Review – MHS FR – Site Sign

Minnesota Historical Society
Fort Ridgely Site Sign
Reviewed on May 29, 2017
Updated on June 12, 2017

Items of Interest

From the MHS Website: This sign replaced the old sign in 2012. Content on this sign was reviewed by an MHS historical marker committee, as well as by Dakota consultants and the MHS Indian Advisory Committee.

This review includes the text on the Minnesota Historical Society website and the text on the sign.

Most Objectionable Statements

Website Text

Thomas P. Gere
…Gere Gov. Ramsey…

  • Incorrect – Should be “…Gere wrote Gov. Ramsey…”

Henry H. Sibley
During the war, Sibley was vilified in the press for his slowness in advancing to Fort Ridgely to liberate captive settlers. He wrote to his wife on September 4, 1862:

  • Disrespectful – To publish this with no explanation other than a few words from a letter to his wife, does a great disservice to Henry Sibley. Why was he slow in advancing?
  • Incorrect – He was not advancing to Fort Ridgely to rescue captive settlers. The captives were further to the west.

Colonel Sibley to Governor Ramsey, August 25, 1862:
“My heart is steeled against them, and if I have the means, and can catch them, I will sweep them with the besom of death.” 

  • Disrespectful – Why was Sibley’s heart “steeled” against them? Could it be that the hostile Dakota killed more than 650 whites – some in the worst way imaginable?

Sibley convened the military commission that condemned 303 Dakota men to death in the wake of the war.

  • Incorrect – There was at least one white and several mixed-bloods among these 303 men.
  • Disrespectful – Mention should be made as to what became of these 303 men; 38 were hanged.

Sign Text

On August 20 and 22, 1862, as many as 400 Dakota warriors attacked the fort, defended by just 280 soldiers and refugees.

  • Incorrect – 800 Dakota attacked the fort on August 22.
  • Incorrect – There were 180 defenders.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Minnesota’s citizen soldiers relieved regular Army soldiers needed in the South. When the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 erupted, those same volunteer soldiers were among the first to respond and the first to fall in combat.

  • Is this correct? Was the 5th Minnesota Regiment made up of citizen soldiers?

Hundreds of European immigrant families fled to Fort Ridgely for protection.

  • Incorrect – There were 300-350 refugees inside the fort. This would not be “hundreds of European immigrant families.” Weren’t many of them also American born?

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