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[230] Sibley, was in latitude 46° 42′, longitude 100° 35′, about forty miles by land below Fort Clark. The distance from Fort Snelling, by line of march, was made by Colonel Crooks to be five hundred and eight-five miles.

A detailed narrative.--the battle of the Big Mound.

On the twenty-fourth of July, about one o'clock, as the column was moving along the western base of a great hill or ridge of the Coteau Missouri, scouts who were in the advance returned with the report that we were in the immediate vicinity of a large camp of Indians. Other scouts came who had seen the Indians, and believed them to be preparing in great numbers to engage us — that they were then collecting in the rocky ravines and behind the ridges of the great hill. Soon the Indians were on the Big Mound, the highest peak of the hill. The train was turned off to the right a little way, and corralled on a salt lake.

Details of men were made to throw up intrenchments, so that a small number of men could defend the train and camp, while the main force should be engaged elsewhere. The camp was encircled by the several regiments, with the artillery placed at intervals between them. The Big Mound was directly east of camp, a mile and a quarter distant — a succession of hills, or the broken side of the big hill, rising from the camp to the Big Mound. There was a ravine directly east of camp, which extended nearly to the Big Mound.

The Sixth regiment was placed on the north side of the corral, its left resting on the lake; the Tenth regiment next to the Sixth, fronting northeast, and to the left of the ravine; the Seventh regiment on the right of the Tenth, fronting east and south-east on the ravine; the cavalry on the south side of the camp, with its right flank on the lake.

These dispositions had hardly been made before the report of firearms was heard on the hill directly in front of the Seventh regiment. Some of the scouts had gone part way up the hill, and were talking with the Indians. Doctor Weiser, surgeon of the Mounted Rangers, joined them, and shook hands with one or two Indians whom he had probably known at Shakopee. One Indian advanced and shot him through the heart. He fell, and died without speaking a word. The scouts fired, and the Indians fell back behind the ridge, returning the fire, one shot taking effect upon scout Solon Stevens, of Mankato. It proved to be but a slight wound in the hip. The ball had first passed through his rubber blanket, which was rolled up on his saddle. An ambulance was promptly sent out, which met the body of Doctor Weiser, being brought in on a horse.

The first battalion of cavalry--Captains Taylor, Wilson, and Anderson's companies — was promptly ordered to the scene of Doctor Weiser's death, where the scouts were skirmishing with the Indians. They found the ground so broken that they dismounted and sent their horses back to camp. Major Bradley, with Captains Stevens and Gilfillan's companies of the Seventh, were ordered to the support of the cavalry. The General, with a six-pounder, advanced to a hill on the left of the ravine, and began to shell the Indians at the head of the ravine and about the Big Mound. Captain Edgerton's company of the Tenth supported the the six-pounder.

The Sixth regiment was deployed on the foot hills in front of its line, to the north and northeast of camp. Captain Bank's company of the Seventh, on the right of the Sixth regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, with the remaining five companies of the Seventh regiment, Captains Kennedy, Williston, Hall, Carter, and Arnold advanced up the ravine towards the Big Mound, and deployed on the left of the dismounted cavalry and Major Bradley's line.

The artillery, under the immediate direction of the General, drove the Indians out from the head of the ravine and from about the Big Mound. They fell back to the table land east of the mound, and into the broken ridges and ravines southward. They had come from that quarter, their camp being found around the hill, about five miles from our camp.

The shelling they got near the Big Mound prevented their getting around to the northward in any considerable numbers. They were massed in the broken ground to the south of the mound.

The line of the Seventh regiment and the three companies of cavalry named advanced steadily and rapidly, pouring a constant fire into the Indians, which reached them before their shorter range guns could have any effect on our troops. The left of the Seventh crossed the summit range just to the right of the mound, and flanking the right of the Indians, swept around to the southward and pursued the Indians into and through the ridges and ravines on the east of the range, while Major Bradley and Captains Taylor and Anderson pressed them hotly on the west side. Captain Wilson, of the cavalry, crossed to the right of the mound, and pursued some Indians that separated from the main body and retreated more directly eastward.

The Indians were thus pursued three or four miles, and until they were completely dislodged and driven from the hills to a broad plain southward. They would try to hold ridge after ridge, and to cover themselves in the ravines, but the better weapons of the whites were too much for them. They were sparing of ammunition, and probably not over half had firearms. Their number exceeded a thousand warriors.

As they were precipitately retreating down the ravines towards the plain, after the last stand, two companies of cavalry, Captain Austin's and Lieutenant Barton's, under the immediate command of Colonel McPhail, took the advance and charged the Indians, doing execution. Corporal Hazlep was shot in the shoulder by an Indian he was riding on to. Colonel McPhail thrust his sabre through the Indian. It was here that a stroke of lightning killed private John Murphy, of Company B, and his horse, and stunned another cavalryman.

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