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Doc. 189.-attack on Fort Ridgely, Minn.


Lieutenant Sheehan's report.

headquarters Fort Ridgely, Minnesota, August 26, 1862.
To General Halleck, Commander-in-Chief:
I have the honor to report that this post was assaulted by a large force of Sioux Indians on the twentieth instant. The small remnant of company B, Fifth regiment Minnesota volunteers, and the Renville Rangers, a company just organized for one of the regiments of this State, were the only troops I had under my command for its defence, and nobly did they do their duty. The engagement lasted until dark, when the Indians, finding that they could not effect a lodgment, which was prevented in a great measure by the superior fire of the artillery, under the immediate charge of Ordnance Sergeant J. Jones, United States army, which compelled them to evacuate the ravines by which this post is surrounded, they withdrew their forces, and the gallant little garrison rested on their arms ready for any attack.

During the night several people, the remnants of once thriving families, arrived at the post in a most miserable condition. Some were wounded and severely burned, having made their escape from their dwellings, which had been fired by the Indians.

The people in the immediate vicinity fled to this post, and were organized and armed as far as practicable, to aid in its defence.

On the twenty-second instant, the Indians returned with a much larger force, and attacked us on all sides; but the most determined attacks were on the east and west corners of the fort, which are in the immediate vicinity of ravines. The west corner was also covered by stables and log buildings, which afforded the Indians great protection, and in order to protect the garrison, I [590] ordered them to be destroyed. Some were fired by artillery, and the balance by the Renville Rangers, under the command of First Lieutenant J. Gorman, to whom and the men under his command great credit is due for their gallant conduct.

The balls fell thick all over and through the wooden buildings erected for officers' quarters. Still the men maintained their ground. The Indians then prepared to carry the post by storm, but the gallant conduct of the men at the guns paralyzed them and compelled them to withdraw, after one of the most determined attacks made by Indians on a military post.

The men of companies B and C, Fifth regiment of Minnesota volunteers, aided by citizens, did good execution, and deserve the highest praise for their heroic conduct.

I beg leave also to bring to your notice Dr. Muller, the Acting Assistant Surgeon of this post, who, assisted by his most excellent wife, attended to the wounded promptly, and I am happy to say that under his careful treatment most all of them are progressing favorably.

Mr. Wykoff, of the Indian Department, with many other citizens, rendered efficient service.

Our small arm ammunition nearly failing, on consultation with Ordnance Sergeant J. Jones, I ordered the balls to be removed from some of the spherical case-shot, which, with many of the balls fired by the Indians, were collected and recast. Ammunition was prepared by a party of men and ladies, organized for the purpose, who worked night and day until a good supply was obtained.

The buildings comprising the garrison proper are still up, but they are very much wrecked. All of the outbuildings, except the guard-house and magazines, are entirely destroyed.

Most of the mules and oxen belonging to the quartermaster's department were taken by the Indians, and we are left with scarcely a supply of transportation.

I adopted every possible means in my power for defence, by erecting barricades, covering the storehouses with earth, to guard against fire-arrows, which were thrown up with the determination to make a complete sacrifice of every thing; but the men's quarters and the storehouse, which were stone buildings, were saved.

I also herewith inclose a list of the killed and wounded--three killed and thirteen wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. J. Sheehan, First Lieutenant Company C, Fifth Regiment Minnesota Volunteers, Commanding Post.

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