Dakota Soldiers

On Aug. 17, 1862 four young Dakota men killed 5 people in Acton Township. As a result, a meeting of Dakota leaders and soldiers living on the Lower Reservation was called, and after intense debate some of those present decided to go to war with the U.S. The following morning a group of Dakota soldiers attacked the Lower Sioux (Redwood) Agency, and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 began. After six weeks of fighting, leaving hundreds dead, the Dakota were defeated, and many Dakota soldiers fled Minnesota while others surrendered to U.S. military forces.

Explore this collection of primary sources related to the experiences of some Dakota soldiers during the war, and think about what we can learn from them. Ask the following questions of each source:

  • What kind of source is it? (i.e. interview, diary, newspaper, image, etc.)
  • Who created this source?
  • Who is its intended audience?
  • When was this source created?
  • What influences do you think acted on the creation of this source?

concept links

Memories of War U.S. Military Non-Combatants Dakota "Peace Party" Dakota Soldiers