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U.S. Military

Within a short time of the war’s outbreak, Minnesota’s governor, Alexander Ramsey, appointed Henry Hastings Sibley (former fur trader and Minnesota’s first state governor) to command the state’s military response. Sibley organized volunteer troops, both local militiamen and soldiers preparing for service in the Civil War, at Fort Snelling. Within days Col. Sibley and his troops headed southwest towards Fort Ridgley. Sibley’s army fought two major battles with Dakota soldiers (Birch Coulee and Wood Lake), and by the end of September the war in Minnesota ended and many Dakota surrendered at "Camp Release." Col. Sibley formed a military commission to try Dakota men suspected of participating in the war, and 38 men were executed in Mankato, Minnesota on Dec. 26.

Explore this collection of primary sources related to the experiences of the U.S. soldiers who fought in 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 the 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