2nd USCT Infantry Regiment 1st USCT Infantry Regiment 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment 1861 Skirmishes 1862 Skirmishes 1863 Skirmishes 1864 Skirmishes 1865 Skirmishes Alternate Battle Names 3rd Regiment Alabama Infantry 1861-04-12 Battle of Fort Sumter 1861-04-15 Evacuation of Fort Sumter 1861-04-19 Riots in Baltimore 1861-05-07 Gloucester Point 1861-05-10 Camp Jackson 1861-05-10 Riots in St. Louis 1861-05-18 Sewell’s Point 1861-05-29 Aquia Creek 1861-06-01 Fairfax Court House I 1861-06-01 Arlington Mills 1861-06-03 Philippi 1861-06-05 Pig Point 1861-06-10 Big Bethel 1861-06-15 Hooe’s Ferry 1861-06-17 Vienna 1861-06-17 Boonville 1861-06-19 Cole Camp 1861-06-27 Mathias Point 1861-07-02 Hoke’s Run 1861-07-05 Carthage 1861-07-05 Neosho 1861-07-08 Laurel Hill 1861-07-11 Rich Mountain 1861-07-12 Barboursville 1861-07-13 Corrick’s Ford 1861-07-17 Scary Creek 1861-07-17 Bunker Hill 1861-07-18 Blackburn’s Ford 1861-07-21 Manassas I 1861-07-22 Forsyth 1861-07-25 Mesilla I 1861-07-27 Fort Fillmore 1861-07-28 Sinking of the Petrel 1861-08 Siege of Tubac 1861-08 Cooke’s Canyon 1861-08 Battle of the Florida Mountains 1861-08-02 Dug Springs 1861-08-03 Curran Post Office 1861-08-05 Athens 1861-08-07 Hampton 1861-08-10 Wilson’s Creek 1861-08-10 Potosi 1861-08-19 Charleston 1861-08-25 Mason’s Hill 1861-08-26 Kessler’s Cross Lanes 1861-08-28 Hatteras Inlet Batteries 1861-08-31 Munson’s Hill 1861-09-02 Dry Wood Creek 1861-09-02 Gallinas Massacre 1861-09-08 Placito 1861-09-10 Carnifex Ferry 1861-09-11 Lewinsville 1861-09-12 Cheat Mountain 1861-09-12 Lexington I 1861-09-17 Liberty 1861-09-19 Barbourville 1861-09-21 Fredericktown I 1861-09-24 Canada Alamosa 1861-09-27 Pinos Altos 1861-10-03 Greenbrier River 1861-10-05 Cockle Creek 1861-10-09 Santa Rosa Island 1861-10-12 Battle of the Head of Passes 1861-10-21 Ball’s Bluff 1861-10-21 Camp Wildcat 1861-10-21 Fredericktown II 1861-10-23 Big Sandy Expedition 1861-10-25 Springfield I 1861-11-03 Port Royal 1861-11-07 Belmont 1861-11-08 Ivy Mountain 1861-11-19 Round Mountain 1861-11-20 Skirmish at Brownsville 1861-11-20 Hunter’s Mills 1861-12-04 Bog Wallow Ambush 1861-12-09 Chusto-Talasah 1861-12-13 Camp Allegheny 1861-12-17 Rowlett’s Station 1861-12-19 Skirmish at Blackwater Creek 1861-12-20 Dranesville 1861-12-26 Chustenahlah 1861-12-28 Mount Zion Church 1861-12-28 Sacramento 1862-01-01 Crook’s 1862 Expedition 1862-01-03 Cockpit Point 1862-01-05 Hancock 1862-01-08 Roan’s Tan Yard 1862-01-10 Middle Creek 1862-01-11 Lucas Bend 1862-01-19 Mill Springs

1862-08-20 Fort Ridgely

Minnesota

Start: 1862-08-20              End: 1862-08-22

ResultsUSA Battle Flag

Photo Gallery

Introduction

The Battle of Fort Ridgely was an early battle in the Dakota War of 1862. Built between 1853–1855 in the southern part of what was then the territory of Minnesota, Fort Ridgely was the only military post between the Sioux Reservations and the settlers.

Background

On August 18, 1862, the Lower Sioux Agency in Renville County, Minnesota, was attacked by Indians. The Native Americans had come to the Agency to barter for the food that had been withheld them until starvation had set in. There was a discussion amongst the leading white men gathered there and the head of the Lower Sioux Agency. The primary Agent was against it, but the other men persuaded him to give the natives a small amount of porkback and flour. The Agent then added that the food would only be delivered to the reservation in the morning and only if the Indians returned to the reservation immediately. Until that point, the well-armed Indians had stood by peacefully in the hot August temperatures. The greatly out-numbered 67 white men gathered there became uncomfortable with the stipulation and began to form small groups to head back to their homes. Inevitable fighting began with some of the warriors pursuing the settlers who left, while the rest remained to fight those who holed up in the Agency building. Within a few hours 20 whites had been killed and 10 captured. Some survivors escaped, heading for Fort Ridgely, while the majority tried to race for their homes and families. The men heading for their homes made plans to assemble in the morning to try to reach the fort.

Mr. J.C. Dickinson, who seems to have been the first to escape, took his family in a wagon to Fort Ridgely, where nobody believed that there had been an attack. More settlers arrived, convincing Captain John S. Marsh, Company B, Fifth Minnesota, that the Agency had been attacked. Marsh ordered Drummer Charles M. Culver, a twelve-year-old (who would die in 1943, at 93, as Company B’s last survivor) to beat the long-roll. About 74 men fell in, amongst who were Captain Marsh, Second Lieutenant Thomas P. Gere, about 4 sergeants, 7 corporals, and about 62 privates. Marsh chose 46 men, along with Indian Interpreter Peter Quinn, to set out for the Agency. Along the way, they saw many dead white folk and Indians. Quinn was one of the first of this party killed by Chief White Dog, along with about 10 of the soldiers. By late afternoon, Capt. Marsh had only eleven men left in his command, with twenty-four having been killed. Marsh decided to head back to the fort and tried to take the men across the Minnesota River. Marsh was a strong swimmer, but he was seized by a cramp. Sergeant John F. Bishop, the ranking officer, ordered Privates John Brennan, James Dunn, and Stephen Van Buren to swim for Marsh. Brennan reached him first, and Marsh grabbed Brennan’s shoulder but fell off. Marsh drowned and the men saw his body float by in the river. He was about 28 when he died. (See Battle of Redwood Ferry.) Sergeant Bishop led the remaining eleven back to the fort. They arrived before midnight and the Battle of Redwood started.

Before Marsh left, he had sent word to Lt. Sheehan, who left Fort Ridgely on August 17, to return with 50 men from Company C, Fifth Minnesota. When Bishop and Sheehan met, they sent Private William J. Sturgis out to warn others, especially Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey about the uprising. Lt. Norman K. Culver, Company B, and others began recruiting volunteers in St. Paul, and they arrived at Fort Ridgely with the “Renville Rangers” as reinforcements. There were about 50 white men under First Lieutenant James Gorman, men who were going to muster into Civil War Service, but went instead to Fort Ridgely with a Harper rifle and three rounds of ammunition each. Altogether, about 70 Minnesota citizens volunteered. About 10 of them were women and others were related to soldiers. Company B membership rose from about 65 to over 200. Some notables include Sutler B.H. Randall, Ordnance Sergeant John Jones, Dr. Alfred Muller, and Major E.A.C. Hatch, an experienced cavalry man who would one day lead Hatch’s Battalion, Minnesota Volunteer Cavalry.

Order of Battle

Battle

On a sunny August 20, Lt. Timothy J. Sheehan, Company C, commanded Fort Ridgely. First Lt. Culver, Company B, was commissary and quartermaster. Eight men were wounded or assigned hospital duty. The Fort was trying to adjust to all the new volunteers that had arrived. Suddenly, a reported 400 Indians attacked the ill-prepared post. First shots killed Private Mark. M. Greer, Co. C, and wounded Corporal William Good, Co. B. Good was shot through the forehead and was declared dead but he managed to live and was eventually discharged for disability on October 24, 1862. Sergeant Bishop commanded the pickets and awaited a native named Little Crow and his warriors but to no avail. Several soldiers were wounded. Private William H. Blodgett, Company B, was wounded in the spinal column but continued to fight. By the end of the battle, five soldiers were killed and another 15 wounded.

The next day a thunderstorm struck, so the men and women at the Fort could organize the post and strengthen the defenses. Ordnance Sergeant Jones had three six-pound artillery guns, two twelve pound guns, and one twenty-four pound gun placed. Jones commanded the 24-pounder while Sgts. James G. McGrew and Bishop commanded the twelve pounders. In the 25-mile area around the fort, white settlers had been trying to escape for two days and their bodies and burning homes dotted the landscapes. Indians had been through all the homes and wagons looking for food and goods to bring back to the reservation. Some women and children had been kidnapped, but for the most part, the settlers were killed, many of them barbarically. One account, a narrative of Justina Kreiger tells of a group of settlers who set off on August 18 and were almost all killed, while Mrs. Kreiger did not arrive at the Fort until September 3. It took great effort to save her life as she had sustained many life-threatening injuries and was also almost starved.

On August 22, the sun shone, and proved that the native Americans had put the rainy day to use, as a force of 800 Indians attacked the fort. The first attack was repelled and smaller attacks were attempted throughout the day, mainly to keep the soldiers alert and at their posts. Towards the cooler evening hours, the Dakota warriors staged a more serious attack on the northern side of the fort. Lt. Sheehan was forced to order the buildings on that side to be set afire as he became aware that the Indians were sneaking into the Fort through them. The men watched as the buildings went up in a greenish smoke. The Indians melted back into the darkness. Little Crow and the other native chiefs maintained their siege until August 27, when Colonel Henry H. Sibley arrived with 1,400 trained militia. Colonel Sibley accepted command of this large force, which contained elements of the 5th and 6th Iowa State Militia.

Aftermath

The Native Americans moved on from Fort Ridgely and small groups of them continued to attack various white settlements until September 23, 1862, where a large group were captured at Wood Lake. About 400 were captured, 393 were tried, and 303 sentenced to death. An estimated 500 white people, militia and civilian, were killed in the uprising. President Abraham Lincoln reduced the executions to thirty-eight men. One man was pardoned December 25, 1862 as it came out that he was ten miles away from the deed for which he was convicted. Thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota, the largest mass-execution in U.S. history.

Casualties

Total Killed Wounded Missing Captured
USA Battle Flag

1 fort damaged

3 15 killed or wounded
CSA Battle Flag small 2 5
Combined Forces

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Ridgely

2016 civilwartroops.org ©