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Doc. 29.-operations against the Indians.

Report of Colonel Sibley.

Headquarters in camp, near Fort Ridgley, September 8, 1862.
Adjutant-General Malmros:
Sir: I received despatches from officers at New Ulm, Winnebago Agency, and from Colonel Flandreau at South Bend, last evening, representing everything to be quiet in that quarter. On the sixth, I despatched Captain McLarty's company, of the Seventh regiment, to New Ulm, at the earnest request of the people there and in the vicinity, who represented that the settlers had been seized with a fresh panic, and would leave unless more troops were sent.

With a view to obtain some knowledge of the condition of the prisoners, by inducing Little Crow to send me some half-breed with whom I could communicate on the subject, I left a communication for him attached to a stake, near the spot where I interred our men killed in the attack upon Major Brown's camp, couched in these terms:

If Little Crow has any propositions to make to me, let him send a half-breed to me, and he shall be protected in and out of my camp.

H. H. Sibley, Colonel, commanding Military Expedition.

Last evening, a mule and buggy came into view from the camp. I immediately despatched the officer of the day to es ort the occupant or occupants in safety to my tent, a white flag having been conspicuously displayed from the vehicle. He returned, accompanied by Thomas Robertson, son of the late Superintendent of Farming, and teacher among the Sioux, (one-eighth blood), and Thomas Robinson, a half-breed, son of a quondam trader of that name. They brought me a response to my note to Little Crow, of which the following is a verbatim copy:

Yellow medicine, September 7, 1862.
dear Sir: for what reason we have commenced this war, I will tell you, it is on account of Major Galbraith, we made a treaty with the Government, a beg for what little we do get, and then can't get it till our children was dining with hunger it was with the traders that commence Mr. A. J. Myrick told the Indians they could eat grass or their own dung. Then Mr. Forbes told the lower Sioux that were not men then Robert he was making with his friends how to defraud us of our money, if the young braves have push the white man I have done this myself. So I want you to let the Goveinar Ramesy know this. I have great many prisneer women and childun it aint all our fault the Winnebagoes was in the engagement, two of them was killed. I want you to give me answer by barer all at present.

Yours truly


Addressed to “Governor H. H. Sibley, Esq., Fort Ridgley.”

I have questioned the two men very closely with reference to the prisoners, their number and condition, the location of the Indian camp, the intention of the leaders, and state concisely the substance of their replies. They say the white women and children number one hundred or more; that no violence has been offered the former; that they are as well taken care of by the farmer Indians as circumstances will permit; that they are allowed full liberty during the day, but are quartered at night; that only one half-breed, L. Labathe, was killed, and he would not have been had he not resisted. The other half-breeds are kept as prisoners, although unguarded. It is announced to them that, if they attempt to escape, they and their families will be killed. They have, in many instances, been forced to participate in the fights that have occurred, under penalty of being killed.

They say many of the Sioux, indeed all of the lower bands, were in favor of giving up the white prisoners, but the upper Indians object, which brought on a general wrangle between them.

To-day I send back the bearer of the truce flag, with a note in these words:

little Crow: You have murdered many of our people without, any sufficient cause. Return me the prisoners under a flag of truce, and I will talk to you like a man.

H. H. Sibley, Colonel, commanding Military Expedition.

I am very anxious to secure the safety of the many prisoners before attacking the camp, as they will doubtless be placed in the most exposed [248] situations. The number of fighting men in the lower bands is five hundred and seventeen, according to actual enumeration; of Wahpetons, about two hundred and fifty, and that they have been reenforced by six hundred men from the Yankton and Sissiton bands, and that the Ehanktons, or Cut Heads, will be down as soon as they arrive from their hunt.

We have, therefore, to meet, according to Mr. Riggs, and other competent authority, twenty-seven hundred or twenty-eight hundred men, and I have, from the beginning, believed and acted from the conviction, that the lower bands would not attempt to escape, but would make a determined stand. Their main camp is at Yellow Medicine, and it is said by the Robinsons, that the upper Sioux have refused to allow them to go to their country, but tell them they must fight where they are.

From what I can gather, I am satisfied that they will make a desperate fight, and that we must expect night attacks, ambuscades, and every species of annoyance in our advance. In view of the great importance of the results of the movements of this column, and the fact that I am without any disposable force of mounted men, (there are not more than sixty or seventy left,) I must urge the absolute necessity of having cavalry, fully armed and equipped, to the number of at least one regiment, and the infantry force increased to two thousand men. This expedition, if properly supplied with men and materials, can crush this emeute at a blow, and wipe out the murderers, but should it meet with a repulse, or take the field against a vigilant and desperate enemy, without sufficient support, no one can foresee the horrible results.

The scouts, as well as the bearers of the flag of truce, assert that all outlying parties have been called in, in view of the menacing position of this corps, and the latter further state that the party that attacked Major Brown's camp consisted of three hundred and nineteen men, who left the Yellow Mediaine with the intention of separating into two columns at this point, and simultaneously attacking St. Peter and Mankato, and they had no idea of the force which met and repulsed them in the neighborhood.

I hope the Third regiment will be ordered to join this column at once, and that men, and cartridges, and rations, and clothing will be passed forward with all expedition. Let us exterminate these vermin while we have them together. I will report to you in my next the amount and description of ammunition on hand, and what is still wanted. In accordance with your suggestion, I have sent to New Ulm eighty-three muskets, of different kinds, and twenty-eight hundred cartridges, which have been turned over to the sheriff of the county for arming the settlers.

I learn from Colonel Flandreau that he would leave for St. Paul to hurry up reenforcements and supplies for the south side of the river. While I concur in his report of the necessity of adding to his strength, I hope you will not forget that, in all probability, this corps must meet the main attack, and that the Third regiment, being disciplined, is indispensable as a nucleus and an example to the entirely raw officers and men comprising the large majority of the Sixth and Seventh regiments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. H. Sibley, Colonel, commanding.

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