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Doc. 110.-battle of Big Mound, Dakotah.

Report of Lieutenant-Colonel William R. Marshall.

headquarters Seventh regiment M V., camp Sibley, on Missouri Coteau, July 25, 1863.
Captain R. C. Olin, Assist. Adjutant-General:
Captain: I respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventh regiment--eight companies — in the engagement with the Indians yesterday:

Immediately after news was received of the presence of the Indians, the regiment was formed in order of battle in the line designated by you for the protection of the corral — subsequently the camp — then being formed. A detail of ten men from each company was set to digging trenches in front of our line, which fronted a little south of east — the Big Mound being directly east. The men remained upon the color-line until the firing commenced on the foot-hill directly in front, where Dr. Weiser was killed. I was then ordered to deploy Captain Banks's company — armed with Colt's rifles — along the foot-hill to the left of the ravine, that opened toward the Big Mound. This done, Major Bradley was ordered with two companies--Captains Gilfillan's and Stevens's — to advance to the support of the first battalion of cavalry, then out on the right of the ravine, where Dr. Weiser was shot.

Major Bradley's detachment became engaged along with the cavalry as soon as he reached the top of the first range of hills. I asked to advance to their support with the other five companies, and received your order to do so. With Captains Kennedy's, Williston's, Hall's, Carter's, and Arnold's companies, leaving Captain Carter [382] in charge of the detail to finish the trenches and protect the camp, I advanced at double-quick up the ravine toward Big Mound. When opposite the six-pounder on the left of the ravine, where the General then was, I deployed the five companies at three paces intervals, without any reserve. The line extended from hill to hill across the ravine, which was here irregular or closed. Advancing as rapidly as possible, the line first came under fire when it reached the crest of the first range of hills, below the summit peak. The Indians then occupied the summit range, giving way from the highest peak or Big Mound, driven by the fire of the six-pounder, but in great numbers along the ridge southward. Captain Eugene Wilson's company of cavalry — dismounted — passed to my left and occupied the Big Mound, while I charged across the little valley and up to the summit, south of the Mound. We advanced firing, the Indians giving way as we advanced. I crossed the ridge and pursued the Indians out on the comparatively open ground east of the peaks. Their main body, however, was to our right, ready to dispute possession of the rocky ridges and ravines, into which the summit range is broken in its continuation southward. I had flanked them turning their right, and now gradually wheeled my line to the right until it was perpendicular to the range, my left being well out in the open ground over which the enemy's extreme right was retreating. I thus swept southward, and as the open ground was cleared — the Indians in that direction making for the hills, two miles southeast, just beyond which was their camp, as we afterward discovered. I wheeled still more to the right, directing my attention to the summit range again, where the Indians were the thickest. Advancing rapidly, and firing, they soon broke, and as I reached and recrossed the ridge, they were flying precipitately and in great numbers from the ravines, which partly covered them, down toward the great plain at the southern termination of the range of hills.

Colonel McPhail, who, with a part of the cavalry, had crossed to the east side of the range, and kept in line in my rear, ready to charge upon the Indians when they should be disloged from the broken ground, now passed my line and pursued the enemy out on the open plain.

After I recrossed the range I met Major Bradley, and united the seven companies. He, in conjunction with Captains Taylor's and Anderson's companies of the cavalry — dismounted — had performed much the same service on the west slope of the range of hills, that I had done on the east and summit, driving the enemy from hill to hill southward, a distance of four or five miles from camp to the termination of the range.

Happily no casualties happened in my command. Indeed, the Indians from the first encounter gave way, seeming to realize the superior range of our guns — yielding ridge after ridge and ravine after ravine, as we occupied successive ridges from which our fire reached them. The hat of one soldier, the musket-stock of another, gave proof of shots received; other like evidences, and their balls occasionally kicking the dirt up about us, and more rarely whistling past us, were the most sensible evidences of our being under fire.

The Indians were in far greater numbers than I had seen them before, certainly three times the number encountered at the relief of Birch Coolie, afterward ascertained to be three hundred and fifty, and more than double the number seen at Wood Lake. I judge there were from one thousand to one thousand five hundred. Their numbers were more apparent when we had combed them out of the hills into the plain below.

After uniting the battalion at the southern termination of the great hill, I received orders to follow on in support of the cavalry and artillery. The men were suffering greatly for water, and I marched them to a lake off to the right, which proved to be salty. I then followed on after the cavalry. We passed one or more lakes that were alkaline. It was the experience of the ancient mariner--

“Water, water everywhere,
But not a drop to drink.”

We continued the march until nine o'clock at night, reaching a point twelve or fifteen miles from camp. The men had been on their feet since four o'clock in the morning — had double-quicked it five miles during the engagement — had been without food since morning and without water since noon. They were completely exhausted, and I ordered a bivouac.

The trail was strewed with buffalo-skins, dried meat, and other effects abandoned by the Indians in their wild flight. The men gathered the meat and eat it for supper, and the skins for beds and covering. At this point Captain Edgerton's company of the Tenth regiment joined us and shared the night's hardships. We had posted guard and lain an hour when Colonel McPhail returned from pursuing the Indians. He urged that I should return with him to camp. The men were somewhat rested, and their thirst stimulated them to the effort. We joined him and returned to camp. About midnight we got a little dirty water from the marshy lake where the Indians had been encamped. We reached camp at daylight, having marched nearly thirty-four hours, and over a distance estimated at from forty to forty-five miles.

My thanks are due to Major Bradley and the line-officers for steady coolness and the faithful discharge of every duty, and to every man of the rank and file for good conduct throughout. The patient endurance of the long privation of water, and the fatigue of the weary night's march in returning to camp after such a day, abundantly prove them to be such stuff as true soldiers are made of.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

William R. Marshall, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding Seventh Regiment M. V

Supplementary report of Lieut.-Col. Marshall.

headquarters Seventh-regiment Minn. Vols., camp Williston, on Missouri Coteau, August 5, 1863.
Captain B. C. Olin, Assist. Adjutant-General:
Captain: I respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventh regiment in the pursuit of and engagements with the Indians subsequent to the battle of Big Mound, on the twenty-fourth ultimo. In my report of the twenty-fourth of July, I detailed the movements of this regiment in that engagement. On Sunday, the twenty-sixth of July, when the column was halted at the Dead Buffalo Lake, and the Indians made a demonstration in front, I was with the right wing of my regiment on the right flank of the train. Major Bradley was with the left wing on the left, the regiment being in the middle in the order of march. Leaving Major Bradley to protect the left flank, I deployed company B, Captain Stevens, obliquely forward to the right. He advanced further than I intended, and did not halt until on the right of and even with the line of skirmishers of the Sixth regiment then in the extreme advance. Thinking it better not to recall him, I advanced the three other companies of the right wing, Captains Gilfillan's, Kennedy's, and Carter's, near enough to support company B, and at the same time protect the right of the train, which was then well closed up on the site of our camp. I remained in this position without the Indians approaching in range until orders were given to go into camp. I had but just dismissed the battalion from the color-line to pitch tents, when the bold attack of the mounted Indians was made on the teams and animals in the meadow on the north side of the camp. My line was on the south side of the camp. I assembled and re-formed the line, awaiting an attack from the south, but the Indians that appeared on that side quickly withdrew after they saw the repulse on the north side, not coming within gun-shot range. I cannot withhold an expression of my admiration of the gallant style in which the companies of cavalry — I believe Captain Wilson's and Davy's, the latter under Lieutenant Kidder--dashed out to meet the Indians that were very nearly successful in the dash upon the teams and loose animals. The rangers, putting their horses on the run, were but a few seconds in reaching the Indians, whose quick right — about did not save them from carbine and pistol-shot and sabre-stroke that told so well. I also saw and admired the promptitude with which Major McLaren, with part of the Sixth regiment, moved from his color-line, on that side of the camp to the support of the cavalry.

On the morning of the twenty-eighth of July, at Stony Lake, the Seventh regiment in the order of march was in the rear. The rear of the wagon-train was just filing out of camp, going around the south end of the lake; a part still within the camp-ground, which extended almost to the end of the lake. My regiment was in line waiting for the train to get out, when the alarm was given. Quickly the Indians appeared south of the lake and circled around to the rear. I promptly advanced the right wing--on the flank of the train south of the lake, deploying Captain Gilfillan's and Stevens's companies as skirmishers. With these and Captain Kennedy's and Carter's companies in reserve, I immediately occupied the broken, rocky ground south of the lake. But not any too soon, for the Indians had entered it at the outer edge, not over five hundred yards from the train. Lieutenant Western, of the battery, was in the rear, and promptly reported to me. I placed his section of the battery-two mountain howitzers — on the first elevation of the broken ground outside the train. The fire of my line of skirmishers, then somewhat advanced on the right of the howitzers, and a few well-directed shots from Lieutenant Western's guns, discouraged the Indians from attempting to avail themselves of the cover of the small hills near us, dislodged the few that had got in, and drove the whole of them in that quarter to a very respectful distance, quite out of range. One shot from the Indians struck the ground near my feet, while I was locating a howitzer.

While I was thus occupied, Major Bradley, with the left wing, Captains Banks's and Williston's, Hi-all's and Arnold's companies advanced out upon my left so as to cover the portion of the train still in camp from the threatened attack from the rear. There was a battalion of cavalry, also protecting the rear to the left of Major Bradley. We thus formed a line from the left flank of the train around to the rear that effectually protected it. The Indians galloped back and forth just out of range of the howitzers, and our rifles, almost of equal range, until the order came to close up the train and continue the march. As the rear of the train passed the lake, I took the right wing to the right flank of the train near the rear, marched left in front, and so deployed as to well cover that portion of the train. Major Bradley, with the left wing, did similarly on left flank. As the column moved forward the Indians withdrew out of sight.

On the twenty-ninth instant, when the column arrived at Missouri River, the Seventh regiment was the second in order of march, and was held on the flanks of the train, while the Sixth regiment, which was in the advance, penetrated the woods to the river. By order of the General, companies B and H were advanced as skirmishers obliquely to the right of the train to explore for water. They had entered the woods but a little way when recalled by an aid of the General.

On the thirtieth instant, companies A, B, and H, Captains Arnold, Stevens, and Gilfillan, were detailed under Major Bradley to form part of the force under Colonel Crooks to again penetrate to the river, destroy the wagons and other property of the Indians on the bank, and to search for the bodies of Lieutenant Beever and private Miller of the Sixth regiment. Major Bradley, with the companies named, participated in the successful execution of the duty assigned Colonel Crooks.

On the night of the thirty-first of July T received [384] instructions to place the entire regiment along the front and flank of our part of the camp. This was done. About two o'clock the Indians fired a volley into the north side of camp — that occupied by the Tenth regiment. The volley was evidently aimed too high for effect on the men in the trenches. That side of the corral was open, for passing the animals in and out, and some of the shots must have struck the cattle, in addition to the horses and mules killed. The cattle dashed out of the corral utterly wild with fright, and making the ground tremble with their tread. They were turned back and to the right by part of the line of the Tenth regiment. They then came plunging toward the left companies of the Seventh. These rose up and succeeded in turning them back into the corral. But for the living wall that confronted them, the animals would have escaped, or stampeded the mules and horses, with great destruction of life in the camp. The prompt return of the fire, by the companies of the Tenth on my left, discouraged any further attempt on the camp.

The next morning we resumed the march homeward. Since then no Indians have appeared, and nothing relating to this regiment occurred to add to the above.

In concluding this report, supplementary to that made on the twenty-fifth ultimo, I beg leave to add a few things, of a more general nature, relating to the regiment I have the honor to command. The health of the regiment, during the long march from Camp Pope, has been remarkably good. There have been but two cases of serious illness, both convalescent.

Surgeon Smith and Assistant-Surgeon Ames have been assiduous and skilful in their attention to the medical wants and the general sanitary condition of the regiment. Adjutant Trader and Quartermaster Cutter have been laborious in their duties. During the first three weeks of the march Lieutenant F. H. Pratt was acting Quartermaster, and gave the fullest satisfaction in that position.

Captain Light, who remained at Camp Atchinson, has been faithful in his ministrations.

The non-commissioned staff has been every way effective.

The good order and discipline of the regiment has been perfect. But two or three arrests have been made, and those for trivial offences.

I feel it due to Major Bradley to again refer to him in acknowledgment of the assistance he has constantly rendered me. Soon after the march began, I became so affected with irritation of the throat, from dust, that the Surgeon forbade,my giving commands to the battalion on the march. Major Bradley has relieved me almost entirely in this respect, and has otherwise shared with me fully the responsibilities of the command.

Your obedient servant,

William R. Marshall, Lieut.-Col. Commanding Seventh Regiment Minnesota Vols.

Report of Colonel Samuel McPhail.

headquarters First regiment Minnesota M. R., in camp on the Plains, August 5, 1863.
Brigadier-General H. H. Sibley, Commanding Expeditionary Forces:
General: On the twenty-first of July, 1863, pursuant to your order to recover the body of Dr. J. S. Weiser, Surgeon of the First Minnesota Mounted Rangers, murdered by the Indians, I proceeded to the hills in the rear of Camp Sibley, with companies A and D of my regiment. When some five hundred yards from camp, we were fired upon by the Indians, occupying the summit of the hill. I immediately ordered company A, under Captain E. M. Wilson, to advance and fire upon the enemy, which was done in good style. The ground being rocky and broken, companies A, D, and G were ordered to dismount and skirmish the bill. Companies B and F, under Major Hays, and company L, under Captain Davy, were to support them. The first battalion, under Major Parker, cleared the hill, and drove the Indians some two miles, followed by companies B and F mounted. Here I met Lieutenant-Colonel W. R. Marshall, of the Seventh Minnesota volunteers, and requested him to protect my right flank, which he did in gallant style. Major Parker was then ordered to rally the companies of his battalion, and prepare to engage the enemy mounted. I then moved forward of the skirmishers, with companies B and F, and ordered a charge upon the enemy posted on the highest peak of the range known as Big Hills. This order was promptly obeyed; the Indians were dislodged from their position and driven toward the plains west of the hills. While descending the hill I ordered another charge, by company B, under Captain Austin. While in the act of carrying out this order, one man was instantly killed by lightning, and others seriously injured.

This occasioned a momentary confusion. Order was, however, soon restored, and we pushed the enemy from their positions on the hills, and in the ravines on our front, to the plains below. I then ordered a rally. Companies A, B, F, and L assembled, and we pushed forward upon the Indians, who had taken refuge behind a few rude and hastily constructed intrenchments in their encampment, from which they were quickly dislodged, and a running fight commenced. At this juncture Lieutenant John Whipple, of the Third Minnesota battery, reached us with one six-pounder, his horses entirely given out, in consequence of which he could only give the flying enemy two shots, which apparently threw them into still greater confusion. I then again ordered a charge, which was kept up until we had reached at least fifteen miles from the first point of attack, and during which we drove them from their concealment in the rushes and wild rice of Dead Buffalo Lake by a well-directed volley from the deadly carbines, and ran into their lines five times, continuing the fight until nearly dark, when companies H, D, and G arrived, and I received your order to return to Camp Sibley, at [385] the Big Hills. Some time having been consumed in collecting our wounded and providing transportation for them, we attempted to return, and only succeeded in reaching camp at five A. M., on the morning of the twenty-fifth, having in the darkness been unable to preserve our course, and having been in the saddle twenty-four hours, without guide, provisions, or water. The number of Indians engaged could not have been less than one thousand, and would doubtless reach one thousand five hundred warriors. The losses of my regiment, including a skirmish on Sunday evening the twenty-sixth, at Dead Buffalo Lake, are as follows:

Killed--Private Gustaff A. Starke, of company B; private John Murphy, of company B; and (at Buffalo Lake) Corporal John Platt, of company L.

Wounded--Private Andrew Moore, of company B, mortally; Corporal William B. Hazlep, of company B, in shoulder, doing well; Sergeant James Grady, of company L, in leg slightly; private Henry Stntz, of company B, slightly.

Murdered by the Indians-Doctor J. S. Weiser, Surgeon, and Lieutenant A. Freeman, of company D.

The number of Indians known to have been killed by the Mounted Rangers is thirty-one, all found with the peculiar mark of cavalry upon them. Doubtless many more were killed by the Rangers, as the wounded concealed themselves in the marshes, where it was impossible to follow them with cavalry.

In this report I esteem it a duty, and it affords me great pleasure, to say of the officers and men under my command, who were engaged in this series of fights and hand-to-hand encounters, that without exception the utmost coolness and bravery were displayed, the only difficulty I encountered being that of restraining the wild enthusiasm of the troops during the succession of cavalry charges; and I can only say of them further, that they have won for themselves a reputation of which veteran troops might well be proud.

It is also a duty and a gratification to mention favorably the name of First Lieutenant E. A. Goodell, Acting Adjutant, whose aid, in the hottest of the fight, rendered me great service; also the name of John Martin, of company F, who bore despatches with “certainty, celerity, and security.”

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Samuel M. Mcphail, Colonel Commanding Mounted Rangers,

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