Review – MHS FS Trail Signs

Fort Snelling Historic Site Trail Signs
Managed by The Minnesota Historical Society
Reviewed on January 10, 2013

 U.S.-Dakota War of 1862
Executions at Fort Snelling

 “After the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, many Dakota leaders were captured and imprisoned by the U.S. military, among them…Little Six and…Medicine Bottle.  The two men escaped to Canada but were kidnapped and delivered to U. S. authorities…”
—Unbalanced – Many Dakota leaders opposed the war and were not captured nor imprisoned.
—Unbalanced – What about the some 289 white and mixed-blood men, women and children who were kidnapped by hostile Dakota during the Dakota War and forced-marched to a concentration camp at Camp Release.?

“The executions followed the hanging of 38 Dakota men on Dec. 26, 1862, in Mankato.  A military court had convicted 303 Dakota who were accused of killing civilians…the number was reduced to 39 by President Abraham Lincoln, who sought to distinguish between those who had fought against U.S. armed forces and those accused of killing and assaulting civilians…Round Wind was reprieved.  It remains the largest mass execution in U.S. history.”
—Why are the hangings at Mankato being interpreted at Fort Snelling?
—Incorrect – Not all of the 303 were accused of killing civilians.
—Unbalanced – Where is discussion of white deaths after the war?
—Incorrect – This was the largest simultaneous mass execution in U.S. history.
—Unbalanced – The mass-murder of more than 650 whites by Indians during the Dakota War was the largest mass-murder of white non-combatants by Indians in U.S. history.

U.S. – Dakota War of 1862
Fort Snelling Internment Camp

 “After the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, approximately 1,600 Dakota women, children and elderly men were removed from their homes and force-marched to an internment camp within a wooden stockade…  This place, sometimes referred to as a concentration camp was located below the bluff from Fort Snelling…”
—Incorrect – There were also young men in this group.
—Incorrect – They were not removed from their homes.  They had already left their homes.
—Incorrect – They were not force-marched.
—Incorrect – The fence was built to protect them from the angry whites.
—Incorrect – This was not a concentration camp.

The Dakota people in the camp suffered malnutrition and outbreaks of disease, and between 130 and 300 died within its walls in 1862 and 1863.  The prisoners also endured assaults and violence at the hands of soldiers and local civilians.  “Amid all this sickness and these great tribulations,” remembered… Gabriel Renville, a Sisseton Dakota held in the camp, “it seemed doubtful at night whether a person would be alive in the morning.”
—Incorrect – The Dakota were receiving the same rations as the soldiers. If the Dakota were malnourished, so were the soldiers.
—Incorrect – According to Corinne Marz, the official death count was 102.
—Incorrect – These were not prisoners.
—Incorrect – Where and when did they endure assaults and violence from soldiers and citizens?
—Incorrect – Gabriel Renville was also part white and part Mdewakanton.

“In 1863 the remaining people in the camp were placed on steamboats and sent to the Crow Creek reservation in South Dakota.”
—Incorrect – Not all of them were removed to Crow Creek. Some were taken to Faribault under Bishop Whipple’s care. Some became scouts for the U.S. Army.

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