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Old December 4th, 2012, 08:03 PM   #1

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Fort Ridgely Massacre


Some consider the opening salvo of the bloody plains wars that culminated in Wounded Knee to be the Sioux massacre of Fort Ridgely Minnesota, where 400-800 white people, families, children, were murdered during the 1862 six week uprising that ended in the Battle of Wood Lake.

The hangings following the trials which condemned over three hundred participants in the 1862 Dakota Conflict, stand as the largest mass execution in American history. President Lincoln saved 265 of the warriors from the noose, but executed thirty-eight.

From the article in the NY Times, Aug 24, 1962:

"He visited all the houses, and found their former occupants all lying dead, some on the door-steps and some inside their habitations. Others were scattered in the yards and in the roads.

He went to the house of Hon. J.R. BROWN, and recognized every member of the family. They numbered eighteen in all, and every one of them had been brutally murdered.

At Beaver Creek he found that fifty families had been killed outright. At every house he went into he recognized the dead bodies of nearly all the former inhabitants of the place."
https://www.nytimes.com/1862/08/24/n...ed-whites.html

A more comprehensive article which analyzes the tensions preceding the massacre, and how it almost was avoided:
The Dakota Conflict (Sioux Uprsing) Trials of 1862

Click the image to open in full size.

Refugees during the Dakota Conflict of 1862
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Old December 4th, 2012, 08:11 PM   #2

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These things happened frequently in the 17th and 18th centuries in North America, to include ransomed victims, scalping, etc. There was a lot of frontier justice that carried over from the previous century.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #3

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A despicable act and a horrible tragedy. Yet there will be plenty of those who justify it, because the perpetrators had red skin and the victims had white skin.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 03:49 AM   #4

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I notice the 39 that Lincoln allowed to be executed were actually convicted of specific acts of massacre or rape. The other 275 (or so) had been given the death sentence for admitting to being participants in the war. One interesting item about the situation is how the public reacted. First they showed willingness to condemn all the enemy combatants, point blank. Later on they cheered as the sentences were carried out on the 39 that Lincoln allowed. The spirit of retribution burned bright. Apparently Lincoln allowed the 39 to be hung out of fear an out of control mob would execute all 323 condemned Indians. They had already tried once and been held back by the guards.

I don't know how much furor the executions had back east as I have never really looked at this event very closely. In similar situations we might see an outpouring of support for the Indians from the eastern population while the frontier population saw things quite a bit differently. I have read quite a bit about the Texas frontier in recent weeks and the people there felt much the same as the Minnesotans. They tended to be amazed that reactions in the east showed little sympathy for the losses felt by settler families.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:26 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
A despicable act and a horrible tragedy. Yet there will be plenty of those who justify it, because the perpetrators had red skin and the victims had white skin.
Both sides cannot claim to be the victims here... there was plenty of violence to go around, as it had been for years before that. The more I read, the more I discover that it was far from a one-sided story. Native Americans were far more organized and skilled than people give them credit for, which in fact diminishes their culture and capability of being warriors.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 04:29 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baltis View Post
I don't know how much furor the executions had back east as I have never really looked at this event very closely. In similar situations we might see an outpouring of support for the Indians from the eastern population while the frontier population saw things quite a bit differently. I have read quite a bit about the Texas frontier in recent weeks and the people there felt much the same as the Minnesotans. They tended to be amazed that reactions in the east showed little sympathy for the losses felt by settler families.
Even on the frontier in the mid 18th century, the settlers in the East were treated in the same fashion, and this also carried over into the settling of the West. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if this doesn't have the makings of a superb researching topic!
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:26 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by monsieurdl View Post
Both sides cannot claim to be the victims here...
And yet that is precisely what happens. Perspective is everything to the Indian wars.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:32 AM   #8

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Both sides were the victims and both sides were the perpetrators. Neither side was innocent.
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:40 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
Both sides were the victims and both sides were the perpetrators. Neither side was innocent.
Kind of a blanket indictment without much support. How were the settlers who got attacked 'perpetrators'? What are they guilty of?
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Old December 5th, 2012, 05:46 AM   #10

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Quote:
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Kind of a blanket indictment without much support. How were the settlers who got attacked 'perpetrators'? What are they guilty of?
Sorry, I meant in the general context of the wars between the Indians and the white settlers. In this specific instance, I agree with you: the settlers were victims, not perpetrators.
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