 19. The baby was Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark who married General Horatio P. Van Cleve. In 1888 she published a book of reminiscences. It possesses all the merits and defects of a book of reminiscences--vividness of pictures--inaccuracy in regard to specific facts.

  • Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, p. 351; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 48.

  • Mrs. Van Cleve, who received her information from her father, gives the number as forty.--Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 19. James Doty, who kept the official journal of the Cass Expedition of 1820, and who received his information from the officers at Camp Cold Water, gives the number as forty.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, p. 214. Philander Prescott in his reminiscences states that Some fifty or sixty had died, and some ten men died after I arrived.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 478. L. Grignon wrote on April 3, 1820, that They tell me that fifty Sol[213]diers of the river St. Pierre have died of Scurvy.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 161.

    In writing of the attack of scurvy Mr. H. H. Sibley remarks: It was doubtless caused by the bad quality of the provisions, especially of the pork, which was spoiled by the villany of the contractors, or their agents, in drawing the brine from the barrels that contained it, after leaving St. Louis, in order to lighten the load, and causing the barrels to be refilled with river water, before their delivery at the post, to avoid detection. The troops were compelled to live on this unwholesome fare for two successive seasons, before the fraud was discovered.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, pp. 473, 474. Nowhere else is this explanation given. Sickness could easily come at a frontier post without such villainy. During the same winter at Camp Missouri over half of the garrison of seven hundred men were sick, and nearly one hundred of them died. At Council Bluff there was also a great deal of sickness.--Detroit Gazette, July 21, September 1, 1820.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 473.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 103.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 478, 479.

  • Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, p. 136.

  • These facts are from the reminiscences of Philander Prescott in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 478, 479.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 105.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, November 7, 1821.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 30.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 107. Mrs. Van Cleve states that the fort was occupied in the fall of 1821.--Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, p. 32.

  • Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 153.

  • Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal of Travels from Detroit Northwest through the Great Chain of American Lakes to the sources of the Mississippi River, pp. 292–315. The official journal was kept by James Doty. The time spent with Leavenworth's troops is described in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIII, pp. 212–216.

  • [214] Captain Kearny's journal is printed in the Missouri Historical Society Collections, Vol. III, pp. 8–29, 99–131. Pages 104–110 are devoted to the time spent at Camp Cold Water.

  • These facts regarding the change of the name are taken from Upham's The Women and Children of Fort St. Anthony, Later named Fort Snelling in the Magazine of History, Vol. XXI, pp. 38, 39. Dr. Upham received his information from a letter from the Adjutant General of the United States.



  • See Miss Gallaher's article on The Military-Indian Frontier 1830–1835 in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XV, pp. 393–428.

  • Langham to Taliaferro, August 19, 1820.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 62.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 117.

  • Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 901.

  • Marsh to Taliaferro, June 26, 1827.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 76.

  • This was the opening of the Winnebago War, often called the Red Bird War. Accounts of it are given in William Joseph Snelling's Early Days at Prairie du Chien in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp. 144–153; and State Papers, 1st Session, 20th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 150–163.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 118.

  • For the movement of troops see State Papers, 1st Session, 20th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 150–163.

  • Taliaferro to Cass, October 4, 1832.--Indian Office Files, 1832, No. 226.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 439, 440, 459; Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), pp. 483–487.

  • For an account of the Winnebagoes and their many migrations see Jackson's A Century of Dishonor, pp. 218–256.

  • [215] Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. III, Pt. 2, Document No. 5, pp. 1028, 1029; The Minnesota Pioneer, September 13, 1849.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, November 28, December 12, 1849.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 32nd Congress, Vol. II, Pt. 3, Document No. 2, p. 421. The recent arrival at Fort Snelling of a company of dragoons, so long wanted, will greatly assist in intercepting the migration southward of this discontented people.--Report of Alexander Ramsey, October 21, 1850, in Senate Documents, 2nd Session, 31st Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 81.

  • This reservation was agreed upon by the treaty concluded at Washington, D. C., on February 27, 1855; Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 690–693.

  • Senate Documents, 2nd Session, 28th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 316, 423.

  • Bryce's The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company, pp. 365–372. A description of a hunt, written in French by Rev. M. Belcourt, is given in Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. VIII, Document No. 51, pp. 44–52.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. VIII, Document No. 51, p. 4.

  • This was during the period that Professor William A. Dunning describes as The Roaring Forties. And the far flung interests of the British Empire need no more striking illustration than the fact that in whatever direction the Americans sought to expand their bounds, whether on the Atlantic or on the Pacific, in the Gulf of the tropics or under the Arctic circle, they found subjects of the Queen, with vested rights, opposing the movement.--Dunning's The British Empire and the United States, pp. 96, 97.

  • Captain Sumner's report is printed in the Executive Documents, 1st Session, 29th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 2, pp. 217–220. It is reprinted with explanatory notes in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XI, pp. 258–267.

  • The report of Major Woods is printed in Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. VIII, Document No. 51. It contains fifty-five pages. Accompanying the expedition was John Pope, Brevet [216]Captain of the Topographical Engineers. His report is published in Senate Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. X, Document No. 42. There is an excellent map attached to the report.

  • Colonel Smith's report is printed in the Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Pt. II, Document No. 1, pp. 426–454.

  • Ansel Briggs to the Secretary of War.--Indian Office Files, 1849, No. 206. The petition was dated Washington, Iowa, July 31, 1849.--Indian Office Files, 1849, No. 208.

  • Major Woods's report is found in the Indian Office Files, 1849, No. 174.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, April 3, 1850.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, May 16, 1850.

  • See the letter of William Hutchinson, who was one of the party. It is published in The Minnesota Pioneer, June 13, 1850. Iowa City looks as it did five years ago, he wrote. A few houses were built since that time; but evidently were not the capitol located at this place, it would be no great shakes, though in time it is bound to come out. Some years since, Uncle Sam erected expensive bridges for the good citizens of Iowa, betwixt Dubuque and Iowa City; and strange to say the people are suffering them to rot down without covering them. Iowa City has grown in ten years as large as Saint Paul, which is not 2 years old. Steamboats often get up to this place, but all will not suffice.

  • Report of Major Woods.--Indian Office Files, 1850, No. 363.

  • The Iowa Star (Fort Des Moines), July 18, 1850.

  • The Annals of Iowa (First Series), Vol. VII, pp. 284, 285.

    Part of Company D. 1st regiment of U. S. Dragoons under command of Lieut. Gardner passed through here on their way to the Missouri river. We understand they intend to pay a visit to the Indian tribes on the upper Missouri and from thence across Minnesota Territory to their quarters at Ft. Snelling.--Quoted from the Fort Des Moines Gazette in the Miners' Express (Dubuque), September 4, 1850. The return of the troops to Fort Snelling is noted in The Minnesota Pioneer, October 3, 1850.

  • [217] Executive Documents, 1st Session, 32nd Congress, Vol. II, Pt. 3, Document No. 2, p. 284. An account of the journey is printed in The Minnesota Pioneer, February 12, 1852.

  • Asa Whitney, a New York merchant, petitioned Congress in January, 1845, for a franchise and a grant of land to make this dream a reality.--Congressional Globe, 2nd Session, 28th Congress, pp. 218, 219.

  • Act of March 3, 1853.--United States Statutes at Large, Vol. X, p. 219.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 33rd Congress, Document No. 91, pp. 1, 13, 74.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 36th Congress, Document No. 56, p. 36; Post Returns, May, 1853, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • A brief account of the expedition is given in Paxson's The Last American Frontier, pp. 197–203. The reports of all the surveys were published by the government. That of Governor Stevens consists of 651 pages, added to the report of the Secretary of War, published in Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 33rd Congress, Document No. 91. In 1859 Governor Stevens submitted a Narrative and Final Report, published in two parts in the Executive Documents, 1st Session, 36th Congress, Document No. 56. The various reports of all the explorers are bound in a set of twelve volumes, in which Governor Stevens's first account may be found in Vol. I, and the later narrative in Vol. XII, Pts. I and II.

  • Order No. 7 stated: It is considered of great consequence that the several trains should not be intermingled; and the dragoons attached to the several parties will continue with them, camping and working with them, receiving their orders only from their particular chiefs, even when the whole force is brought together.--Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 33rd Congress, Document No. 91, p. 46.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 28th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 2, p. 112.

  • Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, p. 566.

  • Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 567–570.

  • [218] Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. I, p. 181.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 161.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 180–183.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, July 19, 1849.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, September 6, 1849, July 11, November 21, 1850.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. X, Pt. I, pp. 193, 199.

  • Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 588–593.

  • Holcombe's Minnesota in Three Centuries, Vol. II, pp. 327, 328; Annals of Iowa (First Series), Vol. VII, p. 290; Post Returns, March, April, 1853, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • For Colonel Smith's expedition see above, Note 109. For the building of Fort Abercrombie see the Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Vol. II, Pt. II, p. 7.

  • Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, pp. 10–12.

  • Congressional Globe, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Pt. III, p. 2595.

  • For the sale of Fort Snelling see Dr. Folwell's paper on The Sale of Fort Snelling, 1857, in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XV, pp. 393–410.

  • The report of the committee may be found in Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351.

  • Congressional Globe, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Pt. III, p. 2614.

  • Congressional Globe, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Pt. III, p. 2618.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p. 431.

  • For papers relating to the readjustment see Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9.



  • [219] Quoted in Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, pp. 58, 59.

  • In the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 430, 431, there is a list of the commanding officers from September, 1819 to May, 1858.

  • For the life of Henry Leavenworth see the Kansas Historical Collections, Vol. VII, pp. 577, 578, Vol. IX, p. 569, Vol. XI, p. xxi; Powell's List of Officers of the Army of the United States, from 1779 to 1900, p. 428; Chittenden's The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. II, pp. 630–632; Leavenworth's A Genealogy of the Leavenworth Family in the United States, pp. 150–154.

  • American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, p. 777.

  • Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, pp. 310–323, contains a sketch of the activities of Captain Snelling during the war.

  • Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, pp. 313, 314.

  • Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, p. 316.

  • From the reminiscences of Mrs. Ann Adams in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 96, 97. Mrs. Adams, as a child, lived several years in the Snelling household.

  • Powell's List of Officers of the Army of the United States, from 1779 to 1900, p. 599; Ellet's Pioneer Women of the West, p. 334.

  • From a manuscript entitled Remarks on General Wm. Hull's Memoirs of the Campaign of the Northwestern Army, 1812, by Josiah Snelling.--Draper Collection, 8 U. 114, pp. 42, 43.

  • The Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. V, p. 410.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp. 440, 441.

  • See the sketch of Captain Scott in Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, pp. 28, 29.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 367.

  • There is a sketch of Martin Scott in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 180–187, from which this story is taken.

  • [220] Powell's List of Officers of the Army of the United States, from 1779 to 1900, p. 577.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. 73, p. 130.

  • The frontispiece of Mrs. Eastman's Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling was painted by Captain Eastman.

  • Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II, p. 292.

  • In his notes to Hiawatha Longfellow quotes from the introduction of Mrs. Eastman's book, p. ii.--Longfellow's Complete Poetical Works (Cambridge Edition), p. 666.

  • Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II, p. 292.

  • Powell's List of Officers of the Army of the United States, from 1779 to 1900, p. 449; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p. 441.

  • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. VIII, pp. 89, 90.

  • Rhodes's History of the United States, Vol. IV, p. 328.

  • The American Annual Cyclopaedia, 1863, p. 816.

  • Bancroft's History of Oregon, Vol. II, pp. 611, 612. For the career of General Canby see Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. I, pp. 517, 518.

  • This incident is taken from Folsom's Fifty Years in the Northwest, pp. 755, 756. Mr. Folsom says he took it from a St. Paul paper of 1887.

  • For the Dred Scott case see McMaster's A History of the People of the United States, Vol. VIII, pp. 278, 279.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. I, p. 50.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IV, p. 564.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IV, pp. 729–739.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IX, p. 395.

  • Quoted from the complaint of the agent, Nathaniel McLean, September 25, 1850, in Senate Documents, 2nd Session, 31st Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 106.

  • [221] Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 249.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 253, 254.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 353.

  • Taliaferro to Crawford, July 15, 1839.--Indian Office Files, 1839, No. 512.

  • These papers are in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society. The dates covered in these diaries are from December, 1830, to June, 1831; May 25 to September 21, 1833; May 23 to August 28, 1834.

  • These letters are in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society. In Volume I of these letters is the following notice: These 326 letters, are part of the great mass of correspondence received by Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro, Indian Agent at Fort Snelling, 1819–1840. They constitute but a small part of his accumulations in twenty years. The rest were burned in his house at Bedford, Pa., in 18__. It was a great loss to us, as, had they been spared, we would have received all of them. But even these 326 contain a large amount of valuable material for Minnesota history. Even as autographs they are valuable, [see autobiography of Taliaferro, Vol. 6, Coll.] These letters were given by Maj. T. in March, 1868. Arranged, bound and indexed (by J. F. W.) 1891.

  • Photostatic copies of many of these letters were taken and are to be found in the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society, where they were consulted.

  • These letter books are now in the possession of the Kansas State Historical Society at Topeka, where they were consulted. The only volume containing letters from Major Taliaferro is referred to as the William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 253.

  • Powell's List of Officers of the Army of the United States, from 1779 to 1900, p. 620. In the Taliaferro Letters are many letters from William Clark and Elbert Herring in which they address Mr. Taliaferro as major.

  • [222] Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 11. A note on this letter gives these dates.

  • Nowhere is the date of his arrival at Fort Snelling given. In his autobiography he writes of his journey: Jean Baptiste Faribault and family, had gone through by land, in charge of Colonel Leavenworth's horses and cows.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 198. It was in the spring of 1820 that Faribault performed this service.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 103.

  • Clark to the Secretary of War, August 20, 1832.--Indian Office Files, 1832, No. 285. For his resignation see Indian Office Files, 1824, No. 39.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 24, 1831.

  • Taliaferro to Crawford, December 12, 1839.--Indian Office Files, 1839, No. 516.

  • Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), pp. 337–339.

  • In the report for 1850 the agency at St. Peter's is designated a Sub-Agency.--Senate Documents, 2nd Session, 31st Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 103.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 339, 340.

  • Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 213, 1827, No. 54, 1843, No. 222.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, p. 341.



  • See Notes on Canada and the North-West States of America in Blackwood's Magazine, Vol. LXXVIII, p. 323, September, 1855. These articles by Laurence Oliphant were later published in book form under the title of Minnesota and the Far West.

  • This is the height given in Nicollet's Report intended to illustrate a Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River, p. 69.

  • Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, the New England of the West, p. 103.

  • [223] This sketch of the fort is obtained from the map of Fort Snelling in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p. 431; and from a Report of the capacity and condition of the barracks, quarters, hospital, storehouses, &c., at Fort Snelling, Minnesota Territory, made to the Quartermaster General. This report was made on August 23, 1856. It is printed in Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, pp. 407–409.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p. 122.

  • Latrobe's The Rambler in North America, Vol. II, p. 295.

  • A statement of the equipment at the various posts during the fourth quarter of 1834 is printed in the American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. V, p. 853–900.

  • Taliaferro to Lucas, September 30, 1839.--Indian Office Files, 1839, No. 492.

  • Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 153.

  • Taliaferro to William Clark, August 17, 1830.--Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 139.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, April 7, 1831.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 8, 1831.

  • Taliaferro to Lucas, September 30, 1839.--Indian Office Files, 1839, No. 492; Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, p. 19.

  • Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 153.

  • Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 207.

  • Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 153. In the Sibley House at Mendota is hung an oil painting of Fort Snelling made by Sergeant Thomas who was stationed at Fort Snelling sometime between 1836 and 1842. This painting, which was made from the hill behind Sibley House, shows the location of these various buildings.

  • For Baker's house see Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 19, 33, 34; also Reports of Committees, 1st session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, p. 400.

  • Latrobe's The Rambler in North America, Vol. II, pp. 295, 296. Charles Joseph Latrobe visited the post in the fall of 1833.

  • [224] These buildings are shown in the picture mentioned in note 213, above.

  • There is a description of Mendota given in Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, the New England of the West, pp. 101, 102.

  • Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, the New England of the West, p. 117; Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, pp. 156, 157.

  • These figures are taken from Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, p. 309.

  • Latrobe's The Rambler in North America, Vol. II, p. 302.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 37, 38; Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, p. 148.

  • Upham's The Women and Children of Fort St. Anthony, later named Fort Snelling in The Magazine of History, Vol. XXI, p. 37.

  • See below, the chapter entitled Soldiers of the Cross.

  • This enumeration of the Indian villages is from Pond's The Dakotas or Sioux in Minnesota as they were in 1834 in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 320–330. The spelling of the names follows that used by Pond, although they were all written in many ways. The population figures are from Taliaferro's report in 1834, found in Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 203.

  • See the description of an Indian village in Latrobe's The Rambler in North America, Vol. II, pp. 288, 289; also, Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, pp. 342, 343.



  • On December 22, 1819, the House of Representatives passed a resolution directing the Secretary of War, J. C. Calhoun, to prepare a system of martial law and field service. His report was communicated to the House on December 26, 1820, and was entitled Systems of Martial Law, and Field Service, and Police. It is composed of two parts, namely, General Regulations for the Army, and A System of Martial Law. It is from these regulations that the following sketch of the routine life at a military post is built up. The report [225]is published in the American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 201–274.

  • Ingersoll's A History of the War Department of the United States, pp. 205, 206.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 119.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 210.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 95.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 210.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 217, 218.

  • These account books are in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society.

  • Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, p. 161.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 22, 1831; Post Returns, March, 1840, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 97.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 345.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 336, 344.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. III, pp. 341, 342; Post Returns, September, 1828, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, February 3, 1831.

  • This report is published in the American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. III, pp. 273–277.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, pp. 558, 706, Vol. III, p. 115.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 345.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 476.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. III, pp. 341, 342.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. III, p. 277.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 205; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 101.

  • [226] Eastman's Dahcotah; or, Life and Legends of the Sioux around Fort Snelling, pp. 144, 145.

  • American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. II, p. 265.

  • Detroit Gazette, February 18, 1820.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, p. 305.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, July 15, 1852.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, p. 26; Post Returns, July, 1827, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 340.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p. 432.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 115.

  • Joseph M. Street to Postmaster General Barry, April 27, 1831.--Street Papers, No. 15, Historical Department, Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, p. 44.

  • Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1913, pp. 116, 117.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, April 2, 5, 10, February 27, 1831.

  • Street to Clark, March 10, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 132; Post Returns, March, 1830. See also Post Returns, December, 1829, December, 1830, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 342.

  • Reports of Committees, 1st Session, 35th Congress, Vol. II, Report No. 351, p. 131.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 342.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 130. Monsieur Tonson was a very popular farce written by W. T. Moncrief in 1821. The French barber, Morbleu, is greatly troubled by a steady stream of visitors who come to make inquiries regarding a certain fictitious Mr. Thompson, hoping thereby to gain information regarding Adolphine de Courcy who has been traced to his door.--Walsh's Heroes and Heroines of Fiction, p. 360.

  • [227] Taliaferro's Diary, January 20, February 22, 1831.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, October 19, July 25, 1824.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, Nos. 50, 56.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, November 28, 1849.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, February 10, 11, 24, 1831.

  • George F. Turner to H. H. Sibley, February 11, 1842.--Sibley Papers, 1840–1850.

  • Taliaferro to Street, March 30, 1831.--Street Papers, No. 12.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 100.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 112.

  • Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 920. General Edmund P. Gaines inspected the post shortly afterwards and reported: From a conversation with the colonel, I can have no doubt that he has erred in the course pursued by him in reference to some of those controversies, inasmuch as he has intimated to his officers his willingness to sanction, in certain cases, and even to participate in personal conflicts, contrary to the twenty-fifth article of war.--American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p. 123.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 27, 1831.



  • Morse's A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, pp. 78, 79.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 321, 322.

  • Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 203.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, August 5, 1830.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 2.

  • This description of Indian life is based on Pond's The Dakotas or Sioux in Minnesota as they were in 1834 in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 319–501.

  • The quotations are taken from Beltrami's description of an Indian council which he attended at Fort Snelling in 1823.--Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 217–219.

  • [228] These are taken from a list which is typical of the character of the presents, among the papers of Thomas Forsyth.--Draper Manuscripts, 2T2.

  • Annals of Congress, 1st session, 17th Congress, Vol. I, pp. 319, 320.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, February 19, 1831. The speech of the chief closes thus: We know you have nothing on hand for your children, but we hope you will give us some Pork & Bread & a little Tobacco--as our pipes are out & have been for some time our old men will be pleased. The village of the Red Head was St. Louis, the Red Head being General William Clark, the superintendent of Indian affairs.

  • The Crane and the Hole in the Day--and other Chippeways at the Agency this day--Several Sissiton Sioux also at the Agency. Issued 24 Rats Bread 20 pounds of Pork--15 lbs. of tobacco.--Taliaferro's Diary, January 23, 1831. See also the diary under the dates of December 24, 1830, January 13, 17, 1831.

  • Cass to Taliaferro, July 28, 1825.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 57.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 19, 1834.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IV, p. 738.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 4, 1831.

  • Taliaferro to Harris, February 21, 1838.--Indian Office Files, 1838, No. 631.

  • For the suffering during the winter of 1842–1843 and the steps taken to relieve it see the letter from Dr. Williamson in the Missionary Herald, Vol. 39, p. 355, September, 1843; and Bruce to Chambers, April 3, 1843, in Indian Office Files, 1843, No. 222.

  • Taliaferro to Dodge, June 30, 1838.--Indian Office Files, 1838, No. 690.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, March 3, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 129.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, September 14, 1834.--Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 206.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 7, 1834.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, December 25, 1830.

  • [229] Taliaferro's Diary, June 28, 30, 1834. On January 17, 1831, he gave a blanket in which to bury a woman.

  • Indian Office Files, 1832, Nos. 287, 294, 295, 296.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 236.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, November 13, 1820.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 21.

  • Found among the Sibley Papers, 1830–1840.

  • Taliaferro to Cass, March 3, 1832.--Indian Office Files, 1832, No. 289.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, July 15, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 235.

  • Post Returns, April, May, 1834, July, 1835, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • These warriors of Mr. Rainville's were constantly with me, for they knew that I was an English warrior, as they called me, and they are very partial to the English.--Marryat's A Diary in America, Vol. II, p. 91. Captain Marryat, the English novelist, visited the upper Mississippi region in 1837.

    Many and strong are the recollections of the Sioux and other tribes, of their alliance with the British in the last and revolutionary wars, of which I have met many curious instances.--Catlin's Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, Vol. II, p. 657, footnote.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. XXVI, p. 363, July 31, 1824; Vol. LIII, p. 33, September 16, 1837.

  • Marryat'a A Diary in America, Vol. III, pp. 221, 222.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, p. 320.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. LIII, p. 82, October 7, 1837.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, October 19, 1824.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 50.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 18, 1831.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, March 11, 1831.

  • [230] Taliaferro to Clark, April 3, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 161.

  • Renville to Sibley, August 21, 1840.--Sibley Papers, 1830–1840.

  • Quoted in Neill's The History of Minnesota, pp. 338, 339. The two men murdered on the Missouri River in 1820 were Isadore Poupon, a French half-breed, and Joseph F. Andrews, a Canadian.

  • Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673–1835, p. 283.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, March 19, 1822.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 32. The quotation is taken from this letter. See also Calhoun to Snelling, September 18, 1822.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 40.

  • Letter of George Johnson, November 2, 1825.--Indian Office Files, 1825–1826, No. 4.

  • Taliaferro to Harris, September 10, 1838.--Indian Office Files, 1838, No. 663.



  • Morse's A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, p. 28.

  • Kellogg's Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634–1699, p. 50.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 209.

  • Baker to Taliaferro, May 19, 1829.--Indian Office Files, 1829, No. 64.

  • Speech of Flat Mouth, May 27, 1827.--Indian Office Files, 1827, No. 14.

  • Indian Office Files, 1827, No. 9.

  • From Mrs. Van Cleve's reminiscences in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 80.

  • The information upon which the entire incident is built is contained in the letter of Snelling to Atkinson, May 31, 1827, in Indian Office Files, 1827, No. 10; the letter of Taliaferro to Clark, May 31, 1827, in Indian Office Files, 1827, No. 12; Neill's The History of Minnesota, pp. 391–394; Reminiscences of Mrs. Ann Adams in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 107–110; A Reminiscence [231]of Ft. Snelling, by Mrs. Charlotte O. Van Cleve, in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 76–81; Running the Gantlet by William J. Snelling (the son of Colonel Snelling) in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, pp. 439–456.

    The last mentioned account was originally published as a magazine article, and much of it is undoubtedly the product of the author's imagination. It is from this that the writer drew the story of Toopunkah Zeze. The article by Mrs. Van Cleve is full of errors and there are some mistakes in Mrs. Adams's reminiscences. For the facts of the attack the writer depended upon the two reports in the Indian Office Files. In a letter written from Prairie du Chien the next winter Joseph Street says that a hostage, an innocent man, was among the Sioux who were executed.--Street to Dr. Alexander Posey, December 11, 1827, in the Street Papers, No. 7.

    Of those who were shot, says Sibley in his reminiscences, all recovered.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 475. On the other hand Flat Mouth complained to Schoolcraft in 1832 that four of the number died.--Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, p. 85.

  • Indian Office Files, 1829, No. 63.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 135. As here given the mother's speech is partly direct, and partly indirect discourse. The writer has changed it all to the direct discourse.

  • The attack on Hole-in-the-Day's band is narrated in the letter of Plympton to General Jones, August 13, 1838.--Indian Office Files, 1838, No. 618. See also Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 134–136; Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 136, 137.

  • The particulars of the encounter in 1839 are given in a letter written by the Right Reverend Mathias Loras in July 1839, and published in Acta et Dicta: A Collection of historical data regarding the origin and growth of the Catholic Church in the Northwest, Vol. I, No. 1, pp. 18–21; and Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 139–147.

  • Instead of lessening the disasters of Indian warfare, the building of Fort Snelling in the heart of the Indian country and upon the line dividing the ranges of the Dakotas and the Chippewas, had the direct effect of vastly increasing the horrors of that warfare.[232] Depending upon the protection of the military, both tribes brought their women and children into the disputed territory, where before the coming of the soldiers they would never have dared to expose them, and it soon developed that the fort afforded no protection to the children of the forest against the savagery of their hereditary enemies, who made treaties of peace only to thereby gain better opportunity for butchery.--Robinson's A History of the Dakota or Sioux Indians, p. 154. This is Part II of the South Dakota Historical Collections, Vol. II.

  • At the forks of the Chippewa River in 1838, eleven Sioux were killed while asleep, by Chippewas whom they were entertaining. The mission at Lake Pokegama was attacked in 1840. In 1842, a battle was fought at Pine Coulie near the Indian village of Kaposia. In 1850, on Apple River in Wisconsin, fourteen Chippewas were scalped. See the article by Rev. S. W. Pond on Indian Warfare in Minnesota in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 129–138. As late as 1854, D. B. Herriman, the Chippewa agent, reported that during the preceding year nearly one hundred Chippewas had been killed and scalped by the Sioux. But none of these massacres took place at the fort.--Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 33rd Congress, Vol. I, Pt. 1, Document No. 1, p. 260.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. VIII, Document No. 51, p. 31.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, January 23, 1831.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, June 4, 1831. For other occasions during the winter and spring of 1831 when the agent records the presence of both Sioux and Chippewas see the diary under date of January 31, March 5, May 2, June 15.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, July 6, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 231.

  • Speech of Taliaferro to the Sioux.--Taliaferro's Diary, February 19, 1831.

  • Report of J. N. Nicollet in Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 28th Congress, Vol. II, Document No. 52, p. 66.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, January 10, 18, 26, 1831.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, February 8, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 121.

  • [233] The text of the treaty is printed in Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 250–255. The treaty was signed on August 19, 1825.

  • Missionary Herald, Vol. XXX, p. 223, June, 1834. Reverend W. T. Boutwell accompanied Mr. Schoolcraft on this journey, and his account of it is published in the religious paper.

  • Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, p. 265.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IV, p. 684.

  • Taliaferro to William Clark, May 31, 1835.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. III, No. 234.

  • Taliaferro to Herring, July 16, 1835.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. III, No. 238.

  • Taliaferro to William Clark, September 2, 1835; Taliaferro to E. Herring, September 20, 1835.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. III, Nos. 251, 252.

  • Taliaferro to William Clark, May 26, 1831.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 195.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, January 25, 1831.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 28th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 269.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 29th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 490.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, January 2, 1851.

  • Snelling to Atkinson, May 31, 1827.--Indian Office Files, 1827, No. 10.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, May 16, 1850. Other occasions when Indians were imprisoned for similar causes are mentioned in The Minnesota Pioneer, September 23, 1852, April 20, 1854.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, October 14, 1852.

  • Report of Agent A. J. Bruce, September 1, 1846.--Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 29th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 4, p. 246.

  • [234] Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, pp. 233, 234.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, January 31, 1831; Taliaferro to Captain W. R. Lovett, June 30, 1831, in Taliaferro Letters, Vol. II, No. 150.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, p. 138.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, October 4, 1830.--William Clark Papers, Correspondence, 1830–1832, p. 68.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, June 29, 1834.



  • For an account of the attack on the trading house system see Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673–1835, pp. 301–309; also Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, pp. xiii-xviii.

  • This account of the fur trade is based upon the reminiscences of Mr. H. H. Sibley in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 245–247; and Turner's The Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in Wisconsin in the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Vol. IX, pp. 601–607.

  • If an Indian failed continually in paying up his credits, the trader would refuse him any more goods. This would bring on the enmity of the hunter and his whole family. Such was the case of Joseph R. Brown mentioned in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 247.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. II, pp. 139–146, Vol. III, pp. 332, 333, Vol. IV, pp. 729–735.

  • A copy of an American trading license is published in the Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company, p. 282.

  • Indian Office Files, 1831, No. 70.

  • Indian Office Files, 1831, No. 82.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 200.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 43

  • Sibley to Featherstonhaugh.--Sibley Papers. This letter is printed in Holcombe's Minnesota in Three Centuries, Vol. II, p. 57.

  • [235] Chittenden's The History of the American Fur Trade of the Far West, Vol. I, p. 323.

  • A list of the posts in the agency in 1826 is given in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 113, 114.

    The Secretary of War directs that the traders in the St Peters Agency, who have been directed by you to build their houses in a particular form, as designated by you, be informed that they are at liberty to adapt the shape of their building to their own convenience. He moreover directs that the term of Forts, by which they are designated, be changed into Posts.--William Clark to Taliaferro, March 26, 1827, in Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 72.

  • Taliaferro to Herring, September 15, 1834, in Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 210; Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 74.

  • See Sibley's story of a tea party given to a number of traders at Fort Snelling.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 248, 249.

  • Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 230.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, February 22, 1831.

  • Schoolcraft's Narrative of an Expedition through the Upper Mississippi to Itasca Lake, p. 44.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, pp. 306, 307.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IV, p. 564.

  • Norman W. Kittson to Sibley, March 2, 1846.--Sibley Papers, 1840–1850. Mr. Kittson was the manager of the American Fur Company's business along the international boundary, with his headquarters at Pembina. He, with the late James J. Hill, was one of the promoters of the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railroad Company.

  • Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company, p. 370.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 383.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, January 30, 1831.

  • Kittson to Sibley, August 7, 1846.--Sibley Papers, 1840–1850.

    Mr. Kittson was the organizer of the picturesque caravans of Red River carts (at one time called Kittson's carts) which carried [236]on the extensive commerce between the Canadian and American settlements. At an early date this trade assumed large proportions. The van of the Red River train numbering from an hundred to two hundred carts made entirely of wood and green hides and drawn by oxen and ponies in harness, reached St. Paul on Sunday with furs, hides, buffalo robes, dried buffalo tongues, pemmican, etc. They have been forty days on the route.--The Minnesota Pioneer, July 26, 1849.

  • Missionary Herald, Vol. 38, p. 58, February, 1842.

  • Indian Office Files, 1839, No. 62.

  • Missionary Herald, Vol. 40, p. 281, August, 1844.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 563.

  • Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XX, p. 383.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 23, 1834.

  • Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 74.

  • Marsh to Street, April 28, 1832.--Street Papers, No. 20.

  • Indian Office Files, 1835, No. 326.

  • Bailly to Street, August 3, 1832.--Street Papers, No. 28.

  • Street to Cass, October 3, 1832.--Street Papers, No. 69.

  • Several persons have been arrested near Crow Wing for selling whiskey to the Winnebago Indians; and twelve or fifteen barrels of whiskey have been overtaken and knocked in the head, by Capt. Monroe's troops.--The Minnesota Pioneer, August 9, 1849.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 922.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, August 17, 1830.--Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 143.

  • Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 140.

  • Taliaferro to Clark, August 2, 1829.--Indian Office Files, 1829, No. 65.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 444.

  • [237] Senate Documents, 1st Session, 30th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 919.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, May 12, 1849.



  • Taliaferro writes: It was some length of time before he could induce the Indians to respect the Sabbath-day--all days being alike to them. It so happened that hundreds of important peace conventions were made and confirmed by the hostile tribes on the Lord's day. But time and patience brought them to reason, and for many years they respected the white man's great medicine day. The sign given for the day of rest was the agency flag floating from the flagstaff, at the agency council house.--Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 236.

  • Missionary Herald, Vol. 45, p. 429, December, 1849.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 326, 327; Taliaferro's Diary, August 14, 1833.

  • Street to Taliaferro, August 12, 1829.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. II, No. 108.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 119–121.

  • Taliaferro to Eaton.--Indian Office Files, 1830, No. 151.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, April 18, May 1, June 8, 1831.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, August 14, 1833.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, April 18, 1831.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, p. iv.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 255.

  • Senate Documents, 3rd Session, 25th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p. 523.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 12–30. This volume, written by the son of Samuel Pond, tells of the work of his father and uncle.

  • [238] Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, p. 30. Among the Kemper Papers (Vol. XX, No. 34) the writer found the following permit to enter the Indian country:

    The Right Reverend, Jackson Kemper, Missionary Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, having signified to this Department, his desire to visit and remain sometime in the Indian country, and requested the permission required by law to enable him to do so, such permission is hereby granted; and he is commended to the friendly attention of civil and military officers and agents, and of citizens, and if at any time it shall be necessary to their protection.

    Given under my hand and
    the Seal of the War Department
    this 1st day of October 1838.

    S. Cooper.
    Acting Secretary of War.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 31, 32; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XII, pp. 324, 325.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 7, 1834.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 38–42.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, p. 47.

  • Featherstonhaugh's A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor, Vol. II, p. 11.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, p. 43.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 127–146.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 127, 133.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. III, Pt. II, Document No. 5, pp. 1054, 1055.

  • Riggs's Mary and I, Forty Years with the Sioux, pp. 41, 42.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 49–59.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 29th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 4, p. 315.

  • [239] Executive Documents, 1st Session, 32nd Congress, Vol II, Pt. III, p. 439.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 343.

  • Pond's Two Volunteer Missionaries among the Dakotas, pp. 63, 64.

  • Missionary Herald, Vol. 41, p. 281, August, 1845; Vol. 32, pp. 188, 189, May, 1836.

  • The Spirit of Missions, Vol. IV, p. 61, February, 1839; Tanner's History of the Diocese of Minnesota, p. 24; Post Returns, April, 1839, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • Gear to Kemper, Nov. 29, 1841.--Kemper Letters, Vol. 25, No. 103. See also The Spirit of Missions, Vol. 5, p. 68, March, 1840.

  • Acta et Dicta, Vol. I, No. 1, July, 1907, pp. 14–21; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, pp. 222–230.



  • Catlin's Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, Vol. II, p. 592.

  • Merrick's Old Times on the Upper Mississippi, p. 187. The following description was given by Philander Prescott, a fur trader:

    The Indians say they had dreamed of seeing some monster of the deep the night before, which frightened them very much. It appears they did not discover the boat until it had got into the mouth of the St. Peter's, below Mr. Sibley's. They stood and gazed with astonishment at what they saw approaching, taking the boat to be some angry god of the water, coughing and spouting water upwards, sideways and forward. They had not courage enough to stand until the boat came near them. The women and children took to the woods, with their hair floating behind them in the breeze, from the speed they were going, in running from supposed danger. Some of the men had a little more courage, and only moved off to a short distance from the shore, and the boat passed along and landed. Everything being quiet for a moment, the Indians came up to the boat again, and stood looking at the monster of the deep. All at once the boat began to blow off steam, and the bravest warriors could not stand this awful roaring, but took to the woods, men, women and children, with their [240]blankets flying in the wind; some tumbling in the brush which entangled their feet as they ran away--some hallooing, some crying, to the great amusement of the people on board the steamboat.--Quoted in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 104, note 1.

  • Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, p. 199.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 191–193.

  • Beltrami published an account of his travels in French in New Orleans in 1824. The English version is entitled A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, leading to the Discovery of the Sources of the Mississippi and Bloody River, and was published in London in two volumes in 1828. It is composed of twenty-two letters addressed to My Dear Countess and dedicated to the Fair Sex.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 101.

  • The story of this exploration was published under the title of Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, Etc. performed in the year 1823, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, under the command of Stephen H. Long, U. S. T. E. It was written by Professor Keating from the notes of the party. An English edition appeared in London in 1825. The references given are to this publication.

  • J. C. Calhoun to Major Long.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 41.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, p. 324, Vol. II, p. 112.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, pp. 306–310.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. I, p. 356.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 241.

  • Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, p. 414.

  • [241] My head was covered with the bark of a tree, formed into the shape of a hat and sewed with threads of bark; and shoes, a coat, and pantaloons, such as are used by Canadians in the Indian territories, and formed of original skins sewed together by thread made of the muscles of that animal, completed the grotesque appearance of my person.--Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, p. 481. For a short summary of Beltrami's work see the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 183–196.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. II, p. 200.

  • Catlin's North American Indians, Vol. II, pp. 599–602.

  • Catlin's North American Indians, Vol. II, pp. 602–607. This quotation is from page 607.

  • Senate Documents, 1st Session, 24th Congress, Vol. IV, Document No. 333.

  • Featherstonhaugh's A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor, Vol. I, p. 262.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 246.

  • Featherstonhaugh's A Canoe Voyage up the Minnay Sotor, Vol. I, pp. 261, 266, 288.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, pp. 187, 188.

  • Executive Documents, 2nd Session, 28th Congress, Vol. II, Document No. 52, p. 53.

  • Brower's The Mississippi River and its Source which comprises Vol. VII of the Minnesota Historical Collections. See p. 162.

  • Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 242–245; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 189.

  • In his reminiscences John C. Frémont has left a very interesting account of these two expeditions.--Frémont's Memoirs of My Life, Vol. I, pp. 30–54.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 183.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 129, 133, 134.

  • [242] Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), pp. 914, 915.

  • North Western Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 26, 1840.

  • North Western Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 5, 1840.

  • Louisville Journal quoted in the North Western Gazette and Galena Advertiser, June 14, 1838.

  • Jackson Kemper was appointed missionary bishop of the Northwest in 1835 and held the position until 1859 when he accepted the bishopric of Wisconsin. His papers and diaries are in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society. For an account of his work see Tiffany's A History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, pp. 448, 493.

  • Kemper Papers, Vol. XXVII, No. 113.

  • Kemper Papers, Vol. XXVII, No. 116.



  • Journals of Congress, Vol. III, p. 589.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. I, p. 138.

  • United States Statutes at Large, Vol. XVI, p. 566.

  • Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1890, p. xxix.

  • These figures are taken from an account of the proceedings of the council published in Niles' Register, Vol. XXIX, pp. 187–192. Taliaferro gives the number of his party as being 385 Sioux and Chippewas, including the interpreters and attendants.--Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 206.

  • The text of the treaty is printed in Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 250–255.

  • These are the reasons given by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in his report on December 1, 1837.--Senate Documents, 2nd Session, 25th Congress, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp. 526, 527.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 129.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 131; Vol. VI, p. 214.

  • [243] For an account of the life of Flat Mouth see Coues's The Expeditions of Zebulon M. Pike, Vol. I, p. 169, note 10.

  • Sketches of the life of Hole-in-the-Day are given in The Spirit of Missions, Vol. VIII, p. 461, December, 1843; North Western Gazette and Galena Advertiser, August 3, 1839; Prairie du Chien Patriot, June 8, 1847.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. V, p. 353.

  • The names of the witnesses of the treaty are given in Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, p. 493.

  • A contemporary account of the proceedings of the council published in the Iowa News (Dubuque), Vol. I, Nos. 11 and 14, is reprinted in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, pp. 408–433.

  • The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, p. 420.

  • Dodge to Harris, July 30, 1837.--Indian Office Files, 1837, No. 226.

  • Executive Documents, 1st Session, 31st Congress, Vol. III, Pt. 2, Document No. 5, p. 985. The Indians desired whiskey at the councils. In order to prove that it was not refused because of stinginess, two barrels were opened at Prairie du Chien and the whiskey allowed to run on the ground. The old Indian Wakh-pa-koo-tay mourned the loss: It was a great pity, there was enough wasted to have kept me drunk all the days of my life.--Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p. 124.

  • The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, pp. 409, 410.

  • The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, pp. 424–426.

  • The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, pp. 416, 417.

    Taliaferro was violently opposed to granting any funds to the traders.--Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 215, 216.

  • The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. IX, pp. 431, 432.

  • [244] The text of the treaty is to be found in Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 491–493.

  • Niles' Register, Vol. LIII, pp. 81, 82; Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 493, 494.

  • See an account of the payment in 1849 at Fort Snelling in The Minnesota Pioneer, September 27, 1849.

  • Post Returns, November, 1852, October, 1853, October, 1854, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.



  • Turner's The Significance of the Frontier in American History in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association, 1893, p. 211.

  • Beltrami's A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, Vol. II, p. 202.

  • Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 453; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. I, p. 468.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. III, p. 319.

  • Keating's Narrative of an Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, Vol. II, p. 60.

  • Much has been written on the founding of this colony and the romantic events connected with the struggle between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, in which many of the colonists were the innocent victims. Interesting accounts are given in Kingsford's The History of Canada, Vol. IX, pp. 108–150; Bryce's The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company, pp. 202–257; Bryce's Lord Selkirk in The Makers of Canada, Vol. V, pp. 115–206; Laut's The Conquest of the Great Northwest, pp. 113–202; Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 75–89.

  • There is a summary of the early trading relations of the Red River Colony with the American settlements in the Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Vol. IV, pp. 251, 252. The arrival of these people at Fort Snelling is noted in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 124, 127; VI, p. 350.

  • Two families of Swiss emigrants who arrived here yesterday were robbed of almost everything they possessed.--Snelling to [245] Taliaferro, October 19, 1824, in Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 50. See also the story of the Tully children in Van Cleve's Three Score Years and Ten, Life-Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota, pp. 49–61.

  • The facts concerning the migrations of these Red River refugees are taken from the reminiscences of Mrs. Ann Adams who was herself one of the travellers.--Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, pp. 75–95. See also Chetlain's The Red River Colony. This is a small pamphlet written by the son of one of the refugees.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XIV, p. 84.

  • Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, pp. 70, 71.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, p. 16.

  • Renville to Sibley, February 22, 1835.--Sibley Papers, 1830–1840. A story is told of a certain Simple-hearted, honest fellow named Sinclair. One time he was sick, at Mendota, and Surgeon Emerson, at the fort, sent by some one, a box of pills, for him to take a dose from. N. W. Kittson called on him a little while after this, and found that Sinclair had not only swallowed all the pills, but was then chewing up the box!--Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, p. 123.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp. 127, 129.

  • Snelling to Taliaferro, October 19, 1824.--Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 50.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 13, 14, 1834; Indian Office Files, 1834, No. 239.

  • Taliaferro's Diary, July 21, 1834.

  • Indian Office Files, 1837, Nos. 448, 447, 445.

  • The Auto-biography of Maj. Lawrence Taliaferro in the Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. VI, p. 231.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 14, 15.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 16, 17.

  • [246] Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 18, 23.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. II, p. 136; Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, pp. 66, 67.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 23, 24.

  • Executive Documents, 3rd Session, 40th Congress, Vol. VII, Document No. 9, pp. 26, 27.

  • The Spirit of Missions, Vol. V, p. 335, November, 1840. A recent sketch of Fort Snelling states that there were no white neighbors except traders, agents of fur companies, refugees from civilization and disreputable hangers-on.--Hammond's Quaint and Historic Forts of North America, p. 272. Many of the evicted settlers can not be classed among these.

  • This order is published in Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, p. 94.

  • For the expulsion of the settlers see Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, pp. 99, 100; also, Neill's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p. 459. Williams (p. 100) says that in 1849 and 1852 memorials were presented to Congress by those who had been expelled, in which they stated that the soldiery fell upon them without warning, treated them with unjustifiable rudeness, broke and destroyed furniture wantonly, insulted the women, and, in one or two instances, fired at and killed cattle.

    Father Galtier, who was there at the time, wrote: Consequently a deputy marshall from Prairie du Chien was ordered to remove the houses. He went to work, assisted by some soldiers, and, one after another, unroofed the cottages, extending about five miles along the river. The settlers were forced to seek new homes. He makes no mention of personal violence.--Acta et Dicta, Vol. I, No. 1, p. 64.

  • Williams's A History of the City of Saint Paul, p. 111.

  • See the description of St. Paul in 1849 in Seymour's Sketches of Minnesota, the New England of the West, pp. 94–100.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, January 30, 1850.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, January 23, February 27, June 27, 1850.

  • [247] The Minnesota Pioneer, November 27, 1851.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, April 17, 1851.

  • Minnesota Historical Collections, Vol. XV, p. 534; Post Returns, July, 1855, in the archives of the War Department, Washington, D. C.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, February 20, 27, 1850.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, February 6, 13, 1850; Minnesota Chronicle and Register, February 10, 1851.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, February 13, 1850.

  • Bishop's Floral Home; or, First Years of Minnesota, pp. 152–163.

  • The Minnesota Pioneer, August 23, 1849.

  • These two treaties were the treaty with the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Sioux at Traverse des Sioux, July 23, 1851; and with the Mdewakanton and Wahpakoota bands of Sioux at Mendota on August 5, 1851.--Kappler's Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, Vol. II, pp. 588–593.





Transcriber's Notes:

Note: There are a number of inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation which are left as in the original, as they were copied directly from various sources, such as personal journals.

Page 12, para, 3: Treaty of Ghent, 1914, changed to 1814.

Page 13: 'Menominees' spelled as in original.

Page 98: 'inteligence' spelled as in original.

Page 101: 'Dear' spelled as in original.

Page 113: 'afraid to die. the' as in original. Note: This writer/source doesn't capitalize normally.

Page 128: Chippeways spelled as in original.

Page 129: 'liveing' spelled as in original.

Page 134: 'Chippeways' spelled as in original.

Page 143: 'Societties' spelled as in original.

Page 156: 'revival among the the soldiers, and' (Removed extra the).

Page 170: 'a-head' spelled as in original.

Page 172: The latter apparently refers to winter, even though the phrase is 'winter and summer'.

Page 177: 'Menomonies' spelled as in original.

Page 191: Falstrom also spelled Faustram on same page.

Footnote 8: 'tradeing' spelled as in original.

Footnote 8: 'visit us. he' as in original.

Footnote 8: 'Mandens' spelled as in original.

Footnote 27: 'massacreing' spelled as in original.

Footnote 183: Part of year missing from original. Changed from '18  ' to '18__'.

Index: Warfare, history of: Siuox changed to Sioux.

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