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Non-Combatants

When the war started Dakota soldiers initially attacked the Lower Sioux (Redwood) Agency, killing many civilians there. As the fighting spread, Dakota soldiers targeted farms and communities throughout southwestern Minnesota. Word spread quickly, and many people, including both European Americans and "mixed bloods" (individuals of European and Dakota ancestry) fled eastward. During the war, 285 of these people were taken prisoner by Dakota soldiers. Minnesotans were outraged by the war, and many called for retribution against the Dakota. Others, such as missionaries who had worked with the Dakota for years, urged temperance and fairness in the treatment of the Dakota.

Explore this collection of primary sources related to the experiences of non-combatants 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